The Great Canadian Adventure – the Mad Week (originally posted Mar 6/09)

 

The whole family, just before we left the country

Still life with weasels....

The GREAT CANADIAN ADVENTURE is a true-life story that follows Dim and his family (Mrs Dim and the Tiny Weasels) as they embark on their epic move from the UK to Canada. After three and a half years, the Visas have come through, the flights are booked, and now it’s the week when they move out of their Bournemouth house.

I used to have a theory that if your life was really interesting enough to blog about, you wouldn’t have enough time to blog about it…. After this week, I’m even more inclined to agree. They say a week’s a long time in politics, but God knows what it’s like for a politician who’s emigrating to Canada….

The Tiny Weasels went off to school as usual on Thursday (the 26th Feb) and removals guys really got stuck in. There were four of them, and the most amazing thing about them was that all four of them were actually working at the same time. Some on our previous moves have featured guys who took it in turns to do the work while the others smoked. Our problem was that we weren’t just able to stand back and let them pack everything – we have this week and a bit travelling around the country catching up with friends and family. So we needed some bags packed for the coming week and bigger bags packed for the first month in Canada before the container catches up with us. Mrs Dim worked her socks off grabbing clothes and entertainment articles from around the house. I made coffee, loaded up the car for several runs to the tip, took bagloads to the charity shops in the village.

It was like some weird kind of optical illusion. These four busy guys, wrapping, shifting and carrying all day, and yet each time I returned to the house, there didn’t seem to be any less stuff in it. The master bedroom was a bombsite, with clothes strewn around and the guy who had packed the kitchen kept shuffling in, asking if he could start packing it up yet.

Mrs Dim and I shared the onerous task of collecting the kids from school for the last time. There were tears all round (except from me – I’m carved from granite and have a heart of teak. I also have a liver of pvc and a foot that turns green in hot weather, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s on the end of my leg.) We headed back to the Wonkey House for the kids to use the loo before the long trek to the Aged Parent’s new house, but Oldest Weasel, still sniffling, didn’t want to go in. I couldn’t blame her. Goodbyes are miserable things.

We made good time on the road and reached the Aged Parents abode. I hadn’t seen it before, since they only moved in the previous week. It’s a smaller place than their last one, and they hadn’t had much luck with the downsizing either. I offloaded the weasels, had the tour and got back in the car to go back to Bournemouth. Mrs Dim had stayed to oversee the removal guys and get more packing done, so she was asleep on her feet when I got back. Luckily we’d booked a room in a nearby hotel (since we now had no bed, and no bedding) and we were taking a friend out to dinner so there was no cooking to do in the kitchen we hadn’t got anymore. It was a good way to round off the day, chatting over good food and good drink, hearing about daring plans that weren’t our own for a change. We were tired but happy when we stumbled into the lovely hotel room later that night.

Friday: We had a hearty breakfast, since we didn’t have to cook it or wash up afterwards. The plan for the day was another round of packing, a clean down and run away to join the weasels at the AP’s. Sadly one of the removers had tipped off Mrs Dim that the Canadians don’t let you import mud, and the bikes and roller blades had to be cleaned. First time I’ve done that job, and I’ve had my bike four years. Anyway, the removers were fewer on the ground than the day before, but they worked twice as hard and were finished on time. We weren’t though. We’d packed clothes into every suitcase we had, we’d thrown away clothes we didn’t even know we owned and still there wasn’t enough room to take them all to Mum and Dad’s. The only sensible answer was to come back on Saturday and collect the other suitcases and bags. It was particularly galling because we’d previously booked Saturday morning for staying in bed and refusing to get up in the vain hope we could regain some sleep. But no.

Heh. Mum and Dad’s place is lovely, but it is, to coin a phrase, compact and bijou. To use the beds in the spare room, Mrs Dim and I put the youngest weasels to sleep in there early on, then when we were all done in the living room, we brought down the sleeping weasels and tucked them under duvets on the sofas, then took their beds for the rest of the night. It was a tough system, but it worked. The pair of us cleaned the Wonkey house until the grime gleamed and packed the last of the suitcases and rubbish into the long-suffering car. We hauled it back to Andover and threw ourselves into helping the AP’s make the most of their place. We Feng Shui’d the place, helped with putting up shelves and cupboards and introduced Dad to his new laptop (he has facial recognition software on it, and it cracked me up that the third time he started it up, it still didn’t recognise him…Is he going to have to get a chaperone to introduce him every day?)

We didn’t get any rest on Sunday either. We went visiting old friends in THEIR new house. This one is not compact and bijou, mostly because they’re bumping their conservatory into a dining room. We forced ourselves to go down to another pub and suffer more great company and wonderful food before returning to our sheltered nook.

So far we had been keeping busy enough to avoid too much thought about the fact that we were homeless and unemployed, but Mrs Dim admitted she has dreamed about her old job every night since she left. I was getting remarkably twitchy about the fact that I hadn’t had an internet connection for days. To combat this, we went travelling again, launching off to Cheltenham to catch up with my brother and his family. Easier said than done, since we arrived mid afternoon to be met by my Sister-in-law and her youngest, because the elder nephew was still at school and my brother was at work. Still, we had coffee and walked to collect Nephew from school, and the Squadron Leader himself pitched up in the early evening. We were only staying overnight, so we made the most of a convivial atmosphere and more good food, staying up late to talk our way through a bottle of wine and several beers. They’re a lovely couple who have battled enormous difficulties in the last two years, but now there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and a fair chance they’ll be out to see us in the Great Beyond.

Since everyone had late nights, when we hit the road the next day everyone but me took the chance to nap. Because I was relying on the Sat Nav, we took a different route to the one nominated by Mrs Dim. I had just remarked that I was hungry and we were going to stop at the next pub we saw, when one came in to view. The Green Dragon inn, it was, somewhere between the A345 and the A417. The food was fantastic and the pub itself everything an old pub should be without the smokey atmosphere and locals made of whisky and compost. We were supposed to have a light Bar Snack, but the plates were enormous. Oh dear. Shame I won’t see the inside of a gym for at least another month…(Or longer, if I can manage it…)

So that gets us back to the AP’s house and ready for Wednesday. What the hell happened on Wednesday? (I’m writing this on Friday morning, having written most of the previous account on Thursday, hence the title – it’d been a week since we left the Wonkey House. My memory is not top-notch at the best of times, and these, as has been mentioned, are not the best of times.) Ah yes. Mrs Dim has just reminded me that we hosted my Aunt Kathleen at the AP’s for lunch on Weds. She’s an amazing person who, at Eighty-odd (it’s not polite to give a lady’s age, you know) has got a hard-drive recorder, mobile phone, laptop and broadband connection, and has just bought a DVDR/Hard-drive combi as a backup recording system. I used to drop round to help sort out cables and fix the odd glitch. She’s a little apprehensive about us being so far away, even now she’s on e-mail. Anyway, she arrived in style, just an hour late, but moving fast, and we had a fun-filled lunch together… I think that was the third official “Final Goodbye” to Kathleen.

Before we knew it we were back in the car (with my Dad following along with more suitcases in his boot – still haven’t got those sorted!) and heading for Mrs Dim’s Parents. I wanted to call them the Other Aged Parents, but that makes the acronym OAPs…Oh well, if the cap fits…. The OAPs made us welcome, despite the fact that we filled their living room with suitcases. The weasels relaxed and we rejoiced in the fact that we would be sleeping in a bed that would still be our bed no matter what time of day it was. I got to grips with the computer we’d given the OAPs, trying to connect it up to the BT Home Hub they’d ordered. Now, I won’t say a word against BT. They’re a fine company, with many highly trained employees who work very hard. I’m just saying they wouldn’t come first in a backside finding competition if you gave them a map and a flashlight. On the plus side, the computer is connected to the internet. Most of the time. On the downside, despite every ADSL filter known to man, the phones don’t work anymore, and my laptop can’t pick up the wireless signal if it’s not in the same room as the Hub. Luckily for me, the guy down the road from the OAP’s house doesn’t believe in password protecting his wireless broadband. Bless him.

On Thursday we strode into the village and achieved many things, but the main point of the day was unwinding. The weasels played outside and took naps, and we drank more tea than was good for us and went to visit Great Gran. We’re starting to get that Holiday Feeling, the one we hoped we’d get as soon as the removers left.

Next Blog: The run up to the FLIGHT!

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