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Trepid Archives

Exciteable descriptions of a new life living in "The Best Place on Earth". The new template is more basic, more classy, tidier... so totally not me! 

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Friday, April 29, 2005

12:39 p.m. - Today I'm wearing Emily's bra.

On the day before my wedding, I ran around the house tying ribbons to boxes, and balloons and taking to the florist and the photographer. We also went out in the toaster to pick up the “cake” and rehearse walking down stairs and things like that. Pleasantly, my future mother-in-law showed up to check out the joint and get a cup of tea whilst she was out on her bike and she got to play at being my dad for a while (though I had to compensate for the change in height).

In the evening I was running around giving out instructions. Telling my future stepson to be good for his dad and do as much for himself as he could, which at that age he was able to manage. Eventually, an hour later than planned I left the house with my bag to meet all my mates from Uni in the pub for a drink which turned out to be a soft one because I could manage nothing else. I left them there a short while later to drag my fiancée to the pub instead.

Next I went to my mum and dad’s to make sure my dad had his suit and to see Emily for the first time in 10 years.

Emily and her family were in the middle of a great Pearce barney. Emily’s investment in a new frock for my do had turned into a disaster. The frock was see-through which, although attractive, was a little unnecessary for a wedding especially as she planned to go bra-less. They were just discussing whether there was still and M&S in town after all these years? Could they get there at 8am and still make the wedding on time? Should they get one where the wedding is? Could they? What was in Xbach? After all these years and Emily was still getting over the shock of her mum having bought her one of those obnoxious-looking stick-on things. I think it was even American Tan coloured.

Fortunately, like the sisters we are (only children will adopt any siblings they can get their hands on), Emily and I were about the same size. At least I was the same size as her after the stress-induced diet of organizing a wedding. So she had a choice of two of the three bras I bought to wear under my wedding dress (well every time I bought one I found one two weeks later with better oomph and when I wear a strapless dress I need all the oomph I can get!).

She picked out the best fitting one and it looked really pretty on her – we all know because we could all see it. Especially when she stood on high to sing for us all and bless her, she managed not to cry.

SO, finally being in our basement now, having all our stuff and having the washing machine connected, I can leave it a while in between doing the laundry (though it’s still a pleasure to do in my own machine). It does mean though, that, I have run out of bras. This morning I had to delve into the bottom drawer of the dresser and the miscellaneous posh underwear, only to find Emily’s bra is the only one with straps connected still. Today I have been thinking about Emily and my wedding and all the nice things that happened that day.

Oh and don’t worry love, the fake tan washed out in the end.

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7:06 a.m. - 6 Truck Friday

In the absense of time to say anything interesting so far today, take a look at this funny link.

Cat Buckaroo

Oh yeah, we have tiles on the bathroom floor so that's something.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

12:26 p.m. - Not a golden unicorn, just a golden horse.

I managed a run at lunch. OK so it was a feeble one - but considering last night I decided there was no way I could ride my bike today and this morning I didn’t feel like running either but dressed for it just incase – I think I did pretty well. 20 minutes. Only 2 x 2 minute walk-rests and a tiny one so that I didn’t spook out a loose horse at the ranch that I jog through.

Talking of that, there’s actually a real-life golden horse at the ranch. I’ll try and photograph it one day. It’s a truly beautiful horse – blonde (I know that’s not the technical term). When the sun shines it glows gold.

I got back to my office in time to stre - - - - tch before going back to work. What luxury.

Once my legs get stronger I guess I’ll have to do my run after work but with all this nice sunny weather in the evening that’s no skin off my nose.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

5:31 p.m. -

I just met our local MP!

He heartily shook my hand then let go when I told him I still have 18 months before I can vote in Canada.

Then I added that I’d probably vote for him anyway which made him smile.

I Still hob nob like a Consultant.

But here's the great thing about working in shipping - I'm never going to have to buy any boxes to send stuff home to the UK again - ever.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

12:07 p.m. - Gardening and exercising - the trials.

I don’t think these Canadians have the same smutty sense of humour as us English – or it’s just me. Whenever one of the forklift drivers shouts over the radio, “This Tolko truck has his tarps off”. I can’t help thinking, “Wey hey, get your tarps off!” It’s a childish thing but someone has to do it.

Well, it appears I don’t have my parents’ skills when it comes to gardening. Well, I think it’s buried deep down there in my genes somewhere, it’s just struggling to come to the surface after all these years of schooling and swanning around being a fancy consultant.

It might also be something to do with the full time job that prevented me from going home yesterday to put my seedlings inside. So they were subjected to the full force of the sun’s 25 degree rays for the duration of the day.

Many wilted, some died – right out. However, I watered them and put them in for the day today. Hopefully the builder won’t take them out whilst he’s working. Though if he does I’ll probably just be relieved that he’s made it in today and has been working – unlike yesterday.

The tomato seedlings are flourishing in the warm weather though, opening up in the day and shutting down at night. It’s encouraging. The bulbs that we planted in September are also now showing signs of colour. They’re a little bit behind every one else’s due to the large shadow cast by our neighbours’ hill. However, Roswita down the road tells me this means they’ll last longer. They'd better.

The grass seed is sulking. JUST NOT COMING UP IN THIS SUN. Bugger. No running barefoot on the lawn for me then. I will have to cope with running trainer-clad along the river channel at lunchtime.

Later: Which I did. I probably ran for about 25minutes with three walk breaks so that my knees don’t hurt again. It seems to have worked – or maybe it’s that I’ve found a better chair since last week. Anyway, hoping to manage a second ride to work tomorrow – it is “Bike to Work” week after all. When I’m running to work – then you have to start worrying about me!

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Monday, April 25, 2005

8:12 a.m. -

Slaughterpuss finds Red (my racing bike) in her travel bag and snuggles up for a cool cuddle in the basement to get out of the hot weather above-ground.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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7:02 a.m. - OK Silver. Two can play at that game.

I found my bike computer. So this morning I rode:

16.45km (10.3miles) in 44 mins. A chronic average speed of 22.57 kph (14mph). Actually, that's not bad for so early in the season. It's probably because it was preceeded by a frantic, heart racing 25 minutes of a) looking for my wallet and keys b) realising I was missing my bag c) thinking I'd left it on the toilet door at Wharf Park d) reaslising it was just as bad I'd left it out on the deck all night e) finding my wallet safely attached to my bike in my bike bag f) still looking for my keys, giving up and deciding they weren't in my bag when I went to the shop to buy beer so they're probably in my best jeans. I hope.

Spent the weekend doing my taxes in my shorts sitting on the deck. It was 25 degrees.

One deck is now finished so is theoretically ours except the builder wants us to stick to one end of it so we don't "get in his way". So the plants are out, the hot tub is on and Wehoo, the Canadian government owes ME money.

I like this game.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

8:24 a.m. - OK this is a weird one.


(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

At Wharf Park, we recently acquired a bog. It's a hi tech bog - a big hole in the ground with a precast concrete building plonked on top and a cursory plastic toilet-shaped bucket with a seat over the hole. No running water so nothing to freeze or flood the place. It sounds grim but it's environmentally friendly and painted nice muted colours. More importantly it's always clean, there's always toilet paper and it's always open. It was also installed in time for our freezing caravan incident so came in very handy.

The most striking thing about the bog though is the view out the window. The wall inside is painted white. There's a hole in it about 3 ft wide and 8 inches high. There's no glass in it, it's just open to the world and I challenge you...

Have you EVER peed in a public toilet with a view like this?

Sorry, it had to be done.

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8:23 a.m. - Wharf Park

Waterfront property anyone?

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Waterfront 2

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Canoeists on the lake

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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8:22 a.m. - Birdwatching - Big fat North American Coots.

Big fat North American coots

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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8:14 a.m. - Birdwatching - Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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8:05 a.m. - Birdwatching - Osprey


Hello? Who is it?
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Oh Hi! It's you.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Hi honey, I'm home. I got take-out.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

How was you're day hun?

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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7:13 a.m. - To my builder...

No, seriously mate, when I get home at 4pm and find you’ve only put 5 pieces of fir onto my house, I really can tell you’ve only been there since 2pm. I don’t need to work in the forestry industry to figure that one out. But because I do work in the forestry industry, I know that the panel in the kitchen split because you fastened it when the wood was too moist. You might think that drying the wood properly gives you an excuse for your tardiness but when you don’t give the wood time to dry, you can’t use it as an excuse.

We really don’t care that you’re late on your next job. That you promised them you’d apply for the permit but didn’t. We’re not proud of you for leaving our house to apply for their permit and we’re certainly not impressed you built yourself a sun deck on our time. We’re more pissed about the fact you took two weeks off just before Christmas to do their quote. We’re more pissed off that those two weeks cost you the best roofing weather prior to the frost when you could’ve had the house closed in to be worked on. Instead you sat in your warm office and burned music onto DVDs whilst we froze our water supply and sewer pipe in a caravan and waited till February for you to continue work. Now you have the cheek to tell me you put the siding on just in time before the bees start building a nest in the insulation. Get real man!

So in hindsight when I trusted you to stick to a reasonable timeframe – all the time knowing that you’re a contractor and I’ve met your type a thousand times before - I learned that I should stick up for what I believe in and stop listening to people who tell me I’m a pessimist. No, I’m a realist.

When you ask for every payment early because you’ve laid out money (that’s called credit by the way – businesses everywhere do it) and then we pay you, you go out and spend it on tools and toys (that’s called profit investment - it’s a decision you make on your own and we don’t force you into it)… Guess what? When we see our money getting spent on a new trailer, a new car for your girlfriend, we run out of sympathy for you. So when you asked for early payment this time, my mind went back to the early days when I asked you if you’re sure the cash flow program is OK for you. “Yes” you said. Then you signed a paper and that’s called a contract. Businesses everywhere stick to it.

When you refer to your client as “the squatters in the basement” bear this in mind. One day you’ll want to show a prospective client around the house and we wont be there and the locks will have changed. Most importantly, remember this: we own that house, we own the land and you missed out on it. Get used to it it’s ours. We’re not the squatters, you are.

Enjoy your trip to OK Falls today to look at a lot that’s twice the price of ours and with no better view and when you’ve spent your next payment…. please don’t expect me to listen to any complaints about not making any money on our house. Just remind yourself who came up with the price and that you signed the contract too and you keep spending the money.

One final word? You know that cabinet you built that is too small for our microwave? You know… the one you won’t fix. Well it’s going to be sitting on the top of my snag list and as long as that sits there, you don’t get your landscaping, you don’t get completion and you don’t get your final payment.

Hi, I’m your customer.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

6:47 a.m. - Oh Ye Child of the 80s and 90s

First it was a beatles tape then I turned over and it was James - three, no THREE versions of sit down including Alton Towers live... I was there, sitting in the mud, nearly crying because the sound of 30,000 people singing the same tune inspires. And there was me and Jo and Tan and a girl who's name I can't remember now all crammed into the "Little Shit" brown Fiesta (don't forget the blue-go-faster-stripes) and it took us forever to get out of the parking lot and Tan remembered she was scared of heights so we couldn't get out on the monorail.

Then I found the INXS tape which brought back memories of whizzing around the country lanes of Cornwall with Emily in our parents’ cars and my mum and dad singing "Tiger Feet" whilst drunk in Gill's car.

And then this morning it was the Inspiral Carpets – an EP including a version of Tainted Love! And suddenly I was driving down the A56 into Manchester with Jo and Tanya and Harv and Tom and Bob and Helen and Melissa in the boot of the Little Shit. Gees I have history with that car.

I LOVE finding old music.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

9:53 a.m. - Cultivations

We plough the fields and scatter,
The good seed on the land
And it is fed and watered,
By Art Knapp’s Plant Land and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen.

The garden seed is sown all we need is to keep the cat and the quail off it. I have discovered the first law of gardening:

The desire for a perfect lawn is inversely proportional to the square of the time spent trying to achieve such lawn.

The Osprey are back. They have rebuilt their nest atop the flagpole on the Wharf. We watched one of them land in the tree last night and said, “look at the size of the bugger”. Winter in California was obviously plentiful.

Today, the RDOS is collecting 2 bulky items of rubbish from every household in the area – totally free. It’s fascinating to see what everyone is chucking out. Bizarrely the trend is for 2 matching items – we’re throwing out two TVs for our neighbour who’s also throwing out 2 mattresses. A guy on Robinson is throwing out 2 lawn mowers and on the main road there’s 2 deep freezes and 2 tumble dryers. Maybe the RDOS didn’t explain that the 2 bulky items don’t have to be the same 2 bulky items. Well at least now we know what brand of deep freeze and what brand of tumble dryer to avoid.

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Monday, April 18, 2005

5:02 p.m. -


This is just my favourite view on my drive to work. Look right in the centre of the picture at the towering snowy corrie in the distance. Orchard in the foreground.
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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3:42 p.m. - I think I'm turning into my dad...

On Thursday I cycled home from work (IN MY SHORTS) and when I got home I got changed and went to dig in the garden for a warm-down.

This weekend I finished digging the garden, getting the rocks out and laying 2 inches of top soil over the clayey film that lies beneath. I was so hot gardening. As I sat looking at my freshly leveled lawn (yes I was watching grass grow), leaning against a freshly painted house (watching it dry too), I realised that anyone that thinks my life's gone downhill because I spend all my time gardening is wrong. I would argue that when gardening, I get all the exercise (and some) that I used to get hiking plus the smell and the sounds of fresh air in my lungs without having to lump all the entrapments associated with making a decent brew. It's not something I ever achieved living in Altrincham's industrial area. Although the last house came close, I didn't need to do that much gardening.

At lunchtime today, just to make sure I'm keeping fit as well as strong I went for a 25 minute run up the river and around the back of the stables. There are still old railway signposts on the trails which once made up an industrial rail interchange for the fruit-growing pioneers. Thankfully now the trails are all covered in wood chippings and sawdust and the biggest engines you'll meet are one or two horse-power carrying tourists. It was pretty and sunny and now my knees ache but I'm sure it'll get easier - it does eventually I think... I seem to remember.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

5:03 p.m. - Forte Bine

Today I got to use some of my Romanian! A Romanian couple came to pick up my load and I surprised them by asking, "Che Fac?".

Which, alarmingly, means "How are you?"

Much to my delight they were "Forte Bine".

Then we talked in English for a bit and they wished me Arivedetsi (bizarely Italian and meaning see you again). Unfortunately no one said "Multimesc" so I didn't get to use my favourite Romanian word, "Couplacheri" (incorrect spelling but it means "you're welcome" - such a Canadian phrase).

NOW I am going home.

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6:50 a.m. -


Pass our house, up the hill a bit on a bend, this house has a great view. Had my hand been steadier at 6am, this would be a really good picture of the hilltop basking in pink early morning sun.
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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6:49 a.m. -


Nooooo@!

I have been trying to get a picture of this deer crossing the road to work for weeks. This morning she was standing by the side of the road and as I screeched to a halt in the middle of the road (yes, dad, I checked my rear view mirror first) she even waited for me to get my camera out, zoom in and calmly crossed the road for my pleasure... Then, the goddamn flash went off and here is the picture of my dusty windscreen! If you look really carefully though, you can just pick out the deer right in the middle of the picture - honest!
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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6:48 a.m. -


A Geoff Manson Special.
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

From last night's ride home. This is the first trestle bridge re-built on the KVR. It spans a gorge about 60ft deep that looks up the lake to the mountains. Last year it had a Canadian flag flying from it. Made me very happy to be here. There are many more huge trestles being re-constructed as national herritage sites on the KVR between Penticton and Kelowna. Lots of exploring to do this summer.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

7:21 a.m. - Text not photographs

Today I cycled to work again. It was very dusky when I left as a result of that hour-shift (what's the opposite of daylight-saving-time? Daylight wasting time?) It wasn't so dark that I needed lights. It wasn't a struggle to get out of bed since the cat was excavating her litter tray at 5:05 so I snoozed till 5:30 and left him to loll in bed.

I varied my route as an experiment to spend less time joggling in the saddle getting rear-ache. So I ended up cycling across the bottom of the PENTICTON letters (y'know like HOLLYWOOD but smaller) above the Penticton cemetary which has a beautifully smooth paved access road. New scenery - lovely - and a smooth ride. Then I saw a cute black spaniel coming hairing down its lawn towards me so I reached for the brakes thinking, "(sharp intake of breath) I'm going to run her over!" Then I realised she had far more important things on her mind than catching cyclists... She jumped up, caught her frisbie and ran off back up the hill, ears-a-flappin'. What lovely people to be kind enough to get up and acually play with their dog at 6am.

On the house front, the hand made kitchen has been delivered - as a selection of cabinets - and is stacked up in the middle of the living room so that we have to walk around it every time we come upstairs. Still no sign of tiles on the kitchen floor though so that dishwasher could take a while yet. Maybe I should search the net for a polling tool...

Do you think the builder will be finished by mid-May as scheduled? Yes/No.

Oh sod it... answers on a post-card please.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

7:19 a.m. -


Holy magnolia!
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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7:19 a.m. -


Arriving in Penticton
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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7:19 a.m. -


Orchards in the fore, snowy peaks across the lake.
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

5:04 p.m. - Happy Wedding Anniversary

To my ma and pa;)


You created a monster!
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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1:45 p.m. -


Sunrise at the office
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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Monday, April 11, 2005

1:44 p.m. - Emigration rocks

Last week, a good friend of mine (one of those 28-year long friendships) asked me for my thoughts on emigration because her and her husband are thinking of relocating their family to climes more conducive to fun. I promised wholeheartedly to respond soon, then said I’d work on it over the weekend and post today.

So I suppose it is a great testament to the success of our emigration that I still haven’t had time to respond in a considered manner due to the fact I was busy gardening in sunny heat whilst it was snowing in Manchester on the weekend.

I was also gardening (again - and with still more to do – and that’s only one quarter of the garden finished) because of this great adventure we’ve embarked upon – building a house. Not to say that T and her family will go and build a house but just to make the point that it will take one hell of a long time to settle into a new world so you need to be prepared for the upheaval, and thinking, “that’s it, I’ve had enough of this”, on a regular basis. The point is, when you think about the traffic and the noise and the crime rates and the pokey houses, you’ll just know that you can’t go back to live in England. Even if really think you want to, you know it will do your head in to a worse degree.

So here’s an amalgamation of considered and non-considered babble that I got around to:

Location location location: I didn’t really get a choice where I moved to. When I married it was as good as standing on the runway at Manchester with my thumb out and a cardboard sign around my neck saying, “BC”. It just so happens that I hitched that ride with plenty of enthusiasm. Here’s my thoughs on choosing a place to move to:
a) Go there for a reason. For something that will make you and your children happy. For us it was the mountains and the space – the beach and the vineyards are a bonus.
b) Find a place that will improve your quality of life. Lower cost of living, less commuting time, a beneficial exchange rate. Imagine never having to worry money to the same extent. You (or one of you) will probably still have to work just to be able to eat and enjoy yourselves without eating up your savings too, but if the cost of living is less and you’re more secure in your finances, you can enjoy things more without worrying about redundancies, this month’s figures, increases in school fees. I’m not sure I’d feel quite the same about Canada if the struggle of life was equivalent or more than that in the UK.
c) Beasties: No matter how often I tell myself that I’ll probably never see a bear whilst I’m hiking, I know people who have so I usually carry a knife and will probably buy some pepper spray too. It’s considered to be kind of sad really – like wearing 5 season mountaineering boots and walking poles to go to Styal Mill Country Park – but it takes the fear away just a little bit. Where I would have gone camping wild without a thought back home I don’t think I could do it in Canada. I’m just not used to living in a country where there are things more powerful than unarmed humans and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. It’s one of my main dislikes about Canada. I don’t really like the idea of snakes, scorpions or black widow spiders either so there’s that to consider when choosing a location (Australia).
d) Although tempting to move somewhere hot, I also like the fact that Canada has a winter. My friend in Australia says santa doesn’t have the same feeling when he’s sitting drinking from an ice-cold stubbie in his shades. The coastal lowlands here are a mild 0-8 degrees above freezing in the winter so I suppose thre’s parts of the US that are the same.
e) Politics – do you really want to be a part of George W’s world? At least Canadians are the global peacekeepers (even if their national sport – hockey – involves beating the living #### out of all the other countries players)

Finances: Have a job to go to when you get where you’re going or be confident of the employment market. Alternatively have lots and lots of money saved up. Employers are reluctant to hire immigrants partly because they want to look after their own and partly because locals know the safety laws, tax laws, markets etc. better than new immigrants. I was lucky enough to find a manager who positively discriminates towards Europeans. Check out what benefits you’d be entitled to on your arrival wherever. In Canada we were unable to claim any unemployment until we’d been in the country a year and had to pay for our medical insurance too (this is usually paid by an employers insurance plan or otherwise you have to prove you’ve been skint for a year before it’s paid for by the government). Our savings were whittled away in the first 9 months.

Home sickness: Mostly I miss people. So yes, T, you will miss your mum and the girls but you’ll make new friends and unlike me, you’re family are very likely to visit you which makes it all the more special. You’ll look forwards very much to showing them your new, improved world. Unlike me, you’ll be losing your number one babysitter after hubby and I’m imagining that will be hard for you (both). I also have to say that England ain’t all bad. I miss the history – castles, the old mills, the old English pub. History here is a 100 year old house that they’re about to tear down to build a shopping mall on top of, it’s an ancient fort (a few fence posts stuck in the ground), it’s the wild wild west ramshackle ranches and it’s Indian paintings in the forest. It’s history but it’s not my history. In the middle of summer here, I miss the lush green fields but then I remember that what makes them lush and green is the rain so I put my sunglasses on and go back to pruning the cacti. I also miss public transport and the ease with which, in England, one can walk from shop to shop without getting back in the car.

Belongings: Be prepared to sell your things or pay lots of money and time to have it moved. It took them 3 months (from the day of order to the day of arrival) to get our possessions to us in Canada. Do not use JM Campbell to move your stuff.

Culture Shock: Moving to Canada, the culture shock was not something immediately noticeable. It’s not like this is France and they eat completely different foods or India where religious beliefs and customs are different. Some of my expectations were shattered: they’re not as environmentally friendly as they think they are, all driving gas guzzling trucks and cutting down trees. The workplace is more like England in the 80’s – very unionized and, not so much high pressure, but aggressive (too close to the US) in that you’re more likely to have a blazing row at work than a “quiet, respectful chat”. These are things I’d never have found out from anywhere before I arrived and people probably have different hang-ups but so long as you’re prepared for hang-ups of some kind you’ll be OK. I find I have to remind myself to chill out and go with the flow a lot. It’s so easy in a negative situation to think, “Canada sucks” but then I just have to remember that, no it doesn’t, remember the M6 and M25 and look forward to my ride home through the vineyards.

The beurocracy is a killer and probably an essential part of every emigration. My forms took 2 hours Just to Check before I put them in the mail. On arrival here, I had to have an itemized list of everything I was importing. We had to privately insure our vehicle temporarily in one province for transportation across the country then insure it again (with a provincial government agency) in the province we moved to. I had to re-take my driving test after 13 years of driving in the UK (curse Britain for driving on the wrong side of the road). I couldn’t start my job without a social insurance number which took 2 weeks to process. I have to carry a medical insurance card at all times – even though it’s a government insurance plan. I have to carry a permanent resident card. Best of all, for some local government rules, success or failure depended on the office we visited or the government agent you talk to because actually I got my social insurance number in 2 days.

Credit: I’m not sure how I could’ve coped if my husband had not lived in Canada. I had no credit rating upon my arrival. The first thing you have to do is get a credit card from the bank and use it to get your credit rating. Without that, I couldn’t have got a phone, electricity at the house, a mortgage, a car loan, ANYTHING. If you have relatives anywhere in the world that you can stay with, that might be the best country for your family to move to.

Moving money: Don’t let anyone tell you the economy is global. Do not be fooled by HSBC’s claims that by 9:00 am you can wire funds to wherever. Expect to take 2 weeks to get HSBC UK to transferr money to HSBC in a different country. Even if the account’s in the same name and the same currency in both countries. DO not listen to your bank when they say it won’t be a problem. Make them give you authorization forms to take fax instructions – otherwise they want a letter. The twin towers incident ruined lives globally.

Start early: It took me 9 months to get my Canadian visa sorted and I was married to a Canadian. As far as I know you don’t have any family ties to affiliate you to a particular country except Scotland and last time I went, there was no border guard on the M6 (or is it the M74 – my GOD I can’t remember!). That means you’ll probably have to convince some government that you’re a) happily married and b) worthy of membership of their society. You’ll have to jump through hoops, collect points, stamps and anything else. Some countries require a bond of $10,000 (Australia). The sooner you start research the better – and start saving the pennies. Immigration isn’t cheap.

Living the Good Life: Tom and Barbara made it look easy.

Tom & Barb - childhood icons
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
We had a great plan to be self sufficient, rent a house out to pay for the semi-retired lifestyle. There was I, about to become a mountain guide and gardener in my spare time. But no. 3 months working as a ski instructor and I knew I wanted to ski for fun, not for a measly salary. I wasn’t so good at it. I’m not enough of a lovie or a party-animal and my husband couldn't afford to slide into insignificance so, we went back to the real world. You might not believe it now but work DOES add value to your life. Imagine stopping at the age of 30. OK, fine. Seems great huh? But now think of all the money you won’t make between now and 50. Money isn’t everything but being able to go out for a meal when you can’t face the washing up and being able to afford those little extras like haircuts, holidays and a bottle of wine is everything. As far as the actual practical view on gardening (if you want to build yourself a “patch”), watch this space. I started digging my lawn in November!

Relationship challenges: Your marriage needs to be sound because you will feel like screaming at eachother and throwing in the towel and everyone will be adjusting in their own ways and at their own paces. There will be times when you want to run home to your mum or your friends but you can’t. When there’s nowhere else to go. Don’t ever take to living in a caravan because when the only other room is the bathroom it’s really no fun.

Moving to Canada has been a real experience for me. I had some really bad, dark moments because I felt isolated. Getting back to work and expanding my range of friends has really helped. I’ve had to take on new things and stop doing old things that I’ve been doing for years (Oh OK bike racing) and the withdrawl’s been crippling but you have to get on with life right? On the other hand, there’s 4000ft mountains within spitting distance. I don’t need to leave the city to see a bald eagle sitting in the tree and last night a pair of Golden Eagles flew over the house whilst we were in the hot tub. I’ve watched a female Osprey feed her young with fish I watched her catch in the lake. I was a volunteer at the Canadian Ironman race. I helped my community raise money to build an old-folks home in the village and maintain the parks and rec and provide a youth centre near the beach. I get 275 hours bright sunshine during August. You had 466 all summer in Manchester. So I know where I’d rather be. Here, getting whinged at by my “employees” and looking out the window at snow on the mountains, knowing that at 4:30 tonight I’ll be cracking open a can of cheaper-than-England Old Speckled Hen ale and admiring the builder’s tiling work in the kitchen.

Hope this helps.x

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

3:29 p.m. -


If I sit here any longer, will you feed me?
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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3:28 p.m. -


Look who's hiding in the waste wood pile...
(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

8:53 a.m. - Time check

Our clocks changed too this weekend. We forgot as usual – the media vacuum in which we usually live almost sheltered us from even the pope’s passing. Hubby fortunately woke at 5:30am on Monday. I did the math and figured out I still had the time to only be 5 minutes late for work.

By contrast, this morning, my alarm cat went off early so I was already having whiskers thrust into my ear canal at 5:55 am and I got to work to find she had kindly removed a chunk from the end of my nose making me look like a real freak. That combined with making myself a nice salty cup of tea this morning has put be off today all together.

It’s a save everything day.

Later: There are some days you know you should go home for your own personal safety. Today was one of those day. It started off when I made myself that nice salty cup of tea and culminated in me tripping over a pallet that I was completely blind to. It was a real unexpected fall, not one where you think to yourself, "here we go" but one where you suddenly look around and think, "Why am I on the floor?".

At least there's a reason why Eric laughs at me everytime he looks at me now.

And at least this year I didn't break anything - just a few pulled muscles, a grazed knee and a scrape in my mouth where the box I was carrying knocked the pen out of my mouth and a hole in my tongue caused by my teeth.

Going home to wrap myself in cotton wool.

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8:46 a.m. - Have you any idea how much a washing machine sounds like home?

Listen next time you use yours and if you don’t get it, imagine living in a caravan for 9 months then try again. Last night I did my laundry in my own house. I put too much in because I’m used to Industrial North American lundrette sized machines which chug and gurgle and slop and rattle but the Bosch just hummed away until the spin cycle reminded me that one of the feet needed to be dropped down another inch. Rather than wasting time I left the machine to its own devices and got on with some serious relaxing – watching the sun go down behind Summerland instead of staring at the blank wall of the launderette breathing in 20 years of secondary nicotine fumes left over from the days before they banned smoking in public places in Canada.

On the weekend I gardened frantically. I sowed Dianthus, Morning Glory (!), Penstemon, Cherry Tomatoes, Lobelia to go with the Lupind and a load of herbs planted last week. (Who needs children? My baby thyme are the joy of my life right now). I also sowed a random collection of seeds collected from our last garden which, until they can be identified are called, “Landrover”, “Black Creek” and “Lodge Mix”. They’re all indoors for now, stragely being watched over by Eric the sheep-shaped footstool.

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8:45 a.m. - The boating season is here

Walking down to the village last week we were passed by and SUV towing a 20’ long speed boat behind.
“Oh oh”, says I, “it’s That time of year”.
We laughed as the boat passed with 6 floatation-device-clad teenagers sat in the back, laughing and waving furiously like we should be envious of them.
“I’m sure”, says hubby, “that riding in the back of a boat on a road trailer isn’t safe… even if you are wearing a life jacket”.

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7:59 a.m. - The drive home from work

#1: Car parts left in for authenticity.

(c) Me.

#2: Okanagan mountain park in the background.

(c) Me.

#3: Reflection of my forearm left in for authenticity.

(c) Me.

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7:57 a.m. -

And for my mum: The light fittings. So much better than my sketches.

(c) Me.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

7:06 a.m. -

California Quail

(c) Me.

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7:05 a.m. -

Bird Tree on the KVR

(c) Me.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

7:15 a.m. - I rode to work again today

Question is: for the first ride of the year, do you take the short, less hilly route or take the road route where the bumps will make your backside ache less? On Tuesday I rode all the way home with my ass planted firmly on the saddle. Not because I'm super fit (because I was twiddling my teeniest gears on the hills) but because it was toooo painful in the rear end to go through the trauma of a) standing up and b) sitting back down again. No physical blue blobby marks to show for the pain either. Just that my ligaments are not accustomed to holding my legs onto the rest of my body in the face of such adversity.

This morning, as I gasped my way up the hill that starts at the end of our driveway, I suddenly realized that soon, very soon, I would have to sit on my posterior again. It wasn't soooo bad - but bad enough that this evening is going to be interesting. More clenching buttocks in an attempt to generate a reasonably firm cushion on which to sit - not easy when I'm this unfit and have discovered a recent need to eat a sizeable amount of chocolate.

I am consoling myself with the knowledge that today we have but one truck to load and so far have manufactured everything for it. Except my assistant shipper has just informed me we're short one load of obscure product and has headed off, tape measure in hand to try and find something to cut it out of. This means, however, that I might well get out of here on time - that's 3:30! It hasn't happened yet but I can hope... and it's a tail wind home so I shall be able to indulge in the luxury of getting blown home to cook a proper meal and drink the last can of Old Speckled Hen ale on sale in the Okanagan with my husband. (Old Speckled Hen is cheaper here than in England - how does that work??)

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