Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tax Season

I have very little to report this week as we have been nowhere and done nothing...Except our taxes.

Now if there was anything messed up over here it's taxes! Complicated for two people who have never had to file tax returns in the UK that's for sure.

Over here you get a T4 at the end of the tax year. That's the same as getting a yearly P60 in the UK. That much I understood. But after that everything becomes a blur.

Many people here opt to pay more taxes on what they earn just so they get a refund at the end of the year. Bit like a savings scheme. Rob and I did not do that. But we have been paying taxes since we have been earning. As it's our first year, there is an exemption for personal taxes up to $10,000, of course we have had to keep records of stuff in the UK like our property and various other bits and pieces like my business account over here. Thankfully they have a thing call H&R Block over here, you can find them all over the place, and they are there for people like us. You just take all your figures along to them and they work it all out for you and file the tax return...For a fee of course.

After and hour and a half on Wednesday night, ours was done. As it's our first one, it has to be sent via snail mail to Ottawa and at some point we will receive a refund of around $1200. As we haven't earned enough to pay taxes since May last year. Of course they charged us $240 for the pleasure of doing it, but at least we get that back.

Next year we will be able to claim back things like excess medical expenses that aren't covered on our Blue Cross insurance and things bought for work like shoes and any educational expenses etc.

Enough of that I am sure you are all bored rigid reading this, I zoned out from the beginning.

The weather has been really mixed this week, we have had loads of rain and then some more snow, but not too much though thankfully. Saturday and today have been lovely and sunny, not that I have seen much of it, too busy catching up on my sleep, not much changes :o)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Mates

Another busy week has been an gone, You will all be pleased to hear that I coped very well with covering Arthur's job whilst he was away, even with a few rush jobs coming through, so that was good.

Wednesday I went to camera club, the meeting was inadvertently cut short due to a power cut which was a shame, even worse was the fact that the power was out all the way down Sackville Drive which meant that Tim's had no power either, so we all had to head off to Beaver Bank, to the Tim's there.

Now I don't think I mentioned last week that at my birthday meal, I made a new friend, Melissa. Darryl invited her along, she is new to the camera club and she is such a good laugh. I instantly hit it off with her, she has a wicked sense of humour and likes and dislikes many the things I do. Most of my time in Tim's on Wednesday was spent with her chatting and goofing around. I have sort of hooked her up with Arthur for a date (rather a getting to know you evening), next Saturday, Rob, myself, her and Arthur are going out for a few drinks. Should be fun. Whatever the outcome I know that her and I will be mates for sure.

This Saturday we had Marg and Tom round for Pizza and drinks, it's the first time they have been round to our place as they (and everyone else) always invite Rob and I round to theirs, we thought it was about time we returned the favour. Nice evening, we introduced them to 'An Idiot Abroad'. If you don't know what I am talking about look it up and watch it, it is so funny!

I had my first visit to the dentist this week and let me tell you they were way more thorough than English dentists. The reception area looked much like any other dental surgery, but when I was taken upstairs, it couldn't have been more different. no private rooms, just a lot of cubicles, with so many hygienists and dentists working their magic...and drills. Dr Sharma was mine, a lovely lady, who was very nice. She's going to be keeping any eye on my gums, but as far as my teeth go, still no problems yet. She said I was very rare having no problems at my age which made me feel ultra special, especially as most Canadians think that all Brits have terrible teeth!

The weather this week...Unless it's my imagination, seems to have changed, it seems that we are getting less snow now and the temperatures have been milder, the snow is now turning more to rain. This could signal that we are getting to the end of winter...Perhaps the Groundhog was right?!

Yep, more deer pics, a have a few more yet!

The Birthday meal. Right (front to back) Dave, Darryl, Me, Kevin
Left (front to back) Wayne, Nancy, Rob, Melissa, Barb

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Canadian 43!

Well this week has been exceptionally long and very busy for me. As well as turning 43, my learning curve continued at work and now Arthur is on vacation it's up to me next week to run the large format colour section, I am under no illusion there will be some stress along the way, but who knows I may just surprise myself.

Wednesday and Thursday night this week Nancy, Dave and myself spent the evening round at Kevin Hall's place (another fellow photographer), we were there to judge some images that were submitted from other clubs. On the first evening we were judging images sent by another local club. It was a lengthy process but we had some fun and Kevin's place is just stunning. His house is one road away from where I want to live in Dartmouth. The houses look quite small from the front but inside they are cosy and have plenty of space, 3 bedrooms on the main floor, 160ft garden out back and downstairs I one bedroom apartment, which would make for a great rental...Best of all though is the view of Halifax Harbour front. Anyway I digress, Thursday was my birthday and we were back judging again, It turns out that Dave and I share the same birthday, this fact did not go unrecognised by Kevin and Barb (his wife) who got in a lovely cake to celebrate. This time we were judging images from Wincanton Club, a long awaited international image exchange. The quality and standard were very high (to be expected), and it was again a lengthy night of decision making.

We didn't actually celebrate my birthday until last night, when a few of us went out to Eastern Passage for a meal...Fish and Chips of course. There were 9 of us in total, Dave, Darrel, Melissa, Kevin, Barb, Nancy, Wayne, Rob and myself. A lovely evening with fab food and great company. There is a photo floating around on Darrel's camera, but he has yet to send it to me, will post it as and when I get it.

The deer paid a visit today, they haven't been round in a while, so it was nice to see them out and about, I popped out and fed them an apple and took a few shots, finally see them in proper daylight, made getting those shots just a bit easier! There is still now everywhere here, nothing seems to melt and more falls and just adds to it, but the weather today was just lovely, beautifully sunny and no wind most importantly.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your lovely cards and gifts you sent. I loved them all. I have worn all the jewelry and the scarves this week. I have yet to hang my bunting but will decide on a place for it in due course. Nancy bought me some wine, choccies and a really cool mug for my take out tea from Tim's which I cannot wait to use. Yes...I have submitted to the Canadian way of walking round with Tea on the go!

Got anymore apples?

Perhaps there are some apples over there?

Pretty little abandoned house in the snow, taken whilst out the other
weekend on the Eagle Watch

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Groundhog Day

So this week ironically on Wednesday Shubenacadie Sam the Groundhog predicted an early Spring. I say Ironically as on Wednesday we were in the midst of a Winter storm that headed up from Ontario which dumped approximately 30 cm of snow on us. Surprisingly (or not) Sam the Groundhog didn't see his shadow (most likely he couldn't see his shadow as he was in the middle of a blizzard) and folklore dictates as he didn't see his shadow and run back into his burrow this means and early Spring is on the cards. We can but hope! Apparently the Albino Groundhog Willie from Ontario didn't see his shadow either...maybe that's because he's half blind who knows :o)

So as I mentioned, Wednesday was an extreme weather day, it started out fine, I took the bus, knowing what was to come in the afternoon. The snow started falling earlier than expected and by 1 pm all the malls had closed. After much debate, we left work early, I left at 2.30pm and took the two buses home which took me around an hour and a half. I pretty much looked like a snowman by the time I got back, it was oddly mild though and so peaceful with hardly anything moving on the roads. The snow kept coming until around 8pm. It was predicted to snow all night, but thankfully it stopped. The big clear up started the next day. I got the bus on Thursday as there was no way we were digging the car out in the morning and it just seemed the safer option, but by the end of Thursday everything was back to normal and the snow was mostly cleared from the roads and paths, all that remains now are the huge banks of snow on the sides of the roads.

It hasn't really snowed too much since then, but we had some rain this weekend which has just turned it all into a slushy mess again...This I don't like, I actually prefer the snow.

Today Rob and I headed out to the Maritime Gift Show, a trade show for buyers and sellers in the gift market...So what was I doing there? Well remember the company who licenced my images, they were attending and they invited me along to meet them. Claude and David were both extremely nice, I got to see all of their product range, including postcards, magnets, key rings, bookmarks etc. Claude bought Rob and I lunch and I am happy to report I think they will be using my services in the future as their Maritime Photographer (as and when they need stuff for special custom projects). There could also be some freelance design work down the line as well. I also had a very nice chat with some people from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, who loved the work I showed them, now I don't know if this will lead to anything or not, but they gave Rob and free tickets to the gallery and said we should pay them a visit which we most certainly will. They also said they were convinced that I would make it sooner or later here as a photographer. Finally we headed over to another Artisan Trade Show in the Trade Centre, slightly more high end products, nothing really of interest to me, however I did meet and spend a long time talking with a publisher, who loved my work, I got some advice from him on a couple of things and he seemed keen to help me and he now has my cards should he or his authors need local images for their projects and or design work doing. All in all a good day's networking.

Hamish this week has decided he loves the rucksack I have been taking with me on my bus days. As soon as I come home and empty it, he is straight in it....How cute!!!

I Would like to take this opportunity to wish my friend Lorraine a belated Happy Birthday. So glad you had a wonderful day.

Rob's been busy digging us a pathway, the back alley image
on the right gives a good idea of the depth.

Both Rob and I dug this out, on two seperate ocassions.
This image was taken on Thursday after most people had cleaned off their cars.

Rucksack Cat :o)

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