WORLD PRIDE TORONTO – WHO DOESN’T LOVE A RAINBOW!

World Pride festivities are well underway in Toronto but if you haven’t been involved in any of the fun shenanigans, it’s definitely not too late! Pride week   is a ten-day event held in Toronto, Ontario during the end of June each year but this year will be even bigger and better, as people from all over the world will be coming to join in, as it’s the first World Pride to be held here in Toronto!

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Pride is a celebration of the diversity of the LGBT community. It is one of the largest organized gay pride festivals in the world. During pride you can expect bars to stay open super late, pop up stages to appear out of nowhere and there to be enough marchs to last you till next summer including the Dyke March, a Trans March and the Pride Parade.

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The main parade (Pride Parade) will be held this Sunday 29th. In recent years attendees have ranged from 500,000 to over one million for the entire week, and about 100,000 for the parade itself but there’s lots of fun to be had before that.

Bars open late - http://www.blogto.com/bars

Random parties -

http://www.blogto.com/city/2014/

For a map of Toronto World Pride parade routes and events click here.

Mass wedding at the beautiful Casa Loma - http://bcove.me/688anjaa – june 26

PAINT NITE – WHERE THE CREATIVE JUICES AND ALCOHOL DOTH FLOW

Ever fancied yourself as an underrated Picasso – well Paint Nite might be just the thing for you. Paint Nite seamlessly blends two favourite human past times – art and drink. I recenly attended a Paint Nite in Toronto and not only were my creative juices flowing but so was the White Zinfandel.

The 2-hour Paint Nite painting parties are held daily with 25 people in attendance. We were luckily guided step-by-step by a lovely lady named Tara, who was great fun and kept the room entertained. Everyone was instructed on how to draw the same picture and it was cool to see how wildly different many of them were. I enjoyed seeing my canvas start off incredibly bare with endless possibilities and slowly  transpire into something ‘art like’.

Paint Nite really does make art acceseible and the atmospehere and ambience (proabaly helped along by the drinks) makes for a non-judgmental and relaxed atmosphere, with many of the participants admitting to having not painted since elementary school.

If you think you might be interested in getting your hands dirty then check out the Paint Nite events calendar. Tickets cost $25 per person plus an extra $3.25, but it is well worth it.

You get to take your finished masterpiece home and hang it in your humble abode in the place that it will receive most compliments. You are officially an artist (pronounced arteeeest)

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THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT

I am so amazed when I find out people read my blog and watch my videos. It gives me a warm happy feeling that has the same impact as getting punched in the face.

The realisation that the things I write are read by other living , breathing human beings around the world brings a satisfaction that probably stems from the inate human need to be recognised and respected, especially for doing something you love.

When Mike, who just so happens to be from Sheffield wandered into the shop I work in and said that he follows my blog and watches my videos, I was like ‘really?’ How the hell did a fellow Sheffileder wind up in Canada, wander into my store and be a fan of my shit! Love stuff like that. Big up Mike and big up Sheffield!

So this is another shout out to all the lovely peeps who follow my blogs and videos and send me lovely supportive emails. I appreciate and read every one and if I don’t reply just keep resending it till I do, as I’m a tad forgetful in my old age!

THANKS!

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funny, canada, ontario,graffiti, funny, funny pic

funny, canada, ontario,graffiti, funny, funny pic

VICTORIA DAY – CELEBRATED IN CANADA BUT NOT THE UK

The fact that a vast majority of Canada has a federal statutory holiday called Victoria Day and the UK doesn’t, may make it appear as though Canada holds the Royal Family close to their hearts and is clinging on to patriotism of times gone by. Well, it’s not. More of a holiday that someone can’t be bothered to do the paperwork to get rid of (and why would they), Victoria Day is a Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, in honor of Queen Victoria‘s birthday.

If anything, it has come to informally mark the beginning of the summer season in Canada. Quebec on the other hand unoficially celebrated what was known as  Fête de Dollard from the Quiet Revolution until 2003, held on the same day as Victoria. It is now an official provincial holiday and has come to be known as National Patriots’ Day, still held on the same day as Victoria Day. 

I celebrated Victoria Day by going to see some awesome fireworks at Ashbrige’s Bay down by the Lakeshore in Toronto. The beaches were packed with people of all ages and backgrounds and it was a great atmosphere. The fireworks started at 10pm but some people, children included decided to light their own fireworks which didn’t always go up in the air vertically!! Bring in the beach police on the little wobbly carts.

My friend and I planned our escape route before the fireworks had even begun, as the queues for buses back to Woodbine station were clearly going to be packed. After a good 5 minutes of fireworks, we headed for the bus and watched the rest of the display on there, with the bus driving off just as the fireworks finished. Perfection!

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CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK – SHOWCASING CANADIAN TALENT

CMW showcases over 1000 bands across 60 music venues across downtown Toronto over 5 days. Venues range from popular bars and halls, to trendy clothing stores and cafes. I managed to land some tickets to the M.I.A concert that was originally scheduled to be held at the outdoor venue at Yonge and Dundas Square, which got changed in favour of Tattoo Rock Parlour. It was a great night and geared me up for the rest of the festival

You can purchase wristbands for the full 5 days, priced at $75. Many single shows costs $25, so if you’re planing on seeing more than 2 shows, you may as well opt for the wristband. Canadian’s Tegan and Sara will be headlining the event, which is sure to sell out pretty quickly. The music on offer showcases a diverse range of genres and this year there will also be a  few films and comedy shows on offer. Make sure to check out the a Jimi Hendrix biopic: All is By My Side and Fela Kuti Biopic: Finding Fela, both showing tonight at College Street’s Royal Cinema. Canadian Music Week - http://cmw.net/

Film Tickets - http://cmw.net/film/

Video at M.I.A - http://instagram.com/p/nlCHoeC38e/


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GETTING YOUR HAIR DID IN CANADA – WEAVES, BRAIDS, TWISTS ETC

After receiving a few emails from anxious black girls who are about to leave the UK to set off on their Canadian adventures, I thought it time to touch on the subject of hair. I can completely relate, as before I arrived in Canada, I was one of them, asking the all important question as to ‘Where the hell am I going to get my hair did?’. I remember desperately trawling the internet in search of a decent hairdresser that I could go to once I arrived in Toronto.

Finding a black hairdresser in London is so easy and you’re often spoilt for choice. Word of mouth is usually what I opt for when considering where I will next be get my hair done or seeing random girls on the street and asking them where they got it done. You can do the same in Toronto but you will find that many places and people who do hair live in the suburbs as oppsed to downtown Toronto. I have on two occasions trekked all the way to Scarbourough just to get my hair done, sometimes with questionable outcomes.

I have gotten my hair done in Canada on five occasions, each time in Toronto. I usually opt for weaves or braids/twists, so I will try my best to answer the most frequently asked questions as best I can.

1. Are there hair shops in the city or do you have to buy it online?

Like all major cities, Toronto has black hair shops. There aren’t as many as I am used to and they are hard to find on the internet but they are definitely around. My favourite one is Clore Beauty Supply on Bloor Street West.

2. Is it more expensive to buy hair in Canada than in the UK? 

Buying hair for braids and twists is just as cheap, if not cheaper than in the UK. A bag of Expressions bulk hair will set you back around $4. As for better quality hair such as Brazilian or Peruvian, I have not yet bought any in Canada. I still opt to buy mine from the same place in the UK and get it shipped over like a diva. For 3 bundles of hair and shipping I usually pay between £180 and £250.

3. Should I take bags of hair out to Canada?

Presumably people who ask me this are talking about hair used for a weaves. I would reccomend taking hair from your reliable source and bringing it to Canada until you find a trusty place to buy it here. I would not just find a place and buy it on the internet. It is always more reliable to ask someone whose hair you love, where they got the hair and where they got it done.

4. Where do you get your hair done?

As I mentioned, I have had my hair done in Canada on five occasions (3 x weave / 2 x twists). I have only been completely happy with the outcome on two occasions, both of which are noted below (number 2 & 5).

5. How do you care for your hair?

For my Brazilian weave I would wash it once a week with Motions shampoo and then leave in the Motions CPR conditioner for as long as I could (usually an hour). After drying naturally (preferable to using a hairdryer) I would put a little bit of argon oil. When straightening my hair I would protect it using Olive Oil Hair Protection Serum.

For my twists, it is SOOO flipping easy. I basically do nothing except for put in some Coconut Castor Oil every other day, which smells so good and lasts for ages.

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Here are my hairstyles and where I got them done.

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Weave is from Love Hair Online (Brazillian natural straight  in 1b- 3 bundles) http://www.lovehaironline.com/. I got it done at Luxury Hair Care in Toronto http://www.luxuryhaircare.ca/ ($150). It was okay but she cut the fringe too short, which meant I had to get creative with how to make it look good.

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This was the second time I used this hair from Beauty Locks (Brazilian natural straight – 3 bundles 1b) https://www.facebook.com/Beautylocks. It’s my favourite hair to use for weaves as it’s so full. . The second time I used the hair, I got the hairdresser to dye some of it it caramel. Turned out well-ish. The hairdresser’s name is Chiggy and she can be contacted on 416-619-5477. Even though I liked the end result, she was late by two hours AND was super stressed because her babysitter didn’t show up, so I also played nanny for the day lol.

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This hair was also from Beauty Locks. It is brazilian body wave (colour 1b). It looked great for the first few days but then got tangled really easily and shed quite a lot, therefore I would recommend going for the brazilian natural straight. The hairdresser (Nora) is lovely and the trip is always entertaining. You will arrive planning to get your hair done and leave with the latter plus all sorts of oils and brushes that you probably don’t need. Nora is a real saleswoman. It cost $95. Nora can be contacted on 647-428-6520.

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I loved going back to twists after having weaves for so long. Although I ended up loving how it looked, the hairdresser was clearly in a rush and the twists ended up being all different sizes and I redid some of them myself while she was still there! It cost $70, which is cheap but the hairdresser who did my latest twists, is much better. Guess you get what you pay for.

Hair (5 bags) – Expressions / Colour 4

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Immediately after taking my twists out, my natural hair looked so cute but of course after combing all the months of dirt and curls out, it didn’t look like that anymore – hence the second picture. lol.

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I was happy with the twists I recently got done. She did them a bit thin but that was my own fault. She was super fast but lives in Scarbourough. It cost $120 and took seven hours. The hairdressers name is Comfort and she can be contacted on 647-821-5129.

Hair (6 bags) – Magic / colour 4 & 6

THE EPITOME OF CHILL – BAMPOT HOUSE OF TEA

Finding a perfect chill out location is like finding a needle in a haystack but when you do, it is well worth blogging about. Bampot Bohemian House of Tea & Board Games hits all the right spots. Inspired by the traditions of Czech tea houses, the layout and general vibe of the place is so chill that I can see myself spending many an afternoon there, drinking tea, eating baklava, reading, playing boardgames with friends and smoking the watermelon and rose shisha till the wee hours of the morning.

Bampot only opened last week and is still relatively unknown but word of mouth will soon change that. It is so beautiful inside, with numerous wooden nooks and crannies to hibernate in with friends or on your tod. There are over 150 board games to keep you entertained but you may be too busy flipping through the menu and its vast selection of teas that will leave you umming and ahhing to even start playing the games! The chai was a sure fire hit amongst our group but with my sweet tooth, I opted for the spiced hot chocolate. DELICIOUS! The carrot cake was also a favourite!

I feel like I have found my Central Perk, my home away from home. I am even hesitant to write about how much I love this place, as I don’t want it to become over run by overly trendy and seriously pretentious folk who really should be required to stick to Starbucks (please).

Andrea and Mark Hein – The Husband and wife duo who own and run Bampot are adamant that it keeps the chilled ambience that it has now. They don’t want it to be a crammed cattle market and when I spoke to them, it was so obvious to see they are in it for the love as opposed to the dollar dollar bills y’all. The place exudes their passion. You can see it in the menu, feel it in the decor and they succeed in capturing the elusive great ‘atmosphere’, which is where so many other establishments fail. I felt like I had wondered into the wardrobe and ended up in Narnia, never wanting to leave. We stayed till close (1.30am) and were immediately discussing when we would be returning. On a side note, I also learnt how to blow smoke rings!

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GOOD TIMES. GOOD TIMES – IN AND AROUND CANADA

After a cold and brutal Canadian winter, we are all hoping for a warm and wonderful spring/summer. The only thing is there will be so much to do that you’re main complaint will be trying to fit it all in! So, if you’re as ready as I am to ditch that sweater and shed those layers, lets collectively cross our fingers for the irradication of rain and wind and hope for all the fun and sun that hot weather brings!

There’s so much I’ve got on my Canadian bucket list but for this spring/summer it looks something like this…

1. Osheaga

Osheaga is a 3 day music festival held annually in Montreal, Quebec (1-3 Aug). I hadn’t heard of it before I arrived in Canada but it’s a big deal! The lineup for this year’s Osheaga seems to have wondered out of a dream! I counted 14 artists that I am dying to see, including Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, J.cole, Haim, Skrillex, Lykke Li, Pusha T…the list is relentless! Tickets cost $250 and can be found via the following link- http://www.osheaga.com/tickets/

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2. Camping

I really love camping even though I’m terrified of anything with wings. I hope to get to one of Ontario’s beautiful provincial parks to make like a hippie and live off the land/No Frills value food for a day or two. From word of mouth I gather that the best places for camping in Ontraio are Charleston Park, Algonquin Park and The Pinery but to name a few. I would love to hear other suggestions.

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3.Visit the Caribbean

Traveling to one of the Caribbean islands from Canada is a piece of piss and it’s also dirt cheap. I have wanted to visit cuba for a few years but didn’t know that I could get an all inclusive deal including flights from Canada for…wait for it…WAIT FOR IT….$400!! Similar deals are to be had for the Dominican Republic and many of the Caribbean islands, so it definitely worth a gander. Cuba is a popular destination for visitors from Canada, with statistics showing that more than a quarter of the foreign visitors are Canadian!

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4.Patio Bars

Drinking cider in the sun on a lazy day. Nuff said!

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5. Toronto Islands

I have been to the Toronto Islands once before during the first week I arrived in Canada. We managed to get some great views of Toronto’s downtown landscape but as I went in September, it was a bit chilly. I’m looking forward to going this spring and riding a bike across the various islands.

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6. High Park

The cafe in High Park does the best hot chocolate! It’s also is pretty darn beautiful. The layout is a bit regimented in comparison to London’s parks, for example Hampstead Heath, but it is well worth a few visits all the same. Check out the video I filmed in High park:

7. Trinity Bellwoods Park

I’ve not actually been to Trinity Bellwoods but the ambiance and good vibes in the summer time are supposed to be legendary. Chilling, Frisby playing, picnic eating, beer drinking, music listening, dog walking are some activities that can be seen in this urban oasis.

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8. World Pride

Toronto will be hosting the World Pride festival this year. Each year Toronto holds Pride festival which lasts ten days and celebrates the divesity of the LGBT community in Greater Toronto. This year should be more vibrant and more fun than ever,  as this will be the first World Pride festival ever held in North America.

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9. Caribana

Akin to Nottinghill Carnival in London, UK - Caribana is a celebration of Caribbean culture, including music, food, dance and much more. I attended the carnival in 2013 and although I had fun I was a bit disappointed by the fact the festival was $25 to enter and that the public were not allowed to be part of the actual parade and instead had to watch behind high fenced gates! Luckily my friend and I spotted a gap in the fence and managed to sneak in, otherwise we would of had a mediocre time. Same again this year! 

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10. Geek out for Game of Thrones
Just in case there is a rainy/cold day (which there won’t be), you will at least have the option of watching the amazing, awesome, brilliant (more positive adjectives) Game of Thrones, which came back for a fourth season this April 6th! I actually bumped in to Kit Harington (John Snow) on two occasions last spring whilst I was working at the Hot Docs festival and he was lovely! Here’s to hoping I’ll be so lucky this Spring!

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Travelling through Canada making videos. Simples!! Join me, in a cyber way...

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