The End of One Adventure, The Beginning of the Next

Today is our last day in Montreal, at least for a while, as tomorrow morning we begin our roundabout journey back to London. We arrive in London early Wednesday 14th May, ready for a hectic week of settling in, finding jobs and family birthdays. Before that we have to load up a 17″ U-Haul lorry with most of our possessions, drive to Toronto and Miette’s family, spend a few happy days catching up with Toronto folk and then onto a plane to London and onto another chapter in our lives.

Right now both of us are a bit tired – mentally and physically. Thankfully the Montreal sun is shining down which is keeping our spirits up, as we prepare to leave the home we’ve created for ourselves here. Our first shipment of ‘life crap’ is boxed, waiting in a Montreal warehouse, soon to start it’s own journey to London by sea. We’ve ticked most of the boxes on the ‘Montreal things we’ll miss’ list; hanging out with friends, a last yoga session, eating way too much poutine, walking around the Old Port, dinners at our favorite restaurants (Chez Jose, Stash and last night L’Express) and just enjoying the Montreal chilled out pace of life. Personally I hope we can take some of that calm and stillness that we have here to the more hectic, bustling London world.

Sitting last night at L’Express, enjoying foie gras and beautifully cooked steaks, we wrote down the things we’re looking forward to in London; seeing family and friends, jogging along South Bank, going to the art galleries, shopping at Tesco, trips around the country, watching Doctor Who without waiting for someone to upload it to youTube, cycling around and finding out how we create our home over there for a while at least. There’s an adventure ahead of us that’s for certain, and fond memories of the adventure so far to enjoy in the quiet times. Ta ta for now.

Jason Kent’s New Album

My Canadian drinking buddy and part time yoga studio sweeper Jason Kent has released his splendid eponymous album for your delight and enjoyment. I think it’s only out in Canada right now, so those non-Canadians out there will have to fly over here and buy it. Off you go now…

In the meantime, here’s Jason demonstrating his musical talents by running through the entire album in one go (with Jen, owner of the best yoga studio in Montreal, on camera):

Short, but Sweet NYC Weekend

We’re now safe and sound back in Montreal after a (literally) whistle stop visit down to New York this weekend. Good fun but I have to say I’m looking forward to a night’s sleep of over four hours tonight!

The trip started at 7.15am on Saturday when we left Montreal. At 8.20am we entered the US and 2pm hit New York. Bit of shopping, drinks with Paula, then out to Williamsburg for our traditional dinner at the ever wonderful Sweetwater. Then down to Jess and Gerald’s to visit them and the hella-cute Auden. M crashed out at 2.30am while I went down to Union Pool to catch Gerald DJ in the back room. Splendid. Then 4.30am we were back upstairs to pass out.

9am Sunday I was up and awake, so went on a wander round the ‘burg taking some photos to test my new polarizing filter and compact flash card on a beautiful, bright sunny morning. Latte and a muffin in hand I woke M up, and we chatted with Jess, Gerald and Auden for a bit before heading off for a quick wander/shop down Bedford Avenue. With a pile of my favourite t-shirts from Artists and Fleas in hand, we ended up having Mexican brunch at Bonita – before driving the car back to the old apartment to pick up my last stuff (thanks Lisa!).

At this stage we were a bit off schedule, as I’d totally under-estimated the time needed to get 10 storage boxes full of books down four flights of creaky old stairs with my creaky old knees. Luckily my knees held out (unlike one of the boxes) and M performed miracles getting all the boxes into our car. Phew. So now it was onto the BQE where we ran straight into major traffic on the way down to Brooklyn Bridge on the way to see Stephen, Yi-Hsian and Kate down at the south end of the island (learning point: getting onto Brooklyn Bridge from the BQE is a pain, just take Williamsburg Bridge). Thankfully a parking space turned up just as we were about to give up and pay the $25 parking fee – for an hour… ug. So we headed upstairs and hung out chez Godfrey for a bit. Wish we’d had longer as Kate was being very cute indeed, unfortunately it was getting onto 7pm and we still had six hours of driving ahead of us. Arg.

Having said our goodbyes, we headed back onto the Henry Hudson Parkway off north. The sun was setting as we crossed into Jersey which was very pretty indeed, but worrying as I was already tired and we knew that sunday evening traffic on dark roads, plus over the mountains, would be quite draining. Thankfully we made it to the Canadian border by 1am, a bit late as we’d seen a lot of deer eating by the road so I was driving slower than I normally would just in case the deer felt suicidal. Unfortunately the border guard was not convinced of my travel plans, plus we’d overspent our dollar limit on shopping having not being in the US for over 48 hours (just). So we got to spend a stressful 45 minutes explaining my travel plans before they decided to let me in after paying some import duty. Phew. Borders are so stressful, especially when you’re sleep deprived and tired!

Finally we got back to Montreal about 2.15am, then we unloaded the car and I trogged the boxes up another two flights of stairs into the apartment. Yay, home! 3.30am I finally hit the pillow. Unfortunately at 8.30am my alarm went off as I had to move the car, so I bought us some coffees from up the road and drove M into work before taking the car back to the rental place. So now it’s 11.30, and any minute now I’m going to pass out and have a full eight hours of kip. Splendid.

Industrial Strength Earplugs Anyone?

Why is it that people think that the Old Port of Montreal is uninhabited? And that it’s fine to walk along shouting at each other in conversation between midnight and 4am every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night? Apparently it’s also perfectly reasonable behaviour to see how fast you can drive between stop signs with your sh*te hip hop blaring at full volume, screeching to a halt, then screeching away again. Do you really believe no-one knows you’re drunk driving?

Sigh. Guess I’m getting too old for city life. Or maybe bars should take some responsibility for controlling their patrons on the street after they’ve finished raping their drunken wallets for every last piece of cash. Or perhaps the city should take a leaf out of Toronto and New York’s law books and close down bars that get regular excessive noise complaints. Just a thought…

A ‘Fond’ Farewell

Our old sofa

Last night we finally got around to putting the old, character laden (and spring free) couch out on the sidewalk ready for the lovely, heavily unionized Montreal garbage collection folks to deal with. As we live in the middle of a tourist zone, this all has to be done in a ‘tasteful’ manner and without blocking any walkways – pretty tricky after 15cm of snow with sidewalks that are pretty thin to start with. Still, after much heavy lifting, and some furtive glances (what is it about putting old furniture and junk out on the street that seems so wrong, even when you’ve phoned the council to ask?) the couch sat around the corner from us – loaded with old bits of wood and the like that were too trashed to be reused in any meaningful way.

So at 2am this morning the dulcet tones of a trash cart reversing woke us up (again) and we imagined that our dear old friend was safely on his way to a new home. Turns out we were wrong – this morning at 9am he was still there, same place, with nothing moved. I guess he must have been really trashed for noone to come pick it up! But then after wandering to the bread shop, picking up some more blank DVDs for backups and a few other bits and bobs – the couch was gone. Nothing other than a couch shaped indentation in the snow to mark his passing.

Farewell old friend. We’ll miss losing entire body parts into your failing springs, and worrying about more deep gouges in the new flooring from where your wires break loose. We’ll miss the clouds of dust you gave off when we sat down, and your particular odour of many years of smoking, sitting and possibly other things that shouldn’t be mentioned on a family blog (not by me I hasten to add – I value certain body parts too much to lose them in a freak sofa accident). Every time we sit on our new, cheap but comfortable, bland IKEA sofa we’ll miss your almost trendy stripes and faded glory. Only for a moment mind, there’s probably something good on the telly that we can now watch without fear of being swallowed alive. Lovely.

Daedelus in Montreal (Igloofest)

Just got back in from a splendid night down in the Old Port of Montreal, watching the ever splendid Daedelus. He played an hour set, half an hour less than scheduled for some reason, but what an hour. The beats ranged from mellow hip hop to near techno, with seamless mixing and live playing from a range of film samples and of his own creation. It even snowed a little which just made it seem all the more magical. Thanks again, Mr D.

As usual Daedelus was creating live tracks on his wonderful box of lights ‘n buttons, which you can buy now should you so desire. Samples are started via the box on the fly and you can watch the lights moving across in time with them as they play. The samples can then be adjusted, repeated, replayed or played as if on a keyboard all from the same box. It’s amazing to watch in action if you get the chance.. oh wait, here’s a live clip from youTube so you can see (not Igloofest!)

Go see him if you get the chance – or check out one of his amazing albums. He’ll be huge soon, and deservedly so.

Daedelus Decries the Snow’s Demise

The ever wonderful Daedelus is coming to play Montreal on the 25th January, as part of this year’s IglooFest. Plus he has this awesome video out to keep me going till then, splendid.

Maybe I’ll try and give him a CD of all the photos from his gig at APT the other year. He seems to like one of them at least, since it’s currently his mySpace profile pic. Bless {:).

To sleep, perchance parler Français

I guess I’ve been in Montréal a while now… I woke up this morning in the middle of a weird dream in which everyone was speaking French, including me. So when I tried to remember what the dream was actually about – something to do with baby rabbits – I had no idea what anyone in the dream had said… Zut alors.

All of that is pretty encouraging, but don’t expect my blog to suddenly become bi-lingual! If you want to read it in French please feel free to chuck it into Babel Fish or some other online translation engine.

The reason for this sudden influx of french-osity (and rabbits) to my dreams was most likely from spending most of yesterday taking photos for Chocolat in Outremont, the French quarter of Montréal. The owners of the stores I had to take photos of generally didn’t speak English, so for once I was forced to chat away in ‘French’ – or Franglais more like. All in all a fun day, as Outremont is a lovely area, it was beautifully sunny day and I got to eat a lovely lunch of sardines on thin pizza. Mmmm, fishy.

Today I’m still suffering from my photographic wanderings, combined with a solid three day weekend spent labouring over a hot paint roller. The kitchen, hall and bathroom are now looking much more together, barring a few last details. The doors are white for the first time in years, with no grubby hand marks or worn paint – and that in itself is something of a miracle. The other miracle being the discovery of the missing bathroom extractor fan… not sure how one can loose such a thing, but apparently you can.

Montreal’s Approach to Terrorism

An interesting day in Montreal for those following the ‘war on terror’. Firstly, Trudeau airport was closed for a number of hours because someone ‘accidentally’ snuck a knife past security. This caused hours of delays for everyone as the airport was closed down and the guy eventually found – he said he hadn’t realised that the multi-tool he was carrying was prohibited.

Then late last evening, a man outside of the American Embassy threatened to detonate a bomb in his backpack. This explained why on the way back from our curry last night we saw a pile of police cars screaming along, as opposed to the couple of cops in the curry house posing for photos with the hen parties. What’s interesting to me is that the guy eventually put his backpack down and surrendered, where it turns out there was no bomb. The guy was charged with disturbing the peace. One suspects that in America he’d have been shot, or at the very least would be on his way to Cuba by now.