Tag: phd

The Girl is THREE!

Miranda, aged 3, with an enormous amount of presents!
Miranda, aged 3, with an enormous amount of presents!

I can’t believe I have a three year old daughter! She was only just a year old when we start the process of emigrating. And she’s now spent over a third of her short life in Canada. That makes me very happy indeed!

Celebrations kicked off far earlier than they should have done, in that we had Miranda’s party a full three weeks before her real birthday, because we wanted to do it when The Parents, sorry, Grandparents were here. Miranda neither knows nor cares I suppose! Mum and Dad have now been to Regina three times, once for Miri’s second birthday last year, once at Christmas, and now this next birthday. The upshot of which is, Miri now firmly associates Granny and Grandad visiting with Presents. Lots of Presents!

All Miri’s little friends came round, accompanied by their parents, meaning we could have a more adult get together as well. There was lots of beer (for us, not the kids), paddling pools and nakedness (the kids, not us), lots of brightly coloured pretty outfits (me, Mum, Miranda.. well, all of us really), a dinosaur Cake, jelly and icecream, and Carl did a magnificent barbecue as usual. We also started the day with a trip to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, or “wanna go see dinosaurs!” as it is more colloquially known. Miri and her friends Bryony, Willem and Maddy made use of the Paleo Pit quite happily! I’ve met so many people recently, entirely through staying home with Miranda instead of working in the coffee shop, and it was really nice knowing I have good friends so close that can be called on for sunny afternoons drinking beer in the garden AND providing company for Miranda. We’re only missing the sauna!!

Granny and Grandad stayed another week after the Arts festival and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They complain about the flatness, or the heat, or the rain, or both, but they do seem to genuinely like Regina, and not just because Miranda is in it. They spent a long time taking photos of the interesting houses around Cathedral Village, inspected Miri’s library sessions and the playschool we go to, and then took us to the Legislative building so I could pose in a graduate’s gown (hand made by Mum, out of a bedsheet, dyed an unfortunate pink, then touched up with Photoshop..!) and the fantastic mortarboard made by Rachel Chapman Millinery  because….I finally got my PhD! All official, but of course I can’t afford to fly back for the real graduation do. So here’s my doctorate photo that can be formally sent to my Nan!

That hat is even more fabulous than the picture shows! It has glass coffee beans on it!
That hat is even more fabulous than the picture shows! It has glass coffee beans on it!

We also went camping! Well, glamping. Alright, we stayed in a lovely log cabin, by Pike Lake, outside Saskatoon. But we did cook over a firepit (can you guess who loved that?), and got eaten alive by killer mosquitoes, and went swimming in the lake and it was generally glorious! We even hired an Aquabike to splosh about in. (Aquabikes are large tricycles with giant, floating wheels with paddles on – so much fun!)  It was a really lovely weekend and felt like a little holiday for Carl and I as well as the Parents. We’re slowly beginning to explore the Flatness  – a lot easier now Carl has managed to fix most of the car’s more serious injuries. My parents weren’t overly keen on the very very flat drive to Saskatoon and back, but they did get inspired enough to decide to build a replica Grain Elevator in their garden. As you do.

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Everything Must Go!

I am finally beginning to get EXCITED about moving! We are so wretchedly broke that it’s hard to stay positive sometimes and all the “we’re going to Canada” euphoria gets buried under the “how the hell are we going to afford this?” type paranoia. I am Stressed and Anxious, it’s Official, and I have definitely been losing a lot of sleep over it all. Also, my PhD is finally out of the way!!! I still have some corrections to do, but I survived the Viva (which wasn’t nearly as horrible as I’d feared) and I can more or less get away with using the title “Dr” now! But now that it is dealt with, I just want to get on with moving; the PhD was the last thing tying me to this place. Now, I should be FREE! If only moving was also free!

On the upside, I’ve had a few lovely, helpful and very encouraging emails from 13th Avenue, and Service Canada assure them the dratted new LMO should appear by 24th Feb. A little later than we’d hoped, (and there is still the chance that they will reject me, in which case I will cry, and then possibly go on a killing spree…) but giving me another month does allow more time for General Panics. They also suggested a flat for Miri and I, which isn’t a definite yet so it will remain under wraps for now for fear of jinxing it. But it would be lovely to get that place! That bit is definitely exciting!

I am trying my best to Be Enterprising and sell as much stuff as I can. Not only do we desperately need the money, we also need to get rid of as much stuff out of our house as possible. We *finally* had someone viewing the house the other day, so we are all crossing digits that something comes of it. The bloke was an investor-buyer, looking to buy up houses then rent them out again. He seemed friendly enough but only had the briefest look at the house, so I don’t really know what to make of it. I won’t hold my breath…

I have been running “Bel’s Curiosity Shop” on Ebay.

I am not a massive fan of Ebay because the fees are nothing less than extortionate (listing fee, plus 10% final value fee, plus paypal fees…) and the whole thing is so skewed in favour of the buyer that idiots can scam the sellers so easily, and get away with it. However, having a virtual shop alleviates at least some of the fees, and so far I have only had one Idiot in the past 20 sales. The shop has got a load of general stuff from our house, some of my clothes, books (I HATE parting with books!!), treasures we have unearthed from the garage and most recently, some Cyberllama stuff I’d forgotten we had. In 2005 I started a little online business called Cyberllama, where I imported alpaca wool clothes, lovely silver jewelery and giftware from Peru all via my adopted family out there. Direct trade in action! I did craft fairs and markets with all my stuff as well as selling online, and everything was generally Llama-related for a year or so. Sadly, it wasn’t successful enough to warrant turning down another good job offer so I ceased trading. However, having finally dared to go into the loft for the first time in ages, I discovered some stock I had no idea I still had. So, once more it is available online! If you fancy any genuine Peruvian alpaca wool clothes – and I dare say it’ll be very handy for Canadian temperatures – then please have a browse of my shop!

My UglyCakes have taken on a life of their own as well. I’ve even made a whole £10 from sales of my book! They now have their own Facebook Page and a Google+ page and I’ve been doing a few orders outside of the cafe too, just birthdays and stuff. The UglyCakes are coming with me to Regina!! Hope to be baking a few for 13th Avenue and for Roca Jacks too if Tamara still wants them. Last week I did a savoury birthday cake – chilli-cheese corn bread with red pepper jelly. This week I’m working on a giant jammy dodger, and even better, a ‘Valentines’ giant jaffacake!

Yesterday, we held a stall at a local Baby Fair, trying to sell a load of Miranda’s stuff that she is now too big for. We did fairly well, shifted a lot of her clothes which I honestly didn’t expect to sell, but unfortunately we didn’t get rid of big things like her high chair and baby bouncer which take up a lot of room in our house! And of course, with Miri with us, we couldn’t leave empty-handed either. Considering she was in a huge room with loads and loads of toys and other children, she was remarkably well behaved. So we treated her to a 50p Upsy Daisy and a Ninky Nonk  from In The Night Garden. I still do not understand her fascination with that show, but it makes her so happy!

The Baby Fair:

Our Stall
It was pretty busy!
More Stuff
Happy Miri!

Finally, it was time to say Bye Bye to my beloved Betty. That is, Betty the Pink Bike. I haven’t actually taken her out for ages because, erm, I kinda replaced her with Twyla the Trike, but I was very fond of her for a long while! She has a new home with the lovely Tallulah and Mylo, and I am told she will remain her cheery, ironic hot pink paint job.

Betty the Bike in all her Pink glory

So, the proceeds from all of this, so far, have yielded enough pennies in the Get Us To Regina fund (GUTR for short, all our money is going in the gutr) to pay for our work permits and Miranda’s flight fee. Oh and I’ve paid my phone bill out of it too….This is all good. We WILL get there!!!!

Miranda has even been practicing making coffee! We got her a little toy coffee machine for Christmas, and she loves it! She knows exactly what to do to make plastic espresso, (the machine makes all the right noises and plastic milk foam even pops up in the cup!). I guess she has watched Mummy do it every day for virtually her entire life… It makes me so proud!! Of course, she will probably rebel later and never touch coffee ever again by the time she’s a teenager, but for now she is my perfect little barista who’s soon to become a pseudo-Canadian!

Expertly textured plastic latte!


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!!!!!!