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My Canadian Experience
April, May, June 2011

The start of April was a continuation of my home renovations. By this time my kitchen was complete. This involved painting the red brick with white paint. Doing lots of caulking and painting of the cabinets. The doors also had to be worked on as a few didn't close that well.  Also put up a new ceiling light.

Here we are with all the doors off and the cabinets painted. The shelves have been reworked so I can now move them up or down which means I can actually reach the third shelf now without having to get out the steps!

Now the doors are back on complete with new handles

And this shot shows my new semi-circular table and the new ceiling light

This is the new dual flush toilet I installed

I might add that I'm very pleased with this new toilet. It is a little higher that a normal toilet and being also elongated makes it easier for us men :-) I am fairly certain that I'll purchase another of these for the upstairs bathroom. This is not an item that I would normally think of replacing but the top of the toilet didn't fit completely over the tank due to its placement and it's often irritated me.  And so having decided to spruce up the toilet I went looking for a new toilet bowl and found this one.  Obviously things move on in the toilet world as well.

This picture shows the old cabinet that we found in the basement.
It looks life it was designed to fit just there.

And this is the new toilet in situ

There was also a bit of the wall paper coming away from the wall so this was stuck down again and it looks fine meaning that I decided not to re-paint the toilet.

Showing off the new fireplace. I tried everything I could think of to try to show the flames and glowing embers but just couldn't manage it. The new TV on the wall is connected to a the Boxee box that provides Internet access to the web and also lots of movies and services such as Netflix.

You'll note I still can't show the flames but hopefully you get the idea

We also did some caulking around the ceiling surround as that was coming away from the wall a little so now all fixed and looking very neat. And so with the kitchen re-arranged and newly decorated and I'm happy with the result. It's an old house and so tried to keep with that feeling when I decorated.

The only job left to do on this floor is to install a new ceiling light and fan in the main living room and that's on order. It comes with a lifetime warranty and a remote control.

I also got a visit from a contractor working for my insurance company. They have agreed that the porch has indeed settled and so they are going to fix it this month free of charge.

This being April we are getting a bit of warmer weather now so the central air has been switched of.

I should also note that the Netflix app is excellent.  I've been enjoying watching a few documentaries free of advertising.  This sure makes watching TV much more enjoyable.  Haven't fully explored the various apps that come with the Boxee but I am noting that the screen makes it a bit difficult to read the brief reviews of the movies. They use a darker grey background and light grey text which makes it difficult for me to read from a distance.  If they could give an option for a black background and white text I'd probably be able to read it ok.  Like with Netflix I can read their reviews just fine but really need to stand up and move a bit closer to read the Boxee reviews. The Boxee remote is also not very friendly as again it's a kind a black/grey with light grey text so very difficult to read. I think Boxee need to review there product from an accessibility point of view and have contacted there support people to suggest that.

Mind you so far I've only needed to use the Menu, Return and up and down arrows and you quickly get to know where these are located.

As to the Netflix app I got in an email saying that they have changed the way they serve up the programs for Canadians meaning that people with a cap on their downloads should now be able to watch five times the movies.  The chap that installed mine said he had a 10Gbyte cap.  I said I thought I had a 20Gbyte cap but when I checked with Cogecco I found I have a 200Gbyte cap so certainly not likely to run out of viewing time.

I need to start looking at the news apps to see what is available. Right now there doesn't seem to be a live feed although I'm going to see what might be available through the Internet.

I feel we're getting close to not needing TV any more.  I tend to watch more documentaries.  So I might end up watching the History, Discovery or National Geographic channel and also the Food channel.  Other than that I tend to watch the news.  So if they start to serve up more of those programs I really won't need the TV. This could all mean a radical change to the way we watch TV.  I have also noted you can download a Boxee app for your PC.

This month I decided it was past time to get my Canadian Passport and so got the forms and filled them in and then had to get my passport photograph...

I was told I had to look serious and keep my mouth closed :-)

Went into Toronto for Easter and stayed with my friends, Nola and Harold.  Nola told me she is to become the minister for St Monica's church in June of this year. This is what is known as a working church in that it's in a double shop front on the high street. One side is the church and the other side the meeting place.  A small but important church for the neighbourhood which is poor and thus the food bank is a very useful part of the community.

Her son in law Alex has given up his chef job and is in the middle of starting an outside catering business. The idea is that any corporation that want to provide lunch for their employees can come to Alex for him to provide the meal.  This can be cold or hot.  He tried it out on us on Easter Sunday by providing bacon and sausages, potato cakes, vegetables, roast beef, prawns, a range of salads as well as deserts and various breads and scones. He can cater for whatever price range and do pretty much anything really.

I stocked up on sliced sausage and black pudding before heading back to Chatham.

When I got back on the Tuesday I found out my fans would be fitted on the Wednesday and so they were.

This ceiling fan comes with a remote control. There are three fan speed settings and a light setting with is also a dimmer.  The ceiling rose manages to cover a damaged ceiling tile and so today the very final job is to paint the ceiling to blend in the ceiling rose. I'm very pleased with it and it gives a good draft when working.

I also got my Canadian Tax affairs completed and was told I'm due a tax refund so certainly good news there.

I've been watching the elections in both Canada and Scotland with much interest.  It looks like the SNP in Scotland are leading the polls. In Canada it seems to be a bit more complex in that the NDP are having a huge surge in the polls and no one seems to be sure what that means for the election.  Like will a combination of NDP and the Liberal party allow more Conservatives in.  And with the huge surge of the NDP in Quebec will that mean major changes to the BLOC.

And so now we're heading for the Royal wedding of William and Kate and then the following week we'll get the results of the elections.

I did in fact watch the Royal wedding but not live. One program promised to re-run the whole live event later in the day so instead of getting up at 3am I decided to watch that one. I pinched 3 pictures to include here...

On May 2nd 2011 we got the results of the Canadian election which was pretty dramatic. The Conservative party won an overall majority (an 11 seat majority). The NDP became the official opposition for the first time. The Liberals were wiped out and its leader also lost his seat. The Bloc were almost wiped  out with only 3 seats and their leader also lost his seat. We also saw the Green party win their very first seat.

I also recorded my very first vote in the elections as a Canadian Citizen.

Then on the Friday I learned that the SNP in Scotland had an amazing result and won an overall majority which wasn't meant to be possible under the electoral system put in place for the devolved government of Scotland. The Lib-Dems were the biggest loosers (similar to Canada) and Labour lost a lot of seats although their overall vote held up.  They just didn't get any of the floating votes from the Lib-Dems.

Today (12th May) I received my Canadian Passport...

This will give me a considerable advantage when going to the USA as on the visa waiver program I can visit for 6 months at a time.  It also gives me much faster border crossing as with it I can be waived through.  With a British passport I get 3 months and always need to be directed to the Border office to complete a form and pay a fee. I did note that information that came with the passport said that if you needed consular service in some place in the world that Canada is not represented then I can also get assistance from the British or Australian consular services. I guess that's part of us all being in the Commonwealth.

I got a visit from Centennial Windows today as I wanted to know more about what new windows would cost.  I contacted them as they employ all their own people so the installers would be employed rather than having to go through contractors.  They also offer a lifetime warranty which is attractive.  Of course all that means they are not cheap.  They quoted just on $5,000 to replace 3 windows.

Mind you the salesman did give me a couple of names which were useful as I am looking to get some siding work done and also a power wash done.  The people he recommended have been in business for over 30 years and apparently have an excellent reputation.  So I've left voice messages for both and we'll see what they can offer.

Today (12th May) we also had a massive thunderstorm in the area. I was out doing some shopping at the local grocery store when the power went of.  That meant they wouldn't let people do any shopping for safety reasons.  So I headed back home and of course found my electricity was out as well.  It took them some 2 hours to get power back.

I'm also noticing a large increase in petrol prices at the moment. Where I am we've gone to $1.36 per liter. I also noted some Canadians going over the border to the USA as they are at around $1.14 so quite a saving.

I also got a tax rebate of some $2,940 which is quite a significant amount and my taxes this year are very low compared to last year.  So that's also good news. 

On the business front I have started to make a few videos and am publishing them on YouTube.  I did one which was a kind of open letter to the Scottish Government which was to try and give them a wake up call on their poor showing on promoting Scottish tourism and exports in the online world.

I've also tried a video to accompany my weekly newsletter so will see how that goes.  I also did a total makeover of the site header to produce a much fuller menu. As the site is so large it can be hard for visitors to find important sections of the site and so  hope this will help.

Also discussed visiting the Celtic Festival in Quebec during September so will be seeing what can be arranged.  I've also arranged to go to the Fergus Highland Games again this year.

I've been working through old issues of the Scottish Historical Review and found a whole fund of great articles that I've been extracting and adding to the site.

We've also got a new update on our Postcard program. We're also looking to add a whole new Fantasy section. These are graphics from some of the top fantasy artists so we hope folk will enjoy this new facility. As I write this the new postcard is up and running and it's all been tested and so sending postcards at a future date and a reminder program all work as they should.

Arranged to do another outside job this month which is to sandblast the brick work on the front of the house and re-do the cement as there are some wee holes appearing and this year a few insects are getting in which had never happened before.  At the same time I'm getting the siding cleaned under the porch.  I think that will complete things for this year.  I would like to replace the windows but that will be for another day. As part of this last job I'll also be getting my window shutters painted which will complete the outside painting.

And so this completes my report for this quarter but of course we are all looking forward to the Royal visit of William and Katherine who will arrive in Canada on June 30th for a nine day visit.

And here they are arriving in Canada

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