Whelbourns in Canada

• Sunday 6 November 2011 - 6 Years and 1 Day....

Well it doesnt seem that long ago since we rushed through immigration in St John's (unexpected stop) and after a brief stop at Halifax landed at Fredericton Airport without any luggage other than our hand luggage Shame I had booked a huge GMC Van with the capacity to carry 8 suitcases plus hand luggage

For us it was almost text book emigration, landed on Saturday Nov 5th, two interviews scheduled for Tuesday 8th Nov, one job offer 11th (with a 24 hour limit within which to accept it) and a second offer the following week). Started working on the 21st of Nov, brought a house and moved in on the 17th December .. One mad rush to say the least. If you are interested in more details of the past see the archives on this blog (it goes back to the early days).

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We had the usual wobbles and homesickness and I am not sure everyone is out of it yet. The pangs still seem to well up when watching something on BBC Canada. For me I am a total convert, my life here is far better than it was in the UK. I have a 15-20 minute commute to work, I really enjoy my job, and I have a chainsaw .

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We are now Canadian Citizens, (since october 2010) and have had the opportunity to vote in the last general election and the provincial election. My daughters first experience of exercising their civic duty (as I told them ) and after they were pleased that they had voted.

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We have volunteered at several local charities (something we didn't do in the UK. I believe purely down to more free time here), we own and use chainsaw, axe, gas powered lawn mower, snowblower, snowshoes, cross country skis you have to get out an embrace the winter otherwise you turn into a hermit.

Observations:

  • Most of our friends are from away, our neighbours are friendly enough but they have lots of friends and dont need any more LOL
  • We have become use to all the adverts on TV (muting and unmuting and having a conversation while the ads are on)
  • We celebrate our Britishness probably more than we ever did in England, and try to make sure our daughters know their UK history.
  • We have developed a liking for BBQ ribs
  • We like walking in the wilderness and not hearing any traffic noise or aeroplanes flying over head
  • We love the house and the space it offers, the size of the garden etc...
  • I like the woodstove and the changing of the seasons, each one needs preparing for and it gives me a sense of ease as we move through them.
  • Because I have more time I find I do more DIY fixing (not necessarily the things Jules wants me to do) I have learnt how to repair car body work, re-polish headlights, repair basic problems on the cooker (stove) and grow our own vegetables.
  • Teenagers/young adults, university, college etc is expensive regardless of where you live.

Every year we have held a huge bonfire party on our Canniversary, we have had up to 75 guests, but this year it was a small family affair (I am sure we will regret it ). Nice and cosy just the four of us, some hot dogs and a burger. Next year I expect it will be back to the Whelbourn Canniversary Bonfire party with a real crowd of people.

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Anyway I have to dash, must put the finishing touches on winter preparations. The garden furniture is safely stored away for the winter,  I have winterised the lawn mower and brought the snowblower out of the shed for it's annual pre-winter service. I need to get the woodstove stoked up for this chilly evening (-2c), it has been colder but today the temperature hit 13c (well above seasonal).

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• Sunday 9 October 2011 - Reasons to be Cheerful - Part 1

No this isn't the start of Ian Drury and Blockheads song (thats part 3 ), but if you want to listen click here

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Nearly a month has passed since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. In September I did my now annual(4th year running) volunteering as an MC at the Fredericton Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. This year I was promoted to the HooDoo tent  where I opened up Thursday night show, great night had by all. Friday I was back on the Queen Street Acoustic stage introducing a band 'Freisia and the Offsprings' a Father and son and daughter band. I am not sure if you remember but I introduced them about 3 years ago and my observation is that most of the show I open the stars are older, greyer and shorter than last year, but this group are taller, hairer and still young. Very impressive performances by all.

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I am not sure if you are aware but the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival (a 5 day event) is manned by volunteers. Over 1200 in total and they do everything from security, driving, stage managing, bar tenders, door / ticket sales, sound dudes and MCing. The performers love to come because of the volunteerism makes it very different.  This year a couple of UK bands came over and BBC Suffolk also attended and put together a report broadcast a week after the event.

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Family are busy as bees, the big news is that Kathryn was given a place on the Nursing Programme and now she is busy studying to become a Licence Practical Nurse  Julie and I are so happy! (putting it mildly), we had kicked up quite a fuss when she was turned down AGAIN. I thought 'sod this' and called our MLA (similar to MP) and complained. He intervened and I made lots of noise about complaining to the Population Growth Secretariat (truly it does exist) regarding how can they encourage immigrants and then their children not get the educational opportunities. Any she started and life is much more settled.

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Gemma is busy starting the third year of her applied arts degree and participating fully in the autumn flu season!

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Jules is designing like crazy, perfecting her own designs, pattern and dressmaking skills.

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Final reason to be Cheerful - we had a backed up sewer problem, i.e. flush toilet and it goes nowhere infact fills with water. After investigation and some calls to Steve at "Ready John" (honestly that is the septic cleaning service name) we came to the conclusion the pipe between the house and septic tank was blocked! so I remembered my UK drain rods  (I knew I brought them over for a reason). I waited overnight to let as much as possible drain away before using a rubbermaid plastic storage bin as a collecting container and slowly undoing the inspection hatch on the septic pipe. The challenge is that all other drainage pipes are higher than the inspection hatch (see below). This means once you unscrew the hatch all the waste water empties out

Anyway to cut a long story short, I successfully dealt with the spill (without too much mess), and cleared the blockage! So saving a couple of hundred dollars and proving that drain cleaning is the same in the UK and Canada .

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we have a Turkey dinner with all the trimmings and I'm (yes me) making a pumpkin pie. I will be taking a list of things to be thankful for and getting the others to contribute theirs.

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One final note on the veggies front. We had a -6c Frost on wednesday night which finished off the cucumbers, peppers and squash plants. I will be sure to position the peppers and tomatoes in a better place next year, and start cucumbers early. On the bright side we will be eating our own cabbage with Thanksgiving dinner (must be saving us a couple of dollars ). Like the UK we are having a bit of a heat wave, today is wall to wall sunshine and 27c feeling like 29c and the forecast tomorrow is sunny 21c.

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• Saturday 10 September 2011 - Tomato Disaster in Atlantic Canada

After Irene smashed the Tomato plants and the Squah plant about we have suffered another downfall. Woe is me, all of my tomato plants have bit the dust (so to speak). Tomato Blight struck a week ago and the plants quickly went down hill (as plants can do). I think we had tasted about three ripe ones, before the plague struck. Apparently there is a lot of it about this year (dampness and splashing dirt up while watering keeps the lower leaves moist giving ideal conditions for Blight!

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Oh well the cucumbers are growing like crazy (no flowers yet I was very late planting them). I have three Spaghetti Squashes which look like this:

and apparently when cooked taste like...... Yes you guessed it Spaghetti, here is a recipe we will be sampling from. The Leeks are nearly ready to harvest and the brussel sprouts probably won't reach maturity (they need more sunlight) because we are getting our first frost tonight and they are very small.

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We are recovering from watching England just beat Argentina in the Rugby World Cup 2011 (phew it was a close call). For those of you here in Canada TSN2 (channel 105 on Rogers) look like it is showing most of the games (unlike Setanta which have none). So enjoy and I suggest you get some sort of recording device unless you dont mind getting up at 3 or 4am to watch your rugby.

 

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• Saturday 27 August 2011 - Irene, Earwigs and Back to School

Hurricane Irene is bearing down on New Brunswick (well technically, up if you are looking at the world and North is at the top) but the forecast is showing a couple of inches of rain plus moderate winds. I am not sure what a moderate tropical storm wind is? Oh well, I will be taking precautions, lashing down the chairs and BBQ, covering the woodpile (which has been drying nicely).  The USA seems to be evacuating all the low lying areas near the coast.

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It is official, there is a New Year in the Whelbourn / Chinese Year Calendar. The Year of the Earwig .. and it started in 2011. I have never seen so many Earwigs, and Jules has developed a new skill "Earwig Whispering", she can spot them from 400 yards and they seem to love to be around her  (only to be killed)

 For those of you who love Earwigs here is a photo.

This year has also seen the extended Mosquito Season, it normally ends in the middle of August, But probably due to the wet summer they are still very active and we are still fully participating in Mosquito feeding. I think I have said before that there is a difference in Mosquito feeding habits later in the season, They come up and bite immediately, in the early season they seem to know they have plenty of time to waste and fly around you to annoy you and tease you (a bit like a cat with a mouse). Early season biting is a game between you and the Mosquito, involving lots of high pitched buzzing and waving of arms. Late in the season it is all stealth and slapping after they have bit you , all we can do is spray on lots of 'Off' to keep them Off! (I have ran out of pickling vinegar - which works too)

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Gemma had her registration day yesterday at the New Brunswick College of Art and Design. She is in the middle of an Applied Arts degree, and having completed the two years of University study into classics and literature, anthropology etc.... she is moving to two years at the College to complete her degree. She is all excited (like a kid going to school) hence the title back to school. Apparently she is taking sculpture the first semester, move over Micheal-Angelo.

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Work has been intense the last couple of weeks and I am now on holiday (vacation). We are just pottering around the house, harvesting the veggies (the Beets were excellent), the brussels are starting to sprout and I have created a support for the Squash (an sort of netting bra type affair to stop it drooping too much  and breaking its stem).  I am already planning the next years upgrades and I have started to build a raised bed 8'x 4' in a sunnier spot. The late cucumbers and carrots are growing quickly in the green house (I may put in a kerosene heater to extend the growing season) and my tomatoes are just starting to ripen. .

 

 

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• Saturday 13 August 2011 - Cauliflowers, Cabbage Soup and Volunteering!

Veggie Patch Update:

Today I harvested six cauliflowers from the veggie patch. There was a variety of sizes and a range of whiteness  I did tie the leaves together over the top to stop the sun from turning the cauliflower green (apparently they change colour and one or two of mine had started). All in all a good harvest. 10 minutes ago I had finished preparing them for freezing and popped them in the freezer! We are looking forward to eating our own cauliflowers through the winter.

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The Cabbages look about ready too (4 of them), the Squash is growing like the Beanstalk in the fairy tale, the leeks are progressing slowly and I think I can get another harvest of beans from the 4 bean bushes. I have started to trim off the leaves on the two brussel sprouts hoping to encourage the buds to grow (giving brussels as we know them). I have some Beets that are ready for harvest as well! Looks like we will be getting into preserving there isnt enough freezer space to store it all. Jules wants me to give some away (which I will --- who can eat six cabbages?).

Final comment, the tomatoes are still green (note to self, plant them in full sun) and I have 6 cucumber plants (very late starters) from seeds which I plan to try and raise them in the green house.

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I am sure you are aware I am not the slightest person in the world, well I have been testing out the Cabbage Soup diet (pure coincidence that I have lots of cabbages). Basically you are on the diet for a week then have at least two weeks off. The outcome is I have lost about 14lbs (just finishing the second week now) and I'm impressed with it and plan to run 1 week a month until christmas to see where I get to (weight wise).

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oh yes it is Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival time (Sept 13th - 18th)  again and I have volunteered to MC on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I will be at the outdoor stage on Queen Street ( I enjoyed being close to audience) also I have moved up a level to MC the Friday evening HooDoo House!!! Wow either they are desperate or I am getting better .

Well thats me done for this entry, I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

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• Saturday 23 July 2011 - Big Surprise and sweltering here

Beautiful weather here in New Brunswick +30c at 10am today, lots of sun. This last week has comprised of hot sunny days punctuated by big thunderstorms with lashings of rain (sounds like an ice cream). Anyway it is very good for the Veggie's they are all growing and I can see a glut of tomatoes and lettuces.

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I spend a week on the cabbage soup diet and lost about 8lb (about because I didnt weigh myself first) and it wasnt too hard, even though I was sick to death of cabbage soup by day 5. I am planning to run a cabbage soup diet week once a month to help reduce my weight.

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Our winter fuel (wood) arrived today. We use about 2 cord a year (1 cord = 128 cubic feet of wood). However this last winter we probably only used 1.5 cord. I still ordered 2 cord this year from Rob the wood man ($260 per cord). There I was stacking wood after he dropped it off .... sweating like a pig. Thank god for the pool

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The big surprise this past weekend was Chris (Kathryns UK boyfriend) asking me if he could marry Kathryn...... Five years we have been here and they have been (virtually) going out for about 4.5 years, although they met in college in the UK. So I said yes (and thought "at last") and then I took them all out for a meal at the Mandarin Palace (the best chinese restuarant in Fredericton). Then on Sunday we combined an "out of the blue BBQ" with champagne (Moet no less) and celebrated the engagement with friends.

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I worked all week fixing up Kathryn's car, that had failed the Motor Vehicle Inspection test. Fixing up the exhaust and both sills (lots of pop riveting and filler). Any way it passed yesterday so she is mobile again. I can hear Jules saying "Thank God"

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Life is good, I feel accomplished, a veggie grower, car fixer, Ace Greek Salad lunch maker, and holding down a day job too!. What more could a woman want

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Jules has spent the week doing double duty also, single handedly decorating Kathryns house before they arrived (Chris and Kathryn spent a week in Montreal together before coming to Fredericton). As usual she has done an outstanding job. She has also managed to complete another dress design and the result is outstanding (I am hopeful that one day I will be the kept man while she makes dresses for the rich people).

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Tonight we will be eating Chicken and Moroccan Rice with healthy brown rice option(yum). Then if the thunderstorms hold off we will light a fire in the fire pit and sit toasting some marshmallows and perhaps hotdogs too. Tomorrow is forecasted to be 24c (cooler) and I will be mowing ALL the grass (all 1/2 acre of it).

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• Wednesday 13 July 2011 - Summer is here!

Well it is now July and we are experiencing sunshine and hot temperatures (at last). The black fly season has passed (just) and we are in the middle of Mosquito blood donation month.

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The Veggie patch is growing like the clappers! Below are a couple of photos.

Veggie Patch growing like crazy.

Three Pepper plants with lots of flowers (hopefully later peppers).

The following are growing:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Beans
  • Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Beets

We have already been harvesting the lettuce which seems to be encouraging them to grow even more. We are looking forward to more harvest and I am planning to double the output next year. I have been using the Dig for Victory guidelines to help plan the veggie patch and I want to get up about half the 90x30 size they recommend.  It is all about learning how to grow your own food (and getting another hobby besides blogging and working .

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The family are all well and I believe the sunny weather makes people happier.

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The above ground Pool is up and we have been enjoying it when the water temperature hits 24c (or when I convince them that the temperature is really 24c

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• Monday 13 June 2011 - It has been a while

My last post was April 2nd and full of snow, and here we are at the beginning of June and everything is green, the veggie patch has been planted, the grass is growing so fast you can almost see it and it is Blackfly and Mosquito season (AGAIN).

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You can always rely on the regular rythmn of nature to take you through the year.

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List of things we have done since April 2nd

  • Re-surfaced the biggest hardwood floor in the house. Julie stripped the old varnish, I sanded it down, we applied 3-4 layers of varnish using squeegee type pads, and then I sanded it again (fine sandpaper) to get rid of the imperfections and Jules put down the last layer by hand with a brush.... She is a hero! - Looks great too
  • Submitted tax return, and received a refund (again)
  • Set up Kathryn's old Green House, dug, prepared and planted a veggie patch. Roll on the harvest!

  • Road trip to Collingwood and back (heck of a long drive)
    • Visited Toronto and went up the CN Tower
    • Visited Niagra on the Lake and Niagra Falls
    • Drove through the USA and re-entered Canada at Gananoque (pronounced Gan-a-nock-wee), took the 1000 Island Tour (where 1000 island dressing was invented).
  • Mowed the lawn 5 times (feels like 10, and it needs doing again)
  • Went fishing  from a Canoe on the Meductic River for Smallmouthed Bass (yesterday). My observation is that Small mouthed Bass have a very big mouth! Yes and I received the obligatory sun burn

beached for a break on an Island to Fish a pool so I snapped this

Jaws 3 -  Good Job I have an armour-plated thumb

  • Gemma's new boyfriend called David (Canadian from Saint John), came round for dinner, he seems like a nice lad (good name after all), albeit quiet, but it is hard to get a word in at our dinner table when the Whelbourn's are in full debating flow (no it isnt arguing it is reasoned debate).
  • Kathryn has added to her menagerie with another dog (Buster). Another SPCA special (apparently from Bathurst and understands French, so she has a bilingual mutt). He might be bilingual but he is as thick as a plank, loves to chew and dig. Kathryn brought him as a companion for super intelligent Millie .....

  • Also anyone who received Jule's Christmas letter would have known that Kathryn has a couple of cats! I found out this weekend, and threw the predictable grumpy response, which is why I wasnt told. I was heard muttering something about stupidity and crazy cat woman.  

PS

Happy Birthday Dad!

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• Saturday 2 April 2011 - April FOOL - you thought it was Spring!!

So there I was last week watching the snow disappear from the roof, snowdrops and crocus's flowering, the grass even looked like it was getting ready to turn green!..... Then yesterday we received a snowstorm that deposited 20-25cm of fresh wet heavy snow.

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Thank god for my trusty snowblower  I am sure it saved me from a heart attack this morning.

I was just getting use to walking around the garden looking at the snowdrops and crocus's in flower and now there is a blanket of snow 20-25cm deep.

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Oh well it will all be gone in a couple of weeks (hopefully).

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This year we have decided to plant more vegetables, but to speed things up (because of the short growing cycle) we will be buying seedlings rather than growing from seed ourselves.

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, 29 years and I am sure there were a few who said it wouldn't last.  We will be hitting the Mandarin Palace (again) to see if the quality of the food is the same as last time.

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Who knows maybe this time next week I will be bringing out the lawn mower for a service.

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• Sunday 27 March 2011 - Brrrr windchill makes even a +3c day feel freezing

Today is chill day in more ways than one. I am resting after working on the basement yesterday morning (I boxed in some ventilation pipes (it has only taken me 3 years ) and the weather is bright and sunny, blue sky and bloody cold in the wind!

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Everyone is moving along fine, Gemma has a relatively new Boyfriend (David) and she seems smitten(ish). She has told me to be nice to him.... as if I am anything else but nice . She is still working hard putting in 30 hours at MacDonalds, studying full time at UNB and looking after a horse... I dont know where she finds all the time from.

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Kathryn is still studying Chemistry and recently received a B- in a mid term paper (much to the surprise of everyone in the house - even Kathryn). She is also still busy working, studying, looking after two dogs and generally managing a life on her own.

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Jules is designing new dresses like it was going out of fashion (no pun intended). She put together her latest creation and I was VERY impressed. My new ambition is to be a kept man.

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Me .... I'm as busy as ever, working hard, not playing much , and I have just started to study for certification in Programme Management. No rest for the wicked.

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Well we have an election in May and as citizens we are all eligible to vote. I don't think the election will change much here in the terms of seats. One thing about minority government, not alot can be changed. I have come to the conclusion that this is a relatively good thing if things are pretty stable. I believe Canada has only fared well in the global recession because it wasnt able to change the rules for the national banks etc...

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Well have to go, time to get back to my studying, and tax-returns this afternoon. One thing I have to admit, I love the Canadian Revenue Agency, every year since being here I have had a tax refund!

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• Sunday 13 March 2011 - Spring is Sprung!

Well one week can make a real difference in March. Here are a couple of photo's exactly one week apart

5th March 2011

12th March, the thaw started on Sunday 6th March

The thaw has triggered the sump pump in the basement, it has been going every two minutes. So far so good (no flooding in the basement) but the hairline cracks in the concrete floor are darkening ..... Typically when the pump runs every one minute (i.e. it only takes 1 minute for the sump to fill up) the basement will start flooding via the line between the basement floor and walls. Fingers crossed  it will hold it's own and the thaw will slow down to give us a dry spring.

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I forgot to mention that for Gemma's 21st birthday we visited the Mandarin Palace in Fredericton (at last a relatively authentic Chinese restaurant ) See the photo below . I had a nice crispy beef and asked for medium spice level (so the others could sample it).

It has been a busy start to March (in like a Lion) We had a party to go to last night one of our team (John) a consultant from Ireland was 50 and he put on a big party! Crowne Plaza probably about 40-50 people with a buffet dinner, disco and casino with monopoly money. A good time was had by all, I think we got to bed about 1am.

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Well thats it for this post, we are all still busy (which is good).

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• Saturday 26 February 2011 - Another February Day another 30cms of Snow :-)

Seems like the Groundhogs were wrong. They unnamiously predicted a end to winter and POW the temperatures plummet well below normal and we have two more snowstorms. The latest drop 30-40cm of snow Friday and early Saturday morning! I have just checked and the snow plough has been so the roads are clear.... just the drive to clear now.

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This last couple of weeks have been busy at work and Jules is designing her own dresses and she has been fending off cabin fever by creating some new designs. Yes cabin fever does exist and normally starts to show around mid February / early March (after the 2 weeks self confinement due to the coldest part of Winter end of Jan beginning of Feb) people feel restless about being shut up during the last cold snap of Winter.  So the plan is to get out tomorrow and go Snowshoeing....

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Yes I know I have said this several times the last few weekends but each time the windchill was excessive. Today it is -10c with a windchill of -21c so no fun walking around outside. But tomorrow forecast is -8c and no wind. The plan is to get out tomorrow. OK have to sign off and go clear the drive of about 40cm of snow (it drifts onto our drive). Have fun this weekend and think of me clearing snow and then getting out and about tomorrow.

 

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• Sunday 13 February 2011 - February - Depth of Winter

Since we arrived in November 2005 our experience tells us that the last week of January and the first 2-3 weeks of February are the deep winter months. Bitterly cold and often with some wicked windchills. This year has been no different. The snow has been coming down in weekly storms, gradually building on the previous layer. I think 2007/2008 Winter had more snow, but this year it has been arriving consistently.

Here are some photos:

Home from the front

Looking down to the Shed.

House from the Shed at the bottom of the garden.

Path to the deck, notice Mount Colossus on the right. That is the snow removed from the deck. Every year we have given them a new name and this year we felt Colossus would fit the bill. I think last year was Superior? (check the archives)

Path to the front door (still with several inches to clear out).

The forecast tonight (Sunday 13th Feb) and tomorrow is for another 10-15cm  of the white stuff. Next weekend we are definitely going snow shoeing

Here is Jules taken while walking around the beaver pond at Mactaquac

This was taken 19th December, there hasnt been a thaw since then.

We are starting to plan our vegatable garden (wishful thinking for spring), especially as the weather forecasting ground hogs have all agreed it will be an early spring. LOL sure it will

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On a seperate note, Kathryn (in her infinite wisdom) decided to get a companion for Millie (her German Shepherd cross) and now she has two dogs (Dad was speechless). The new one Chester and looks like a Pointer cross. Another rescue dog from the SPCA. He may have difficulty understanding what we are saying (He has no idea what we are saying when we call him) because apparently he came from Bathurst which is in the French speaking part of NB. Perhaps I should try adding a French accent on for effect . "Bonjour Chesterrrrr, Bon Chien" ... OH MY GOD he responded to Bon Chien.... I have my work cut out to make him bi-lingual (perhaps he could get a good job if I am successful).

OK time to go help Jules with Sunday dinner (roast beef and yorkshires ) I hope you are all ready for Valentines day?

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Oh one more thing, my friend Matt in the UK sent me a link to a Youtube video of a Beefeater providing some tourguide expertise. This guy is funny and worth seeking out all four parts of his tour.

 

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• Wednesday 26 January 2011 - Nearly the end of January and Spring is somewhere ahead~

We have had a couple of snow storms 20cm - 30cm of snow last weekend and the temperatures plunged to -27c with windchill taking it down to -37c all week. Needless to say the fire has been burning 24x7. At this low temperature there is no give in the cushions in the car seats, the engine sounds like a diesel engine as it rattles and coughs until it is warm. oh yes there as much ice on the inside of the windscreen as outside!. Our windscreen washer fluid is able to stay liquid at -40c ....

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Typically the winter is the most bitter last couple of weeks of January and the first two weeks of February.  Tonight we have another snow storm heading this way to deposit another 15cm of snow tomorrow. Skiing this weekend  (or snow shoeing) so we are looking forward to it. I will try to get some photos this weekend.

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• Sunday 16 January 2011 - Middle of January and it is only -12c

This time last year we had about the same temperatures and two years ago the temperatures around the Whelbourn microclimate area were hitting all time lows (-39c on Jan 18th 2009). Well this year it is a mild -12c.... almost sunbathing weather (almost).

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I am sitting here at the breakfast table sipping a cup of Tetley tea, looking out over the deck at about 15cm of lying pure white snow, blue skies and the sun shining with little silvery snow crystals falling out the sky. Lovely eh?

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I just checked my two handwritten Journals (2005 / 6 and 2006 /7 ) and the temperature on Jan 14th  2006 was 14c (major thaw) and I had my first Canadian haircut  costing $15 (about the same as now...zero inflation on haircuts). On Jan 14th 2007 it was -8c we had a roast pork sunday dinner and we were discussing the cost of going back to the UK the flights were $2,475 for 4 people. I checked today and it is about $1200 each person... I guess the girls will have to swim the Atlantic so we can stick to the same price as 2007.

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On the social front, Julie and I went out Friday night to the Isaacs Way pub/restuarant downtown to meet up with the Tango Club (now defunct but we meet a few times a year to demonstrate how much of the tango we have forgotten). We had a good time eating dinner and chatting with a wide range of people who were in the club.

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I estimate that I have about 200 readers, well I want to thank John in Gloucester UK. He is one of the blog readers and he decided to call me up. Great surprise for me and it was nice to talk to someone who I had never met but obviously felt a connection. We chatted about life here and how John had been in Canada 20 years ago (mainly Ontario and Alberta) and returned to the UK. Thank you John.

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Finally we have all had a cold, a sort of chesty cough with sore throat (not the flu) and probably for the first time, I didn't go down with full blown bronchitis.  Normally with this type of cold I have to sleep in a chair to actually get some sleep. Well I put this down to the fact that I take a Vitamin D supplement. I know I bang on about it but if you don't believe me watch this interesting and funny video by a Doctor Holick from Boston University Hospital.  Definitely food for thought.

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OK I off to frolick in the snow and take a stroll around the Beaver pond (it could be snowshoeing rather than walking, depending on the type and depth of the snow there)

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• Saturday 1 January 2011 - Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2011

Well out with the old and in with the new. I for one is glad to see the back of 2010. It has been a tough year financially, and work wise. My job last year consumed a lot of my time as we were establishing a new agency, and like many start ups there is never enough management capacity to go around, so you end up with three management jobs to do so that the operations of the business can run. Anyway the middle management layer is slowly being recruited and I am expecting to see are return to work life balance this coming year (one of the reasons for emigrating).

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I believe settling anyway takes about 5 years. After approximately five years you are familiar with the bills, the challenges of living in a place, and you can start to plan the next year with some degree of certainty.

Well this is our sixth year and we are ready to face it with a planned approach for the financial cycles, as well as the weather changes etc... For example we know the take home pay will drop by nearly $300 per month as the given takes out the payments for the Canada Pension Plan(4.95% or pensionable earnings) and the Employment Insurance (1.73% of insurable earning). This is the equivalent of the UK's national insurance, but here in canada is ring fenced for the purpose of Pensions and unemployment benefits. The strange thing is they want to collect it all by July, hence the pretty big drop in take home pay from January to May/June. On the upside both CPP and EU have maximum deductions which when combined are approximately $3000 for 2011 (unlike the UK).

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I also believe that many of the challenges we have faced would have been challenges whereever we were living. Our daughters are 20 and 23, car owning, and one in full time university, the other has moved out and living in her home (purchased and she is paying the mortgage). But of course they do not really earn enough and we are called upon to support them in their times of need. Sometimes we feel like we are supporting at least two households . I am not complaining because I believe it is one of those life stages the family goes through regardless of where they are (but I am looking forward to coming out the otherside).

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Last night (new years eve) we were invited round to our friends Wendy and Sean, for some drinks and to see in the new year. A very relaxing chat, some beers and a couple of glasses of champagne ..... But this led to a night of regret, I was awake every hour from 4am with a thumping headache and dry mouth (despite drinking a pint of water before going to bed) and ouch my head this morning.  I have a throbbing headache, and so does Jules (she had wine and champagne)

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Gemma is working today we are not having the traditional new years day roast dinner(thats planned for Monday). We will just take it easy all day.  The daytime temperature has warmed up to +8c so the snow is melting, we had a pleasant walk around the block (2.8km), however it is forecasted to start cooling again rapidly and it may just turn to ice..... nasty when that happens, it is like walking on an ice rink.

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Reading the Telegraph and BBC websites makes me worry about the UK's outlook for 2011. There is talk of 3 million on the dole, another recession or a dip in the GDP putting growth at zero, also some have given the Euro 20% chance of succeeding to survive in 2011 (predictions of a two tier Euro seem pointless as the whole point of a single currency is to do away with the fluctuations between members of the Euro zone). Also will the Coalition hold together or split? That would mean that the Labour Party would be called on to form a government (not a general election as people think).  Oh well there isnt anything the Expats can do, but just watch

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Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a prosperous 2011!

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• Sunday 26 December 2010 - Snow is coming "YAY"!

We have had snow,  but then it was followed by a huge rain storm which flooded our basement (again ... I'm planning ceramic tiles for the basement floor, I am not pulling up anymore carpet).

Christmas day was a cold -10c brrrr (including wind chill), but who cares when you have had a good family morning, lots of presents and oohs, arrs and thank you's. Great christmas dinner and then a walk around the Beaver pond to help the digestion. . Christmas with the just the four of us is very relaxing. No travelling and no guests who need to be looked after, get up when we want, eat when we want and snooze in the chair when we want (well I do ).

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I was lucky enought to get some great pressies, a dressing gown (extra thick), a blindingly powerful 21 LED torch (flashlight for you people from North America), a knife sharpener, a battery charger, socks, diary, couple of card games (nice and compact) and a partridge in a pear tree(well a picture of a British Robin drawn and framed by Gemma). . The girls did pretty well too, amongst other things, Gemma had a nice computer desk (steel and glass affair) to go into her bedroom. Kathryn had a toaster oven (cheaper to run than a full stove, especially cooking for one) and Jules had a full set of family+arty photo's, trousers, boots, book and CD's.

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Well our first snow storm is forecasted to hit tonight and all through tomorrow with the forecast ranging from 20-30-60cm (depending on who you listen too). I am expecting 30ish cm and I have already run up the snowblower to make sure everything is alright.  Also in preparation I have brought in the final 1/2 cord of wood that was sitting next to the house under a tarpaulin. We have enough wood, enough food and drink to see us out to the New Year. I had better test the generator, it has been a while since I ran it up, and big snowfall could bring down some lines.

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• Wednesday 15 December 2010 - Water, water everywhere and +14c

Well it has happened again (second time this year). The basement flooded with puddles of water up to 1 inch deep. We have received over 4 inches of rain in two days and in St Stephen they received in excess of six inches (2 months rainfall in 24 hours). Where did the road go?

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Lots of flooding everywhere and the rivers look as deep as they are in the spring melt! Roads washed out, basements flooded and power outages (not us though).

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Oh well we are getting good at mopping out and using a dehumidifier to remove the damp out of the basement.

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One good thing, if this had been snow we would have received over 6 feet,

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• Saturday 11 December 2010 - Snow, tree, flat tire and battery

It has been gently snowing in flurries the last few days, but there is no real accumulation, it just looks pretty. Christmas is fast approaching and the expense is piling up (bah humbug).

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Jules asked me to chop down another tree from the garden for our indoor christmas tree. I jump up to do this because it means I can play with the chainsaw.... despite the trunk only being 3" wide.... (any excuse)

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Julie's car (Ford Focus 2005) wouldn't start yesterday. The battery was completely flat. Typical.... just before christmas we have to go and buy a battery! So trip out today turned into a expensive one, $112 for the battery,  $50 for alcohol (beer, sherry and wine), $64 to fill the petrol tank on my Ford Escape (55 litres ish),  and a partridge in a pear tree! On the plus side Jules has whipped up a  beautiful Sherry trifle and some sausage rolls. .

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Kathryn's Chrysler Neon (2001) has a flat tyre so I have attempted to change the for the temporary spare but someone has torqued the wheel nuts on with at 4000/lb per sq in (or I am just getting to old to undo the bloody thing). Anyway she has to take it to a service centre to get it changed ($75 .... but not mine ).

Tonight we are going visiting and taking the sausage rolls  as a 'potluck contribution'... oh well easy come, easy go. I will have to push her to produce a double batch next time.

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I wonder if I can get away with claiming the car battery for Jules is a christmas pressie?

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• Saturday 4 December 2010 - Electricity, Eggnog and Thaw

Well it is december and Christmas is fast approaching! OMG presents to buy, cards to write.... oh no I just remembered, I have the cards I wrote out last year and forgot to give out... saved one job (I just have to check the names on the envelope).

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We live in a rather deceptively large 3 floor cape cod style house. Approximately 2,500 square feet. Our equalized electricity bill is $369 per month (that is all cooking, lighting, most of the heating etc...). Well last year when they announced it would be 369 per month I decided enough was enough and we would have to take measures to reduce our demand and bill. Electricity rates are only going one way UP. The result of turning off the TV at the socket (so it isnt on standby) and chasing around switching off lights in empty rooms, purchasing an 600w oil filled radiator and using that to heat the lounge rather than radiant heat in the ceiling (stupid idea) has left us $700 in credit . They will not give us the money back but we should get zero money for two months in the new year. I am planning to look at more ways to reduce our electricity demand in 2011.

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It is Eggnog Season again for those of you who have always wondered what the heck Eggnog is is a sweetened drink made with milk and/or cream, sugar and beaten eggs (which gives it a frothy texture), and flavoured with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.  It is not Advocaat. Although you can add rum / brandy to it to spice it up a little. The French name for it is Poulet-Lait (Chicken Milk). The girls love it and drink lots when Jules buys it. I get the odd small glass but it isnt something I would drink everyday.

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Winter is everywhere it seems, the UK is blanketed in snow and temperatures plummenting to -20c. Bringing the usual chaos in its wake. Here we also received snow pretty early and -11c temperatures. But today the temperate has soared to +7c accompanied with rain and it has washed all the snow away. Oh well it will be back again soon enough. It does give me more time to pack in some more wood to replenish what we have used in November.

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About Me

free hit counter David, Julie, Kathryn and Gemma emigrated to Canada on Nov 5th 2005. Now living in Island View New Brunswick.

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