Tag Archives: milestones

Moving beyond beginning – a new year!

Blogging has been overtaken by boxes – I checked 163 items of furniture and boxes in through the door as our worldly goods arrived here from the UK on the day before Christmas Eve!

All the boxes have been emptied since then, though some have been filled up again with the things we don’t need or have yet to find a home for. Quite apart from the urge to be settled, with some damage to key items of furniture, we wanted to be clear about any additional casualties, thankfully minimal.

One has to be pragmatic; my antiques have been passed down through our family and, in some cases, have already travelled the world. Lovely as they are, their significance rests as much in their history and usage by people I have loved and people who loved them. They have in their own way lived and they bear the scars of that living. Now, having swung through the air in a container, slumbered in a cold hold across the ocean, rattled along the rails from Montreal, miraculously these old familiars surround me once again, if a little battered. Hopefully their newest injuries will be made good once we get the insurance claim sorted!

Anyhow, carrying every book we own up at least  two flights of stairs, wondering where to put this and how on earth that came to be included in the packing seems to have absorbed as much time and energy as I have had available!

However, it made this New Year, which fell on a blue moon, particularly poignant; it was on New Year’s Eve that I emptied the last box . . .

Happy New Year!

Mess and milestones

Those two words seem to sum up the last 10 days pretty well!

As soon as we had tidied up after moving in, we managed to get the electricians in to sort out the badly placed switches and sockets, add some pot lights, wire us for sound etc. So my beautiful, clean, tidy new home is now full of holes! As with most North American houses, the structure is wood frame and drywall (plasterboard), so changing things involves cutting pieces out of the walls and fishing for wires, with the occasional need to pass through a beam. And, of course, every surface is now covered with a fine layer of dust, which will only get worse as we fill and sand . . .

New pan rack with lights! New pan rack with lights!

Mess Mess Mess

But it will be worth it, especially the freshly painted family/media room ready to embrace my piano when it finishes its journey with an ascent to the first floor! And our new central vacuum cleaner, which Paul fitted apparently effortlessly last weekend, vanquishes the dust with ease.

In the meantime, the milestones.

The first snowfall came wet and howling overnight  on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning Paul set out for Tyco at Markham, where a Christmas pot-luck lunch was scheduled, through a thick layer of sludgy snow. A neighbour kindly cleared the sidewalk (pavement) in front of our house but, later, I christened our snow shovel and attacked the side (one downside of a corner property!).  This is definitely worth doing whilst the snow is fresh. We have only had flurries since Wednesday, but Toronto remains dusted with icing sugar in temperatures between around –5 and –8, with hard candy crusts where snow has gathered. Wednesday was gray, gloomy and damp, but the last couple of days have been mostly sunny and invigorating. Yes, it is cold, especially when the wind catches you, but as long as you have appropriate layers, hat and gloves, everything feels so clear and bright.

Yesterday we received notification that our container was arriving in Montreal, followed today by a copy of the manifest. We then had to take this, together with our shipping list, passports, Permanent Residency cards and declaration to the imposing official building at 1 Front Street to gain customs clearance. This was achieved so swiftly that it was almost a (welcome) anticlimax. The container should by now have been released for loading onto a train to Toronto and, hopefully sometime next week, there will be another round of chaos as the 169 boxes containing our worldly goods are delivered to our home.

The move

The move went very smoothly – we got the keys at lunchtime on  Monday and moved most of our stuff (including a bed frame, which traveled on the roof of our car) on Monday afternoon and evening.

We were in the house by 8am yesterday ready for Rogers to come to connect the Internet and phone and for our bed and a lazy-boy type sofa (for our media/family room) to be delivered. The piles of packaging grew and grew . . .

dscn6494-medium What a lot of empty boxes!

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Then it was off to the Mall, spending courageously as my mother used to put it!

Paul had an event to go to in the evening, so I was forced into driving as he picked up the subway on the way home – it wasn’t far and I felt about ready to start getting over my nervousness at adjusting to controls on the opposite side and city driving all at the same time!  This also meant I could go off to the supermarket to frighten myself at the cost of stocking up with all the essential staples, toiletries etc. –  it”s easy to forget the initial outlay of starting from scratch with food, cleaning materials etc!

After two long and busy days, I really feel for Paul trying to find the energy and concentration to get back to his Tyco work. There are still a thousand and one small things to do, which he has to let go in working hours, as well as some re-design of badly sited switches and lighting (we have an electrician working on a quote) to be sorted before our furniture arrives from the UK around 15 December (it’s due to reach port in Montreal on 11th). We also discovered that the house has been plumbed for a central vacuum cleaner and anticipate getting this fitted as soon as possible.

We may have bought a house (2) – the house

The house we have made an offer on is not what we expected to buy but, the moment we agreed to make an offer, my energy changed so positively and the creative thoughts started whirling for both of us to such an extent that I am very happy that it is the right decision.

We will be about 15 minutes walk from Queen St and 20 from the shore, at the top end of the Beach neighbourhood (not really Beach, though increasingly running under the moniker of Upper Beach). However, we will also be just minutes from the Danforth GO station (Greater Ontario trains) and Main Street Subway station (top speed link into and across the city).

Rather than an old home, we have gone for an end of row town house, only a few years old, with masses of room, lots of light and which fronts onto green space.  The house is three storeys plus a currently unfinished but huge (and high) basement, with a back yard just the right size for us and a garage with back lane access.

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The ground floor is open plan and encompasses a lounge, kitchen (with new stainless steel appliances) and dining area, as well as what is described in Canada as a 2 piece washroom (loo and basin). Stairs lead from the lounge area upwards, with a door to the basement from the kitchen.

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On the middle floor are two bedrooms, a full bathroom and a wonderful family room/ media room with a balcony into a full height void over the front hall area.

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On the top floor is a single master bedroom with en-suite bathroom (corner bath and large separate shower), leading off a small landing which also leads out onto a high level deck/balcony. This looks along the street behind us, which is lined with sugar maples, currently aflame even after dark as the house and streetlights fall on them.

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The laundry, as is common in Canada, is in the basement (Miele front loading washing machine and tumble drier, with a sink), alongside the furnace (boiler) and hot water tank (rented – this seems to be the standard pattern here and means that it is the suppliers’ responsibility to replace it when necessary). The basement has a hugely high ceiling and is a really good space. We hope we may be able to get permission for an external door and conversion to an apartment but with access retained to the furnace and tank and a shared laundry area,

36-william-hancox-iThe back yard (garden) has just the right amount of space to create a deck and some visual interest – it benefits from being the corner plot, continuing round the edge of the garage, which has been given a mock facade along the side.  This is pretty much a blank canvas still.

This is a house that we can move into and not have to do anything, as far as we can currently see. But there is enough potential that we can hopefully both enjoy developing its character and add to its long-term value.

Our fingers are crossed for a smooth passage to Canadian home ownership!

The realtor photos of the interior of the house really do not do it justice! But at least they give you an idea.

FOOTNOTE: We removed the conditions yesterday (Wednesday), having had our mortgage approved and following a very helpful home inspection – this is equivalent to exchanging contracts in the UK.

Our Canadian milestones (1)

Until the last couple of days, I have not managed to keep our blog updated quite as well as I hoped. There’s a good reason for this; our feet haven’t touched the ground and my poor brain has been struggling to catch up with input overload, not to mention the change in time-zone and existing layer of fatigue!

Milestones to date include:

  • Arriving in Canada as landed immigrants (June 2009)
  • Setting up Bank Accounts
  • Getting a Rogers SIM for our mobile
  • Finding a Realtor (more than an Estate Agent – as buyers, we need a Realtor working for us and helping us negotiate a house purchase)
  • Meeting with a mortgage advisor
  • Getting our SINs (Social Insurance Numbers) – also in June (we are still waiting for our cards to arrive, forwarded by relatives to whom we had them sent)
  • Organizing a UPS mailbox as our initial address will be temporary (backed up by six months re-direction from the UK)
  • Arriving finally to begin life in Toronto (October 2009)
  • Meeting our Bank Account Manager and Branch Manager and sorting out the services we need (Canadian Banks still charge clients for various services, so it is important to set up the right kind of account and charging agreement)
  • Getting a safety deposit box at the Bank
  • Getting Library cards for our local library in the Beach
  • Paul’s first day at Tyco’s Markham (North Toronto) office – mostly he will work from home, but he has a hot-desk here. Markham is not realistically possible by public transport from here, so this first trip involved a hire car. The journey is similar to Paul’s commute from Wootton Bassett to Dorcan when he was in the UK.
  • Visiting Service Ontario to swap over out UK driving licenses for Ontario ones
  • Still at Service Ontario, using our new driving licences to provide the evidence of where we are living so as to register for OHIP (Ontario Health) coverage, which, for immigrants, comes in force three months (not 90 days) after landing.
  • Getting a new mobile phone because it was cheaper than buying a second SIM!
  • Looking for and buying a car (we pick this up tonight!)
  • Arranging auto insurance (horrendously expensive and without the benefit our UK insurance record, which we knew), with tenant insurance thrown in
  • Paul’s first Canadian conference a Stack Overflow Dev Day, for which he volunteered as a helper
  • Getting our first credit card (from the Bank) – this has surprised us as we had been given to understand that it is initially very difficult. We should have a further card shortly once American Express have checked out our UK history – they are the only credit card provider who will transfer such history from one country to another. Building a credit history as an incomer is important, so this is very helpful.

Hopefully life will now slow down a little and we can begin to explore what Toronto has to offer alongside moving our lives forward!