The start of April was a
continuation of my home renovations. By this time my kitchen was
complete. This involved painting the red brick with white paint. Doing
lots of caulking and painting of the cabinets. The doors also had to be
worked on as a few didn't close that well. Also put up a new
Here we are with all the doors off and the
cabinets painted. The shelves have been reworked so I can now move them
up or down which means I can actually reach the third shelf now without
having to get out the steps!
Now the doors are back on complete with new
And this shot shows my new semi-circular
table and the new ceiling light
This is the new dual flush toilet I
I might add that I'm very
pleased with this new toilet. It is a little higher that a normal toilet
and being also elongated makes it easier for us men :-) I am fairly
certain that I'll purchase another of these for the upstairs bathroom.
This is not an item that I would normally think of replacing but the top
of the toilet didn't fit completely over the tank due to its placement
and it's often irritated me. And so having decided to spruce up
the toilet I went looking for a new toilet bowl and found this one.
Obviously things move on in the toilet world as well.
This picture shows the old cabinet that we
found in the basement.
It looks life it was designed to fit just there.
And this is the new toilet in situ
There was also a bit of the wall paper
coming away from the wall so this was stuck down again and it looks fine
meaning that I decided not to re-paint the toilet.
Showing off the new fireplace. I tried
everything I could think of to try to show the flames and glowing embers
but just couldn't manage it. The new TV on the wall is connected to a
the Boxee box that provides Internet access to the web and also lots of
movies and services such as Netflix.
You'll note I still can't show the flames but
hopefully you get the idea
We also did some caulking
around the ceiling surround as that was coming away from the wall a
little so now all fixed and looking very neat. And so with the kitchen
re-arranged and newly decorated and I'm happy with the result. It's an old
house and so tried to keep with that feeling when I decorated.
The only job left to do
on this floor is to install a new ceiling light and fan in the main
living room and that's on order. It comes with a lifetime warranty and a
also got a visit from a contractor working for my insurance company.
They have agreed that the porch has indeed settled and so they are going
to fix it this month free of charge.
This being April we are
getting a bit of warmer weather now so the central air has been switched
I should also note that
the Netflix app is excellent. I've been enjoying watching a few
documentaries free of advertising. This sure makes watching TV
much more enjoyable. Haven't fully explored the various apps that
come with the Boxee but I am noting that the screen makes it a bit
difficult to read the brief reviews of the movies. They use a darker
grey background and light grey text which makes it difficult for me to
read from a distance. If they could give an option for a black
background and white text I'd probably be able to read it ok. Like
with Netflix I can read their reviews just fine but really need to stand
up and move a bit closer to read the Boxee reviews. The Boxee remote is
also not very friendly as again it's a kind a black/grey with light grey
text so very difficult to read. I think Boxee need to review there
product from an accessibility point of view and have contacted there
support people to suggest that.
Mind you so far I've only needed to use the
Menu, Return and up and down arrows and you quickly get to know where
these are located.
As to the Netflix app I got in an email saying that they have changed
the way they serve up the programs for Canadians meaning that people
with a cap on their downloads should now be able to watch five times the
movies. The chap that installed mine said he had a 10Gbyte cap.
I said I thought I had a 20Gbyte cap but when I checked with Cogecco I
found I have a 200Gbyte cap so certainly not likely to run out of
I need to start looking
at the news apps to see what is available. Right now there doesn't seem
to be a live feed although I'm going to see what might be available
through the Internet.
I feel we're getting
close to not needing TV any more. I tend to watch more
documentaries. So I might end up watching the History, Discovery
or National Geographic channel and also the Food channel. Other
than that I tend to watch the news. So if they start to serve up
more of those programs I really won't need the TV. This could all mean a
radical change to the way we watch TV. I have also noted you can
download a Boxee app for your PC.
This month I decided it was past time to get
my Canadian Passport and so got the forms and filled them in and then
had to get my passport photograph...
I was told I had to look serious and keep my
mouth closed :-)
Went into Toronto for Easter and stayed with my friends, Nola and
Harold. Nola told me she is to become the minister for St Monica's
church in June of this year. This is what is known as a working church
in that it's in a double shop front on the high street. One side is the
church and the other side the meeting place. A small but important
church for the neighbourhood which is poor and thus the food bank is a
very useful part of the community.
Her son in law Alex has
given up his chef job and is in the middle of starting an outside
catering business. The idea is that any corporation that want to provide
lunch for their employees can come to Alex for him to provide the meal.
This can be cold or hot. He tried it out on us on Easter Sunday by
providing bacon and sausages, potato cakes, vegetables, roast beef,
prawns, a range of salads as well as deserts and various breads and
scones. He can cater for whatever price range and do pretty much
stocked up on sliced sausage and black pudding before heading back to
When I got back on the
Tuesday I found out my fans would be fitted on the Wednesday and so they
This ceiling fan comes with a remote
control. There are three fan speed settings and a light setting with is
dimmer. The ceiling rose manages to cover a damaged ceiling tile
and so today the very final job is to paint the ceiling to blend in the
ceiling rose. I'm very pleased with it and it gives a good draft when
I also got my Canadian
Tax affairs completed and was told I'm due a tax refund so certainly
good news there.
I've been watching the
elections in both Canada and Scotland with much interest. It looks
like the SNP in Scotland are leading the polls. In Canada it seems to be
a bit more complex in that the NDP are having a huge surge in the polls
and no one seems to be sure what that means for the election. Like
will a combination of NDP and the Liberal party allow more Conservatives
in. And with the huge surge of the NDP in Quebec will that mean
major changes to the BLOC.
And so now we're heading
for the Royal wedding of William and Kate and then the following week
we'll get the results of the elections.
I did in fact watch the Royal wedding but
not live. One program promised to re-run the whole live event later in
the day so instead of getting up at 3am I decided to watch that one. I
pinched 3 pictures to include here...
On May 2nd 2011 we got the results of the
Canadian election which was pretty dramatic. The Conservative party won
an overall majority (an 11 seat majority). The NDP became the official
opposition for the first time. The Liberals were wiped out and its
leader also lost his seat. The Bloc were almost wiped out with
only 3 seats and their leader also lost his seat. We also saw the Green
party win their very first seat.
I also recorded my very first vote in the
elections as a Canadian Citizen.
Then on the Friday I learned that the SNP in
Scotland had an amazing result and won an overall majority which wasn't
meant to be possible under the electoral system put in place for the
devolved government of Scotland. The Lib-Dems were the biggest loosers
(similar to Canada) and Labour lost a lot of seats although their
overall vote held up. They just didn't get any of the floating
votes from the Lib-Dems.
Today (12th May) I received my Canadian
This will give me a considerable advantage
when going to the USA as on the visa waiver program I can visit for 6
months at a time. It also gives me much faster border crossing as
with it I can be waived through. With a British passport I get 3
months and always need to be directed to the Border office to complete a
form and pay a fee. I did note that information that came with the
passport said that if you needed consular service in some place in the
world that Canada is not represented then I can also get assistance from
the British or Australian consular services. I guess that's part of us
all being in the Commonwealth.
I got a visit from Centennial Windows today
as I wanted to know more about what new windows would cost. I
contacted them as they employ all their own people so the installers
would be employed rather than having to go through contractors.
They also offer a lifetime warranty which is attractive. Of course
all that means they are not cheap. They quoted just on $5,000 to
replace 3 windows.
Mind you the salesman did give me a couple
of names which were useful as I am looking to get some siding work done
and also a power wash done. The people he recommended have been in
business for over 30 years and apparently have an excellent reputation.
So I've left voice messages for both and we'll see what they can offer.
Today (12th May) we also had a massive
thunderstorm in the area. I was out doing some shopping at the local
grocery store when the power went of. That meant they wouldn't let
people do any shopping for safety reasons. So I headed back home
and of course found my electricity was out as well. It took them
some 2 hours to get power back.
I'm also noticing a large increase in petrol
prices at the moment. Where I am we've gone to $1.36 per liter. I also
noted some Canadians going over the border to the USA as they are at
around $1.14 so quite a saving.
I also got a tax rebate of some $2,940 which
is quite a significant amount and my taxes this year are very low
compared to last year. So that's also good news.
On the business front I have started to make
a few videos and am publishing them on YouTube. I did one which
was a kind of open letter to the Scottish Government which was to try
and give them a wake up call on their poor showing on promoting Scottish
tourism and exports in the online world.
I've also tried a video to accompany my
weekly newsletter so will see how that goes. I also did a total
makeover of the site header to produce a much fuller menu. As the site
is so large it can be hard for visitors to find important sections of
the site and so hope this will help.
Also discussed visiting the Celtic Festival
in Quebec during September so will be seeing what can be arranged.
I've also arranged to go to the Fergus Highland Games again this year.
I've been working through old issues of the
Scottish Historical Review and found a whole fund of great articles that
I've been extracting and adding to the site.
We've also got a new update on our Postcard
program. We're also looking to add a whole new Fantasy section. These
are graphics from some of the top fantasy artists so we hope folk will
enjoy this new facility. As I write this the new postcard is up and
running and it's all been tested and so sending postcards at a future
date and a reminder program all work as they should.
Arranged to do another outside job this
month which is to sandblast the brick work on the front of the house and
re-do the cement as there are some wee holes appearing and this year a
few insects are getting in which had never happened before. At the
same time I'm getting the siding cleaned under the porch. I think
that will complete things for this year. I would like to replace
the windows but that will be for another day. As part of this last job
I'll also be getting my window shutters painted which will complete the
And so this completes my report for this
quarter but of course we are all looking forward to the Royal visit of
William and Katherine who will arrive in Canada on June 30th for a nine
And here they are arriving in Canada