Tag: opportunities

Prince Albert

For years, friends back in the UK made constant “Regina” jokes (“snigger snigger”) – they loved the “University of Regina” and that my friend is a Regina Professor, and then when I started Wheelie Good Coffee on the Farmers’ market, I got “How do you become a Regina Farmer?” and so on. I feel that they would have as much fun with Prince Albert (as the towns called Climax and Intercourse in Saskatchewan are not subtle enough). I really hope there are loads of piercing studios up there.

Prince Albert first appeared on our radar when the Parents treated us to a camping trip up there in June. We wimped out of actually tenting, Mum and Dad citing their Old Agedness and ‘knackety knees’, but we hired a little cabin up at Waskesui lake in Prince Albert National Park. It was utterly glorious!

We swam in the lake, toasted marshmallows (as is a requirement), hiked – well, stumbled – through the forest (proper trees!!), rode wonderful Quadracycles and even saw bears (of the non-threatening, handsome type). It was a fantastic place for the kids, and not even that many mosquitos.

To get to the national park, we had to drive for nearly six hours (made longer of course by kid-and-granny cup of tea breaks). We drove through Prince Albert city on route too, and apart from the usual array of gas stations and the Timmies and Subway visible from the highway, there was little to see. Little did we know at the time that we would suddenly need to know far more about the place than that!

Carl applied for a job in Prince Albert a while back – out of total desperation, as he has been out of work for four months now. One job advertised in Regina just disappeared in all the stupid budget cuts,  one never responded to the application, and another took a full 2 months to even interview anybody.  His hope with the Prince Albert job was that they would let him work remotely, or at least, not require him to be physically present 40 hours a week. Besides, he figured he needed the interview practice. Meanwhile, my own job hunt is entirely hopeless. I have now applied for 45 jobs, and gotten just 5 interviews and no offers. This means that 40 companies (most with HR departments) just didn’t even bother to respond. It’s incredibly frustrating and every application makes me less inclined to ever want to work for someone else anyway.

The Prince Albert company got back to Carl remarkably quickly, however, and invited him to interview before they even closed it for applications. He made the effort and drove all the way up the for the interview. He talked for nearly 2 hours, and came back, exhausted, saying it was pretty positive.  Two days later, he got called for an interview at somewhere in downtown Regina, which also seemed to go well. That was the company that took two months to get around to interviewing for the position though.

Then, Prince Albert called, and offered him the job! On an amazing salary, a definite step up from what he was doing before, and even offered relocation costs. There lies the downside. He is going to be in charge of a new team, and so they need him to actually  be there.

We do not want to move again. We may have stayed in the same few blocks, but including emigration, we have actually moved 5 times in 5 years. And now we have a mortgage to contend with as well. Every single person we know in this whole country is in Regina. Miranda is in school here now. My Wheelie Good Coffee, which is the ONLY thing that has allowed us to actually eat in the last few months, (no exaggeration) is based here. We even have a brand new kitchen! All of us moving to PA is just not an option.

We stalled the company for as long as possible, still hoping to hear back from something I applied for and Carl’s other interview, either of which would have allowed us to stay here comfortably. Yet again, I was rejected, and we are STILL waiting for the results of Carl’s job, 3 weeks after his interview. So, at risk of losing the offer altogether, Carl accepted the PA job. The plan is, he will rent a small apartment up there for the week, and just come home at weekends. It will be very, very hard (especially since Miranda is home on summer holidays at the moment), but at least it solves the immediate financial crisis – there is no point in turning down an opportunity like that in favour of staying in a city that we can’t actually afford to live in anyway.

Hopefully, he will really enjoy the job – it does sound good. Hopefully, we can find a nice apartment for him and make it an adventure. Hopefully, it won’t be forever – they can let him transistion into remote working, or he will find something else in Regina first. Hopefully, me continuing to stay home with the kids will enable me to keep writing and find a publisher for the book and make my fortune… (yeah, right). Hopefully, Theia will reach her 2nd birthday and suddenly decide to sleep through the night without needing Daddy to wobble her to sleep all the time.

Hopefully.

Returning to work after mat leave – easy, right?

I’m sure at least some of you are aware, the answer to that question is a resounding NOPE! As such, I could use some help from any local folk who happen to be reading this. I’ve recently decided to look for work again after a very long period of self-employment followed by some maternity leave. I am still involved with my coffee business but unfortunately I am no longer in a position to be able to work there full time. With the added financial pressures and responsibilities of looking after a toddler and a six-year-old, I am also looking for a degree of stability that I cannot get from entrepreneurship.

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As I dive into the job search in Regina again, I’d love it if you could keep your eyes open for people I could connect with and positions that might be a fit for me. Below is a bit about my background and what I’m looking for, and if anything related comes to you please keep me in mind!

My Background

  • As a serial entrepreneur, my self-employed experience spans the last decade; I have opened two coffee shops – one in the UK and one here in Regina, I also had a mobile coffee van in the UK and I currently run a coffee cart business using my bicycle on Regina Farmers’ Market.
  • With over 12 years experience in small business development, I’m looking to translate those skills into project management in the creative industries.
  • My biggest strengths are my creativity, and my research and communications skills that I developed during my social science PhD.

What I’m Looking For

  • A full time, (salaried) and challenging position in a creative environment where I am encouraged to use my initiative.
  • Project management, communications, marketing, and anything that involves writing.
  • Some flexibility with work hours would be wonderful!

My Humble Request:

  • Even if nothing comes to mind at the moment, I would be grateful if you could keep your eyes and ears open, and even forward this message to any companies you hear may be looking to hire, or who could benefit from my rather unique skill set.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for keeping me on your radar!

Because Coffee is important…

In my last post, I mentioned that my favourite coffee shop in Cathedral is closing down at the end of this month. That coffee shop is of course, Roca Jacks. This makes me very sad indeed.

The coffee is the best in town in my humble opinion, but more than that, the place was my first Regina landmark – we hung around in there constantly in that painful two weeks back in 2011 where Emigration Plan 1 (Kave Haz) fell apart in front of me, and where Plan 2 (13th Ave Coffee House) eventually became an option.  It was where I met Tamara, my first real friend in Canada, and through her, and the coffee shop itself, I’ve met so many others. I slept on her futon for 6 months, that used to live in Roca Jacks’ basement and it now adorns our spare room. When getting to grips with Regina’s layout, I looked the place up on Google street map, only to discover that the group of regulars who sit outside it, actually feature on the map!!  I persuaded Bill at Roca Jacks to roast a special blend of coffee for 13th Ave Coffee that was unique to their business, and they are still using it now, even though I left a year ago. Bill was also one of the first people to employ my coffee consultancy services. I’ve chained both Yoshi the bike and Twyla the trike up outside it, and sat in there for hours with a laptop, a friend or three, or a sleeping Miranda. Miri has danced, shouted into a fan, climbed into the coffee roaster, petted Lorena’s Daschund (another “Mr Pickles”), drunk copious amounts of hot chocolate and even mastered the toilet in there.

The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View
The regulars outside Roca Jacks, as they appear on Google Street View

And that is just me.

When they first announced their closure, I immediately dreamed up wild over-ambitious plans of buying the place via crowdfunding and keeping it going as a straight-forward coffee shop (and Bill would keep the roasting side of it). I was gonna do out the basement and make more seating and even sell books in there since the book shop is also closing. I rallied the troops – my friends, the loyal Twitterers of YQR, and friend’s girlfriend’s random acquaintances on Farcebook.

The response was unbelievable – I was not the only one wanting to save it, in fact there were a group already meeting and looking into setting up a cooperative. So many people wanting to keep an unhelpfully small, fairly scruffy coffee shop open, right on the edge of this neighbourhood with all its chipped mugs, sarcastic humour on the tip jar, its chain-smoking-tattooed-bearded-occasionally-unicycling clientele, the unfinished renovations and its secret hidden toilet that made up its “charms”. The place did have a few real difficulties – namely lack of parking (I never really saw that as an issue personally, because everyone I met in there was on foot or on a bike anyway), lack of seating space, no wifi and to my mind, lack of Big Windows through which to people watch. But it was loved by a great many people. It always made me smile to see people sitting outside it in the minus-ridiculous temperatures, while the posh new $tarbucks inside Safeway remains completely empty. My driving instructor actually summed it up rather nicely: “I’m usually in Roca Jacks. I know it’s the scuzziest place but it’s my local and the coffee is great!”

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Sadly, my plans never materialised; although the business could have been available, the lease on the building was not, and a coffee shop without an actual shop isn’t much use. I am truly and utterly gutted by this, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling.

But, having set my heart on coffee-ing again, I’m going to set a little something up that is not quite so financially insane. Fittingly for Cathedral, it’s going to be a rather hipster-ish coffee cart towed by my tricycle, called Wheelie Good Coffee – that link will take you to more details over on my coffee blog. I’m hoping to get it ready in time to bring coffee to the street fair at the Cathedral Arts Festival.

I’ll be serving beans from Roca Jacks, of course. Because Coffee is important. In this case though, it is not just about the coffee; it’s about community. But it’s coffee that brings my bizarre little community together, and I will always love that.

Busy-ness

I am knackered.

My tiredness is mainly the result of cycling to and from the splash park (half an hour’s ride away) in 32 degree sunshine, but then, it’s hot and Miranda demands splash park, and the useless buses are more hassle than they’re worth. Amy and I set off at roughly the same time, me on my trike and her trying to find a bus with two kids. She arrived over an hour after I did. (An aside: Regina Transit have done Many Things to the bus network recently, but still there is only one every half an hour if you are lucky, the routes make no sense whatsoever, and every other bus is too narrow for pushchairs and so can’t be used. Oh and there still isn’t one going to the airport!!)

Did I mention the heat? It’s hot.

You’d think, working in an icecream parlour would be luxurious this weather. Far from it. We silently beg people to buy hard icecream so we get a chance to stick our heads in the freezers, but those same freezers give out quite a bit of heat from the back of them. Plus it is a very sticky work environment, which somehow makes it feel hotter! I do really like working there, but I feel like I’ve been working A LOT recently (it’s been busier now the weather is nicer). Here’s our take on customer service:

Sandy has been making Vine videos for #DessartSweets

On one of my two nights off last week, Amy and I went to Word Up Wednesday.  Amy actually competed in the Slam competition, but I was the token “Sacrificial” poet as I just haven’t had enough time to write anything worthy of performance! Mine was about dead goldfish.

Amy, on a minor poetic rant about Beyonce.
Amy, on a minor poetic rant about Beyonce.
My turn!
My turn!

A lot of fun, but I feel like I’ve barely spent any time at home with Carl and Miranda. Carl has had to take over bedtime duties every night I am at work, and then on the odd occasion I have to go out at night as well. Last night I was at the first ALES club exec meeting of the year. ALES is the Ale and Lager Enthusiasts of Saskatchewan group – all our fellow homebrewers. I vaguely volunteered to be on the Exec back in the spring, when I thought I’d have soooo much time to myself with not a lot to do when I first gave up my job to stay home with Miranda. More fool me!! I am apparently the new “communications person”, meaning I am sending out all the group emails and event reminders and so on. Not too much work I suppose, and I’d be at the meetings anyway!

Our latest batches of homebrew have gone down well anyway. Carl is still brewing away since as it works out around 40cents a bottle as opposed to $7.50 a pint in the pub, even the not-so-great attempts are still worth it. We took some up to Jen’s summer get-together at her cabin out by Saskatchewan Beach – had a lovely afternoon, but it is still weird that technically you can’t drink in public….

Currently drinking, wheat beer and bock. Waiting for Pilsner to ferment. Next project, raspberry fruit beer!
Currently drinking, wheat beer and bock. Waiting for Pilsner to ferment. Next project, raspberry fruit beer!
Miri at the beach! (not with beer!)
Miri at the beach! (not with beer!)

If that weren’t enough to be getting on with, I had an interesting meeting the other day with Bernadette, who I know vaguely through various poetry slam events, but mainly through just being in Cathedral Village. It is a small place really! She is the chair of the Cathedral Arts Festival organising committee for next year’s festival, and she asked me to be the voluntary Communications coordinator for next year. I gaily said yes, because I’ve loved the arts festival for the past two years and it would be great to get involved in it all properly. However, it all kicks off in January, preparing for the festival at the end of May, and as per usual, I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing come January…

I really hope to be working by then anyway. My icecream job is only for the summer, so by October we will be back to being painfully broke again. I had a sort of job interviewy type of thing this week, which was fairly positive if not to the point of actually getting me a job. I’d applied for a position with Farm Credit Canada, doing marketing/communications type things and working on their trade magazine. I didn’t get that job, but the guy hiring for the position wanted to meet me anyway, says I have useful skills, that I would fit in well with their company culture, and that “great things will come my way”. I’ve just got to keep in touch and keep persevering with job applications there. All good to hear, but it doesn’t actually change my current job status!

I hate to admit it, but Zenab Nur is not getting anywhere with her erotic novel. I got as far as the first juicy bit, but otherwise I just haven’t had time to write much more than my dead goldfish poem. I am also (more usefully perhaps) working on a little how-to guide for home baristas for my coffee consulting thingy, but that is taking FOREVER as well.  Our other bit of news means that I may just get some more time to myself in the coming weeks though. The news is, we may have found Miranda a place for pre-school! Or rather, pre-kindergarten. It’s at Connaught school, (the one we are trying to save from demolition…I got on TV about it. See below!)  and it’s four mornings a week. I think she’ll love it! We went for a tour yesterday, and she didn’t want to leave. And I get nearly ten blissful child-free hours a week! YAY!

Connaught School heritage recognized | Watch GlobalNews Videos

More to the point though, how on earth is Miranda old enough to go to pre-school??? (disclaimer: this is “pre-kindergarten”, for 3 and 4 yr olds, very play-based and half days only. In Canada, they start Real School properly at age 6 – much more sensible in my opinion!) Where did the time go??? I still remember writing blogs, and my thesis, from this position:

Ahhh, the good old days, when she used to nap!
Ahhh, the good old days, when she used to nap!

My baby’s got BIG and all growed up!!

Sigue Buscando!

That means, “keep searching” in Spanish….

The other day was my birthday. I am 30, and I am HAPPY.

It is a bit crazy to think back, but this time last year I was on the beach (!!) in Redcar eating lemon tops with the Chapmen, with Miri and Nyx in pushchairs waiting patiently outside the tattoo shop. The year before that, I was trying not to freeze in my very new cafe in Darlington. Before that I was throwing up a lot with Miranda-related morning sickness and probably commuting to Sheffield on the train. February 2009, I was on a boat crossing Lago Nicaragua on route to the coffee lands of Costa Rica. Four Years…. gees!

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My birthday, 2009, in Picoteo cafe, Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The sign says “Sigue buscando” – keep looking.
(with Andie Reynolds, Emma Navarro and my personal one-man mariachi band! )

I did once write a sort of bucket list, or rather a “30 Things to do before I am 30” list. I do still have it, and I am not going to publish it on here (to protect the guilty) but I can say that it contained things like opening a cafe, getting published, having a baby, and moving to Canada. In fact, I’ve completed 28 of the 30 things. The missing two were “Visit Laos and Belarus because they have funky names” and “learn Welsh or Finnish”.

For my thirtieth, much beer was involved as usual, only mainly homebrewed stuff! We saw some friends, Miranda proved herself a hardcore party girl and stayed up until 12.40am and I learned a lot of weird and wonderful things. For example, over here, heather (as in, the plant) is an exotic, hard to come by luxury; “nh bashtr sardyn” is “no more omelettes” in Farsi (Persian); I know somebody geeky enough to have programmed a Raspberry Pi to accurately measure and adjust the alcohol content of his homebrew beer, and that talking microwaves not only make great flatmates but also keen babysitters. Just the normal sort of conversations then…

It got down to -49 degrees celcius (with windchill) the other week. When I posted this online, I was instantly set upon by a friend calling it INSANE and therefore I must be insane for *wanting* to move here. Well, it was a bit cold, I admit. But I get into work every day feeling very proud of myself for having survived walking in it. In all seriousness though, I couldn’t be happier here.

My mood was lift greatly (yep, it was possible) by having gotten myself a new job of sorts. I took great pleasure in quitting the restaurant as soon as I was able (work permit renewals allowing!). Keen readers may well have read between the lines of this blog, or at least, read meaning into some conspicuous absences. I have not written much about my job here for good reason: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. That place will not get any more free publicity from me, negative or otherwise, so I won’t go into too many details. Suffice to say, one of the sillier conversations recently was about co-authoring a book with a friend who endured a similar situation, called “Vampire Jobs: Sucking the Life out of Employees”! But now, I am back behind a fantastic espresso machine in a proper coffee shop, and also starting a little venture into self-employment again. See link in my blogroll>>>

So, life is generally brilliant, and Regina is definitely cathartic (*snigger*). But even though I am now thirty and therefore OLD and my list is complete, ‘yo seguiré buscando‘. Life is good, but it is not over! I will continue searching… This is just the start. Who knows what I’ll find next?

[The following song is included for relevance and to fulfill your daily CanCon requirements!]

Good ol’ nekkid Alanis!

I should probably go to bed….

…because it is nearly midnight.

But I don’t want to go to bed alone! (Even if I have got my new, comfy bed back again. This is a long story but in brief, Carl does not like The New Bed because he claims it gives him a bad back. Because I am a nice person, I agreed to let him reinflate the airbed for the past two nights to help his back recover, and my arse has sunk into the airbed both nights and I’ve been waking up with numb legs. This does not a happy Bel make. But aaaaaaaaaanyway…)

My lovely Carly-Warly has had to fly back home – well, to our old home. This is Not Right and Not Fair and shouldn’t have happened. I am sure my Mum would happily post us the ferrets!! He should be coming back at some point over the summer, and then moving out here permanently in September, but until then Miranda and I are on our own here, and Carl has to go back to Dreary Darlington without either of us! Waaaaaaaaaa!!!

So I sat downstairs in the Coffee House tonight with a few beers and the award-winning and Mahoosive “burrito grande” – and Miranda, who ate a small mountain of pita bread and plaintain chips and then started finger painting with salsa and sour cream and charming the couple next to us. It is official: I  live there, work there and even voluntarily hang around there in the evenings. Yep, I am that weird loner in the corner that you’re never sure whether to talk to or back away from…..

Apart from the lack of hectic social life however, I am really enjoying it all. I’ve survived three full shifts at the Coffee House and it’s been fun. The others there are daft as brushes (a phrase I had to explain to them!), they’ve all helped a lot and they agree that our lives would be immeasurably easier if it weren’t for those pesky customers; I’ve quickly learned that, similar to other coffee shops I’ve worked in, most of the gadgets used in the kitchen work far better if you sing at them, the POS system at the till has a mind of its own, emptying the dishwasher gives you a free facial sauna, and ‘Lime’ is the best flavoured syrup bottle with which to prop open the window. I do get a lot of comments on my accent too- on the positive side, it gets me a lot of tips, but on the otherhand, no one seems to understand me when I answer the phone for deliveries!!

Exciting Coffee Adventures should begin on Monday, and next week I will actually be doing the coffee-hours I wanted to do (more mornings and less evenings, so I get more “cafe” customers and don’t have to worry so much about the restaurant food). There is a lot to do, and I have a lot of ideas to begin putting in to place, from the simple improvements to madly over-ambitious schemes that I will need to run past The Bosses first. It is exciting!! This weekend is going to be tough as it is the first one without Carl – and I am not looking forward to when Miri realises that Daddy isn’t coming back for aaaaaaaaages (he’s gone to live in the computer!!) I just hope that the new job and all the new projects are enough to stop me missing him too much!