10 June, 2012


One of the nicest thing about going to Canada was being able to live very much in the moment, and not waking up with a million thoughts going through my head. This morning, after a very exhausting dance concert day yesterday, I woke before 6 am, (even though I would have liked nothing more than to go back to sleep)with thoughts about what needs to be done rushing in like a wave swamping me. So, I find myself sitting here in the quiet of the morning, before anyone is up, so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, but totally unable to sleep.

Today, my first born is 18. That blows my mind. He's not here, having spent the night with friends as there is a bunch of them having birthdays in the next month or so and with only 4 more days of school before everyone goes off to camps or work etc, I think it's only fair that he gets to spend time with his friends. He also has more training today for the state rugby team. Both he and Remi. They will play next weekend in a New England... Not match, but bunch of matches on the same day (the word escapes me).

The concerts yesterday went well. I think it was a bit hard for both Kit and Ella as they hadn't done some of their dances for two weeks. Ella was shattered last night and fell asleep on the couch after 8 different dances (including 2 martial arts) over the course of the day. I didn't get to see much as I was back stage doing buns, and making sure her costume changes went smoothly (she had quite a few "quick changes"), but I really like to hang out with all the kids and help out anyway. We had a few tears from her last night about how much she is going to miss dancing with this school. It all just ends and that's it; no more classes. I have to admit to getting a bit teary myself watching the finale from the wings when all the kids come out on the stage.

It was all very surreal stepping back into that after our trip. It almost feels like we didn't go away! But we did, and I really wanted to record my thoughts about it before they get swept away by everything else to come over the next few weeks.

I guess it has something to do with being a town planner's daughter, but I love to try and understand cities whenever I visit them. Matt and I both love to look at the history, at maps, and to try to really get a feel for how a city ticks. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, really reminded me in a way of Canberra, the capital of Australia. It feels like the same level of planning has gone into it. The "old" part of the city, which looks really European, is not actually that old. Lots of majestic buildings which were built to give this new capital, chosen by Queen Victoria, a sense of grandeur and history. They were deliberately looking for a style which differed from the big cities in America. The canal with the locks is amazing; running right through the city, and both it and the river (Rideau) really define the city. The big river that the city sits on, which separates it from its French counterpart, Gatineau, is gorgeous. I really wanted to do a river cruise, but we didn't get around to it.

This is the canal - it freezes in winter and you can ice skate on it.

A lot of the newer buildings are quite amazing: the art museum, the museum of civilization (which we didn't get to), and there are some lovely houses (especially on the water and areas that I suspect are the homes of diplomats), but then the whole city is peppered with ugly square office blocks and apartments.

this weir controls the river flow into the canal.  See the "pirate ship" on the higher water.

The thing that really struck me about the city was the public transport, the amount of cyclists and pedestrians. Maybe it's after living in the US for so long, but Ottawa was a great place to get around. Get out of the center a bit and it's sweeping boulevards with bike tracks by the water (once again felt like Canberra). And plenty of cyclists, rollerbladers, and mothers with strollers using them. I expect it's a different feel in winter, but this time of year all the pubs and restaurants have outdoor seating. Patios, they call them. Being a public service town, 3 - 4 pm is rush hour, and by 5pm all the patios are filled with people enjoying food and drink. The weather was gorgeous most days, and the kids were complaining about being hot (just wait!).

The boys were having fun pulling stupid faces

The squirrels in Canada are big and black, although we did see some sweet little red squirrels at one point. And the ground hogs line the grassy verge all along the big roads; just everywhere. The kids even had fun trying to catch one on the lawn of the parliament building. But we didn't see any bears or wolves or moose.

Posted from my ipad


  1. Sounds like a great trip to Canada. Can't believe Oscar is 18 - makes me feel very old. See you up in Vermont hopefully soon xxx

  2. The word is "tournament", how could the daughter of a martial arts master forget...and you can go ice skating on the canal, your Dad can't...good to see a bit of planning shining through...what is the dog situation in Canada, a couple of gals would like to know...shame no wolves came out to play...seem to remember your 18th was a particularly sad time for your Dad, anyway hope Oscar and gang have a good one...
    It is a shame you couldn't have seen more of Canada particularly seeing Matt's new company seems to be really into Canadian skiing...that is what it says (something like that) on their web site...suppose the plan is for Matt to become in charge of that part of the business.
    will get back to doing some art hopefully today, had enough of the semester break...am going to Sydney Biennale later this month.
    Dad, planner etc

  3. happy birthday Oscar!!!! I will ring when you are back. It's been the Queen's birthday weekend here and Ken has been over and we headed off to the Tasman Peninsula for a few days.

    Your trip looks really interesting. The older style buildings look really Frech in style.

    Talk soon,
    love mum xxxx

  4. ohh i love these pics... did you have any "beaver tails" when you were there? boys are so handsome xxxx


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