You may already know that NosyNeighbour is very frugal. He loves to get a good deal. So when we were planning our trip to England and Ireland, he was very proud to have found flights for €40 each return from Dublin to Exeter. The only catch was that you had to decide at booking whether you were checking any luggage to get the best deal.

Since I’d already done one month with carryon only, we opted for no checked luggage. But as trip planning progressed, I realized I would need a small backpack and my regular wheeled luggage. And when we booked our flight to Dublin and back, I realized I now had three different airline regulations around carryon (Air Canada, Aer Lingus and Flybe). As it turned out, we were also dealing with Air Canada Rouge.

With the help of friend, I paired down my clothes so that everything went together. I even splurged on some dollar store infinity scarves to mix up the look. Best $4 I’ve spent there in a while! I then packed it all my wheeled carryon and weighed it. All within the regulations! Then everything was put away so that our cat wouldn’t realize we were going away on vacation.

Eventually travel day arrived, and we brought up the cat carrier, opening its three zipped doors. He’s such a curious cat and loves tunnels, it wasn’t long before he was inside and I’d zipped it all up. Then we set off for the Pussycat Hotel. Instead of kisses goodbye, it was hisses. But we knew he’d eventually settle in.

Next up was getting to the airport. We only had carryon luggage and opted for public transit. I still had some old bus tickets from when I was working and we decided to give them a try. We had the extra change ready to bring up the fare to the current rate.

The first bus arrived, and the bus driver flat out refused to accept them. He told us we’d have to exchange them at OC Transpo head office. He wasn’t going to budge so we waited for the next one. That bus driver said that he shouldn’t take them, but did. And didn’t even charge us the extra! So, after three buses and the O-train, we arrived at the airport.

Going through security was really weird. As the line was loading personal items into the boxes for scanning, the security officer “randomly” selected seven out of eight people for swabbing. Thankfully I was the one in eight that just walked through. And I’ve often wondered why sometimes I beep and NosyNeighbour doesn’t and then the next screening, it’s reversed. Still wearing the same clothes.

Once through security, we had dinner at Local. Then we headed over to our gate. That’s when we realized that the checkin agent hadn’t seated us together on either flight. At least we were able to change it at the gate. In fact, in Toronto, the gate agent spent 30 hectic minutes trying to put travellers back together.

Our plane was delayed leaving Toronto because customs were “inspecting” the plane, which had come from Kingston, Jamaica. Gee, wonder what they were looking for.

It was our first time flying Air Canada Rouge. I can’t say I’m a fan of their uniforms. I’d heard not great things about their inflight entertainment app, so we decided to just sleep. No dinner because we’d heard bad reviews on that as well. But we did take them up on breakfast, the high-fat, high-sugar banana bread. And the delay meant that we landed in Dublin a bit later, making checking into the hotel that much easier.

Yesterday a friend e-mailed me to let me know that the Expedition Shoppe was having an end of lease sale, with 30 to 80 percent off. NosyNeighbour and I had visited the Garage before it closed at the end of last month, and I was curious to see what I could find.

So after completing my walk along the beach loop, I popped in for a browse. Okay, I’d brought my credit card just in case, so I was hoping to find a deal. And I did. Hint to Nosyneighbour, it’s all final sale … so nothing’s going back ;-)

I also learned some sad news. There won’t be a lease renewal party. They are closing at the end of September and haven’t found another location … yet. I will be sad to see them leave the neighbourhood. I think they kept MEC on their toes. MEC’s service has been going steadily downhill, as they hire young hipsters that look at me like I’m too old to shop there.

So that’s the new part of the post. Now here’s the gossip.

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If you’ve ever walked along Carleton Avenue between Scott Street and the Ottawa River, you’ve probably noticed all the new houses that have been mushrooming up. The street was rezoned for higher density, and developers have no problem buying a lot and slicing it up into two sets of doubles, just like you’d slice up some mushrooms to accompany a pork chop or steak on the barbecue.

A neighbour (but not NosyNeighbour) was doing the beach loop one day, when she noticed a black sedan with tinted windows driving slowly along Carleton. It was during the day, and while she normally feels safe walking down the street, she wondered if it was a drug dealer in the car.

But when the car pulled over and the driver got out, she realized it was a certain Ottawa hockey player. One captain of the local NHL team. And he walked over to talk to the builder. She didn’t hear the conversation, but there has been a rumour circulating in the neighbourhood that an Ottawa Senator (hockey, not political) is moving into the Champlain Park area. If you’re moving in, welcome EK65 to the hood!

The next piece of gossip is almost news. Another member of the team has bought a house on Carleton. This one comes from Sweden as well. But his parents come from somewhere else. He speaks four languages and one of them is Farsi. Guess who?

I haven’t been blogging lately, but do have some news. But this post is about saving on groceries. It was prompted by NosyNeighbour’s comment at lunch. Somebody he knows at work asked why the blog didn’t have a link to Produce Depot.

I’ve since added the link under Flyers and thought I would share my philosophy about saving money on groceries. Keep in mind that I’m retired now so I have a bit of extra time. Three seasons of the year I use active transportation so the links for the flyers are all within an easy bike ride. I have a specific bike I use for groceries, with an old milk carton on the back, a clip on basket on the front and a backpack on my back. You tend to make healthier decisions when you arrive by bike. I also never buy meat unless it’s on sale.

Wednesday is the day that sales start at Produce Depot and Giant Tiger. But there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve gotten a great deal on a product only to discover it’s cheaper somewhere else the next day. So I’ve started going to Smart Canucks to make my entire list on Wednesday. It has all the flyers usually by Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday is the day that sales start at Food Basics and Metro. While the prices might be a bit higher at Metro and it’s no longer 24 hours, I do like to support my closest grocery store. It’s where I go when there’s only one item I need, regardless of cost.

And while I hate to support big American chains that put small independent shops out of business, and use predatory pricing, I sometimes will go to the Walmart Supercentre on Baseline since I’ve discovered I don’t need to cycle on any major roads and can take the path almost all the way there. They don’t get a link for their flyer though, just on principle.

Friday is when the Real Canadian Superstore starts its sale. But we don’t call it that anymore. We call it Stupidstore. One of neighbours used this term a few months after it opened, and it’s stuck in our minds ever since. Here’s my side rant about the Stupidstore:

  • the staff aren’t helpful or polite
  • sale items are often not in stock
  • the produce is usually mangy
  • the entrance is overcrowded

Okay, I’ll stop there.

I sit down and write my list, then search recipes for the best deals. I’ve made key lime ice and lime doughnuts, which I never would have if it hadn’t been for a sale on limes. That week also saw lime chicken.

Then I work out how much I can fit on my bike and set off early the morning that the sale starts. Not only am I getting good deals, but I’m also getting exercise three days a week by splitting up my grocery shopping.

Happy shopping!

What a hot summer it’s been so far. With temperatures in the high 20s every day and feeling more like 40 with the humidity, I haven’t been walking a lot. Instead I like to cycle, albeit slowly, to at least get a breeze in my face.

A lot has been going on in the neighbourhood. Starting in Hintonburg and heading west, here’s what I’ve seen: Read the rest of this entry »

A few weeks ago I was able to capture the final part of moving a house. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around for the first part, where they removed the chimney, the top part of the roof, and all the bricks.

A small crowd of neighbours gathered soon after the trucks arrived. But many of them left before the grand finale. Some small children were lucky enough to be in the neighbourhood with their mothers. The big wide eyes on the little boys showed their amazement. Tonka trucks will never be enough for them now!

It’s taken me a while to get the photos and videos together. But here it is for your (and especially my neighbours’) viewing pleasure. Click on the photo below. Once at Vimeo, the password is “house”.

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I’ve been trying to take short fast neighbourhood walks at least three times a week. It’s especially helpful when I’m working on the computer a lot. It gets the blood circulating.

On most of these walks I bring my smart phone so that I know when I’ve reached my 10,000 step goal. It also allows me to snap a few pics so that I remember what’s new in the hood.

Now, I finally have time to upload them. Or maybe it’s more like I’ve completely forgotten them. Anyways, it’s a mish-mash of Westfest and the edge of Hintonburg: Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday evening, NosyNeighbour and I walked to the Dollarama to pick up a few items. We saw lots of changes in the neighbourhood. Some we’d already read about, but some were new (at least to us).  Read the rest of this entry »


The new blow dry bar still says opening soon. But it looks like it will soon have a new neighbour.


Across the street, Vittoria has moved in to the former Lapointe’s location.


It’s official now because I’ve blogged about it. Nestlé Tollhouse is now open.


Dirty window graffiti. It was difficult to photograph, but somebody left a clean-finger-on-dirty-window message for Ashcroft. Do you have one for a developer? It could get the windows cleaned at the very least.


Nope, he’s not cleaning the window.


But something new is arriving.

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year after the stress of registration. Bike New York had hired a different company and their servers crashed for the first four hours.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the staggered start was on  time. Central Park also had no bottlenecks.  But all that was waiting at Astoria Park. With only one exit and all riders being forced through it, we waited more than 20 minutes trying to get out.

After that it was smooth sailing under sunny skies. Even the wind wasn’t too bad. We made it to the festival and waited in line for our free TD souvenir photo. Another few miles and we hit the growing line for the ferry. But the TD crew was walking through the crowd handing out free Popsicles to help keep us cool. We chatted to a few people along the way, some from Detroit, Philadelphia,  Australia and even a few locals.

Despite the hiccups,  the overall experience was great. And this time on the ferry I looked not just at the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline,  but also at the Verrazano Bridge behind us.

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Today’s plan was to find some shirts for NosyNeighbour,  a hat for me, and various accessories for our Dahon folding bikes. 


We arrived at Century 21 shortly after it opened and found some good deals. After dropping off our puchases,  we walked through the Financial District to City Hall and then along Broadway to East 13th Street, to bfold, a bike shop recommended by a guy at the Bike Expo.


You would never find it walking down the street. It’s jam packed with folders and the most helpful guys. In addition to the big apple tires,  we picked uo the xooter rack and a Thule bag. We also learned a bit about the guy who referred us. We knew he had worked at the store. But we didn’t know he’d sold his violin to buy his first Brompton. We may check out his foldiefoodie tour next time.


We walked over to Union Square for a quick bite and munched on our pies while we people watched. There was a lot to take in. A tour group were listening to the guide talking about the history of the neighbourhood,  while a hundred people were getting pumped for the New York Marijuana Parade. Methi ks they were gojng to be leaving a bit late and maybe inthe wrong direction.


After a bit of a hiccup getting on the N whe we needed the R, we eventually made our way back.  NosyNeighbour replaced his tires while I surfed and wrote drafts for the blog, but only after I’d found tge tablet,  which was hidden in the safe.

So,  to kill some time,  we took the free  ferry to the Brooklyn Ikea for an ice cream and a pass by tge Statue of Liberty. The Ikea bistro was ceazy busy. And at leasf now with Ottawa’s bigger Ikea,  I dobt need to shop for stuff here.

Time killed, we returned back to the hotel having walked more than 17,000 steps.  We visited Ulysses’ for supper, sharing some spring rolls. NosyNeighbour gad fish and chips,  and I had the Stone Street salad with chicken. Here’s hooing we’re well fueled for tomorrow.


August 2015
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