Living in Canada: 5 Things You Take For Granted Living in the UK

Thursday, 15 June 2017
When you've lived somewhere long enough, you start to make comparisons about the place you're from to the place where you are now. I've now been living in Vancouver for 8 months and I've accumulated a list of 5 things that we really take for granted being from the UK.

1. The price of mobile phone contracts. Obviously, this will all depend on whether you have a 24-month contract with a brand new phone model or whether you simply have a sim only pay monthly deal. For me, I have always bought a phone outright and then paid monthly for a sim only deal. At the moment, a sim only plan in the UK which will get you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of data will cost you around £22 per month (including VAT). Here in Canada, for the same sim only deal you are paying C$95 (including GST & PST) which, based on the current exchange rate is £55... enough said.

2. Taxes on purchases. Yes, I know we still have to pay VAT and taxes at home on things we buy in the shops and in restaurants but it's much less obvious, it's all included in the price and that's the way I like it. Over here, if a label says C$ have to frantically work out in your head how much it is actually going to cost you before you get to the till, it's unnecessary maths!

3.  Tipping. I'm probably just a grouch but tipping is my bugbear especially when it is considered mandatory. Being told I have to tip is having the 'toddler effect' on me and making me want to do the complete opposite. If I am provided a service such as getting my nails done, going to the hairdresser or being served in a restaurant then I have no problem tipping, s'allll good. It's when you're expected to tip 15% the guy who just hands you your pain au chocolat over the counter at the coffee shop. Just no.

4. Cheap flights. This one in my eyes should be number one. A few things do factor into this as to why it is so expensive to fly within Canada/North America. The size of the country is a start, Canada is the second largest country in the world, so the land mass to cover is probably a good reason to charge a small fortune. However, a return flight from Vancouver to Toronto will set you back about C$500 per person, which makes me wince like hearing nails on a chalkboard. In the UK you can fly from London to the Mediterranean with Easyjet or Ryanair (depending what time of year), for around £50. Lovely.

5. Cultural history. The Grandma in me has awoken and I'm not afraid to admit that I bloody love an old castle or two. The National Trust and English Heritage are specifically what I am talking about. Will and I on a beautiful summers day would love spending our time visiting old ruins, beautiful gardens, grand cathedrals and historic buildings. I actually really miss this, more than I probably should, but since Canada itself is 150 years old this year, there really isn't the history here to do these things. *Sigh*

I realise this post makes me sound like Moaning Myrtle but despite all of the above, I love living here and trust me there are things about the UK I would happily moan about too. All these 'quirks' make for an experience and that is why I chose to come. After all, it would be boring if everything was the same, wouldn't it?


My Skin Saviour - Alpha H Liquid Gold

Wednesday, 14 June 2017
Recently, I have been living by the 'less is more' philosophy when it comes to my daily skincare routine. For the last three to four years I have had issues with cystic/hormonal acne around my chin which until recently *touch wood* I had never managed to find a solution for.

I moved to Canada nearly eight months ago and in the first few months my skin went bloody riot - it was adjusting to the climate, adjusting to Canada's soft water rather than the chalky water from back home in Kent, and also, I think, the general stress of moving country. It got so bad I would cry myself to sleep out of frustration of it not going away, especially having tried expensive skincare products and having cut out dairy and wheat. I wanted to see a dermatologist but you have to have been working in Canada for three months before you're entitled to get your Medical Service Plan (MSP): without MSP, a trip to the doctors is about C$160. Growing up with the beauty that is the NHS, paying to see a doctor was not something I was prepared to do.

I'm trying now to dance around the fact my boyfriend, Will, was right. For years he'd been saying "Stop using all that shit you put on your face and give your skin a rest", and as he's a bloke who knows absolutely nothing about skincare, I chose to ignore him. I must have been drunk or desperate when I decided that I was going to listen to him after all and stop putting 'shit' on my face to see what - and if - something happened. I cut down my normal regime of cleanser, acid toner, serum, eye cream, moisturiser and SPF to just, cleanser, eye cream, moisturiser and SPF. After following this simplified routine for a good few weeks and changing up my Clinique Take The Day Off Balm cleanser for the Clarins' Pure Melt Cleansing Gel things seemed to be clearing up and appearing a lot smoother, I wasn't able to feel any lumps and bumps under my chin that were once a permanent fixture and for now, my skin has taken a complete 180° turn to what it was six months ago. Will is smug and I am happy, it's a win-win!

Even though I am happy with my skin now it's evened out and cleared up, it still needs some TLC and something to make it glow, and I feel that some exfoliation every now and then can only be of benefit.

I have been using Alpha H Liquid Gold on and off for a couple of years, and when I say on and off I mean once a month, not nearly enough to see any long-term results. Liquid Gold has defined itself in the beauty industry as something of a cult classic/holy grail product, something that I subscribed to before purchasing it all that time ago. For those who haven't come across Liquid Gold before I have pinched the description of the product from the Cult Beauty website:

"A powerful overnight 'serum', Alpha-H's bestselling, multiple-award-winning Liquid Gold looks more like a toner - a clear liquid, whose appearance belies its remarkable efficacy. An 'overnight facial', the pioneering formula (it was originally developed in 2000, and was the very first of its kind) is a phenomenal, leave on, 'sleep in' liquid peel, which swiftly (and dramatically) revitalises dulled, ageing skin that's lost its lustre, whilst gradually lessening the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, blackheads, blemishes, pigmentation, scarring and redness. In fact, there's virtually nothing this skin care miracle can't accomplish!"

Seriously though, is there any part of that description that doesn't make you want to buy it? Right now, I've been using Liquid Gold religiously every other night for about three weeks and it has changed my skin completely, it has quite literally resurfaced my skin and has really helped reduce the appearance of scar tissue on my chin and lessen the redness which I've never been able to lose before.

I think I may suffer from rosacea and this has also helped with the redness in my cheeks and on my face. Liquid Gold is seriously my weapon of choice right now and I think anyone who has similar issues or even just feels like a good ol' face treatment should give it a go. You can thank me later.