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Luck

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Image by Jeff Dahl on Wikimedia.orgI wouldn’t mind betting that the anecdote that forms the basis of this post will ring a bell with many who read it – with similar circumstances being quickly brought to mind… because – after all – that’s just the way life is!

Way back in the early 1980s the BBC produced a six-part adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘school’ novel – ‘Stalky & Co’. The piece translated well into six thirty-minute episodes because it had in fact originated as a set of individually published stories that Kipling had subsequently fleshed out into book form.

I enjoyed the stories enormously, being set in a boys’ boarding school (based on the United Services College in Devon which Kipling had himself attended) and featuring as they do a gang of juvenile protagonists who display a know-it-all, cynical attitude to patriotism and authority which was – naturally – right up my street. I subsequently bought the book and it is one of those that I still revisit on a regular basis.

At some point it occurred to me that it would be good to own a copy of the BBC series on DVD as well. Unfortunately, the usual investigations on the InterWebNet revealed  that the BBC had not thought fit to release the series, though I did find an online petition (the which I quickly signed) urging the corporation so to do.

I thought no more about it; the years passed and ‘life’ happened!

Then, at the end of July this year – whilst pursuing an online link on a related topic – I discovered that the petition must have had an effect, because the series had finally been released (in a very stripped down form – ie, just the media with no add-ons) and could be purchased from Amazon in the UK. I did so immediately and then sat back to await further news.

After a while I received an email telling me that the DVDs had been dispatched and should be delivered to me in Canada by 17th August. That date came and went with no sign of the goods. Being familiar by this point with the vagaries of Canada Post I thought I should leave things for a while, but finally – after another month had passed – I decided to contact Amazon. Those who have had reason to do such a thing will know that it takes considerable effort as the company goes out of its way to make it as difficult a possible, but I persevered and a few days ago awoke to find an email from Amazon UK acknowledging my query, apologising for my delivery clearly having gone astray and promising to send out a fresh copy.

As I probably hardly need add… when I visited our post box at the end of the street later that very same day – sure enough – there were the missing DVDs!

Hmmmmm!

 

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“The secret of success is to be in harmony with existence, to be always calm to let each wave of life wash us a little farther up the shore.”

Cyril Connolly

On a delightfully balmy mid-February day we parked the car on the outskirts of Sidney and walked along the seafront into the town. It was impossible not to marvel at the beauty of this exquisite enclave in which we are fortunate enough to reside. I therefore make no apologies for placing before the gentle reader – for his or her delectation – some selected snaps of this sumptuous shore.

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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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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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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“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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"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

Wow!

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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VESPERS by E.H. Shepardwhisper who dares
The Kickass Canada Girl and the Imperceptible Immigrant are saying their prayers!

With apologies to A. A. Milne

No sooner had I posted my lament of Sunday evening bemoaning the lack of progress in the sale of our Buckinghamshire apartment…

…than we had an offer!!

I wasted no time in passing this rapidly on to the Kickass Canada Girl who has previous in the field of negotiation – and before we knew it a price had been agreed…

As I have made mention in a long-previous post, buying and selling property in the UK is a very different proposition to so doing in Canada (and indeed in most other places). As a result there will be no chickens counted – and indeed very little said – for fear of offending the fates and invoking bad karma.

Let’s say no more for now – just tiptoe away quietly…

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Image by Andy Dawson Reid“I was pirouette and flourish,
I was filigree and flame.
How could I count my blessings
when I didn’t know their names?”

Rita Dove ‘On the Bus With Rosa Parks’

We who are the fortunate ones should by now know most intimately the names of our blessings and thus meet no such challenges in the area of numeracy. Our blessings are counted daily and grateful thanks are offered to our gods – whatever form they may take.

This week brings yet another such benediction. We have to be at work for only three of its working days!

Yippee!

On Thursday it is the Kickass Canada Girl’s birthday and – as is our wont – we will be celebrating in some style. We escape in the morning to that favourite haunt of ours – the lovely Georgian city of Bath. Owing to a turn of outrageously good fortune I am in grateful possession of a gift voucher for the night at an extremely prestigious spa hotel, to which we will repair forthwith. Spa treatments for the Girl and extended exposure to sauna and steam rooms for me will be followed by a splendid repast at the hotel’s Michelin-starred eatery – and all as a result of a favour that I did for someone. Truly what goes around comes around.

Sadly we could not afford to extend our stay at this pleasure dome to a second night, and Friday thus finds us downgrading to a rather more humble hostelry. We should not complain though, as this one also has a pretty decent restaurant. We will not be able to tarry in any case as we must make our way over to the Recreation Ground – being lucky possessors of tickets for the Bath/Saracens game on the Friday evening. Those who follow such things will know that the top of the table in this year’s rugby premiership is currently fairly tight, and that as a result this particular clash carries great import.

Saturday will – the Girl assures me – be given over to shopping. There is the small matter of a birthday gift to be purchased, in the form – most likely – of a new outfit. I wouldn’t want to give too much away – however – so we will have to see what transpires.

We are very aware that we are extremely lucky souls and we are filled with gratitude for all of the wonderful gifts that are bestowed upon us. It behoves us not to take these things for granted – and we will do our darnedest so not to do.

Blessings, blessings, blessings…

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Sagrada_Familia_01Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 

You have to hand it to the Universe!…

On any given evening last week – following our reluctant return from Victoria – the Kickass Canada Girl and I were to be found musing as to the timing and destination of our next expedition.

The first time I experienced this particular phenomenon it came as something of a shock. I am by now – however – well used to the fact that the Girl habitually cures herself of the post-excursion blues by immediately instigating the planning phases of our next trip (or two!) regardless of whether or not the scheme is feasible, practicable or – more importantly – affordable.

In this instance we were attempting to get through the immediate post-Canada low by contemplating the possibility of a little ‘budget’ jaunt to some European (or other!) destination for a couple of days in early spring. A cheap winter break in the Canaries mayhap? Or perhaps a weekend in Bath (The latter usually more expensive than the former!)? Conversation turned idly the fact that the Girl has never been to Barcelona – which is a pretty lovely place to be at that time of year. Hmmm! What to do?

We sighed deeply. If we were honest with ourselves we would have, reluctantly, to admit that in all probability – and in spite of our week of extensive musing – very likely none of these pipe-dreams would come to fruition.

And that might have been that…

…were it not for the fact that on that very Friday afternoon the Head of Drama at the School collared me in the cloisters (!) with an unexpected enquiry. ‘How did I feel about spending a few days in Barcelona over Easter’? Needless to say I practically bit his arm off!

The Theatre Studies boys are visiting Barcelona for a week’s study trip to a performing arts college there. The Head of Drama is in need of additional staff cover for half the week. We get one air fare paid – accommodation for three nights – food for half the week and some additional expenses. The Girl and I rushed to our nearest coffee shop to get onto the InterWebNet (still no broadband at home – grrr!), booked another flight for her and found a hotel in the city itself for a few days after my duty is done.

Hey presto! A spring break in Barcelona at half the cost…

Are we not lucky dogs?!

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Image by Duncan Hull on FlickrA couple of days ago I found myself reading online yet another article intent on delivering a good kicking to the generation of which I am still proud to be a member – the baby boomers! It would seem that there is something of an open season on the boomers, but whereas cross-generational assaults are nothing new – and are indeed normally to be considered healthy – there was something about this particular bushwhacking that finally got my goat… In fact – there were several things – and a whole herd of goats!

It has become highly fashionable to paint a picture in which the boomers – inheriting a veritable garden of Eden from what was arguably the ‘greatest generation’ – proceeded through their self-indulgence and negligence to run amok, scorching their way through the post war decades and leaving in their wake an arid wasteland of debt and desolation for the generations to come.

Well – let’s try to get some perspective here. Whereas I am unstinting in my admiration for those who lived through the depression and fought the last great war for us, we should perhaps ask ourselves why it was that they were obliged so to do at all. The boomers are far from unique in having made mistakes that have impacted on succeeding generations. Let us recall a century of political and religious extremism, of bigotry and repression and of the resultant global conflagrations. Let us remember the experiments with communism and fascism – the equal failures of socialism and of unfettered capitalism. Let us not forget the eagerness with which we rushed to create weapons that could destroy all sentient life on this fragile planet, and let us not doubt for a second that greed and self-interest are as old as civilisation itself and have caused havoc across the millennia.

Certainly we boomers were and are lucky. We are blessed in so many ways. We were not called upon to make the sacrifices that were demanded of the preceding generation. We have doubtless had it better than will those that immediately succeed us, but such generational variation has ever been the case. More to the point is the question of the purpose to which this generation has put its good fortune – of what legacy it will leave. I firmly believe that history will show that – alongside the negativity endemic in its self-absorption – this generation will be remembered for its creativity and for its espousal of good causes – even if sadly also less positively for its failure to contribute to their resolution as properly as it might.

One of the things that annoyed me most about this recent attack was that its author himself qualifies as a boomer! It seems that it has now become ‘de rigueur’ to assail one’s own generation. Now – as it happens, I don’t think that this is particularly healthy. I have no issue with the younger generations so doing… indeed – that is as it should be. When we were young we certainly rebelled against the mores and strictures of our parents’ existence and I don’t think that we expected for a minute that they would meekly cave in and bow to our youthful (lack of) wisdom. It is bad enough that some of my generation seem all too keen to be perceived as ‘cool’ by today’s ‘yoof’ – to be thought to be ‘good guys’… it is quite another thing to be giving our own generation a good kicking to save the young the trouble of having so to do.

Worse yet – the attack was not on the pitiful state in which we may indeed yet leave the world’s economies – but on our cultural hegemony. The suggestion appeared to be that all those writers, poets, musicians, film-makers, designers, thinkers and other creatives whom many of us believe to be the cream of our generation, should do the decent thing and step aside – to retire and leave the stage to the young. That’s not how it works! How are the new generations going to be able to attain the heights of achievement that did the best of us if they don’t have to fight for the right so to do?

Gentlemen – and ladies – this is not helping! The young need us to rebel against. This self-flagellation and expiation helps no-one – least of all the coming generations. If we can’t give the young something to kick against we are no use to them at all…

…and if we can’t be proud of ourselves how can we possibly expect anyone else so to be?

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