Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Love Potion Number 9


Drive Thru Coffee

The number nine position on Brett’s countdown of Canadian highlights, icons and memories belongs to Coffee!

If you served a Canadian instant coffee chances are they would throw it back at you. When a Canadian makes coffee they make a pot. However, they don’t often do that either because there is a drive thru coffee shop on just about every second block. We can walk to three from our house, which is sometime easier due to the line up of cars. Add to that the fact that you can buy two regular coffees for under $3 and you have a recipe for addiction.

When I first arrived, one of the local drive through coffee shops was offering 99cent coffees. All sizes! This was going great for us until one day they ran out of large cups and had to give us extra large. This was the start of the downward spiral...

It got to a stage where we we’re planning our days around how and when we we’re gonna get coffee. I just need another fix man! The night that I told Cindy "Make me some coffee, make me some coffee, make me some coffee" in my sleep we knew we had a problem.

We managed to free ourselves from the evil claws of the coffee gods and although Miss Boyes wasn’t her usually perky self for the next week at school, her little monkeys forgave her and we forgot about coffee. At least for a little while....

Monday, August 25, 2008


As we will soon be leaving Canadian soil I have decided to count down my top 10 Canadian highlights, icons and memories.


All Things Maple

Cindy has already discussed my attraction (I think she used the word obsession) to Maple products, but hey, has anybody seen the Canadian flag lately? Canada = Maple. That is why it makes the number 10 spot of my countdown. Canada is known as the land of the silver birch and although they are plentiful it is the maple leaf that is the symbol of Canada.

Of course, maple syrup is abundant and when consumed fresh and natural it cannot even be compared to the sugary processed stuff you get from the supermarket. There is also maple butter, maple syrup festivals, maple cookies, maple toffees, maple ice-cream, maple sweets, maple doughnuts and the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Team, known as “the leafs”.

Stay tuned over the following days as I count down my top ten Canadian highlights, icons and memories.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mizzy Lake Trail

Algonquin Provincial Park is a world famous nature reserve located about 2 hours north of our hometown, Barrie. We have been talking about making the trip since there was still snow on the ground, and on Wednesday we finally set out on what was a fascinating journey.

The park offers a variety of trails and as we were both keen to make a day of it we decided on the Mizzy Lake Trail, an 11 km hike through the southern corridor. The guidebook estimates that the hike should take 6 hours. We figured, “We’re pretty fit, we’ll do it in 3 and then go and do some of the other trails before we go home.” It took us 45 minutes to reach the first of thirteen markers placed throughout the trail. Having to stop every 20 meters to take a photograph really slowed us down.

Without exaggerating, there was really that much to see. I have never seen so much LIFE. Everywhere you looked there were birds, dragonflies, colourful fungi, frogs, plants, rocks, lakes and streams. We saw at least 6 beaver dams and lodges, fresh bear poo, two otters and 5 snakes (non-venomous).

The walk was somewhat challenging as it seemed you were either climbing over something or traversing your way through the muddy track. Unfortunately I think we spent more time looking at our feet than at the amazing scenery.

Although the guidebook says the trail is 11km, I estimate with all the jumping around puddles and chasing after frogs we did it would have been closer to 20km. We arrived at the 13th and final post 5 hours and 40 minutes after our departure. Although exhausted, we were thoroughly content and began planning our next trip to Algonquin.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Knock Knock" Who's there?

Dear Family and Friends....and whoever else happens to stumble upon our ramblings,
We would love to hear from you. Please, please, pretty please consider leaving us a comment. Here's how you do it: At the bottom of each blog entry, there is a part that says how many comments have been left (ours usually says "0 comments"). If you click on that, it will take you to a comment section where you can write about how brilliant we are, or how you really can't be bothered to read our totally boring, long recounts of our adventures. You don't have to have an account. You can click on the annonymous option, but put your name in your comment. We excitedly check for comments, but often see that there are none there. Like a kid forgotten by the toothfairy, we sadly put on our best pouty faces and hope that that gloomy "0 comments" sign will not be there the next time we look. Feel guilty yet? Then click the comment button!

Mapleholics Anonymous

Ontario is known for it’s maple syrup. And there is now one cute Aussie who is maple syrups number one fan. Brett was introduced to maple syrup at the Elmavale Maple Syrup Festival last Spring...the largest maple syrup festival in North America. Ontarians loves their maple syrup so much that we dedicate entire days to gathering with a few thousand fellow maple lovers and stuffing our bellies with the wonderful sticky syrup and anything you can cover with it or make out of it.

Maple syrup is made in the Spring, when there are freezing nights and warmer days. Maple trees are tapped with a spout or with plastic tubing, and the sap is collected. Only healthy, older trees are tapped. The sap is brought to the sugarhouse and placed into a large evaporator. The sap is boiled so that the water evaporates but the sugar remains in the sap. Once the sap reaches a certain sugar content (about 65%) it is syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

Brett and I have always loved pancakes, but with real maple syrup available, pancakes suddenly became a weekend tradition. About a month ago I bought some maple cookies. This was when I started to think that maybe Brett had a slight addiction. He asked "WHY have you never bought these before?". Everywhere we went, so did the maple cookies. He started planning how to get the cookies sent back to Australia.

This past weekend in Collingwood, Brett tried a beavertail. That is not as gross as it sounds. A beavertail is just a flat pastry in a shape similar to a beaver’s tail. He asked for maple butter to be put on his. This was his first taste of maple butter. His eyes lit up. He started saying odd things like "We have to have this everyday" "This is the best thing in the world" "My new rule is that we have to buy one everytime we see one". We then bought our own small (but expensive) container of maple butter, which Brett talked about like a protective parent the rest of the day. "Is the maple butter safe?" "Will the maple butter be okay?" "Do you have the maple butter?"

The boy officially needs some kind of twelve step program. He has had maple butter on pancakes everyday since. BUT there will not be an ample supply of this sugary sticky goodness in Korea. I wonder if there is an online support group for people dealing with maple syrup withdrawal?!

What We've Been Up To

Annyeong! ("Hi "in Korean) Cindy here.
While patiently waiting for this Korea thing to actually happen, we have been busy packing up and storing the things in our apartment, buying clothes that we hope will last us a year (I will be a giant amazon woman in Korea), learning a bit of Korean, and taking some small, cheap day trips.
Here are some photos of our recent adventures. Please also check out our new albums...and leave us some comments (does anyone read this fandangly thing?)!!

Korea Update

Hello All, Brett here.

Some of you may be wondering about our plans go to South Korea. We have been hesitant to talk too openly or prematurely about our job opportunities in Korea due to a number of disappointments.

To date we have been interviewed and offered positions at four different schools. The first position fell through because the couple that has been there for the last 12 months decided to stay, the second because the school decided to hire another couple that they could pay less because they weren’t teachers and the third we actually pulled out of because we discovered what they were telling us and what was in the contract were two very different things.

As you can imagine by this stage we were beginning to worry that we would not be able to find the position we wanted in the set time frame. The fourth position that we accepted sounded like a promising opportunity but due to our experiences with the previous 3 positions we weren’t about to get too excited just yet. We wanted to make sure that this job was going to be a sure thing.

I am pleased to say that we are now confident that we have a firm position in the city of Daegu. It is the fourth largest city in South Korea and is located south-east of Seoul with a population of nearly 3 million. We will be working for the Yale English Academy which is made up of 5 separate schools of which we will be teaching at the Siji Yale English School.

Yale is considered to be one of the best schools in the region and based on what we have experienced they seem to be somewhat more organized and professional than the other schools we have dealt with. They will provide our airfare and an apartment within walking distance of the school. We will work from 4pm to 10pm Monday to Friday teaching conversational English to the children of Daegu.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Red Tape - Part One (Canada)

Hi folks, Brett here,

This is a summary of the documentation and red tape that I have had to go through to work in Canada. It took many phone calls, emails and internet searches. The main lesson that I have learnt through this process is depending on who you talk to in any consulate, bureau or agency you will get a different and often wrong answer.

Working Holiday Program Visa $165

1. Medical $452.65
To work with children in Canada you need to have a full medical including, blood test, pee test and chest X-ray. Not only did this medical cost me $450 but I also had to take half a day off work and call in a substitute teacher.

2. Passport Photos $25

Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) $345
To teach in Ontario you have to be registered with the OCT.

1. Criminal Record Check (CRC) $25
At first I wasn’t sure if they wanted a Canadian CRC, Australian CRC or both. I decided to call the Canadian Consulate in Sydney for some clarification. The lady on the other end of the phone treated me as if I was complete idiot. "Why would you need a Canadian CRC if you have never been there" she said in a harsh tone. Turns out.., she was wrong! After a few more emails and phone calls I discovered that it was the Canadian CRC that I needed.

2. Fingerprints $24
To get a Canadian CRC I needed to apply through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). They would need a set of my fingerprints to process the search. After having my prints taken by some confused officers at the local Police station who didn’t quite understand why I was voluntary asking to be fingerprinted, I started to wonder if the set of fingerprints I had been given were going to be official. By chance I discovered that in fact the prints needed to come from the Australian federal police. I contacted their office and found that there would be about a 3 month waiting list.

3. University academic transcripts and record of course completion $30

4. Copies of Passport, Degree/teaching certificate

5. Statement of professional Standing
This meant calling the West Australian Collage of teachers (WACOT) and asking them to write a letter to the Ontario Collage of teachers saying that my authorization to teach has never been suspended, cancelled or revoked.

6. Employment Authorization
The final document the OCT needed to process my registration was my work visa. Only problem was, my work visa was waiting for me at Toronto Airport.

After collecting my visa from Toronto Airport It took another 2 months for my registration number to arrive. Along with a letter saying that I need to pay another $104 annual membership fee.

Simcoe County District School Board
1. Resume

2. Criminal Record Check $35
To work for the local school board I needed another police check from the Ontario Provincial Police.

Total= $1055.65