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August 2015

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imageThis post has been a long time coming.

Regular readers will need no reminder of the tortuous genesis of our Canadian adventure. Should the casual passer-by wish to catch up on the history of our struggle to divest ourselves of our UK property – of the Kickass Canada Girl’s abortive 2012 attempt to establish a new career in Victoria – of our brief long distance relationship and of my delayed retirement… all of the necessary information may be gleaned from the archives to this blog.

I will simply refer all other gentle readers to this post, dating from the end of April of this year. This missive – lurking under the banner “A lesson in patience” – had as its theme the notion that the entire enterprise had been an extended education in endurance.

It turns out that in this regard I was somewhat off-beam!

The post contained the following paragraph:

“As the deadline for our departure for Canada approaches with all the subtlety of a runaway train we must keep our faith, our belief in our good fortune and our fingers firmly crossed. The universe is surely planning for everything to pan out just right – at just the right moment.”

At the point of posting the Girl and I had both made something of psychological leap, deciding that we would no longer fret and strut regarding our lack of progress but determining instead that we would retire and move to Canada in July come what may! Had we not found a purchaser for our Buckinghamshire apartment – or had my Permanent Residency at that point not been approved – we would go regardless and make of the emprise what we might.

It is now a matter of history that within forty eight hours of this missive having been penned we received – and accepted – a reasonable offer for the apartment. Within little more than a week of that milestone my application for PR was also granted.

The sale of the apartment was completed a mere week before we departed on our trans-Atlantic jaunt, just in time for a six-year high in the Sterling/Canadian dollar exchange rate to gift us a bonus of around $145,000 on what we would have had, had the property been sold when we first attempted so to do.

Our good fortune in finding our dream house in Victoria has been documented sufficiently recently that I need not repeat myself here. Suffice to say that faith in our fellowship of the fortunate few, which had been somewhat eroded over the last year or so, has been dramatically restored.

What might all of this mean?

Well – there is no denying that a great deal of patience has been called for over the last four years. The ultimate lesson – however – is surely rather that one should trust in the universe to provide what is needed – when it is most needed. One may – of course – ascribe this fortune to whatever higher force one deems appropriate. Personally I just think that we are just lucky, lucky buggers!

End of story…

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A final potpourri of images from our recent travels to the interior of British Columbia…

Our last night in Kamloops:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidA five hour drive back to the coast the next morning took us to Horseshoe Bay, whence we took the ferry to Nanaimo – home both to the famous Nanaimo bar (look it up!) and to the Girl’s mother.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidA night in Nanaimo was followed by a final drive down the east coast of Vancouver Island and a last short ferry crossing – the (slow) shortcut across the Saanich inlet from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidHow am I doing at selling you the delights of beautiful British Columbia?

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imageI did promise that I would fill in the gaps regarding the most expeditious and auspicious purchase of our new home on the Saanich peninsular…

Well – ‘Yer tis’ – as they purportedly exclaim down ‘Zummerzet’ way (how’s that for an entirely gratuitous, irrelevant and quasi-offensive reference?).

I wrote in this post concerning our first abortive attempt to purchase a house on the island from vendors who had clearly forgotten the essential characteristic required of their role in the transaction – namely the desire actually to sell the property that they had brought to market!

When it became clear that the deal was not after all going ahead – and mindful of the fact that the paucity of new properties being offered had created a sellers’ market in which houses were moving rapidly and, occasional, selling above the asking price – the Kickass Canada Girl and I decided to revisit our criteria for choosing a new home.

This we did in part by driving around each of the areas on which we had focussed our attention, looking critically at our reasons for having chosen them and re-evaluating their potential when it came to fulfilling our dream. As often seems to be the way with us this actually had the effect of narrowing our range of possibilities, leaving us ultimately with a mere two adjacent streets within our number one area on which we were prepared to settle.

It looked as though we had made things yet more difficulty when the Girl mused that our ideal might be a house owned by an old couple that now needed fixing up.

What were the odds?

At about the time that we had finally decided to let the first house go we were out on a Thursday afternoon in downtown Victoria. The Girl has been signed up for several years to email alerts from our realtor when new properties come on to the market and – wouldn’t you know it? – a notification popped up.

A new house had come on the market – on one of our two chosen streets! We called our realtor. She was busy but checked with the vendors realtor, who was actually at the property. We could view immediately. We drove there directly, arriving no more than 45 minutes after the ‘for sale’ sign went out.

We liked what we saw. The right street – loads of space – beautiful and quiet garden – wonderful views – plenty of space for the Girl and an large outbuilding that I could turn into a studio. Furthermore, the property had been owned by an old couple. The husband had died and the wife was going back to live near family in Vancouver. The house had been looked after, but the decor and installations – kitchens, bathrooms etc – dated from the 70s and would need to be replaced.

We paid another visit the very next morning and determined to make an offer. Fearing that the vendor’s realtor might attempt to engineer another multiple offer situation we made a full price offer, and after an anxious wait we heard that it had been accepted.

Being cash buyers the only conditions attached related to the home inspection. We had already lined up an inspector for our abortive first purchase effort and he was simply switched – the following Wednesday – to the new house. He had only minor issues to report and the payment of the requisite deposit made the house ours – just in time for us to leave on our trip to the interior.

Wow!

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Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.

Theodore Roethke

Whilst at the cabin on the lake last week we took the GX470 up into the mountains to see what it could do. Naturally I took some pictures.

This is the pretty Saskum Lake:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidHere is the Lexus in its natural habitat – on the way up Vavenby Mountain.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidHaving crossed the mountain and dropped down into Vavenby itself we took the Yellowhead down to Clearwater and stopped for a bite to eat at the highly rated Strawberry Moose!

A little further down the highway we turned off at Little Fort and took the tiny ferry across the North Thompson.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

The ferry runs on demand and can only carry two vehicles at a time. We were on this occasion the sole occupants and happily paid the ferryman the only ‘fee’ requested – engagement in a lengthy conversation before being allowed to continue up into the hills again.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidWe took the back route down to Barriere through Chu Chua. I have mentioned before in these posts that that The Girl is part First Nations on her mother’s side. Her band – Simpcw First Nation – is based now in Chu Chua and we passed the band office and school on the way down.

 

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Light the lamp and fire mellow
Cabin essence timely hello
Welcomes the time for a change

Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson

The lack of posts over the last week is simply explained. The Kickass Canada Girl and I have journeyed to the BC interior to visit The Girl’s birthplace – Kamloops. For the past week we have been even further up the North Thompson valley, staying in The Girl’s cousin’s cabin on one of the lakes above Barriere.

This idyllic hideaway is everything one might expect and hope for – beautiful setting, fabulous weather, total peace and quiet and no phone or Interwebnet coverage.

it is the sort of place where you are wakened by a pair of chipmunks fifteen foot up a tree outside the window, chasing each other round and round the trunk to ecstatic squeals. Or the sort of place – as it was this very morning – where one may be awoken at 5:30am by what at first sounded like rifle shots, but turned out to be a squirrel bombarding the tin roof of the cabin with pine cones from fifty foot up a conifer!

All one can do is stumble down the short path to the dock and tumble into the lake clutching one’s toothbrush.

I think some pictures are in order:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReiidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReiidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReiidHere are some studies of the light on the water at different times of day:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReiidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReiidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReiidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reiid

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“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Maya Angelou, ‘All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes’

My last post concluded thus:

“There is clearly – as with all such things – some meaning behind all of this emotional upheaval. We await with interest to see what it is.”

Well – we did not have long to wait to discover what it might be.

We have bought a house!!

The Kickass Canada Girl and I are heading to the interior for a short period from tomorrow and communication may be difficult, but we did want to share this news before we left. Full details of one of the fastest house sales of all time will be posted later, but for now let me gently stimulate your envy buds!

This is the unassuming prospect of the property from the road:

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But this is what it looks like from the back:

imageThe building to the right is not the property next door but the outbuilding that will become my studio! The house itself needs a fair bit of updating but we are prepared to take time over that.

The deal maker is what you get if you look out of the back of the house:

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Nuff said!

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Canadian houseI have in the past eulogised the Canadian real estate market vis a vis that extant in the UK. Mind you – the operation of just about any other real estate market might seem preferable to the cack handed (and I write as a southpaw myself!) methodology that we must needs follow in England. Do please refer to this previous post on the subject for yet another example thereof. The truth of the matter is more probably that any other system appears superior to one’s own – until one experiences it first hand.

One of the definite benefits of the Canadian system is that the two realtors (estate agents) involved in the process actually have subtly different roles. Rather than visiting many different realtors in the search for a property one always works with the same concern who bring to the purchaser details of all suitable properties, whether or not they are listed with that realtor. If a sale is eventually agreed both realtors take a share of the commission. If nothing else, this means that one works with someone whom one knows and trusts and the immediate individuals involved always have one’s best interests at heart.

The second major benefit is that the basic contracts are drawn up by the realtors at the point of offer. Certain conditions may be applied – such as the outcome of a house inspection – but if the offer is accepted and the conditions are satisfied then the purchase is signed and sealed and there is no possibility of gazumping or of any other such devious practice.

There is – however – plenty that can go amiss up to that point. Herewith details of our own recent experience…

We had seen – before we left the UK – a property of which we liked the look. Our dear friends in Saanichton – with whom we are currently living – had even been for a visit and had given us a sneak preview via Facetime. Ah – the wonders of technology…

Once landed in the province we quickly organised a viewing in person and – having very much liked what we saw – further arranged a second such. Though the house was priced rather higher than we felt was merited we prepared an offer. At this juncture – however – the vendors’ realtor disclosed that there was already an offer on the table to which the vendors had not responded. We should have been informed of this before we made the second viewing, but the vendors’ realtor omitted so to do.

Given that no offer had yet been accepted we found ourself in an unpleasant ‘multiple-offer’ situation. The mechanism here seems to be that both prospective purchasers are informed of each other’s presence and invited to make their best offer. Neither party may know, however, what the other has – or has previously -offered and one must therefore make a wild stab in the dark.

We felt obliged to offer rather more than we had wished, but were told that the vendor would – in any case – make a counter-offer to our ‘opponents’ first. They -quite understandably – walked away at this point and the vendor then made a counter-offer to us.

It rapidly became clear that they really weren’t prepared to make much of a concession at all and several rounds of us upping our offer and them giving nothing away left us frustrated and angry. Our sole conclusion from this bizarre behaviour was that – in spite of having listed their property – they didn’t actually want to sell it at all.

At this point we also decided to back out but – after a number of further days of fruitless searching in what has become a sellers’ market – reluctantly settled on making one last attempt at this house with which we had become enamoured. We gave the vendors pretty much everything they wanted, only to be told that they had gone away for a week on their sail boat! Needless to say, The Girl was by now spitting tacks!

The vendors’ realtor suggested that – could we agree to a completion date of the end of October (some three months hence) – then a deal might be done. The vendors had clearly not yet themselves found a property to purchase and had no idea what to do.

At this point we did finally walk away. The vendors’ realtor was most apologetic concerning his clients’ strange behaviour, but at this point no parsnips were buttered – as the saying goes.

There is clearly – as with all such things – some meaning behind all of this emotional upheaval. We await with interest to see what it is.

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Though the last two weeks have found us near to our busiest we have found the time for a little relaxation. Naturally the Fuji x10 tagged along.

We had a bite to eat in Estevan Village on the east coast of the peninsular north of Victoria. I particularly liked these boxes that hold free magazines and circulars.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn Bazan Bay there is a splendid and relatively recently opened farm centre/bakery/bistro/winery called The Roost, where one can feast on very un-North American wood-fired oven-baked pizza and sup the local nectar, whilst relaxing in a sun-drenched courtyard. This chicken ruled the… er…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidLast Wednesday evening found us at Pioneer Park in Brentwood Bay for one of the summer season’s ‘Music in the Park‘ sessions. These splendidly bucolic and completely free concerts – at which the locals and visitors alike picnic and chill in the warm evening sunshine whilst appreciating some good beats – are a regular feature of life on the peninsular. This particular occasion featured regular performers, the ‘Pretzel Logic Orchestra‘, who offer an evening of Steely Dan tunes. The Kickass Canada Girl has always somewhat snootily delcared the Dan to be a ‘boys’ band’ and she was not best pleased when I caught her ‘bopping’ along (though I will doubtless get ‘bopped’ myself when she reads this!).

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidFinally some more shots of Sidney, which regular readers will know that I love dearly – for (hopefully) obvious reasons – and have eulogised before.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidHere is Mount Baker across the water from Sidney. Gorgeous!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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