21 April 2007

Back in Blighty

Mixed BushGot back at 6.00am yesterday. The children slept until 9.00am today, which made a pleasant change. Felt odd seeing the green of an English spring after the very brown landscape in Canada.

We found a property that we all really liked, but I'm not posting any details until the purchase is definite. I'm not generally superstitious like that (and would normally scorn any kind of superstitious activity) - but no-one wants to thumb their nose at fate.

Clear|Off Lots of financial things to sort out in the meantime, as our house here is not yet sold, so I think this option on the oven in the kitchen of the cottage in Canada was very apt.

10 April 2007

... I am a free man

Or woman. But we've got our Social Insurance Numbers now, so feel like we're part of the system.

Met our realtor today and spent nearly an hour with her, going over our various requirements for property. We'll be spending next Monday and Tuesday with her, looking around various places in Prince Edward County. She reckoned we could do ten each day. I'll be frankly amazed if there are ten in total that come anywhere close to our needs, but I'll be happy to be proved wrong.

At least all the schools in the County are very good, so we don't need to worry about catchment areas. Nearly everyone we talk to tells us how great a place this is to raise kids, which is helping to convince us that we're doing the right thing. Makes a change from being told how brave we are, which is what a lot of people back home keep saying (and which just makes me think of Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister).

Had another drive around this afternoon, covering the north-east this time. Very little traffic around and lots of lovely views of the lake.

09 April 2007

Permanent Residents

Well we're back in Canada again, and now we're officially immigrants. We 'landed' at Toronto on Saturday 7 April. This was a remarkably straight-forward process. We were off the plane very quickly and got straight to a passport-checking point. The woman there examined our visas and asked "Are you landing today?". She then marked our customs form with pink highlighter pen and red pencil and sent us off to the immigration section. Here all our paperwork was checked. We had to start up the computer at this point as we'd realised on the plane that we didn't have the address where we were going to have our permanent residents' cards sent (my father's fiancée's brother's house). But that was all fine - just had to sign all the paperwork and have new photos taken. Bet they'll look lovely - we'd been travelling for ten hours and were shattered!
Information for new immigrants
Then we were given a bunch of information for new immigrants and sent off to the baggage reclaim section. Our flight's cases turned up about five minutes later, so the whole immigration process was really quick. We had to go through a special customs section with our lists of 'goods accompanied' and 'goods to follow', and that took another fifteen minutes or so, but the woman on the checkpoint was very pleasant and very complimentary about the neatness and completeness of our list of goods to follow.

Picking up our car we found we had to fire up the computer again to get an attachment to our car hire confirmation email printed off. We had nearly left the printer at home, so were very glad we hadn't. The car itself is pretty hideous - a Dodge something or other. We left Toronto at around 7.00pm and drove up the coast to Prince Edward County, arriving at the cottage at 9.00pm. Of course by then it was completely dark (and snowing!), but our hosts were very welcoming; half emptying their fridge so that we'd have something to eat for breakfast the next morning (supermarkets are shut on Easter Sunday here too).

Lake Ontario
The next morning... that's when we saw the view from the back of the cottage. The children came rushing up to me to tell me that "Lake Ontario is in our back garden!". They've spent ages outside playing at the water's edge already, and the temperature is barely above freezing.

Yesterday we saw a fair bit of the County, often through a fine snow which was being blown about by a biting westerly wind. We had lunch in Trenton and drove along the coast to Belleville before coming back across the bridge to potter along the road through Rednersville and then back to Consecon. I watched a movie with the kids while Mike talked to our hosts about our plans and got a few more contacts from them, to do with banks and mortgages. Once the children had gone off to bed we enjoyed our first ever bottle of Prince Edward County wine.

Today we stocked up at the A&P supermarket in Trenton. Got there bright and early at 7.40 (still mostly functioning on UK time), so pretty much had the store to ourselves. I was impressed by the range of food on offer - seemed better than the Safeways we shopped at in Calgary when we were staying there. Except for potatoes - they were obviously waiting for a delivery of those, so we will have to do without them for a few days!

Went back to Picton and Mike talked to a banker while I took the children to the park to play for an hour or so. Horizontal snow at times, but they didn't seem to care! Had a lovely lunch at the café next to the Regent Theatre. Will cook a meal in the cottage tonight, but as this kitchen is better equipped than my own (there's even a parmesan grater, for goodness sake) I don't think it is going to be too much of a challenge.

[Postscript - actually there are two parmesan graters in the kitchen. Oh, and although Canadian road distances are measured in kilometres, their ovens are calibrated in degrees fahrenheit (wondered why the chicken wasn't cooking very fast...). So cooking in this kitchen is harder than I thought. Oh well, at least the kitchen metaphor is holding true!]

Tomorrow we'll get our Social Insurance Numbers and then we've got our first meeting with a realtor, so hope we'll be able to start getting a better idea of the sort of property we might end up buying here. Then it's back to the bank again on Wednesday to open our accounts, get credit cards and so on. Feels like we're achieving quite a lot, considering we've not even been in the country for 48 hours yet!