Monday, 19 August 2013

Canada - we're here and trying to blog!

OK, as I write this my count "up" clock shows it's been 12 days and 17 hours since this adventure started.
I'll give it a go to present a snippet of what's been going on on each day...

Wednesday 7th August
I had to stay up all night to get lots of paperwork things finished, pack my things and screw the wheels onto the dogs travel crates. Auntie Gill and Uncle Ron arrived at mum's house at 6.15am to give us a hand getting to the airport and onto the plane. They were great and I dread to think what chaos would have ensued if we'd not had their help.
I'd hired a van to get the dogs and the suitcases to the airport, and it was a good job I did:

To be fair to Air Transat, they took all our bags, car seat, pram, baby carrier and two dog crates in their stride. It took quite some time to get the dogs processed and off through security:

It then took ages to get us through security and into the departure hall, we had about 40 minutes before the plane was due to leave, and the screens were saying "Go to Gate..." - just enough time to buy some water and head to the gate then? Nope. Immediately announcements were made that it was final call for our flight, and just to spite us, the gate was the furthest one away. A brisk walk turned into a full on sprint once they started making Last Calls for the Armstrong group. Anyway, we made it, last ones on, but they had no issues with us using Dan's car seat for him (it was 6cm wider than their stated maximum width, but we weren't going to point that out to them). The flight was fine, the kids were well behaved, Lara got very good indeed at taking herself off to the toilet, she must have gone 12 times during the flight.

Immigration and customs at Calgary were no problem, everyone was very friendly and helpful, and the only casualty was that we lost one wheel off Jackson's crate - a design fault on the part of the wheel, nothing to do with my wheel-fixing ability! All our forms were stamped and we heaved our luggage into arrivals; it's 2pm local time, 9pm UK time now:

We're staying in the basement flat of another British expat in Cochrane for the first month, and Carolyn came out to collect as many passengers and bags as she could fit into her car, while I went and sorted out our hire car. Olga and I dropped Lara off at Carolyn's house and then took the dogs up to the kennels where they'll be spending a month:

That was a long day, but other than the dash through the airport, there were no disasters. The weather is a bit grim, warm but heavy rain showers.

Thursday 8th August
Regardless of how late we went to bed, jetlag had us up early on Thursday morning, like around 4.30am. That wasn't such a bad thing, it gave us chance to unpack a bit, and for Olga and I to sort out paperwork for today's agenda.  At 10am we went to the local branch of Scotiabank and finished the process of opening our bank account, which we'd started online a few weeks ago. Then  we went to meet Eric Boyd, the realtor ("estate agent") Olga had found to help us locate a house to buy. We viewed five properties in Cochrane that day. More rain today.

Friday 9th August
A wasted drive into downtown Calgary this morning, to try and sort out healthcare cards. We'd been given out of date information about where to register, but at least we had experienced the commute into downtown, and it's wasn't bad at all. More house viewings with Eric later, in the city of Airdrie, just north of Calgary, where we were also able to sort out our healthcare, so we're now covered in case of illness or injury, phew. Saw one very nice house in Airdrie which is definitely a contender. The weather improved as the day when on, it was lovely by mid afternoon, just in time for the weekend.

Saturday 10th August
Dan's starting to get the hang of getting over jetlag, he's waking around 5.30am now, everyone else seems to have adapted just fine. It's a bit misty, but Lara, Grandma, Danny and I head off to find the local river in the morning, to skim some stones. It's the Bow River, it's big and very fast flowing. It flooded 6 weeks ago, causing millions of dollars of damage around Calgary:

Later that morning we headed back into Calgary to have a walk around the park down by the Bow River, and by then the sun had come out:

After Calgary we headed out to Canmore, a lovely town in the mountains, about an hour's drive west of downtown. We'd stayed there for a few days during our holiday at Christmas, and we wanted to see what it looked like in Summer. The kids enjoyed the big car we'd rented, too:

Canmore was threatening with thunderstorms, this is something we've found - the weather can be lovely on the plain but 20 minutes later, it can all change. We parked by the town pond, where Olga and Lara had done some ice skating on our last trip:

And that will have to do for updates for now, it's exhausting just remembering how busy we've been for weeks!
More on the house hunting later...