Tag: opportunities

Generally glorious!

Where to start??

Well, the highly depressing news is that Carl has to fly back to the UK on Friday.  I am not looking forward to this one little bit. Miranda has started to form basic sentences now, and even when Carl disappears for a few minutes (running to the late-opening Safeway across the street for instance,) she asks “Where Daddy gone?” plaintively. This is going to be heartbreaking when she does this after he’s actually left the country!

Playing "Tombliboo Music"

! This is our home now, Carl ought to be here too. It’s Not Right otherwise.

I am also feeling a little bereft of Miranda. On the positive side, she is thoroughly enjoying her new Daycare. This Reggio Emilio daycare place (still sounds like a type of hard, grated cheese to me) is run by a lovely woman called Carolina, and Miri has taken to her, and the daycare environment very happily indeed. Carolina adopts a kind of ‘structured play’ where there is always some educational motive behind the activities they get up, and Miri seems to be getting on very well with it, even in just two days! No problems whatsoever with strange people, other children she doesn’t recognise, strange house, toys that aren’t hers, an unfamilar cot for naptime or neither Mummy nor Daddy being there in the afternoons. She is the eldest there at the moment (if only by a few months) and didn’t want to go home at all tonight!! She did yell “MAMEEE!” when she saw me, but she doesn’t seem at all bothered  when we leave her there in the mornings. Maybe unsurprisingly, it has been far harder on me than her. Carl had to pack her up her little lunchbox and everything… My beautiful baby is getting Big and Independent and goes off for the day without me!! This is HARD. Although I am very relieved that she’s settling in so well, and I am incredibly proud of my Moomin. “Her world is getting bigger.” says Carl.

Daycare is now a necessity though, because I have more-or-less started work. Sensibly, Emma has got me doing a little bit of everything. So on Monday I was cleaning the place (with a lot of expert help!) so at least now I know where everything lives – including the elusive blank for the coffee machine! Then today I got sent on another food safety course (remarkably similar to the ones I did in the UK, which, of course, aren’t recognised here,) and now my head is full of “hot holding temperatures” and the difference between pathogens, parasites and protozoa in food. For the rest of the week I am being a temporary line-cook, doing a bit of prep and assembling some of the dishes since they are short staffed at the moment. I hope I am actually some use – it’s been a looooong while since I was cooking to order! But it does allow me to get to know the other staff (there are a lot of them and I’ve only had the briefest of conversations with most!) and hopefully even familiarise myself with the menu, tofu and all!

Tamara at her first ever coffee cupping evening - ahem.

We also had a Big Chat the other day – about practical things to start off with, like sorting my hours around picking Miri up from daycare whilst keeping as near 40 hours a week as I can, and then more worrying things like paying the rent! And then we got on to the fun stuff – the coffee. They really want to develop the coffee side of the business since the place is called 13th Avenue Coffee House, but at the moment, they make the vast majority of their money from the excellent food they serve here. There is the added threat of Starschmucks opening up across the street too (aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh), but fortunately they like the idea of teaming up with Roca Jacks and with me designing a coffee blend unique to 13th Avenue, but having Roca Jacks roast it for us. Tamara is also happy with all this, and she and I decided (admittedly after quite a bit of champagne) that we were single-handedly going to create the Cafe Culture Revolution in Regina. We got talking about doing Coffee Classes in the evenings, tasting events, and so on, Carl dropped me in it by telling them about the coffee festival I organised, and then we mentioned getting my Ugly Cake Company going as well… and basically I got carried away and my inner Geek got loose in public again and had to be restrained forcibly with talk of “long term plans, right Bel?”

So it’s all exciting!!! And I’ve been meeting so many friendly people. I treated myself to a quick trip to the Wonderful Designer Stationery Shop this afternoon and the woman who runs it, Theresa, first liked my bag, then my accent, then my tales of my Pretty Notebook fetish, then my coffee obsession and then suggested I do a public talk about coffee at the Artesian arts venue opposite…. possibly because I must have come across as a complete freak, admittedly.  There is always entertainment value to be found when Inner Geeks are allowed off the leash, right?

Lots of plans afoot. I’ve just got to pace it all, start slowly, prioritise and settle myself in properly first. But I am quite ridiculously happy at the moment. WEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


Infamy! Infamy!

Here’s the radio clip from Craig Lederhouse at CBC

CBC Radio: “A coffee expert” (?!)


This fortnight (that means: TWO WEEKS, peoples! Tamara asked me about the word last night, didn’t realise it wasn’t in common use over here) – anyway, the last two weeks have been utterly insane. But, I think I can finally breathe out again, I *think* I have got myself sorted. 13th Avenue Coffee House are posting lovely things on the internet about Doctor Coffee joining their team and welcoming Ugly Cakes to their menu. Roca Jacks have a sign outside with their weekly special: “The Dragon – 24 shots of espresso served in a bucket”. Just wondering if that had anything to do with my somewhat sarcastic comments about the Canadian drink sizes….ahem! And, fingers crossed and again thanks to the amazing kindness of strangers, I may even have somewhere to live after the Big Move in January.

Of course there are still massive decisions to agonize over, like whether I’ll have to come over on my own in January with Carl and Miri following me later – which makes financial sense but no emotional sense whatsoever. I can’t leave my baby!!! Waaaaaa! Let alone what we’ll do with our house, the ferrets and so on.

But for now, I may just let myself relax. Yesterday I did a huge amount of nothing, just writing, ranting, and eating!! I met up with Tamara again to go watch the game (well, we were supposed to be going coffee cupping, but it got cancelled cos The Game takes over everything!). We went to her friend’s house, met some others, and all the men were growing moustaches for Movember, some serious 70s porn taches happening there, very surreal! Our host was a chef and owns a fish shop, so the snacks he’d made us to watch football with were in a different league (geddit?) to ‘potayto chips n dips’! Deep fried oysters anyone?

I didn’t understand Canadian football. When they said “the game” I thought it would be hockey. But no, it’s big blokes in lycra and shoulder pads and helmets, kinda wrestling and falling over, and very rarely kicking the ball. Meh. I still don’t get football, even the British version, but I’ve come to view this experience as some sort of initiation ritual…..

And today, I am going to visit 13th Avenue Coffee House again this afternoon, but for now, I am going for a Stomp in the snow. Weeee!

A series of fortunate events….

Holy guacamole…. where to begin?!

Lets start with the positives. I AM HERE TO STAY!!! MWUHAHAHAHHAA!!!

So, yes. Yesterday, I went and did my thing on the radio. As I said before, this came about by a total accident – our waitress for the evening at the Fainting Goat restaurant also happens to work for CBC (like the BBC only… er… Canadian). They wanted to get me on the show, but originally I was going to do an interview with Ken from Kave Haz to help promote the place. But that didn’t work out and given today’s events I am very glad it didn’t. Instead, they framed it round the idea that I was over from “London, England” (doh!!) on a mission to bring European style coffee to the Prairies. Apparently this is newsworthy!

Anyway, CBC is huuuuuuuuuuuuge, and I was pretty nervous since it was a live interview. But the lovely woman doing Useful Techie jobs pointed out that if you compare the population of the UK with the population of Saskatchewan, then I probably had more listeners than when I was interviewed on BBC Tees for Doctor Coffee’s Cafe back home!! Craig, the presenter was very charming, friendly, put me at ease and was very professional so the interview was fairly easy. He also put a link to this blog out on facebook!!!!!! AAAAARGH! So, if you are reading this Craig, thanks again!

The response to this five-minute interview has been utterly phenomenal:

The facebook responses

I looked up La Ronge, incidently. I had to zoom out 5 times to realise it was still in Saskatchewan!!!

Hmmm….! I will visit one day methinks, but probably not today!

And then came the twitter responses; first one from Moose Jaw from the place I was writing Nanowrimo in yesterday:

and then one from 13th Avenue Coffee Shop, who I’d visited last week, resume in hand.

Now this last one turned in to an email, asking me to come visit them the next day. So this morning, after an utterly disastrous time at Kave Haz which will be explained in another blog post, I went down there in the vague hope that they could cheer me up and rescue me from the predicament Kave HAz have landed me in.

They did far, far better than that!!!!

Turns out, they really want to develop the coffee side of the business, as it already houses a restaurant as well. They have only taken over the business recently and seemed to want to make their stamp on the place. And, as luck would have it, two of their staff are leaving in the new year so they are actually looking for somebody to take over!! So they offered me the job. Aaaaaaaaaaand it would be starting in January like I’d hoped, aaaaaaaaand it’ll be full time eventually on a decent wage. Aaaaaaaaand they sounded interested in the Ugly Cake Company, so I may be able to keep that going, Aaaaaaand, they want to use Roca Jack’s coffee, AAaaaaaand they have a proper espresso machine, Aaaaaaaand they also own some property around Regina that they let out, as do their friends, so they can even try and find us somewhere to stay, aaaaaaaaaaaaand, they may even have some contacts to help Carl find some work too!


So absolutely bloody amazing.  Aaaaaaaaaaand I got a free burger out of it, which was delicious. Can’t wait to get started now!!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!


A few days No Bloggage, sorry dearest reader(s).


It’s been two days and two showers now and I STILL can’t get the stamp from ‘The Exchange’ off my wrist. It took over 24 hours to get the flourescent wristband off. These are the signs of a good night.

This good night was down to New Bestest Buddy and Coffee Geek Tamara of Roca Jacks. She has been introducing me to everyone she meets (and she seems to know EVERYONE in town) as “this is Annabel, she’s from Ingland and she’s got a phd in coffee!” She met me to discuss coffee projects stemming out of her cafe, all of which sounds utterly wonderful and exactly the sort of thing I want to do. She bought me beer and some amazing ginger and lime flavoured ribs, and then took me to the exchange where Austra were playing. Phenomenally good gig, the singer has an amazing voice, and Tamara even got me dancing!!

Unsurprisingly I got back to the hostel late, and then forced myself to get up at some ungodly time in the morning, because I had already booked my ticket to Moose Jaw on the bus. Much as there is ‘only one road in Canada’ there is also Only One Bus to Moose Jaw, and it left at 8am – from the other side of town. So off I toddled feeling like death, but got on the bus, met a chatty bloke called Shane who was braving the bus trip all the way to Calgary (11 hours!) then watched Lots Of Flatness go past for an hour. I saw the giant plastic moose outside the town, and was so shocked when I saw a hill, I had to take a photo of it!!

Moose Jaw is a weird place. I’ll admit, it was quite difficult to kill 6 hours in between The Only Buses there. It is the place of smugglers tunnels and Al Capone and all sorts of fictional tall tales. But nowadays it is sleepy, slightly seedy and has proper, dimly lit, shabby pubs and beer in tankards. Good shopping too – I bought Miri a cuddly moose from a shop exclusively devoted to soft toys, and found places doing gadgets and gothy stuff and FUDGE.No big brand stores either, which can only be a good thing!

I sniffed out two coffee shops there too. One did good coffee and had large squidgy sofas and roasted coffee on the premises, but sadly when I went in it was almost entirely empty. The next did fabulous Saskatooooooon pie (Saskatoon, the town, was named after Saskatoon, the berry, apparently. Saskatoon berries are a lot like loganberries, that kinda thing!), and espresso based coffees out of a bean to cup machine. It also doubles as a funky little boutique selling jewellery and hats and cute little bags and suchlike.They even have live music on there at times.  I really liked the atmosphere there – very fun, relaxed and accepting, like pretty much everywhere I’ve been so far. I sat there for nearly 2 hours writing my Nanowrimo novel (I am still failing miserably though)

Houses in Moose Jaw are considerably cheaper to rent, and to buy than in Regina, so depending on the job situation, it may be worth considering. It’s just under an hour’s drive, which by Canadian standards is practically on your doorstep, though I can’t imagine that commute is too fun when there is loads and loads of snow.

On the topic of the job situation though, I still haven’t heard a squeak out of Ken at Kave Haz, and without wanting to go into too much detail, more information has come to light that makes alarm bells go off in my head. So, I will try once more to get a straight answer, and then give up on the idea entirely. Other opportunities are presenting themselves and this is making me far more excited and helping me stay positive in the light of quite a frightening situation.

Tamara is very keen on learning everything she can about coffee, which is great to hear – I think she can make Roca Jacks really stand out here. She would like to do “coffee education evenings” where I’d use the facilities there to teach barista skills or do cupping sessions or just general coffee chat and stuff. I could make a bit of money from this, it would give me a chance to actually use all the otherwise useless trivia I learnt from the Phd, and in return it would be great publicity for Roca Jacks!! This sounds brilliant!!!

It would only be a part time thing, however, and we couldn’t all survive off just that. However, Tamara’s other wonderfully useful trait is that she used to work in HR and recruitment, and has loads of contacts from her previous job. When  I explained what Carl actually does for a living and showed her his CV, she couldn’t believe he hadn’t found work yet. Apparently there should be loads of jobs for him, and she’s gonna to have a look for us! If Carl got a full time job here then it would mean I can carry on looking after Miri and do coffee stuff on a part time basis. If Carl got a geomatics job, the chances are it’d pay far better than coffee shop stuff anyway.

WEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!1 So lots of opportunities and lovely positive people. I reckon wandering in to Roca Jacks on the off-chance last week was the best thing we could have done! I owe Tamara numerous drinkies now. SO EXCITED!!!!!!



Q.: How many surrealists does it take to make a latte?


Aaaaaaaaaaanyhooo. Life is getting more and more surreal. Carl and Miranda have now flown home which is very sad, because Miri loved the snow and it was fun just sharing all these bizarre new experiences with Carl for a change – the vast majority of my travelling has been solo. Also, since we’re intent on actually moving here on a permanent basis, I don’t feel like I can make decisions on jobs or housing or anything without Carl’s input as well. However, moving around the town, chasing things up and house hunting is considerably easier without having to fight Miri into four layers of clothing first, and you can get around quicker without manhandling the pushchair through the snow too! It has also halved my hostel bill. So, sorry baby, but you get to go harrass Granny and Grandad for a week! Carl seemed to survive the flights home with Miri without too much hassle, anyway, which is good because it can’t have been easy!

So, this leaves me with another week of trying desperately to find a means of staying here. Ken from Kave Haz is still resting up after knee surgery, so I won’t see him to find out what on earth is going on, until at least tomorrow if not Friday. However, I am too paranoid to rely on him entirely, and so I am scouting around trying to find anything else. Not exactly easy, but Things have that odd way of working out for me, which is where it starts getting surreal.

The first night we were in Regina, we went to a restaurant called the Fainting Goat, and got chatting to the very friendly waitress. Turns out, she also works for CBC radio!! And, she was very interested in my coffee adventures and me turning up in Regina for this job, and invited me to come on the show! eep. She was trying to get Ken on with me to talk coffee and Kave Haz, which would be a great bit of publicity for him. But with him laid up after the operation and my job being so unsure, we’ve left it for a while until the situation is more stable. But you never know, I could get my 15 mins of fame in Regina after all!

As mentioned before, we’ve made several visits to a place called Roca Jacks, the manager of which, Tamara, is a fellow coffee enthusiast/geek. I am off to meet her tonight to discuss coffee and opportunities and so on, and I am quite excited! She says “you should have no problem finding work here, it’s just the economics of it” – erm, well yes, “the economics” is exactly the problem!! Roca Jacks is a franchise though, so maybe, just maaaaybe there may be some opportunities at the company HQ if not in the actual branch itself.

I’ve also handed in CVs to two other coffee shops, both of which were pretty decent, one was a Starschmucks clone, the other is also a restarant and seemed to be filled with earnest sounding yoghurt weavers and woo-merchants. I think I might be too cynical for that place. Carl has also handed in his CV at two companies in Regina, (one was an extremely long walk in the snow to the Old Warehouse District, but at least we got to see far more of the town that way!) and he’s applied for another one online. So, we’ll keep our fingers crossed, but it is encouraging that there are at least some vacancies for jobs he has the skills to do.

Having seen Carl and Miri off at the airport, I came back to the hostel and messed around on the internet on ‘Saskjobs’ – and guess what popped up on the screen? A job actually at this hostel!! Both women who work on the desk here are leaving in December, so they are advertising for their jobs. It’s just 20hrs a week, but this is a fun place, very social and if Kave Haz can only offer part time hours now, I could potentially do both and make a full time wage to live off. Again, the owner here was incredibly laid back about it – “yeah just leave us your details and I’ll give you a call in January…” Riiiiiiight.

And finally, fellow-hostel-buddy, Lloyd has worked all over Canada, and I was explaining the coffee PhD to him. He suggested looking up Salt Spring Island, because he knew it had a coffee company based there. Salt Spring Island is off Vancouver island, right over the other side of the country, a stunningly beautiful place judging by pictures on Google! Madonna has a house there, apparently, as does Patrick Stewart. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, Salt Spring Coffee Company are hiring! Just baristas at the moment, but I applied and said I’d be very interested in any other jobs going within the company…. you never know!!

So, plenty of things to chase up, and all is not lost. I have a strong feeling that Things Will Work Out Somehow. They always do, even if not in the way I first anticipated. In the mean time, here are some pretty pictures of coffee in Regina.