You know when you see someone around, and you have a vague idea of them in your head…but then you start chatting to them and they’re so much cooler than you imagined?
That’s what happened with Marianne.
Back in 2010, I had some complications sorting out living arrangements for the second year of university with friends who I’m no longer in contact with. The silver lining was that Sarah introduced me to her flatmate Marianne (and in turn, Sadie) and we had the best time in our little house during the second and third year of uni!
From nights out, sunbathing in the garden, group meals, X Factor and pizza nights to day trips to farms, beaches and the Isle of Wight, I couldn’t have asked for better housemates to do it all with.
If you’re lucky enough to know Marianne, you’ll know that she is such a kind and warm person. There is never an awkward silence as I’m sure that she could quite happily talk for England, or Canada for that matter!
I’m so proud of her for following her dreams and moving to Toronto to start a new life out there and it sounds like she’s having the best time so get ready to find out more about Marianne and her Canadian adventures 😀
Hi Marianne, tell us a little about yourself.
Hey! I’m Marianne 😊 I’m originally from Surrey in the UK but moved in July 2019 to Toronto for a new adventure with my boyfriend Michael. He’s from Belfast so we were long distance for about a year before getting our Working Holiday visas and making the big move! As of Christmas 2019, we are proud dog parents to a rather excitable German Shepherd puppy called Coco (yes of course she has Instagram: @coco_mandm). I work in Campus recruitment for EY here in Canada after being lucky enough to transfer from the UK office.
In this unprecedented time, how are you doing and what are you doing to keep yourself occupied?
I’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster through all this, like I’m sure a lot of others are. Keeping busy with walks and games of fetch with Coco has been a godsend as it makes sure I get out of the house and do some exercise every day. I’m also lucky to still be working from home at the moment, planning virtual events and virtual Internships for our Summer students. Come evening I’ve been inhaling episodes of Forensic Files, Rick and Morty or watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel marathons for the 8th time! I also love to bake so have been sampling the Betty Crocker cake mixes that we don’t get in the UK…salted caramel brownies anyone?!
What are you most looking forward to doing when freedom is upon us again?
I’m most looking forward to seeing my family who are all back in the UK, either my Mum, Sister and Nephew coming here for a trip or us flying home for well overdue hugs! It’s been 9 months since I saw my family in person (not that I’m counting or anything, haha) which is the longest I’ve gone without seeing them in my whole life. That aside, being able to visit the beach here and some of the patio bars in the city with a Cuba Libre cocktail (rum, coke, lime)…mmm.
Having moved to Canada last year, tell us about your time there and the pros and cons!
So, we’ve been here for about 9 months and quarantine aside, we’ve been loving Toronto! We managed to explore a bit of Kingston and a smaller coastal area called Gananoque (ganna-noc-way) during “Fall” but there are still so many parts of Canada we’re excited to see!
- The weather! On hot days it’s gorgeous and when it’s cold and snowy the city keeps moving unlike the UK – you just put on your big coat and boots and you’re sorted!
- Our work-life balance has improved. I can get my steps in walking to work in an hour, get a Streetcar/Tram home in 25mins or if I’m working late, an Uber home in 10mins! This has been one of my favourite things about the move after years of working in London or driving across the country for work.
- The closer proximity to the USA has opened up lots of new travel opportunities, ready for when we can take advantage of them!
- There’s a beach just a 5-minute Ferry ride away from downtown
- Beavertails – think of flattened doughnut dough covered with whatever topping you can think of…my favourite is Nutella and fresh Banana
- The Toronto patio culture in summertime
- When I forget that Tax (and tips) aren’t included in the price you see on the label
- “Chocolate Orange” flavour isn’t a thing, but Chocolate & Peanut butter is everywhere…ugh
- Homelessness and drug addiction are a problem in certain areas so it can be a bit sketchy
- If I speak too fast people don’t understand me
- Pubs and Bars all have table service. I miss the crowded pub experience, it’s not fun if I don’t have to yell my order at the barman!
- I have seen the odd Skunk hanging around…I thought they only existed in cartoons?!
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I swayed between Vet, Child Minder and Teacher I think. Always looking for “caring” type roles it seems!
What is your proudest achievement?
This may sound like a brag but I’m most proud of achieving my 1st class degree. I struggled adapting to Uni life in first year and ended up having to re-sit exams to get into my second year of study. I also sadly lost two Grandparents whilst in second and third year so I’m very proud that I managed to achieve a 1st despite all the challenges. I know how proud they would have been too which motivated me at the time. It’s something I often think about when times get hard, even now. It’s one of the biggest examples I’ve experienced of how you can overcome anything if you work hard and put your mind to it.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Probably still in Canada, very likely still in Toronto. Ideally, we’d like to be on the property ladder by then with a lot more countries crossed off the travel list!
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
I did a Sky dive in Sydney back in 2016 which was amazing! I don’t know if I’d do it again as I’ve become more scared of heights the last few years. At the time it was exhilarating! One of my favourite memories is from after the initial jump, as we glided down to land. The sun was shining and the views over the Sydney coast were beautiful. The start of the jump though? Disgusting.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for nearly 3 years now but prior to that I’ve eaten curry goat in Jamaica and Rabbit stew in Malta. Before changing my eating habits, I would eat all types of meat and fish.
If I were to come round to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?
Ooh, I’d make you rice paper summer rolls with Tofu, noodles, lettuce, coriander and spring onions. I’d serve it with a homemade peanut sauce for dipping and I guarantee you’d be as obsessed as I am with the recipe, haha! They’re my go-to when I fancy a takeaway but am trying to save $$$ or be a bit healthier!
What is your biggest fear?
Getting to old age with regrets of not having lived the fullest that I can. So, I’m working to make that not happen!
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Start my own animal sanctuary or doggie daycare in somewhere warm like Spain or Italy so I wouldn’t have to do dog walks in the rain!
Do you live by any piece of advice or motto?
“What’s meant for you won’t pass you by”
Do you collect anything?
I try and collect fridge magnets for all the cities I visit, here’s a selection!
If you were the ruler of your own country, what would be the first law you would introduce?
3-day weekends! Bit basic but I think society has the balance wrong.
Which celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a hot chocolate?
I wanted to steal Nikki’s celebrity, Phoebe Waller-Bridge…but I’ll settle for Debra Frances-White from The Guilty Feminist podcast instead.
What’s the most interesting thing that you can see out of your window right now?
The CN Tower, it’s somewhat of a Toronto landmark!
What’s your most prized possession and why?
I have a few voicemails saved from my Dad. He died in 2017 so whenever I miss him, I know I can listen to the voicemails, hear his voice and it’s like I can still talk to him.
What is your earliest memory?
One of my first memories is from when we moved to Moscow, Russia shortly before I turned 4. I remember on one of the first days settling in, deciding to try on my mum’s shoes to clomp around the new apartment. Our UK flat had carpet but this new apartment had wooden floor. Cue the downstairs neighbour coming up to complain about the noise to my mum in Russian… oops!
A genie gives you three wishes: what are they?
1) A cure for Coronavirus
2) That myself, my family and friends are financially comfortable
3) To remove the calories from chocolate
Ideally, how would you like to spend your birthday this year?
Before Quarantine we had booked to go to New York for a long weekend as it will be my big 3-0 in September. I’ve made peace with the fact that the plan this year will be different so depending on what measures will be in place, it will involve a doughnut cake from the Vegan bakery near us (@bloomersto), facetimes/Zoom calls with friends & family and homemade cocktails 😊
What makes you angry?
Oh dear, I can be quite a negative nelly so here it goes…people that suddenly stop walking in the middle of crowded streets with no concept of those around them, unnecessary admin/bureaucracy, that cleaning and tidying are a daily chore. Oh, and the traffic crossing systems here in Canada…pedestrians be warned!
What’ s the first thing you look for in a partner and/or friend?
Wit, sense of humour and someone that’s genuine.
What is your favourite memory of ours?
Oh Queenie, I have so many to choose from so I’ll give you this highlight reel…
1. Exploring Brighton with you and Sadie
2. Tapas night at Arnold Road
3. Manzils 3am curry
Share your favourite photo of us:
This one cuz it’s just so darn cute!
TV series: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Film: Moulin Rouge
Book: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor
Drink: Amaretto & Coke
Food: Lindt Chocolate
Type of cuisine: Thai
Subject at school: Sociology
Country that you’ve visited: Jamaica
Instagram accounts: @pickuplimes for plantbased recipes and Sadia’s calming voice, @helenanderez for fashion inspiration and @mrshinchhome for cleaning hacks…I mean I am 30 in a few months 😊
If you can’t get enough of Marianne, go and check out her Instagram for puppy central, vegetarian food inspo and Canadian livin’ ❤