Past, present …. and future

I was reminded the other day of an album I bought on vinyl, 30 years ago.  Apart from it being as brilliantly sounding today as it was back then, just hearing the opening bars to each track – took me back to when I would play it endlessly on the second-hand record player in my bedroom.  Some tracks I haven’t heard in a very long time – yet, I still know all the words and the nuance of every line and song.  Sometimes I can’t remember what I was told last week, and yet this album from 30 years ago, I can recite verbatim.  I also wonder, that as a teenager listening to this in my bedroom all those years ago – what would I have thought if I’d have known that 30 years later I’d be listening to it again living in Western Canada?  I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me.

Three years ago, I started this blog after being asked if we would move to Canada for a year or so.  Back in 2014, being issued with temporary work permits for 3 years seemed a long time in the future – and yet, here we are.  They are due to expire in September.  For those of you who have been keeping up with our antics, you’ll know that about 18 months ago we started the process of applying for permanent residency as an option to extend our time over here.  It’s certainly been a long time in the making and by no means, is a simple process.  We’ve had the ‘delights’ of sitting an English test (part 1 and part 2!), demonstrating our education credentials, applying for police checks, taking medicals, proving job histories – the list has been endless.  Not to mention the cost.  Anyhow, as you’ll know, we finally submitted the full application back in February (click here for that saga) – and this culminated in an interview with Canada Border Agency last Thursday.  During which, we were all granted permanent residency in Canada.  Success!

I was expecting some trumpets heralding the news, a few fireworks to mark the occasion – but alas, no.  We have a piece of paper as confirmation, but now have to wait until our formal ‘PR’ cards arrive in the post which will then act as our main source of documentation proving our status here.  In the meantime, all other temporary permits, study visas and work visas have been taken in lieu of the cards arriving – which means that whilst we can leave Canada, they won’t let us back in – until the PR cards arrive.  Thank goodness, we’ve got no overseas trips planned for the next 2 months …

I’m also slightly relieved that we don’t have to worry about having to pack everything back up to return, and even more so, our cat (yes, she’s still here at nearly 22 years old) equally can continue to reside in the manner to which she has now become accustomed.  I was starting to panic that she wouldn’t last the flight back across the pond ….. mind you, I had the same concern 3 years ago when she first flew across here.  She’ll outlive me at this rate.

So what does it all mean?  Well, it never prevents us from returning back ‘home’ – but at least it allows us to continue residing and working in Canada for the foreseeable future.  It provides options and choice – and that’s what we wanted.  And for my British friends reading this, no need to rush about getting a trip over to visit in the next few months!  Take your time – we’ll be here for a while for those venturing over this side of the pond.  Feel free to sample the harsh cold of the far north with lots of winter skiing and skating – or bask in the blue skies, constant sun and high temperatures over the summer months.  The choice is yours ….

So, upon reflection – the latest albums I’m now listening to over here in Canada, I’m just wondering where I’ll be when I replay them again in another 30 years from now?  Now there’s a thought ….  🙂

Fast and furious …

Human nature is a funny thing.  The clips on ‘You’ve Been Framed’ and ‘America’s Funniest Videos’ generating the greatest uproar in our house are always when an individual has the fates conspiring against them and they end up plummeting to the ground.  Their moment of impact sees you cringe, you let out a gasp, before howling with laughter at their misfortune.

You’d think that as the years go by, I’d learn from my mistakes and be a bit more cautionary when attempting something new.  But no.  You’ll no doubt remember my dalliance with ice skating and the very first attempt I made on ice, which resulted in several hours at the local Canadian A&E department and a broken wrist (click here to relive the saga …..).   Mind you, I’ve attempted cross-country skiing and downhill skiing since without much incident – although there was that time when I tried jumping off the ski lift …..My middle kid has been pretty proficient about learning to skateboard – and now most of the snow has finally disappeared (I know …. it’s May), skateboards are a popular mode of transport and can be seen out and about around Edmonton.  She’s been learning on a small narrow board, so has ‘upgraded’ to a longer and wider board that is probably closer in style to a surfboard than a skateboard.  We never had flat pavements when I was young, so the ability to even attempt roller-skating – never mind skateboarding – was always limited by the severity of the uneven flags and the sense of foreboding that at any second, you’d be thrown into the air like a catapult.  It’s a completely different story over here.  Smooth pavements, well-laid pathways and flat surfaces make learning to roller-skate and skateboard much easier.  So, upon leaving the store this weekend with her larger and visually stunning  new skateboard, she wanted to head straight to one of the local parks to test it out.She quickly started getting the hang of it, declaring it was far easier than her previous smaller version, and the ability to balance seemed effortless.  I watched her for several minutes, impressed with how quickly she adapted, after which an element of what can only be described as sheer recklessness then descended as I uttered the immortal words …… ‘give it to me, I’ll have a go’.Clearly catching the rest of the family by surprise, they were stunned into disbelief as they watched me place the skateboard on the floor and try to decide which foot to start off with.  It wasn’t an immediate choice – do I start on the left foot, or start on the right – there was certainly some hesitation as I debated how to put my best foot forward, and this possibly translated into some degree of trepidation and nervousness in the watching family members.  For my part, I was totally confident in my abilities and had a mental vision of me demonstrating the moves with professional skill and adeptness as I set off.  The first attempt went well.  I wasn’t quick – just getting my balance, and in all honesty, one foot was on the floor most of the time.

‘This is easy’, I declared – getting more enthusiastic and overly confident by the second.  ‘I’ll have another go’.

In hindsight, it all quickly went wrong the moment both feet left the ground.  Recognising the need for speed, I pushed off a bit too keenly.  This only magnified into a problem – which resulted in my downfall – the moment my remaining foot left the ground.  It didn’t even get as far as being placed on the skateboard as the visual representation of Newton’s law of force = mass x velocity, and what can go disastrously wrong when any of the elements are miscalculated, was perfectly demonstrated.  The skateboard continued its projection forward, whilst I was momentarily horizontal in mid-air before gravity took charge and landed me unceremoniously on the tarmac and in a mound of gravel.

Two of my kids burst into side-splitting laughter, whilst ‘husband’, just tutted, rolled his eyes, and uttered, ‘for goodness sake, you’re not a teenager you know!’.  Half suspecting he had an afternoon’s delight in the local A&E to look forward to, he was somewhat relieved when I hobbled to my feet, hand bleeding profusely from pot-marked gravel embedded in the skin, and a sore bottom that was saved from being scalped literally by the thickness of my jeans.   Thankyou, Levi.

To say I’ve got a slight bruise on my behind would be an understatement – there’s quite a range of deep blues, purples and blacks; and no doubt all colours of the rainbow will make an appearance over the next few weeks.  Sitting on the sofa and chairs are proving a challenge, and the palm of my hand has seen better days.  Still, chalk it up to experience and another sporting attempt I can now cross off my list.  Fast and furious wasn’t the wisest of choices, it’s safer just watching it at the cinema ….

🙂

How do you like yours?

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You’d have thought that moving to a completely different country and establishing the Canadian way of life would be difficult, but I’ve got to say in the overall scheme of things, that small accomplishment has been relatively simple compared to having to navigate ourselves through the use of incorrect terms for various items of produce.  Never more so – and with immensely disappointing consequences, than the Canadian use of the word, ‘chips’.  For the British amongst you, this is plain and simple.  Just the word itself, can invoke mouth-watering symptoms at the mere idea of a plate of ‘chips’ (particularly when accompanied by meat pie, mushy peas and gravy).  Over on this side of the continent, the term refers to ‘crisps’ and many has been the time when I’ve looked forward to a plate of ‘burger and chips’ or ‘fish and chips’ only to be bitterly dismayed when it has arrived accompanied by a portion of ‘crisps’.

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I’m from the north of England, where there’s nothing more satisfying than a decent portion of ‘chips ‘n’ gravy’ – and soggy chips at that, nestled in a polystyrene oblong white tray complete with plastic fork that soak up all the deliciousness, drenched in a heart-attack inducing sprinkle of salt and vinegar.   Oh, we sure know how to live, us northerners …..  Nowadays, I have to consciously use the term ‘fries’ to make absolutely crystal clear my intent – but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, asking for ‘burger and fries’ or ‘fish and fries’.  See – you’ve not even salivating at the idea either, are you?  First world problems, I know.

Now I know different areas of the UK have particular regional variances for what they choose to smother their ‘chips’ in.  In Canada, the closest equivalent is an extremely popular dish commonly referred to as ‘poutine’.  In this, they also cover their ‘fries’ with gravy, but instead of stopping there at minimalist perfection, continue to then add ‘cheese curds’ and sometimes, a sprinkle of bacon pieces too, just for good measure.  A good example of how keeping things simple and not over-complicating a dish could have been very rewarding.  It takes some getting used to – but needs must, when the devil drives …….

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Stood in a supermarket earlier this week, I spotted 3 new varieties of ‘crisps’ – or ‘chips’ for the North American continent reading my blog, staring down at me from the shelves.  ‘Lays’ – a popular brand of crisps over on this side of the pond, and actually known as ‘Walkers’ in the UK, held a ‘World Favourites Contest’ earlier this year and invited Canadians to vote for their favourite flavours inspired by global influences.  Votes were counted and what I saw on the shelves earlier this week, were the 3 ‘winning’ flavours of chips now available.  Are you ready for this?

  • Lay’s Bacon Poutine: a delicious combination of gooey cheese curds, rich gravy, and smoky bacon flavours, inspired by Canada.
  • Lay’s Thai Sweet Chili: a tantalizing mix of sweet and spicy with aromatic and chili pepper flavours, inspired by Thailand.
  • Lay’s Cheese & Onion: a blend of sharp cheddar cheese with savory onion, inspired by the UK.

There you are.  The UK made it into the top 3 – who’d have thought.

Lays crispsIf this wasn’t complicated enough, shopping in a supermarket, or better still, choosing a sandwich in a deli can be riddled with abject disaster.  I like to think I’m fairly open-minded when it comes to food and will try anything once, but even I can’t help staring in disbelief when the server behind the counter constructing my butty asks, ‘would I like sprouts?’ on the top.  Sprouts?  Even I drew the line at having some brussel sprouts placed on the top of my sandwich, but suffice to say, I needn’t have panicked, and ‘cress’ it actually meant ……. Other less unusual terms to translate have included, ‘rocket’ which is referred to as ‘arugula’, ‘aubergine’ which is ‘eggplant’, and ‘courgette’ which is ‘zucchini’.

Never let it be said that moving to another english speaking country didn’t require some degree of translation.    🙂

Thanks as ever to google images for the pics in this week’s blog

It’s the little things …

the_little_thingsSomebody mentioned to me a while ago that they would struggle to relocate abroad for any amount of time as after even the shortest of periods, they’d be missing home and wanting to return. I must admit, I’ve always been somewhat the same when going on holiday for 1 or 2 weeks at a time. I’m quite a homebird, and there comes a point doesn’t there, when you’ve done what you came to do, you’ve had the experience, welcomed the change of scenery and are now looking forward to returning home and everything that is comfortable and familiar.

I think the longest I ever spent outside the ‘north of England’ prior to moving to Canada was when I was at University in Sheffield – and maybe even that doesn’t really class as being outside what can only be regarded as the ‘true north’ 😉

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Well, it’s been nearly 12 months since we boarded a plane and set off for our adventure overseas. Canada has not only delivered, but exceeded our expectations.  The time has absolutely flown and with it, there have been new experiences, different opportunities and a huge variety of people and places which have been welcoming and positively embracing.   I’m loving it.   It’s a gorgeous part of the world in which to live.

In the next month, we get a return flight to the UK to visit friends and family just for a brief period. By the time we return to Edmonton, it will no doubt be revelling in the delights of sub-zero temperatures and covered in 3ft of snow.

Rather like the project management and organisation that I imagine is going into the 2016 Rio Olympics, our visit to the UK is no different and commands the same level of detail and meticulous logistical planning. You won’t be surprised to hear that a detailed timetable, spreadsheet and visitation log has been established in order to navigate ourselves the length and breadth of the UK, seeing as many family and friends as possible, savouring the delights of food we’ve missed from our culinary table, and procuring essential items that just cannot be replicated over this side of the pond.

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So, after 12 months abroad, apart from friends and family, what have we missed the most? Well, I can tell you with absolute clarity, it’s the little things. It’s the things you would least expect and if you’d asked me the same question prior to us moving to Canada, would not have featured remotely in my expectations of life over here.  That’s not to say there’s gaping holes.  Canada provides the majority and indeed in a lot of cases, there’s a whole chunk of new and different stuff that has enhanced our life over here, what we do, what we eat and what we see.  But there’s no getting away from it.  It’s the little things.  Here are my top 10 …

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  1.  I love food, and my first stop in the UK will be to a chippy. Yes, a proper chippy. One that does chips ‘n’ gravy, with curry sauce, steak & kidney puddings, and mushy peas. I’m drooling just at the thought. Don’t get me wrong, Canadians attempt to construct ‘fish and chips’ but it’s just not the same and doesn’t taste anywhere near as good.
  2. Now don’t get me started on the topic of pies. I’ve had to make my own or buy them from my fellow British ex-pats just to satisfy the urge. Any type of savoury pie, I’m not fussy. But a pie. With gravy ……. Mmmmm.
  3. Talking of which ….. Bisto. Bisto gravy granules – sheer innovation. Unknown on this continent for the ability to serve it with anything remotely edible. A truly flexible product that even UK ‘southerners’ have never maximised to it’s full potential. I’m from the north-west of England, it’s in our DNA, and I’m a gravy connoisseur. I’ve nothing else to add.
  4. Biscuits. Yum. Hobnobs. Custard creams. Gingernuts. Al the ones you can dunk readily in a brew
  5. Earl grey tea. Probably the one item I’ve missed the most in terms of taste to the extent that my mother has been sending me regular shipments just to keep me functioning with any degree of proficiency.  You may have been able to detect through my blogs when resources have been short and supplies limited….
  6. Colman’s english mustard. Other interpretations are readily available but none as good or taste the same. It’s something that just fails to be adequately replicated. Perfect with steak and chips.
  7. Moving onto other essential items. The BBC is an institution that cannot be matched. By comparison, Canadian TV is poor in quality and whilst we’ve been able to keep up with our favourite UK programmes, I’m looking forward to being able to watch the BBC on a TV, start to finish, without the spooling data icon appearing on screen as we struggle with the data downloads.  If I’m lucky, I may be able to get in several episodes of ‘Strictly’…..
  8. Pubs. Now there’s another British institution. Readily found on most street corners and in which I’ll be found upon our visit home …

As with any list, there is a necessity to have 10 items in a list.  It’s the rules.  Just has to be done – and I’m struggling after 8.  Sat next to me on the sofa whilst I tap away is my husband, strumming on his ukulele (no, that’s not a euphemism), and reading ‘Ukulele for Dummies’ (never has there been a book more aptly named).  He has gamely volunteered the last 2 on the list:

9.  Imperial Leather soap.  Unavailable in Canada, and no other soap will do (according to the usual complaint I receive when attempting to find a Canadian replacement).

10.  And finally …. germaline.  ?????  I haven’t asked.

I’m guessing for the Brits reading this week’s blog, they’ll be nodding in recognition and amusement at the items I’ve missed most about Blighty over the past year. For those from other countries who won’t have a clue what these are, put them on your list so that if you ever take a trip to England, you can seek them out.  You won’t regret it – just send me your thanks and appreciation for such insight at a later date 🙂

laughing cat

In the meantime, the flights are booked and arrangements are being made. You have been warned. Watch out UK. We’re coming back – for 10 nights only, to a town near you ……. 🙂

(Thanks to Google images for this week’s pics)

Keep calm and open wide …

Llama

I may be on the case for getting most things sorted following our move to Canada, but 10 months in, there’s been one item which has constantly been re-prioritised and moved down the list …. never to appear at the top.  I’ve done doctors, schools, swimming classes, art classes, realtors, solicitors, window cleaners, car dealers, tax returns … the list has been endless.  I’ll just say one word …. dentist.  Say no more.

I wasn’t ignoring it as such.  In fact, I had this rather bizarre and extreme thought that maybe I could continue to visit my UK dentist on the rare ‘once a year’ return trips back home.  I accept it’s a rather expensive reason for a ‘trip’ just to have an annual checkup – in every way possible – costs, time and distance.  All, just to have our gnashers checked.  My experience of dentists has not been positive, and it’s been a dull ache in the back of my mind, knowing it had to get sorted in some shape or form.  Rather than being in denial, I’ve moved it into a new category entitled, ‘things to procrastinate over’.  As another form of delay, it’s been sat there for the last few months as an item on the ‘to-do’ list as soon as the kids go back to school.

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Anyhow, circumstance have taken their own course, and 2 weeks ago my youngest kid went on a ‘playdate’ with a friend she’d met at her swimming class.  Turns out, her mother is a dental nurse and provided a strong recommendation of a place to visit – literally, just round the corner.  So, contact them I did and this week, the kids all went for their first visit to a Canadian dentist.

I’ll say it now.  The whole experience, from start to finish (apart from the fact we turned up at the dentist and left again), bore no relation at all, to any previous experience of going to a dentist in all my 43 years on this earth. Suffice to say, I think the Canadians have developed the ideal solution for maintaining kids teeth and providing strong incentives for them to look after them properly …..

My research-bed for making such a rash statement isn’t large – I’ll grant you that.  In fact, based solely on 1 dentist visit alone.  But if it’s positive, fun, engaging and interesting – gets both kids and adults conscious about their teeth and preventative ways of looking after them, that can be only a good thing.  That’s not to say my UK dentist isn’t good.  I’ve never had any complaints – apart from having to go every 9 months.  He is always polite, informative, and friendly – and welcomes me through the doors.  The hygienist can talk the hind legs off a donkey, but given I’m often prevented from contributing to the discussion due to the various cleaning implements and tools she lodges in my mouth during the process, it is usually more a one-sided tirade on the issues of the day, which often sees me just nodding with acknowledgement and resignation.

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So, back to Canada.  Each of the kids were in the ‘chair’ and having their teeth and mouth cleaned and checked for 1 hour apiece.  How do you keep 3 kids occupied during this process I hear you ask?  TV’s of course – set into the ceiling above each chair along with a set of personal headphones which they can put on (plus a remote control to change the channels – obviously), whilst the dental nurse does all the necessaries on their gnashers.  X-rays taken from every angle, shown on laptops and used to assess the health of their teeth.  All were shown how to brush and floss – and a dye put on their teeth to visually demonstrate that despite my middle kid’s frantic attempts to suddenly brush properly that morning, plaque was still in evidence.  Whilst all 3 have usually been pretty good where teeth are concerned, it acted as a super real-life demonstration of how they needed to ‘up their game’ with their teeth.  Once clean, the dentist also reviewed all the x-rays, teeth and feedback from the nurses to make her own assessment.  The ‘winning’ formula also included a ‘goody bag’ upon departure – not just a sticker which they’ve always previously received from the dentist at home (I even remember getting one each time I visited when I was little, and don’t get me wrong, was something to look forward to on each visit in the UK) – but this bag had a range of flossing tools, toothbrush, toothpaste and several kids mini-toys.  The toys were tokens rather than valuable expenses, and to say it was a bonus feature, would be an understatement.  The kids were delighted and distraught to be leaving – I was beginning to wonder if we would have to be forcibly removed from the premises, such was their reluctance to depart so soon.

Toothbrush

Has it lasted I hear you ask?  Well, so far since their visit, the kids have been much more attentive and focused on spending time in the bathroom getting their teeth clean and flossed, rather than creating potions with the soap and shampoo, and leaving them to congeal on the facecloths, sink and floor.  Time will no doubt tell.

That said, I’m glad I finally got round to sorting it out.  Now for my turn.  I’m due for my checkup next week and it’s set me wondering about what will be in my goody bag?  Now where’s that floss …… 🙂

It’s not what’s said, it’s how it’s said

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Accents are funny things aren’t they?  They define a person – both to themselves, but also to others.  Meet anyone and how they talk often tells you more about them than what they actually say.

Canada has surprised me in more ways than one – but a large one has been in its accents and languages.  In Canada alone, there were more than 200 languages reported in the 2011 Census of Population as a home language or mother tongue.  English and French are the official languages and in more ways than one, the most common form of currency to communicate between different cultures and people.  I’ll be stood at school waiting for the kids to come out of their classes, and the abundance of different languages you can hear is simply staggering.  At the Recreation and Leisure Centres it’s a similar story and it’s lovely to have such diversity – and something I hadn’t thought I would encounter to this extent.  Names of people often reflect their cultural background too and there’s a plethora of choice over here – I’ve smiled when my youngest kid has formed new friends and upon asking their name, has nodded in understanding and carried on playing whilst not being able to recollect what was said or re-interpret it.

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You can safely say for those that have met me and spoken to me, that there is a fairly strong northern English accent.  My father-in-law (coming from what I would call ‘the south’ of England although he would fiercely contest it is more ‘Midlands’ in orientation), has taken great delight and pleasure over the years in requesting translations for various turns of phrases I’ll utter, through a third party – namely, my husband.  It’s said with much mirth and I’ll also try to come up with something to baffle and confound him just to see his reaction.

So, take the girl out of England what do you find?  Quite often, 2 countries divided by a common language!  My husband is often in hysterics leaving me to front conversations in cafes, restaurants and shops just to savour the exchange of words between the parties.  There’s been a few disasters ……

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I love my cups of tea (British tradition and built into my DNA), and I like it strong, white, and without sugar.  Upon staying in a hotel when we first arrived, there was no milk in the room so off I trotted to Reception to ask for some from the kitchen.  It was a testy conversation, I’ll be honest – I wasn’t overly sure the Receptionist understood what ‘milk’ was, so I settled on compromising on the word ‘cream’ as this term seemed to be acknowledged and understood (in the coffee sense of the word).  ‘Cream’ would be sent to the room, so imagine my bafflement and surprise when after 10 minutes, there was a knock at the bedroom door, and a lovely lady from the ‘Housekeeping’ department wanted to provide me with a ‘crib’.

Equally, I’ve asked for ‘hot chocolate’ and been provided with ‘hot coffee’.  This week, we went for a meal on my birthday and I asked for ‘tap water’ only to receive ‘hot water’ in glasses at the table.  Slightly unusual I admit, but we decided suffering in silence was probably less problematic than attempting to explain the error.

Usually though, I’m met with the response, ‘I really love your accent’ followed by the question, ‘where are you from?’, with the option of choice offered as ‘is it English or Australian’?  This astounds me each and every time, but it’s happened so often that all I can assume is it’s obviously something that to people in Canada sounds alike.  Now to me, an English accent is quite distinctive and one I wouldn’t mix up with another country – Australia being the last option I’d have selected.  But maybe it’s the equivalent of me trying to discern the difference between American and Canadian?  To me they sound similar – without the Texan drawl and Deep South accents taken into account – but clearly are offensive options when suggested to a Canadian.

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I’m muddling along though and if all else fails I often adopt the approach of a true English-person abroad – speak slowly, louder, and adopt hand signals …

Could you imagine what on earth life would’ve been like if I’d gone to a completely different foreign country where the language of the nation wasn’t rooted in English?  That said, all these things are fun, memorable and life defining – and that’s what it should be about.

🙂

How many items does it take to fill a Canadian house?

 

Suitcase

Despite the snow, sub-zero temperatures and the trans-atlantic distance between England and Canada; our goods which were last seen being packed into a container back in mid October, have finally found their way to our new home in Edmonton, Canada.

The removal agents were keen to keep me updated on the progress of our items throughout the entire journey.  For the ‘small’ trip across the Atlantic, I was readily informed that the container had been loaded onto the ship and was about to set sail (on a ship called ‘Sandra’ no less).  Once arrived in Canada, and being transported from East to West by rail, I was provided with regular updates on where our items were during the long trip  – the updates being the equivalent of the ‘container diaries’ as they slowly progressed and undertook a rail trip across a huge country that many would pay a fortune to experience.

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That said – and slightly later than originally expected, I finally heard the news of their imminent arrival in Edmonton.  Even when they’ve arrived, you have to seek clearance by Customs so off I trundled to the Customs Cargo depot to seek the required stamp of approval – rather like the one in Calgary for collecting my cat (see previous blog – who’s settled in very nicely, thank you for asking).  They don’t make these buildings easy to find or in any shape and form, welcoming, so I took my youngest kid along as a source of sympathy should things start to go pear-shaped.

There was a slight altercation in the fact that the shipping contact details on our goods were in the name of my husband, and despite having a marriage certificate and no end of documentation to prove my identity and linkage to our worldly possessions (see previous blog topic),  they wouldn’t accept me as the one to sign for ‘our’ goods.  So, a hastily requested email from said husband arrived at the customs front desk, and this appeased the process.  Once I read, agreed and signed against all the requirements that I can/can not do with any of our possessions, they gave me the sought after ‘stamp’ on the documents and our goods were cleared.

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You may be thinking, they’d get delivered at this point?  Alas, no.  Getting clearance means the rail company can release our container to the removal company, who can then schedule us in for delivery.  A few nice words and a sob story about having no furniture or clothes for the last 8 weeks plus the fact that Christmas is coming and at this rate, we’ll be depicting a modern day enactment of ‘Tiny Tim’s’ family, from the famous novel, ‘A Christmas Carol’ – the removal firm agreed to deliver the following day.

To say I was excited to see our ‘stuff’ again, would be an understatement.   The removal firm arrived as promised, complete with actual container on the back of a lorry.  I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I could’ve sworn it looked smaller than the one we originally sent.  My eyes deceiving me, probably down to the sheer size and scale of everything Canadian, I was asked to stand outside and witness the ‘seal’ being cut from the container.  I guess this is to show there’s been no tampering with the items in transit, but I’ve got to say it was a slightly surreal experience, watching them slowly open the doors of the container and seeing the familiar UK removal firm boxes in the back.  A small sigh of relief too, as I’m not sure what I’d have done if none of the items looked familiar to me at all!

It’s surprising the things you are pleased to see the most, are not always the items you expect.

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My piano (an upright, not a grand), which was an inherited gift from my Grandpa, had the removal firm chaps staggering in under the sheer weight of it.  Not massively large, but extremely heavy, they did a wonderful job amidst the snow and ice.  I was expecting it to sound off-key and in desperate need of a re-tune, but it’s fantastically still holding a tune and satisfactorily complete!  In fact, all our items – bar a wooden picture frame – made it in entirety.

One factor I hadn’t even anticipated but how on earth we didn’t have any more breakages I’ll never know, was the degree of cold everything had clearly gone through.  In taking out insurance for our possessions, I was of the mind that it would cover any fateful sinking of said ship, or the container being ‘dropped’ from the huge cranes used to load and unload shipments.  It never occurred to me, that cold may be such a key factor, and I’ve got to admit, we’ve been extremely lucky to get away so lightly.

Everything took a few hours to defrost and come up to temperature.  Our bathroom items had all frozen in their tubes, old (and well-used) casserole dishes were showing cracks in the pottery, so we unpacked and left things to acclimatise in their own time.  Only a glass ornament suffered from the glue not being able to withstand the frozen temperatures and had a clean break – which is now fully restored.

Suitcase

Everything is unpacked out of boxes, but with limited furniture as yet, it looks more akin to a jumble sale in many of the rooms than a welcoming invitation to sit down and relax.  That said, everything is here.  And judging from the Canadian scale of things,  we’re going to need a lot more items to fill this house!!!

On that note, I’m just off to the shops – back later  …. 🙂