Saturday, 9 August 2014

New Wheels

To celebrate our first year here, we've took the plunge and bought a caravan, or travel trailer as they're called over here, and traded the Dodge FunBus for a pickup truck. Here are some photos:

(this one is a stock photo, not our actual trailer)

Reinforcements on their way

Olga is away on business in Malaysia for the next two weeks, having left a couple of days ago. It's a tough journey, flying the "wrong way" through Vancouver to Hong Kong, staying a night there (in a hotel I stayed in 11 years ago), and then going on to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Miri. She's arrived safely, if not entirely sure what day it is. She is 14 hours ahead of us in Airdrie, which puts her seven hours ahead of Lucy in the UK, who is well overdue for the delivery of her first baby. 
Olga posted this photo from her hotel room in Miri..

I was sure I could cope with the kids while Olga was away, but with more thought, and a look at the school calendar for the autumn and winter (no long half term holidays here) we asked Grandma if she had a window in her schedule to come over and help me out and spend time with the kids, so Grandma is flying in to the rescue tomorrow! Hurrah! Lara is beyond excited, and has spent the last few days making plans about what her and Grandma are going to get up to.
Grandma might get to see some exciting weather - we've been having some spectacular thunderstorms recently. They are very localized - there was one two days ago, it rained on our street but 4km away at Dan's nursery the hailstones were the size of golf balls and dented cars in the car park. Here's Lara with one of them:

Today I needed to take the kids and dogs for a walk, Lara chose to ride her bike, which is fine, but Dan's not up to that yet. He's just learning scootering, but to make sure we didn't spend ages waiting for him to catch up, I enlisted Jackson's help to pull Dan along... it worked well until we reached a slight downhill bit, where Dan gained some speed, clipped my heels, came to an immediate stop and tested out his helmet. It worked perfectly, phew:

Later today I took the kids to investigate one of the Calgary cricket clubs. It's not quite Littlewick Green, but it's unlikely I'll find a cricket club as pretty as that again, but the standard of cricket here looked about my level, so perhaps I'll have to make inquiries.. for next summer :-)

Friday, 8 August 2014

One Year Canniversary

August 7th was our 1 year anniversary of arriving in Canada.
Here's a little summary of the story so far:
We covered a lot of miles (OK, kilometres) in the first month, going back and forth to Calgary to register for this, that and the other, and heading in the opposite direction to Kananaskis, Banff and Lake Louise for days out.
We opened our bank account with Scotiabank, and used our line of credit with them to buy a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan (with a DVD player for the kids, thank god). Yesterday we traded it in for a new Ford F-150 pickup to pull our new 31' travel trailer, treats to ourselves and the kids, and we're looking forward to many a roadtrip camping adventure.
It was a pleasant surprise to us how quickly we bought a house. We had engaged a local realtor before we even left the UK, and on our second day in Canada we started looking at properties. We looked at 14 in a week before putting an offer in on our current house in Airdrie. We used a Scotiabank broker to help us apply for the mortgage and we moved in two weeks after the offer was accepted, 1 day before our 40' container arrived from the UK.
Lara started in Grade 1 a few days later, in French Immersion, and is loving school. Getting a yellow school bus like in the Simpsons excited her too.
Last Winter was cold and snowy, but the novelty didn't wear off, although I'm sure it will in a few winters' time. We skied most weekends at Nakiska, and we've bought passes already for next season, as they had a mad sale where adult season lift passes were $199.
Spring passed in the blink of an eye, I think. There was a good month to six weeks of cloudy, warm days with rain during May and June, but since the start of July it's been hot, with the threat of thunderstorms most afternoons, though they don't always materialize, but when they do, the hail can be spectacular (and expensive if it trashes your car).
We've been "tenting" a couple of times - the word "camping" here has a very different meaning, so we've learnt!
Our neighbours are lovely, and through them we've made some other Canadian friends, and whilst we haven't yet built up the circle of friends we had in the UK, we're certainly not feeling lonely and isolated. We get out to the pub from time to time, albeit separately so one of us looks after the kids while other meets up with friends. We're not within walking distance of a pub here, so we don't have the opportunity for "a swift half" like we used to, but I'm happy to trade that for the skiing and camping. We do still get our fix of British pubs by watching Coronation Street, but it's 2 weeks behind here so I have to be careful not to talk about it when I'm skyping Grandma back in Manchester.
One year has flown, we love it here, we feel we have settled in - the truck and the trailer attest to that - we're in no rush to return to the UK, and whilst we miss nights out down the pub with friends, we keep up with gossip on facebook and chat regularly with family on Skype.
What's not to like, eh?