Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Talking about Orca's

Ran into one of my Californian neighbours while walking the dog this morning.
"Hi, did you hear about the Orca's yesterday?" She greeted me.
"No, didn't know they came through this way until January." I responded.
"I was real disappointed. Got a call from Terry who said they were in the channel, but by the time I got my binoculars they were gone."
"Could hear them blowing out in the channel. Pity we missed them."

We talked a little more about the Herring run when a whole pod of Killer whales would follow the Seals and Sea Lions feeding off the Salmon which were in turn feeding off the Herrings around February time.
"Apparently the sea round here turns red with 'em." She said enthusiastically.
"Really?" This has quite piqued my interest, and I shall be carrying a camera at all times.

Other news; we have an offer on our house in England, and hopefully a backup buyer if things go wrong. Didn't get the price we were hoping for, and Wife sounded really frazzled on the phone when we discussed it at 5am Pacific Time this morning. I shall be happy to get her back on Saturday evening. Hot chocolate, Cookies, Cuddles, and a good nights few sleep are my prescription. Everything is laid on, all she has to do is get on the right plane home.

That's funny; I'm already calling this place home.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Love this place

Another blue sky day. Wife is having a time of it in England trying to negotiate a sale on the house. The market there has gone so flat it's reminiscent of a pancake that's really got so depressed it truly couldn't give a toss.

This side of the pond is splendid,and I'm drinking it all in. Dog is spooking at every unfamiliar sight, smell and sound, but then that's nothing new. Off to see friends with a invitation for supper tonight (Taking Dog as they think he's super - if only they knew). The above photo was taken with my phone camera which has no zoom function, but it's really a phone so who cares? Just gives a flavour of the view from our apartment which is absolutely superb.

Landlady dropped by to give me the rundown on what the plumber did. Rent is due tomorrow, but that's all covered. Call from the Canadian equivalent of a Job centre, Supporting Employment Transitions. They had a message for wife, who is now okay to work over here without a work permit. Do they have a job for her? I hope so. I'd like it if they had a job for me, but then I need sponsorship to go down the 9 to 5 again. Not many people willing to do that at present. I live in hope.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Another nice sunny day, if a touch chilly. Wonderful sunset lit up the Islands across the Strait. Phone call from the Pensions Office saying that my wifes Social Insurance Number is live and kicking and ready for use. I forgot to ask if this meant she didn't need to go back to England every six months, but I've got the feeling she needs to stay here as long as possible to rack up her permanent residency points. At least three years out of every five. I'm good with that.

Took a movie with the phone camera, only to find I haven't got a compatible format video converter loaded on my knackered old slaptop. Hi de ho, off to ZDnet I go. Got to be a format converter on their ever so helpful download site.

Another call from Royal bank of Canada to say they had a minor problem with paying the Telus bill for the land line, no account number. Went into town to run a few errands and went into the bank. I must say I'm seriously impressed with RBC's level of and speed service. The line from the 'Cheers' theme tune came into my head 'Where everybody knows your name'. Bloody hell, it feels good. I love this place. Just got to generate some income.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A little ennui

While wife is over in grey old England I'm supposed to be writing a blockbuster novel. This past couple of days my get up and go has got up and taken the week off. I've tried all my usual cures, walked the dog, read, about the only thing I haven't done is drink any alcohol. Perhaps all the alarums and diversions have overturned my motivation.

Maybe I need to try writing something totally different, just to break the spell. After a glass of wine. I'll try that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Point scoring

Getting to know neighbours and getting on their right side has to be one of the key objectives in a new country. This evening I managed a little with the help of a bowl of candy and a glove puppet found perched on a rock near a place called Revelstoke.

This isn't to say that there's anything calculating or cynical about what I say and do. I truly like our new neighbours. They are so refreshingly open and up front. Besides, I also like children, and look forward to the day when stepdaughters decide they want to raise the next generation. In which case I intend to be the most disreputable Grandfather figure possible, carrying them on my shoulders through the woods and frightening the wildlife. Taking them for rides on Motorbikes, hunting and fishing; stuff like that.

To enlarge; Californian neighbours were bringing small child trick or treating. We'd arranged this a couple of days ago, and I said I'd do something amusing. So a bowl filled with assorted candy was set aside by the back door with the glove puppet, and when the little girl arrived with two female bodyguards in tow, I went into the routine as follows;

Knock on door. I put on the glove puppet and poked it's head so it could be seen by the child (Who was wearing a kind of crocodile costume) into the glass pane of the rear door. Then I made it duck down before bringing it back into view, apparently shivering with fright. Then I opened the door slightly and made it look as if the puppet was answering the door. At the magic words "Trick or treat" the bowl of candy was proffered, a handful was taken and there was a little 'nk you' . I caught my neighbours eye through the part open dorway. She was obviously impressed that an Englishman had so quickly gotten into the spirit of things. Dix points I think.

Besides. I like the people round here, and such little touches are well worth the effort, even if it might look a little like a cynical and needlessly ingratiating point scoring exercise to an outsider. That little girl came to a strangers door and went away having been amused. Such things count for a lot with small children. A good friendly environment promotes good behaviour in future. Well that's the theory. It's better than locking the door and hiding with the lights out.

Good news at last

Bounced out of bed by the phone at an ungodly hour this morning. Wife was online and was calling me to see where I was. "Did I wake you up?" She asked from the other side of the Atlantic.
"Er, yes." I responded groggily as Mister Brain kicked at the inside of my skull demanding who the hell did I think I was, waking it up at this hour.

We spent the next half hour on Google chat updating each other on developments either side of the pond. Our old Saab is now sold and we have cancelled all the insurance etc. Letters requested from Insurance company to give record of clean driving licences for obtaining provincial BC driving licences. Wife's Social Insurance Number is now active and she can get a job without the tedious business of applying for a work permit at the US border. Old house has been discounted in price to see if we can attract any more potential buyers in the current flat UK housing market. The chinese water torture is over as the dribbling faucet has been replaced (Hooray!). Significant progress has been attained.

A little addition to the mornings good news exchange was that we have been invited to wander around posh Californian neighbours property during the winter (The views from their deck are superb, and there's a set of private steps to the beach) when they are back in California next week. Apparently the Sea Otters tear things up when there isn't a regular human presence. Our is dog especially welcome for that purpose. We can lunch on their deck overlooking the sea and everything. Might get cold, but we'll wrap up warm and drink lots of hot drinks.

Halloween tonight. Have been promised a 'scary' visit from a four year old. Glove puppet and bowl of candy is on standby. I'm not going to sit behind a closed door and grumble. A little old fashioned fun is in order, and if you can't do that - what's the point of living?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Busy day ahead

Dog was fretting all last night. I think we had bloody raccoons on the roof by the sound of the chittering I heard around four am this morning.

Any old how, lot to do today. Bills to pay, money to bank. If I can squeeze in a haircut this morning I'll be lucky.

Must get some extra candy in for Halloween. Just in case. The health fascists are saying 'no candy' and give out balloons etc instead. I think we'd be better off getting rid of these pundits rather than the trick or treat.

The tap still leaks by the way.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Ever since we got this new land line from Telus, we've been getting autodialler calls where some computer randomly dials you number and then asks you to dial '1' to get customer service. Don't. I think it goes through to some godforsaken call centre in India or something.

If it isn't a real person - the call gets trashed. I'm sorry if this is uncommercial of me, but I don't buy stuff over the phone unless it's me dialling out to a recognised service. I think while wife is not here, I'll cut the ring numbers down to two and let whatever system it is talk to my answerphone instead, while I smirk quietly to myself.

The rate of return on this method of marketing must be so low that this is the only way it can be made to pay. Problem is, the only people who fall for this are the elderly and . The rest of us tell them to sod off.

Not forgetting to write

While Wife is in England I have been hitting the keyboard with a vengeance and have resurrected a project I thought had stalled for good. It was half way through and the narrative had a mildly compelling feel, just that the characters felt a bit cardboardy. After a re-read and a bit of adjustment, they feel fresh and more real, as does the backstory. Did over 1500 words yesterday.

It's the wrong project of course, but the 'funny' I'm supposed to be working on just isn't amusing right now. I need Wife to look at it and hear her laughing to be sure I'm wired in to the humorous thread, otherwise I tend to lose track.

To cap it all that blasted faucet is still dripping. Stuff it, I'm off out to pay some bills and get my hair cut. I can't hang around for others all day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Front window

There are times I love the view from our front window and this is one of many I've seen today. Apart from sitting up from six every morning to watch the sun rise over the Strait of Georgia, apart from the Quail, apart from the Roebuck and every patch of blue sky that makes me smile.

A double rainbow of such vivid quality it could have been painted on the clouds. Pity my camera doesn't have the widescreen option and then I could have gotten the whole lot in a picture. Regrettably it was only a fleeting phenomenon, and I was so busy going 'wow' that I missed the best part of it.

Neighbours came over to help deal with our leaky faucet, but to no avail. The valve is on the way out and it needs a replacement. With the roto-rooter mans current performance it'll be past Christmas before it's fixed.

Water torture

Ever since we moved in here three weeks ago we've been plagued by a leaky faucet. Now we aren't talking about drips every thirty seconds, more like a continuous dribble that can fill a one pound margerine tub inside two minutes. Plumber (Rota-Rooter man) came out last week and left saying he needed to get some 'parts' which would take a week to arrive. Landlady is annoyed, we're annoyed that something like a dripping tap takes over three weeks to fix. To be honest I think the whole fitting needs replacement.

At the moment it's unseasonably warm. 14 to 16 Celsius. In Canada? In late October?

Minor problem with Internet connection. Shaw cable (Whose customer service is quite good over here) are coming out to check the signal strength. They are billing me for a 5meg connection, and are quite keen that I should stay their cusotmer. I'm good with that.

House price in UK has been cut by another 10K to see if it will sell at that price. Wife is currently up in Leeds with stepdaughters. I'm missing her and counting the days. Roll on a week on Sunday.

Have updated the blog to include a few newsfeeds from the UK broadsheet dailies and some interesting wildlife movies off YouTube. It will stop me getting bored while things are slowly rolling into place.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do bears?

Well I don't know about what Bears do in the woods, but I found a young archaeology field team digging holes in the woods while walking the dog this lunchtime. Wonder what we'll find if we go off to the point round by the slipway to do some fishing - find Orcas in the channel?

Nice day

Glorious sunny day today. Wife is okay in our old house in England, Estate Agent is positive about selling our old place, and I have been invited to dinner with some of Wife's family friends.

I am showered, clean, the bills have come in and they are half of what I anticipated. If only the dog would lick his arse a bit more quietly. Well, you can't have everything.

Monday, October 22, 2007


It seems all my anxieties about Wife were just that, anxieties. She rang me at 06:30 local time from Gatwick to say she was fine and I heard youngest stepdaughter in the background, taking the mickey as usual, bless her. Must e-mail those International Law book titles to her.

E-mail from pompous elder brother suggesting I get a 'McJob'. My response to that ends in 'off'. Those jobs never look good on your CV, and we aren't that desperate. The work I do for the Canadian Red Cross is opening doors, and people are much more open to newcomers out here. The cost of living is much lower than in the UK, so our money is going further, and we are living far better than we could back in soggy old England.

Talking of which, I have to book a flight to the UK for Mothers birthday. I'm looking forward to seeing her, but not pompous brother. If he doesn't come down off his high horse soon there's going to be an argument; one of those that estranges families. I don't particularly want that, but he is becoming a nuisance. I strongly suspect the influence of evil sister in law, who has her head so far up herself she only has to blink to do an instant colonoscopy.

Any old how, Wife is going to talk to estate agents about how best to sell our house in England and release the capital therein. We have a conference call booked for first thing tomorrow morning Pacific time, so it's an early night with a book and mug of hot chocolate for me. Got to be fresh for decision making.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sweet sorrow

This morning Wife left for sorry old England to oversee some details about our house sale and see the stepdaughters. For some odd reason I've been dreading this for days. Don't ask me why, maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. Dog hasn't seemed too worried, and he fusses at the least little thing.

As we watched the plane take off, Wife saw me on the runways edge. She waved, I waved back with tears that she couldn't see. Yes, that's right, big tough looking curmudgeonly old me had tears in his eyes. "There goes my heart." I said as the wheels went up, my voice creaking a little with the emotion. The dog pulled me back to our minivan and we went back to our new home. Wife phoned from Vancouver International airport to say all was well less than fifteen minutes after we returned.

I'm not sure what the truth of the matter is; maybe Wife and I have been in such close proximity here in what is to this Englishman, a strange land, that I felt the parting more than I should. We've handled a lot in the past few weeks and rarely got on each others nerves, even though we've been virtually joined at the hip for all that time. An hour later I am feeling calmer, but will feel better when I get the phone call to say she is back at our old place in England in the company of our two reprobates.

It's funny, of late I've felt like I'm a puppet whose strings have been cut. Now here I am, metaphorically speaking, slumped in a corner, staring at my clumsy wooden body wondering what to do next, willing the splints and pins to move like they used to at the behest of my controlling strings. Perhaps I will go out and get some cookies to have with a mug of tea and read Bruce Cooks novel "Young Will" until I feel better. Then I will go fishing down in the cove to calm my spirit tomorrow. You never know, maybe I'll catch something.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New identity, new blog

I've started this blog because I've run out of ideas for my old one, and quite frankly I'm bored with it. The time is rapidly coming to cut all ties with it and start afresh under a new identity. Just for the sake of consistency this too is under a new assumed identity. Don't know what I'm going to write about, just that I'm going to write something every day if I can.

Tomorrow my beloved wife flies back to England to see the kids, but tonight I am cooking an old family favourite - Beef stew. Recipe as follows;

A couple of pounds of stewing or marinading beef cubed
Bisto gravy powder (Do not use any other kind - tastes awful if you do)
Two cooking onions
Two carrots
You will need a large wok and large stewing pan

Slice carrots, dice onions and cut your beef into half inch cubes.
Coat beef cubes in gravy powder until lightly dusted.
Dry fry beef cubes in wok, constantly stirring until lightly browned (Don't use cooking oil or any other pan lubricant - ruins the flavour).

Dump carrots and onions into stewing pan.
When beef cubes are lightly browned (A little charring is permissible), add water to make a thin gravy. This will reduce, so don't worry if you think it's too 'wet'. Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Take off heat and add carrots and onions.
Dump the lot into the stewing pan put on heat and bring to gentle boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat so that stew is barely simmering.
Leave on heat, stirring every five minutes or so as you read a book.
Continue for over an hour or so, or at least until gravy has become thickened and beef tender.
Take off heat.
Wait five minutes.


This is good old fashioned 'stick to your ribs' cooking which can be left to cool, portioned off into freezer containers, and reheated or stuck in a pie, used as a baked potato filling, whatever.

Enjoy, and thank God you are not a vegetarian.