This year we took flight across the Atlantic to spend Christmas in the great white north with my family… It was great to spend this time with Mum, Dad and Janet – and it’s been a while (+8 years?) since I had a Christmas with them. Of course, we missed our “usual” Christmas with Jayne, Paul and the kids.

And this is the thing about living away from my original home… no matter where I am in the world, there will always be people I love who aren’t nearby. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that…

On the first day of the trip, we headed into Alliston for a spot of shopping- I needed a pair of winter boots for starters. As well as the boots, we picked up some other essentials and paid our first (of several) visits to Tim Hortons. Timbits for me – yes please! In the afternoon we had a trip (back in time for me) to the Hockley honey farm that we used to go to when I was a kid ( I came away with a jar of blueberry honey and a second jar of cinnamon honey. I was trying not to think about the weight of these jars in my suitcase!

The snow started to fall in the evening and the world was looking very wintery when we woke up the next morning. A perfect day to head down to a maple syrup farm ( to learn about the effort that is involved in making maple syrup. The best time to see the process is in early spring when everything starts to thaw out but we really enjoyed our visit there in what felt like the depths of winter and I think I can now explain properly why it’s such expensive stuff!  Another Canadian first for Paul in the evening when we headed into Alliston to check out the Alliston Hornets playing their last game before Christmas.  Unfortunately despite outshooting and generally outplaying Stayner, the Hornets lost the game but I was suitably entertained by their efforts.  Better luck next time!  Go Hornets, Go!

On Saturday there was another trip to Tim Horton’s to see Mum and Dad’s gang that they meet there each week. We had another look around the shops and then home to make first a snow man and then a pork pie on Saturday afternoon for dinner that evening. Janet arrived home on Saturday afternoon so we ate the pork pie and caught up with her before heading to see my Mum and Dad’s friends Pat and Ewart and their two very soft, very big, very friendly cats Sam and Sylvester of course. Pat is a wonderful host and spoiled us with baked goods and other nibbles. No visit to Pat and Ewart is complete with a look at a vehicle, tractor or similar and this one was no exception!

After making it to church on Sunday morning to see Mum on duty and the children’s Christmas pageant, I spent the rest of Christmas Eve on the couch… Mostly sleeping but generally just feeling sorry for myself. I had somehow managed to pick up a stomach bug and didn’t feel much like eating anything and I had a fever too. This was along with the cold I’d brought over from England with me. Merry Christmas to me! Christmas Day there were some presents to open in the morning and I just about managed the dinner that I had so been looking forward to at the Nottawasaga Inn ( I love Christmas dinner there – it is a very festive atmosphere and there is something for everyone at the buffet.

On Boxing Day we said goodbye to Mum, Dad and Janet and headed into Toronto to spend a couple of days in the city. Toronto has yet to be toppled from it’s spot as my favourite city in the world to visit. Our time in Toronto aligned nicely with the cold snap that fell on southern Ontario – -20C while we were in the city. We still got out and explored (it was particularly neat to the see the harbour frozen over) but we did make quite significant use of the underground path that connects the city. We had a really nice meal with Andrew and Katrina and their awesome kids at an Italian place right near our hotel on the second night.

But it was time to move on before we knew it. Another visit that went by way too fast and the usual regrets about not seeing everyone I would have liked to see and those people that I did see, not being able to spend the time with them that I would have liked to… But I’m so glad we had these few days together and this time in the winter wonderland that was the mother country this trip!