Are British drivers better than Canadians? Discuss

indicator

And it’s time for our new Tuesday Night Fun Quiz! Fingers on the buzzers. Your starter for 10. No conferring. Canadian drivers … what does this light mean?

Boy racers. Sunday drivers. Road hogs. Speed freaks. Rubberneckers.

No — not names of famous 70s bands, but various ways we describe drivers. We all think we can drive. But who’s the best? Is one country better than the other? Got an opinion? Want to be in a documentary about it? Want $250 if you’re chosen?

Brits in Toronto have been asked by a production company to help find people to appear in a two-minute documentary video sponsored by a Canadian insurance company to chat about all the above.

“I am working as a content producer for a video series that deals with driving and I am looking for people that grew up in foreign countries and would be comfortable talking about the differences in driving behaviour between their homeland and Canada. Do you know anyone who could be interested?

“We will be filming in Ontario in March or April, depending on the interviewee’s location and availability. The filming takes about two hours and the fee is $250.”

They are looking for five people from five different countries, so if you’re a Brit who wants to represent your fellow expats then e-mail Charlotte at nadeau DOT charlotte AT gmail DOT COM or give her a shout on the dog and bone at 514-774-9918.

You’ll be asked to provide some background info and the producers will choose the final candidate to appear so … good luck! And tell ’em Brits in Toronto sent you, cheers.

Totally biased product review by me — The Caledonian

the-caledonian

The poshest haggis you’ll ever see on these pages

We finally did it. Been on our to-do list for a loooonnngggg time but we never got around to it. Now we have.

Yes — we went to The Caledonian, hoots mon! And was it worth it.

First things first … the Toronto crowd love their Scottishness. The place was packed and we wished that someone in our crew had thought to make a reservation. But luck was on our side and we got squeezed in. It was loud. The kind of place where you have to shout to the person sitting next to you.

Feel like a whisky, perchance? Don’t think we misheard the bartender who said they have 350 kinds on offer. A lot of them were in special cases on the wall, to be gazed on, fantasized about as you feast on …

… a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. HAGGIS!

Check the photo above for our serving, sitting atop the traditional neeps and tatties. Extremely, extremely good. There’s also a veggie version too with a whisky sauce.

Want more? How about sausage rolls and deep-fried pickles? Yes. Superb too.

Tired of the numerous whisky flights? How about a Scottish stout unique only, worldwide, to The Caledonian. Had two of those. Sublime.

Safe to say we love this place and give it a solid Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Kothur Indian Cuisine

kothur-indian-cuisine

Pristine and untouched, but not for long …

Out on the lash Friday night so the Brits in Toronto crew popped into Kothur Indian Cuisine, on Yonge Street just below the Duke of Gloucester. We needed to get a base first.

Once the prerequisite trio of pickled carrots, mint sauce and tamarind sauce came out, we dived into the main events.

I had the Veg Pakoras to start, six of them which was pretty generous. They were nice and crunchy on the outside, but a little chalky on the inside. Wasn’t a huge fan but they filled a gap.

Then onto the medium-spiced Chicken Karahi, my go-to dish when checking out a new curry house for the first time.

It was a decent-sized portion with good flavour, lots of sauce and an odd piece of carrot stuck in it. Should have asked for medium-to-hot spice level though because it was slightly lacking on that front.

So all in all it’s a Brits in Toronto 2/5 stars for the experience.

 

Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club are looking for new members

Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club

Ooorgghh arggghhhh mateys, shiver me timbers, yo ho ho and a rugby ball

In March of last year we introduced you to the Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club and they got in touch with Brits in Toronto for some more free PR, so here it is me mateys.

They are looking for new members for the club and also have some events coming up, thus:

Pre-season Indoor Training (Jr)
Location: Monarch Park Collegiate, 1 Hanson Street, (West Gym)
Dates: February 4, 18 and 25, starts at 11:00 a.m.

Pre-season Indoor Training (Sr)
Location: Major League Sportsplex, 641 Danforth Rd
Dates: February 19 to April 9, starts at 12:00 p.m.

Buccaneers Registration Day
Location: The Leaside Pub, 190 Laird Dr
Date: March 18

Buccaneers March in St. Patty’s Day Parade
Location: downtown
Date: March 19

Buccaneers Poker Night
Location: Army Navy Air Force Veterans Club, 128 Broadview Ave
Date: February 11, doors open 6:00 p.m., first hand 7:30ish

Here’s their latest flyer and their website for more deets.

Things to do in Toronto for Robbie Burns Day, eat some Scotch eggs and drink some whisky

robbie-burns-2017

Celebrate Robbie Burns’ birthday on January 25

It will be Robbie Burns birthday on January 25 and if you want to celebrate it, there’s a few fun things lined up in Toronto.

Here’s the top 10 events courtesy of blogTO and Toronto Life is mentioning the Scotch Egg Club: “a pop-up speakeasy highlighting a unique (and delicious) marriage — Scotch eggs and Dewar’s Whisky.”

Hoots mon, we canna decide!

Take the best of 2016 and look forward to 2017

new-year-countdown

Already out of date

This was going to be a post lamenting how bad 2016 was and how we can’t wait to see the back of it. And in many ways it was.

Too many notable people dying, lots of very talented Brits included. But also good people that we may have personally known. Here at Brits in Toronto we lost some close family this year.

A disaster of a US election filled with scandal, hate, bigotry and issues that will be remembered for a long time.

Wars and terrorist attacks. Natural disasters. Plane crashes.

And don’t even get us started on Brexit.

What a year 2016 was.

But, then we thought about the good things too. Not the good things that you read in the media — because, let’s face it, it’s scant — but the good things that happen in everyday life.

Maybe you got a new job? Got married? Bought a home? Made some great memories with family and friends? Went on a nice trip? Feel healthy and in good shape?

We’re so often inundated with the bad news that we overlook the good stuff and that’s what we should take from 2016. Let’s all hope that 2017 will bring more happiness, good fortune and joy into the world.

And if we don’t check in before Saturday night, wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.

James and I go to London

james-uk

The “constructive boardroom meeting” stock photo actor auditions were very competitive this year

(London, England that is, not London, Ontario. Well played.)

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and a Director of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on Brexit and pensions in Canada. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

In my previous article, I introduced you to my friend James (real person, name changed). James is an octogenarian who emigrated from the UK many years ago, and retired in Ontario in 1998. He is what is known as a “frozen” pensioner.

Now, I know he lives in a cold part of Canada, but that is not why he is “frozen”! No, James is one of 144,000 UK pensioners living in Canada who do not receive an annual increase to their UK state pension — whereas pensioners living in the UK, the European Union, and several disparate countries around the world do receive the annual increase.

This is known as the UK “frozen pension” policy. He still cannot understand why, if you live south of the Niagara Falls (in the US) then you get the annual increase, but if you live 500 yards north of the Falls (in Canada) then you don’t.

When I showed him the “Pension Erosion” chart (see below), then he marked on it (in blue) the year in which he retired, and then realized that he had received £25,000 less than his peers in the UK … even though he has made the same National Insurance Contributions as them, and had earned a “full” UK State Pension.

uk-state-pension-erosion

James marked the blue bit

So, James packed his bags, said goodbye to his wife and set off for the UK — and I said goodbye to my wife and went with him. Somebody had to carry his bags!

james-uk

“G-4?” “Hey! You sunk my battleship!”

In the space of eight days, we spoke with 24 Parliamentarians (Members of Parliament and Peers), the UK media, and several other pension organisations. We showed everybody the Pension Erosion chart, and there came a new realization of just how badly UK pensioners living abroad in countries like Australia and Canada are being treated by the UK government.

For example, for those UK pensioners living in Canada who are 85 or over, the accumulated “Pension Erosion” amounts to £669 million. For those UK pensioners living beneath the poverty line, the Canadian government subsidizes them, which comes out of Canadian taxpayers’ pockets, rather than the UK government’s. How can that be right, or fair?

What we learned from our trip to London is that the main issue challenging UK Members of Parliament is Brexit.

Nobody knows what is going to happen with respect to the 488,700 UK pensioners living in the European Union (EU). The table below shows the number of UK pensioners living in each country within the EU.

uk-pensioners-living-in-the-eu

That’s a lot of UK pensioners scattered across the EU

It is not clear whether these pensioners will continue to receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension once the Brexit negotiations have been completed, since the UK government only increases UK State Pensions annually where, “they are legally obliged to.”

Post-Brexit, if the UK is neither part of the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA), then the UK government is no longer legally obliged to annually increase the UK State Pension for UK pensioners living in the EU.

The Telegraph reported in May 2016 that over a 20-year-period, UK pensioners living in the EU would be, “£50,000 poorer.”

Many of the UK pensioners living in the EU fear that they will be a “pawn” in the Brexit negotiations, and their annual UK State Pension increases will be a “bargaining chip.” If this is the case — and their UK State Pension is no longer increased each year — then, for many of them, they will have no option but to sell up and return home to the UK.

If all UK pensioners living in the EU were to return home to the UK, then the additional cost to the NHS has been estimated to be £2 billion per year.

In talking to one MP, we found out that the rural areas may offer the cheapest housing but these houses are in remote locations, far away from medical facilities. NHS hospitals, which are already stretched, will become even more so due to inadequate staffing levels.

Every day seems to bring yet another story of how the UK NHS system is one step closer to breaking point. Pensioners tend to be the greatest users of medical resources, so, if they were to return (from the EU) in significant numbers, they would stretch the NHS to beyond breaking point.

James and I came back from London with new vigour to try and help the UK pensioners living in the EU, by setting up a new petition. We wanted to let Brits in Toronto readers know that the International Consortium of British Pensioners have developed their own petition.

This petition is designed mostly for the nearly half a million UK pensioners living in the EU — but also applies to the 144,000 UK pensioners living in Canada who already have their UK state pension “frozen” — who may lose the annual indexation to their UK State Pension as part of the Brexit negotiations.

We also ask your readers to review the House of Commons Petition. British citizens and UK residents can sign this petition, so please sign this if you can, and ask your family and friends in the UK to sign this petition as well. There are currently just over 4,000 signatures. At 10,000 signatures, the UK government will respond, and if there are 100,000 signatures, then the UK government will debate the petition. Please sign this petition before it expires on 25th January 2017.

We would also like to encourage readers to join in the battle and become members of the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners.

We would also like to wish all Brits in Toronto readers a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2017.

Nigel can be reached via e-mail at nigel AT britishpensions DOT COM.