So this is an unexpected pleasure. I wasn't sure I'd get another entry until I returned to the motherland.
Unfortunately, poor mum's flight was delayed by a couple of hours which meant instead of pacing around Toronto for some of the day, I paced around all day. However, Dave, mum's university friend who has been living here with his wife for 30 odd years had offered to pick her up. Dave and Barbara actually live a couple of hours away in a place called Stratford (more on that later), but he happened to be in town for a talk so offered to be a taxi service. Due to the delay of course this meant a lot of hanging about so we ate and talked about the theatre until mum's eventual arrival in the late evening.
It was quite odd seeing her as I, of course, haven't since before Christmas. Mum is not a natural traveller and that combined with the delay, she was quite wiped out, but much better than I had anticipated. Fortunately, I had managed, by sheer fluke, booked us the most marvellous hotel in Toronto, which apart from a view of a strip bar, was absolutely beautiful and most high class. The next day mum didn't feel too jet lagged so we decided to visit a place called Casa Loma- a massive castle like house built by an eccentric business man in the early 20th century that eventually bancrupted him and he had to give it to the state. Now, it was a lovely place with secret tunnels, grand fire places, magnificent garden and the like. Unfortunately it was filled with masses of small children on school trips. I think there were about 5 different trips all with about 50 kids each, all far too young to appreciate the aesthetics of the place, who proceeded to run around screaming, falling over and generally being vile and getting in my way. It was most disconcerting. We left there pretty quick as I just couldn't cope. We later when to a shoe museum which was far more civilised and had, well, lots of shoes so I was happy.
The next day we did a most untouristy thing and went to see the 6th Harry Potter which I very much enjoyed and was most amused to be sitting along from a chap who looked like a hippie version of Dumbledore and who kept bellowing wth laughter. After that we went shopping along the posh shops not buying anything. We popped into Tiffany's, but quickly scampered out as they kept trying to give us assistance and we became terrified they would discover we were in no way going to purchase anything.
After our time in Toronto we went to Niagara Falls via the Greyhound bus. Mum found coach travel very exciting which shows how little she goes out. On arrival at Niagara, I was very much reminded of Las Vegas. For those of you who recall, Vegas was not my favourite place. Well, the falls appeared to be much in the same vein. Masses of wax work museums, arcades, giant inflatable things and worst of children. Our hotel this time was not so nice, but bearable and we managed to find the one nice restuarant in town and had huge steaks and tiny puddings. We also had a pint of beer and mother who is not used to drinking became all affectionate and began to tell me how much she loved me. I then took her home.
The next day it was beautiful and sunny so we made our way past all the fast food places, tacky shops and children and got to the falls. Now, much like many hyped things (see Milford Sound) the falls were nice, but I didn't fall to my knees and bask in their ultimate glory. However, we walked along beside them and took the obligatory photos. We were then at a slight loss at what to do as it appeared if you don't want to spend your day haunted wax work museums, there wasn't much to do. However, I got the map out and discovered there was a cemetary not too far from our hotel. My mum and I are very morbid and we love a good graveyard so we ambled along there and spent the better part of the afternoon having a nosey at the names and design of the stones (FYI lots of Italians in Niagara). We also saw about a thousand variously coloured squirrlels and one chipmunk so that was exciting.
On the way home, a most curious thing happened. We were waiting for the green man when a police car drove past and bizarrely, his torch fell out of the window and rolled on the ground in front of us. I picked it up, but the police car kept going and wondered what to do I recalled we had seen a police station on our way to the cemetery so we dutifully walked back, torch in hand, but when we got there it was shut (4pm and shut!). So at a loss at what to do, we left the torch by the front door and walked away. A few minutes later as we just got out of shouting distance, we looked back and saw a police car pull up beside the station. A policeman got out and in a rather comical nature, looked about his person and in the front seat. This can only have been torch cop. I can only hope he found his lost item by the door. I expect if he did he must of wondered how and earth it had got there. I hoped this good karma would cause something nice to happen to us, but unfortunately it did not.
The next day, Dave again being a very kind taxi service picked us up from Niagara to take us to his home in Stratford. As we joined the highway, we were talking nineteen to the dozen and suddenly, police sirens and lights started flashing all around us! Dave had been accidently speeding and was being chased by the police! However, he did not in "Police Camera Action" or "Police Stop" programme try to make a rapid get away. Instead he pulled up and got his ticket (from a very nice policeman I might had, very polite). I wondered if I mentioned the torch story that he might let us off from the ticket, however I thought that might be testing things somewhat.
We made it without further incident to Stratford after that, which is a beautiful medium sized town, famed for its Shakespeare festival every year (in which Dave is a key organiser and his wife Barbara a participant). Dave and Barbara have a lovely home in a deeply quiet area and live with a 18 year old insanely fluffy and affectionate cat called Freebie. We went for dinner that evening and I had two glasses of wine and felt deeply drunk so I dread to think what I'll be like at my reunion the first weekend I'm home with all those hard core alcoholic doctor friends of mine. Anyway, today mum and I spent a lovely morning in another cemetary (lots of Scots in this one) followed by a shop in the wee quaint town which had a Scottish shop (but it didn't sell Irun Bru) . I forced mum to buy a dress and then she forced me to buy one to make it even. Our indulgence was then completed by consuming masses of chocolate cake and now we are quite sleepy.
The next few days are to be thus- dinners out, a theatre outing and then a trip to Dave and Barbara's cottage by the lake. From the photos I've seen it looks a most majestic affair and I promise to take lots of pictures.
And then I'll be heading on home. It seems bizarre to think in 5 days, I'll not only be back in Scotland, but back to Dingwall to spend my last few days in the family home as mum has sold up and will be in her new house by September. However, another new start is quite fitting I think. I am about to start another new journey in Edinburgh and in search of a new job and new life path. This year was supposed to be a period for thinking of these things, but to be honest I am no further forward in deciding what to do than when I left. However, this does not disturb me, instead I think it has given me preparation time to start thinking about things. If that makes any sense, and I suspect it does not.
Anyway, I'll see you all very soon with an empty bank account and a full photo album. I am very much looking forward to coming home and am ready for the motherland. The question is, is she ready for me?