Following on from Jamies post on our initial observations in Canada I thought I’d tell you about the small daily differences that really make me realise I’ve emigrated abroad, somewhere foreign. For me ‘foreign’ used to mean somewhere English is not the first language, somewhere hot where you could celebrate xmas in a bikini, somewhere you would drink a double espresso followed by a glass of water con gas every morning before work or maybe somewhere with golden McD arches (Bologna. Seriously).
Cape Breton is an island with similar precipitation levels to Wales and inhabited mainly by Scots – I wondered if I’d notice a difference, would I even realise I’d left the isles?
Phone Numbers. If we had a landline it would consist of 4 digits.
Milky Way. I can see it!
I love this one. Milk in a Bag. OK, yes they do sell milk in tetrapaks with plastic spouts but they also sell milk in 1.3ltr bags, we then purchase a plastic jug, insert bag and snip a small corner off the bag. This seemed very strange to me at first but it has to be more environmentally friendly, even with the plastic bags and one off jug purchase?
House Electrics. In our 120yr old house we have some strange wiring going on, light bulbs hanging from wires, sockets at shoulder height, sockets with 2 prongs, sockets with 3 prongs. We have some UK appliances with us so we have a number of transformers, for example the camera battery charger is plugged into an adapter with 2 prongs which is then plugged into an adaptor with 3 prongs, then plugged into a multiplug…and there are no on/off switches on these sockets!
Heating. We do not have a boiler and radiators, we have an oil burning furnace in the basement (and wood stove in the kitchen). Hot air circulates through the house coming up through vents in the floor, vents are highly attractive to 1yr olds who love putting things in things. In Canadian Tire there are wide range of decorative floor vents and even plastic air deflectors. It is actually very effective, the house heats up much quicker than when waiting for cold radiators to warm up.
Water. Like a lot of places in Europe water can be purchashed in large 10ltr jugs. But I do believe the townies drink tap water! We can also get water from the mountain spring, someone has kindly put in a pipe (changed biannually) and most locals go there with their empty 10ltr jugs. I’ll get some photos of this next time we go.
Washing Machines and Dryers. The majority of washers and dryers here seem to be heavy duty top loaders. We went to buy one recently and I asked for a front loader, the guy nearly fell over, especially when I said I didn’t know anyone in UK with a top loader.
The McLobster. I’m sorely tempted.
Surprising lack of freerange and organic products. It is evident that Cape Breton has not benefitted from the Hugh and Jamie experience, yet. Sobeys, Atlantic Superstore…I haven’t spotted any free range organic chicken or bacon and there are limited boxes of ‘free run’ eggs. Apparently delivery of boxes of veg and fruit, similar to Riverford Organics, are now becoming popular in the cities, and I know some families passionate about environmental ethics and organic products. So, we’re hoping that we are entering the organics (chickens and pigs) market at the right time with growing demand and limited supply, all it will take is a bit of marketing. The amount of land people have here is amazing but we haven’t seen a vegy patch (our neighbour the exception) or a free range chicken yet…maybe because of the bears, eagles, foxes and coyotes…mmm more research needed!
The Capers (People of Cape Breton). Everyone we’ve met has been very open, relaxed, friendly and interested. Everyone seems to relish seeing children running around making a noise, and no one has been afraid to show affection towards our boys. The older men in particular, everywhere we go, always stop and stoop down and say hi, pat them on the head. Its a very welcoming and embracing culture. I didn’t think language would be an issue here, they speak english right? Well, yes and no. The island has 4 languages and all can be experienced daily – English, Acadian French, gaelic and Mi’qmak. Accent is the major issue, we sometimes struggle to be understood and understand, but I’m saving that for another blog! I’m getting into this blogging – we don’t have a working TV OK!