Canada Gasshuku Day-2

It’s typical isn’t it. I had a heap of work things that I needed to get done before heading to Canada and of course, none of them actually were completed. Add to that, last weekend I was in Denmark for their Gasshuku, yes I know, not my best planning. We were of course delayed the return leg from Copenhagen so Monday was not a welcome surprise. In any case I worked from home and thankfully I have a wonderful team who have warned me to stay off-line for the next week… not sure how that will go, I can never “turn off” in these situations.

Monday evening I was in Tooting dojo with the kya grades who are preparing for a grading on Friday night, huge apologies but I won’t make it this time! I’m always amazed by how much beginners improve over such a short period of time, these guys were bashing out Sandan Gi and basics with ease, so Friday evening looks very promising.

I will freely admit that I am your typical :last person, but evening I was getting a bit stressed on the way back from the Dojo. The reason, this is my first long-ish haul flight since before the pandemic. In fact, when I finally managed to locate and drag out my check-in baggage, the AirTransat sticker was still on it. So actually, it’s quite fitting, the last big trip I took was this Gasshuku before all the pandemic shite happened. Urgh. Shiver.

I’m also not a list person. I know that Sensei Linda has a list that they reuse every time they travel but that’s just not me. I tend to create a pile of things that need to be packed in the sitting room, then hope that I’ve got everything. I start with the big stuff and kinda go from there. This method is fraught with pitfalls, with either over or under packing taking place…depending.

The act of packing completed on Tuesday morning about 10 minutes before I was due to leave the house. For some reason Uber had a charge of £17 for the 1 mile journey to the lovely (not, no fake news here) East Croydon station so à pied it was. With luggage trundling along behind me for the first time in years. See I am your Queen of packing just a backpack that adheres to the EasyJet rules (kinda) so that I don’t need to pay the extra charges for checked baggage. More on this later. Now I was more than aware that I’d need to brave the dreaded queues at bag drop.

The 14 minutes to Gatwick Airport, no joke, flew by and then it was the battle to get bags up stairs, through barriers, on trains to the North Terminal, and then… no queues… I am not making this up. There were no queues to check in baggage. Turns out the boarder security dude joins the check-in area and asks people where they are going, why and for how long. He seemed bored and when I mentioned that I was heading for a Karate course, he was all questions. Turns out my chatty nature was to serve me well as he was also present at the gate and just smiled at me, did what I’m sure he thought was some sort of Bruce Lee move and waved me into the advanced boarding group with a wee wink.

I had totally forgotten how much I love travel. Getting to your seat, setting yourself up and planning the movies and activities for the journey. Here’s a secret. I love to colour on flights. Yes, I have colouring books and it keeps me calm and focused. Good thing too. This time the take-off was not without its bumps. For 30 minutes we were battered as we worked our way through the British weather. I was lucky to be beside a lovely lady, I found this out later in the flight, I was petrified that she was going to spew during our assent. She grabbed my hand at one point started to apologise, then another wee bump just grabbed harder and closed her eyes making that sort of groan that comes right from the back of the throat. Luckily the rest of the flight was smooth..!

Now in Canada you pass boarder control electronically. It’s a wonderful experience. You put in your passport to a machine, it takes your picture, you answer a few questions and that’s it. Again, no queues and so I was in the baggage hall thinking, ah great, I don’t need to hang about and collect bags, so I can now plan my train etc. etc. I decided to use the bathroom facilities and then, boom. Jeez, I wasn’t travelling with just my backpack, bugger how could I forget I had a bag. I’d honestly almost left the airport. 😳

Than the shock. It was snowing. All the way to down-town Toronto, snow. I’ve never been so glad of my down jacket. Also, double decker trains…

I had a lovely session in Nakamura Sensei’s dojo with Sensei Simons which was just what I needed to get rid of the kinks from the flight.

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