Monthly Archives: September 2015

It’s a great time to be living in Toronto right now if you love sports

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That’s one happy coffee, super-caffeinated and twitching with excitement at being sold in Toronto

I popped out of the office yesterday and was strolling down Yonge Street when this geezer stopped me and said, “British Bloke.” I said, “Wot?” He said, “British Bloke.” I said, “Wot?” He said, “British Bloke.” I said, “Wot?” He said, “British Bloke.” I finally said, “Wot d’ya want?!”

Turned out he had the wrong person. Anyway, as I was meandering along in the early-autumn sunshine, I thought about the buzz around Toronto sports at the moment. It’s brilliant.

This is in large part due to the Toronto Blue Jays making the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. To a British Bloke used to quarter-finals and semi-finals and finals and you win the cup, the playoff system is still a little confusing. But there’s a massive wave of excitement sweeping the city now as people are starting to hope for big things.

They have really played well as a team and deserve every success!

Similarly, Toronto FC are close to making their own playoffs too — maybe as early as this coming Saturday. This is a team that has REALLY had its ups and downs, so it will be a BLOODY BIG DEAL if they make it this time. Fingers crossed. The Brits in Toronto crew will be at BMO Field cheering them on.

Now, the Toronto Maple Leafs. We always see the glass as half full here in our office. New manager, new attitude, new Leafs … we are hoping. Another Toronto team that hasn’t won anything major for a while — last time was 1967 — we’ll be getting behind them when the season begins.

Imagine if the Leafs, TFC and Blue Jays all won something this year? We have no idea the odds of that happening but would put some cash down just for shits and giggles. The return would be huge!

We’re Brits. We love Brit stuff. But we also choose to live in Toronto and that means we get behind the city and wish them all the luck in the world!

Tomatoes, eggs, bacon and a nice bottle of 2011 Cab Sav please

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The Sims enjoyed browsing the fine groceries and booze on offer in the same supermarket they had just built

With the long-overdue news yesterday that beer is to be sold in select Ontario grocery stores by Christmas (some good comments from readers further down in that article), the Brits in Toronto crew were pretty happy about that. Freedom and choice at last. But then we read a little closer.

“The first batch of licences will be limited to 25 grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area, 16 in western Ontario, 13 in the east and six in the north.”

“By May, about 150 stores will be approved to sell beer while the province hopes to boost that number to 450 supermarkets within three years.”

“Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said beer sales will be introduced to grocery stores in a ‘prudent, socially responsible way.'”

It’s like we’re not being trusted to be treated as adults. You go to the UK, the States — even Montreal — and you can happily browse the aisles, selecting your groceries for dinner, and then wander two feet over to the booze aisle and pick up a nice bottle of wine, or case of beer.

It’s so convenient. You don’t have to jump in your car and make another stop at an LCBO or Beer Store somewhere.

But here in Torontario (we made that up, it’s a combination of Toronto/Ontario), when you’re heading to a party or somewhere, you need to get some booze but it’s 10:01 p.m. — then you’re going to be the cheapo sponger that turns up with no beers or wine because the places you can buy booze have closed. It’s ridiculous.

Head to a pub and sit outside on a little patio to enjoy an alcoholic drink. Great, all legal. But stick your arm holding a pint over that railing, or step outside the door and take a sip = ARMAGEDDON! END OF THE WORLD! Breaking the law. Corrupting and influencing everyone walking by, enticing them with the evil booze.

People will always be able to get booze if they need it. And of course, there are those who don’t want to drink. Free will and all that. But we just want to have the CHOICE of when to do what we want.

Relax a little. We can be trusted. It’s 2015.

Contest — Toronto’s British Invasion: We Love London Ticket Race

London

London calling. At 5 cents a minute cheap rate

We just stumbled haphazardly across this brilliant contest to win two round trip tickets to London, England, not London, Ontario.

Snip:

“Come out and experience the excitement of London coming to Toronto with Flight Centre Canada’s We Love London Ticket Race! This thrilling, all-day sightseeing event will take place in Toronto on Tuesday, September 22 (TODAY!) from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. A clue will be revealed every hour on Flight Centre Canada’s Facebook and Twitter accounts that will take participants to checkpoints across Toronto that have been re-created as iconic London experiences.

“Be the first one to each stop and say the ‘secret word’ (as revealed on social media) to win TWO round trip tickets to London! Don’t stress if you’re not the first one there — every racer to the checkpoints will receive a boarding pass to the British-themed after-party, where you can snack on hors d’oeuvres, enjoy an English pint, snap tourist photos and get one final chance to win round trip flights and more great prizes.”

So wot ya waiting for me old mucka?! Git ya boat race over here for all the details!

Totally biased product review by me — Pusateri’s English Blue Stilton

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Nothing says English like some Blue Stilton

We were feeling a tad peckish in the Brits in Toronto Yorkville office the other day, so sent out Dave our new intern on a food run. He didn’t disappoint.

Nestled in between the Monster Munch and pork pies we spied a hefty chunk of cheese … namely English Blue Stilton from Pusateri’s Fine Foods. (Our faces lit up with joy similar to Dave’s when he found out it was an unpaid internship, but he’d really really benefit from the role, exposure to media contacts, the intricacies of a fax machine and the glowing references we’d give him after his four-month, 35-hour-a-week free learning experience.)

So, how was the cheese?

OMG. Can we say that or do we need to text it? This cheese is brilliant.

Imagine it’s Christmas dinner. Your nan wakes up and asks, “Who cut the cheese, luv?”

No one, nan. No one. This cheese simply crumbles into bite-size pieces. It’s the kind of cheese that sticks to your fingers as you eat it. Or you can simply put it on a Ritz cracker, add a little Branston Pickle atop the pile and eat it that way.

It has a really nice creamy texture, with a bite of tanginess. This is the kind of cheese we keep in the fridge and nibble on each night. Throw some in your soup and watch it melt, then drip off your spoon as you lift it up eagerly, not rushing the moment but making it last.

It’s very good! We give this cheese a Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

Newcomers Toronto Fair — October 3, 2015

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TIFF will be over by then so you might as well come to this

Ever get to Canada and feel like you need a helping hand? Been there, done that. Never knew about the Newcomers Fair back then … but luckily there’s one just around the corner in October to help people now.

Deets:

“As Canada’s largest event for newcomers, we understand the challenges you and your family might face when moving to a new city or country. At Newcomers Canada we can help you whether you have just arrived or want to stay longer.

“Our Fair is not only Canada’s leading recruitment event for foreign-born workers already in Canada, but includes Visa and Immigration Advice, Career Services, Education and English Language Testing, Foreign Credential Assessment and Settlement Services.

“If you need to sit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test for immigration, studying or employment, make sure you register for our FREE IELTS Master Class.”

It’s free to pre-register online for the whole shebang, so check out this page for more information.

Please add yourself to our Britmap

Britmap

Britmap

We all love Britpop — changed the world of music back in the day.

Now it’s time to change the world of maps. Britmap. A map of Brit-related places and other useful services in the GTA.

We encourage you to add your establishment (we approve them all) or subscribe to the feed and alerts.

Let’s put Brits back on the map!

See Downton Abbey author Jessica Fellowes in Toronto

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Please don’t tell us the butler did it AGAIN?

If you like Downton Abbey, you will love Jessica Fellowes. A UK author and public speaker who tours extensively on the subject of Downton Abbey — the show that was created by her uncle, Julian.

She now has three official Downton books from her extensive research with her all-insider-access to cast and film sets. Jessica is a wealth of Downton Abbey knowledge.

Jessica’s retrospective show has been a major hit in the UK and USA and garners rave reviews on her Downton Abbey multimedia presentation complete with audience Q&A.

Jessica is appearing in Toronto for ONE DAY ONLY — Saturday, October 10 — and tickets go on sale to the general public at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 11.

Guess what? That’s right mate. Brits in Toronto has been given the pre-sales password* to get in there early. Be quick … it expires on Friday!

*And it is: BATES

Happy birthday to us! Two days ago

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Get those cucumber sandwiches and warm lemon drinks ready — we’re celebrating!

We’ve been so caught up in the Canadian federal election political joshing that we totally forgot it was our 2nd birthday two days ago. Happy birthday to us!

It’s been a brilliant two years of bringing you the best of British issues in Toronto, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. We hope you’ve had a laugh too. And learned some useful stuff along the way.

Thank you for all the warm support, social media links, the brave Successful Brits in Toronto (all great sports!) and various interactions. Means a lot to us, seriously. Got some exciting things planned so keep on checking in and sending our site to the advertising manager wherever you may work.

And a big thank you to long-time Brits in Toronto friend Barbra for writing this song for us … someone’s cutting dusty onions in our office right now. *sniff*

Successful Brits in Toronto: Kate Blair

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This could be the next famous Blair

We know a few Blairs that are already very famous.

There’s Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister; Linda Blair, green-puke-spewing devil’s abomination and hell spawn; Lionel Blair, excellent tap dancer and star of the riotous game show Give Us A Clue.

Author Kate Blair could be the Next Big Thing In Famous Blairs. You heard it here first.

Kate is from Hayling Island in Hampshire (although as an adult she lived in Portsmouth, Newcastle, Cardiff, Oxford and London).

Her debut novel is coming out through DCB (an imprint of Toronto publisher Cormorant Books) next month — Transferral — a YA novel set in London. It’s up for pre-order at Chapters/Indigo and Amazon, as well as through local independent bookstores across Canada.

Kate has a website/blog and will be on a panel at The Word on the Street Toronto at Harbourfront on September 27, and signing books there. She is finishing up her second novel now.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

In 2001, I came to Toronto on a student working visa as an intern at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as part of my MA in Museum Studies. I was only meant to be here for eight weeks, but had such a good time I stayed for a year, getting some part-time contract work at the ROM and part-time work at Spadina Museum.

After a few years back in the UK as a curator, I kept having vivid and happy dreams where I found myself back in Toronto. So I quit my job and came back in 2005 for a few months and discovered I loved Toronto just as much as I remembered. I also met a guy (as so many of us do).

I emigrated through the Skilled Worker Program, moving here permanently in 2008. I married my boyfriend in 2010, and we have two children. I became a citizen in November 2014.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Because I came as an intern, the “Canadian experience” problem wasn’t such an issue for me.

The bigger problem was the relative lack of museum jobs compared to the UK. So now I work in a different field — for a nursing union — which I really enjoy.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

What I love most about Toronto is the sense of optimism and ambition. My friends were mostly students when I first arrived, but they all worked unbelievably hard through their 20s and early 30s, and now many are filmmakers, comedians, actors and writers. That inspired me to chase my own dream of becoming a writer.

Sometimes it can feel like the UK has a more cynical (and often realistic) attitude towards aiming high. I’ve also found it easier to become a part of creative communities in Toronto.

London can be quite exclusive, and without an “in” certain doors are shut that I found wide open here. The accent doesn’t hurt, either.

I didn’t mind the winters at first, because they’re bright and sunny. But then I had children. Double buggies and snow drifts are not a happy combination. My children learned some very bad words last February.

The lack of beer gardens with play areas is another personal gripe, although they’re getting harder to find back home, too.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I don’t have a lot of British friends in Toronto; almost all are Canadian-born or immigrants from other countries. I visit home a couple of times a year, and stay in close contact with friends there, so I don’t seek out Brits here.

There’s such an amazing range of food in Toronto that I rarely find myself missing roasts and chip butties. I fill up on those when I go home.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

My advice to Brits in Toronto is to throw yourself into everything that excites you, and to become close friends with someone who has a cottage.