XPLOR SUMMA PT 1

Good morning/evening/high noon/hobnob’s elevenses/dusk/early hours/bus seat scrolling tit bit or traditional work skive! Whatever time of day, or indeed whichever day it is where you are, hello! I am inherently a forgiving man, if your inner dialogue is presently bewilderedly asking:

Christ, who is this so called ‘blogger’, who seemingly never actually blogs, reaching out to me now? Why should I give him and his writing time of day!?’

I forgive you. It’s OK to feel those feels. Please accept my apologies for a neglect of these pages, a busy seven months and a shade of laziness has deflected my focus from writing here. I open my arms wide asunder, biting your bottom lip and furrowing your brow you glance backwards momentarily. Uncontrollably you turn and run, gasping with excitement. Nearly tripping, you bow your head so that it collides forcefully with my wobbly abdomen. My arms wrap around you tightly. The coarse wool of my jumper evokes deep rooted feelings inside of you, emotions of security, happiness and the the uncompromising taste of butter rich hard-toffee flood your senses. All is, again, well with the world. Now we’ve had our necessary Werther’s Original reconciliation moment I must press onwards, I have much to relay.

The key purpose of this post is to put a notion to the sword. The notion in hand being that Canada is a winter biased country – that the Canadian summer doesn’t harbour warm or dry enough climes to facilitate a summer experience how you or I may consider a legitimate summer. You know the ideals I speak of; barbecue, beach sport, skimping around in your speedos – that sorta thing. It’s pure misconception – in interior Canada and the Eastern cities of Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, say  – it’ not uncommon for mid summer temperatures to reach the late 30’s early 40’s (Celsius).

Focussing on British Columbia; the summer climate remains temperate but warm, but with one key difference  – it is long and dry. This year was essentially rain free in Vancouver from mid May through to last week. It’s hard to put into words how much Vancouver thrives in the summer, the population felt like it quadrupled as soon as it was vaguely warm, everybody rose out of cosy hibernation recharged and with freakishly well maintained physiques – stark contrast to my A4-white happy gut (it didn’t stop me basking!) The city is all too geared for the summer with numerous accessible outdoors activities to indulge in. The people of Vancouver are possibly the most active you’ll encounter. Some may as well get Lululemon tattoos the amount of aforementioned lycra garb they exhibit – I must admit, a little nauseating! Otherwise, it’s an excellent place to be when the sun is shining – the proximity of our apartment to several BBQ friendly areas, beaches, Stanley Park and the crux of our buddies living so close by made for plenty of forays, often ending in the latter hours with hiccups, a dizzy head and a slice of street pizza.

Spring seemed to come earlier than Blighty – I remember March being mainly dry, and rather splendid. The majority of the year has, for me, been punctuated by appreciative guests. Starting with the sister-Beats and Rhys ‘Taffy’ Evans treble birthday bonanza visitation – in that we all have our birthday’s within a week of each other. What better time than to pay bro a visit?

Sister and Rhys gorged on the plentiful high quality Vancouver sushi.

Sister and Rhys gorged on the plentiful high quality Vancouver sushi.

WTF team?

WTF team?

6am Scotch intake. Pre Whistler.

6am Scotch intake. Pre Whistler.

March and April are still prime for mountain pursuits – it would be horribly wrong not to take the opportunity to view the lankiest man in Wales on two flat fibreglass sticks tackle the terrain of Whistler. A five day jaunt ensued. Nice powder dumps of snow greeted us – dining, drinking, partying and hilarity also  – memorable times.

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Squinter, Lance and midnight-Roberts.

For the first time we ventured west of Vancouver – and paid a visit to Victoria the capital of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. A quaint sea side city that reminded me of a British sea side town/city. Think Brighton but more cute. There we had some of the best seafood I have had the pleasure of sampling.

We took a seaplane to Victoria on Vancouver island

We took a seaplane, why? Cos we ballers. The view was intense. See below.

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We went to see the Canucks play the Nashville Predators

Way too soon Sister and Rhys’ two week visit had halted to an end. Time for them to get back to London and await work on their first home to be finalised – congrats guys! The Spring was picking up pace nicely and a mere three weeks after these two had departed I welcomed our next visitor – Stu ‘Milton’ Rhodes. I used to live with this insatiable gent back in London. Oh, the time we had! Arriving in Vancouver ‘fresh‘ from Coachella festival and a mini west coast States tour, Stuey had barely shaken off the jet lag before it was time to get Canadian mash-up, poor bloke. Before his arrival I had deliberated at some length on how his Alan Partridgesque tones would permeate with Canadians, an intriguing pickle. One of the definite highlights of his visit was a irrefutably successful micro brewery tour. Now, I intend to do a more in depth piece on the west coast micro brewery scene in months to come – it is something which I think is a real positive born from this part of the world. You’ll need to bare with me, I’m still collating data. Oh, and an FYI – Milton’s dulcet tones coupled with straight to the point observations strewn against a canvas of Canadian politeness made for hilarious viewing. ‘WE ARE ALL CANUCKS!’

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Ryan has a common and unfortunate affliction which is incurable, he has been duped into supporting Spurs. There is a link at the bottom of this page where you can donate and help research into a cure for this terrible illness.

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G-man holdin’ it down in V-town. Sir, you will be sorely missed.

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Cafe Medina is worthy of a food photo.

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Usually this would go some way to humiliating an individual - not Judah Kong, no way. This guy is invincible and has insane spirit powers of unicorns turding out whole sparkly rods of rainbow energy. Want more? - Here you go: chungsun.tumblr.com .

Usually this would go some way to humiliating an individual – not Judah, no way. This guy is invincible and has insane spirit powers of unicorns turding out whole sparkly rods of rainbow energy. 

IMG_9839One of the pros of living in Van is its proximity to other audacious and spectacular places. South western BC is gifted with some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the world – (says many people who’ve travelled a great deal more than me!) Vancouver Island is particularly beautiful. One such location on the Island, often touted in the tour guides, is Tofino. Existing on the periphery of a hugely diverse rain forest the tiny town is a haven for wildlife, undualting forested scenery, long sweeping wild sand beaches and the unrelenting frontier of the Pacific ocean – it’s also Canada’s premier west coast surf resort. Having read up a little of this wonderment it became somewhat of a priority to get over and see for myself. Assembling a crew all living in Vancouver – nine expats from England and Ireland alike – and a Canuck, we ventured westwards.

Tofino was incredibly and undeniably beautiful – I run out of superlatives. Something in the air leant itself to a guttural feeling of the prehistoric – there was something decidedly primeval permeating from its core. One of those scenarios where human activity and settlement is so dwarfed by the scale and energy of the wild which surrounds it that people seem out of place, like we as a race are only visiting and that something more pure and of a intrinsic wider understanding of this planet stakes claim here. Sea mist eerily peeled off the water, scraping gradually through the rainforest canopy – a palate of vivid greens and deep dusk-blues radicalised the plentiful vistas. Silence and calm on a level I have seldom experienced reigns, at odds to its winter incarnation; a turbulent epicentre of famous Pacific storms – none other was this more apparent than when we visited Wickaninnish Beach, a beach that comprises Long Beach, a 10 km stretch of unspoilt white sand and large scale drift wood. Here the Pacific relentlessly roared with such gusto we struggled to hear each others voices. The town itself conveyed the typically west coast ethos; relaxed beyond comprehension. There was helpful locals, a bad ass bakery, surf stores and all importantly; a brewery. Seeing is believing.

CAZZA,LOUISE,MCGARKA&EMILY ARE THE SPICY GALZ.

CAZZA, LOUISE, MCGARKA & EMILY ARE THE SPICY GALZ ON THA FERRY, LIKE.

TIM 'N BAZZA

TIM ‘N BAZZA

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 TO BE CONTINUED….


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WEST COAST WINTER

Jim’s right you know. Well, his embellishment of Canadian igloo building, moose taming natives is purely for hilarity, but the ‘cold’ misconception – spot on.

‘Ohh those Canadian winters, brrrrrrrr, I hope you’ve packed your thermal underwear?’ said someone in England sometime before I left.

Well, yes I did. Have I needed to use it – no.

The winter weather system in Vancouver has proved remarkably similar to that of southern England – distinctively a Cornish winter. It’s mild and very wet. The lowest temperatures have dropped are minus 4°C , hardly bone shattering. In fact the coldest winter I have dealt with in recent memory was 2012/13 in London, when through lack of double glazing and an unwillingness to pump the heating at the expense of soaring bills I took to the indoor wearing of long johns through January and February. March wasn’t much warmer and some may recall that on April 1st it snowed in central London. My fingers are numbing over at the memory.

I concede it does get mightily cold in much of central/eastern Canada, ask anyone thawing out from the ‘polar vortex big freeze 2013/14’ in Calgary, Saskatoon, Toronto or Montreal. Whereas the west coast remains shielded by the temperate coastal climate – envisage 4 day stretches of persistent rain and fog. Fog the likes of which I’ve never encountered. Enough eerie, silent, all encompassing fog to fill 800, 000, 000, 76587 Crystal Maze studios. Sometimes in a matter of minutes it can subside, dragging rapidly away into the Pacific or rather encroach quickly and ominously, and then hang for hours. One morning I decided to take two pictures from our balcony with a ten minute interval.

Looming - and then....

Looming – and then….

Gone

Gone

On the rainy days there is nothing better to do than embrace the glumness and roll with the punches – pull on your proofs and boots and get involved. Whether a puddle stomp around the city, a face smattering fresh bike ride or a pummelling run just don’t dwell indoors. In typical British stiff-upper-lip fashion – I’m not one to be deterred by a spot of rain, chaps. The other positive is that if it really buckets it down in the city you can expect snowfall on the surrounding mountains. And you know what that means…..

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It’s been no secret, one of the major factors for my moving here was an incurable desire to further my ability of strapping a fibreglass-wooden tray to my feet and sliding, at an ever increasing speed, down a mountain. I am happy to relay that this is precisely what I have been doing, and falling over, but mostly staying upright and turning at speed and jumping higher and even grabbing my tray in the air. Cecilia and I have managed to get out to one of the the local mountains ‘Cypress’ a handful of times thus far. Although it remains relatively early days into the season, and there being not as much snowfall as previous years as I’m reliably informed,  – it has been so good to reintroduce myself. A case of picking up from whence I left off on my last alpine adventure of February 2012 in Austria. I am constantly in the business of pushing myself and improving. We’ve been really lucky with the weather too – blue skies and spring like conditions.

Atop of Cypress mountain looking south easterly

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Atop of Cypress mountain

Over the Christmas period Cecilia’s parents, Ingela and Nigel, graciously paid us a visit. We dined, we drank, exchanged presents, and the mrs and I generally played tour guide as best we could. Being keen outdoorsy people – Vancouver is only too set up for such activity. A fair amount of hiking and cycling was undertaken, (and falling dramatically from the saddle onto coarse asphalt – this individual shall remain anonymous, cough). They ventured city wide; Stanley Park, Gastown, Kitsilano, Coal harbour, East Van to name a few regular haunts. We all ventured over to UBC (the University of British Columbia campus – a provincial park in it’s own right) on new years day. We traversed Wreck Beach – help walk off the whiskey head! The beach, for me, always evokes a feeling of something age-old and undiluted. You get that organic kinda west-coast hippy feels, probably aided by the pockets of doobie quaffing free-worlders that congregate in places along this stretch. It is a ‘clothes optional’ beach after all. Considering its proximity to the campus, the city and some noticeable human intervention in the way of the logging industry and, now unused, watchtowers, I think it still retains wild beauty.

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A visit to western British Columbia in the winter would never ever be complete without a trip to Whistler, especially if you’re a keen skier. Being the elite holiday hunters they are, the Easton’s had sought out superior lodgings. For three nights we were residents of ‘Aspens on Blackcomb’ a ‘ski in/ski out’ lodge – we could walk out of the rear exit of the complex and straight onto piste, strap in, ride down to the chair lift c’est voila. Other perks included the outdoors hot tub where they encouraged you to to take a beer whilst you bathe – help soothe away the day’s activity! It was as good as it sounds.

Stretching it out after a day en-piste

Aspens lodge + Cornishman + Swede x2

Hot tubz

Hot tubz

I always spend a great deal of effort en-piste avoiding skiers. Frankly, they frighten me. Eternally flashing past at superior speeds and with poles and points protruding from every which way, these supremely gangly, but yet usually elegant gradient fiends are plainly a danger to muggins on his board. Or is it the other way round? Following Nigel’s ever accelerated routes down these two mountains became more intrepid and challenging each time we exited a chair lift. I was to be put through my paces, I navigated more moguls and off piste terrain than I’ve ridden before, and significantly improved my boarding.

Whistler and Blackcomb mountain respectively, are two incredible mountains, world renowned.

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Credit to Nigel on this one.

Credit to Nigel on this one.

And this one.

Whistler peak

Whistler peak

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On the peak to peak gondola

On the peak to peak gondola – Nigel’s pic

N.Easton landscape photography

N.Easton landscape photography

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Peak to peak gondola vertigo

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A world class resort – hosts of 2010’s Winter Olympics.

It really was as good as I had hoped – the scale of the two mountains is hard to fathom – made hugely accessible by many-many chair lifts, it was also made sufficiently better by a fresh dump of snow the night before we arrived. We even managed to hit some powder.

In between bouts of mountain horse play and five days of work, which is going splendidly by the by, I have made a concerted effort to integrate a Canadian institution into the cycle; Hockey. Known to those in Blighty  as ‘Ice Hockey’ (something which I was corrected several times by some Canadian pals) – it turns out they couldn’t give two flying pucks about the ball and stick forefather – that’s for pussies – clearly it isn’t – but maybe in comparison to the ice played version they have a point of sorts. North American hockey is entirely brutal. Anybody reading this who is up on recent NHL happenings will know that Vancouver Canucks recently took on the Calgary Flames, their most hotly contested local rivals, and at the start whistle a man-for-man four Vs four brawl ensued. The commentary team, although used to a one on one scenario even seemed aghast and stated that this sort of thing had not happened in years. Turns out my local team are the Stoke City of the NHL, happy to play dirty! In my view the sport is accessible and easy to watch  – especially in comparison to other north American sports. The action and intensity rarely lets up – something which any fan of premiership football can relate to. The guys competing are an incredible level of fitness playing near on every two days, or sometimes even back to back nights, in a season that lasts in the region of 80 games. Further testament to the physicality of the game is that each skater will generally only take 45 seconds – 1 minute at a time on the ice before a swap with a team mate.

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The playoffs are just around the corner – I’m reliably informed by pals Ryan and Joel, pictured, that these will be throughly intense all action affairs. Also the national Canadian team will defend their 2010 gold medal win in the upcoming Winter Olympics, not to be missed.

Vancouver Canucks Vs Calgary Flames. All active players minus the goalkeepers slug it out with their fists!

Appetite whetted for the sport I sought out a live game I could watch. Well, actually good friends Louise and Kathy did. It wasn’t to be an excursion to see the Canucks but instead the Vancouver Giants – a team which plays in the junior league – comprising of 18/19 year old lads – it can easily be as intense as the NHL, and even a little rougher around the edges. The league, from what I gathered, acts as a kind of youth feeder league to the NHL and certainly the Giants have proved the starting platform for Canucks players before. The game we attended was a charity affair. Each spectator needed to bring at least one a teddy bear/stuffed toy, it is an annual tradition. A teddy bear? Huh? I know I thought the same, but the idea is when the giants get their first goal that everybody throws their bear onto the ice in a mass explosion of colourful critter expulsion and they all go to children’s charities. The result was surreal, zany and even euphoric!

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Full contact

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Giants got their goal!

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Finally I must dedicate the latter part of this post to commemorate the passing of 2013 – a great year.  Here are some images that have nicely epitomised a great three months of establishing ourselves and experiencing the new.

Christmas cheese and wine night - my fellow Cornishman - James Ogilvie came by to sample the dairy glutton fest that was.

Christmas cheese and wine night – my pal and fellow Cornishman, James, came by to sample the dairy glutton fest that was, also enjoyed by (left to right) Louise, Kathy and Ania.

Work drinks - Canadians like beer, alot. Many will drink you under the table with ease.

Work drinks – Canadians like beer, a lot. From my experience they can drink huge amounts of beer before hitting the gutter. Time to take my drink stamina up a notch.

It snowed for two days.

It snowed for two days.

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That there is bald eagle and they are f*****g gigantic. Spotted this chap in the very centre of the city.

That there is bald eagle and they are enormous. We spotted this chap in the very centre of the city.

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Mount Seymour

Mount Seymour

Sea Otters on 2nd beach in Stanley Park - totally unfazed by human proximity.

Sea Otters on 2nd beach in Stanley Park – totally unfazed by human proximity.

One of the best food markets you'll ever visit. Not bad bars either!

One of the best food markets you’ll ever visit. Not bad bars either!

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New chums - 5 Brits and a Canuck.

New chums – 5 Brits and a Canuck.

Until next time... JMB

Until next time…
JMB

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Postcards

Sometimes the image can convey more than the word alone. The beautiful notion that a singular image captured in time is an intimate experience with the individual viewer. Draw your own conclusions carve and create your own scenarios and landscapes, from your imagination. And then go forth and write, write something which is directly influenced from visual stimuli. Dare to create. Until next time.

JMB

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TWO WHEELIN’ & FOG CLEARIN’

Being a pedestrian is awesome and all, the nimble footed amongst us can shuffle through the tightest of gaps at freakish tip toeing pace. Just try doing your entire Christmas shop on your lunch break on Oxford Street – London, on the 23rd of December. This task will transcend all former limitations of foot slapping travel, I guarantee it will lift your usually sluggish lower limbs into frenzied acute and purposeful action. Such podiatry execution becomes second nature to most Londoners, and it’s fine – it’s a given, – an unwritten rule for the capital.

Things are different here, other than the obvious lesser population I mean. I refer to the expanse of it all; North America – Canada – Vancouver, the sheer space and size of the place. In fact something in which I learned recently, and could’ve and should’ve probably picked up on in the guide books and online content I read beforehand, is that Vancouver is actually split up into cities and large towns and thirteen ‘greater Vancouver’ provinces. The four to take note of are the ‘City of Vancouver’ itself – encompassing the downtown district (where I now call home) and surrounding ares, ‘Burnaby’ to the east, ‘North Vancouver’ which lays over the expanse of water; ‘Burrard Inlet’ and ‘Richmond’ to the south where you will find the airport. It soon became apparent to me that to explore this city(ies) and not have to become a seasoned pro at bus timetabling I would have to summon another means of transport to the fore.

Cycle. It’s obvious!

It’s also cheap and will help burn some lard from my ever expanding gut region. Since being here, and like many that live here, I have utilised Craigslist.com as my go to for purchasing everything, pretty much. (It’s a gumtree setup by the by).  Last week I purchased a nearly-new bike from a chipper Ukrainian student who was even kind enough to deliver the thing! For a meagre $130 (£77) I have a wheeled steed to call my own, the first time in four years I have pedalled on the regular. It isn’t too bad from what I can tell – a light ‘city bike’ frame with thicker mountain bike wheels – a hybrid if you will (I’m going ad-lib here.) Although knowing many London folk that have, and still do pedal – I was always far too much of a scared schmuck to attempt the devious speedcat trails of the helmeted. I therefore became one of the queuing many who shuffled, spluttered, and drearily moaned at the apparent inefficiency of TFL services.

Since purchasing my velo I have soared through the streets of Van City, sometimes even no handing – I know gnarly right! Today I even attempted a pathetic skid in a pile of fallen leaves, to no avail – I just don’t have the pedigree I used to produce. Cecilia and I headed out to north Vancouver today – I should add she wasn’t running eagerly beside me like some f****d up master-commander fitness program/routine – she also bought a bike too and rode. We navigated through Stanley Park and crossed the Lions Gate Bridge (same architect as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco no less). We arrived at the decision to venture northwards when assessing the entirely sporadic and coastal weather systems that quite literally engulf this city. Take today for example, we couldn’t see more than say ten metres from our balcony all day due to an unmovable stubborn swathe of dense fog which lingered only on the southern shore of the downtown peninsula for.. , well for three days now! But when checking numerous reports online and assessing some live webcams – it showed the most beautiful sunny clear weather one could wish for on the north shore! I’m talking a maximum of 1km between the two areas I have just described. This surreal and very cleanly defined change from bright sunshine to dense white fog made for an eerie ride, but also for some hauntingly beautiful pictures even a  friend of mine and photographer exemplar: Dom Moore, would potentially salivate over, if only I had the click and snap prowess and equipment of said chum. Instead I pushed forth on a mission of mood capture to a background of high rise metropolis or jagged mountain, all on my iPhone 5s. Here is what I captured.

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Out of the fog the cityscape appeared

Out of the fog the cityscape appeared

From north shore looking saaaaf.

From north shore looking south.

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So, that was today. A good day. The following collection are in no particular order and display some of the other things I have been doing, drinking, eating, buying – experiencing!

Microbrewies are big out here we were shown this place and that place → by new friends Vivian and Chris.

Microbrewies are big out here we were shown this place and that place → by new friends Vivian and Chris.

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Brassneck microbrewery - a new drinking home I think.

Brassneck microbrewery – a new drinking home I think.

Vancouver aquarium is jelly jelly good.

Vancouver aquarium is jelly jelly good. Sorry I couldn’t resist that one.

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Pre thanksgiving eating and boozing. Louise and Cecilia.

Pre thanksgiving eating and boozing. Louise and Cecilia.

Anglo Irish. 'Devon and Keith'

Anglo-Irish innuendo.
Devon and Keith exercise a phallic marrow.

Giving thanks for the incredible meal that was.

Giving thanks for the incredible meal that was.

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I OWN A SNOWBOARD.

I OWN A SNOWBOARD.

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WHO TO BE....

WHO TO BE….

UNTIL NEXT TIME....

UNTIL NEXT TIME….

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Rolling R’s and avoiding cars

Over a year of talk and nine months of putting processes into action has finally resulted in the tangible. We are here, we’ve made it to Canada. It feels markedly strange that this is it, that I can say ‘I live in North America’. Eventually I will come to terms with this fact, however I am presently behaving strictly like an excitable tourist. New experiences are the things that fuel us , right? This assertion as truth then I am running on potent gas guzzling diesel, full tank, hooning it along the freeway and I can’t crash, not on these vast three lane roads and certainly not in this giant 4 X 4 wagon.

OK, excusing the ‘American-freedom-wagon-cruising’ imagery (there is specific reason for this which I will address later) – I am extremely pleased with how the first week or so of Vancouver life has treated us. I must pay thanks to several generous and knowledgable individuals for the easy transition into life here. Our good friend Louise and one of the prestigious alumni of ‘ MSc Marine Science ’10 Plymouth Krew ‘ so very kindly put us up for over a week, whilst we scoped out apartments. She not only did this but acted as the most expert tour guide one could want, advice seldom comes so bubbly. Huge thanks must also ring out to the Irish contingent in which again housed us, entertained us, educated us, taught us how to sharpen knives, defined the terms ‘shift’ and ‘your one’ and in a Mr McGill’s case drove us about picking up furniture and supplies in his HUMONGOUS white 4 X 4 pick up – which was thoroughly awesome (earlier ‘open American freeway’ imagery justified).

What now follows is a round up – in a rolling list, encompassing what we’ve accomplished, eaten, drank, danced to, conversed about, learned, watched, sung along to, who we’ve met and who we’ve offended. These are the initial events which have brought me from Friday 20th September British citizen sitting in a Pret a Manger  – Gatwick departure lounge – to British citizen in British Columbia sitting in a ‘Blenz coffee’ Yaletown, Vancouver 30th September. I use this frenetic mode of description as it aptly relays how it has felt to experience it – fun, fast paced change.

Airport immigration officers  – po faced but professional, Vancouver taxi drivers – cheerful and don’t understand the English pronunciation of ‘buck’, two bags of weight capacity luggage per person and hand luggage – heavy, East Vancouver – nice suburban quietness, pizza places – many, alcohol only bought at liquor stores – Strongbow expensive – ‘Growers cider’ cheaper, tastier and higher percentage. Jet lag – crippling on first day/night/day? – confusing. Vancouver downtown – high rise and beautiful, Cultures and nationalities – many. Fido – phone shop not dog – iphone 5 – new. Cecilia learning ways of a smart phone – hilarious.

Granville island – quaint, Granville market – the biggest salmon I have ever seen – incredible selection of food. GasTown – scenic and unforgettable, covers band in ‘Blarney Stone’ bar  – awesome performers. Rolling R’s to be understood by Canadians – necessary. Understanding road crossing system and avoiding cars on junctions – absolutely necessary. McDonalds – quarter pounder BLT – needs to hit the UK!

SkyTrain – monorail monorail monorail. Spanish contingent – friendly  – NB not all Spanish like football!  Cecilia birthday – hooray. Apartments – viewed 7 in a day – last one – amazing – incredible view, but unfurnished. Beliini’s and Long island Ice tea’s to celebrate missus’ Birthday – go on then.

Craigslist – good website for anything. All furniture for new gaff – sorted for under $200!! :-O Meeting George Mills  – good to see the fella! Ice hockey – Vancouver Canucks Vs NY Rangers – enthralling sport. Bye George – enjoy Banff, see you in five months! Stanley Park – too beautiful. Skunk – seen in shrubs. Portside club – cool place to spend a night, drinks – London prices. New apartment move – hard work made much easier by helpful friends – new apartment with furniture – home. Tomorrow – start work!

Here’s some pictorials

UBER LUGGAGE

UBER LUGGAGE

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DOWNTOWN STEAM

DOWNTOWN STEAM

THE VIEW FROM OUR APARTMENT - LEGIT.

THE VIEW FROM OUR APARTMENT – LEGIT.

ENGLISH BAY PHOTOGRAPHING

ENGLISH BAY PHOTOGRAPHING

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THE PIZZA SELECTION HERE IS UNREAL

THE PIZZA SELECTION HERE IS UNREAL

SUNSET FROM STANLEY PARK

SUNSET FROM STANLEY PARK

GO CANUCKS

GO CANUCKS

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VIEW FROM KITSILANO

VIEW FROM KITSILANO

VIEW OF DOWNTOWN FROM BURRARD BRIDGE

VIEW OF DOWNTOWN FROM BURRARD BRIDGE

CHOICES

Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of dilemmas.

H L Mencken

It’s one of life’s blessings or perhaps blights isn’t it? Choice. I am a fiend for this devious procedure which is so characteristic of a modern developed world, privileged to have the luxury of options, I’ve got ‘hashtag‘ first world issues*.  

As the title of this blog indicates, and from what I may have let on to yourselves; I am indeed set to become a resident of the seemingly beautiful metropolis of Vancouver; Canada. I made a choice and stuck to it, and I must add it was by no means an easy decision to arrive at.

So, why Vancouver? Why Canada? Well, along with countless testimonies to this city and nation from friends and the reasons only I myself can find answers to, I hope this blog –  in time, will go some way to answering these questions. I hope my experience penned here will advocate and justify my decision.

From all accounts Vancouver is one of the world’s most scenic cities, the Rocky’s lie to the east bearing mightily down upon the city, beaches scatter the western shoreline broken up by docks, ports, harboursides, piers and walkways. One of North America’s largest and rugged ‘urban’ parks, ‘Stanley park’, stretches westerly into the Pacific. This is a progression and a lifestyle choice. I am unashamedly a proud Cornish fellow who grew up with the rurality and coastal beauty that Cornwall and the west country offered as my playground, but I’ve always craved some of the hubbub and goings on of a city life. The last two and half years I traded Cornwall and Plymouth for London, those who experienced London with me will agree I fervently loved the capital, what a fabulous city. I met some of my favourite people and can honestly say this was the best time in my short life thus far. However, at times, as all Londoners I’m sure can attest, the place can get a little on top of you, a little intoxicating. And perhaps at the two year mark into my living in the smoke I came to the realisation that I wanted the action, vibrancy, culture and night life offered by such a city but with a markedly more outdoor feel. Vancouver by all accounts ticks all these boxes, let’s see how Cecilia and I find British Columbia!

In the meantime before our departure there has been more immediate and pressing choices and options to pontificate upon. For example:  what English items should I take that won’t be readily available? What music can I update my horrendously dated iTunes with – (thanks Dom Moore and Cecilia’s dad Nigel, by the by). How will I watch the premiership and a newly strengthened Arsenal in this crucial campaign? Should I engineer space in my cases for three jackets or four? Amongst other quizzical matters of the largely untravelled, a singular most obvious heart breaking conundrum popped into my beleaguered noggin:  which footwear should I select to take?

I concede I am a man of confused ideals, one of material want but searing sceptical views by way of guidance from an innate sense of morals. I’m a contradictory miss mash of confused idioms, I scowl at the outright materialism and blind daftness of modern culture but also eagerly indulge, filling my senses with gluts of suffocating splurges. My gluttony is shoes, I’m sure if you know me you will know this already. But hey, as somebody once said rather unequivocally, somewhere: no one’s perfect, eh. This in mind, when confronted with the mammoth task of organising and selecting what to take I’m sure you can now appreciate the powerful and painstaking decisions I had to rationalise.

It took me one whole day dedicated to just this one task; selection, much to my poor step mother’s dismay.

‘Look they’re ancient, get rid of them!’

My mouth wide aghast with horror: ‘my Nike safari 1’s are not getting thrown in the ruddy bin!’

Anyways, all obstacles traversed and entirely hard decisions arrived upon  – I have narrowed it down to 15 pairs. I know, I know I’m working on it – I’m still yet to complete the final-final pack so I may have to cram some in to my hand luggage or bribe Cecilia to take some in hers. We’ll see.

I must add a huge thank you to the incredible efforts everybody has scaled to wish us farewell – I am touched. We will miss you all.

Please stay tuned, take note of this web address. My next post will be coming live from Vancouver, Canada. Needless to say I’m rather excited now.

Until then, how for now.

JMB

* #FirstWorldIssues is a widely used ‘hashtag’ by twitter users, trivialising the material and meaningless choices we of the developed world often have to make. 

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