Category: personal reflection

A Canadian in Oz

Last week our daughter, Gwen, returned from two months in Australia. She was there for a theatre course and then spent the rest of her time backpacking around the east coast of Australia. She had an awesome time, as you can imagine. She snorkelled on the great barrier reef, went to Bondi beach, cuddled a Koala and generally enjoyed herself.

We thought it was interesting as we listened to her stories about her travels that she always told people she was Canadian. After all she was born in England and lived her first 15 years there, so for her to identify herself as Canadian after only 5 years in Canada may seem amazing.

We are often asked how are children have settled into life in Canada, and I think that Gwen’s story answers that question perfectly. She told anyone she met that she was Canadian and only confessed to being British if her Vancouver friends made her.

Gwen enjoyed Australia and wants to go back for a working holiday some time in the future. In fact she’d prefer to go there than go back to the UK. What’s nice for us is that she definitely thinks of Vancouver as home.  


Sue and I were in Kits yesterday. Getting out of my car, we saw one of those sights that confirms you are in Kits. A young woman, crossing the street carrying her cycle helmet and her back pack, with her yoga mat sticking out. Very Kits.

This area has the hippy, bohemian thing going on still. We were on Broadway, close to MacDonald. This area has high end restaurants (Lumiere) but also the small cafe’s and coffee bars that give Kits it’s particular character. We ate a Greens and Gourmet which had a vegetarian buffet. Load your plate, get it weighed and tuck in. We got some friendly advice from the server: don’t load your plate with potatoes! They’re heavy and your meal will be expensive. It was good and included a variety of curries as well as greens, veggies and tofu.

And of course, to be totally Kits, the restaurant has a yoga studio attached.


Very Vancouver

It struck me this week, that I was having a very Vancouver conversation. I was in a coffee bar in Kitsilano, talking with a couple who are fairly new to Vancouver. The conversation came round to coffee. Here we were comparing notes on the quality of the coffee we were drinking, and swapping tales of good and bad coffee we’ve found.

I could not have imagined a few years ago that I would even know what latte art was. In case you don’t know, it is something to see. The barista draws in your coffee by carefully pouring the milk into the coffee. It is magical to see the design appearing with a few flicks of a practiced wrist.

I personally recommend going to caffe artigiano and watching them pour your coffee. It is quite the production line there and they make it look easy.

One barista pours the shots of coffee into your cup. The coffee itself must have a creamy top on it (called a crema) as the backdrop for the design.

Someone else steams the milk. This too has to be just right – a light foam, with no large bubbles. Finally the latte artist, pours the steamed milk into the coffee. This is the artistic bit because as they pour it they waggle (technical term) the milk around in some mystic way that ends up with a design appearing in the coffee. This is usually a leaf, or heart, but I have seen some really weird designs too.

You may not think that coffee is a big reason for considering coming to Vancouver, but when you’ve been here a while you may find it hard to imagine what life was like without a good cup of coffee – with or without the art. Now where shall I go for my next fix?

And for those who want to make their own latte art, have a look at the wonderful coffee geek site for guidance.

Fruitful thoughts

Blueberries are in season. In the UK I used to look at those expensive and small containers of blueberries and wonder what the fuss was all about. And it took a while for me to get it when  we came here. But now, the start of blueberry season is something I really look forward to.

We are lucky enough to have a fruit stand that appears in the summer months. It is run by Brian, who is an actor as well. He brings his van in with whatever fruit and veg is in season that day. We have just come to the end of the first crop of strawberries. Raspberries, cherries and peaches are still coming. And now those large trays of luscious blueberries. What else is better on your breakfast cereal,  ice cream, fruit salad, in a smoothie or even in your peanut butter sandwich (trust me those pops of intense blueberry flavour along with peanut butter – yummy).

Brian also brings in nugget potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and soon corn. That’s another one that may surprise new Canadians. Sweetcorn comes in different varieties and is a staple for every bbq and summer meal. And going to Brian’s Berries keeps you in touch with the seasons since he only has what has been picked the same day. That supports our farmers and best of all tastes wonderful.

So look out for Brian’s Berries (off Marine Drive at 31st in West Vancouver) or find your own local supply from a farmers market. I am sure you will enjoy the taste of summer.

Beach as therapy

One of the pleasures of living in Vancouver is having the beaches to visit. When you think of a city, you probably don’t imagine a beach since there are not many cities where beaches are so handy. I know that when we first came to Vancouver we had not pictured ourselves taking the kids down to the beach.

Now that they are older the kids take themselves off to the beach of their choice. Locally there are a few hidden gems where you can get to a quiet beach for a few hours. When we walk down to our nearest beach at this time of the year we always see groups of young kids playing happily in the sand by the water. The beach is definitely a local meeting place for Moms and their youngsters. It looks like they spend the whole day there, with their cool boxes and picnics.

We tend to get down there later in the day. We are not alone as we often see fathers coming along after work to meet the rest of their family. Our beach also has a few kayaks and canoes stored there. And it is not unusual to see one or two people setting out in their kayaks for an evening paddle in the warm summer evenings.

 Even if we only spend a short time on the beach in the late afternoon, it picks us up and reminds us of one of the reasons we wanted to come here in the first place.

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