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February 2015

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidWikipedia has this to say concerning red letter days:

“A red letter day is any day of special significance.

Its roots are in classical antiquity; for instance, important days indicated in red in a calendar dating from the Roman Republic (509 BC-27 BC). In medieval manuscripts, initial capitals and highlighted words (known as rubrics) were written in red ink. The practice was continued after the invention of the printing press, including in Catholic liturgical books. Many calendars still indicate special dates and holidays in red instead of black. The practice did not originate, as it often assumed, from Medieval church calendars or a requirement that important holy days be marked in red from First Council of Nicaea in 325CE, as has widely been claimed.”

Today is just such a day. The Kickass Canada Girl and I have formally given notice to our respective employers of our intention to retire at the start of July this year.


I left college in the summer of 1975 and got my first job as a very junior programmer in a University of London medical school. The computing resource there at the time comprised a machine that took up a whole room (an NCR Elliott 4100) which had no hard disks (just four enormous tape drives) was programmed using punched paper tape and had less computing power than my mobile phone… by a very long way!

I stuck that job out for a mere nine months before moving to another of the University of London’s many colleges, though this time in a most pleasant situation in the verdant countryside well outside town. I was to remain there for the next two decades and more, first as a systems programmer and then as network manager. I would probably have stayed even longer had I not been head-hunted (there’s posh!) by the first of the two public schools (in the English sense!) at which I have been gratefully employed throughout the last seventeen years.

Forty years is not a massively long working life these days and will certainly seem even less so to the coming generations. It is – however – not bad going in a fledgling industry such as IT, which is – and will doubtless remain – a young man’s (or woman’s) game. Remember – when I started there were no personal computers, no mobile phones, no InterWebNet – no iAnything! There were also no digital cameras, no flat screen TVs, no touchscreens, no digital recording or sampling, no digital musical instruments – and certainly no ubiquity of microprocessors in absolutely everything – as it seems that there is now.

The Girl and I want to be able to spend as much of the coming years as is humanly possible doing things together and being together. We have already lost far too many precious hours to sitting in planes, trains and automobiles.

My father finished his career at the age of 59 and subsequently enjoyed two decades of retirement. I would like to do at least the same.

It’s time to go!!

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iThose unfortunate enough to have strayed within range of one of my intemperate expostulations on the subject of Apple Inc (a tester of which may be sampled here and here) will be well aware that – even though I have the greatest respect for many of the design elements evident in their product line – I really don’t much care for the ‘richest company in all the world‘ at all. I guess that their ethos explains just how they came to be so fabulously wealthy, but that don’t mean that it’s necessarily a good thing… any more so than are tabloid newspapers, reality TV shows, throwing Christians to the Lions or the ‘spectacle’ of the guillotine!…

See what I mean by ‘intemperate’?


I might at some point have waxed rather more lyrical on the subject of the splendid Galaxy Note – which device has seen me across the Atlantic and back safely and sanely over the last few tempestuous years. In my mind’s eye I pictured this excellent gizmo travelling once more across the pond this summer, to forge a new partnership with some fresh-faced Canadian telecommunications giant.

Alas it was not to be. Toward the end of last week the beautiful and capacious AMOLED screen suddenly and without warning died completely. Efforts both on my part and of the technical whizz-kids that I employ proved unable to restore it to life. It is – sadly – no more.

A number of pardoxical perceptions flashed across my mind:

  • I did not want to do anything that would extend my mobile contract in the UK beyond the summer – for obvious reasons
  • I really should wait until we get to BC before signing up to a new deal and replacing the handset
  • I really cannot be without a mobile phone right now – as things hot up on the emigration front

Now – one of the advantages of working in IT and being responsible for the School’s phones is that there are usually a selection of recently ‘retired’ handsets lying around. With luck one of them might take my SIM and get me back on the air. Unfortunately – just at the moment there didn’t seem to be much choice…

OK – you see where this is going. The only phone available to tide me over until we leave for Canadian shores was made by a company named after a fruit and starts with an ‘i’!


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Image by Frank Vincentz on Wikimedia CommonsWaiting for word from Citizenship and Immigration Canada regarding my application for Canadian Permanent Residency is a nerve shredding affair – the which is clearly also the case for the many who contribute to the fora of the various InterWebNet sites (several of which are linked in my blogroll) that are so very helpful to the putative immigrant. The situation is certainly not helped by the (perhaps understandable) total lack of information relayed to the eager applicant as things progress (or not!).

Way back at the very start of my first attempt at the residency process in 2012 I explained in this helpful post the various classes under which one can apply. I had but a single choice – to be sponsored under the family class with my spouse – the wholly admirable Kickass Canada Girl – as my sponsor.

Of course – it is actually more complex than that. Spousal sponsorship applications can be made under two further categories – Inland and Outland. Logic suggests that Inland applications are for those couples already living in Canada, whereas Outland applications are for those where the applicant is not yet resident. Inland applications can take longer to process – being considered less urgent since the couple are already together. As it happens many couples are actually eligible to apply under either category, and may thus choose the supposedly ‘quicker’ option. In practice – of course – it still doesn’t feel that quick!

Regardless of the type of application being made the paperwork is sent in the first instance to CIC in Mississauga, Ontario. CIC processes the sponsor’s application and – once sponsor approval has been granted – the norm for Outland applications (such as mine) is for the applicant’s paperwork to be sent back to his or her nearest visa office to be processed in full. That this does not always happen is dependant on the workloads on the various visa offices. Sometimes the whole application is processed in Canada, which is invariably the fastest option.

Sadly my paperwork was returned to London.

The timeline for my application – thus far – has been as follows:

  • Medical certificate obtained – 30th April 2014
  • Applications fees paid online – 31st May 2014
  • Application sent to Mississauga – 3rd June 2014
  • Application received by CIC – 6th June 2014
  • Sponsor approval – 31st July 2014
  • e-Client Application Status (EAS) online tool shows application and medical results received – 1st-Aug-2014
  • Request from London Visa Office for RPRF fee – 27th November 2014
  • RPRF fee paid online and receipt forwarded to London office – 27th November 2014

The CIC website has a guide to current processing times which covers the first part of the operation. For the second phase the applicant is referred to the local visa office website. Until very recently the London site has consistently shown a total processing time of 11 months, which figure is based on actual processing times over the previous 12 months.

About a week ago – to my absolute horror – the stated processing time shot up to 29 months!!!

The InterWebNet fora were – quite naturally – agog with anxious applicants seeking some sort of explanation for this abrupt escalation. The older hands at this mularkey offered the following:

Midway through 2014 the London office took over processing applications from that in Islamabad – where total processing times had reached 36 months, so swamped were they. The best guess is that the new 29 month figure is simply the result of combining those two sets of statistics, and the consensus seems to be that the times for UK applications are unlikely to change significantly from the previously quoted figure.

This remains, of course, to be seen – but I have to say that such shocks are not good for the constitution of us (near) pensioners!


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joker-306370_1280“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

Brian G. Dyson

I like this quote from the then President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises: an extract from a speech that he made in 1996. The Kickass Canada Girl and I will – in only a few months time – be effecting a permanent change to our work/life balance, following which we will be able to focus full-time on the four balls that count – family, health, friends and spirit.

In the meantime – however – there is much juggling to be done!

If we are to emigrate as planned in mid-July then these tasks must shortly be accomplished – the which all have interlocking deadlines:

  • The Girl and I must give written notice to our employers of our intended retirement dates
  • I must arrange for my remaining pension to commence at that point
  • The Girl must make the equivalent arrangements with her financial advisor
  • We must book one-way flights to British Columbia
  • We must book international movers to relocate all our worldy possessions to Canada
  • We must give notice to the landlords of our Berkshire apartment of our impending departure

To degrees varing from ‘really quite a lot’ to ‘absolutely unambiguously’, each of these represents a point of no return. Once retired we could not afford to maintain the Berkshire apartment and would have to move. Once air fares and movers are booked there is no going back.

We are in very many ways absolutely ready to go. We are delayed only by those two hoary old chestnuts – selling our Buckinghamshire property and my Canadian Permanent Residency. Though the absence of either would not prevent our departure failure to achieve one or both would certainly complicate matters.

There is no denying that we could – at this point – really use a massive shove in the spiritual scrum to get us over the line!

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you are here“The three most common expressions in aviation are, ‘Why is it doing that?, ‘Where are we?’ and ‘Oh Crap.'”

Unknown quote

It has been quite some while since I last issued an update regarding the progress toward our transit to Canada later this year. There is a good reason for my reticence on the subject: progress has been glacially slow!

Things are moving but – just at the point at which we would really like to be seeing an acceleration toward our ultimate goal – we find that we must just continue to be patient, patient and ever more patient!

It is now around ten weeks since CIC happily relieved me of the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) – the request for which I took at the time (as indeed I still do) to be a splendid omen. Reading further on the various fora to which other similarly incipient ex-pats subscribe it would seem that one should expect the wait from RPRF payment to final approval to be anything from eight to sixteen weeks. Naturally I am expecting my approval notice to arrive at any moment! Naturally I am repeatedly disappointed when my daily progress checks again prove negative.

The start of the year has seen much movement regarding our apartment in Buckinghamshire. At least – much movement when it comes to viewings, second viewings, detailed enquiries concerning management structures and so forth. Sadly there have as yet still been no offers.

We paid a visit to the apartment a week or so ago, en route to a meeting with our estate agent (Canadian: realtor!) and we were somewhat put out to discover that some of the rooms there were in fairly urgent need of decorative refurbishment. We were not at all pleased that neither our tenant nor the agents – who routinely show prospective purchasers around the property – had deemed it worth their while to brief us regarding this sub-optimal situation. I have now arranged for a decorator to visit with a view to carrying out the updates, but it is quite distressing to think that some prospective purchasers might well have been put off by their first impressions of what is actually a quite lovely – if somewhat quirky – apartment.

I feel sure that there is a good reason for all such delays and disruptions to our forward momentum. Certainly the recent increasing strength of the pound sterling against the Canadian dollar makes me exceedingly glad that we did not find a buyer last year and then ship our capital out to BC at that point. We must simply believe that all such delays result from similar purposes on the part of the universe, and that all will become clear as things progress.

There will be more exciting news as the weeks pass – so do continue to watch this space…

I always wanted to say that!

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angel-297830_1280Idling perusing the WordPress dashboard after my last post a few days ago I was struck by the (mildly) interesting fact that I had apparently posted three hundred and thirty (333) scintillating missives since I started this blog in 2012.

Pleased by the symmetry of the digits (and being slightly smugly aware that as I have been blogging now for just over three years my average is one hundred and eleven (111) posts per year) I casually fired up Google and typed the number into the search box.


So – Angel Numbers! What’s that all about?

I’m actually not going to write anything myself on the topic at all. As you will see should you follow my (Google) lead the InterWebNet is quite full enough already of the weird and the wonderful – and amusing as it may all be I don’t feel the need to add to the canon. Should the number 333 hold some deeper fascination for you then you can read further here and here. If the whole notion of Angel Numbers causes bells to chime in your head then you should probably get help will doubtless find what you seek online. In spades!

Some people clearly make a living from this stuff… but since I somewhat carelessly launched myself into this strange other-world I am really in no position to cavil. Oh well!

Moving on…


This is – of course – post number 334!


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DSCF6256book learning


1. knowledge acquired by reading books, as distinguished from that obtained through observation and experience.

2. formal education.

Given that the practical elements of my education concerning the west coast of Canada cannot commence in earnest until I am actually in residence, the best that can be managed in the meantime – other than the well-established practice of mounting daring expeditions to the heart of the InterWebNet – is a resort to literature.

I am much aided in this endeavor by the attentions of loved ones both here in the UK and in BC, recently being the grateful recipient – through the agency of the Christmas ‘stocking’ – of two works essential to the education of the incipient immigrant to the Pacific north-west coast.

The Kickass Canada Girl brought back for me from Canada a copy of Margaret Horsfield and Ian Kennedy’s excellent history of ‘Tofino and Clayoquot Sound’. This magnificent volume – published in the dying months of 2014 – promises to provide the definitive account of the evolution of a part of the coast of Vancouver Island much-loved by all who have ventured to this furthest extremity of the continent. Be your interest in the complex histories of the indigenous peoples of the area, or in discovering more about the children of the counter-culture who followed the tarmac though Sutton Pass to the Pacific Rim, you will indubitably find what you seek within these pages.

My love of the area has already been well documented in these postings – from my rhapsodising over Adrienne Mason’s wonderfully evocative ‘Long Beach Wild’ to the description of the celebration of my sixtieth birthday at the Wickanninish Inn on Chesterman Beach last year. In addition to Margaret Horsfield and Ian Kennedy’s tome and to the aforementioned paean to Long Beach I would further recommend to the gentle reader who wishes to locate a slightly more… off-the-wall account of this part of the world – Andrew Struthers scurrilously funny autobiographical comedies – ‘The Green Shadow‘ and ‘The Last Voyage of the Loch Ryan‘.

DSCF6254And whilst humour is at the forefront of our minds (as we aim for it to be much of the time!) I must reference an invaluable Christmas gift from our dearest friends in Saanichton – Will and Ian Ferguson’s authoritative guide – ‘How to be a Canadian‘. OK – one might not discover therein much of truly indispensable value regarding the transition from European to North American land masses, but one will – as did I – fall about laughing – which is way more important.

I effected this part of my studies in the bath and I fear that the Girl grew just the tiniest bit weary of being summoned down the hallway to have yet another chuckle-inducing passage reported to her. She can occasionally give me the sort of look that is the equivalent of fingers drumming on a counter-top – at which point I know to shut up.

Like now – for instance!

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