Snow and coffee!

It hasn’t stopped snowing all day!

The TV said it was -16C today. If it was, then -16C is fairly easy to tolerate. We walked a long way today (trying to push Miri’s buggy through snowdrifts actually made us sweaty!). Regina is still beautiful even in winter, and we all love snow!

I am feeling far more positive today, even though we had another set back. The Canadian laid-back-to-the-point-of-being-horizontal attitude is being to grate the nerves. Carl rang the university to say he was in the area, and could he come visit and see about the job he’d applied for there. The secretary was very non-commital and vague on the phone, but did not say the job had already gone. Instead, she just said Carl should stop by whenever he wanted. So we headed down there optimistically, only to find the admin office was closed up for the day, and on enquiry within the department, we discovered a shortlist of applicants for the job had been drawn up, and Carl wasn’t on it. 😦 This is sad, frustrating, and does leave me dependent on Kave Haz for an income. But the uni could just have told Carl over the phone that he hadn’t been selected, surely? Instead of letting us get our hopes up, and more importantly, knowing that would have given us a better idea of our budget when we were house hunting yesterday.

Still, Carl and Miranda had their first Tim Hortons coffee (and numerous doughnuts) in the uni student union. The coffee was truly terrible (it arrived pre-mixed with milk and pre-sweetened without us asking for it – and it tasted like instant coffee. Lucky its so cheap really!). Miranda is now addicted to’ Timbits’ though!!
Tim Hortons is weird. It is THE Canadian coffee chain, (despite being bought out by an American company, apparently) there are far, far more of them than there are Starbucks in Regina, and there are leftover cups emblazoned with their logo all over the place. But, it is more of a doughnut emporium than a coffee shop. It is cheap and cheerful and sugary, and everyone loves it. What really surprised Carl though was that all the coffee is ‘drip’ – ie: filtered. Not espresso. Nothing even attempting espresso, not even a bean to cup machine. Just filter. I wrote about this last time I came out to Regina on my coffee blog but it is still so strange to me that espresso is still a rarity here.

Mind you, there is this:

Now, normally this would have been enough to tip me over the edge. However, earlier today, I found Roca Jacks. Apparently its a franchise, but there is now only one left in Regina. This is a proper coffee place. Espresso machine, check! And filter as well. House blend. Fresh coffee to buy in bean form. Aaaaand they roast their own on the premises! YAY! Their espresso was the best I’ve had in Canada so far, dare I say it, better than Kave Haz! I got talking to the manager, and she and the barista were very into their coffee and seemed very friendly. I left my CV there and the manager said she’d love to talk more, she has some exciting sounding plans…. This all sounds Very Encouraging. Weeee!!



Head Mess

Ok, so we are here!!

I am still exhausted. The flight was long, but could have been a lot worse. The plane was fairly empty so there was a lot of space for Miranda to bounce around in an Be Miri, and she was loud but otherwise very well behaved. We ended up doing laps of the plane with her patting random sleeping people on the head on her way past! Unfortunately, Regina is 6 hours behind the UK, so travelling west made for a very long day. We arrived at 8.30pm ish Saskatchewan time, but it felt like 2.30am. Miri was still awake, poor baby! And since we arrived, she’s been waking up at 5am thinking it’s mid morning and she ought to be fed!

It is also COLD. When we dare mention the fact that it is cold to the locals, they all insist that we haven’t seen anything yet, and that this is nothing. So far it hasn’t yet got below -15C, although lows of -27C are forecasted for Saturday. We are bearing up with very sexy thermals on and Miri looks like a little jelly baby in at least four woolly layers! It’s not too bad, but it is very tiring just existing in it. prof

So, maybe it is just tiredness talking. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed but also frustrated. We have been hanging around at Kave Haz, and at first it was really reassuring that is fairly busy in there. There is a new baker and the pastries we tried were excellent. Asyah is holding up well as the barista and only full time member of staff and seems to be enjoying it, which is great.

However, Ken barely has time to talk to us, which again is just a sign that the place is doing fairly well. It is also a very good reason for him to get me in as a manager, just so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. However, he is being frustratingly non-committal! He is concerned that he won’t be able to pay me – certainly not the salary he originally stated when I applied for the job. The cafe is just not making enough money. This is VERY worrying, not least because I need the salary – much as I want to move over to Canada and I do think I’d enjoy working at Kave Haz, I cannot live off thin air. But moreover, it is very naive of New Boss to expect the place to be making money in under 4 months. Did he not plan for this? Most new businesses do not break even in the first 6 months, and it is rare for anywhere to make an actual profot within the first year.  In a more positive light, he has not said “there is no job for you”, and I do think if that were the case he would have told us before we spent so much on the flights. I don’t think he’s deliberately trying to screw me over, but at the moment it is us taking all the risks, and I am not feeling at all comfortable about this.

We looked around four houses this morning, three rentals and one for sale. Any of them would have suited us well – the houses are so *cute* here. The first, and cheapest we saw looked like a little yellow chapel! But the experience really brought home how little we can plan. Only the little yellow house was remotely affordable on the Kave Haz salary, and only then if I do end up working full time there. Our favourite of the four would be perfect if we had two incomes, so definitely possible if Carl had a job too, but that is a big Unknown at the moment. And we would only be able to buy a house if we sell ours back home, OR if Carl’s voluntary redundancy payout comes through. There are so, so many ifs and buts and maybes that I feel completely at sea tonight. I just wish I had a straight answer about Kave Haz for one thing! At least then we could plan accordingly.

But I do want this sooooo much. I feel like we’ve come so far already: finding the job in the first place, being offered it, then getting the LMO approved, that godawful wait, all the stress, emotional trauma and financial blackhole of selling my cafe back home… it CANNOT all fall through now! It just can’t!


End games…

I haven’t got the energy to write properly about the town that has been my home for over seven years, and I do want to write properly and do it justice. I have met some amazing people here and made lifelong friends, I started two businesses here, I’ve learned so much and grown here. This is where Miranda was born. These things will stay with me forever.

But at the same time I have had some truly horrible experiences here, most of which I have had a lot of trouble getting over and recovering from. Few things have been easy, and I keep thinking, everything I’ve achieved in the past few years, I’ve achieved despite being in Darlington. It all feels like a constant fight, against a place that saps the spirit and destroys the soul. I have had enough of fighting; I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone here, and so it is time to move on.

For comic relief, here is what The Idler, (the people who brought you “Crap Towns”) make of Darlington:


Those who communicate in grunts and sniffs revel happily in the squalid surroundings. There is a night club called ‘Mardi Gras’ where squaddies from miles around congregate to chase fat single mums and stamp on peoples’ heads. A small town with small minds, I challenge anyone to put ‘darlo’ in a positive light.

– Rob Black

On a more poignant note, this is one of my favourite songs of all time, which I feel is very appropriate.


Our house (2 bed semi, big garden, and SAUNA!) has been on the market since September and so far we have had precisely no one interested in it. Nada. Nuffink. Not a sausage. This is a bit worrying. But then, this is the UK in a recession, worse, it is in the Grim North East and the housing market is basically at a standstill. We got a board outside this morning just in case that helps! (We originally thought that people don’t really drive up and down cul-de-sacs in Darlington looking for places for sale. Most house-hunters are capable of Googling anyway. And if you search the interwebs, you eventually come up with this: You don’t need a for sale sign for this!!) Anyway, our house – the first one we ever bought and where we have lived for the last seven years – is now up for sale. Shall I miss it? I don’t know. I doubt it.

In other news, we are booking flights to go visit Regina again in a fortnight’s time. Carl needs to see the city properly and I need to touch base with New Boss and start seriously house-hunting over there. We’re coming back here for Christmas (otherwise my parents would never forgive us) and I’m looking to move over in the new year, with Carl following with Miranda as soon as he can.
Carl applied for a job over there too, and it would make life so, so much easier if he had something to go to as well as me. I don’t think he’d enjoy too long spent being a stay-at-home Dad, he’d be too bored! So far, they’ve contacted us to say they are considering his application and have received his references. He emailed the other day saying my LMO had come through and that he can now get an open work permit, and that we were heading out there and could he come visit? (ie: hinting for an interview). The reply was so laidback as to be a bit unnerving!! “Yes, pop in whenever you can!”. Not sure what to make of that. It does imply, if they don’t mind him visiting, they haven’t appointed anyone else for the position yet. But then, they are hardly clamouring for him to come over, and haven’t mentioned an actual formal interview either.
That, coupled with New Boss’s resigned despondancy about his staffing issues, and the THREE MONTH wait for Service Canada to issue the LMO, just confirms the stereotype that Canadians are laidback to the point of being horizontal!!!
Now, I almost constantly have a huge amount of stress. I exist in a state of permanent over-caffeination, and for the last year, I have juggled setting up and running my own business full time, writing my PhD thesis and looking after my daughter 24/7 all at the same time. Having now finished the PhD (more or less), I am currently in the process of handing over my business to my partner, selling the house, getting everything organised for emigration, still looking after Miranda all day every day while Carl is at work, and I’ve just voluntarily embarked on National Novel Writing Month – trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
I actually think the adjustment to laid back, chilled out, unhurried Canadians is going to be pretty hard for me!! On the other hand, a break would really, really do me good.

Finally it arrives!

I am legit!

After an excrutiating wait of precisely 12 weeks and 5 days, Service Canada finally issued My New Boss with a positive Labour Market Opinion. This document is basically identifying a skills shortage in the local area, and allows prospective employers to recruit internationally if they can’t find any applicants locally. Without it, I couldn’t get a work permit, even though I received the offer of the job back in July! So, he sent my copy over, and now I am all set to get my work permit and move over there!

The wait was agonising… it could have been rejected at any point, so not knowing for three months has meant we’ve been completely unable to plan anything, or sort out what is happening with my cafe, or Carl’s job, or my PhD viva, or selling our house here in the UK… etc. Now we know it is all definitely going to happen, it is such a huge relief! But then, the list of Things To Do As Soon As Possible is looking stressfully long, complicated and expensive….

But even so….