A new beginning

January 12, 2007

Back to ‘ol Blighty

Filed under: Backdated Entries — pauldo @ 6:54 am

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Thursday 14th December

ICBC Update: There is no ICBC update this week.

Well, I have to admit I’m missing my mountains! We’ve been back here since the weekend. The flight was fairly routine until we reached the Shetland Islands (North of Scotland) and hit a patch of turbulence. We dropped a thousand feet and my airline supplied breakfast orange juice suddenly became gravity free in front of my eyes. The remaining half hour of the flight became a bit of a boneshaker with high winds causing our 747 to hit the runway at Heathrow not quite square on and with a bit of a thud.

HSBC – Heathrow Branch

Those of you who’ve had the pleasure of flying into Heathrow will be aware of the holding patterns that aircraft have to maintain before landing. Holding patterns keep the aircraft in a racetrack like loop formation for anything up to 30 minutes before landing. Just as you think you’re about to embark on final decent – the aircraft banks sharply and round you go again…

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I reckon that Heathrow has actually turned into a sub branch of HSBC. Their logo adorns virtually every space, wall, departure gate as far as the eye can see.

To do list – update

I’m crossing the “must do’s” off my list one-by-one, and getting to see some friends and family. Yesterday I had my curry with a friend that my partner has known for many years. She came to stay with us in Vancouver last year and is thinking about making the move to Canada too. She has some contacts on Vancouver Island and is considering relocating.

The Peak District

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Today we headed north to Manchester, through the Derbyshire countryside. These gently rolling hills are called the Peak District and Buxton one of its towns has a reputation for producing spring water. On a sunny day it’s very beautiful here, but just not today in the English rain and grey light. I spotted an old red telephone box on the side of the road and it reminded me more of BCIT than England. There’s one next to the pub on campus.

Someone has expressed an interest in our Audi A3. Which is great news. They’re supposed to be coming to view it at the weekend. Fingers crossed for that. It would be good not to have to think about it any more. Paying out on the insurance and having to find somewhere to garage it is a bit of a pain.

Better late than never

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 3:45 am

I would first like to apologise for neglecting my blogging responsibilities recently. Its been all of a whirlwind this last month. What with going back and forth to the UK (I’ll tell you about that later), Christmas and end of term project madness, its been tough finding the time. I know this makes up 20% of my mark for communications, so I’m gonna attempt a bit of a retrospective. To be honest, I had already written a couple of blogs in word, but couldn’t be arsed to post them on this wretched wordpress – Michelle, yes I can relate.

So without further a do, let the blogs commence.

Oh yeh, thanks for being understanding :o)

December 3, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 1:48 am

Closed

ICBC Update: My letters from my British insurers have now both arrived, and been hand delivered to ICBC. It’s just a case of waiting for their response. Fingers crossed, hopefully I won’t have to pay any more money – now that’ll be a nice Christmas present!

Lucyloo not looking impressed!

and where do you think you’re going?

The surprise news this week was that BCIT was closed on Monday because of the weather. What a flashback to being a kid! When school closed early and you were sent home. Rarely that happens these days. In London the closest they get to snow is a few flakes that very rapidly turn into rain, and occasionally a centimetre may fall overnight. London, now there’s a thought…

Home for Christmas

In a week or so, I’ll be checking out good old London Town. Yes, that’s right next week I fly polonium 210 class on British Airways back to the UK. I’m actually quite looking forward to it (as I’ve said before). What will be totally different is sitting in the departure lounge at YVR not feeling totally miserable that another holiday in Vancouver has just finished. This time I’ll be back in two little ole weeks, and what makes it even better, no school yay!

The cost of flights at this time of year is crazy. We’ve managed to get a couple of seats out of London a couple of days before Christmas. If we’d have left it any longer, till after Christmas, then the price just seems to double – if not more.

Our family Christmas meals will be in advance of Christmas itself – it’s not ideal but economically necessary. Oh, and we have to get back to relieve our cat-sitter who has his own Christmas to go to. I can guarantee you, Lucy (our cat) will be extremely sulky when we return, completely ignoring us.

Things to do

I’ll have to keep a strict diary for these two weeks, just to ensure I cram everything in, but it will be mainly family time and catching up with friends. In fact I have a list! (Don’t Laugh)

  1. Sell car (interested?)
  2. Have a curry
  3. Have an pizza at Pizza Express
  4. Meet with friends for lunch – rich food, some wine, glug, glug, glug!
  5. Meet with friends for dinner – rich food, some wine, glug, glug, glug! hic!
  6. Christmas shopping
  7. Meet with some more friends for dinner – show me the way to go home…
  8. Christmas Dinner No.1
  9. Meet with some more friends for dinner – god I feel fat!
  10. Christmas Dinner No.2 – oh dear, no more!

Hmmmm seems that there’s a theme here? It looks like me who is being fattened up for Christmas not the turkey. Better make sure I’ve packed some Pepto! When am I gonna find time for those assignments – eek!

 

November 24, 2006

The Real World

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 4:33 am

We all love to rant

If I hear someone else say “well, that’s what it’s like in the real world.” quite frankly I think I’ll pop. Whilst the real world maybe different things to different people it is certainly not a universe where pressure and organised chaos rein 24/7. Not in my experience anyway, and if it is, it’s only because you’ve really chosen that kind of lifestyle. You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m indulging myself in a rant here. This is my Aries trait! And besides I could be ranting on about the water turbidity, but I’ll leave that to someone else.

The argument, I hear and I’ve come across it more than once, in the last few weeks (when being shovelled more project work and more assignments on top of reading and the soon to commence revision) is that you’d be expected to have many projects to work on “when you’re in the real world”. Sorry, no, it’s not like that. You don’t choose to deliberately overburden yourself so you can’t see the wood for the trees. What good managers do is keep morale high, encourage staff, and allow structured time for learning – especially if you’re new to the job.

Work/Life Balance

Considered 21st century thinking has moved away from the 1980’s & 1990’s live for work, stress is a drug approach to work and life. The sociopath boss that continually hands out reams of work without considering how you’re getting on, would these days be investigated for poor management technique, and even disciplined – yes we are now in the times of upward reporting. There are checks and balances in place to ensure that targets are met through appraisal schemes and ongoing performance monitoring. In Europe there is even legislation in place called the working time directive, to ensure a work/life balance.

Is it just me?

I really am curious to know how much people are learning and absorbing when there is so much to take in. I’m just feeling a bit critical right now. Obviously, those in charge are experienced and have gone through this before, many times before. You’d assume, well, you’d like to think at the very least, that changes would be made over time following the recommendations and suggestions of the clients (in this case the paying students). I’m looking forward to the end of module feedback forms – now that is what happens in the real world! ;o)

Anyway, rant over – pressure value released. Back to my assignments! lol!

 

November 16, 2006

Raining like cats & dogs

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 7:51 am

ICBC Update: I’ve just received a perfect letter from one of my UK insurers to present to ICBC – just waiting on the other now. Can’t wait to see what their response will be. Fingers crossed, otherwise I have to pay an extra $500!

Raining Cats & Dogs
Hannah Gluck

If Madonna can write a song about it, I’m sure that I can write 400 odd words that sound fairly interesting about it. Especially since the checkout girl in IGA this morning said “I’m a true Vancouverite, I love the rain”, with a really cheery smile! I just smiled, despite the bottom 3 inches of my jeans mopping the supermarket floor.

It really is chucking it down outside, so much so that rain has started running down on the inside of the window, here where I’m sitting. The condo development that I moved into last month in Lower Lonsdale is only a year old, but the window is obviously faulty. The previous tenant seemed to have made no attempt to let the owner know about the leak and this has resulted in water damage to the dry wall just here next to me. It makes you wonder just how these things get checked out and signed off.

There’s one seasonal change after another that seriously affects the new land (as I’ve heard it called). Rain, usually in the late autumn with leaves on the track that cause absolute chaos in terms of trains cancellations. An inch maybe two of snow that comes in February is the next full stop (wrong kind of snow apparently), I wonder what Calgarians would make if that! It’s not just winter weather that has it’s affect on the British infrastructure; the summer has a good laugh at the Brits expense too. The temperatures of high summer cause roads to melt, I kid you not, and railway lines to buckle. Is Britain a country falling apart?

I really need to think about some good things to say about Britain. I spoke to Daniel the other day and his brother is visiting from Britain – he loves it there. Well I guess 60 million people can’t be wrong, but then again that’s one of the reasons I’m here. Besides I’m due to go back before Christmas for a couple of weeks and am secretly looking forward to it! Can’t wait to have an American with extra cheese at Pizza Express – slurp! and a good old Ruby Murray (oops the sarf lundun in me coming out) when I visit.

 

November 9, 2006

Welcome to Canada

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 7:24 am

This week sees me widely travelled. Well, to be fair it was only a few footsteps out of Canada really. My expedition was a drive down to the border with my parter to collect our permits. When we arrived we presented ourselves to an immigration officer who smiled and said “in order for me to help you today, you need to be seeking entry to Canada” and pointed us in the direction of US border some 100 yards away. Yes, that’s right, in order for me to collect my student permit we had to physically walk across the border and come back again – how funny is that?

Dutifully, we walked out of the office through the line-ups of cars awaiting inspection and into a dreary customs office in America – a stroll of 30 seconds tops. I really do think you can tell the difference, even walking that short distance you feel entirely in another domain.

The rather tired picture of her madg’ on the Canadian Immigration side is replaced by signs saying “switch off your mobile phones”. The friendly rather human Canadian officers replaced by severe military-esque style officers on the US side (go figure). The US Immigration Official raised her eyebrows and sent us on our way with a piece of paper that apparently meant we’d crossed over into America.

So back we went to the same officer in Canada. This time there’s lots of looking at the computer screen, flicking through passports, long pregnant pauses and lots of eye contact – see who blinks first. This seems to go on for a good while. A good opportunity to check out the picture of our Liz again.

Did you know her official title in Canada is ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’?. The things you learn when you’re staring at a wall – Yawn!

So, she’s Queen of Canada and Queen of England. We have the same Queen. Yet as a Brit there are huge complexities in coming to Canada to live, work and study – oh and we have to resit our driving test again, did I tell you that? Oh yeh, I did. I’m sure Her Majesty wouldn’t have half as much trouble getting in.

After a bit more rustling of paper (I’m sure the Officer is just MSNing her mates at the other desk), we were called back. Paper spills out of an antiquated dot matrix printer, passports stamped, permits stapled and there you go, “enjoy yourselves” she said. I’m sure we wouldn’t have got the same response from American Immigration eh!

November 2, 2006

A trip to IKEA

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 7:05 am

Blog time again! I can’t believe a week has gone by already. This has been another week full of new stuff, and this mainly means realising that we need some furniture. A desk and chair has become essential as trying to do my assignments sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen is really not working for me anymore.

Halloween took me not trick or treating but down to IKEA in Coquitlam. It was almost completely empty, so the hot shopping tip is, if you want a stress free experience at IKEA, wait until 31st October. Whilst I was looking around, who should I bump into? Nori – enjoying equally stress free shopping. The other surprise of the evening was that virtually everything I wanted was in stock! I don’t know about you, but my trips to IKEA usually end with something missing off my list.

The other thing that occurred to me is that any IKEA that you go to, anywhere in the world, is exactly the same. It’s like you’re using a Star Trek transporter. You start off in IKEA Coquitlam, turn a corner into the sofa section and be in IKEA Croydon (just South of London), then wander through the market place and you’re in IKEA Warrington (close to Manchester). I suppose that this kind of familiarity is a good thing. It certainly works for the big stores. Ever thought about the layout at Superstore or London Drugs? They’re the same too.

My ‘speaker’s corner’ issue of the week is ICBC. Well, not just ICBC but the whole car licensing and insurance thing that goes on here in BC. Coming from the UK, we’re apparently not competent drivers! My first shock was, even though I’ve been driving in the UK for 17 years and possess an accident free driving history, I will be required to retake my driving test! Apparently it’s fine if you’re German, Austrian or South Korean but not if you’re British. After a couple of weeks ranting to my partner I’ve now come to terms with this, so something for me to look forward to in the next few months. To add insult to injury, on Monday I received a letter from ICBC saying that my hard earned 65% no claims discount would not be accepted. The letter I provided them from my insurers in the UK did not say what they wanted, in the way they wanted it, so in true Little Britain style “computer says no”. Oh and by the way, how would I like to pay the increased premium – thank you very much? I have a feeling that ICBC will become an ongoing feature of my Blog!

October 26, 2006

A new life in Vancouver

Filed under: What a load of blog — pauldo @ 5:51 am

Hi, my name’s Paul, I’m a 34 year old Brit and I’ve been visiting Vancouver twice a year for the past 4 years – and I love it. Last year I thought it was about time I did something about making it a more permanent arrangement. So, earlier this year my partner and I decided to bite the bullet and set out to create a whole new life for ourselves in Canada.

Holidays tend to be a bit short and sweet, and more often than not you remember the good things about a place – what’s that saying, the grass is always greener…? To ensure we weren’t seeing things through rose tinted spectacles, we thought it would make sense to try living here for a longer period before making any further plans.

Six months down the line we still love it here (rose coloured specs off), and after 18 years I am now back at school! or college to us brits. My partner is also exploring the possibilities of setting up a new business (which is really exciting), and to top it off, today we have moved into a new apartment. Nothing like trying to make things easy for ourselves aye?

As its going to be an interesting 12 months ahead of me, I thought I’d document the trials and tribulations of going back to school, starting a new business and emigrating to Canada. ‘A New Beginning’ is intended to be fairly anecdotal, but maybe it could be used as a guide for someone sharing some of the ambitions that I do.

Starting over like this really throws so much at you (all at the same time), and whilst things are similar here, terminology can be confusing. Entirely mundane issues like buying paint and supplies for instance can be an adventure in itself. It’s all part of the experience I guess, but it can be funny too.

When we first arrived, we thought it would be best to live somewhere quite central and familiar, so we started off living Downtown. We decided a furnished place would be better initially, as the last thing you want to worry about when you step off the plane is to have to think about a bed for the night right? The apartment served us very well and we have met a few friends through it – which is great, but as we are now about to commence our extended trial period we decided to get an unfurnished place, somewhere where we can personalise and lay our mark.

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