The Eternal Language Barrier

I’ve been chatting online with a pal in the hospitality business, comparing notes on the respective frustrations of running a B&B versus a motel. He is off to buy a new TV for one of the rooms today and I was reminded of the absurd TV buying disaster of yestercareer. So, with thanks to Barry for reminding me today, and Ian for putting me right at the time, I think it’s time to relive the great Canadian R debacle. This is what I wrote at the time…

(And if you have missed any of the other musings on culture shock and other oddities, you can find more at Immigration, Looking BackTradition TraditionAn Old Story, The Wizard of Oz and Cicadas and Alarums.)

It’s a useful thing, the Canadian R. There are times that I wish my English way of speaking – my inherent BBC accent – could learn to incorporate it.… Read on...

Immigration

For a few of us it is a lifestyle choice, for most of the world it’s a ‘issue’. The UK witters about it all the time, what with being full up, and it would appear that Canada is beginning to fret about immigration too. Only this week the Canadian government has slapped visa requirements on Mexicans and the Czech Roma, to try and stop unsuccessful refugee claims from tourists. There have been minor outcries. Apparently it costs insane amounts of money to look after people for the years it takes to process an unsuccessful claim, and Canada looks after people prettily, that’s why they come. It’s ok of course if you are a real refugee, but the chancers and tryers-on are a drain on resources.

The other category that we love to hate, of course, is your economic migrant. These cheeky people are the lowest of the low on both sides of the Pond.… Read on...

Looking Back

It occurs to me that there are several sorts of travelling. Immigration, for example, is a lot more than just moving to another place. The demolishing of normality makes for a bizarre internal journey. As I contemplate not writing about new places for a while, it might be amusing to look back at some of the odder aspects of settling in. We live here now, it wasn’t always thus. So, a few articles culled from work published by Emigrate magazine over the years. Just to get things going…

If these musings appeal you can find more tales of transatlantic confusion and fun at Immigration, The Eternal Language Barrier, Tradition Tradition, An Old Story, The Wizard of Oz and Cicadas and Alarums.

How complicated can it be? You pack up a few books and clothes, a box of toys and an antique grandmother clock. You pop a teenager under your arm, leave London, England behind and cross the Atlantic.… Read on...

All change

It’s been ages. I know. ‘What happened to the blog?’ I’m being asked. And it is high time I told you.

It appears, you see, that I may not be quite strong enough to be a trucker after all, and that is quite a difficult thing for an intrepid trail blazer to admit. Just after the last, terrifying, sleep deprived, icy, whiteout of a drive I had some trouble getting out of the cab. I could drive ok but unaccountably couldn’t walk. Whisked off for tests to check for worrying things like MS and brain tumours, I wasn’t allowed to drive until some doc or other deemed it safe.

The good news is that I don’t have MS or a brain tumour.
Read on...

Whiteout


And then it was Neil’s turn to drive through the crappy weather. I handed over while it was snowing and blowing and settling. Visibility wasn’t good, you could see the yellow line from time to time, occasionally a bit of tarmac so you knew there was some road under there somewhere. I went to bed. Sleeping while the truck is moving has become strangely comforting now, although there is still an awareness of odd things happening. I half awoke at one point in the night under the impression we were reversing, put it down to a wacky dream turned over and went back to sleep.

At about 1 in the morning the truck stopped. “the road’s been closed by the police” advised Neil, apparently it had all got a teensy bit worse. The whiteout was now total. He had been directed to park in the car park of a little motel and garage just by where the police had cordoned off the road.… Read on...

Lady truckers and military bases don’t mix

Lady truckers and military bases don’t mix

A day’s rest in Edmonton restored our spirits a little and we headed off to the next pickup in sprightlier mood. Cold Lake was the destination, apparently aptly named although I didn’t actually try out the lake itself. It is about as far north as you can get in Alberta, before the roads give up bothering. The only thing in Cold Lake is an air force base, which is where we were due to collect something, from someone. The shipping address consisted of a mere three letters, CFB, which we only knew to be some sort of military establishment because we happened to be chinwagging over a cup of coffee with a helpful and friendly Challenger team in Edmonton when the assignment came in.

We sent a satellite message to despatch, asking for a bit of help with finding our load. We assumed that the base would be easy enough to locate, but that there might be some sort of protocol attached to getting in and that it might include such security issues as knowing where you were supposed to be collecting what.

Read on...

Snow, The Soo, and high winds in Alberta

Welcome back to winter Carolyn. It was spring in London with crocuses and stuff, in fact it was relatively mild in Ontario too, come to think of it. The snowbanks were melting, leaving behind piles of brownish sludge and puddles in the road which freeze overnight. But, we were destined to head north and west and it didn’t take long to be back in real, proper winter. Northern Ontario goes on forever, it takes a full 24 hours driving to get anywhere near the border with Manitoba and the roads are slushy, hilly, bendy and tiring. They do, however offer a little more in the way of places to drive through than the main drag through the Prairies.

We opted for a new route this week. We are tired of Highway 11. We have tried all the coffee stops and tested all the bathroom opportunities. There is a decent enough truckstop at New Liskeard and a Tim Horton’s you can park near in Cochrane, but the road is difficult to drive and prone to blizzards.… Read on...