19th May 2000

Hmm, seven months without an entry, unforgivable! This entry will probably be quite long…

After landing as a permanent resident, I headed back to England to finish up at work and deal with the various hassles of leaving the country. I put my house on the market straight away, but decided to wait to sell my car. Jen decided to bring her trip to England forward to the beginning of December, which not only meant we had a month in England together, it also meant I had some much needed help with last minute arrangements.

I finished at BT on the 10th December, which meant we had a few days to sort things out before Christmas. Jen organised a moving sale, a very North American thing, for a Sunday afternoon. We sold lots of stuff, although the bed and sofa still remained.

Before we knew it, it was time to head down South for our flight to Florence – Jen’s xmas present. The flight was uneventful, and we arrived in Bologne right on time. After fighting with the ticket machine for a few minutes, a helpful Englishman showed us which bus ticket to buy. 14000 lira later and we were on our way to the train station. After another fight with another ticket machine, we eventually had Eurostar tickets for Florence. We found seats and settled down for the trip, only to be attacked by a large Italian woman in a fur coat. Apparently I had stolen her reserved seat, but discovering I could not understand her, she gave up the fight and went elsewhere.

An hour or so later, we were standing in Florence train station. We decided to try to walk to the hotel, which proved to be quite exhausting after all that travelling. After trapsing through a maze of narrow streets following hotel signs which seemed to lead us in circles, we finally found our hotel. The building must be very old, our room was huge, with extremely high ceilings and massive double doors out to the hall and to our balcony. The bathroom was obviously added later, but was fine for a short stay. The bath however was tiny, about half the length of a normal bath, with just enough room to sit in while clinging onto the shower attachment which had no wall hook.

We rested in the room for a while, then went out for a stroll. The hotel was right by the river Arno, so we wandered along it into the centre and found somewhere for dinner, a small restaurant on the south side of the river where we had the first of several excellent meals.

The next day we went to the Uffizi, Florence’s most famous art gallery and explored it thoroughly, which took a good part of the day. As well as thousands of individual works of art, the Uffizi also has several rooms which have been fully decorated in styles of days gone by. Incredibly ostentatious and dazzling to look at. We stopped for lunch an impressive looking restaurant nearby, and were served by a surly waiter who didn’t say a word to us the entire time we were there.

We enjoyed a lunch of pizza in a restaurant on the Piazza Vecchio, then explored the myriad of jewellery stores lining the Ponte Vecchio. Finally we enjoyed another fine Italian dinner before retiring to our hotel and enjoying a meal at a restaurant called Bambino just around the corner. The waiter there demanded an order from us, even though we were still trying to translate the menu, but otherwise it was a pleasant restaurant with excellent food.

The next day, we visited the Duomo, a massive cathedral with incredibly ornate outer walls and of course the huge dome on top. Then we crossed the river to the Palazza Pitti, hoping to see the Boboli gardens, but they were closing when we arrived, so we went to an Edvard Munch exhibition in the palace instead.

After stopping back at the hotel, we went out to a restaurant recommended by the hotel staff. It was closed when we arrived, but they let us sit down and peruse the menu. After struggling for half an hour to translate the menu, the waiter came and asked if we would like English menus, so we put away our phrase cards. We enjoyed a fabulous meal, surrounded by people who appeared to be locals. At the end of the evening, over the last of our wine, I asked Jen to marry me, and she said yes!

The next day we travelled back to England, fairly uneventfully apart from getting the broken seats on the plane (broken footrest, broken table, broken recliner etc.)

We spent Christmas between Maylandsea and Stanford, and enjoyed both, gave and got lots of loot, so much that it was a struggle to get everything packed for our return to Canada! After borrowing an old suitcase from my Dad, we managed to get everything in and we were off to my new home.

We were met at Dorval airport by Jen’s mum and Richard, but we were too exhausted to be very sociable, so we went straight home and passed out.

Since then I’ve been settling into life in Montreal. I turfed out boxloads of junk from the apartment to make room for my stuff. We’ve done some decorating and rearranging. We’ve started a photo gallery in the hall. We’ve got new computer desks. I’ve been looking for work. After the car got sold I bought a new computer, and a bike, and a DVD player.

In April we went on a trip to British Columbia. The first half of the trip was to attend Jen’s brother’s graduation ceremony, in Nelson, which is an eight hour drive from Vancouver. Dan was at the art school there, studying Jewellery. After the main ceremony, a raffle and auction was held. We won a cool TV stand and a CD holder in the raffle, and bought a funky red table in the auction. Thanks to Dan for shipping it all home for us!

The second part of the BC trip we stayed with Philip and Doris. Philip is an ex-Brit and ex-co-worker of mine who emigrated to Vancouver a few years ago. Since I saw him last he’s shaved his head and grown a goatee, which was a surprise! While we were there he was busy transferring their CD collection onto the computer, which seemed like a very cool idea, so now we’ve done the same.

Finally, we headed down to Seattle to meet up with some friends from Chatgames, which was a lot of fun. We also took a day trip out to Snoqualmie, where Twin Peaks was filmed, and Roslyn, where Northern Exposure was filmed.

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