Category: lifestyle

Happy Thanksgiving

A Turkey
A Turkey – image courtesy of Wikipedia

Turkeys may not be rejoicing at this time of the year. Not only are they the traditional choice for celebrating Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday, but also the massive recall of E-Coli infected beef has taken many alternative choices off the menu.

I am sure that Canadians will find a way to enjoy the holiday – after all it is about gathering together with family and friends and the feasting is secondary. No really!

When we first came to Canada the whole idea of Thanksgiving was quite foreign to us. In the UK the nearest equivalent is Christmas dinner (where the turkey features too). So over the years we have failed to develop a tradition. Each year we celebrate by eating whatever we want. That has included eating pizza, Mexican, curry and one dreadful year – tofurky!

However you are celebrating this harvest festival, we wish you and your family an enjoyable time.

 

It’s a sign

Deep Cove's dog sign
Good dog!

There must be something in the water (or more likely coffee) that the sign writers in North Vancouver drink because they certainly let their sense of humour out to play. This example is one of the best known. It is in Deep Cove, the eastern most part of the north shore. Perhaps that’s where it all started – the sign writers must have thought that this would be too far off the beaten track. Not so! Deep Cove is a popular place because it is quiet and has great access to the waters of Indian Arm. In fact just by this sign you can hire a kayak and go out and explore this beautiful inlet.

Off leash area exit sign
Sorry buddy

This one apologizes to the dog for having to go back on the leash when leaving the off leash area. This is down by the harbour centre in North Vancouver. The fenced in off-leash area has its own beach so that the dogs can swim.

There are a lot of other signs around the area. I collected a few photos on our facebook page if you want to see more. Or you can spend an enjoyable day yourself and tour North Vancouver looking out for similar signs.

A tale of two locks

Door lock
A typical UK style door latch will lock automatically on closing.

One of our friends mentioned the other day that he’d been away and had left the house unlocked. While he didn’t do this deliberately, it did remind me how different Canadians seemed to be in their attitudes than the Brits.

I think there’s something to be learned from the differences in the kinds of locks that Canadians and the British typically have on their homes. In the UK the usual front door lock is a latch that locks as soon as the door is closed. The default setting is locked.

In Canada doors don’t usually lock automatically. You have to remember to lock the door once you are outside. That’s probably why my British friend was able to leave his door unlocked.

This choice of locking mechanism speaks to a trusting feeling about the likelihood of anyone robbing the house. My Canadian cousin, when we stayed with her years ago, told us we didn’t need a key. All she asked was that we hide her laptop under the sofa cushion when we went out.

This relaxed attitude to security extends to your car. There’s a TV campaign urging us to lock our cars and hide valuable. Many people do leave their cars unlocked, even with windows open. Not that this is a wise thing to do – theft from cars, or of cars, is fairly common place. It does suggest that trust is our default setting here.

Frankly that is something I like about living here. I do lock my car and the house. What do you do?

Living with bears in the yard

A yearling bear appeared in our garden
Boris the bear on his last visit

Last week we had a visitor. This one was hairier and hungrier than most of those we get (I am excluding some of my son’s friends in this!). It was a yearling black bear and it was our first close encounter with a bear. Actually it had become a bit of a sore point with us. We were beginning to wonder if we could call ourselves truly Canadian if we hadn’t seen a bear!

In Vancouver, particularly on the north shore where there’s wilderness literally on your doorstep, bears are a fact of life.

There seem to be two reactions to bears:

  1. Love them.
  2. Hate them.

If you love them, then seeing one up close and personal tends to prompt mixed emotions. They can be cute, but if they are in your yard then it is likely that they’ve become used to humans and are becoming a nuisance. Once bears start foraging for food in human habitat there’s usually only one outcome – the bear has to be destroyed. (Relocation is the first step, but it seems that many bears eventually make their way back).

If you hate them, then the best thing you can do is to avoid creating any bear attractants in your area. This advice goes for those who love bears too.

That means:

  • store all garbage indoors or in a secure enclosure
  • put your garbage out on the morning of collection
  • remove your birdfeeders
  • clean your bbq after each use
  • keep your pet food inside
  • pick ripe fruit and vegetables and clean up the windfalls
  • keep your fridge and freezer inside (many people have second ones in their carports)

And if you do see a bear in the yard then you can make loud noises and try and scare them off.

We personally like living in an area that we can share with bears. It does mean some inconvenience, mainly with garbage, but that seems a small price to pay. After all the bears were here before we came. And they don’t do any harm.

What are your thoughts on living with bears?

Island life

Salt Spring Island
Is there a welcome waiting for you on an island in BC?

When we came to British Columbia we chose to live in Vancouver because we wanted to be in a relatively big city, having lived in London. We had thought about living in Victoria but thought that living on an island, however big, might seem a bit strange. (My daughter pointed out that Britain is an island too!)

We now have a bit more experience of living in B.C. and we can see that island life is something we’d now consider. Here are a few things for you to think about if you’re considering island life.

Vancouver Island is the largest island in B.C. and at about 32,000 sq kms it is pretty large (2/3 the size of England). You might not even feel that you’re on an island.However when it comes to travelling you’d need to get a ferry or plane to the mainland. Depending on how you think about it that can be constricting or part of the adventure. From my point of view, from the mainland, I’ve always enjoyed the ferry ride, which is like taking a mini cruise and is pretty relaxing.

You are dependent on the ferries and that’s something that British Columbians love to gripe about. That’s understandable given there’s no real alternative, especially if you’re taking your vehicle. You have to pay the fare. You may have to pay extra to reserve a place if it’s peak time. And any problems with the ferries can really disrupt your journey.

If you’re living on the Island (as Vancouver Island is most often called) then you’re going to pay less for your home than in most places in the Lower Mainland, especially Vancouver’s expensive neighbourhoods. The pace of life is likely to be slower too. (And we found Vancouver pretty slow compared to London, so Island time might well be very slow!

Of course Vancouver Island is only one of the dozens of islands off the coast of British Columbia. The other islands are much smaller, so if you want to get away from crowds these might suit you.

The smaller islands do tend to leave you even more dependent on BC Ferries, and in some cases you’ll be taking more than one ferry in order to get to the Mainland.

If you want to live and work on an island then Vancouver Island offers you the most opportunity to find work. The smaller islands seem to thrive on tourism and often have a lot of artists. I don’t know if they make a living, but if you’re at all artistic then it is a very attractive lifestyle. Even if you don’t make your fortune, you’ll find yourself part of a community that supports artists.

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