Saturday, June 02, 2018

Moving to Canada

Oxford, England, 29 May

Last minute preparations for the move, including a mini-ritual to collect up all the memories from the house in Oxford.


Oxford, England, 30 May

Today is the big day of the move. The removal men have arrived and our life is disappearing into a series of cardboard boxes. The cats were freaked out so we have locked them in the bathroom. Poor mogs 😿😿

I've been on the verge of tears all morning as I feel very rooted to this land, and sad to leave my friends and family.

We've gone out for a coffee to a lovely Caribbean-themed community cafe run by the local community. I wish I'd discovered it before.

Passed a local tower block being re-clad which made me think of Grenfell Tower. Finally burst into tears telling Bob about a guy who lost his mum and sister (they were trapped on the top floor) and was on the phone with them till they died.

When we got back to the house, one of the movers had put the cat carriers in a box, but luckily we were just in time to fish them out, spray them with Feliway, and get the cats into them.

The taxi arrived at 1:30pm and we got to Heathrow very early, about 3pm. The flight was at 6, but was delayed by 45 minutes. It took a while to get through security, what with the cats and everything, but all the staff at Heathrow were really helpful, and several were cat lovers. In the end, the flight was delayed by an hour and a half btwemade up sometime on the way over. It took ages to collect our bags, get through immigration (collected my PR paperwork, and declaring the cats) and then we had to go and pick up our hire car; we had to ride the airport train to the end and then the hire company picked us up in a minibus. And then we got stuck in a traffic jam outside Mississauga.

Cambridge, Ontario, 31 May
Arrived safely. The cats are still lurking upstairs, they haven't explored the whole house yet. We managed to get some kip. Arrived 1:30 am Canadian time (6:30 am UK time). There were two "happy new home" cards waiting for us.

Just about to go and get some breakfast. And coffee!

Here's a picture of the back garden.
 
Bob is mowing the lawn with next door's mower.

Morrissey is hiding in a cupboard in the bathroom. He has explored but got worried when he heard next door's dog. Ziggy has explored the whole house, except the basement. He likes looking out of the windows onto the garden.  The Feliway really helped them. 

We saw some chipmunks in the garden this afternoon. A friend of Bob's came over, bringing coffee and muffins, some herbs, incense, and a candle, and showed us where the local swimming pool is, and also helped us get a green bin from the dump. Later we went to the swimming pool, which has a hot tub, so we got a lot of the aches and pains from the flight out.

Cambridge, Ontario, 1 June

All feeling much better here. We did a new home ritual, asking for the blessing and protection of the elements, releasing the memories from the old house into the new one. The cats seem much happier today. Morrissey had a big purr fest this morning and has come down to explore of his own accord. I had a terrible night's sleep (too hot, uncomfortable air mattress) but it has cooled down a bit now and I eventually got some sleep. We met up with a UK friend who is moving here, and went to a British pub for lunch, and bought a camp bed.
Cambridge, Ontario, 2 June
Today Morrissey went and explored the basement... the first time I turned the light on for him, the second time he went down there in the dark. Both cats have purred and snuggled up with us. It was soooo hot the first couple of nights, we were all melting. It got a lot cooler last night. The cats seem to like all the space in the house and windows to look out of.

The neighbours are very friendly. The lady next door lent us her lawnmower. Today we are picking up a bed and a sofa and a gas cooker from Bob's sisters.

The house is nice but currently not much furniture - except what Bob brought out from the locker. Luckily that includes dining table and chairs. It'll be great when it has all our stuff in it. The walls need painting too. Who the heck paints their walls grey?

The food here is amazing, so fresh and tasty. Watercress that tastes like Hampshire watercress, not like the Spanish stuff, and actually sweet lettuces, and lots of choice. And pretty reasonable prices too.
So far we have seen black squirrels, grey squirrels, chipmunks, a chickadee, and a couple of North American Robins (or as they are called here, robins).

Drove over to Guelph to get the truck to pick up the sofa and bed and stove, but there were only two seats in it, so Bob has gone on to Hamilton to pick up his son, and then the stuff.


Wednesday, February 07, 2018

No platform

It was Spring 2007, and a first year student on the University of Bath politics degree course had invited Nick Griffin, then leader of the British National Party, to speak at the University of Bath. The student who had invited him turned out to be the youth organiser for the BNP.

The student union, and all three campus staff unions (UCU, Unison, and Unite), swung into action to protest against Griffin being allowed to speak at the university. Nova Gresham, the regional official for the UCU South-West Region, came to support us, and we had speeches from her and some anti-racist activists at the joint staff and student meeting. Everyone at the meeting signed a petition asking the university to cancel the event. We were all very clear that allowing racists and fascists to speak (particularly if they speak unopposed) at universities lends an aura of respectability to their ideas, because they are given credence and kudos by the university, and that it is likely to increase incidents of racist violence in areas where fascists and racists hold events.

I still have the T-shirt I was given at the meeting, which has that quote about evil flourishing when good people do nothing on it.

We then went to present the petition to the Vice-Chancellor of the University. We explained our concerns about lending respectability to fascist ideas, and that such events have resulted in an increase in racist incidents. I felt that the VC understood where we were coming from mainly because a Black student looked straight at the VC and said, "I live on campus, so inviting this man onto campus is like inviting him into my living room. Would you invite him into your living room?" The VC replied "No".

Later that day, we met with the University Secretary, and advised him that trade unionists from all over the South West would converge on the university to protest (we had been promised up to six coach-loads). The talk was scheduled to take place during exams, and the University Secretary told us that if they cancelled the event, it would be over concerns around being unable to maintain public order, and the potential disruption to exams, as the University was committed to principles of free speech.

I was on holiday in Poland when I got a text to let me know that the event had indeed been cancelled. We heard that Griffin ended up giving his speech on a street corner somewhere in the city of Bath, and that his audience was outnumbered by the police who were there to prevent any incidents.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Canada 2017

University of Toronto

Snowplough parked on a lawn - Dundas, ON

Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, ON

Squills, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, ON

Kentucky coffee tree, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, ON

Snapping turtle, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, ON

Irises, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, ON

Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Musket demonstration, Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Musket demonstration, Fort George, Niagara, Ontario

Niagara River. The foreground is Canada, the other shore in the background is the USA

Kentucky coffee bean pod. These trees were originally propagated by mammoths.
After the mammoth went extinct, the tree had to propagate via suckers.

Niagara River (Canada on the left, USA on the right)

Welland Canal lifting bridge

A ship on the Welland Canal

Elora Gorge, Ontario

Elora Gorge, Ontario

Flowers, Elora Gorge, Ontario

Princess Point, Lake Ontario

Vancouver

Maritime Museum, Vancouver

Vancouver

Burrard Bridge, Vancouver

Welcome totem pole, Vancouver

Vancouver from Granville Island.
That's an eagle's nest in the tree.

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Feasting dishes.
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Feasting dishes (detail).
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Feasting dishes (detail).
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

The frog on this statue's chest was added by the carver because a frog jumped onto it while he was carving.
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Zuni owls.
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Hopi katsina
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Heiltsuk declaration of opposition to oil pipeline.

Figure representing Heiltsuk opposition to oil pipeline.
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Hat.
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Masks
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Masks
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Mask
Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

View towards islands, BC

Vancouver

Vancouver

Vancouver

Vancouver

Vancouver

Vancouver

Suspension bridge
Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Suspension bridge
Lynn Valley Park
Vancouver

Boat trip to Bowen Island

Boat trip to Bowen Island

Boat trip to Bowen Island

Boat trip to Bowen Island

View from Bowen Island

View from Bowen Island

Horseshoe Cove, Vancouver

Totem pole, Vancouver (its twin is in Windsor Great Park, England)

Close-up of totem pole, Vancouver

Ceremonial shirt on display in Vancouver airport