Reading back over these letters, I notice that while I keep referring to ‘us’ and ‘we’, this has been a bit of a one-person narrative. So I think the time has come to redress the balance a bit, and bring you up to date on what all the other members of our travelling band have been up to since we arrived, and how they are all settling in.
It has been a strange kind of process for us all, this adventure, because while everything has changed, in some ways, nothing has – we get up, we have breakfast, we go off to work and school, we come home, we have dinner, we do homework or housework, we go to bed. That much is constant. But of course, the roles have changed, and all the details from big (we’re doing this in a different country!) to small (the school day starts and ends earlier than it used to) have changed. And the biggest single change is that Zoë and I have effectively swapped roles.
Living in the stressed-out south of England, my day tended to start a lot earlier than everyone else’s. This ensured that I missed the worst of the traffic, which now I look at it from here sounds a particularly wrong-headed way to prioritise my life. Now, we eat breakfast together most days, and Zoë is the one setting off to drive across town to her new job. She is still a Speech and Language Therapist (only now she is a Pathologist rather than a Therapist), working at the Child Development Centre. This has meant that she has had to adjust back to working from an office rather than from home, at the same time trying to adjust to the different Canadian ways of doing things (even the hole punches are different – trouble with stationery items is really the last thing you need when learning a new job!)
The most fulfilling part of her role is her outreach days – regular trips to Vanderhoof (an hour’s drive west of here) and the Robson Valley (two or more hours’ drive east). These are giving her the satisfaction of discovering much more about the country and the people in it, while giving me the experience of trying to figure out how badly delayed she is likely to be by construction (or shopping!), so that I can serve dinner in a relatively unburnt state.
Yes, I’ve been cooking. That’s a whole other letter on its own.
It as been quite a change for both of us; I did wonder at first how I would fill my days (once I had done the school run, the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the helping-with-homework and the soccer coaching, of course), but I find that the 8 or 9 minutes I have left at the end of each day just speed by.
For Zoë there has been the strange sensation of letting me just get on with things; routines which she had carefully constructed over 8 years of bringing up our children destroyed in a few short days of ‘doing it daddy’s way’. To her credit, she hasn’t shouted at me much. Yet. And I’d just like to point out that it is not true that I sent the boys to school with only candy bars for lunch.
As for the boys, I have to say that they have been just superb. This has been a huge change for them, and they have handled it really well. They have been uprooted from everything they knew , leaving friends and family behind and not only adjusting to a new country where they can say ‘pants’ without anyone giggling, but also a new home and a new school. I would in particular like to point out that Hart Highlands School has been fantastic, welcoming them with open arms and making us all feel part of the community.
They have both enjoyed school (as much as any small child can enjoy school, of course), and they have both found their classmates fun and friendly. In addition, they have both been very active in youth soccer, and that has given them a whole other social outlet, as well as keeping them (and me) fit and active.
And I must apologise to my British readers – the game they play here is called ‘soccer’ – there is already a sport here called ‘football’ (although there isn’t a lot of ‘foot’ involved in it), and even that is subtly different from the kind played south of the border – it’s easier for everyone if we just call it ‘soccer’. Sorry.
So, soccer has been a wonderful way to meet new friends, and the first half of the season culminated in a World Cup Final party to which I (as coach) invited all Cameron’s team-mates, and a great time was had by all (especially those of us supporting Italy). I looked around our family room that day, full of excitable boys (and some excitable parents, too) – none of whom we knew three months ago - and I thought that we weren’t doing at all badly.
As for the final members of the travelling crew: the two cats, they have handled the change very happily. Once they recovered from the indignity of being squashed into a plastic crate and flown halfway round the world, they have enjoyed all the space they have here, and as soon as we felt able to let them explore outside, they have been rewarding us with a constant stream of dead rodents. This is, of course, their way of showing us that they love us. Alternatively, it’s a subtle comment on the Canadian cat food market – I’m not sure which.
So, we’re settled, and now we have our first visitors from the place we used to call ‘home’. My parents and sister have just arrived, and the next three weeks will be taken up with showing off all that’s wonderful about the place we now call ‘home’. It already feels like we’re on to the next stage of the journey.
I’ll let you know how they get on.