View of Manhattan from where we live on the evening of September 11th.

The past week or two has seen us enjoying shorter weeks, with set holidays coupled with annual leave creating two enjoyable long weekends. I’ve spent them in perfect balance: Eid with Calvin on a grand Brooklyn adventure (walking the bridge and exploring DUMBO’s shops, restaurants, parks and playgrounds); Labour Day with the family (the evenings filled with kindergarten applications) and the most recent weekend with my treasured friend EW in Toronto.

Who knew Toronto could be such fun? The amazing sunbathing weather would blow any cold Canadian stereotypes out of the water, especially considering I got to indulge in one of my favourite things: beach volleyball. Beach? you query. Why yes, the shores of Lake Ontario have sand galore, waves and even sun worshipers in ill-advised swimming costumes.

It was also the Toronto International Film festival, so we got parking advice from Pearl Jam’s chauffeur, tried unsuccessfully to take my photo with a Rolls Royce Phantom with the vanity plate, ‘Go Big’ (the car costs $450,000, so that seems like a somewhat tautological effort), happened to be within feet of Eddie Vedder (except everyone had to explain who he was) and spotted various True Blood cast members including Alexander Skarsgård and Anna Paquin. It would have been terribly exciting if I was familiar with the series, but the screaming fans on the street certainly enjoyed spotting them coming out of a launch party. (Sorry RH, I know you are such a fan!)

People come to New York to shop, but I head north. Despite the higher sales tax (13% versus 8.875% in New York City), and the sadly dismantled tax rebate system, I benefited from EW’s extraordinary strategies that include impeccable taste and personal style coupled with great sources with pricing benefits! But the best part of it all, was the unstructured time to spend talking, walking and eating…The warm afterglow that I’m still basking in has little to do with those hours on the beach and everything to do with hanging out with a great friend.

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