Sunday, 15 November 2009

Assimilating on a rainy Sunday in British Columbia

Have been busy making arrangements for our move to the new and much bigger place. Our landlord is a friend of some friends of ours, so references etc have been treated as a given. Not that they'd be a problem. Current landlady is sorry to see us go and I will make a point of asking her to draft a letter for us that we can show to others if required.

Have been pootling around with measuring tapes and pads, making notes on what we need and don't need in the new place. For example I'll have to make a couple of lightweight dog gates for the new kitchen to stop our mutt scrounging, as he does quite shamelessly. He's a 'rescue dog' procured from the UK Dogs Trust who was found living rough on the streets of Birmingham, which rather explains his strange appetite for Apples, Oranges, Bananas and grapes. New Landlord likes our dog, which has gotten us around the delicate 'No pets' negotiations that many landlords put before their advertisements. As a helpful aside to newcomers looking for accommodation, even though the advertisement says 'no pets' or 'N/P' just ask nicely and take your pet along to any viewing, just so your landlord / landlady can make up their own mind. The 'No Pets' rule on accommodation adverts is often as a first line of defence to put off people with aggressive and problem animals. However, this rule variant only applies when you are dealing directly with the landlord. If the vacancy is via an agency, then 'no pets' means just that, no exceptions.

There's also a little note I recall from a book called 'living and working in Canada'; in broad terms it makes the comment that you have to build up your local social networks. Mrs S and I have always been fairly active in whichever community we've lived in, but all the CV's etc that we have submitted have been worthless compared with the power of a single verbal recommendation from a friend. That is how we found our new place. We were saying that we found our apartment a little bit crowded nowadays when it came to having friends in, and friend said; "Oh, you want to talk to Jim." Two phone calls later, we've seen the place and all we had to do was gently negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement. This has been accomplished. New landlord is so relaxed about everything I'm rather thinking it's all a little too good to be true, but that's how I feel about life over here anyway.

The scenery is a bit grimly painted today, what with a southerly wind bringing blustery rain and wind, but I will say this; Canadian building standards look fragile to someone brought up with brick and concrete, but their insulation is pretty good, so staying toasty all through the Winter is not going to be a problem.

We're still learning the ropes in a new country and becoming part of the scenery. Although I joke that "I'm keeping my accent for tax purposes" I reckon if I visited any of my old haunts in the UK I wouldn't be recognised (More tanned), and neither would my voice. My double T tends to slur into a D when I'm not paying attention, and my vowels sounds occasionally become a little flattened and drawled after the North American fashion. My voice pitch has lowered as well. I'm also a lot more relaxed, don't drive as fast, and positively enjoy the day to day politeness of people, which I'm still having a hard job getting used to. I even walk taller. You also don't have the feeling that everything you say and do is under such judgemental scrutiny all the time.

Notwithstanding; give me another couple of years here, and strangers will think I was born Canadian.

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