Whelbourns in Canada

• Sunday 7 November 2010 - Five Year Canniversary

It is hard to believe that five years ago (yesterday) we landed at Fredericton airport with only our hand luggage (the rest of the luggage had gone somewhere else), and checked into a motel style cabin and thought "right, lets find work/car/house/set up the girls in school/college and build a new life".  I guess the proof is in the pudding (as they say).

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Work

We had visited Fredericton in 2003 and I made several potential work contacts then. I had studied for certificate they valued managed to pass and then re-connect with potential employers once the visa arrived. I secured a couple of telephone interviews and they requested I contacted them on arrival. I had two face to face interviews 4 days after landing, received a job offer within 48 hours, and started a new job on the 21st November!

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The job was well below my previous salary, and I demonstrated my worth within 3 months. I was promoted a couple of times and became the Practice Lead for the core competency of Project Management. A new opportunity was pointed out to me July 2009 and I applied for it (after being reminded). I wasn't really looking for a new job (probably why I was so relaxed and secured the offer). The project(s) was a real challenge but we were successful. I am now the Director of Project Management in a new shared services agency.  

This is probably the best job (most enjoyable) I have ever had.

In the UK Jules was Secretary / executive assistant (great organizer and completer finisher). Unfortunately in bi-lingual New Brunswick that level requires someone to be bi-lingual so she wasnt able to even apply for those jobs. She applied for Admin assistants but was turned down as over qualified. So she focused on several things. Looking after us, the house and garden.

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She then she turned to her passion for sewing and started creating purses (handbags to the Brits), scarves and evening gown type wraps. She has some success selling them at the Fredericotn Christmas Craft Fair (infact she is there today). That has developed to her real passion of dress making (again evening gown / prom dress style) and she has been perfecting her skills (which are pretty impressive). This coming year I think she will establish herself as a bespoke dressmaker.

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Car

This was easy, first we exchanged our UK driving licences for New Brunswick licences, then we visited the local garage's and settled on Ford. I leased a 4WD V6 Ford Escape (3 years) and we purchased a snazzy fully loaded Ford Focus for Jules (put big deposit and a small residual loan to be paid over 12 months). This helped build our credit rating.

Both Kathryn and Gemma passed their NB driving test and they now drive a Chrysler Neon (Kat) and a Hyundia Accent (Gemma). We are now a four car family. To be honest you need to drive here, nothing is really within walking distance. Unless you are downtown, stores that are next door to each other have huge open car parks between them. Canadians (which we are now ) park as close to the door of the store as they can. This is understandable in winter or blazing hot summer day.

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House

Once I had a job it was easy to get a mortgage offer and find a house. The real estate agent in Canada is on your side. They discuss and identify what you are looking for within your price range and then pull together a range of properties for you to view. They provide you with information and guidance while viewing, with all sorts of useful tips. After I received the job offer, I secured a mortgage offer from the bank and then we found our house and made an offer by the 15th Nov! The house was on the market for $239,000 (which was about £116,456 then), it was priced to sell fast, so on the guidance of our real estate agent we offered $235,000 and eventually settled at $237,500 (with more assets included). Once the offer is accepted no one can back out without penaltys. Everything is completed quickly... we moved in on December 17th (less than one month from start to end).

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Schools & College

It was relatively easy to get Gemma started at Fredericton High School, she was 15 when we landed. Kathryn was 18 and had left secondary school in the UK, sat and passed Double BTec Medical Technology course, plus a couple of AS level maths courses. She was set to go to university in the UK. I think she has had the hardest time of all to settle down. Long story but I think her recent statement is telling "I'm 23 pay a mortgage on my own mini home, own a car and half shares in a horse, where could I have done that in the UK?"... She has a point. Both daughters have said they are not going to return to the UK (never say never). They now have dual citizenship so they can work anywhere in Europe or Canada with easy access to USA... great opportunities await them.

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So in summary it has been a tough first 5 years and we are settled. There have been challenges along the way, some big some small; some emotional, some plain old tough decisions.  Many of them we would have faced regardless of where we lived. Those that came about because we emigrated have definitely added to our stress in the first 3-4 years, this year we seem more settled and the award of Citizenship seemed to close the opening chapter(s). The question is "was it worth it, and if you had the time again, would you do it again?". You would get varying levels of enthusiasm from different family members, but I think on the whole it would be "yes", and "yes" by all of us.

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From a selfish perspective I know my life is less stressful, and far better than it was in the UK. I believe the opportunities the Girls have are also enhanced being in Canada than the UK. Especially looking at the economic state the UK is in at the moment.

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• Sunday 24 October 2010 - Citzens and Maple Tree Leaves

Well we attended the ceremony and became Canadian Citizens on Monday 18th October. Well we are actually dual citizens and intend to maintain our British nationality. The ceremony was interesting and took about 2 hours. First a Judge addressed us and talked about our responsibilities as citizens and the rights that we now enjoy as citizens. We all took the oath of allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second, queen of Canada and then various dignitaries stood up and congratulated and welcomed us to the Canadian family. There were 32 new Canadians from 16 countries!

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We received a certificate and swopped our Permanent Resident card for a Citizen ID Card. A Canadian flag pin (mini brooch) and some leaflets about Canada and the rights and responsibilities of a citizen. We finished by singing the national anthem (loudly).

O Canada!

Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Short sharp and to the point. A nice anthem that is meaningful and easy to sing. Apparently written in 1880 and only designated as the Canadian National Anthem in 1980. Before that it was Great Britains National Anthem (God save our Gracious Queen) and O Canada was sung much like Land of Hope and Glory is the unofficial anthem for England.

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Anyway enough history lessons. We received a personal letter  from Brad Woodside (Major of Fredericton) with a book on Fredericton welcoming us as new Canadians. It was presented at work by my colleagues who also gave me a Canadian Flag and we all ate cake with a big red maple leaf on it. It reminded me of my leaving do from work in the UK were they presented me with an Axe, French phrase book and a flag.

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We have been busy little bees preparing for winter, yesterday we loaded our wood (which has been drying outside for a couple of months) into the garage, for those of you who remember we had 1/2 cord left over from last year and we purchased 2 cord (our usual) so the wood pile is up to the rafters. Boy I'm stiff after we moved 2 cord of wood in an afternoon. 

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Also the tree's are looking beautiful with their leaves in all there new colours

This is the Maple tree as seen from our deck  beautiful eh? (Canadians nearly all say eh, after the sentence). OK time for me to finish this post, I need to get onto the list of other jobs that Jules has listed for me.

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• Tuesday 12 October 2010 - Notice to Appear

We received our approval for Canadian Citizenship and we have been summoned to appear to take the oath of Allegiance on the 18th October 2010 at 9:30am The Oath of Citizenship is an easy one to take for a UK Citizen.

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"I Swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian Citizen..."

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OK back to day to day life. This last week has been my R&R break from work and I have been 'resting' working on home projects  Carpet down in the basement office, mowing the lawns, clearing the dead wood from the boundaries and catching a cold.

We still managed to visit the Irving Nature Park (which we found after living here for nearly five years and never been able to find this park on the outskirts of Saint John). We discovered a beautiful nature park within 1.5 hour drive from home. Below are several photos of the park.

Julie handing feeding Chickadees (much like UK Blue Tits)

Julie photographed this fox just outside the Park

The fox is in excellent condition compared to the mangy things we used to see around towns and cities.

 OK have to sign off now and get ready to go to work tomorrow.

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• Sunday 3 October 2010 - Nearly Christmas and we have a new government!

Only 82 days, 7 hours, 38 minutes to Christmas (well there was when I wrote this post). Where on earth did 2010 go?

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Last Monday it was the Provincial elections and the Liberal Premier Shawn Graham was ousted by the Conservatives. He has managed to rack up some impressive debts, didnt consult the population before trying to sell NB Power (provincial power company) to Quebec.  I tuned into election night reporting at 10pm thinking I could check in and then watch some coverage.... wrong they were reporting the result (2 hours after closing the polls). That is when I realised there was only 55 seats and even if everyone in NB voted who was eligible then there would be 372,000 votes to count. As it was in our Riding (York County) saw a total of 6, 560 votes and Carl Urqhart (con) was returned for another term.

The new guy (David Alward) has a huge majority (42- 13) and promised to listen to us, reduce the debt etc....   Fingers crossed he will do half of what he says.

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I am taking this week off to get some well earned R&R (Rest and Recuperation). I am entitled to 20 days a year vacation and this year I have only taken 2 days  What can I say,? My new job has kept me very busy, in an enjoyable sort of way. On the plus side my hard work has been recognized and rewarded.Jules has produced a list of items for me to tackle while on R&R, thank god it's only a week

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Today we have put away the pool (at last), I used my strimmer (locally known as a whipper snipper) to cut down the wild part of our garden. I let it grow wild to encourage wild flowers and insects to prosper .... honestly! Tomorrow it will be more winter preparation around the garden. The leaves are all turning those beautiful autumnal reds and oranges. I will have to get some photos for the next post.

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This week I rediscovered the LP's (they are in plain view just not played) so it has been a week of nostalgia as I pick out such amazing hits as Motown Hits, Temptations, The Drifters, Wham, BachViolin Concerto in E minor, Jaws Soundtrack, Now thats what I call Music 3 , quite a mixed bunch eh?

Well must dash the bleeper just gone off on the cooker and I'm ready to carve Sunday Dinner (the girls are over today so no meat for sandwiches tomorrow).  Whatever you are doing have a good week, and think of me resting, and working through the list.

 

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• Sunday 26 September 2010 - Nearly the end of September Already!

Holy cow this year has flown past, I am already starting to think of winter preparations, rushing in some last minute summer repairs, made space for delivery of 2 cord of wood (delivered last weekend). We have emptied the pool and scrubbed it clean. Next week I'll pack it all away and move the snowblower to the front of the shed. I love the winter preparations .

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It has been a busy social life recently, our friends have returned from Alberta and we had a BBQ with Guy and Christine. We decided to visit the Fundy National Park for a day out. We had a great time, Wolfe Point was as peaceful as ever

We now follow a family tradition when visiting Fundy National Park. We drive down into the little fishing village of Alma and buy 4 lobsters and then have a lobster picnic in the national park somewhere. This year it was at Bennets Lake, which has great picnic tables overlooking the beautiful lake. Unfortunately the tradition calls for Dad to finance the Lobster Picnic and as the girls have grown up they insist on having a stonking great lobster like Dad has... oh well I will just have to switch to tiddy Lobsters and insist they all follow suit

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I volunteered as an MC at the Harvest Jazz and Blues festival (again). It was great fun and this year I was at an indoor stage (people were paying money to see me, well perhaps to see the artists, but me too).  Jules and I walked down Queen Street on Friday evening during a break from the show and it was amazing how many people we know in Fredericton. Lots stopped to talk with us (only one expat the rest were Canadians). It was a nice feeling of being in the community.

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The job is going well, demanding but still fun and I am working with some great people.  Jules and both girls make sure there is plenty of work for me at home too.

 

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• Saturday 4 September 2010 - Hurricane Earl and the hot flushes

This last week has been a hot one here in New Brunswick, for most of the week the temperature has been above 30c and there has been no let up in the evenings with outdoor temperatures in the mid twenties and indoor temperatures hovering around the 30 mark.

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We do not have air-conditioning, but we do have a basement which is about 8c cooler than upstairs so Julie and I moved down to the basement bedroom for at least two nights when the day time temperatures hit over 35c . I am not complaining, we were cooling in the pool in the early evening and sitting out on the deck until we turned in for bed.  The crickets and cicadas were singing in the trees all evening, it was very tropical and restful

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Anyway in true weather style that is ending this weekend because Hurricane Earl is heading our way. Below is a satellite photo showing Earl in all his cloudy, spinning glory. The red triangle points to Fredericton (inland).

Earl has now been downgraded to a tropical storm (never mind Earl it happens to us all) and is expected to make landfall midday Saturday and we have a rainfall warning 2-3 inches (50-75mm) of rain within a 8 hour window (trust me that is a lot of blinking water!).

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Preparations for Earl's arrival were completed yesterday:

  • Garden furniture put away/tied together
  • BBQ lashed down
  • Car filled up and I have also filled two spare petrol containers giving us another 35 litres (just in case)
  • Generator fired up and tested
  • My emergency water container (about 15 litres) flushed out and refilled. Plus two toilet water containers checked (another 20 litres)
  • Julies big Pot filled with water (you can never have too much water).
  • Downspouts and gutters checked (all that water has got to flow somewhere)

 We were ready for the worst. The rain has arrived and it is currently a gentle shower and cooling nicely.

Oh yes this weekend is a long weekend here in Canada. It is Labour day and we all get to rest

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• Saturday 21 August 2010 - Great Summer Here in NB

Another weekend is here and again we have sunny days forecasted. The temperature has started to drop in the evenings, but we are still having great sunshine.

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Today the forecast is Sunny and 24c , and I am thinking of emptying the pool and packing it away for another winter season. Every year I say to myself "I must get a solar heater rigged up for the pool to extend our swimming season", but unfortunately it is still without any heater and now the nights are cooler the water temperature is only just creeping above 20c..... Heck I remember regularly swimming in the Lido's of the UK where the water temperature must have barely made it to the teens centigrade?  I must be getting wimpy in my old age.

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Another busy week at work, and everyone else in the family seems busy. Gemma and Kathryn are happily working with Lexie (the horse) who is mostly out in her field. She is happy and I am waiting for the moaning and groaning when winter comes in and they are working in the morning and at night in minus 20c  

Jules is keeping herself busy with the great task of looking after us, and in her spare time, gardening and making gowns. I really must get photo's of her collection of dresses. She is preparing for the November show where she will probably display some of her dresses along with the unique purses, scarves and wraps she has made. Let us hope this year is an improvement on last (she really noticed the recession here in Canada).

OK must dash I have to mow the lawn, wash down the sidings and think about emptying the pool. Oh yes I must think about a solar heater for the pool to extend .....

PS we have ordered 2 cord of wood for the stove as part of our preparations for winter (it needs to season for a couple of months before you store it)

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• Sunday 8 August 2010 - Birthday, Beach, car maintenance and BBQ,

It has been over a month since my last entry and a lot has happened in that time. On the 24th July Kathryn turned 23 years old  ....WOW 23! as her Father I now feel old and officially I am entitled to the Grumpy Old Man award. Anyway to celebrate we took ourselves off to Saint Andrews and had a great day at the sea side. We paddled and picnic'd off Indian Point, then into Saint Andrews for dinner at the Harbour Lights restuarant (not bad meal).

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Here in New Brunswick (and I expect across Canada) your car requires a Motor Vehicle Inspection certificate, much like the UK's MOT certificate.

Kathryns car was due for it's MVI at the end of July, and with some small rust holes in the sill under the drivers door it would probably fail. I knew she couldn't afford to take it to a bodyshop for repair, so in my best grumpy old man voice I mumbled that "I would help repair it "(which I found out later actually means I will do it entirely on my own).

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Ah the nostalgia of repairing rust holes in cars. It was like going back 30 years  to my first couple of cars. Rubbing down to bare metal, cutting off pieces off rusted metal, being surprised to see the couple of pinholes grow to a large hole and then agonising over what technique to use to fill in the gaping chasm I had revealed/made.

  • I tried fibreglass (messy affair) and remembered (or was reminded) that fibreglass cannot resist gravity..... most of it either ended up on the floor or on my hands....
  • next came a fibreglass filler... which worked well but my experimenting with the hardener meant I either had 30 minutes to work with it or 30 seconds before it hardened. It is amazing the heat the chemical reaction generates.
  • Finally I finished the remaining holes (the previous two methods has some success) I used a combination of wire grills and body filler mastic... Then lots of elbow grease rubbing the whole thing done to a reasonable finish. Anyway surprisingly the end result was a repaired sill, primed and ready for inspection, that still looked like it was part of the car.

Much to my surprise the car passed and everyone was happy (I was relieved). Before any one asks I do not take work on for anyone beyond my two daughters.

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During our first visit to Canada (Recce in 2003) we stayed at the Chickadee Lodge B&B on the outskirts of Fredericton and really got on well with the owners (Guy and Christine Donnelly). They became our first friends in Canada and after we landed in November 2005 we often visited each other for meals, parties etc...  Their annual Lobsterfest was a favourite event of mine. Well about two years ago they told us they were moving to Calagary Alberta and they sold up and moved, we kept in touch with emails, christmas cards etc... Mid July we found out they were coming back and they have just returned to NB. It is funny to hear almost the same reasons for moving back to NB being played back to us by Christine and Guy as the ones we used on why we moved from the UK.

Anyway we held a BBQ yesterday afternoon and invited a bunch of people round(Sean & Wendy, Guy & Christine and John).  After a great BBQ (cooked by yours truly) around 9pm I lit a fire in our fire pit (an upturned wheel rim of some big SUV) and as we men watched the embers glowing and I threw on a new log (there is something primeval about sitting around a fire), Sean (a chemistry professor at UNB) commented that in the UK he never imagined that one day at 10pm he would be sitting  around a fire pit, with a , truck driver(Guy), IT consultant from Ireland(John) and Project Manager(Moi).

A good time was had by all, they all stayed 5 hours so I assume they had a good time and we have lots of dessert to eat  (Jules always asks guests to bring dessert)

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I have to show you a couple of photos by Gemma (my youngest daughter). You may know this already, but she is studying an Bachelor of Applied Arts (UNB) and really into Macro photography here are some from of her latest:

Cornflower

One of many insect photos

Can you see all three bugs?

This blog doesnt really do them justice, but I'm impressed (proud Dad coming out I better watch that, it doesnt fit with my grumpy old man award).

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Finally on a slightly different note, today (8th August) Julie and I reach a big anniversary in our relationship. It was 30 years ago today that I took Julie out on our first date. We met up at 8pm, 8th August 1980 in Beeston Square Bus Station (she was on time, which impressed me). I remember showing off that I owned a car A Vauxhall Chevette - hatchback metallic gold in colour too(the first car I owned that didn't require daily running repairs).

I think she was suitably impressed. In my then sophisticated soldier way I drove her to Nottingham and my idea of a good night out was to go on a pub crawl....  I think we visited about 8 pubs in 3 hours (I only had one beer in the first pub, and then switched to Tonic Water... again I think that impressed her). Anyway despite my uncouth nature she managed to stick it out and refine me into restaurants, country pubs, and wine bars. The net result we are still together and I very rarely crawl around any pubs . (I still switch to Tonic Water)

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• Sunday 4 July 2010 - Critters and New Skills

It has taken nearly five years before the nice fluffy animals become 'pain in the @rse, critters". I am fed up with the cute ground hog eating the tops off my Peas and pulling up all the Bean bushes I have planted in the veggie patch. I know the girls are annoyed by the raccoon eating all the bird seed and wrecking the bird feeders

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The garden is looking great, with Julie's flower beds coming to bloom this year like never before. Her hard work is finally paying off.

Jules has started planning our annual Bonfire Night party already and we originally discussed making it a smaller affair this year. But already it has a new group to be invited (Jules and I joined the St Georges Society of Fredericton).

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Nov 5th 2010 will be our fifth Canniversary and it seems we have come along way in our new life. We have learnt many things

  • how to dance the Tango.
  • How to use a chainsaw to cut down a tree and get it to land where I want it to and sharpen the blade when it is dull.
  • How to sharpen a variety of other blades. 
  • How to snow shoe,
  • How to cook lobster/fiddleheads (the tops of edible ferns)
  • How to drive in the snow and ice.

Work is going well and the New Brunswick Internal Services Agency opened it's doors for business on June 21st. I am the new Director of Project Management . Our new offices are very open plan and a departure for the government of NB. Here is a photo of the dining area in the new office.

I am more than happy with the new office and it's layout, it helps breakdown the barriers that office walls often create. 

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Julie has made another dress and has perfected her dress making skills. I think the last 4 or 5 dresses she has been extremely happy with the end results.

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The girls have moved Lexie to stables that are only 5 minutes away from home and they are spending alot more time with her. They are happy with life here in New Brunswick.  Kathryn said to me during the week, "in the UK how many 22 year olds have their own place, a car and a horse?" ... good question, and I couldn't answer it.

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On the whole, the five years have been beneficial to us and we are happier than anytime since arriving (and before for some of us).

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• Saturday 5 June 2010 - Citizenship exams and promotion

June is here already, and it seems to be speeding through the first week before I have even looked at the garden.

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We had studied hard and quizzed each other mercilessly on all things Canadian. On Monday 31st May we sat the citizenship exam and we had mixed feelings about the experience. Mainly because Gemma and I had one paper (easier one by far) and Jules and Kathryn had the 'OH MY GOD, WE DIDNT STUDY THAT' paper.  You are given 30 minutes to answer 20 multiple choice questions. In order to pass you need 75% correct, and there are 4 that you must answer correctly. Gemma and I finished 12-15 minutes and poor Jules and Kathryn probably came out at 25 minutes.... We didn’t realise they had two different papers.

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After the test we had a relatively informal interview (as a group) and the immigration officer reviewed our applications. You have to get your entry and exit dates correct (for any out of country trips). We didn’t have an initial landing form, and she said it was ok but we would need it to claim the Canadian pension.

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Next steps is typical, they send it all away to be marked and evaluated. Then we will be notified of the result and if we have passed there will be an oath of allegiance ceremony in Fredericton.  The oath is:

"I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada. Her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen"

This is very similar to the oath of allegiance I swore when I joined the Army back in 1974.

"I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me"

Anyway, that covers the Citizenship exam. The promotion bit next, this week I was appointed as the Director of Project Management for the New Brunswick Internal Services Agency(NBISA). Not a real surprise as I was the Project Director for the programme to establish NBISA.

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Even so it is a promotion and I'm happy with it.

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I was thinking about the whole emigration project, its effect on our family; and when the I hear the girls saying they do not want to go back to live in the UK, because they love living here. Also Julie expressing she is happy,  slowly building up her own business and developing her skills. Plus she loves gardening (and boy do we have a big garden to let her explore that passion).

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Then I think about the journey we have been on, from my perspective considering we arrived November 5th 2005 with no job and no house, started employment 21st November 2005, purchased our house and moved in Dec 17th 2005, promoted several times in my first company (xwave), then applied for the Project Director role Sept 2009, and now a senior manager in a new Government Agency... all in all a successful emigration project.  

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Here are some photos by Gemma:

Jules and me walking around Mactaquac beaver pond trail

Sundew plant (carnivore) native to NB

Exploration of Black and White Photography a fern from the flowerbed

Humming bird in the back yard

 

One taken by me on the Beaver Pond trail

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• Monday 24 May 2010 - Victoria Day and it's 33c

Apparently Victoria Day weekend being the first long weekend since Christmas is the official start of the Beer Season. This long weekend has had some gorgeous weather, all in the low 30's or very high 20's.. Today I will finish mowing the back lawn and plant some Peas, Peppers, Leeks and spring onions. The Raspberry patch is growing well (I can hear Julie shouting "it doesn't need any care!") and the blackberry bush is the same (Jules again "ditto, as the raspberries").

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We have put up the pool and started filling it, the flowers are all coming through and I'll post a couple of photo's when they are out. ALSO the bluebells we planted 4 years ago are flowering for the first time!

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Gemma is now driving herself to work after learning the wonders of gear changing, clutch control and hill starts. Here is a photo of Gemma and the giant Lexie (stolen from her facebook profile photos).

Kathryn is staying with us for the weekend with Mille the poop machine. It is good to have the family all around for the weekend

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Work is busy and going well, our new office building should be opening on June 15th. This week the Department of Education asked for my advice on setting  up a Project Management Office with the controls necessary for progress monitoring. It is good to know you are being appreciated and nothing to do with the fact that having a British accent makes you sound more intelligent

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We are all studying for our Canadian Citizenship exams that are on the 31st May. We now know more about Canada than most of the residents of New Brunswick (that is probably true). This is enable us to vote in the coming provincial election..... I hate to admit this but I'll probably be voting Liberal. The Conservative opposition hasn't given me any reason to vote for it (sound familiar?).

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Life goes on and I have to go out in the sun and suffer the blackfly.

I just wanted to wish my youngest sister Nicola a happy birthday  have a great day.

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• Saturday 8 May 2010 - May is here and it is snowing in Alberta!

But not in New Brunswick  here it is Mosquito Season is in full swing (and their other companions - Blackfly). We still haven't resorted to chemical warfare (defence) yet

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A lot has happened since my last post, Gemma has finished her first year at University with good grades (A, 3 B's and a C+), she has brought a car (Hyundia Accent) chosen for it's colour (and now I have to teach her how to drive with manual gears).

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Jules is busy in the garden pulling up dandelions with her dandelion puller! Digging up the veggie patch in preparation for our veggie growing efforts. Plus making a fancy chiffon dress.

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Work is busy, progressing well and my boss seems reasonably pleased with my performance. So all is well. We have booked our summer holiday (Florida) with a week in a house boat and a week by the beach .  I am really looking forward to it, and I am glad we didn't choose the Gulf of Mexico side....

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I am sure I told you that we had applied for Canadian citzenship in April 2009, well yesterday we received our letters informing us to attend the citizenship exam at the end of the month  so now we have to swot up on Canada and citzens rights and responsibilities. If we get citizenship then we will have achieved another of our goals.

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• Thursday 22 April 2010 - March, in like a Ewe and out like a Lamb - & now it's mid April!

The winter this year has been a mild one(unlike the UK), yes we had snow, but nothing like the amount we have received in the last 3 winters. I think I used the snowblower about 4 times this winter.  I have already started preparing the Snowblower for summer storage and been thinking abou servicing the Lawnmower  I enjoy this divide between seasons were preparation is needed, it creates a rythmn in your life.

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Yesterday I cleaned the Chainsaw and sharpened the chain, in preparation for Jules annual tree reduction request. In fact I quickly cut down a couple of small ones to check the saw and the sharpening had worked. Mainly to check I had reassembled it correctly.

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The snow has nearly all gone, the crocuses are nearly finished flowering. I think we are about a month ahead this year. The sump pump came on and pumped water for about 3 days and nights rather than it's usual week or two.

The view down towards the shed from the Deck, hardly any snow left for this time of the year. Just the bit that is the veggie patch (extra moisture I suppose). The remnants of last year's bonfire is visible

4pm April 3rd 1982 Jules and I were married, and we are still together despite all the challenges that head your way (especially being married to me ).

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Since writing this on the 4th of April, the snow has all gone, the mosquito's are out and so are the Northern Spring Peepers (little frogs that sing in the evening making it sound like the tropics).

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Work is extremely busy and the new organization is proclaimed and created. First part of the project is a success. Tomorrow payroll services will be delivered to two departments (another major milestone met).

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• Saturday 20 March 2010 - Electrical Goods Rant!

I know I have moaned before about the poor quality of electrical goods in North America, but I couldnt resist another one.

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Last Monday the baking element in the bottom oven in our Maytag Gemini double oven failed. We brought the Maytag from new in Dec 2005 when we moved into the house. In the last 2 years we have needed to have replaced three heating elements.

  1. One in the top oven,
  2. now this in the bottom oven and
  3. one on the top hob.

In the UK we had a Hotpoint cooker from 1996 - 2005 and never had a single problem with heating elements. I think the only problem we experienced was the door spring went a little slack in 2005., but it still shut tight.

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The only plus point for North American appliances is that you can access the detailed manuals with all the components and instructions how to repair/replace them. I simply ordered online (paid about $55) and the element was mailed to me. But why did it fail in the first place .

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Anyway today is a beautiful day, here in Canada 20th March is the first day of Spring not like the 21st in the UK (I am guessing it is because of the lower latitude than the UK). The longest day is 20th June and Sept 20th is the First day of Autumn also 20th Dec is the shortest day.  We are just enjoying the sunshine, and opportunity to open the windows and freshen the house. However 4-5cm of snow is forecast for tonight

 

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• Friday 12 March 2010 - Another Week rolls by

Well it is March 12th already, and the winter snow is thawing (we have a relatively mild winter this year). The flowerbed by the deck has a crocus that has opened it's purple flower up today! So Spring is sprung  

Good news, we have recovered from our spring colds

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Everyone is busy in the Whelbourn household, my work is interesting, demanding and I still enjoy it. This week has been one of those weeks were I have been working long hours (Jules asks me "so why did we emigrate to Canada"). But that said, I still get home for dinner around 7:30pm (most evenings). 

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Jules is busy making some amazing dresses. I promise to get some photo's loaded on my next blog entry. Gemma is in the middle of Mid Term exams for her Uni courses. She is turning into a right boffin (A, and 4 B's)  I'm proud of her, she has worked hard and deserves it. She of course is disappointed and says she could have done better  I guess she could but I'm happy with her progress.

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Kathryn is still settling into her home and looking forward to spring and lower heating bills.  Both Gemma and Kathryn are also working hard with Lexie. They are looking forward to getting out on some hacks this spring and the stable will let Kathryn take a horse out for the day.

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Well this will have to do, I am watching TV and thinking about the work I have lined up for tomorrow (Jules, wants me to lay a hardwood floor in Gemma's bedroom)

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• Saturday 20 February 2010 - Spring is in the Air (again)

Well the sun is shining and the thermometer is hovers around zero and doesnt go much below -3c in the night. Spring looks like it is early this year. The winter has turned out to be a mild one this year, we still have about 1 cord of wood left (famous last words, watch March be a flipping return to winter).

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Work is keeping me very busy (still having fun with the challenge of it), and I am working with a great bunch of people too. I had to present to a management communications conference last Thursday (about 140 people) and I cannot imagine how the simultaneous translator was coping with my Nottingham accent. Luckily my team were spread around the tables to help others understand my deep vowels (apparently they had trouble with the word Flood, which I pronounce Fluud).

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Jules is busy creating another amazing dress and I will post some photos when she finishes this one.  She is constantly challenging herself by picking increasingly difficult patterns. I brought her a couple of design books for her birthday and she is starting to think about make her own original designs!

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Gemma is busy with her University studies and working hard to make money so she can buy stuff! She is growing as a photographer and artist, I'm proud of the way she is developing (even if she is stroppy occassionally).

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Kathryn is working hard, learning to turn down the heating in her home. I know she is enjoying walking Millie and meeting new people through that. She will be here tomorrow for a family Sunday dinner

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• Saturday 6 February 2010 - Still Cold but at least we don't have a Blizzard

Newfoundland is in the midst of a blizzard that is started yesterday and is still raging today. Washington is set to get 70cm of snow and we are just cold with a dusting of snow forecast. The high pressure system is pushing the "Snowmagedden storm" hitting DC across the Atlantic towards the UK

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Haircut day today. It seems a shame to spend $10 on somthing that only takes 5 minutes to do. Julie said it reminded her of when I was a soldier (although it is a bit thinner and grey) So here is a blast from the past photo.

I am the squinty eyed, good looking one in the middle of the back row. I did complain about the sun in my eyes at the time but I was ignored.

Back row: Ken Childs (Kinder), David Whelbourn (Wellie), Sgt Major (Smiler) Miles

Front Row: Victor Vaz (Vic), David Blackler (Blackie) and Philip Milner (Millie)

1st Regt Horse Artillery Best Command Post competition 1983-ish (I think, could be 1984)

We were the crew of H2 Command Post - E Battery

I can almost hear your amazement at our imaginative nicknames.

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• Tuesday 2 February 2010 - Eureka!

Well we have been here since November 5th 2005 and we have been missing UK Style Heinz Baked Beans in tomato sauce. We tried all the Heinz baked beans variation and other brands but they all had a much stronger flavour than UK Style Heinz 57.

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A week ago Kathryn called home all excited but she had discovered a can of beans that tasted like the UK variety!!!

Heinz Deep Browned Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

We tried them this evening with a simple Chicken and Chips, and they were GREAT!

 

No more expensive imports or visitors packing 4 packs in the luggage

 SO ALL YOU EXPATS IN CANADA LISTEN UP. If you crave some UK Baked Beans here is the substitute that fits the bill!

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• Tuesday 2 February 2010 - Brrr -26c

Just a quick entry to say it is bloody freezing today. Apparently it is a Stansfield day. The local forecaster uses Stanfield rating as a temperature gauge. Today is a 3 Stanfield Day. Oh yes they make lady Stanfields too

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Minus 20 with a windchill making it feel like -26c and if you think this is bad there is a windchill warning for Northern NB and Gaspe Bay Peninsula -40c to -45c. The cold temperatures are forecasted for the next week (well below the seasonal norms) But the west coast is above normal and they are worried about snow for the Vancouver Olympics!

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Apparently when it gets down to those sort of temperatures the air in your tyres contract so your tyres deflate and freeze with a flat bit at the bottom. Square wheels.... I bet that makes for interesting driving until they warm up!

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OK time to go to work, layers of clothes is the answer and vanity takes a back seat to being warm.  Unfortunately I do not own a pair of Stanfield's, but I am rapidly rethinking that. Also I swear the silliest hat you have is the warmest! Mine is a trapper style hat (I do not look as cool as the guy in the photo on the link), when I wear it Gemma refuses to be seen with me

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• Sunday 31 January 2010 - Winter rolls on - 30 Days since my last confession

January has gone by in a blink of eye. My work is keeping me really busy and days seem to fly past when I am that busy. Things are still going well, the teams are amazing and I am so pleased with how much we are achieving. But the deadline of April 1st is looming (8 weeks) and I need to keep them focused on producing stuff rather than worrying about the date.

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OK enough of work. Gemma has been been keeping a record of the month and I have some of her photo's to share.

Kathryn and Lexie - isnt she looking marvellous (I mean Lexie of course )

 

Kathryn went and brought herself a dog from the local SPCA. She was looking for something to keep her company in her new mini-home and found Millie.

Apparently she didnt want a German Shepherd dog ....... Looks to me like Millies mum or Dad would have understood the word Hund and know where Berlin is on the map.

She is a very smart, high maintenance. Much like her owner.

Another shot of Millie who is very playful and loves to fetch things and chew them to pieces.

Now for some winter shots - oh, and for those of you in the UK, Gemma has captured one of a Snowplow (canadian spelling). I thought you might be interested to see what one looked like.

This comes past at least once a day when the snow is falling and then again about 6am, and we do not live on a main road. The only problem is the bloody wall of snow they build across your drive entrance!

The next few are snow shots from the nursery across the street from us.

Very Narnia like isnt it?

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So there are the usual winter shots, and this afternoon we are going for a walk around the nursery. It is about -12c but beautifully clear and sunny.

We haven't had much chance to go cross country skiing this year, and only one snowshoeing expedition. Despite that I think it is fair to say we are all pretty happy.

Julie and I were at the Lunar Rogue last night for the monthly Pub Night and met several more new arrivals from the UK. I think we all had a good night (we left at 11:50pm), many of the Newcomers club still see each other despite the club being dormant. We seem to enjoy the social aspect of meeting without committment of organizing lots of events.

 

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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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