You Wake Up And Realise There’s Only Room Left For


That pretty much sums it up for us.

Dave and I are in Paris.  It’s our 2 1/2 week stay here and although we are here to complete our French Visa,,, we are here each with only one bag each and a back pack.  That means there REALLY is no room for anything beyond experiences.

Is there a ‘difference’ in this travelling than all others before it?

I mean there are similarities in that we walk up, have coffee, breakfast, shower and go out to visit somewhere.  We shop for food or eat out depending upon where that somewhere is.  We then visit somewhere else or go out to eat dinner or make dinner . That sounds like most of our other trips before this.

What is different is that we make more of an effort to ‘go out’ or to ‘visit somewhere’ or to ‘shop for food’ or to ‘eat out’.   The going out is in a neighbourhood that we are unfamiliar with in a city we are unfamiliar with.   The somewhere needs to be discovered either from research on line or word of mouth from someone we met.  The city is chosen by us as a new place to discover.  We have no children with us and are empty nesting this experience.   We are not going home to our own bed for quite sometime.   I have to really think about what I buy.  The new boots I got simply replaced those worn out and hurting my feet. There are no souvenirs from this city or any others to be put into the suitcase and lugged home.  Home is 9 months away from now.

As for Paris Experience – I am glad that we landed in here.   Honestly, I admit I have not been ‘enamoured’ in the way so many people are when they think of Paris.  It was a necessary place for us because we had to get a Long Stay tourist Visa.   We had a place to do it in Vancouver with the French Consulate and we have a very generous friend, who’s place we could stay at in Paris. I am happy all roads led here.

I have learned that I can speak French.  I am being pushed outside of my comfortable self to do so with locals and the reception has been wonderful.  I am here to dispel the conception that the French are rude – au contraire!  We order things and talk with locals as we are squished right up next to them at tiny tables in restaurants or standing in markets eating such amazing food.  

It has given me perspective on the immigrants and asylum seekers in Europe.  Watching men stand in line to find a place to fit in.  Not a clue what their reason is for wanting to be in France be it for economic or social reasons.  I could feel the difference in processing mine and Dave’s paperwork at the Immigration office versus when the next asylum seeker was called to the desk or a room for interview.  I was glad I was Canadian.

I know that I love to cook as much as or perhaps more than eating out.  Standing at this market – I had a sense of irritation that I was unable to buy food to bring back to cook.  (The upside is that we are here staying for free, the downside is the kitchen only has a toaster, kettle, coffee maker and microwave and unlike a few relatives I have who know how to cook in a microwave, I’m not one of them??!)

img_2583 img_2584 img_2585 img_2586

<we ate paella and chicken for dinner at apartment as it was already cooked for us>

This journey is about moving forward.  We are easing into a transition of empty nesters with both our children living in their own places.

We are being educated in economy, politics, history, geography and sociality!

AND travelling is giving us cool stories to share with you – our friends, family and reader!




Visa “APPROVED”… but really, What does that mean??

Lara is officially in the UK.  She does not start school until the 20th of September and has been transported to our friend’s house in London for an extended stay in UK (more on that later).  When she chose to go to school in England we (not Lara, not Dave and not certainly Ms. Family trip planner) could have imagined the challenges that she would face when choosing a foreign country for said school.

Lucky for her, Dave’s father was born in England.  With his official birth certificate she was able to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa which will allow her to stay in England for up to 5 years.  There is no restriction on this, such that the Tier 4 Student Visa would have.  She applied from Vancouver.  Had her passport shipped to New York.  A Visa was put in that states such and voila done and dusted!




Now look here,,, don’t ever get too excited at any point when you get a VISA approved and put into your passport.  That’s just the immigration office outside of that country fucking with you!  What they fail to tell you is this “Congratulations, you have just jumped through the first hoop.  Now if you are a good little doggie, we’ll hold out a ring that’s a wee bit higher and give you a treat (perhaps) if you jump through that next hoop!”

AND that leads us to the BRP card.  Simple right?  It’s a Biometric Residency Card that will ensure that Lara travels and stays in England freely during the entire “APPROVED” 5 year Visa.  This was given the green light in Vancouver & New York as finger prints were done, RCMP clearance check done and all that needed to happen was rely on the UK government, “Home Office” as they like to call themselves, print the card, use the Royal mail (ahem – another government service) and to send it to the pre-approved post office location.

<insert here, Lara standing in line at least 5 times and calling the post office daily for over 2 weeks to locate BRP card>

Nada, Nada, Not

Now we come back to Lara’s extended stay in UK and not travelling with us to experience Paris for a week.  When, as a family, we landed back in England to buy sheets, towels, bedding and leave at the school a week prior to her starting; immigration had a lovely recommendation that went something like this:  “Welcome back Lara.  I see your Visa has a stamp that says it’s good until the 18th of September.  Do you have a BRP card?”  When the answer was “no”.  Their next response was, “Well, I guess you’ll be staying in England and not travelling out until you get the card then?”  And I add again:





Which brings me back to the fact that Lara is now having an extended stay in London with our kind and gracious friends – Noyan and Fernur whilst Dave and I have stuck to for VISA reasons, travelling to Paris.

YEP you read that right… VISAS!

Day One of Janine & Dave’s Visa process for “Long Stay Tourist Visa for Schengen Zone”.  We took a chapter out of “UK Visa 101”.  We got up early, got our butts to the OFII office in the 11th arrondissement, passed the people standing waiting in the very long “asylum seekers” line, to personally hand over documents for the Step Two process Visa issued by France.

So far… we have a date for our medical exam (that’s a requirement we were aware of) and to re-produce all the documents that we already handed the French Consulate in Vancouver!  Oh the redundancy of that… but that I shall leave for another blog (or not).





When Was the Last Time You Did Something For the First Time?

Thing Two – Lara Grant – This will change your life

Here’s the amazing university you shall call home for the next 3 years – Keele University


I guess if the degree in Physiotherapy doesn’t work you, you could always go for a Major in Magic.

 (I do know that by default Magic will simply happen anyway!)

img_2531 img_2530 img_2552


You will learn Art of course – starting with the Art of Negotiation (4 young women sharing this toilet/bathroom space – need I say more?)

img_0164 img_0165AND I ask you – who exactly will replace the empty Toilet paper roll?


You will appreciate MATH when you read “2 for 1” and find this fits your budget perfectly and when it proves that you cannot afford a CAT!

You will learn that some people are put on this earth to test your Anger Management skills.


You will sometimes find yourself in a tight squeeze – which is exactly what will be needed to fit your CLOTHES into this closet space!



You will remember your Mother saying that your kitchen will ONLY ever be this clean once and that’s the day you move in!

img_2553 img_2554


** You are braver than you believe **

** Stronger than you seem **

** Smarter than you think **

And Loved More Than You Know

5 months old AND 1 week for me

Robert’s 5 months old and this is a blog post to him…..

You laugh because you are simply a happy baby.

You smile these huge smiles when you see your beautiful Mother walk into the room.

You smell sweet from the bath.

You make your talking babbling noises and everyone talks back to you.

You make all five of your Grants stop and just watch you simply “because”.

You have fluffy hair that blows in the summer breeze.

You smile in your sleep.

Your toothless grin is infectious.

You wriggle your toes often.

You are drooling as you are almost ready to pop your first tooth.

You love your sou-soou (soother).

You dislike riding in the car unless it’s moving.


Your Granny Babs has fallen in love with you!