February started with me getting my Birch tree cut down. It had
grown into the Hydro wires so the local Hydro board said they'd need to
trim it back. However they also offered to cut down the whole tree
as they said it wasn't in a very good condition and would likely need to
be cut down anyway in the next few years which would cost me several
hundred dollars. And so as they were going to cut it down for free
I decided to take up their offer.
And so that was the tree cut down and now ready for perhaps a Rowan Tree
to go in its place.
Then at the same time I was having new book shelves added to the
But first I got a new door put into the downstairs toilet. The door
itself has been sitting up in my attic since I'd purchased the house.
Certainly looks a lot better than the old one. I have also added a warm air return into the toilet as there is currently no
heat in there so need to have the door open a bit to allow warm air in.
And then we moved onto building the new book cases...
So LeRoy and Al take over my basement as their work area and proceed to
work on the bookshelves. The above pictures are work in progress.
In the picture left are two shelves that have been added to the wee room
that leads to my attic. Above right are the new book shelves in my
Learnt about a convenience store, Victoria Variety on Victoria Road in
Chatham, that does Indian food. You just contact them the day before and
they'll have it ready the next day. They do Butter Chicken, Tandoori
Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Dal Fry, Channa Masal, Samosas and Pakora.
Can't say it's cheap but it is cooked fresh. This week I tried the
Butter Chicken and it was very good. Too much to eat in one
sitting so will make 2 meals which makes it more cost effective. I
also had 4 pieces of Pakora which was excellent. Their telephone number
is 519 352 8771.
Monday 22nd February saw the work in the house completed...
Above left are the new book cases in the Guest bedroom complete with a
wee range of books. The Picture above right is the walk in cupboard in
the Guest bedroom with a long mirror on the door and a wee vanity unit
within with mirror, desk and chair.
The above pictures in the library show on the left the new book case and
on the right the old book case.
Above left are the new book cases in my bedroom and on the right the
bath surround got a paint job to refresh it.
And also in the bathroom I had got some mould markings on the wall
between that and the ceiling which had been there for a few years so got
that fixed at the same time. The picture on the left shows the marking
which had already been partly treated to ensure the staining would go
when the actual paint was applied.
And so that completes the work in the house for the time being.
During February we've been having wee flurries of snow but no more than
a couple of inches.
At the start of the year my cleaning lady didn't turn up and I later
heard she had decided it was all too much work and so left. It
would have been nice if she'd at least told me. And so in February
LeRoy arranged as part of his contract to bring in a cleaning lady to
get rid of all the sawdust throughout the house and give it a general
clean up. I was actually quite impressed with her attention to
detail so had a chat and Cherie has agreed to come on a regular basis.
I might add that my ex cleaning lady did in fact come in to apologise
for not letting me know she'd decided not to continue the contract.
This month I also gave a talk to the Kent Branch of the Ontario
Genealogy Society in Chatham. As it was the night of the opening
ceremony for the Winter Olympics I didn't think many would turn up but
there ended up being around 40 there.
Had a visit to my Doctor for a general check up and she told me that I
need to get an ECG and get blood taken. She said that there were
new diabetic drugs available which were more effective but needed to get
some tests done on me before she recommended a change.
This month of course we had the Winter Olympic Games in Canada which by
all accounts were a huge success. I got sent in a copy of a wee
thank you note that Brian Williams of NBC left before heading back to
Leaving behind a thank you note - Brian
Williams, anchor and managing editor
After tonight's broadcast and after looting our hotel
mini-bars, we're going to try to brave the blizzard and fly east to home
and hearth, and to do laundry well into next week. Before we leave
this thoroughly polite country, the polite thing to do is leave behind a
thank-you note. Thank you, Canada:
For being such good hosts.
For your unfailing courtesy.
For your (mostly) beautiful weather.
For scheduling no more than 60 percent of your float
plane departures at the exact moment when I was trying to say something on
For not seeming to mind the occasional (or constant)
good-natured mimicry of your accents.
For your unique TV commercials -- for companies like Tim
Hortons -- which made us laugh and cry.
For securing this massive event without choking
security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon.
For having the best garment design and logo-wear of the
games -- you've made wearing your name a cool thing to do.
For the sportsmanship we saw most of your athletes
For not honking your horns. I didn't hear one car horn
in 15 days -- which also means none of my fellow New Yorkers rented cars
For making us aware of how many of you have been
watching NBC all these years.
For having the good taste to have an anchorman named
Brian Williams on your CTV network, who turns out to be such a nice guy.
For the body scans at the airport which make pat-downs
and cavity searches unnecessary.
For designing those really cool LED Olympic rings in the
harbor, which turned to gold when your athletes won one.
For always saying nice things about the United
States...when you know we're listening.
For sharing Joannie Rochette with us. [Note: Figure
skater Joannie Rochette of Canada learned two days before the ladies'
short program that her mother, Therese, always an ardent supporter of her
skating career, had passed away from a heart attack the day she arrived in
Vancouver to watch her daughter skate.]
For reminding some of us we used to be a more civil
Mostly, for welcoming the world with such ease and
making lasting friends with all of us.
Now wasn't that a nice thank you note! And here are the
final results showing Canada won the most Golds.
February also saw me doing my least liked task which was
doing my company books and sending them off to my accountant. I have
to say that PayPal do not make this process easy as when you download your
history they love to add tons of wee notes and so trying to ascertain
which entries are real is a bit of a nightmare. Like there are tons
of temporary holds and each non US currency entry has a total of 3 entries
so you get a GB currency entry, then a conversion to US dollar entry and
then a fee entry. There are some entries for authorization which are not
actual entries so you have to watch for these and delete them. Why
they can't just produce a real audit report I just don't know.
I also got in a mailing from my Canadian accountant
reminding me that my Canadian accounts are due. While I can start to
gather all the info for that I can't actually proceed with that until my
US accounts are done.
This month also saw me looking at what to do with my web
site as I had arranged to leave it the Scottish Studies Foundation.
At a previous meeting one of the board directors asked if the Foundation
needed to continue much longer as with the current payment being made
there is only $35,000 still to raise to complete our pledge to raise $1
million to establish a permanent chair of Scottish studies.
I am now in talks with Simon Fraser University so I'll
see how this goes and if need be will make a change to my will.
And so this pretty well completes things up to end of
March started off with some medical issues. Having
had a visit to my Doctor to get a new prescription she decided that she
needed to make some changes to my diabetic drugs and as part of that I had
to visit her on 3rd March to get blood taken and then I was sent to the
hospital to get an ECG, The hospital visit was interesting as I'd last
visited it some years ago and the system has now changed.
You now take a number from a ticket machine and then
wait for your number to be called. They then register you and take down
contact details, next of kin, etc. You are then directed to where you need
to go. You then need to register at the desk of that department and
then you are called in when it's your time to be seen. Having an ECG
doesn't actually require an appointment so you can be lucky or unlucky
depending on how many people turn up. There was a delay in my case
as there was an emergency which required use of that department,
Then a few days later I woke up to find I was looking
through a red crescent moon shape in my eye, It was pretty much in the
center of my eye so it made reading things a touch difficult. I
figured it would gradually wash away and indeed by the middle of the month
it is now right at the very top of my eye and seems ready to disappear but
now I have what looks like flecks of soot all over the eye which is touch
disconcerting. As I have an appointment with my Doctor scheduled for
22nd March I figure I'll just wait for that so she can give me her advice
on what I should do. Of course the eye may improve more up to that
date so I'll see what she recommends.
I still don't have heating in my downstairs toilet so
got the local heating company to visit and they tell me the duct work
needs to be re-done and so they are going to schedule a visit to put this
right. It also seems that the expanding piping is not recommended for
extending duct work and needs straight pipe so probably an hours work will
resolve the issue.
I've now got my accounts back from my company in the USA
and so this week I need to complete my returns for my Canadian tax
Ranald McIntyre in Scotland found me some small tins of
Ox Tongue. This is a meat I enjoy and it's impossible to find it in
Canada or at least very difficult. I did find it once but the shop
is not getting it in again and for some reason they couldn't tell me where
they purchased it. So Ranald finding these wee 185g tins was
excellent, He sent me a couple over to see if they were ok and yes
they were excellent so am about to email him to get me more of them.
It seems you can import small quantities of tinned meat for personal
consumption into Canada with no problems. That in turn makes me wonder why
more Scottish companies don't use this process to export.
The week of 14th March has been sunny and warm and so
much so that after doing my shopping on the Wednesday I cam out to find my
car very warm indeed. In fact it was so warm I decided to switch on
the air conditioning only to find it wasn't working, And so yet again I'll
need to get it fixed. Seems for the past 3 years I've had to get it
fixed each year so the various garages are not doing a very good job.
On 23rd March I got my visit to my Doctor. She is
going to organise a visit to the eye specialist and also a visit to a
diabetic expert to explore changing my diabetic drugs.
As I hadn't heard from my Doctor I decided to make my
own appointment with the eye specialist Dr McCabe. When I told him
about my eye he arranged to see me at 7:45am the next day. He then
arranged to send me the same eye specialist, Dr Anjema, that did my laser
treatment a few years back. The one that never did follow up on my laser
treatment. Anyway I was seen the next day to get photographs done of
my eye at a cost of $175. I then saw him the next day for the results
which was on the Friday 9th April and he said he'd send me to another eye
specialist in London and would be in contact on Monday to arrange a visit.
At time of writing this on Thursday as he hadn't yet been in touch I
thought I'd phone him and found that he'd only faxed over the request on
Wednesday and it would thus either be Friday or next week before I'd hear
back. I just have the feeling that this Dr Anjema is not the best at
doing his job as when I saw him I'd already given all the details about my
eye problem to his staff which included the information that it had been 3
weeks since I'd had the problem. When he saw me he said as it had
only been a couple of days he thought he would give it some more time and
then do another laser treatment to stop the bleeding. I then pointed
out that it was 3 weeks and not 2 days and thus he said he'd send me to
London. He also didn't discuss the results of all the tests I'd had
the day previous. The Dr McCabe was much more informative as he told
me that as long as my retina wasn't damaged the London doctor could flush
out my eye and restore my sight. I presume that the tests Dr Anjema did
showed my retina wasn't damaged. Anyway... we'll see how this progresses.
Have to have another tree cut down as I noticed that it
has almost split in half. So arranged for my next door neighbour
from across the street to do it sometime this month before it falls apart.
I did however drive into Toronto to have a lunch with
Mike Russell MSP, Minister for Culture, and several others from Visit
Scotland. Found out that Mike Cantlay has taken over as Chairman of Visit
Scotland so it will be interesting to see what changes he might make. Also
met Stuart McLean, Second Secretary of Scottish Affairs at the British
Embassy in Washington. And I met Dr Patricia A Main who is President
of the St Andrews Society in Toronto.
Due to my eye troubles I decided not to attend the
Scottish Studies AGM and I also told them that I was standing down as the
President of the Scottish Studies Society. To be frank it just seems
daft to be the President with me living in Chatham which is a 3 hour drive
away. I've retained my
board position with the Foundation however. David Hunter the
President also stood down and David Campbell took over as President.
I also changed my pharmacy from DrugMart to Sobeys this
month as DrugMart had made a couple of mistakes on my prescriptions and
they also charge more for filling prescriptions. Sobeys also offer
the free facility to build you a pill pack. As anyone taking pills
will know it takes a wee while to fill those little pill containers with 4
weeks worth of pills. Sobeys will actually do it for you at no extra
cost. So all in all I thought it would be worthwhile to switch. They
also do all the work for you as you just fill out a wee form giving them
permission to take over and they handle it all for you.
On 19th April Claud and Leroy cut down the tree with the
And all gone!
This month I purchased a few bottles of Barr's Irn Bru,
Scotland's most popular soft drink. Yet again it was almost flat and this
is by no means the first time I've experienced this. I have in the
past gone tot he Irn Bru web site to report this problem but have never
got a response. This time I thought I'd raise this with Sobey's, the
Grocery store I use in Chatham. It was really nice to get a response
Dear Alastair McIntyre,
Thank you for your email
message directed to Sobeys Head Office concerning
with Barr's IRN-BRU. You are correct, this is
information that we wish
IRN-BRU is bottled in plastic bottles by the manufacturer
in Scotland. It
has a shelf life of 10 months. In our experience the
shelf life is not as
stable in plastic as it is in glass bottles and we
sometimes see degradation
in the carbonation. We apologize on behalf
of the manufacturer of this.
If you would kindly send us your
address it would be our pleasure to provide
you with fresh stock so
that you may continue to enjoy the taste of this
unique Scottish soft
TFB & Associates Limited
And so it was really nice to get a response.
And while I'm commenting on customer service I note that
a few weeks ago my Sobeys store stopped stocking Nelson 2% skimmed milk
which I've used ever since coming to Canada. They now seem to stock
a very weird range of milks and nothing I can identify as 2% skimmed milk.
I'm now using a different store to get my skimmed milk but that also means
I also purchase other products while I'm there and thus Sobeys in losing
some of my business. I guess that's always the chance you take when
a store decides to change a range of products.
Today, 21st April I got my final accounts back for my
Canadian tax folk (BDO) and find I have to pay another $2,700 in taxes due
to me making more than they thought I'd make this year. This is due
to me being self employed in Canada. I kind of whish there was a way
to spread out the tax in monthly payments as getting a significant lump
sum is never a nice surprise. Anyway... that's now all my tax
returns for this year.
This week also saw me concluding an agreement with Simon
Fraser University in BC to have them mirror my site at a cost of just $30
a month so a good arrangement. As it happens they have said that
they'd be willing to take on my hosting including technical assistance at
a price no greater than I pay at the moment. This gives me somewhat
greater security and so nice to have this offer in place. They are
also looking to invite me over to the University sometime in June to meet
with them and also to meet their benefactors and sponsors in the Scottish
community in BC. And so looking forward to this happening.
On Friday 23rd April at last heard back from the eye
specialist to the effect that I have an appointment to see a Dr Gonder at
St Joes Healthcare, 268 Grosvenor in London on May 10th at 2:15. I did
some checking on him and some excellent reviews but also some poor
reviews. I didn't actually know this information was available until
I googled his name. You can see a report at
On Sunday 25th I attended the ordination of Nola Crewe
at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Toronto and I did a story board of
the event which you can
I stayed over on the Monday to have a celebration dinner with Nola and
Harold at the Sin and Redemption pub which as it happens is opposite the
Catholic Church. An excellent meal and also an excellent range of beers
I would also note the sad occurrence of the death of my
good friend Ranald's wife, Barbara, in Scotland. She was a great lady and
any time I visited she always gave me a great welcome.
And so that's about it for this month so we'll see what
the next quarter brings.
And just as I was closing this journal the bell range
and it was my next door neighbour Claud who wanted me to take a picture of
a Turkey they'd just shot so I thought I'd share them with you...
These two pictures show the permit you have to have to hunt and the tags
on the Turkey legs show this is legal.