One of the big appeals when we moved to our new area was the fact that we’d be able to do day trips to Canada for a spot of shopping and lunch. However, our first year here has been eventful to say the least so there hasn’t been much time to head across the border. However, that changed this past weekend. Finally, a day trip to Canada was arranged.

Of course, now we have a new friend in Canada. I wrote about our first meeting here. I e-mailed Joanne to let her know we were coming across the border to see if she’d have time to meet up. Thankfully, I caught her on one of her slower weekends and she took on the mantle of event planner for the day. Joanne took my piles of jumbled excitement and all the places I was contemplating and made it into a reasonable and interesting plan. We were to meet at 10.00a at the Welland Canal Lock No. 3 in St. Catharines, bringing with us a bit of hope that our timing might coincide with a ship going through the lock.

Being so excited, I had my guys up and on the road at 5.30a. Even with our usual stops and the dreaded border control, we still arrived 90 minutes early. Time enough to stop at Tim Horton’s for a bit of breakfast and then off to explore. We ended up at Port Dalhousie Marina and had a look around.

Empty slips, but a stunning view!

A new restaurant…perhaps for next time?

Some magnificent scrollwork at the entrance!

Finally, it was time to meet up with Joanne. We arrived at the stroke of 10 at the Lock where Joanne approached excitedly reporting that a ship had just gone through the lock and another was headed in now. Joanne has done an excellent job explaining about the history of the lock and providing a few pix on her blog.

After we had our fill of the lock (or rather after the lock was finally filled), we headed off for a bit of shopping. While my husband and I were browsing at the store I’d come across the border to get to, Joanne sat down with our son and got him talking about his swimming. It always amazes me when people know just the right questions to ask in any situation. A simple, “What is your stroke?” and he was pulled right in.

Shopping completed, it was agreed that I would ride with Joanne to our next destination about 20 minutes away where we planned to have some lunch.

Did you ever notice the difference between the first time you meet someone and the second? The first time is like that first date…..feeling out boundaries, asking the polite questions, sizing up the person in front of you. The second time you meet you’ve already covered all that. Plus, being bloggy buddies on here, we have that back-and-forth to further things along.

The drive over to Niagara on the Lake for lunch was MOST enlightening. I learned a lot about Joanne as we skipped across topics of politics and the new Canadian Prime Minister, the recent attacks in France, and life with her sons and husband. All these things just reaffirmed my opinion that Joanne and I have much in common.

But there are some things you have to experience first-hand that give you a whole new view to the person. Somewhere along the way, Joanne has recently lost her dash mount for her satnav unit. So, a lot of our trip to NOTL was spent with Joanne looking at the unit on her lap and yelling at “her” not to turn off when “she” apparently decided to from time to time. Indeed, it seems Joanne’s satnav has been imbued with quite a personality and she’s even given her a name which I won’t repeat here. From all appearances, their relationship is quite back and forth with the satnav just shutting down when things get too heated between them, or maybe it’s revenge for the name Joanne calls her. Either way, their jousting is most amusing to anyone else in the vehicle.

The other big thing I got from driving with Joanne is there isn’t any doubt that she lives in a city. Recently, I’ve begun to teach my son to drive. As we live in a suburban area, space is no problem. Teaching him to drive has been a lot about maintaining a very healthy distance between our vehicle and the next vehicle. It’s been about being relaxed behind the wheel and giving due consideration to both the vehicle’s occupants and the other vehicles on the road. When you live in the suburbs you can do that. Driving with my husband who conquered the Washington D.C. beltway for a year is a whole different experience.

Riding with Joanne isn’t as aggressive as my husband nor as terrifying as riding with my son, but I did lose count of the times I held my breath as she’d hurtle along in her sleek car and not slow down until she came within inches of a car stopped at a red light in front of her. ‘Tis true…I’m a nervous wreck from riding with my son while he learns, but even said son told me later he couldn’t believe how close she got to the other cars on the road. There was never any law broken or unsafe driving practice exhibited; she’s actually quite a good driver – very skilled, her car is unmarked by accident, and she kept up an ongoing repartee with both me and her satnav while driving. But this is definitely one of the places where we differ. She’s used to city driving. It’s in her bones. I’m not. It’s kind of like what Joanne told me over lunch when I was talking about riding with my son and how hard it was to sit there and keep my mouth shut. It isn’t just that he doesn’t have experience…it’s also that he has different driving style than mine. That different-driving-style comment is now one my son mimics back to me every time I try and persuade him to do something the way I would. Anyway, Joanne and I definitely differ in our driving styles.

After lunch, we headed down for one last scenic vista at the Gorge in Niagara Falls. Closed for the season, we still had some great views from the overlook. After that, our time was up and we went our separate ways.

After I got home, I chuckled to see Joanne’s e-mail relating the story of her trip home where her satnav once again got the best of her and took her on an unexplained side trip and got her lost for a bit. I, on the other hand, had the experience of a teen at the wheel so even getting up as early as I did there was definitely no napping for me on the way home. I’m not sure which is worse.

What I do know is we managed to pack quite a bit into five hours thanks to Joanne’s excellent planning skills. I’m recommending Joanne for Canadian Concierge. She’s full of great ideas, the ability to make a plan from a pile of unrelated information, she’s interesting, interested, and embraces the chance to make a difference to someone anywhere she can. In the words of Darth Vader, “The force is strong with this one.” She definitely gets my vote!


A few weeks ago, we decided to pop downtown and make the acquaintance of another family, Mr. and Mrs. O and their son, Ollie. To me, it’s always quite interesting meeting new families with their own customs, traditions, rules, and little ways of doing things.  Safe to say, you can learn a lot about others visiting them in their own home.   I do have to admit this family was not the most mannerly family I’ve ever met….at least, they didn’t follow what I consider the “normal” protocols of entertaining.

First impressions were pretty normal….albeit a bit hairy.  The mother, Dasa, met us as we arrived.

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Bad hair day?

Things went downhill from there.   After satisfying her initial curiosity, she didn’t invite us in but instead just sat down and kept a close eye on us.101015 (2)

I would’ve been a bit nonplussed by the suspicion, but her husband, Joe, was even worse! He wouldn’t acknowledge us at all…..He never even looked at us the whole time we were there.1 (4)

Their 6-year-old, Ollie, was still wrapped up in his bedsheet. Dad must’ve finished the paper already because Ollie was making quite a mess of it! I think he was probably looking for the comics.

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Finally, though, a flurry of activity ensued when a ‘neighbour’ of Mr. and Mrs. O stopped by to drop off some banana treats. 1 (5)Dasa didn’t let any grass grow under her feet (or the treats!) 

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But did she offer one to any of us? I think not….. ‘the winner takes it all’ seemed to be her motto! And she certainly wasn’t shy about eating in front of us either! 1 (6)She did, however, make sure Ollie got his fair share. He sat on the step by his father and looked up at Mummy eating while he enjoyed his own snack. 1 (7)

It was a bemusing experience to be sure. Certainly, they were the highlight of our trip. As interesting as it was meeting them, I don’t think I’m going to be inviting them over anytime soon. However, if they do decide to come see us at least I’ll know what to serve for dinner……