May. 5th, 2014

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We're two weeks in now, and I feel like the dust is finally beginning to settle a bit. Here are some things we have done:

- Acquired a social insurance number and set up bank accounts.

- Found a flat to rent! This was surprisingly easy - apparently you can rent a flat in Toronto by just going to the area you want to rent, and walking up and down looking at all the high-rise buildings and seeing which ones have a 'VACANCY - ONE BEDROOM' sign outside. Then you go knock on the door and ask the super if you can look at it. Everybody we'd met suggested we have a look at the Annex, because it's close to things and a nice area and it's apparently quite easy to find a flat there, so we had a look online first and identified a few buildings we liked, then went to the Annex and wandered around knocking on doors. It was actually pretty easy after the first time. We looked at three or four, and then we were walking past this particular building with big triangular balconies which we hadn't noticed online, and Joe saw it had a vacancy advertised so we knocked on their door too, and the super took us up to this beautiful light apartment with huge windows and a great big balcony and a nice kitchen that didn't feel cramped at all, and it was a bit small but we knew it was the one for us. We were a bit worried we wouldn't be accepted by the building owners because we don't have jobs or previous landlord references and at the time we'd only been in the city for five days, but in the end everything was fine, and a week after we came to Toronto we got the call to say that we'd been accepted and could move in from May 1st.

- Acquired furniture from Craigslist, and transported it to said flat! We got most of it in a moving sale from an MA student who was moving back home after studying at U of T. She likes white things, and her bed is very high off the ground and looks like a princess bed. But, it was like $700 for a bed, mattress, huge chest of drawers, desk, chair, bedside table and coffee table (all barely used because she was only here for a year), so I think we can put up with a princess bed. We also got a drop-leaf table from a lady living one street across from where we live now, and she also gave us a bookcase-type thing and a whole pile of kitchen stuff for free. On Thursday we got a very nice man with a big van to help us move all the things up to our flat, and on Friday we bought a futon from a shop down the road, because we couldn't find one we liked on Craigslist so we figured it was okay to buy just this one thing new. We sill don't have any dining chairs, but we reckon Craigslist will provide.

- Went to Ikea! We discovered there were some screws missing from the bed frame (this is the problem with Craigslist), and we had some other things we needed to pick up anyway, so off we went. Everything went fine, and we were able to put together the bed and the futon that same day. Fortunately we don't have to actually live in the flat yet (though I'm really looking forward to moving in) - we still have another couple of weeks booked in our current short-term place, so we can go back and forth buying bedding and internet and such for the new place bit by bit and get it all set up before we start living there.

- Got Canadian phones! That was yesterday's main project. I am smartphone-enabled for the first time ever, and I am not quite sure how I feel about it. I'm sure it will be fine once I get used to it.

- Started the jobhunt! I am in discussion with a literary agency looking for somebody to represent their children's list abroad (I think I've basically got the job, but it pays commission only so it doesn't really help with the money situation), and I've applied for several jobs at Indigo Books but I kind-of hope I don't get them because I can't stand Indigo. They sell far too many things that are not books and their lights are too bright and their staff are constantly interrupting you while you browse. On Friday I also had a nice meeting with a lady who works for a major children's publisher over here - I applied for a job with them while still in the UK, and I didn't get it but she did offer to meet me once I arrived and have a chat about publishing in Canada. Joe had a meeting with a recruitment agency the same day, and has just tweaked his CV according to their suggestions and sent it back to them. We are very much hoping that something will come out of that. If not I will have to start applying for jobs at David's Tea etc.

- Done some fun things! We have wandered around the city a lot - we like Kensington Market, the Annex and Koreatown, which is great because those are all walking distance from us. We like the food court and the fibreglass geese at the Eaton Centre, but not the rest of it, because it's completely full of posh designer shops (I don't remember it being like that last time) and contains nothing we want to buy. We have been to the board game cafe and the specialist SFF bookshop (also both walking distance!), and we have walked on the Harbourfront on a sunny day and looked at the sparkles on the lake. We have had a lot of lunches out (we don't do it on purpose, we're just out a lot), but eating out here is pretty cheap so that's probably fine, right? :/ We are beginning to work out what is good at the supermarket, and how to deal with the fact that everything here is sold in larger quantities (srsly, one tin of chopped tomatoes will do us for two meals). The board game cafe was the best, and I really want to go there again - we said we might go this weekend, but we got all wrapped up in building furniture and getting phones sorted out, and in the end there wasn't time. Also, moving to a new country is extremely spendy and we really need to limit the amount of non-necessary money we spend, at least until one of us is earning *something*. I worry about that sometimes, but then I remind myself that we've only been here two weeks, and only been working on job stuff for about a week. Still, it is worrying when you get up of a Monday morning and remember that most of the city is heading off to work, and you're just sitting in your pyjamas in a tiny basement apartment, updating your blog and brushing up your CV. But we saved up a good money cushion so we could do this, and that will last us another few months, and at least the rent here is cheaper than it is back home.

- Tea! I have become a regular at David's Tea, which I gather is like Starbucks for tea in that the tea is not actually as good and the staff are not actually as tea-knowledgeable as in some independent shops, but then again it is quite nice and it's practically everywhere and you can always get the things you like from there so you don't mind. I feel like I go on about it all the time on facebook, but it's actually quite a big change for me to have somewhere I can go and sit and buy something I actually feel enthusiastic about drinking. I am discovering chain cafes a couple of decades later than everybody else did - back home I might get the occasional craving for a hot chocolate, but if you ever saw me whiling away the time with a book and a drink in Costa or somewhere it was fairly safe to assume that I was waiting for somebody (or possibly it was raining and I didn't want to be out in it), I didn't particularly want to be there and I would prefer to still have my X pounds rather than the drink I had just had to buy with those X pounds. I mean, there's Yum-Chaa and a couple of other tea places, but you usually have to know where the nearest branch is and/or make a special trip. Whereas now I can happily pop into a branch of David's Tea when Joe is at an interview or watching football at a sports bar or whatever, and browse the teas and talk to the staff and drink tea out of my kraken mug (which I had to buy because in Toronto they serve the tea in paper cups and it tastes of paper, ugh. Fortunately you get a discount on tea if you bring your own mug, so I figure it will pay for itself eventually). And the other day we were walking through Koreatown when we spotted a lady from our local branch offering free samples on the street, and she recognised us and asked how we were, which means that she is the first person in this city to know us by sight. I think that is very fitting and not at all surprising.

Today our ship is supposed to be coming in from the UK, bearing clothes, assorted useful kitchenware, my computer, Joe's ukulele and other stuff we decided we couldn't do without for two years. So *hopefully* tomorrow we'll be able to go to the customs office and get it released. I'll probably spend the rest of today reading literary agency stuff so I'm ready for the staff meeting tomorrow, and Joe will apply for a job or two, and maybe later on we'll take some more stuff over to the new flat, and spend some time there. Maybe we'll buy a kettle on the way, and then we can even have tea there :D


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December 2014

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