Friday, 25 January 2008

How To Be A Landscaper

I was put in touch, via email, with Larry McPherson back in October. Having spent part of the summer in Richmond, BC at my uncle's house, on my North American solo travels, I had been offered the possibility of moving abroad by my uncle, after I had decided against University for a second year and therefore no longer had any reason to stop me experiencing new countries and their cultures.

I had spent less than a University year working with computers; steadily realising that:
  1. Without previous experience, it was a lot of hard work
  2. It required many hours indoors; fuelled by coffee and pizza
  3. I knew very little about computers compared to everyone else there
  4. I wasn't enjoying it or looking forward to a future in an office building
My summer camp experience opened my eyes to careers that I would enjoy a lot more such as teaching or outdoors based jobs. With that new direction for my future career I was eager to try landscaping when first told about it; whilst in a dead-end, minimum wage retail job in Huddersfield.

I have been in a lot of different jobs and each one has been useful for me to decide my general direction in life. Retail jobs put me off future retail jobs, being a waiter was good because I liked talking to people and working in a team, cleaning showed me that I could do physical work if I put my mind to it and summer camp confirmed that I loved working with kids, as well as being outdoors.

From my experiences I have decided on a few possible career paths (a luxury that I certainly didn't have in school or sixth form!). Combining travel, teamwork and people skills is FLIGHT ATTENDANT, combining physical work and being outdoors is LANDSCAPING and combining travel and writing is TRAVEL WRITING.

Each of these (as well as teaching; which I don't really want to do until I am older) are now my ideal careers and I can focus on them for the next 10-20 years and hopefully become the best in a job that I can be. Travel writing could mean publishing my own books and landscaping could mean starting my own company somewhere down the line.

As you can tell by my very positive attitude to landscaping at this point, I am enjoying the work (though it can be hard) and was yesterday considering how far I could take it as a career. Essentially, I think I have passed my challenge from my last post and as I learn more about the job, I am excited to know that this could be the occupation that I have been looking for since the career-aptitude tests in high school.

The job is not all fun and games however; I have to be awake at 5:30am to be at work for 7:00am, after a bus ride across town, the work is repetitive (can be tough on my back) and by the time I arrive home (around 5:30pm) I have just enough energy to make myself lunch, eat dinner and spend a few minutes online before I am off to bed, ready to repeat the process!

Clearly outweighing all of these factors is the point that I enjoy being outside, getting fitter and am positive that I will eventually get used to every aspect of the job so that I can be awake later in the evenings and can therefore socialise with the people that I have met so far.

Shovelling compost from the truck

The weather has also been pretty good so far, averaging around 5 degrees Celsius in the sunlight, after about 9:00am. This means that I can work in only one or two layers of clothing and I enjoy myself more. In the shade the temperature is a lot cooler and complacency can lead to mild hypothermia (oops) if additional layers are not added when the sun goes away. If it does rain, my new Helly Hansen lightweight stretchy rain gear will do me perfectly well and my insulated “rubber boots” will keep my feet warm and dry.

The job entails travelling to one of the areas of Richmond contracted to West Coast Horticultural Services and trimming hedges, mowing lawns, spreading compost, raking leaves, weeding and shaping flower beds. The contracts are mainly residential estates where the property price includes to the homeowner the luxury of landscaping. Other areas contracted to Larry include malls and churches.

I worked 40 hours this week and will continue to do so for as long as the ground is not snow covered. Apparently Tuesday will bring blizzards but I’m not so sure. I am going snowboarding this weekend so it would be nice to get a break from exciting activities and work if it does snow...

My next challenge is (predictably) to learn to snowboard! I head up there Friday night and will be doing 2 days worth in Whistler (Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 location!). Updates (and photos!) to come soon...

Sunday, 20 January 2008

How To Conquer Jetlag

In keeping with my “post every 5 days” aim, and to make up for the fact that I have struggled to hit most of the deadlines, I am up late on Sunday night typing furiously so that I at least make the deadline of Sunday in this time zone! I had planned initially to release this post at one minute past midnight this morning (Richmond time), which would have been at 8am back in the UK. In keeping with that aim, I had sat down at my laptop in my recently-tidied room last night and begun typing.

Unfortunately, just as the previous paragraph only applies to this point in time, last night’s opening few paragraphs only really worked for yesterday. This would have been great if I had been able to finish my blog post and publish it before exhaustion took over but in the end, after a long day, I was forced to get into bed and go to sleep – hoping for better concentration in the morning. Consequently, I am starting again tonight from the top.

The reason that I hadn’t begun the blog post in the morning was mainly because I had spent the morning tidying my room instead. It hadn’t been messy as in dirty; it was just that my possessions were not arranged in a very ordered fashion and I was still in “living out of a suitcase” mode rather than “this is my room and I should actually take the time to make it look really nice and ordered for when I come to need something, or even have someone come in it” mode.

After about an hour of clothes-folding and drawer/shelf arranging my room looked awesome and I was much happier. Luckily I have a lot of storage space available (for even newer clothes/possessions!) so fitting everything in wasn’t too hard at all. Inspired (and fuelled by a breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast) I jumped on my bike and headed to the Reed’s house.

My newly painted and freshly furnished room

The Richmond-based Reed’s are my Dad’s eldest brother, Ron’s family. He is married to Carole (Who added the “e” to her name after moving from the USA…) and their children are Thea (nearly 22) and Katie (19). They also have a small dog called Chloe. Katie was out visiting her boyfriend, Phil, at his university in Victoria. Thea was home doing assignment work for the weekend, having also made the trip back from Trinity Western University to see her boyfriend, Brad.

I was shown Thea’s Australia photos from a 2½ years ago, when she went there for a few months, after I had mentioned that I had stayed in her room when I’d first visited their house the same summer. The photos were amazing and I am now really keen to spend a few months “down under” in the next few years. I also discussed my time so far in Canada and played with Chloe. Brad arrived a little bit before I left, beaming with pride having completed his “College Pro Painters folder”, complete with numerous examples and positive comments.

College Pro Painters is a house painting franchise run by students. Brad is the area manager for a third of Richmond and it is his job to employ people to do cold-calling in the spring and house painting in the summer. He spent a few hours training me to cold-call a few nights ago because it seemed like an easy way (though not a warm or overly-respected way) to get a bit of pocket money from time to time, with each “lead” for the free estimate earning me $15.

After my few hours with the Reed’s I was picked up by my other new boss, Larry McPherson, and driven to “Mark’s Work Wearhouse”. I picked up some rubber boots, waterproof overalls and thermal underwear for my new job as a landscaper. The temperature is apparently expected to be around -5oC tomorrow morning so I am going to be wrapping up warm for my first day!

Upon arriving home in time for dinner I sat with Cory in his room and we talked for a few hours, comparing music and watching YouTube videos of football (soccer) and ice hockey. By the time we had finished and I had downloaded Colbie Coillat’s album* on to my computer, it was getting late and as I began furiously typing I realised that I was going to struggle to make my Sunday morning deadline.

It is actually quite a shock that I am still awake at 11:30pm, especially considering that this is the second consecutive “late” night! My “movies that I have fallen asleep during” count has been steadily rising since the plane journey and this morning was the first time that I woke up after 7:30am! To make matters worse, on some mornings I have been wide awake at around 4:00am, with no chance of returning to sleep (something that I’ve never really been good at) and with nothing to do but lie there and think.

Not the sort of thing that you’d expect from a “How to conquer jetlag” lecture I grant you but hear me out. The difference between this trip and the other 5 trans-Atlantic trips that I have made in the last 10 years is that this time I have been allowed “time to settle in” instead of a rhythm and schedule, so I have been sleeping when tired and waking up when fully rested. Ironically, I’d have probably adapted to the time difference quicker if I’d only had a few days before starting work!

On the other hand it was also nice to have the time to get everything sorted out (Social Insurance Number, work clothes, meeting up with people, exploring the area, unpacking my bags, etc.) so although 10 days was probably too long, I wouldn’t have wanted anything less than 3 days!

My “Rubik’s Cube Challenge” went well and I can now solve a cube unaided (actually only really had help on the first day in the end). Although I have yet to solve one in under 2 minutes, I have the knowledge at my disposal and theoretically could. I am not keeping score though; instead contented in knowing new skills. My challenge for this week is to learn (from scratch) how to be a landscape gardener.

If I fail this challenge, who knows where I’ll be next week…

*Colbie Coillat [Co-lay] is a female singer from California.
She was made famous through MySpace and is a big hit over here.
I really like her music and recommend “Bubbly” and “Oxygen”.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

How To Make Yourself At Home

I met my new "family" in stages. First of all, after sitting nervously with my cousins' dog Chloe for a short while, Garth and Barb arrived. Garth is the man of the house; he is a musician and works in a high school. Barb is his wife and also works as a teacher. They both seemed to recognise me but I don't know why because I had only ever seen them in the pictures that they had sent me.

The eldest son, Jesse and his girlfriend Virginia arrived next. Jesse is 23 and works as a plumber. Virginia is 20 and studying Journalism in university. She is moving to Austria next month for 5 months in Vienna as part of her course. Shortly afterwards, Uncle Ron arrived and we sat down to dinner.

After dinner we drove (about 2 miles) to my new home. I was given the tour and shown to my new room. It had recently been painted and Jesse was going to install a sink for me as well. A basket of fruit and snacks had been left on a chair for me so that I didn’t go hungry trying to be polite by not snacking.

I then met the two (extremely excitable) dogs, Rosie and Whiley. They barked and ran around me; inspecting the new guest. I was also introduced to Lisa, who the family have lodging with them as well. She has Down's syndrome and can be hard work apparently, though she is usually a lot of fun.

The final person to meet, Cory, was at work so I would have to wait until the morning. I sat with the family in front of the TV and was shown how to use the "uber-remote" which basically controlled every electronic device in the room! We watched ice hockey and they tried to explain the basics of the game to me. I was also told that the Calgary Flames were the Vancouver Canucks' biggest rivals! This made picking a team difficult because I didn't want abuse from every person I met, but I also didn't want to stop supporting the team that I had quasi-supported since about 10 years old!

I was then shown how to use the kitchen (including an oven with electronic lock) and shown around the downstairs "games room". The games room connects all three of the guys' rooms with the hallway (containing the stairs to the main living room) and is filled with DVDs, games consoles, sports equipment and has a large couch for us all to lounge on in front of the TV.

Upstairs the main living room leads into the kitchen and out onto a balcony. Garth and Barb sleep upstairs and there is also a guest room and a computer room. Downstairs, across the hall from the games room is a second bathroom (under construction by Jesse), the garage, utility room and Lisa’s bedroom.

Unlike most Canadian houses, houses in Richmond are built on silt and so cannot have basements. Also, if there is ever a large earthquake, most of Richmond would sink. Coupled to this is the fact that, like Severn Beach, most of Richmond is below sea level. This also makes it at risk from flooding in a big storm or from Global Warming. Apparently, these are things that the children have to come to terms with at an early age, during their school earthquake drills!

Cory, Garth, Barb and Jesse Bowen

Feeling at home is a strange expression. When a host says to make yourself at home they probably mean something more like "sit down and have some crisps from the snack bowl" than "feel free to sleep/raid our fridge/watch TV". However, when I say I feel at home here, I’m not trying to say that because I have a room and food access here I feel like I do when I’m in England, but instead that I at least feel comfortable in my new surroundings.

This doesn't mean that I am not missing home, nor that I no longer consider my old home "home" but that I am having a good time and feel happy with my new lifestyle at the moment. I am enjoying the experience and am thankful for the opportunity and the efforts made by my new family to welcome me.

In the few days that I have been in Richmond, I have sorted my money problems (Natwest thought that someone had stolen my card and moved to Canada!), rebuilt my bike, spent some time with my cousins as well as each member of the Bowen household (including Virginia, who now lives here too!), seen some of the people that I met whilst here over the summer and hung out in both the Reed's house and the Bowen's house.

I have been to a sushi cafe with Cory, swimming with Jesse and Virginia, fallen asleep watching movies in multiple houses, played "Mexican Train" , seen "There Will Be Blood" in the "theatre" (cinema!) and eaten at Earl's (which turned out to be a restaurant!).

For Virginia's trip to Europe she was provided with fact sheets about moving abroad and the history of Canada so that she can answer the Austrians when they ask her about the 4th prime minister or the main crop of Alberta! I have read through the booklet and it is actually quite interesting (as well as being incredibly in-depth). From it I hope to learn a lot more about BC, and Canada during my stay.

One thing that it contains is the National Anthem in both English and French. One of these weeks I will set myself the challenge of learning both but this week's challenge has already been selected.

Upon spotting a Rubik’s Cube on the table I mentioned my inability to complete them. After a few minutes under Cory's tuition I am now able to complete most of the cube without help. My aim for this week is to go from "Novice" to "Pro" (completion within 2 minutes, unaided!).

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

How To Move Abroad

This title was actually partially inspirational to the title theme that I now have going on in my blogs. I was looking on travel websites and gap year websites prior to my trip and was finding it difficult to learn what it took to move abroad. Few websites went beyond the "what to see and do" content that would appeal more to a traveller than a person on a working gap year.

Therefore I have decided to write my own "How to move abroad" post and I hope that it is helpful. I will begin at the first important stage* of the trip: Packing!

My trip really began the day before my flight. Despite being free for 3 days (having left my jobs) to get my stuff together, that I would be needing for my new life, I spent a lot of the time trying to plan what I’d take without actually packing the stuff. Luckily, questions like "How many clothes do I need?" and "Will I need my CD's and books?" were to be answered by my supreme packing ability; by which I was able to get every item of clothing that I owned into a single rucksack (65L +10 – in case you know what that means) and pack enough DVD's, ornaments, video games, souvenirs, books and CD's to get me through the year, into my travel suitcase (just in case I needed them…).

I also decided that having a bike would be great and was delighted to discover that Zoom Airlines could take one “sports item” per person for free providing it was packaged correctly and had been dismantled. After phoning a few bike shops (including various Halfords’) around Gloucestershire and having no luck with finding a “bicycle carry case” I was relieved to be told by a small town bike shop in Stonehouse that they had just received a selection of bike bags!

Upon arrival I was disappointed to find that she had meant bags that fit onto the bike but was much happier when she emerged from the backroom with a cardboard bike delivery box! It barely fit into the back seat of my brothers hatchback and we whizzed it back to home; to allow me time to dismantle the bike before nightfall.

A few hours later I stood over a box containing a bike in various pieces. The pedals and seat were in a smaller box with my lock and helmet, the tyres were deflated and the front wheel was detached. The handlebars were now strapped to the frame and the metal had all been wrapped in cardboard to stop it knocking together on the plane.

As night fell on my final day in Stroud, I sealed the bike in its box and ran up the stairs to finish my packing. Aforementioned “clothes in rucksack” and “suitcase full of entertainment” were not yet in these miraculous states and in fact looked quite unlikely to ever become that way but I guess that that is why they call it a miracle!

“Possession Mountain” loomed over everything else in my room, surrounded by smaller stacks of folded clothes. It took me a good hour or so to get all of the clothes from this new landmark into a single (tall) stack of clothes, with my other possessions (souvenirs, entertainment, toiletries, ornaments, etc) in a different pile. I began with the smaller pile of possessions (since it looked more likely to fit into a case) and was able to get it all in to the various pockets and compartments of the suitcase without too much commotion. The few remaining items were small enough to fit into my carry-on bag and it was with a new sense of achievement that I turned to the larger pile of clothes and began neatly stuffing (oxymoron?!) them into my rucksack.

I finally got to bed at about 11pm, having done everything that I had planned for the day except for write this blog post! I had figured however that I would have time in the airport and would have been able to utilise the WiFi so that I could hopefully post this before I had left Britain!

I got up at 5:00am on the 10th January (without parental assistance for the first time in a few months!) with my bags packed, waiting neatly by my bedroom door and my heart racing like a greyhound! The day that I had known about for a few months was finally here and all of the hard work (65 hour weeks of work for example!) were now being put to good use as I was under 5 hours from my flight!

My Dad arrived in my room shortly afterwards to make sure that I was up and helped me to the car with my bags. He had already made me porridge as a last decent meal before Canada and before long Colleen and Harrison were downstairs with us. This had happened before both Borneo and the USA so I had half-expected it, Matt pleasantly surprised me minutes later by also wandering down at ridiculous 'o' clock to bid me farewell.

In the departure lounge at Gatwick

The journey to the airport was a long one and we were later than expected when we finally got to check-in (though not too late obviously since we were clever enough to allow for delays). My rucksack and suitcase were weighed and apparently came to a combined weight of 60kg! I was charged a little excess (for being over the allowed limit of 20kg!) which my Dad paid; reasoning that it was cheaper and more convenient than shipping. The boxed-up bike went through fine, although I was apparently supposed to have informed the airline beforehand, before joining my rucksack on the "oversize baggage" conveyor belt.

The flight was long and the budget airline seat wasn't great; though I had an okay view of the TV. I figured that the savings justified these setbacks and enjoyed my window seat and the three movies that were shown. I also decided that since I had been on worse transportation (greyhound buses sprung to mind!) I would survive and it could be worse. That actually reminds me of an American guy's comment to me whilst greyhound bussing from Seattle to San Francisco last summer.

Having initially asked me where the UK was (fair enough; 55% of Americans can't find the US on a world map!) and then asked me if I'd be taking a greyhound there to get back home, after I had responded "Near Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean from the US"!!

I arrived at 2:30 local time and was through customs quickly; receiving help from the nice lady (nothing like American customs - another anecdote from last summer) with my immigration form. It turns out that having citizenship classes me as a "Resident" regardless of how long I am visiting the country for.

I sat in the airport and waited for my Aunt to collect me after an uneventful baggage carousel experience. I opened up my laptop and began typing for a new blog that was to be posted as soon as I got an internet connection but like Gatwick, I had no time for pay-as-you-surf connections and decided to wait instead for a few more hours before posting my blog entries.

Once collected, I decided that a bit of cash (one thing that I hadn't been too bothered about bringing since I had a debit card) would be nice for the next few days and we headed to Canada Trust bank. Upon discovering that my card was no longer working in the machines (unlike in the summer!!) I was forced to open a Canadian account and hope that a wire-transfer would rescue me from my plight.

Unfortunately the English banks had all closed before I was done and my only hope was to catch my stepdad (falling under the criteria of "someone who knows you at your English bank" that the Canadian had suggested to ensure a swift transfer) before he began work on Friday. This would be difficult as, with jetlag and time-differences I had a small window through which I could get in touch before the weekend. An email later I felt a little happier and was glad to have family close by when it started (quickly) to go wrong!

Fortunately (and out of character for my luck) that was the only thing that went wrong for the next few days and I have now settled in to the "Bowen's house" with a great family. Garth and Barb have two sons, Cory (20) and Jesse (23) and look after a girl, Lisa, who has Downs Syndrome. Their two dogs are called Rosie and Wiley.

*Planning the trip is not technically a part of the trip since it happens far in advance. Visas and passports are unique to each country/person so I would be wasting time telling you about them. However, I do recommend government websites for information.
In terms of booking cheap flights; booking during a non-peak time (October, November, February, March, etc.) for a travel time outside of school holidays will guarantee you the cheapest selection. Using websites like Expedia or Ultimatefares are great for finding cheap flights. Avoid the commission by using only the flight information found through the comparison websites to book your flights directly through the airline. Booking flight times that are far apart is also cheaper than if they are within 7 days.

Monday, 7 January 2008

How To Write A Blog

The introduction went well and was well received. This excites me a little as it means that I am around 2% through the “blog my life for a year” New Year’s Resolution. From that value you can work out that I aim to post around a blogs a week if I can. For the first few months I don’t think this will be a problem since I will have an awful lot to talk about, so with my fingers metaphorically crossed (physically crossed would make typing more difficult) I storm on towards 4%!

Previous experience with blogging has taught me various lessons. The main one was not to write a post just because there was space to be filled. If the blog isn’t interesting I will lose readers quicker than if I have a few weeks break because nothing happened. Fortunately I am quite sure that the plans I have in terms of job, house, nationality, friends and activities guarantee me tonnes to write about even if only to compare the differences between lifestyles in Canada and in England.

I have decided to try a more generic blog post each time I write and as of now each title will begin “How to…”; with the post’s aim being to educate (even if only a little) each person that reads the blog on a new topic each few days. These could end up being useful for moving house, travel, lodging, trivial pursuit or absolutely nothing at all.

I will aim to write (mission statement enthusiasts listen up) an interesting post at least once a week depending on how much I have to say and within how much time I have to type it out. My prediction is around 60 posts documenting my new life in Vancouver throughout the year and I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I will enjoy writing them.

I am going to cap myself at about 800 words a post because I don’t want to overly bore people. I look forward to improving my writing style throughout the year, with a better command of the English language allowing me to write more concisely. Eventually I will know for sure if writing is for me and this will help me decide for or against a career in travel writing.

Currently I am considering what my next post will say as I type so that I don’t say too much in this one, but also don’t completely ignore the obvious issues bouncing around my head regarding my impending trip and lifestyle change. If each thought was written down on a brick, there’d be enough to build a bridge to Vancouver and I’d have saved the £300 airfare!

Anyone who has ever solo-travelled will know that things seem a lot more scary alone and worries become magnified if there is no one around to talk to. Examples of this include falling asleep in an airport from sheer exhaustion, a missed bus screwing up your schedule, accidentally booking the wrong hotel, having nowhere left to stay, being approached by shady characters in bad areas and losing key items! Of course there are hundreds of other things but they (thankfully) haven't happened to me yet!

I am extremely fortunate in all of this in that I won’t be as alone as I keep thinking. Not only do my "new family" (not officially my family but it is an easy way to reference them) seem really nice but I also have relatives in the same neighbourhood (Uncle, Aunt and 2 similarly aged cousins) and a job lined up with no VISA issues because of my dual citizenship! In all I am worrying a lot more than I should be, but then maybe it isn’t where I am going to, but who and where I am leaving behind.

I am going to be away from my family as well as every friend I’ve ever made in Britain and the familiar surroundings which I have grown up around. Cultural changes such as sports, education, politics, music, driving and food will also be a big change despite both nations being "Western" countries.

Within the next few weeks I also hope to complete challenges such as being able to name every Canadian province/territory, learning the national anthem and visiting places of interest. I also plan to take up a variety of outdoor pursuits and sports helping me to get fitter and stronger.

Tomorrow I will start my packing (and the painful decisions of what to take and what to leave behind). I hope you enjoyed reading this post and are looking forward to more of the same as much as I am. I have decided on one more pre-flight blog post which will appear in the next few days…

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

My New "New Year's Resolution Blog"

One year ago I lay in bed, less than a metre from this exact spot, trying to think up New Years Resolutions for my 2007. I racked my brains to think up a decent, original and life-improving resolution that was neither too difficult nor too ineffectual. I eventually decided to write a blog that would enable old friends and distant relatives to stay up-to-date with my life during 2007.

To be honest it started well. I am neither a natural wordsmith nor indeed the most practiced author with the most interesting daily activities, but I managed a few introductory entries that gave me the confidence to continue, as well as allowing others enough information to feel like they knew me a little bit more!

As time went by, however, my posts got less frequent, shorter and less relevant to my life. It wasn't as if nothing was happening, just that I didn't have all the time (or the patience) to sit with hovering fingers awaiting inspiration to spend at least an hour typing and then editing each post. My post a day soon became one every other day, then one a week, then fortnightly and by the time I was considering doing a monthly roundup, it was all but over for me; I had failed my resolution and it had taken only 15 weeks.

Since that was the only REAL resolution I'd ever attempted, I can conclude that I am not very good with such things. If I was a quitter, this would've been the end of my fondness for writing and I would've quit blogging as well as my aspirations in travel writing.

If you are a keen detective with 20/20 vision and a quick mind, you have probably already deduced that I have not entirely quit with blogging; your first clue being the page of text that lays before you!

If you hadn't reached that conclusion; don't worry, there are always other careers out there and it never hurts to try new things! Coincidentally, it is this belief that has driven me to do the things that will inspire this blog, so you are currently reading the proof of that statement!

Since you have read this far I am going to go ahead and assume that you aren't entirely bored with my post and so I am excited to inform you that there will be more!

Since I am going to be on another continent to most of my friends and family, the need for weekly updates increases dramatically! No longer will drunken nights out and university assignments be the topic; but my life as it unfolds 5000 miles from home! These next few weeks could well be the last time I see many of you for a few years...

Furthermore, I am no longer writing blogs JUST for other people. This one is for me too! After reading through my old one from last year I was reminded of many things that had slipped my wandering teenage mind and was glad to have recorded them in an Internet based time capsule.

Myspace and Blogger will forever hold a snapshot of my life during University and in 50 years I will be able to root out the information and read it all again. The words will not have aged on moulding paper, unlike conventional box-in-the-ground Time Capsules and the blog I will be reading will seem as though written by a completely different person; highlighting the differences in lifestyles over 5 decades, as well as reminding me of the things that I was doing in 2007.

This blog will tell of my epic journey to lands unknown to begin a new life in a beautifully located clean and exciting Canadian city built between the exhilarating Rocky Mountains and the vast Pacific Ocean; both offering a huge variety of adventurous activities for me to become involved with as I explore these awesome landmarks!

Not only do I hope that this blog (soon to be entitled something witty!) will be interesting to my friends because they know me, but I would like to think that other people who were thinking of moving abroad could also find some use from it. Therefore I am considering adding my blog to once I get it up and running, since that is where I have been to read travel blogs before and found them to be useful and interesting.

I would now like to welcome you officially to my new “New Years” blog and congratulate you on reading the first entry. Chances are I will post a few more pre-flight blog posts in the next few days to keep this fresh. Until then, thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Canada's flag since 1965. Each red bar is 1/4 of the flag's width.
The leaf is from a maple tree and represents the environment.