Friday, 26 December 2008
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Now the rest of it works, but no oven, and the first opportunity to get it fixed.....next year! So initial thoughts were unsafe for human consumption, like the turkey would have been I guess. So we review our options:
1: Buy new cooker, the cooker we have is a good one, if a bit old, so I was talked out of purchasing a shiny new toy.
2: Get the thing fixed in the New Year and live with it until then. Happy bloody Christmas :P
3: Go to the mountains and forget about it until after Christmas, this may not be possible depending on my job.
4: Ask ze Germans fur ze help. Bingo!!!!!!!!
So I rang our neighbours, John and Sonja (it's -25 and I ain't walking over) to ask for any help they could provide. And so we have the use of their entire kitchen for Christmas Day as they're off to John's brother's for the day. Believe it or not, I'm a sucker for the generosity of some people and it's really cool that we have people like this around us. To be honest, their whole family are really generous - her brother Tony has given me a lift from the bus station a number of times, very nice of him, especially when you consider he's the main bus inspector :)
So while I'm sure we will be posting again before Christmas we wish you all well, and hope you enjoy the Christms shopping. Finished mine today woohoo!
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Then most of Jacqui`s nearest and dearest interested in the spring and summer, probably squeeze them in between May and August. That`s between two and four visits with 1-2 Braby`s per visit.
The rest of you should get your orders in pdq, I`m looking at you Miss E Miller :)
So a lot of lovely visitors to look forward to in our near future.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
By the way I forgot to say that they had a reorganisation of office space in September and I was finally given an office with a window. Ok, the view's not all that but at least there's daylight. Also the building opposite is something military, so occasionally there's lots of young men in uniform to watch.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
To celebrate 36 years of me being on this fair planet, we went for afternoon tea to the Fairmont MacDonald last Saturday. This hotel is one of the poshest and oldest in Edmonton but in the 80s was within a whisker of getting knocked down and replaced by a multi-storey car park. Luckily, the local historical group got into action and saved it and so it is still here to serve us afternoon tea on this historic day.
After various savouries, pastries, scones and an excellent cup of tea, we got a tour of the hotel including the penthouse suite where Elisabeth II stayed in 19??. It had a lot of stairs - I doubt she could stay there now. However, apparently they have quite a lot of movie stars staying there now. Presumably ones who are more agile than an octogenarion monarch.
After that, it was off to Coventry for a couple of days with Elisabeth and Paul. As North Americans visiting the old country, we decided to get some history and had a great day out at War-wick (be sure to pronounce both w's) Castle. Now Taussauds runs it, it seems much more commercialised that when I was last there about twelve years ago, but still a great day out. On our last evening we went out for a proper pub meal - pie and chips. Mmm.
We had our first day in High Wycombe with Jacqui and Duncan et al, who kindly met us at the airport and gave us a bed for the night. Arriving at 10am which was 3am for us, we've now established that the best cure for jet lag is to spend the day with four under ten-year olds as they will keep you awake until late in the day. You then go to sleep and wake up in English time.
From there we spent the week in Carleton Rode with Richard's parents and caught up with most of our friends in Naarch. I spent an afternoon at good old Norfolk County Council catching up with ex-colleagues and telling them how great it is in Canada (before I knew about the Drayton Valley Disaster, ironically). I also spent a day with Ann - a visit to the newly created Cromer Zoo and then fish and chips from Mary Jane's on Cromer Pier. And it didn't rain. Perfect. Richard and I even managed a day out on our own, with no socializing. We went to Wells and then worked our way round the coast to west Norfolk and wandered round Sandringham gardens as we've never been there before.
Cromer and Ann. Note no rain
The weekend was then spent in Suffolk for Richard's Dad's 60th birthday. Alan thought he was going away for a romantic weekend with Sue. Little did he know that the whole family was coming along too. Still, he didn't seem too disappointed. Well done to Jacqui and Elaine for all their hard work organising it, keeping it a surprise, and even tracing a couple of Alan's old school friends to join him for dinner on the Saturday night.
The birthday boy holding court to his entourage at lunch on Saturday
The cake, made by Julie, of Alan's market stall.
Tiramisoo, my level 28 human rogue. She's a good girl.
Zalida, my level 61 undead mage. She's a bad girl with big shoulders and no knees.
I never thought I'd see the day when it would be Richard telling me to get off the %$?&@*# computer and do the washing up/go shopping/come to bed. Revenge is sweet!
One of the new projects I'm working on is the North West Anthony Henday Drive which is a section of the northern ring road around Edmonton which goes from the Yellowhead Trail at 9 o'clock to Manning Drive at about 1 o'clock. Unlike the Norwich Northern Distributor Road which is still in the paper stage, this is being built over the next three years. It's a DBFO (Design, build, finance, operate) project which means that the Contractor is designing it as well as building it. ISL is representing the client (Alberta Transportation) and doing all the checking of the designs to make sure they are compatible with its technical standards. This means that we are receiving vast amounts of documentation each week and have to turn it around in three days. M y role is the document controller - I have to log everything in and out and for this I am in the process of building a database.
Not sound very technical and worthy of a PEng? Well I'm also doing some of the reviewing, the cost control and for the last couple of weeks I've been replacing the site inspector who is away on vacation. This means I got to off road! I was given a truck (this is redneck Alberta after all - no landrovers here) and I drove around the site, observing what was going on. As it's all still at the earthworks stage it makes fun driving, although it's quite hairaising as there's a lot of big plant around so you have to keep your eyes open. Unfortunately, Dennis back now from Mexico so I've had to give the truck back. It's back to the office for me.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Ok so I've been in work for all of 4 months now and now I'm going down to 20 hours per week.So let's try and answer some of the big questions here.
1: What's all that about
1a: How did I wangle that.
2: When's the divorce
1: I've recently come to the end of my probation period with Focus and they have said they're happy with me and want me to stay on. While we were on holiday Jacqui and I talked a lot about what we wanted and what would be good for us. We agreed that it was better for us when I wasn't working and that we would like to go back to that situation where I was doing all the stuff that made our lives better when we were both at home.
So I went to Focus when I got back and said all this to my boss, fully expecting to be leaving work that week or very soon after. Then the buggers go and offer me a part-time role!!! This suits us really well, an ideal situation we think, so we've sorted out the details and we're both really positive about what this means for us.
1a: It's Jacqui who has the work permit and if she leaves work we get deported.
2: Hopefully never he says, shamelessly fishing for brownie points.
So there you have it I am now both working and a slacker and we'll see how it all works out.
So in summary since the end of August we have:
Finished planning our trip to England
Been to England
Travelled Back to Canada
Recovered from exhausting trip to England.
Since we've been back we've been to our first Canadian Football game (free executive tickets woohoo:), I've been working down in Calgary for a bit and Jacqui's been working her hands raw catching up with the surprise mountain of work at ISL.
Last Friday was a welcome rest for both of us, Jacqui and a dozen or so other harpies went to see Canadians with questionable English accents assault Pride and Prejudice. And she said it was good fun and well worth doing. While I made my excuses and went out with John and Ian for drinks and the most expensive steak meal I've ever had, and it was truly wonderful. The restaurant's in an old bank in downtown Edmonton, we were in the normal seats but we did see a group of people eating in the privacy of the vault, pretty cool!
And that brings us neatly up to Thanksgiving weekend here in Canadia. Jacqui and I have been cleaning the house up as we have friends coming over tomorrow (Monday, it's a Bank Holiday here) for a turkey meal and quite probably one or two drinks, it's the Canadian way we feel obliged :)
Anyway Thanks for reading the fairly long post and we hope you're all lovely.
We had a really nice time back in England and it was really great to see you all again.
Thankyou soo much for those of you we stayed with and special thanks to Jacky and Duncan and Jacqui's parents for ferrying us about, it made it all possible.
Friday, 29 August 2008
Drayton Valley - 2008 Street Improvements
Drayton Valley is a town of 7,000 people located 2 hour's drive south west of Edmonton. I am project managing the design and construction of various improvements including a couple of junction improvements, regrading and surfacing a car park and a couple of road realignments. It is under construction at the moment and will stretch over this year and next year.
Highway 22/50 Avenue. The junction is being realigned as it is at a skew angle and is hard for large trucks to negotiate.
Leduc - Black Gold Drive
The City of Leduc is a bit closer to home. It is located half an hours drive south of Edmonton, just beyond the airport. Black Gold Drive is one of the residential arterial routes and is currently a two lane road. I am project managing the design and construction to widen it to 4 lanes. It is currently out to tender, and there will be some construction work this year, but most of it is next year. Fortunately, over here there is the opportunity to plan ahead so when the original road was built, enough land was set aside to widen it at a future date. Also the crriageway was built so that it falls to just one side instead of being a balanced road, so the new lanes can butt up to the old ones, without the need for regrading the existing road. Smart.
Black Gold Drive
City of Edmonton Rail Crossings
Last summer I carried out a study of all 37 level crossings on arterial routes within the city to determine which are most in need of bridges. Factors such as numbers of trains, volume of traffic, physical layout of the crossing, importance of the railway line etc. played a part in coming up with a list of priorities. I am currently working on a concept plan for the highest ranking crossing, doing a preliminary design and assessing the impact and issues.
50th Street Rail Crossing
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
BF making fire
Saturday morning we woke up early and there was a whole herd of (well, about 8) wapiti (elk) wandering round the site within feet of the tent. Close to, it's surprising how large they are - about the size of a cow. They hung around for ages, and didn't seem to mind the waking campers.
Early morning visitor
After breakfast we went for a marathan hike from Malign Lake to the Bald Hills. The walk was only 12km but the increase in elevation was 600m over the 6km there. However, as always, the view from the top was worth it and we all just about survived, although I am paying for it today.
All energized for the start of the walk. Yes, we were headed up those distance mountains.
The weary travellers make it to the top...
...and the view is fantastic
Saturday evening was a well earned shower, chilli for supper and then an early night due to exhaustion. Sunday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and then drove back to Edmonton, arriving abut 3pm.
A red car
A cream car
A silver car
An orange car
A blue car
Bearded fool enjoying something that isn't a kebab.
Morris dancing at the England stand
The England stand also had a 'country garden' area for partaking of one's cream tea.
Monday, 18 August 2008
A couple of weeks ago King Arthur started his quest for the holy grail in the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton and we went to see Spamalot. We'd seen the show in London a couple of years back with the excellent Tim Curry playing King Arthur, but unfortunately Richard was recovering from a bad cold so couldn't really get into it. This version was directed by Mike Nichols (of The Graduate, Primary Colours and Charlie Wilson's War fame) and starred an American cast. The dodgy English accents were hilarious with sentences generally starting in Somerset or London but racing across the Atlantic by the end of them. Richard was 100% fit this time so we had a great time.
On a rather bizarre note I got sent a reminder a few days before the show from Ticketmaster. It also had an 'if you enjoy this show you may also like...' section. However, as its recommendations for me were Swan Lake and Alice Cooper, it appears that they were based on venue rather than genre.
Monday, 4 August 2008
And in other news I have now been employed for almost 2 months and not been fired yet. I have not been able to unleash what I loosely call my 'sense of humour' so that's probably why. They have enough trouble understanding me normally. I've managed the team for three weeks and that's been okay, now I may do something else, wish me luck on that. Look forward to seeing those of you who read this and even some of you that don't. Bye bye.
Monday, 30 June 2008
In the afternoon I took them up Jasper Tramway (cable car) to admire the view. This is the third time I’ve been up there, but the first time on such a sunny day, so the view was amazing.
Supper was fish and chips, served in buckets at Evil Dave’s Grill, a great place to eat if you find yourself in Jasper.
On Saturday morning, I drove back then to Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake. We saw some wildlife on the way in the form of an elk/caribou/stag (big thing with antlers) and a couple of does. I also got stung on the neck by a @^%$!*# wasp. Canadian wildlife really is dangerous. Luckily no anaphylactic shock, but it really hurt.
The scenery was fantastic and Grandma and Grandad stayed awake for the whole journey – quite an achievements considering they generally keep nodding off at random times and even fell asleep in the middle of Live Free and Die Hard one of the evenings they were with us.
I then left them there early afternoon to drive back to Edmonton. They phoned last night from Kamloops in BC to say that they had caught the Rocky Mountaineer Train fine Sunday morning and that it was fantastic. They then arrive in Vancouver tonight.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Friday I was also off work and it was a glorious day, so in the morning I took them for a drive around Edmonton, showing them where Richard and I work. We then went on the tourist historic street car which travels across High Level Bridge from Old Strathcona on the south side of the river to downtown on the north side of the river. It was a really nice trip with about 20 minutes of travel at a sedate pace in each direction. Here’s a few of photos.
In the afternoon, while Grandad was watching yet another football match, Grandma and I went shopping for plants for the garden, so that we could put her green fingers to use over the next few days.
Saturday was also beautiful weather. In the morning we took them for an all Canadian breakfast at Socrates Diner in St Albert and then strolled round the farmers market, sampling everything there was to sample. In the evening, Richard had to work, but the three of us went round our neighbours over the road, John and Sonja, for drinks. John comes from a Dutch family, so there was much commiserating/teasing about Holland’s earlier defeat to Russia (in Euro 2008 that is, in case those of you who don’t follow the football are trying to recall when Russia last invaded the Netherlands). Sonja, who is German, remained smug, but that may end later today or on Sunday. I left the grandparents with them and picked Richard up from work at 10pm. Then we went back for more drinks and stayed until 12.30am, sitting out in the garden.
Unfortunately the nice weather didn’t last and Sunday it poured all day, so we didn’t get out and about. However, our next door neighbours, Alf and Nel, came round for a cup of tea in the afternoon and got on well enough with my grandparents to invite them over for coffee yesterday morning.
Monday I was working all day, so Grandma and Grandad took the bus into Edmonton and strolled round downtown. They even got interviewed by a woman from the CBC (the equivalent of the BBC) about the issue of pan handlers. However, at point they hadn’t seen any, which was probably the wrong answer, so I’m not sure if they actually made it into the final cut on TV.
Yesterday evening we went out for an Italian meal to celebrate Grandma and Grandad’s 59th (wow 59 years!) wedding anniversary, and a belated celebration of our paltry two years of marriage (NB, the word paltry refers to the quantity and any implication that it refers to the quality is entirely coincidental).
Today and tomorrow I’m also working, but on Friday, I (and Richard if he can finish early) will be taking them to Jasper to see the Rockies. We’ll stay overnight there and show them round on Saturday. On Sunday, Grandma and Grandad then catch the Rocky Mountaineer Train for a spectacular two day trip through the Rockies to Vancouver. They then stay there three nights before flying back home.
Thursday, 19 June 2008
I was just in the process of looking for someone to ask if
a. they were actually on that plane, or
b. had fallen asleep and carried on to Vancouver
when they came out the doors. One of their bags had been misplaced, although fortunately they found it the minute Grandma had filled in the lost baggage form.
So I got them back to the house ok and they managed to stay awake until about 10pm (5am) and then went to bed. I've left them asleep this morning while I come into work, but I'll be back at lunchtime and I've got tomorrow off too to show them around.
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Oh and by the way we had big rain yesterday, flooding up to 1 metre in some bits of St Albert, an inch INSIDE Superstore which was funny and the water up to peoples door handles in the carpark. Took me two and a half hours to get home compared to the normal 40 min.... Soo many Albertans with dead cars, I think a mixture of bad maintenance ( they don't have MOTs out here if it moves they can drive it on the roads) and no experience driving in water did not help. Made me smile though :)
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Monday, 9 June 2008
Then on Sunday Jacqui had a full day of church and concerts while I went to watch some football with ze Germans, and I have to say it was good fun, watching football with other people is soo much better whatever their ancestry I guess. Now it's time to continue reading up in preparation for work, my Time Management is improving daily........this may be untrue.
Signing off with only one and a half days of freedom remaining, BF.
P.S. We saw Indiana Jones last Tuesday......shudder.
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Today is our second wedding anniversary, a momentous day indeed, and what are we doing to celebrate it........we're off to see Indiana Jones. We know how to live!
I have also accepted the job I was offered, so now I'm doing all the required reading, and there's lots of it. One thing this does mean, the wages for Big TV scandal is back on the table, and negotiations now continue apace. Wish me luck, we need an 80 inch tv :)
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
On a more stable note the job looks challenging and uses some different as well as other more familiar chunks of technology, and my prospective manager wants me to be certified within the year. Insert joke as required.
I will almost certainly accept this role, barring anything unnatural in the offer docs. Farewell freedom, I knew you only too well.
Friday, 23 May 2008
The crowd banter/abuse of an english match was missing. In the first half there was polite clapping, interspersed with two drunk Canadian lads loudly singing the praises of Man United (I think they'd turned up at the wrong match) but by the second half the crowd had mastered the art of the mexican wave and so things improved a bit.
The football itself wasn't all that, and I have to say that LA Galaxy were pretty poor despite having Mr Beckham, and Ruud Gullit (without the dreadlocks) as coach, and they lost 1-2. David Beckham was contracted to play at least 75 minutes, and was substituted at 75:01. He could have shown willing and stayed on for a few more seconds.
I realise the above all sounds very negative, but it was actually a fun evening out. In this desert of ice hockey, baseball and Canadian 'football', it provided some sustenance to the followers of the real thing. I quite enjoyed it too, and even spotted when one of the players was off side. Richard was quite proud of me.
As you can see clearly, David Beckham is no. 23, the left most one in blue.
Richard, Steve and Ian and a few thousand other people
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Today I was up bright and early to be at the local supermarket to purchase one of the two Wii Fit thingies they got in. I did not know they were only getting two and I get the feeling that they have a bunch of them out back saved for staff, but either way I have one!
So after unpacking and attaching said wii balance thing to the console I proceeded to have a 30 min workout trying out all the exercises, some were harder that others and one I just could not complete. And I have to say it seems pretty cool, it can handle my weight and I think that Jacqui and I will get a chunk of use out of it.
By the way BEWARE, it gives you a fitness age compared to your actual age, this can be traumatic, you have been warned :)
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Hot fool signing off.
Monday, 19 May 2008
So Jacqui raked and I helped bag up the leaves from last autumn, 9 bags in total, not a bad haul. And now the push has begun to varnish up our garden furniture (second coat) so we have summit to sit upon.
And my new addiction to homemade smoothies is fitting nicely into the upturn in the weather, the blender's getting a regular workout.
Anyway I better get off the computer and do something else, a domestic god's work is never done after all.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
At the moment I are been mostly looking for gainful employment. Now getting any job is not difficult, getting one that I think I'll like and who likes me is. So the last couple of weeks I've had interviews for 3 companies, and 1 second interview. As I write this I am still in the frame for all three and should hear about two of them this week.
If I manage to avoid all three then I want to start out on my own, either contracting or doing some basic PC fixing around St. Albert, and if that's slow to begin with I am considering doing some volunteer work.
On a more social note we're off to watch the LA Galaxy (Beckham's Team) at the Commonwealth stadium tonight, so that should be fun.
P.S. We seem to be infested by baby squirrels, remind me to pick up some rat poison from the shop, can't have Jacqui slacking off oohing and ahhing :)