Well I haven't written a "what I've been up to" post since India really so given I'm about to have a major life change I thought I should get into gear and post something! I had a very enjoyable and eventful time over Christmas and New Year. We spent time before Christmas with my family in Northumberland. We did a lovely walk just a couple of days before Christmas by Dunstanburgh Castle in warm sunshine! On Christmas eve we headed down to Kent to spend Christmas with Mrs Alex's family (or Dr Alex as I should say now!) in Kent. Christmas was great, lots of wonderful food as well as my first visit from Santa in about 16 years - I must have been a good boy - and a surprisingly enjoyable trip to the panto in Canterbury. For New Year we rented a couple of lovely cottages at Pekes Manor in Sussex with a big group of friends and enjoyed relaxing and not doing very much. Then I went up to London for a couple of days to visit my good friend and talented actor Ben, we attended a Creative Visualization workshop by John Osborne Hughes together, which was very enlightening, the perfect way to set some New Year's Resolutions and make them more tangible.
Returning home on the 4th of January we really hit the ground running. Mrs Alex had completed her PhD viva successfully before Christmas, and our work permits for Canada were waiting for us when we got back. Mrs Alex has landed a post-doctoral research job in Montréal, so we are emigrating to live out there for the next three years! It wasn't until the work permits arrived that we knew it was definite, so then it was all systems go! Within a few days we'd given notice on our rented house and my job at IBM UK (That seems very strange to say that after 6 and a half years there!), as well as booked a flight and some initial accommodation in Montréal. So January has turned out to be an incredibly busy time!
It's amazing just how much needs sorting out when you're leaving the country. Storage for a house full of furniture is extremely expensive (about £5000 over 3 years) so we have opted to sell everything that isn't sentimental, and fortunately my parents have said we can store the remainder in their attic (they have a big house). Even so, there's a lot of downsizing to be done, so we have been taking stuff to charity shops, selling things at car boot sales (making a surprising profit of £200!), selling things on ebay, ripping our DVDs and CDs onto some nice new 1 Terabyte hard drives, not to mention sorting through a lifetime worth of accumulated boxes of what can only be termed "stuff"! It's a marathon effort which we are only part-way through, but we're getting there and all is on track to fly out on February 9th!
So, what am I going to do, you may ask? Well I've decided this is the ideal opportunity to branch out from big-company IT and spread my wings into some new areas, broadening my life experience in the process. I'm not quite sure what I'll be doing yet, but it's likely to involve writing, innovating, and working with people in some way - maybe I might find ways to weave in my interests in the usability/human side of computing, or helping people with productivity as well... Truth is it's a very exciting time for me, to not know exactly what I'll be doing. Some people would say I'm crazy to leave a stable job in a multi-national with the economy the way it is - but I'm just reminded of the line from the Baz Luhrmann song:
"Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t."
Time for a little adventure in my life, I feel!
I'm quite sure that I will find Canada completely different from the UK - Montréal in particular is very French so I imagine the culture will be some sort of mix of French, English and American influences.. It sounds like a great city, and I can't wait to find out what it's like! Very cold as well, I'm told, but less rain than in Britain so maybe that's a reasonable trade-off!
Anyway I will certainly keep blogging about my experiences of Canada while I'm out there - it will be very interesting to compare it to life in Britain - so come back to this blog and read more every now and then - just check for posts tagged Canada. In the mean time, Happy New Year to all of you - and watch this space for news of our adventures in Canada!