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March 2015

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2015.

Image from PixabayIn a previous posting – released into the wild in the earliest days of this unruly month and somewhat cheekily entitled “Much ado” – I offered the determined reader a ‘shopping list’ of things that must be done to progress our emigration, now that we have handed in our notices to our respective (and understandably heartbroken) employers.

It ran thus:

In the immediate future we must:

  • set in motion our remaining pension plans
  • ensure that everything required for the smooth transition of our tax arrangements has been done
  • check that the necessary finances are in place
  • book our one-way flights to BC
  • arrange surveys and obtain quotes from a number of international moving companies
  • push through the refurbishments necessary at our Buckinghamshire apartment
  • agree a notice period with our tenant

The gentle reader is doubtless eager to know how things are progressing. Herewith my end-of-month report:

  • My remaining pension provider (the School) has been alerted to the upcoming transition and I await the necessary paperwork.
  • Much research has been done on the means to effect the necessary tax changes. I have a feeling that some professional advice may yet be required if all is to progress seamlessly.
  • As far as is possible at this point the required finances have been marshaled into the appropriate positions.
  • Our one-way flights to Victoria have been booked – taking full advantage of the Air miles accrued during the Kickass Canada Girl’s sojourn in beautiful British Columbia in 2012.
  • We have been surveyed to the utmost degree by our panel of international movers and have on this very day confirmed a booking with our chosen tranter.
  • We have effected the necessary repairs and redecorations at our Buckinghamshire apartment.
  • Our tenant has agreed to vacate the apartment at the very start of May.

Thus far – so good… I will naturally report further on the next steps to be taken as they become apparent.

Full steam ahead!

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rugbyThe weekend just gone saw the final three fixtures in the 2015 Six Nations Championship. I have made reference previously to this northern hemisphere rugby tournament, and I feel sure that you already know that England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy compete annually for this keenly contested trophy.

The format of the tournament is a straight league with no bonus points – with each nation playing every other in a single fixture, alternating home and away from one year to the next. The winner is the team with the most points at the end of the five rounds. Should there be a tie in this regard the outcome is decided on points difference (scores for/scores against).

The start of this year’s final round found three teams – England, Ireland and Wales – on the same number of points. By chance each of these teams was to play a different opponent – Wales/Italy, Ireland/Scotland and England/France – and in each match the side in contention was the favourite to win. Points difference was clearly likely to determine the eventual winner.

By further and the most pure of chances the matches were to be played one after the other (in Rome, Edinburgh and at Twickenham respectively) in the order of the points difference at the start of the matches. Thus for Wales – up first – to be able to challenge for the trophy they would needs outscore Italy by at least 26 points. At half time Wales were trailing by a single point at 13-14 but – clearly mindful of what was required – they then proceeded to run riot, the final score being a massive 61-20 to the Welsh.

Ireland – up next against Scotland – were thus required to win by at least 21 points to set England a challenge. They duly hammered the hapless Scots by 40 points to 10, setting England the target of beating the French – by far the most dangerous of the day’s underdogs – by an unlikely 26 points.

As the sun set over Twickenham and in front of a capacity crowd of more than 80,000 the English came out of the blocks like a train. Within the first four minutes they were a try to the good. Unfortunately, by the ten minute mark they were two tries to one down! The tone was thus set for the remainder of the match. In what is normally a relatively tight fixture the sides went at each other as though possessed. No sooner had one scored than the other would strike back.

England, eventually and inexorably, drew slowly ahead of their old rivals and as the match entered its last breathless minute they were within six points of the target. The final attack – a rolling maul in which practically the whole squad took part – saw the English poised above the French line only for the referee to blow-up for a penalty to the visitors. Even at this late stage the French, instead of kicking the ball out of the park, tried to run it out from behind their own lines. Older and wiser counsel finally prevailed.

The final whistle left both sides exhausted, those of us watching emotionally drained and with fingernails gnawed down to the quick, and England the eventual winners of a tremendous match by a scarcely believable 55 points to 35!

Still not enough – though – to win the title…

Congratulations to the Irish on their splendid campaign. Hearty felicitations also to all those involved for taking part in one of the most extraordinary days of rugby that has ever been seen. Three matches – twenty seven tries – two hundred and twenty one points on the day!

Magnificent! Thrilling! Glorious!

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Glory be!

Inf. an exclamation expressing surprise or shock. (A bit old-fashioned.)

Idioms – The Free Dictionary

Since paying the Right of Permanent Residency Fee (RPRF) shortly before the end of last year I have – with almost religious fervour – been logging on daily to the CIC’s Electronic Client Application Status (ECAS) portal to check on the progress of my application for Canadian Permanent Residency. The status routinely revealed thereby appeared to be stuck so obstinately on “Application Received” that I was beginning to wonder if the whole kit and caboodle had become lost somewhere in the machinery – or whether there might be some sort of un-revealed issue with my application – or if indeed we would needs make the journey to BC in July without having heard anything at all…

Then – all of a sudden – when I logged on yesterday the status had changed to “In Process“! As you can see from the screen capture below – processing actually started on March 10th.

In Process!


This is very good news. There is but one step to go, at which point the status will change to “Decision Made” and – all being well – the necessary documents will be sent out. Anecdotal evidence from the expat fora suggests that this might not take too much longer, and further that sometimes the documents arrive without the status on the ECAS being updated at all.

Well – this is all really quite unbearably exciting!

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reid“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties. How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a little noose around your neck.”

Linda Ellerbee

I have on more than one occasion taken advantage of these postings to bemoan the fact that – at the commencement of the academic year in September – I must henceforth accoutre myself with that most offensive and pointless item of apparel – the necktie! I have – to be entirely fair – also used this forum to celebrate the most wonderful of work-days – usually at the point in May when the sun first puts in a proper appearance – on which the Surmaster of the School declares that Summer Dress may at last be worn, and the absurd adornment may thus be banished for an extended period until the summer is over and done with.

That this year will be – for the Kickass Canada Girl and I – like no other need hardly be mentioned. Apparently trivial circumstances would seem to be conspiring to make it even less so.

Yesterday – at morning break – the Surmaster announced to the Common Room that the School’s dress code – to which all pupils must adhere – was – by general consent – to be tightened up. We are not like our sister school, the which has no school uniform at all and whose dress code is apparently limited to the stricture – ‘no beachwear’! Our juniors do have a uniform and our senior boys must wear ‘smart business dress’.

This was not – however – the key part of the announcement. The Surmaster added that he would in future forego his right to declare that some random spring-like day in May should herald the advent of ‘Summer Dress’. In future such would be permitted for the whole of the summer term!

For me in particular this edict carries a special significance. When the Easter term has finally shuddered to a close – in just over a week’s time – I need no longer wear a tie – ever again!!

My whoop of delight from the back of the room at this particular pronouncement did not go unnoticed…

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reid“What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do for a living is ship.”

Seth Godin

This week’s task – to identify a suitable company of international movers who can assist us with transferring all of our precious goods and chattels across the pond to the fair shores of British Columbia… preferably without breaking the bank (or indeed the goods and chattels!) in the process.

As with so many things concerning emigration from the UK the best place to start is the British Expats website – to which regular readers will know that I make frequent reference within these jottings. The fora on that site contain a wealth of knowledge and experience from those who have trodden these paths before us, and many a pitfall may be judiciously avoided by careful study thereon.

Looking for recommendations for removal companies on online fora is not unlike searching for a decent hotel on Tripadvisor. Though this is undoubtedly the best way of finding a berth for the night, for every five-star “like our honeymoon all over again” review one must be prepared to wade through the morass of one-star “worst night of my life“, and “would’a given it zero stars if your lousy system had let me” diatribes.

Seeking an international mover yields similar results. For each “I would have trusted them with my priceless collection of Jihong porcelain” comment one finds a raft of “they charged me for a second container for one extra box“, and “the guy stood outside and smoked the whole time and then broke a teacup” complaints.

Clearly the whole operation is a lottery!

Somehow, from this fountain of fulmination we were yet able to identify at least a few concerns that seemed consistently to elicit more praise than approbrium. These were clearly the people to approach. The thought naturally crossed our minds that they might also be the most expensive – but what price should one put on one’s precious possessions? That is – of course – actually a good question, since an accurate valuation is required for insurance purposes!

Enough – however – of this wordplay…

We came up with a shortlist of four companies – GB Liners – Bournes – Abels and Renmer and reached for the phone. All have subsequently visited and been shown around the estate by the Kickass Canada Girl, who has also subjected each of them to the third degree regarding their modus operadi. We are now collecting quotes prior to making a decision and – ultimately – a booking.

Progress! Progress!

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“Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year.”

Ogden Nash 

A few images from the mad month of March:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

We rather liked this pub sign…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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Image from Pixabay“Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier ‘n puttin’ it back in.”

Will Rogers

Things at the School have been most interesting since I formally gave my retirement notice at the end of last week.

Strictly I had only to give three months notice but the School was – for entirely understandable reasons – most keen to recruit a replacement before the end of term. Many applicants would probably have to give similar notice if offered the post and with key players out of the loop over the Easter holidays there might have been an awkward interregnum when I depart at the start of July.

I am in any case always content to be obliging and giving an extra month not only helped the School out but also gave the Kickass Canada Girl and I a timely boost when morale might otherwise have flagged somewhat.

I knew that the School would not waste any time in advertising the post, having already been consulted concerning the job description in advance of the event. The job – and my retirement – was duly announced to the community and to the wider world in the middle of the week.

Now – a fair number of close colleagues already knew of my intentions, but it really is most pleasant when others who did not do so take the time to enquire concerning the impending event. I can – for a brief period at least – bask in the glow of complimentary observations to the effect that I can’t possibly be old enough to retire, and to experience the guilty pleasures of being an object of envy when – on being asked if we have any plans for our retirement – I regale the inquisitor with the grand designs with which the gentle reader of these jottings will be all too familiar.

I am trying not to come over as being too smug – but it ain’t easy! A turning point – a good one – has been reached and there is no going back.

I find myself walking around the School with a huge grin on my face.

Long may it last!

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Image from PixabayThere is – it would seem – suddenly much to be done…

Having handed in our respective notices to our respective employers the Kickass Canada Girl and I are now rapidly becoming aware of just how much has to be studied, planned, decided, arranged, booked and confirmed… and how little time – quite regardless of the fact that our proposed transatlantic transition is still more than four months away – there is to accomplish everything.

In the immediate future we must:

  • set in motion our remaining pension plans
  • ensure that everything required for the smooth transition of our tax arrangements has been done
  • check that the necessary finances are in place
  • book our one-way flights to BC
  • arrange surveys and obtain quotes from a number of international moving companies
  • push through the refurbishments necessary at our Buckinghamshire apartment
  • agree a notice period with our tenant

There is – naturally – much more to be done, but that will do to get us started. I will – of course – report further as things progress.

Heads down – full speed ahead!

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