Having said our goodbyes to friends and family we caught the 14.05 train at York station on 6th April 2019 and from there, following a series of connections and various modes of transport, we arrived at our accommodation in Halifax, Nova Scotia at around the same time the following day.
The train had been on time, the international and domestic flights were on time, the transfer bus was on time and our baggage arrived safely and undamaged. So far so good.
Our accommodation in Halifax was very comfortable, well located and even had a view of the Port of Halifax where ‘Stirling’ had been off-loaded a few days earlier.
After a good nights sleep our priority the following morning was to report to Halifax Customs Office to request the Customs clearance paperwork that would allow us to collect Stirling from the Bonded Warehouse where he had been taken.
A most helpful female Customs officer told us that the vehicle had been inspected, had passed inspection and with a grand flourish she removed an official customs stamp from her utility belt, banged the stamp on a number of pieces of paper, returned the stamp to the holder on her belt and issued us with the documentation we required. It all seemed to be going so well, where were all the problems we had heard about?
With everything so far going in our favour we arrived at the Bonded Warehouse a couple of hours later with a slight sense of trepidation . Would Stirling have been damaged, would he have flat tyres, a flat battery or would most of the possessions we had packed on board have ‘gone missing’?
We handed over the Customs paperwork at the Bonded Warehouse and within a few minutes we were led on to the unloading bay and taken to a container that was opened in front of us to reveal Stirling.
It felt strangely emotional to see the vehicle that we had spent so much time and effort on at home strapped to the insides of a shipping container in a foreign country (I swear he blinked his headlights as the doors were opened and the light flooded in!).
Keeping a protective eye on proceedings we watched on intently as a team of hi-vis clad operatives began the work of releasing the straps and pushing the vehicle out of the container onto the unloading bay.
We know how heavy Stirling is, and after listening to what I can only describe as a lot of authentic Canadian language coming from within the depths of the container, Stirling eventually emerged onto the loading bay followed by three heavy breathing operatives. The largest of the three turned to me and said “would you like to start it up and back it down the steep, narrow loading bay ramp?”. Feeling a little nervous I asked “Will all you guys be watching me and waiting for something to go wrong?” “Absolutely” he said “One of the perks of the job, off you go then, what are you waiting for?”.
After much huffing and puffing and shunting and grunting by yours truly Stirling was safely down the ramp and parked in the car park area by the main offices. This was our first opportunity to properly look the vehicle over and check everything inside was still there and intact. We were pleased to find that Stirling, and all our contents, looked exactly the same as they did when we had left the Land Rover at Felixstowe.
As it was now after lunchtime, and as parking at our apartment wasn’t great, we agreed that we would leave Stirling in the car park adjacent to the warehouse and return early the following morning to begin our journey westwards. With everything in place we decided to catch the bus back to downtown Halifax to get a bite to eat and then a stroll back to the apartment
On the walk back to the apartment we passed A. Keiths Brewery and thought it would be rude not to pop in for a quick look around. As luck would have it a brewery tour was just about to start so, with nothing else much to do, we spent an enjoyable hour or so learning about the history of the brewery, sampling a number of their offerings and listening to some lively music! A most pleasant way to spend our first real afternoon in Canada.
Returning to the apartment Chrissie started to nod off around half past seven (only an hour earlier than her normal nodding off time!) so we decided to have an early night.
Just before we retired I phoned a local taxi company to book a taxi for the morning and I was more than a bit surprised when they said “sorry, but with the expected snowstorm tonight we’re not taking any bookings for the morning. Have a good night”.
I called out to Chrissie and said “do you know anything about a snowstorm?” but the only reply I got was her snoring!