Saturday, March 31, 2007

A step forward

The immigration consultant that I mentioned in my last post is taking on our case, I say it like this because he operates on a 'no visa no fee' basis and that means that he believes that he can get us a Permanent Residents, (PR), visa. Obviously there are conditions attached, like; we have to pass our medicals and police clearance, and it wouldn't be the consultants fault if Canada shifted the goal posts during our process and long wait, but to me this is a great move in the right direction.

We've signed the contract and sent the wire transfer of £2055, ($4000), over and are just waiting for it to clear. This fee includes a fee for assisting us and an employer with obtaining a work permit if we can find Gman a job in the meantime.

Only a consultant in Canada can deal with our case, because only they are recognised, experienced, and qualified to deal with applications for immigration. A lawyer in the UK would not have passed the prerequisite exams and would not be a member of CSIC, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants.

After the payment goes through, we start gathering the supporting paperwork together to send with our application. We will be applying under the simplified skilled worker route but because of my upbringing and job we will need to show the initial immigration officer that views our file, just exactly why and how we qualify for the points.

I'm going down this route now so that we can get in the queue as soon as possible, so far we are struggling to find an employer willing to take Gman on without knowing of him through his Canadian experience. Yes, maybe this would be different in another part of BC or in Alberta, but we really don't want to start anywhere else, just to have another big move later on, another year. We don't want to live in limbo like that and have to settle twice, we'd rather wait until we can get PR and go where we want to be, Black Creek, on Vancouver Island, together with the rest of my family.

I am excited to at least have discovered that we can go, albeit 3-5 years down the line, at least it's not dependant on getting jobs first, and anyway, we will be better off financially then which will ease the stress of settling there.

So I have just spent this years holiday money, and we still have to find the application fees of £616, ($1400), when we are ready to send the application off to the CHC, (Canadian High Commission).

Oh well, anyone know where we can camp for free this summer?

I'll leave todays post with a quote that I found the other day.

If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won't, you most assuredly won't. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Invalid update

No luck so far on the job hunt front for Gadgetman as a way to get us into Canada, but I have discovered something interesting that brings a ray of hope to my heart.

I am so pleased to have this laptop of mine with wireless connection, right now in particular, whilst my ability to manoeuvre is restricted by my leg in cast. Internet research has kept me up way into the early hours most nights, sitting on the sofa with my legs up in perfect uninterrupted peace. Who would have thought that so much research was necessary or possible?

Well, it wouldn't be needed if I found the answers straight away and had a straight forward case, but I haven't so I keep following one line of enquiry until I've exhausted all avenues, then I pick up on something else and explore that.

People keep asking me how it's all going and just don't have any reason to know what's involved in such a huge life change. It's not only about finding the way to get the points or finding Gman a job, it's about thinking about and preparing for all sorts of things that have to be dealt with in anticipation of finally getting that visa.
What happens to child benefit abroad?
Does having a drivers record from DVLA help when getting insurance in Canada?
Can one use ones no claims bonus?
Do you have to pay any tax when taking large amounts of money abroad to Canada?
How does one get kids into schools?
What about getting credit?
What happens to a state or occupational pension?
What about medical care?
What are realistic living costs?
What's involved in taking the BC driving test?
Which shipping company is recommended by others?
Where does one go for the medical for the visa application?

The list goes on and on.

The forum that I've mentioned before is my main source as a starting point, and the other day I happened to find that someone else who was in the same job that I am, has been successful in claiming the vital 'education' points by submitting that our line of work is the same as a two year apprenticeship and therefore qualifies us for 20 extra points. His application was approved and within 4 months he received his visa and was on his way. He was nice enough to email me with details of how he evidenced his application.

I have also been in contact with the forum immigration consultant and filled in initial assessment forms to see what he could come up with. I attached a synopsis of my upbringing too, to explain why I am unable to prove my schooling because of our nomadic lifestyle. He backed up what I'd just found out and has asked for more specific details of my work training and background with a view to claiming points in the same way. This would mean that we are then able to at least apply for permanent residence via the skilled workers route and get in the queue that currently is 4-5 years long! who knows though, we could be fast tracked too.

I know that it sounds a ridiculously long time scale, but waiting is better than nothing and at least we can still look at getting Gman a job in the mean time.

Gadgeteen had his 'academic review' day yesterday so we borrowed a wheelchair from elderly neighbours so that I didn't have to stay behind. His school is on 4 floors and we had 5 minutes in each of his teachers classrooms.

I must say that I am very proud of Gteen at the moment, he has settled in to his new school very well now, and all but his English teacher said that they would like to see him in their GCSE classes. He has been moved up in Maths because he scored above his projected target level, and despite his self-belief, he is top of the class in French. His history teacher said that if he didn't sit with the 2 disruptive kids then he would do much better, but the up side of that is that those 2 kids are hardly ever there due to truanting. Gteen came out of there glowing with pride!

I had a couple of visitors yesterday, friends from work. They'd been out for a ride and popped in to check on the invalid. Persuaded me to sit on my bike and start her up. Mmmmm, can't wait to get out for a ride on her again. At least the engine hasn't seized up in protest at lack of use.

I arranged for an estate agent to visit this week, thought I might as well make use of the time whilst stuck at home. He said that we need to paint the house white, inside and out! Well, he would I suppose. We've still got jobs to do before ready to sell and don't want to sell until we go to Canada anyway but at least I could get an idea of the value. I was disappointed to hear him value it at £20-30 thousand under what I'd hoped but he did say that he couldn't really compare it to anything else because of the layout and the large workshop and recommended that I get another opinion.

Only another 11 days of the cast, it feels as if there are ants in there sometimes, and at others it digs into my leg uncomfortably. I look forward to doing some hard physical work afterwards to build some muscle up and lose some of this weight.

Oh, and this is what it looked like about an hour afterwards, see, it doesn't look obviously broken does it, just swollen. Gman took this on his camera and just didn't get around to downloading it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Broken Trips

Last time I broke anything I was 7.

We were in the Cape Verde Islands with the mast stretched out on the shore. Dad was working to replace the splintered topmast.

Somewhere in between The Canary Islands and Barbados, Riduna, our little 32’ gaff cutter had a close shave with a super tanker in the middle of the night.

The way I remember Dad telling it is that one night we all came down with tummy bugs, and because there was no wind, and dad thought we were out of the shipping lane, he decided it would be pretty safe to snooze below with the rest of the family.
He awoke in the dark to the sound of waves slightly breaking and figured that there must be some wind, so stuck his head out of the companionway. No wind but he could see the breaking waves in the dark of the moonless starless night. He then looked up and up and up and far above him saw the decks of a HUGE ship. The night wasn’t as dark as he had thought; he was looking out at the hull.

We were lucky; the ship was steaming past us travelling in the same direction. The motion rolled our boat into the hull and the topmast pounded against it. It snapped off and fell down the gap into the sea, taking the forestay with it. As the ship’s bridge passed Dad could hear foreign voices shouting but there was nothing they could do. It takes a super tanker 7-10 miles to stop. He said that the ship took ages to pass, went on and on, and with each roll he thought that we would be goners, or that the forestay that was trailing would get caught up in the mega-sized port propeller and pull us in with it. I’m sure he must have been ‘very worried’, (or crapping himself actually), but the tanker passed by and we were left in a quiet sea and a sky full of stars once more. He could see that the ship was an oil tanker but it was too dark to see any identifying features. In those days we didn't have a VHF or any mod cons, just a radar reflector up near the crosstrees, so no way of contacting the ship even if Dad wanted to. We were on our own. Fortunately, as you will see from the photo above, the loss of the topmast only restricted the number of sails we could use, but nonetheless was enough of an inconvenience to have to do something about. Another job for Dad to deal with.

So, we took an unplanned detour to The Cape Verde Islands, and there I was one day riding cross-saddle on someone's bike along the harbour quay. Somehow I managed to let my heel get too close to the spokes and before I knew it I had a cast up to my knee. I'd broken my heel bone. The biggest disappointment was not being able to swim. Dad fixed the mast, we re-provisioned and we were off towards Barbados again before my cast was due off. I remember Dad cutting it off, (the Cast not my leg), somewhere mid-Atlantic and physiotherapy was boat-based.

37 years later and I was ice-skating with Gadgetgirlie down at Guildford Spectrum. I’ve been several times before and after all, I have been roller-blading since Christmas so my ankles are stronger now. Still, I fell loads, got wet, carried on and then fell awkwardly. I knew I’d done something because it felt like someone had pulled a string tight inside my leg, and I couldn’t get up. Major pain died away after a couple of minutes and I thought maybe I’d sprained it. I could wriggle my toes inside my boot so surely it wasn’t broken. The staff skater said that I would definitely know if I had broken it. Ggirlie and her friend hovered anxiously like ducklings. She made me laugh 'cos she kept repeating, ‘Oh mummy, Oh mummy', in her best sympathetic voice. I wasn’t in agony unless I moved my ankle the wrong way but just didn’t want to try to stand on the ice. The staff skater, (after warning me), blew his whistle and cleared all the skaters to the sides. My bum was cold and wet by then and I was quite keen to get off the ice. I was carted off on a stretcher into the first aid room. I wanted to take the boot off, but the firstaider didn’t.
I took my skate off anyway and showed her that I could wriggle my toes, then experimented with moving my foot around. The ankle was swelling up and the firstaider wanted me to go off to hospital. I didn’t. I wanted to get the car and kids home and reassess once there. I showed the firstaider that I could weight bear and put my shoes back on. So I hobbled slowly out to the car and the girls helped and played as we made our way at a snails pace. My car just happened to be parked in the furthest corner of the overflow car park. It couldn’t have been further away. We made it and I collapsed gratefully into the drivers seat. Just to be safe, I practised manoeuvring my foot between the accelerator and brake pedals, and then practised a couple of emergency stops as we drove out of the car park. I figured we were safe with me behind the wheel so off we drove up the A3 and home, 26 miles). My ankle hurt and I could feel it swelling in my shoe so knew a trip to casualty was on the cards. Once home, I gently peeled my sock and shoe off and put it up on the sofa. Andy cooked dinner then later delivered me to casualty armed with my book and mobile. I was done and dusted in 3 hours. Broken fibula but not displaced so no operation needed. Doc was very surprised that I had managed to do what I had, called me a ‘tough lady’. I was pleased to hear that, good to know that I could cope without panicking the kids with screams of agony but then it wasn’t a bad break and I was careful to avoid the painful ankle positions.

I am now on my second cast and was amused to find that I could choose my colour. I didn’t believe the plaster technician when he offered me glitter too. Thought he was taking the mick, he wasn’t, so here I am in a glittery purple cast for 4 weeks.

I’ve only been back at work for a month so in that sense this is very frustrating, however there is nothing that I can do to change what has happened and don’t see why I should avoid any activity just because I might break something. I just have to take something positive from this time of restricted movement and until I can weight bear and anyway for the next 2-3 weeks I have been told that the only way to avoid maximum swelling is by keeping my foot up.

Gman and the kids are being brilliant; in fact Gman is enjoying me being dependant on him for the first time ever, and has been producing some lovely dinners. He would make a great nurse or carer!

Gteen was a bit unsympathetic to start with, thought I was exaggerating and told me I should be going to work because he believed that I would make him go in the same situation! Even he has been helpful, filling up my flask with coffee when asked.

Ggirlie has taken my spot in our bed whilst I have been downstairs on the sofa; hope she doesn’t think this is permanent. She's borrowed a friends spare crutch and has come out with a sympathetic broken ankle.

They have both been taking advantage of my immobility and eating anything yummy in the kitchen when they come home from school.

I managed to watch one day of daytime tv, too dull to repeat and have other options far more interesting.

I’ve spent most of my time with my precious laptop on my lap.
Not playing games or spending money on ebay or such like.
No, I’ve been continuing the research into our Canada plans.
Everything happens for a reason doesn’t it?

We’ve not had any response to job applications sent so far and I have found out that resumes will be binned if attached in our A4 format so no wonder.

I have investigated us renting out our house, taking some capital out, storing all our belongings in the garage and in the loft, and going to Canada on a 6 month reccy visit, during which Gman could take a couple of gas fitter courses to get his qualifications recognised then applying for any suitable jobs going and being on hand to attend interviews. We could buy a motor home and park on my brother’s land and live fairly cheaply. However this is a big gamble and our plans of Gman getting a job may not be as easy as expected or hoped and without a work permit we would have to return to find a source of income.

I am investigating which colleges offer the courses needed by reading lots of college sites and sending lots of emails. I need to establish exactly which course is appropriate for Gmans level of certification and experience. There is no point in going in as a newbie to the trade but he will have to gen up on BC regs and working practices.

I spend many hours on the expats site, taking what I can from others experiences and saving pages on relevant subjects for future use as needed.

I took a practice BC theory driving test that a member had put on as a link and got 24/25.

I’ve welcomed newcomers to the site in the ‘Meet and greet’ forum as I was when I first joined the forum and contributed in several threads, (cyber conversations).

I’ve managed to get hold of my French tutor from evening classes and he has sent me what I’ve missed and will continue to.

I’ve read quite a few books, James Patterson is my latest easy-read thriller author and I stay up far later than I should unable to put my book down.

A long post but hey, lots of time on my hands, (numb bum), at the moment and need to make up for not posting more regularly. I wanted to attach relevant photos and it was all too complicated to load up the laptop with the software needed sooner.