Friday, 31 December 2010
I knew the Dykstra family (the Goats Pride inhabitants) had children, as it explained in their profile on WWOOF Canada, the organisation I have been using. But I did not quite expect nine children! They range from the age of thirty-two, all the way down to a full-of-life six year old. When they allow up to seven WWOOF'ers at any one time, you can imagine that Christmas this year was quite the big one, with a completely full house!
Five of the kids are still living at home, and three of these are home-schooled. The concept of teaching your children yourself for longer that the first five or so years of their life is pretty alien to me, as it is an irregular occurance in England. However, the Dykstra kids are not penned in forever; they have the option to go to school whenever they feel like it.
I always thought home-schooling would be a serious hindrance on a child's social capabilities, but these guys don't seem to have turned out too bad! They're so involved with extra-curricular activities that I don't think it would be possibly to keep themselves to themselves. Additionally, with the regular occurance of travellers passing through the house, they have plenty of access to the social world, and from all over the social world no less.
I think there was only one day during this holiday season that was just for family, no volunteers allowed. Which, considering how many little events and evenings there have been, is pretty darn generous if you ask me. Truth be told, going from all these big cities and then onto a farm with not a huge amount of access to town, it can get a little monotonous. My heart aches for the big bad world I love so much with touring cities; not knowing where I am half the time means I'm in my element.
So, everytime Jo-Ann mentions that a few of them are heading out for the evening, I always ask her if it would be possible that I could come along. Being part of a family's everyday life was something I wanted to achieve from my visit to a farm; to see how they live from day-to-day.
I've been to Johann's Christmas music recital, with some amazing middle-schoolers in an orchestra sounding a little something like this...but Johann's particular performance was thoroughly enjoyable.
Charity had an evening recital with her violin tutor and fellow students at an old people's home. Highlights include a little seven year-old girl playing the violin, far too adorable, and an old lady pulling some of the most amazing shapes in her wheelchair. Whatever medication she was on, when I'm old, I want them.
My favourite night of them all would be an evening of some spine-tingling Christmas tunes sung by the Abbotsford Men's Choir. Jo-Ann's father was part of said chorus, and being a complete and utter hero, had a bag of chemotherapy on the go at the same time.He literally refused to miss out on an evening he had been looking forward to so much.
As for Christmas Day itself, there was twenty of us. After feeding the goats at 6am, I come back into the house to find the wee boys jumping about and rampantly ripping open their stockings. To my utter delight as well, I find there is a stocking for everyone. And in mine, along with chocolate, slippers and other treats, the greatest gift of all; a jar of Marmite. Santa Claus knows me by heart.
It is ths kinds of moments that made me feel so accepted into such an already huge family, and made me realise how lucky it was that out of the hundreds of farms I could have chosen, Goats Pride was a pretty good deal. Baby Jennica, a recent addition to the family as Jo-Ann and Peter's granddaughter, had her first Christmas this year. And I was there. How flippin' cool is that?!
Sunday, 26 December 2010
|Chris McCandless and his Magic Bus|
Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert: I was given this book by a friend of mine who didn't like it all that much but it was an example of travel writing so I put it down to research to read it myself. Not a book I usually would have read as it seemed like chick-lit to me, I have to admit I hoovered the lot in about three days. Another true story, detailing the aftermath of the author's divorce, which resulted in her travels to Italy to eat, India to pray, and Indonesia to love.
Friday, 24 December 2010
On my travels here I have spent time with people from various parts of the globe, and encountered Christmas traditions I have never heard of. So I thought I'd do a special Noel post sharing with you some of the bizarre (guess they're just bizarre to me) traditions I've experienced.
|Santa Lucia with her eyes|
on a plate...
But what does this have to do with the festive season I hear you cry?! Santa Lucia's day is celebrated on December 13th, with her bringing gifts to children on the night of December 12th. But she is not alone in her tasks! She arrive in the company of a donkey and her escort, Castaldo, and you you leave coffee, flour and bread. (Not as lucky as Santa and his mince pies! Lucy is just given coffee to keep her going with all her deliveries!)
Like several other traditions, Lucia brings gifts to good children and coal to bad ones. Unlike several other traditions, children must not watch Santa Lucia delivering gifts or she will throw ashes in their eyes, temporarily blinding them. What a way to shut the kids up and send them to bed.
In Germany, good old Saint Nic is much more a part of their Christmas celebration, as I was told by my friend Katja, who I also stayed with in Vancouver. On the night of December 5th, children put a boot or shoe (called a Nikolaus boot or Nikolaus-Stiefel. Of course, what else!) outside their front door, in which Saint Nikolaus pours presents into. If you've been a bad child, you receive a tree branch, not quite a punishment as the coal others are used to.
Saint Nikolaus is rumoured in some stories to have an accomplice, Knecht Ruprecht, who would threaten to beat children if they misbehaved. Some of these European traditions are a bit brutal for my liking! Although I suspect a few of the more unsavoury parts of these stories may have dissolved into nothing in recent years. You can't so flippantly threaten to beat children nowadays!
As for Canada, my current location, there's not so much to report. Those of you reading from my motherland or America aren't missing out on any fascinating Christmas occurances from the Great White North. However, I am pleased to say I attended one of the most fantastic traditions here in Abbotsford, and that was the Drive-Thru Nativity. Oh yeah, I thought drive-thru Starbucks was a bit extreme, but now people apparently don't even bother to get out of their cars for special festive productions anymore! Only in North America eh?!
|A scene from the |
So, for all of you out there feeling a tiny pang of homesickness from being away from home, just remember that you're out here having the time of your life! A Christmas not to be forgotten that's for sure. Festive greetings to my fellow backpackers and all those reading this from home. Have a sweet one!
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
|A perfect example of why I love PostSecret.|
I too hope they are still this happy.
But it got me thinking, there are other online confession sights right? Yeah, type it into Google, you'll have a ball. To be quite honest with you, I think they are the most bizarre creations. Some have religious tones, others are just a means for people to get something off their chest.
GroupHug.us is one of those I can just about cope with; little messages of hopeless romantics expressing their feelings of long lost love. 'I held your hand 4 years ago and I think it will be the last time. This makes me sad.' The only thing I feel for these people is a smidgen of pity, because they have no one else to tell other than faceless cyberspace. (I however do not feel sorry for whoever wrote 'The black people on Twitter are really grossing up the place.' Something best kept to yourself maybe?!)
I could be being a touch cynical here; many of these websites declare how liberating it is for people to just let out a secret they have been holding to for too long. Whether it be to a person or letters on a screen, it still feels like you're confiding in someone and you are not alone. Harbouring a secret you feel like you cannot possibly tell anyone in the world for fear of judgement or ridicule can be incredibly hard.
But the internet...really?!
What pains me even more is the idea that people use confession websites to confess to their God. Why create a middle man? (Don't even get me started on confessing to a priest...) Sites like Ivescrewedup.com list hundreds of confessions from people wishing to tell the Lord their sins. Granted, writing things down is therapeutic (first hand experience), but when it comes to asking for forgiveness from the Lord, speaking to Him like you truly believe He's a real being is probably the best way to go about it. Could writing it on a website not be deemed trying to avoid going through with the real deal and attempting the find someone human to bypass it onto? Perhaps even to get some kind of approval from a more tangible resource?
Maybe it's the church's way of trying to keep up with new technology: confession for the masses whenever and wherever possible. I strayed from the church a few years ago, things seemed to have evolved since then. Hey, call me traditional, but I always thought confessing the the quiet of your own heart was the best way to find peace as a Christian. I don't think it's possible on the devilishly cruel world wide web.
|I couldn't resist adding this PostSecret.|
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Before I left England to head to Canada I decided to join an orgnaisation known as WWOOF, also known as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This allows travelers to volunteer on farms with food and accomodation provided but no pay is given. I didn't exactly have as much money as I'd hoped before I came out here, so this scheme sounded like a good way for me to try something new and save a penny or two in the process.
So here I am, working on a farm which attempts to be as ecologically friendly as possible, and to try it's hand at sustainable living. The fountain of knowledge that is Wiki leads me to believe the definition of sustainable living is 'a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resource and his/her own resource...(this incluces) altering methods of transportation, energy, consumption and diet.'
And as far as I can see, Goat's Pride goes to endless lengths to try and meet this definition. The Dykstra's, the family here, have a staggering nine children, five of which are still at home. Along with up to seven WWOOFers at a time (yes, that's what we call ourselves) this can make it all very difficult when you imagine how much waste this amount of people can produce.
However, I'm impressed by how little one can waste when you really put your mind to it. Very little rubbish actually goes in the bin here that we use for anything that cannot eventually be reused. There is half a room dedicated to various containers for different substances to be recycled. Two bins in the kitchen under the sink are for compost, into which all food leftovers go if they are inedible. Waste from the goats sits in a huge pile waiting to bagged up and sold as fertiliser gold to various other landowners. Another room is dedicated to anything made in jars, from jam to apple sauce to various fruits. The juice leftover from any of these goes into a big container used to drink at breakfast. And man alive is it delicious.
|The pride of Goat's Pride, the little babes!|
|Milk bottle I lovingly labelled,|
ready to be filled and sold.
I think this is something we can all forget from time to time, and as much as government schemes are out there to try and generate more recycling, it boils down to our laziness as to why we can't all be this way. Everyone does it, I certainly do. It's just easier to chuck everything in one bin and forget about it, rather than make a conscious effort to try and maintain the amount of waste you produce and to make it into something new.
I've learnt a lot from my stay here at Goat's Pride already, and intend to take home with me much more in the coming weeks. More info can be found on their website, on Facebook or Twitter.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Sound good? Yeah, it is. I think it should come with a warning however, it has made me feel like I'm going blind sometimes. You can easily Stumble for hours without realising and before you know it, you've 'liked' 136 pages, god knows how many you've disliked, and it's way past bedtime.
|Add a little more joy to|
your tea break.
|Some little people putting|
out a candle.
|Natural Architecture: 'clemson |
clay nest' by nils-udo, 2005
4) Natural Architecture: Otherwise known as an 'emerging art movement that is exploring mankind's desire to reconnect to the earth, through the built environment.' Getting in touch with our natural side with funky spiral trees forming beautiful chambers, 'organic highways' made entirely of whole logs of wood, and ultimate eco houses. I always enjoy an attempt for humanity to join in harmony with nature, and this project is just down my street.
|Liu Bolin in disguise|
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
|Original 3d renders made |
from Sean's first drawings
(same goes for picture
After getting some positive response to his idea from a few people he'd shown, Sean decided there was more to it than just making one to adorn his fire place, which is of course a very expensive option in itself. Sean explains how it started to evolve;
'I like the idea of using design as a tool to solve non-traditional problems, so I thought it would be fun to do a deer head fundraiser. I know a lot of designers that would do something similar if they could, so I thought I'd pass it on to them to get some of their artistic touches and then sell them as one offs for $500 a piece.'
|Original master to make|
Having had him explain all the work that goes into these beautiful creations, I would say $500 is a bargain. Especially considering that no two will be the same, each with their own unique touches of the twenty artists they will be sent to. Also taking into account that around one thousand man hours will be put into the project.
|The mould that will|
create them all...
Monday, 13 December 2010
|A view of the exhibition hall|
This time around, it was utterly painful. If you're on a budget and an event like this swings your way, you'd probably best avoid it. Money and space/weight in your backpack has to be taken into account at all times. I've never found it more difficult to show so much self restraint, and I can proudly say the only thing I bought was a present for someone else. (Admittedly in the hope that he'll hate it and I'll just have to have it instead.)
Here are a couple of my favourite stalls I came across and where you could find those last little quirky Christmas presents...
Attic Journals: Started in 2004, this ubercool project binds 'hard-bound vintage school books and library books that were destined for dumpsters', and turns them into journals. They tear out the original paper and replace it with blank pages, whilst reusing the beautifully old school front covers to create something pretty special. My favourites include 80's style cookery books and classic kids stories (sadly no photos as their website won't let me! Go check it out yourselves though.) I could have bought them all then and there, if I didn't have several blank notebooks lined up already. They're all priced at around $15, so I might just have to treat myself one day.
|Slide Sideways graphics|
Saturday, 11 December 2010
So, I have created a little guide for those of you out there who are in the same position as me. Also, it's something for me to pull out when I'm lacking in inspiration! So if you see one of these five posts pop up, you know my traveling has come to a little stand still. That or I'm being lazy.
I was originally going to do just a straight forward Top Five in one post, but to make things more complex for myself, I'm putting subcategories in them all. Top fives within top fives. Yeah, I know, High Fidelity never thought o' that shit. (Actually, I think they did, but for the sake of argument...)
Everyone knows a good piece of music can always entertain, and this one certainly goes for those long bus or train rides. So to start us off, here are my top five albums to listen to whilst on the move. In no particular order as that would be too tricky.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Self titled: This one is a recent find as I 'stumbled' (see later post of 'stumbling'...oooh cryptic.) upon it a couple of weeks back. I literally cannot stop my thumb from scrolling down to play my most favourite song, 'Home'. Folky, country beats that make me imagine the flower patterned shirts of the sixties with the loving dialogue in the middle. Shades of the Polyphonic Spree. Check out the video to understand what I mean!
Beirut - I can't decide just one album. I'm sorry, I have failed you all and fallen at the second hurdle (I purposely didn't write this one first, but thought I should come clean fairly early on.) In one respect, I could not live without The Flying Club Cup, so I guess it should be that. In another respect, Gulag Orkestar has Postcard From Italy on AND Mount Wroclai (Idle Days). So just trust my judgement and listen to them all. Eastern European vibes meet one hell of a voice to create and exotic sound that will transport you to anywhere but home in a second.
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More: Sorry taste. Sorry underground music scene. Sorry Beirut, Mumford & Sons better and more abstract older brother. But I just cannot get enough of Little Lion Man, the song that can wake me up and make me hit the road no matter what.
Sigur Ros - Takk: There are slightly better albums, but this was my first encounter with Sigur Ros so will always have a special place in my heart. Creative, unpredictable and experimental tunes. One of those albums where each song has probably been on an advert at some point in its life. This one's for taking in those breathtaking views and to sit around being overwhelmed with life.
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt: This was introduced to me by a friend of mine (yes Jenna, its you) in Marrakech, and I have not stopped listening to it since. Kinda sounds like a modern day Bob Dylan, or his voice certainly does. It's a little piece of home that's I can pick up whenever I want, as it reminds me of two of the people I love most in this world (yes George, you are the other one.) A must have when it comes to those solitary moments. Not to be confused with these guys.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
|Some Red Tube sculpture|
I have failed to find the name of...
And I shall eat my words right now. Yumyumyum. We were only in Seattle for one day, and had to race around a little in some kind of mad dash to see the nice parts, but my goodness was I blown away. Seattle just seemed like my kind of city. Quirky and artistic with a touch of chic and grunge simultaneously. I'm by no means a fan of Starbucks, but a visit to their first ever cafe there also have some kind of charm about it.
|Seattle Gum Wall - The ticket office|
|Lumps and bumps|
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
The guard who processed our visas was incredibly talkative and friendly, which either meant he was trying to get us to feel comfortable and slip up (not that I had anything to hide, other than the kilo of cocaine strapped to the bottom of our vehicle...I almost had you fooled then didn't I?!) or he just wasn't playing bad cop today.
So, country music from then on played on the radio, we cruised down to Seattle. In between yeeha's, we heard the most ridiculous radio broadcast any of us had ever come across. The presenter builds up this incredibly shocking piece of news like so, 'I have something to tell you all...(long pause)...but if you're standing up, sit down....(long pause)...If you're driving, I suggest you pull over and get ready for this...(I've never heard so much dead air, long pause)...If you have any pets, take them away from the radio as this might be quite unsettling...(what on earth is he going to say?! long pause)...you will be in an utter state of mental and physical shock from this breaking news...(shut up and tell us already!! long pause)...'
'The unemployment rate has fallen again this week, from 9.6% to 9.8%. and I'd like to say I don't really take sides when it comes to left or right wing politics, that's not our deal on this station. BUT, I have to say, the employment rate has only started to drop so badly in the 19 months President Obama has been in power. That is all...(more dead air)...'
|Glenn 'that smarmy git' Beck|
Now, I'm not very politically minded, so I can't say a huge amount on the subject as I feel myself a little uninformed and ill-equipped. But the impression I got was that politically speaking, this country is messed up. But then again, so is ours and hundreds of others, so we can hardly hold that against America.
So my first impression were more or less what I predicted in terms of the huge political power America represents. They were certainly as brash as I had imagined, if not more. With all these strong characters floating about I find it hard to believe that everyone knows who's side to pick! I hope for the sake of this country, my own, and many more out there, that the political madness we find in this world doesn't take a sour turn and spiral out of control, if it hasn't done so already that is. There's not a lot more I like than a strong sense of identity, and I think we're all in danger of losing it if we don't keep a handle on what our country represents.
There is, quite clearly, no solution in what I've just said. The liklihood of characters such as Glenn Beck and Barack Obama ever seeing eye to eye is slim to none, and we all have different opinions. But the times will not a' change without a bit o' compromise, that is for sure.
Friday, 3 December 2010
So, most of you who I spoke to before I left will have a vague idea of what my two biggest plans were out here. The first being Couchsurfing. The second I shall reveal at a later date (although I have mentioned it several times before...)
So, what is Couchsurfing I hear you cry?! Possibly the best thing to ever happen to the modern traveller I should say. Couchsurfing is an online network that allows you to meet likeminded individuals on your travels or in your home town. What you do with said likeminded individuals is up to your living situation and availablity, which you display on the profile you create. This can range from just meeting someone for a coffee, or having them stay with you whilst they're passing through the area. Or on the other hand, it is you passing through the area and you have your own little personalised tour guide to show you the hidden gems of a city which you may never have found with a guidebook.
Sounds good right?! Well hell yeah it is. I guess for some people out there the idea of meeting up with complete strangers and staying in their houses seems fairly insane, and in a way it is. But if you choose carefully and don't put yourself in stupid situations, couchsurfing can be the saviour of your travels, as well as your bank account.
In the past few weeks I have had three experiences of Couchsurfing, all of which have been positive, and I'd like to publicly announce how greatful I am to all my hosts. I'm not so sure what I may have done with myself in that time if it had not been for you guys.
Just so those people unfamiliar with the whole shabang can get an idea of it all, here is a very fast whistlestop tour of the kinds of things Couchsurfing has brought into my life.
|RISK! 2210 A.D.|
Second Stop: Graham Street House. Victoria. Three guys. Two students, one money bank person. Political chitchat about WikiLeaks and the British monarchy (most of which I couldn't keep up with, shameful), squishiest sofa known to man, badass TV show called Boardwalk, jugs of beer at Swans, getting complimented on my British accent by drunk people at Canoe Club, debating Adam's outfit for his night out (hilarious.), convincing a man to follow his dreams and go and build a cabin in the wilderness (next step, convince his girlfriend...), my first taste of perogies Steeve style (yummmm!), trying to teach them to speak in an English accent and just making Steeve sound like a South African sex offender. Not going to lie, probably a highlight.
Third Stop: Bryan. Victoria. One man, two geckos. A short but oh so sweet visit. Endless talks about travels whilst looking at a world map and being overwhelmed by how much ground there is to cover, writing lists of music for his travels, wine/gin/someswedishstuff/beer.cosmo's/moregin, Big Bad John's and peanut throwing 2010, first decent meal at The Mint (and a painful stomach for many hours afterwards), great new friendly faces of Victoria, falling asleep listening to Blind Pilot, hella portions of food at Flynn's, Fisherman's Wharf and Sammy the Seal, beautiful Victoria lookout point (it's a secret, sshhhh!) Bryan managed to squeeze a lot in considering I was ther for less than 24 hours!
So there we have it. I doubt I would have done any of those things had it not been for these incredibly generous individuals. They will always be remembered as helping me along the way on my first travels alone. And I am pleased to say there will be plenty more stories on Couchsurfing to come...
Over the past two weeks I have been searching out nooks and crannies, little coffee shops and food joints to fill my belly and allow me to drink pots of tea whilst working on my writing. Having been such an enjoyable part of my trip so far, here are my top five places to hang out. Places to get some nosh down me and put my thinking cap on, or relax with friends who help to conjure up my imagination.
1) Burgoo : Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver.
On the snowiest day Vancouver had seen for some years, and after my little drive up to Mount Seymour, my stomach was a' roarin' for some decent warming food. So when we walked past this place named Burgoo with a blackboard sign reading 'hungarian goulash!' just outside the door, my heart was set. Having been to Hungary and tasted the real deal, my standards were high for this perfect winter dish, and luckily I was not disappointed. Soups and sandwiches also grace their menu. Fairly pricey but utterly worth it coming in from teh cold.
2) Our Town: Braodway East, Vancouver.
This place was introduced to me by a young lady named Katja who I was couchsurfing with for four days whilst in Vancouver. Granted, I haven't really eaten here properly, but if you're a fan of cinammon rolls, this is well and truly the place for you. We actually came here to join in with the quiz nights they hold two Thursdays a month. Albeit fairly complicated, it was an imaginative, alternative and original trivia night. If you're quirky, participated in or was a fan of Movember, and wear knitted jumpers with winter animals on them, this is probably the place for you to hang out and drink some coffee or $3.50 cans of beer. That's probably the best way to describe the clientele!
Opposite the beach on which we built a snow man, we enjoyed warmth, honey beer and the greatest and most gimormous burgers and yam fries I have ever tasted. Enough said.
4) Lady Marmalade: Johnson Street, Victoria
A discovery I (ashamedly) made from a Lonely Planet guidebook, plagarist travel writer that I am! But damnnn are they right. I felt utterly at home with some bloody good warming soup and David Bowie on the stereo. Again, a little quirky place who's only source of fresh air being their open front door, so wear some layers or sit round the corner. Neither of which I did so I speak from experience. Nonetheless, it's a perfect lunch spot, that also has a liquor license, hooray! (I stuck to tea...)
5) Flynns (or at least that's what I think it was called, useful!) somewhere in Victoria.
A vague description, but I was only there but a few hours ago. If you have a hangover, look this place up. Mine was satisfied with some seriously amazing BC Hash (vaguely translates to all the breakfast ingredients you could think of all smushed into one.) Huge protions but half sizes are available.
This post is dedicated to Dan, Kirsty, Matt, Bryan, Brad, Katja and Michele. All of which have contributed to my visits to each of these places and made some great memories with me. Cheers folks!
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
I'm not entirely sure why this particular Canadian decided that one's best experience in Canada simply cannot be their friendly nature. I would be pretty darn happy if that was the stereotype most people perceived of my nation. (I'm sitting here drinking Earl Grey tea may I add, I think that's a pretty good stereotype too, but all the others not so much.)
The first time I was struck by a stranger in such a way was my first trip to the market for some cheap food on my second day in Vancouver. I went up to pay at the till and was greeted by an incredibly chirpy young girl. And the end of the transaction she said to me, 'Okay there's your change, have a great week and enjoy the rest of you afternoon!'. It was Thursday. This girl had just wished me four days of happiness, doubly so for that afternoon. Needless to say I skipped out of that market with a spring in my step.
Most of you I imagine will be thinking she was just saying that to everyone, and I shouldn't feel so special. Truth is, she was saying it to everyone, but bloody good on her! She's in a mind numbingly boring job, probably on minimum wage and she still has the energy to bless everyone she greets with kinds words.
Aside from shop workers, I have found the second most friendly occupants of this country are the homeless. If we take into perspective their situation, and how friggin' cold it is here at night, I would be walking around damning everyone wearing a warmer coat than myself and a roof to go home to.
I'll admit, I can be cynical when it comes to the homeless, and I rarely give them money, not knowing what they might spend it on. It's very easy to just pretend like these people don't exist; walk on by with our heads turned the other way so that we don't feel bad about ignoring someone in need. We all do it, don't lie now! However, I've tried to get out of that as much as possible. No matter what they've done to be put in their situation, these are people with real feelings, thoughts and souls. They deserve at least an acknowledgement of their existence, even if it's telling them that you have nothing to give.
And each time I say anything to any one of the homeless here in Canada, no matter what it is, I get a 'Have a great evening' back from every single one of them. In other places you struggle to get a sentence back that doesn't contain an expletive of some sort.
All of this has confirmed and enriched an opinion I have held for a long time, that kind words go a long long way. We all have no obligation whatsoever to say something nice to complete strangers, but if I look back on the times when someone has done so for me, it always makes me smile. It costs nothing, and sometimes you catch someone at a really bad moment in their lives. Those are the times when it can really brighten someones day.
Quick shout out at the end of this post for my favourite homeless guy I've encountered in Vancouver. He walks up and down Granville Street with a sign that reads 'Smile if you masturbate.' Granted, it's an unorthadox way to cheer people up, but damn does he get a lot of smiles. And a lot of tips.
Monday, 29 November 2010
|A snowy street in Kitsilano, |
In recent years, snow has not been my best friend, especially when British civilisation just seems to crumble at the sight of a single flake. It was impractical at best. But hey, I'm not out here to live in the real world, so I got stuck in (as much as I could do with non-waterproof boots that soak up every single drop of water...which along with the leggings incident made me realise how hideously unprepared I am for this trip) and we headed to the beach...to make a snowman. On a beach you say?! A novelty indeed! In fact, we made a snow-WOMAN, just to blow all those stereotypes out the water. She had missing teeth, was called Patricia, and was the pride and joy of two boys who snowballed all over the beach in order to make her bigger and more impressive than the rest.
|Dan, Matt and Patricia|
I got to think about what it is exactly which excites everyone so much about snow, considering it is just weather. No one gets excited about a particularly strong wind do they?! But seriously cold rain and peoples go bananas. However, I've taken so many great pictures of snow, and none whatsoever of a decent gust of wind, so who am I to talk.
I have to say, my favourite thing about snow is the incredible way water forms into it. Whilst on top of Mount Seymour I took a look at some of the snowflakes close up, something which you can't really do with English snow as it melts too fast. So with these indestructible flakes which stick around in the colder temperatures, I wondered how on earth it is that when rain freezes, it makes such an utterly beautiful shape, of which no two flakes are the 100% identical. It is just one of those things about the world that blows my mind, and because of that I can forgive snow for all it's other flaws.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
|Our curling game, come on the blues!|
Thursday, 18 November 2010
I woke up on my first day a bit fuzzy after still not a lot of sleep, to a tonne of rain. Ohhhhh good, thanks clouds. So truth be told I was pretty low. I just wanted to get out there and see the city, however (as I have proved today and will tell you in a few paragraphs time) my coat is far from waterproof. But someone up there heard my prayers and sent the sun a shinin' my way.
So I was off! And just walked. And walked. And walked. The beauty of walking is, of course, that the use of your legs is free! And being the budget backpacker that I am, I have little or no money to spend on luxuries like the bus.
So I get down to the waterfront and grab my first real view of Vancouver. Ever the tourist, I get my camera out, hit the button, and nothing. I try again...nothing. Oh good, my battery is flat!
After heading back to the hostel to put some juice back into that baby, I bump into my friend Jimmy, and he proposes a trip up to North Vancouver for some Lynn Canyon action. After popping our Seabus cherries (amazing!) we make our way north and my goodness it was sweeeeeet! This is Canadian wilderness and it was so incredible to see something like that on my first full day when all I was expecting was city skyscrapers.
I would for sure recommend a trip up there if you're ever in this area. Take a little trek into the forest, breathe in the fresh, cold, crisp air of Canadian autumn, and for goodness sake don't fall off the suspension bridge to certain death amoungst the most powerful waterfall I've ever seen. Just peek over the side and soak up the views. If anything, it truly makes you feel alive...
Day two and there is a rain forecast yet again. I pop to the front desk to ask the (British, hooray!) guy what on earth I could do on a day like this. He basically said anywhere, as long as you're ready to get wet. It's either that or stay in. So, I took my English arse out onto the street and plodded down to Granville Island. I'm not sure what my expectations were but they were completely exceeded. From the outside, or on the Granville Bridge where I got my first glimpse of it, Granville Island looks a little dull. But once you get there, you realise it's a hub of activity.
In one building there's a little burrow full of handicraft and local artisan shops to feast your eyes with. I could have literally bought presents for all of my family and friends and a million for myself also, but I resisted. It just screams of local, honest business and is so refreshing to see in a big city.
Then I got peckish, so walked round the corner to find the market of my dreams. Literally anything you could possibly want to eat all under one roof. Fresh fruit and vegetables and rich and colourful, and the breads delighted my little nose. I picked a few things from a couple of stand and made myself a little feast whilst taking in the view of the harbour (albeit a very wet harbour).
Then I made a slight error and decided to walk the entire length of West Broadway down to Main St then home. In the rain. This probably takes about two and a half hours. Like I just said, my coat is certainly not waterproof, and by the time I made it half way down Main St I was soaked to the skin. I will say however that I enjoyed my long walk, a great way to see the city. I did eventually give in a take the Skyline train back home, sheepishly walking into my hostel and diving past the guy at front desk, avoiding the 'I told you so!'
There we go, a quick whistle stop talk of my first few days here, more to come...
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
There I was bumbling through check-in and security, still weeping slightly (I got some funny looks...) from saying goodbye to George when he dropped me off, overwhelmed by the thought that I wouldn't see a familiar face for two whole months. It wasn't until I was sat in the Departures lounge and heard my first ''aboot'' from this little Canadian lady when I thought I was probably in safe hands.
Everything seemed to be going fairly smoothly, until we got through boarding and were told on the plane that we'd be delayed by two hours. Bloody foggy London town being too foggy for planes to see where they're going!! However, things could have been worse, it wasn't too much of a delay and we were off.
After not sleeping a wink on the flight (Oh how I tried, drinking several complimentary beers in very little time to encourage sleep still didn't work) I got to Vancouver with a very addled little brain thinking it was the middle of the night. And then the angriest passport control woman came into my life. She didn't seem to comprehend why exactly it was that I wanted to be here, tourism was not a good enough answer...! So i was made to feel like a criminal and sent to the Immigration offive to explain why I'm such a scoundral wanting to visit another country just to see the sights.
Anyway, I made it. And then drunk beer until midnight with a Canadian guy named Jimmy, who kindly listened to the drunken ramblings of a sleep deprived crazy zombie me.
Monday, 8 November 2010
|Some fancy bags|
hanging in the
|Some beautiful fabrics|
stacked up the ceiling
If you know you’re not a fan of arguing (on a mostly friendly basis you must understand) with strangers over the price of things, than I suggest you go to Marrakech with someone who does, otherwise you’ll end up being seriously out of pocket. As long as you take the whole thing pretty light-heartedly, and don’t name a price too low in case of offended the shopkeepers, then it can be a fun experience, and something you just have to try at last once whilst you’re there. I myself will always have Jenna or Helen by my side!
|A view of the infamous square by night|