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July 2015

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidStrange the way things turn out…

As I posted on Friday of last week, we were off on the Saturday morning to look a 4×4.

My choice of vehicle is based on the firm conviction that – within the next year – I will purchase some sort of small power boat so that I may indulge my piratical whims about the Gulf Islands.

Much research and diligent enquiry suggested that the ideal vehicle for the job was the Toyota 4Runner which has – in its V8 incarnation – sufficient power to drag around some 7000lb in its wake. Furthermore, the truck is built like a tank and will pretty much go on forever – making it entirely possible to find a ten year old model with yet plenty of life in it. The only downside is that this famed longevity keeps the used price somewhat on the high side.

Such it was that we viewed on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, through the vehicle was itself sound it had not been loved and the interior was in a pretty poor state. We decided to pass.

4Runners of the requisite vintage are in short supply and it looked as though a long trip to the interior might be necessary to effect a purchase. Then, almost by chance, the Kickass Canada Girl – on glancing through the online version of ‘Used Victoria’ came upon an advert for a twelve year old Lexus GX470. Aficionados will be aware that the Lexus is basically the 4Runner platform with a rather more luxurious facade atop. Even better, this particular specimen was but a few streets away. We paid a visit.

Though being of a considerably higher mileage than we would have liked, the Lexus looked pretty much as though it were fresh out of the showroom. Not only had it clearly been well loved, but it was also complete down to the least detail – the handbook and service record au naturelle, but also the comprehensive original Lexus toolkit and first aid kit.

The owner – the vehicle’s second – had advertised it at a very reasonable price but had no bidders, so had just dropped the price by $2,500. The Girl – as is her wont – enquired as to whether there might be any ‘wiggle’ room. The owner – without so much as a proper haggle – stated his bottom price, some $1,500 lower yet.

We asked if we could get the vehicle checked over – the which we did on Tuesday following – and were informed that the brakes needed renewing. The owner most kindly went halves to the tune of a further $500!

What a bargain – and a completely unexpected one.

And ‘Lorelei’?

Well – a vehicle as sophisticated and elegant as this one can only be a lady, though perhaps one with a mischevous spirit. The Lorelei was – of course – a siren, luring innocent(ish) men to their doom.

Seemed like a pretty good match…

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Inage from PixabayWhy is it that buying and selling property is such a difficult and complex business?

It is well-known fact that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences that one can face – along, of course, with giving birth and getting divorced (no connection!) – but unlike those (un)happy events, re-locating is more often than not done voluntarily – which almost makes it worse. It does seem strange that the long history of real estate dealing has not resulted in the sort of highly efficient hyper-streamlined operation into which most other transactions have evolved in this oh-so modern age.

The gentle reader of a regular habit will be all too aware that I wrote next to nothing about the eventual sale of our apartment in Buckinghamshire as it went through, for fear of jinxing the process. I had good reason for this. Though in the event the sale went through almost without hitch, it was still a nerve jangling experience.

For real estate deals in the UK the whole operation – once an offer has been accepted – is placed in the hand of the two sets of solicitors, one representing each party. The ensuing process – which involves getting surveys done, carrying out Land Registry and local authority searches to ensure that there are no impediments to the deal taking place, the filling out of endless disclosure and transfer forms and the signing of the eventual contract – can take anything from a few days to months and months, with the norm being apparently around eight to twelve weeks.

Unfortunately it is extremely difficult at any point to glean exactly what is going on or why it might be taking so long. One’s own solicitor might be a most helpful chap (and ours certainly was), but he is rarely keen to rattle the cage of his opposite number. We began to fear that our sale would not complete before we left for Canada, which would have rendered far more difficult the eventual extraction of the proceeds of the sale from the UK.

Once all of the particulars are in place and the financing agreed the next step is the exchange of contracts. These documents – which set in stone the agreed date and time for completion – will have been signed by the relevant parties before being swapped. At this point a healthy deposit is also paid by the purchasers as a means of dissuading them from dropping out at a late stage.

Finally – at the agreed date and time – the monies are paid and the deeds transferred to the new owner, who normally receives the keys from the sellers estate agent.

It seems to have become the practice these days for the purchaser to try to push back the exchange of contracts until almost immediately before completion, so that the period for which the deposit is held is as short as possible. Unfortunately this means that the seller has no guarantee right until the last possible moment that the sale will actually go through at the desired time. In our case we had agreed a completion date just over a week before our departure, but the exchange was repeatedly pushed back until it finally took place the day before completion.

Needless to say, we endured some restless nights worrying that we would leave for BC without the wherewithal to purchase a property in Victoria. As it turned out, of course, the funds appeared as we were expecting and were transferred almost immediately via our currency broker of choice (Moneycorp) to our Canadian bank.


In part two – we try to buy a house in BC.

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 Image from Pixabay“It’ll be just like starting over – starting over”

John Lennon


This has been quite a week. Having stripped our lives right back to the bone in the UK before we departed those shores we are now frantically putting them together again here in Victoria. I don’t know when the relaxation part of retirement is going to kick in, but it sure as heck ain’t gonna be just yet.

The days have thus far been just too busy for me to be able to find the time to post, but this end of (working!) week catch-up will hopefully hold back the rising tide of impatience amongst those readers who want to know just what the devil is going on with the immigrants and homecoming queens here on the Pacific northwest coast.

Well – this is what the Kickass Canada Girl and I have done this week.

We have:

  • visited the Victoria Canada Service Centre to acquire for me a Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is necessary should one wish to work in BC or to be able to access other government services.
  • been to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) office to trade our UK driving licences for temporary BC equivalents.
  • paid a visit to the bank to set up a chequing account for me and to apply for credit cards.
  • commenced our search for somewhere to live (or rather, moved our previous online search onto the real streets of Saanich).
  • sent off registration details and applications for Health Insurance Cards (BC Services Cards). Though these will not come into effect for three months (meaning that we had to take out three months travel health cover before setting out) when the cards arrive they can be used as proof of identity to turn our new temporary driving licences into permanent versions.
  • completed and posted the application for my UK pension incomes to be taxed in Canada.
  • had a meeting with a mortgage broker to get some advice regarding the existing mortgage on the Girl’s son’s condo (apartment).
  • been to view – and shortly thereafter to purchase – a convertible for the Girl, to replace the much loved vehicle that had to be traded away just before we left the UK.
  • been to view a suitable 4×4 for me. The vehicle concerned had not at that point been staged, so a return trip is on the cards tomorrow.
  • viewed yet more houses – including paying a second visit to one that we liked a great deal and on which we subsequently made an offer! At this point we discovered that the real estate market in Canada is just as non-functional as that in the UK, though in different ways. At the point of writing it doesn’t look as though we will actually get this house, but this would appear to be because the vendors – although they have gone to the trouble of listing it – do not actually seem to want to sell it!

Well – I think all might agree that this represents rather a good week’s work. We – at any rate – are quite worn out, though at the same time really somewhat impressed with the progress that has been made.


And so to bed…

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image…no, no – that’s just a little too obvious!

Let’s just say that the Immigrant is Imperceptible no longer (though I like the tag so much that I most certainly intend continuing my use of it).

When I last posted concerning my attempt to become a Permanent Resident of Canada I described to process to the point – which had then just been reached – at which my Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) had arrived in the post. All that remained – I wrote – was for me to ‘land’ in Canada.

The process is this:

The COPR document is essentially a temporary visa with an expiry date by which point the applicant must have ‘landed’ in Canada. Upon ‘landing’ the temporary visa is replaced by more permanent documentation and the applicant becomes a resident of Canada. This is done at the ‘port of entry’ into Canada.

Thus, when I landed on Sunday morning at Vancouver International I was directed to the Immigration hall, triaged by a very polite young man and then passed over to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for a brief interview and document processing.

Having heard that this might be a lengthy process we had arranged an hiatus in our journey at this point of some three hours before catching the connecting flight on to Victoria. Of course, when we entered the Immigration hall it was almost entirely empty, save for the helpful young man, a suitably stern CBSA lady and our good selves. As a result the whole operation was completed in around thirty minutes and we found ourselves with a considerable amount of time to kill before we could take the last step of our long trek.

For the record, the CBSA lady did not issue any new documentation – she merely stamped the existing COPR document. The final PR card will apparently catch up with me later. The stern lady also assisted us with our customs declaration which she need not have done, though as the centre was so quiet she seemed happy to do the leg work for us. She filled out Form B4 – ‘Personal Effects Accounting Document‘ (eschewing the copy that I had prepared earlier) – and stamped the printed copies of the spreadsheet that I had provided listing the ‘Goods to Follow’ which comprise the contents of our shipping container.

Now, I have to say that – compared to the preceding elements of the process – ‘landing’ could not have been accomplished in a more easeful and efficient manner. My thanks to the Canada Border Services Agency for helping to make my arrival go as smoothly as it did.

And as just about everyone has extended to me thus far – “Welcome to Canada”.

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image(…with just a hint of an apology to a Warren Zevon!)

it matters little that the Girl and I have been planning our move to Canada for a half decade now. No amount of imagining or fore-thought could have prepared us for the sensation that we are now experiencing in this strangely suspended state on the eve of departure. It must – of course – be much the same for all who pursue a similar course of action, but that is of oddly little comfort.

To reach the point at which we could transfer our existence to the far side of the globe it has been necessary for us – slowly but surely – to dismantle our life in the UK. Thus it is that I find myself now – for the first time since I achieved majority – devoid of paid employ, no longer the owner of land or property, without a motor vehicle or a mobile phone to my name and living out of a suitcase.

I feel strangely rootless and – dare I say it – practically stateless. Actually I dare not – of course – since that really would be a travesty in the light of the unfortunate thousands that truly are so.

Which having been said…

I have long carried with me at all times that which those of a sensitive disposition might refer to as a Mens’ Personal Organiser – but which the more brutal still stigmatise as a Manbag. This most useful carryall incorporates a large pocket at the front in which I habitually keep my keys… office keys, School master keys, house keys, car keys…

For the first time since I started carrying said tote in my early twenties, the key compartment is empty…

…which is a very odd feeling…

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…cometh the men…

…the men from Bournes’ International Moves to take away all our worldly possessions en route to Canada, that is!

Having myself nothing more useful to do I took some snaps…

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

After a day and a half of febrile packing a strange beast appeared – our 20ft container.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

A couple of hours later the shrewd packers from Bournes’ proved that their estimators had totally nailed the volume required during their survey.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

The inventory taken and the shipping manifest complete, both our movers and the driver of the truck applied their seals.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

As if by magic the truck extended its bed to its full length…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…and monents later it was gone!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Well – if anything got packed to which we should have hung on, we are not going to see it again now for a couple of months.



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adjective: perfunctory

  1. <(of an action) carried out without real interest, feeling, or effort.
    “he gave a perfunctory nod”

My apologies if recent posts have come over as being a little on the – er – perfunctory side. If I may plead an excuse – there is quite a lot going on at the moment! I do have a fair bit to report and much upon which to elaborate, but that may all have to wait until we actually find ourselves with some time on our hands.

Much of last week was given over to a series of fond farewells which – as you might imagine – caused no small amount heart-string tugging.  For emotional relief we indulged ourselves with a long wished-for trip to town to observe the taping of one of our favourite satirical TV shows – “Mock the Week“. The Girl has been applying for tickets for this chuckle-fest pretty much throughout the whole of the last decade – to this point with no joy whatsoever. Pleading that she was about to leave the country, however, seems to have done the trick and around a month ago a pair of priority tickets popped through the letterbox.

Mock the Week is a spoof news-based quiz show purportedly pitting against each other two teams of three comedians. The show is hosted by – and is in large part dependent for its success upon – the estimable Dara O’Brean. Whereas we never doubted that the twenty nine minutes that go to air each week are in fact culled from a considerably greater pool of material, we had not imagined for a moment that what the audience in the studio is actually presented with is more than three hours of inspired riffing on current affairs topics, a fair bit of which is completely un-broadcastable. The show is taped on a Tuesday night and broadcast the following Thursday and I for one have no idea how they manage to produce a coherent and highly entertaining program from the chaos with which the studio audience is presented.


In an abrupt change of gear, this – for those who are interested – is how the remainder of this week pans out.

  • Wednesday – our movers arrive to start packing.
  • Thursday – our movers finish packing and start moving! Having no bed we spend the night in an hotel.
  • Friday – we (and our cleaners) clean the Berkshire apartment, and our carpet cleaner then cleans the carpets. Obvious really. Still no bed, so back to the hotel we go.
  • Saturday – all done at the apartment and now just the cars to dispose of (to those who have kindly already agreed to purchase them from us), haircuts to have and odds and sods to deliver to all and sundry. Thence to another hotel – this time on the outskirts of the Airport.
  • Sunday – check in… and check out! Apparently this ain’t the Hotel California and we can – after all – leave…


BC here we come!



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No – the Kickass Canada Girl and I are not emulating the couple in Ford Madox Brown’s painting of the same name. No quite yet at any rate!

These are instead a few random Fuji X10 images – most likely the last such for now – capturing facets of the English summer.

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

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"LastSpike Craigellachie BC Canada" by Ross, Alexander, Best & Co., Winnipeg - This image is available from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number C-003693 and under the MIKAN ID number 3194527This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.Library and Archives Canada does not allow free use of its copyrighted works. See Category:Images from Library and Archives Canada.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LastSpike_Craigellachie_BC_Canada.jpg#/media/File:LastSpike_Craigellachie_BC_Canada.jpgYou must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.

John Calvin


I really am just that little bit too ‘hyper’ to give you the full details right now, though you can be sure that I will have much more to write on the subject in the days to come.

All that need be said right now, however, is that today – after much tension and worry and agonising – our apartment in Buckinghamshire was finally sold!! The monies are in our account and we have already booked the transfer to our Canadian bank at a most advantageous rate.

Our estate agent (realtor) gave us a bottle of chilled champagne from their suspiciously capacious refrigerator when I dropped the keys off this morning and we intend to do it some serious damage!

Joy unbound!……………………..

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IMG_0534As previous postings to this online journal (here and here) attest I have been a not altogether irregular attendee at the premiere event on the English rowing calendar – the Royal Henley Regatta.

My previous school won the trophy for school’s VIIIs – the Princess Elizabeth Cup – a year or so before I joined them in the late 90s and have indeed taken the prize on several further occasions since I left in 2005. They did not – however – do so whilst I was in post there. Given that they are the only school in the land to possess their own rowing trench their repeated success comes perhaps as little surprise.

My most recent school – though winners in the past – experienced mixed fortunes at the event during my time of employ there, and I never saw them reach the final.

Until this year!

It seems entirely fitting then that – just two days subsequent to my retirement from the School – the first VIII met in the final of the Princess Elizabeth our closest London rivals and favourites to take the trophy. You will have gathered by now from the tone of this post that a famous victory was won and everyone with the slightest connection to the School is now over the moon with joy!

Heartiest congratulations to all concerned!

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