Sunday in Paris

Beautiful Sunday at the Bastille market with the odd heavy downpour.  Then a trek to the Marais.  No robberies to report.

Regarding the robbery, add to the above – wow – Sean and Jessica were of great help.  Within a very short period they had supplied us with a list of phone numbers for banks in Canada, location of the police office in the 13e Arrondisement, arranged interpreter on standby if needed and information about how to wipe my stolen android cell phone.  My Google account linked to my cell enabled me to send a message to the phone that says – if anyone turns this phone on, erase everything on it.

Because of the police shootings in Paris we were met outside the police station.  Outside the police office were a couple of officers with automatic rifles.  We were given a form to complete, and, the next day when we returned, we went through a body scan, just to make certain, before being allowed in the small police building.

Simple dinner — because nearly all food stores close on Sunday.

This is one of my favourite fountains in the world. Lot’s of playfulness as fish squirt water at turtles and vice versa.  It is at the far end of Luxembourg Gardens.
Heather’s fantasy comes true – Paris Candy Store
Luxembourg Gardens in May
Luxembourg Gardens – Flowers

 

An Unfortunate Event – Paris

Yesterday, May 12, 2017, we arrived at the Paris train station, Gare du Nord, and jostled our way onto a very busy train.  When we got off at our stop, we discovered we had been pick-pocketed by a group of Africans that surrounded us on the train.  Between us we lost eight credit cards and bank cards, Garry’s phone,  about 700 Euros, our drivers licenses, and our newly acquired residence permits for the U.K.

Fortunately, we had money stashed in a few places, and Garry had one of our joint credit cards in his pocket.  We spent last evening reporting our lost cards to CIBC, PC, RBC and BMO.  The crooks had attempted to use the cards (one attempted charge of $4000) but nothing went through.

Our morning was spent at the local Paris police station where we filed a formal complaint.  It is highly unlikely the crooks will be caught but we need a file number to get our UK resident cards replaced.  Tomorrow we will call ICBC.  In all of this we were lucky to retain our passports as they were well stashed.

This was very stressful for us, but we are doing much better today.  Our seventh floor apartment is lovely, with a pretty view.  We spent the afternoon exploring our new neighbourhood (very pretty) and stocking up on groceries.  Tomorrow we will be better rested and do more extensive exploration.

What have we learned?

If we have a lot of luggage (which was the case yesterday) we will take a taxi when we arrive at a busy train station…avoiding public transportation.

I will always carry my small day pack in front of me, rather than in the back as I did yesterday.  Ordinarily, I would make sure my wallet was at the bottom of the compartment.  Yesterday it was at the very top.  Big mistake.

Garry will avoid carrying most things in his pockets…using a money belt or a pack instead.

 Trust most people – many people in Paris have been very helpful

At the end of the day, we’re lucky we had adequate cash stashed elsewhere, we retained one credit card, and most importantly, our passports.

We are ready to put this behind us, and enjoy Paris in the spring, which is breathtaking and so are the croissants!  [oh – and the wine, sausage and cheese…we are well.]

 

Success

Today we signed our rental agreement – very happy about it.   Wonderful landlords.  Brian is going to pick us up tomorrow so we can store our suitcases at the flat whilst we are in Paris.  Brian and Maureen are simply a wonderful, thoughtful couple.

SUCCESS  They then drove us to the post office to see if our Residency Cards were waiting.  We were told by Immigration they would be there on Saturday — too late to make our Paris train.

Hooray – both were there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What better way to celebrate than a dinner with a pint of good Dorset Apple Cider.

Heather with a pint of Dorset Apple Cider.

Walk at Hengistbury Head – Near Christchurch England

Well not a week into our journey and we are behind posting material.

We will update our activities today then work back the over the next few days to bring it up to date.  We found a great place to live in an area called Deansway Court in Bournemouth.  A short walk to High Street, in a beautiful park setting.  We are renting from a meteorologist and his wife whom we first contacted through Gumtree [similar to Craigslist].   We expect to finalise this tomorrow, with a move in date of June 1.

Today we hiked to Hengistbury Head, near Christchurch.  It was first settled in the Stone Age, about 14,100 years ago.

“Hengistbury Head is home to a plethora of nationally and internationally significant archaeological sites, with features dating from the Late Upper Palaeolithic to the Roman settlement of Britain.  Interest in the site declined throughout the Dark Ages, until extensive development took place in Christchurch around 890 AD. “[from Wikipedia]

Christchurch England Train Stop

One of the many beautifully landscaped yards in Christchurch, England
Heather walking at Hengistbury Head
Hengistbury Head

 

 

 

 

 

Beach Huts – with no running water, huts are tiny and sell for about £200,000.

Notes on the UK Ancestry Visa Process

PLEASE NOTE THIS PAGE HAS DETAILED INFORMATION THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST ONLY TO INDIVIDUALS APPLYING FOR A UK ANCESTRY VISA –  a bit of a yawner if you are not interested in the minutia.  

ALSO IT REPRESENTS OUR EXPERIENCE – INDIVIDUAL CASES CAN VARY SO YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE SAME RESULTS.

Update on visa issue – for a complete history of our experience with the ‘Ancestry Visa’ I suggest you read from the bottom forward.

Sometimes you just go with the ‘best guess’ in the murky world of government regulation.

To recapitulate, at last count we had applied for Heather’s visa, as a dependent based on my ancestry visa.  Everything went swimmingly until we went to pay for the five years of health coverage – a requirement.

The UK Visa site would allow us to pay only for one year.  So we paid for the year, sent the application through the Vancouver Visa Services office, and waited.  [Again Visa Services is simply a company that handles paper and biometrics – you need not sweat about an interview.]

About the time we were expecting her visa to be processed, two weeks after we submitted her application, she received an e-mail telling us we had to pay for five years, not one – which of course we knew already.  Fortunately this time they sent two links, the most important one linked to the UK Consulate in New York so that we could pay in U.S. dollars.  We dutifully paid it immediately, and waited.

The following week [we suspect they bring files out on a rotational basis] we received word that the visa had been issued, and her passport would be returned via DHL through a prior arrangement with the Visa Services office in Vancouver.

It arrived safely?.

Now for the next issue which is tied into the other part of the visa process.  In preparing for our trip, to get the best choice of Airbnb in Paris, we felt we could not wait so in February we booked a place to stay.  Now we had our visas in hand BUT…

…the ‘but’ is once we arrive in England, eight days later, our biometric card will need to be picked up at our designated post office.  However we timed our departure based on how long we thought it would take to find permanent accommodation…about six days.

We now have our departure for Paris booked for two days prior to the arrival of our biometric card.  The biometric card is essential  for our return to England, so we have no choice.  Either the card arrives early, or we will eat the cost of our train tickets and initial nights’ accommodation in Paris.  It is hopeless to contact UK visas, we tried and again their online ’email a question’ section is absolutely useless.

Incidentally we believe this could have been resolved had we known it is timed for one week after our arrival in the UK – AS RECORDED ON OUR VISA APPLICATION.  Had we put a week earlier as our arrival date on our original application for a visa it would have resolved this problem.

So once again the expression that applies is ‘inshallah’.  

Another Day – Another Issue

 …OR What to do when the UK website gives you the wrong number for your health services fee.

Okay – so my visa came.   Now it is time to prepare my wife, Heather’s, application for a visa.  Question 1, since I am the applicant with the ‘ancestry’, does she apply for an ‘ancestry’ work permit  because she is eligible based on a relationship to me, or, does she apply as my ‘dependent’?

Scouring the UK Immigration site – no answer.  I then sent a note through the UK Immigration ‘question’ page.  The answer was basically – sorry we do not answer questions.  Then it was off to the Internet – nothing.  So what to do.

Make an educated guess – ‘dependent’.

Everything seems to go well until we reached the end of the electronic application.  We need to pay the Health Care [IHS] fee of £1,000 [£200 per year].  NO – it only allows me to pay for one year.   So yet more swimming in mud to try to find an answer to this problem.   We will keep you posted.

========================

After canvassing Reddit, the UK site, and Google there was no solution to the dilemma.

On the one hand we  completed the application  but the Health Premium showed only a fee for one year £200, but we knew we had to pay for five years, £1,000.  I did the usual, e-mailing the UK government contact e-mail.  Once again I received a prompt reply that was of no value.

We decided that having exhausted our ‘search for information’ – we would simply pay the one year fee, include a note to the UK visa office in New York.

But before doing that I decided to give their ‘pay by the minute’ line and see if they were any better.  They first confirmed that I had the correct application – in this case a non points based dependent work permit application.  The person then said yes, she understood the issue and what I should do is file the application through the VAC having paid for the one year IHS fee.  The UK visa office in New York would then contact me when they reviewed the application and give me instructions with regard to how to pay the remaining fee that was due.  Relief at last!  …or perhaps better put, we will file the application then wait to determine if the person was correct.

Our appointment at the VAC in Vancouver is booked for Friday.  We are fortunate that we are not doing this at the last minute because there can be delays given the lack of information available to applicants.

UK Ancestry ‘Visa’ Received

Copy of Ancestry Entry Clearance

Received by DHL my returned documents, after notification yesterday by e-mail from the UK Consulate in New York that the visa was approved.

What happens next – visa is valid for one month from the date I noted as ‘travel date’ on my original visa application.  Once we arrive in the UK I must go to the Post Office I listed as the point of collection for my biometric card.  That card acts as a primary document to show I have status in the United Kingdom, and must be used for re-entry to the UK.  COMPLICATION – our plan was to visit Bournemouth for nine days.  During that time we would locate a place to live, and open a bank account etc.  We were then going to travel to Paris.

However the letter from the Consulate says the card will be available as of ten days after my arrival in the UK.  With a trip to Paris booked nine days after our arrival we can only hope for arrival of the card a day early.

UK Ancestry Visa Application

Note this goes into more detail regarding the UK Ancestry Visa to provide information about issues that may arise when completing an application, so may not be of interest to a general reader.
 Garry’s visa application has gone the the UK Consulate in New York City.  Remember when being in the Commonwealth meant something?  Too bad they don’t have facilities in Ottawa.
Preparing the application was like swimming blind through murky muck.  Too often there was no hint of an explanation nor was there an explanation elsewhere on the internet.  For example [in case others are applying for a UK Ancestry visa]:

  • The applicant must be outside of the UK at the time of application.  Sounds good but then unexpectedly they request what UK post office you want your biometric card sent to – duh – I am not in the UK.  Later thanks to Reddit I believe I found the explanation.  Initially if approved you receive a cachet for entry to the UK.  Within a specified period you must appear at the post office you referenced in order to claim the biometric card.  Why not explain this to people?
  • I went to pay the visa fee online but no where could I locate it.  It turns out you go and pay the health care premium — THEN it sends you off to the portal for the visa fee payment.
  • Initially I read that they need my photo and fingerprints.  I went to the private company office that handles the UK application.  That office then forwards the application to the UK Consulate in New York.  They said they will take photos and fingerprints when I come in for an appointment.  Why not have an algorithm that shows the process?

Following completion of the online application and paying the fee, I was off to my appointment with the VAC.  [For history lovers there is an irony – the VAC in Vancouver is located at 1066 West Hastings — 1066 AD of course is the Battle of Hastings when the Normans conquered England.] 

VAC is a worldwide company that handles paper on behalf of many countries including UK and Canada.  There they checked over the application, took my photo and fingerprints, and, then we sent all of my papers, including my passport, off to New York via DHL.  In three weeks we will know.

There is no ‘age’ barrier.  I am 67.  We will see if they have a hidden agenda.  I clearly qualify based on a maternal grandmother, all of the documents were there.  Also funds were not an issue.  If there is discrimination it will be based on ’employment’.  I included both my CV and an outline of initial efforts to locate employment.  So we will see.

An interesting side note – we had to prepay our UK health coverage.  It is pricey – but it covers us for five years.  Also if someone is over the age of 65 the UK health care system covers prescriptions, and, also covers us in other EU countries if we are visiting.   In Canada we would have to pay for shots if we are traveling to an area of higher health risk such as India.  In the UK these shots are covered.  We are hoping/planning to visit India as part of this extended period away.

Given costs we thought it foolish to apply for Heather’s visa at the same time.  Hers depends on mine and each one ends up costing several thousand dollars.  So the three week wait begins.