OK, so we aren’t gone yet. We still officially live in Edmonton, but have been away for the past 10 days (so no blogging). We’re now back for a couple of weeks before another venture. And it seems to be that ‘farewell’ season is upon us. This year, it happens to coincide with mosquito season in Edmonton (and probably Winnipeg; hi H & J… great seeing you last week! We’re glad you’re getting out of there soon, and remember that Wagga has an air base).
The first of the goodbye parties took place earlier this month, an “it’s all over but the crying” party (thanks again C & A!). Lisa has been lunching like crazy with all the wonderful folks at UofA and beyond. And, we’ve just returned from Ontario where we were visiting family and friends, catching up with old acquaintances, and saying Auf Wiedersehen (for now). This move is a big event. We are both the youngest child in our families, with 3 older siblings each. We were the first of either immediate family to move out of Ontario. And now, we are the first ones to live abroad (Dan’s nephew is in Ireland, but we’re not sure for how long).
The first stop in Ontario was London, where we lived for all of the 1990s and where we attended the University of Western Ontario. Lisa has 4 degrees from there (BA, BEd, MLIS, and a PhD) and Dan has two (BA, MA). We haven’t maintained a lot of connections from then, but still have some good friends and colleagues there. Our reason for going to London was actually for the retirement party of Lisa’s former doctoral supervisor, who is now a close colleague and good friend. That event gave us the opportunity to see lots of folk at UWO who we might not have been in touch with otherwise, including some of Dan’s former instructors at j-skul.
During the 90s, London wasn’t too bad, but it seems that the American financial collapse of a few years ago hit them hard. As we walked around town, all we could think was: we actually lived here!? Wow, what a pit. Dan un-affectionately called it Boganville. The downtown is littered with people in track pants, standing around, smoking, swearing, and spitting. We saw more track pants on the street than we’ve seen anywhere in a long time (one of Lisa’s former students who is now completing a PhD at UWO – hey, C! – even commented on this scary trend over a beer at the Grad Club; that’s one of the best spots to hang out in London and on campus). Dundas Street, the main east/west street through downtown, was littered with young adults (as in, early 20s) just sort of lingering, as if there is nothing else for them to do. And maybe there isn’t…much of the downtown core is empty stores, bars, fast food places, and dollar stores.
So, while we had a wonderful time there (thanks J & W for joining us at Braise – the only restaurant in London that would survive in a real city! An awesome meal!; and thanks G for the wonderful dinner at your house…and nice to see everyone else), we are really glad we don’t live in London anymore. It was actually quite sad.
And while this visit to London wasn’t about us and our leaving Canada, the timing was convenient and provided an opportunity for us to distribute waggadventure business cards (yes, Dan is a marketing guru!). Blog hits went up that night!
After fleeing London it was time to go see family. First stop was to see Dan’s sister and her husband in Owen Sound, where we had a great time (thanks B & D!). We went to the Covent Garden Market in London before heading north, where we got some supplies (to add to what we brought from Edmonton) to make dinner. Okay, so London isn’t all that bad… you can get some good, organic fare, but still… Some game terrines (mmm…duck and pistachio!) and local cheeses served as appetizers, while we made risotto with wild BC mushrooms and wild leeks (what all the top chefs call ramps).
The meal was capped off with an amazing lemon buttermilk pie (sprinkled with raspberries!) from Williamsford Pie Company. And of course, several bottles of wine… A great evening!
Next stop…well, that will be a surprise for the next entry. But for anyone who has been bored by this post (and if you weren’t there, you probably really don’t care about our trip so far), here’s an entertaining story: on the way to Ontario, some asshole baggage handler at Air Canada managed to throw a suitcase hard enough that it shattered a bottle of shiraz…yep, an inky dark red Aussie gem destroyed in a suitcase. We’ve traveled with wine (successfully) on many trips, so we weren’t expecting this mess! It was in a ziplock bag, but the bottle was so battered that it cut through the bag. So, we arrive with red clothes, and one less bottle of wine than we had planned on. Fortunately, the people at the Delta Armouries in London (especially Alex!) were fantastic. They sent the clothes to an overnight cleaner and cleaned the suitcase and Lisa’s white running shoes themselves. And, they even sent a replacement bottle of red wine to our room! What more could anyone ask for from a hotel? Anyone going to London…stay there!