Saturday, September 30, 2006

Orel Lake, BC

So this is where we would head for. This is where my brother lives, and the other visits for several months a year, and of course Mum, who is there now.

The road itself winds its way from the main island highway, (to Campbell River and Comox/Courtney), along a windy 17-20km route to a dead end about 1km further than this view.

Along the way are large plots with individual houses on, and a few farms too. Some of the houses are hidden from view by trees. Some plots remain undeveloped, some are mobile homes and some areas are still forestry owned forest land.

My brothers plots/homes overlook the first two fields towards the farm on the far side of the second couple of fields.

They are hidden from view somewhere under all those trees at the narrow end of the lake on the other side of the road.

Bears, deer, rabbits visit the fields, and bald eagles have an eerie at the top of a tree on the other side of the first one. The hedge between the two fields sort of marks the boundary between the two plots of land.

Orel lake itself belongs to the Nature trust of British Columbia, and is a rearing habitat for Coho Salmon, which pass up and down the stream/river that runs through Graham and Petes property.
Beavers have a dam on the lake and can be seen swimming across it.

Beautiful isn't it? Yes yes, I know it will be all white-covered in Winter, with foul winds and snowstorms and icy roads, but the winters are not as extreme as on the East coast, and we'd deal with it. The sea and log-strewn beaches are a 20 minute drive away with stunning views of snow-capped mountains on mainland BC.

So far though, pipe-dreams and determination fuel the faith that drives me to find the way to make it happen.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The first rung on the ladder

Better spend a bit of time here too. I have been spending so much time on the internet researching Visas and work permits, jobs and schools, real estate, driving licences, shipping costs and exporting a V8 trike, vehicles and vehicle insurance, (we'd have to start again with the no-claims bonuses, as if we were beginers), SINs, (Social insurance number card?), healthcare, opening a bank account, earning a credit rating, reading local newspapers on-line, reading of others experiences, BC stastics, local activities and lots of other things besides.
I even started completing an on-line resume, (CV). Then I got stuck with all sorts of details that need to be expressed using Canadian terminology. I need help from my sister-in-law me thinks.
Also job listing titles can sound like gobbledegook, and often salaries are listed by an hourly rate, if at all. Companies don't want to know what sex you are or what marital status you have when completing the application, and it's against the law for them to ask. Mind you I've never had to complete a CV.
My sister-in-law has emailed me to say that they are willing to do whatever it takes to help us get there, and after next week, she will have a 'bit' more time to look into things from her end.

Other news, well our porch has finally been rendered and I am now able to get down, (up), to painting the front of the house and porch. As I prepared my 'tools' and set up my ladder, I reflected on the recent accident of a 'blogmate', who set off up a ladder to the eaves and fell off whilst up there, could have been worse but got covered in bruises and nearly put a permanent stop to any future chance of copulation. I thought seriously about my safety as I selected a metal double extension ladder (with no missing rungs) out of our choice of several. I found a board to put on the lawn under the legs of the ladder for stability and the ladder was at the correct angle for the height, ( I think it's 1m out for every 3m up, it just looked and felt right). I tested the stability by standing on the bottom rung and ensuring that both legs were flat against the wall and board, even making sure that the friction feet were level on the board. I dug out the 'ladder table' that hangs over the rungs to put my pot on. Once up there I maintained 3 points of contact at all times, ( two hands and a foot or one hand and two feet). What else? Oh yes, I wore shoes and not sandels, ( it was hot too), and overalls. The only thing I didn't do was tell anyone that I was up there because there was no-one to tell, to my advantage really because no-one around to distract me.
A few hours later and no dinner for the kids, I got the job done. It was very unsatisfying visually because it was the clear sealer coat. Only two coats of white and three coats of Spanish yellow to go!
Seriously though, I am grateful for my blogmates posting because as a result of his posting, I thought more about my safety up there. I do hope he is okay and is at least enjoying a few days off to recuperate.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Trike-owning friend of Gmans is moving to Australia within a couple of months and recommended this site for useful info.

I have been excited, depressed, enthusiastic, worried and insecure as a result ever since, and totally hooked on searching the site for relevant information on the process of immigrating to Canada and how it is or was for others.

Ho-hum, I wonder how the weather will be for another boot fair tomorrow......

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why Canada?

It seems appropriate here to explain why Canada holds such a pull for me in light of recent plans, though many words will be needed.

Back in the late 70s’ Mum and Dad decided to move on from the Caribbean. They wanted us to settle somewhere with life experiences and career opportunities for us kids other than sailing.

They researched immigrating to New Zealand for a while and talked about sailing across the Pacific to NZ. Then they found out that we would have to pay some incredible amount of money in duty, that they couldn’t possibly afford, in order to stay there having sailed in to the country on ‘Kim’.

So there was a change of plan and we were going to sail up the West coast of the USA to British Columbia.

After further discussions they decided that ‘Kim’ just wasn’t up to the windward slog up that west coast because she was a 1940s’ built wooden yawl, and leaked like a sieve, just managing to cope with the sailing that we were doing in the Caribbean.

So, we sold her, (that is another saga), and the plan was to fly to Florida, buy a motor home, and drive across to the west coast of the USA and up to British Columbia.

A few Sagas later and we did all end up in BC, on Vancouver Island. My parents intentions were to apply for immigrants status from within whilst living in the motor home in a trailer park. I flew up from Florida to meet them in December, and having never encountered snow, arrived to 3’ of it.

I remember the crisp, cold mornings and trudging through heaps of snow. I remember going by bus to Camosun College where I took evening classes in Book-keeping and typing through the winter months, (a lot of good that did me, I am a two finger typist now and have never worked as a book-keeper). I remember the hot summer and travelling from provincial park to logging campsite all the way up to Campbell River and across to the west coast. I remember the ‘free’ sites on the lakeside at Strathcona, in the days when we would be the only campers there.

We all loved Canada, what we’d seen of it, and couldn’t imagine having to leave. We adapted to the change in climate from the heat of the Caribbean to the cooler summer and freezing winter.

I got a Canadian boyfriend and soon went off to mainland BC and up to his hometown, Prince George with him to visit family. Then he got a job at the pulp and paper mill in the coastal town of Powell River so we lived there for a while.

I wasn’t allowed to work in Canada, due to the family status as visitors, so I took a voluntary job at a local hospital, helping to care for a 17 yr old girl in a vegetative state. I used to feed her and tend to her needs for a few hours a day. Her parents didn’t visit her.

My boyfriend and I got engaged. I was so happy I was sure it was love

In October 1980 I persuaded Dad to take me back to the UK with him to help him sort out and decorate the house that they owned in Streatham, London, with sitting tenants occupying the flats, that were paying rents that were frozen in 1971.

My last and only visit to England since leaving at the age of 5 was for 9 months in 1971, and I was desperately curious to see the country that we were from through the eyes of a 17 yr old. I dreamt of seeing Big Ben and the river Thames, and red post and telephone boxes, and red double-decker buses, (though I did see a few in Victoria used as tourist buses), places that I only seen on postcards and in books. I wanted to spend time with Dad, because I had let him down badly (in yet another saga), and wanted to make it up to him by proving myself to him in some way. I also wanted to spend time with my grandmother, and other relatives and family friends, and to generally experience the place of my birth. I didn’t doubt that my life would be spent living and working in British Columbia, and that this was just a few months visit, combined with helping Dad with the decoration of the flats in preparation for selling prior to returning to Canada..

Within a month of returning to England I realised that I wasn’t in love with my boyfriend and rang him to break the news that I couldn’t marry him because I didn’t love him and that if I married him then it would be more because I would then be accepted into Canada without doubt. I couldn’t do that to him or myself.

He was devastated.

Dad then dropped a bombshell by explaining to me that I was now old enough to find my own way in life, that I was making decisions on my own now and taking charge of my own life, as a result, although he would pay for me to return to Canada, he could no longer support me within the family.

I could only work legally in England so I had to find a job before Dad returned to Canada after the sale of the flats in the house.

I stayed in England, got the job (that I still do now), and flew out for my first return visit to Vancouver Island for 6 weeks in 1984. We spent the summer exploring and revisiting campsites and visiting my brother Graham at Stathcona Park where he was a volunteer teaching kids how to kayak and sail.

Then Mum and Dad had to leave Canada because their status expired. Graham was okay because he was a volunteer, by this time he was teaching white-water rafting to kids in Ottawa but Pete left too. He went cruising in the Med and eventually settled in England for a few years, though he too, longed to return to Canada.

Mum and Dad decided to buy another boat and cruise the Med again, revisiting the countries last explored between ‘68-’70.

For 10 years I spent my holidays visiting them on the boat wherever they happened to be, Majorca and various parts of Greece and Turkey. We had fantastic holidays spent cruising and anchoring in out of the way places that the flotillas didn’t get to.

During these years Graham stayed in Canada and eventually was successful in gaining permanent residence under his own steam. It suited the way that he wanted to live and he couldn't imagine settling anywhere else.

Then I met Gadgetman, and after a final trip out to visit my parents, by this time in Malta and preparing to sell the boat before returning to England to ‘retire’ from sailing, we had Gadgeteen.

He was 20 months old when we first visited Canada as a family. We couldn’t really afford it but my brothers chipped in so that we could attend their weddings, which they had planned within a day of each other so that we could all be there to see them both married and meet all the families and friends.

My parents had flown out from England too, and had bought a car and tent-trailer to stay in and to use on future planned extended visits. After they left we used it to travel around and stay in, driving up to see the plot of land that Graham had bought in Black Creek, half way up the Island near Campbell River and Comox/Courtney, and drove across to the rugged spectacular west coast. Back then there were no crowds of campers pre-booking all the campsites like now. Back then we could easily camp and stroll along parts of Long Beach with huge pacific rollers sweeping the beach and surfers out playing with the breaking waves. We camped on logging sites accessed by long stretches of gravel roads used by the huge logging trucks as seen on an earlier posting here.

We spent time in Victoria too, and did the touristy stuff, though I never feel like a tourist there. I feel as if I am returning to the country that I ‘belong’ in, the lifestyle suits my spirit, even though I am not Canadian. I don’t feel that anywhere else and feel an intense sense of loss when we leave at the end of any of our 6 week visits as a family. Yes I’d miss my brothers and family, but it goes much deeper than that. There is only one country that I have wanted to live in more than anywhere else in the world, lots of places that I would visit, but Canada is it for me.

Gman fell in love with the island but said that he couldn’t think of moving away from his parents before they died.

That was that then.

We didn’t qualify to emigrate then anyway.

We have been out twice since, when Gadgeteen was 6 and Gadgetgirlie was 14 months old, then again last year.

I cried solidly for the hours return flight to Vancouver, and easily for 3 weeks afterwards following our last visit.

I so wished things could be different and that we could be living our lives there. I cried at the impossibility of my dreams and eventually just got on with reality here, looking forward to the day that I retired and could spend more time there.

So if we get through the application stage and are called for an interview, how do I explain why we want to leave our secure lives here in the suburbs of London to live in a rural area on Vancouver Island?

We would like to live in the community that my brother lives in, who no doubt, would help us to integrate, and to be around to see my nieces grow up.

We are accepted as common law partners and don’t have to be married to apply.

We would be able to buy a house with at least an acre of land for cash, so no pressure of a mortgage stretching into the years ahead.

We would like to have the outdoor opportunities available, the sailing, camping, kayaking, fishing, swimming, skiing, snowboarding and trials bike riding for Max.

The scenery is stunning, and space to live takes on a new meaning.

We would like to change the kind of pressures that we face here, the fast and stressful pace of life and feel that we could do that there.

The people that we met on the island had little of the aggressive and demanding attitude and expectations of life that so many have here. They care, and are generous with their demonstration of how they care. Of course I not referring to the many friends that we have here, I’m talking about people that we see around us, the ‘what’s in it for me’ type’, and the loutish behaviour that seems to dominate the news. I’m sure that a move to a city anywhere would be similar to living here as far as pressures of life are concerned but we know that the daily grind of work and life can be compensated for by life outside of work and I personally, would really like to make an opportunity happen so that our kids can come to know a different kind of living before this is all they know.

Gadgeteen is excited by the idea of a different life. I can see that it will be a huge adjustment for him. He is now getting used to having the freedom to go out on his own. He hangs around with his mates with their mobile phones in parks, chatting, texting other mates and sharing cigarettes and goodness knows what. Maybe they even kick a ball around or go into Kingston to hang around. I desperately want to change his expectations of how he uses his free time.
When we were staying in Macaulay Road he cycled down to the Oyster River on his own with some local lads and they spent the day swimming and playing there. Pete took him downriver for 3 hours on a double airbed, they drifted along and negotiated small rapids and bonded. Max has always wanted to go snowboarding and skiing but the cost for us to go somewhere is just too much here. There, Mount Washington is a 45 minute drive away from Macaulay Road.

Gadgetgirlie is thrilled by the idea of being near her cousins, the twins, who are only a year and a half older than her. She adapted really well to life there and was off playing by Grahams stream, (river in winter), and in the woods on the land. She loved the river and beach combing along Miracle Beach, 20 minutes away.

Both kids are confident communicators and will make friends easily, as our trips to France have shown. School buses travel the length of the road collecting and delivering the kids along the way. Schools and colleges are 45 minutes away.

Gadgetman has a lot of very practical skills that would suit the lifestyle there and enjoys working with his hands. He also has an extensive collection of tools and equipment that would benefit our lifestyle and would be an asset to the local community because of his willingness to help others. He is office bound most of the time now, in a job that the company moved him to involuntarily, so is seriously fed up with his long daily grind and longing for a change.

Both Campbell River, (pop -32,000), and Comox, (pop – 20,000), are reasonable sized towns with jobs on offer that we could do. My sister-in-law works for an employment centre that focuses on retraining opportunities for the middle and north of the island so we could get an insider view of opportunities suitable for us.

So there is my ‘Why Canada?’ for now, if you get this far down the posting. A lengthy one this time, but it also helps me to think things through.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Qualifying anxt

I've been reading of other peoples experiences of immigrating to Canada to help me to understand the process. 30% of applications from the UK take up to 25 months! The rest take longer. I wonder what the statistics are on rejections, another bit of research to follow.

That's if we even qualify to apply. It seems that we are borderline on the self-assessment forms. I am compiling a list of questions to ask at the emigrate show in a couple of weeks time. I'm loathe to pay the £678 non-refundable application fee if we stand no chance of progressing to the next stage which includes requests for police checks, medicals and supporting documents.

I printed off the guidelines and application form today anyway, just to get acquainted with them. A new simplified form means that we don't have to supply any documents initially. It's only 3 pages long, thank goodness, cos we will have to fill in 4 of them.

Life goes on as usual but inside I really bubble with hundreds of possible outcomes of what we are hoping to do. One minute despondant at the thought that we can't apply for emigration to Canada and the next minute dreaming of a rural life near my brothers.

A successful bootfair yesterday in that more 'must haves' went to good homes where they'll be wanted and appreciated and our clutter decreases slowly but surely.

Another bit of news is that Gman and I start our respective french evening courses this week. We will be able to communicate more efficiently in France next year.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Telling the kids

Today we had a 'family meeting'.

We told the kids about our internet research into emigrating to Canada.

My gut feeling was that they should be in on the idea early on, even if disappointment could follow. A change of life as major as this would change their future just as much as ours, as parents, more so really, cos they are still so young. Some would suggest waiting til a certain stage, but I went with that gut feeling to tell them now.

Gadgeteen said, "YEEESSS, I won't have to see Mr. Glover, (headteacher) anymore." He was unexpectedly excited at the prospect.

Gadgetgirlie said, "Oh, I won't see Rosie, (best friend), anymore." And then, "Lammie, (favourite cuddley toy), is definately coming." She then rushed out into the close and reported to anyone who would listen, that we might move to Canada.

We did emphasize that we are still just looking into the possibility and that Canada could decide that they don't want us because we don't earn enough points to pass the first test. We explained that this whole process could take 2-3 years, and that even then the government could reject us for any reason. We told them to be prepared for it not happening.

Gadgetman and I have both enrolled for evening french classes, which may help us marginally to achieve a couple of extra points, but we were going to do this anyway, after enjoying the french company this year in Brittany. We are booked for different evenings for our levels which also means that one of us will be at home for the kids.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shared enthusiasm

Gman and I find ourselves having little conversations about the possibilites in Canada and he has even been doing his own research on the net. He completed the same points test I did and found that he got 81 points instead of the 67 needed.

I like that this topic unites us with shared enthusiasm, and we are just beginning today, to share our daytime thoughts and dreams of possibilities. It's all just day-dreams and research now but it's refreshing to be planning something as big as this together. It seems to be giving us alot to talk about with each other, normally conversation centres around family and work needs, with a bit of moaning about everything chucked in, so yes, it's nice. It's making us think about things differently and with a change of enthusiasm levels.

Listen to me, the way I go on you'd think we'd got our papers already!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where will this lead?

The other night I was on the net and happened to find myself on a Canadian immigration site.

My fingers completed some general enquiry forms to see if we made the grade.

Just curious you understand.

9 points short of the required 67 points the form said.

Had a look to see if a brother could sponsor us.

Just to see.

No, Not on the sites that I found that evening. they all said child, parent, grand-parent, spouse, dependant sibling under 22 or adopted child.

Gman and I had a chat and agreed that we had complimentary skills and abilities despite our differences and that despite our conversation years ago about immigrating to Canada, when he couldn't imagine leaving his parents to go off to another country, he would now be prepared to go. We agreed that I would talk to my brother and his wife, (who is in the know about employment issues), as the next stage in general enquiries.

They rang us last night, Mum was there too. We spoke on Skype, which as many of you will know, doesn't cost a penny. They had me connected up to their stereo speakers too, and I could hear my voice echoing in the high-ceiling'd lounge with huge windows and a view through the garden to corn fields beyond, somewhere half way up Vancouver Island. They told of their force 5 sail from Vancouver to Nanaimo on Mokulana in decent weather, and the following few days sailing in the Islands with Mum, Jenny and the twins. Mum spoke of her comfort in the Dodge campervan and of enjoying herself just being around family again. Graham spoke of his sailing trip around Vancouver Island and 150 miles out to sea, with fee-paying crew who are there to learn, at various stages, including the 'off-shore' students. He spoke of heading off for another month again tomorrow. The only downside being the time away from home.

I spoke of our chat on the possibility of immigrating to Canada, and what I'd found so far. First of all as far as they know, a brother can sponsor, but we didn't discuss the implications of that further last night and secondly, there has never been a better time to go to Canada, unemployment is at a long time low, and jobs need applicants. If there are jobs with no suitable applicants from within the country then potentially companies are more likely to consider applicants from another country. Anyway, more digging to be done.

Maybe nothing will come of this but the fact that Gman is seriously thinking of giving up his job due to dissatisfaction, the realisation that I would be prepared to give my job up now,(retirement due in 9 years time), and the fact that he would now be prepared to move out there is the combination of factors that I can't seem to ignore at the moment.

I have enthused about sailing in recent months, and would dearly love to have time for sailing in my life, but the way I feel I need to prioritise means that there just isn't enough time to commit to it at the end of the day. Not now anyway.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A good sorting out

I'm feeling a bit low....and when I feel low, I know I need to find something new to drive me, or a goal to aim for, something to occupy my mind/me and to work towards.
I set myself a goal earlier on this year, of de-cluttering 'must haves' from our loft and kids rooms, and haven't acheived that yet, I've just made a start. Sundays without rain will start to become less frequent from now on so I'd better get a move on and get our once-upon-a-time 'must haves' out there. There just are not enough hours in not enough weekends.

Anyway....Back to school & back to work today.
Actually, it is quite nice to be there, to have a focus other than kids, home life and the above, especially as I've sorted the stressful problem I had last term, of trying to work a full day each day and collect Gadgetgirlie and our neighbours daughter, (same class), for 3 days per week from school. It wasn't working very well and resulted in our neighbour having to do it anyway and look after GG until one of us could get home. My work have been brilliant, and let me go early when I needed to but it was all just another pressure on me and I felt that we were imposing too much on everyones goodwill. I was all set to employ a local childminder today for a couple of hours after school-care each day at £4.50 per hour, but our neighbourly-neighbour has offered to continue to collect GG, and in return Gadgetman will do the odd job for them. How generous of them and what a relief, cos money is non-existant at the moment and belts have to be tightened.

ho-hum...better go sort...

I'd like to find time to write a bit more often to but like thats going to happen.

Mum has gone to stay with my brothers on Vancouver Island for 2 months, including a few days sailing in the islands with Graham and Jenny and kids, where they are now.

I'm hoping that one of my brothers will introduce her to this site within a few days so................. 'Hi mum'!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday boot fair

Appearances can be deceptive

1) Gadgetman is ecstatic about getting up at 7am on a Sunday morning.

2) Everything you see is a 'must have'....but 70% of the 'must have' buyers went to another boot fair today.

3) We haven't sold Gadgetgirlie.

4) Gadgeteen is not yawning and has not got unusual legs.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bootiful car

Very windy around here today, hope it improves for the boot fair that we will be selling at tomorrow.

My new car with a bootful ready for tomorrow.

Oh phew...What a relief to have this sorted this week.
I am so skint now though because of the holiday and this car has been funded entirely by the kids child benefit accounts that we have saved in since the start, as a just-in-case emergency account, or for the kids if we managed to keep saving it until driving age.

Oh well... The car will benefit them, though Gadgeteen doesn't quite see it this way.
He thinks that I am spending his money because the account is in his name, no amount of reasoning is changing his mind and he is resentful about it.

Oh dear...Where is my friendly chatty smiley son?

Oh yes... He soon cheered up and helped to sort old toys out from his room when he realised that he would financially benefit.

Oh please...Can we have boot-fair weather tomorrow?