Easter Weekend 2016

Standard
easter16-04

Red cliffs and the English Channel.

I had a few days of annual leave to use up before the end of the financial year, so I decided to extend the Easter weekend a little. The huz and I weren’t planning on doing much, possibly just taking day trips and going geocaching, but then by chance I happened upon The Shepherds Hut Retreat. I thought, ‘Well, don’t that look cute?’ We checked the dates and saw that one hut was free for the Easter weekend, so we booked ‘er!

Continue reading

Back to BC 2015

Standard

bc2015-04

After nearly two years—the longest I’ve ever been away from my hometown—I was back in BC and, oh man, it was so good.

This time, I had a new husband in tow. His parents even came over for their first ever trip to Canada. We had a week to get over the jetlag (jeepers, I’m usually okay when I travel in that direction!) and then we had our belated Canadian wedding reception at Campbell Valley Regional Park. We rented out the large picnic area and ate a ton of food, played badminton, tossed an Aerobie around (we may have bought one when we got back to Gloucester!) and hung out with friends and family, most of whom the huz had never met! It was such a blast and we had the best time.

bc2015-02

This is the first time the McSibs have all been together in nearly 48 months. Nutty! I’ve seen both of them on separate occasions, so it was really special to all be together again. I hope they manage to make as many trips across the pond as I surely will!

bc2015-03

Oh, this crazy bunch of ladies. They took me out for a belated bachelorette-like dinner (minus all the embarrassment that usually goes along with that sort of thing—a thousand thank yous!) and we also had some one-on-one time. It was so great. I miss this gang a lot a lot a lot.

bc2015-05

I found myself drinking a lot of root beer on this trip because it doesn’t exist in the UK (well, you can buy it, but it’s usually imported and costs way too much). The British contingent agreed that it smelled like “the dentist” or “antiseptic.” I think it smells like root beer.

While Boylan’s was quite nice, I’m still all about Dad’s Root Beer. And, of course, A&W root beer in an chilled glass. Can’t be beat!

bc2015-01

We were gone for a little over two weeks and we manage to cram so much into this trip. One of my favourite days was taking Pete’s folks along the Sea to Sky highway so they could see some mountains and fjords. They may never make this trip again, which saddens me, but I’m glad they got to see where I grew up. The Sea to Sky gondola had to be the highlight. I remember being skeptical when I heard about its construction, but I have to say that I am sold. It was beautiful up there with a great trail system that led to many gorgeous lookout points (see top photo).

I definitely feel lucky to have lived in such a beautiful place with awesome people, but even I’m starting to admit that Gloucester has begun to feel more like home. I managed to luck out and have two amazing places that I can call home! Not too shabby.

So, I think I’ve managed to re-hydrate after all the crying I did when I had to go back to the UK, but Brit Boy and I are already making plans for Canada 2016. I really hope they come into fruition because we have a crazy, epic trip in our minds!

Until then…so long (for now), BC.

Coming Home

Standard

medium_3417673262

After months of talking about it and collaborating with his parents, Brit Boy and I have booked flights back to BC! All right, so the above photo isn’t my actual home, but dang it, I do miss Vancouver and those lovely mountains. That’s an aspect of “home” to me!

As mentioned, Brit Boy’s parents will be going, too (albeit on later flights there and earlier flights back to the UK). They have never been to Canada before, so I’m pretty stoked that they’ll be there the same time we are! Their accommodation (which looks pretty dang amazing) is really close to one of our favourite restaurants, The Naam, a 24-hour vegetarian restaurant that has the best enchiladas ever. Yes, they have many other items on that massive menu, but I just can’t steer myself away from the Mexican section. So. Dang. Good.

In between now and July (when we fly off), there are so many things that I need to do. Two major things are renewing my passport AND extending my Visa (both of which expire almost at the same time–ack!). While the passport renewal is pretty straight forward, the Visa bit is not and the more I look into it, the more my head spins!

However, I am just keeping my eye on the prize–that being this long-awaited visit. My folks, sister and nephew will be in the UK come early 2015 which I’m super excited about (they’ve never been to the UK before and my parents have never traveled overseas). A couple of friends are planning to visit as well, so lots of fun things to come!

As for me right now, I finished my latest temp assignment and am still looking for a new job. I had saved up a lot of holiday pay, which will be paid out to me over the next three weeks, so I have that cushion, but I’m keeping my eye out on more permanent roles. I’d like to be employed over the holiday season, preferably!

Ack, I just re-re-reminded myself that Christmas is seemingly around that ever present corner. I think I may need to slip into my role of “keener” and start prepping for that–and soon!

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

One Year Later

Standard

oneyear-01

All right, so the subject of this entry isn’t entirely accurate–I’ve been here for just over a year now, by one month and a few weeks!–but I had a little bit of fun compiling a list of what I’ve learned and adapted to during my time in the UK. There were more than a few things this Canucklehead had to wrap her head around and get used to!

Learning the currency: Even though I had been to the UK four times previously, I never did feel confident when rifling through my change. I’m old school in that I use cash when paying for, well, most things. I’m one of those “exact change” nuts (although I won’t dig around for it if there’s a line/queue behind me! PET PEEVE). From the tuppence to the heaviness of the £1.00 coin, I often found myself with a pouch overflowing with change and would feel my face grow hot as I stood at the check out and fumbled around for the right coin. Once I figured out “which size is which denomination”, it got easier. It makes more sense than Canadian money–where the dime/10 cent coin is smaller than the nickel/5 cent coin. But, seriously, a two pence coin? And it’s just as big as the 50p coin? What is up with you, tuppence?!

Stores closing early: This took a lot of getting used to. Before moving to England, I left a retail job back in Canada; we were open until 9pm every day. This included Sundays. On Sundays in England, and most of Europe for that matter, you will be lucky to find much open. If stores are open on that day, they will most definitely be closing down before 5pm or 6pm. But, yes, even on weekdays there are quite a few places that will shut down at 5:30pm. I actually like it, even though it still throws me off a year later. I always found staying open until 9pm to be kind of pointless. The people who are in the store at that time are most likely just there for the lack of anything else to do. Nine times out of ten they would walk out without buying anything. So, as a former employee in the wonderful world of retail and other customer service-type jobs, I support these early closings! Go on home and enjoy your evening, O Lovely Workers.

Cars actually stopping at pedestrian crossings: I grew up in an area with terrible drivers. I would witness a “close call” on the road every time I took my usual route to work. It was awful. Now, that doesn’t suggest there aren’t bad drivers here (people speeding on curvy, narrow country lanes, for example–yikes!), but if there’s a marked pedestrian crosswalk, people WILL stop for you. What? Courtesy to those walking and/or cycling? I’m not used to that! That said, if someone fails to stop, I’ll give them my best angry glare and mentally shake my fist.

Starbucks employees asking if I want whipped cream on my drink: I thought that just came standard with a frappuccino? And…who would say “no”?! Even if you have an allergy, you probably wouldn’t be ordering one o’ those anyway. This question equally amuses and confuses me every time.

oneyear-04

Being close to ALL THE OLD THINGS: Stonehenge? It’s over there yonder *points in a random direction* Beautiful estates like Hanbury Hall? Yeah, those are close by. I’ve seen cathedrals, castles, monasteries and all those famous sights in London. It’s a little surreal that I live in a place I used to romanticize (thank you Hollywood and British period dramas!). I definitely feel lucky that I live in an area where it’s easy to get to places like Bath, Oxford and, yes, good ol’ London. Not too shabby at all!

Calling dinner “tea”: I don’t understand and it confuses the heck out of me. Of course, there is “tea time”, but there were these commercials on TV and the tagline was “chips for tea” and that really threw me off. When is tea just “tea” and when does it allude to “dinner/supper”–and why? Can anyone clarify this for me??

Tax included in prices: Being from Canada, it has become the norm to turn into a human calculator when figuring out how much tax will be tacked onto the items you plan on purchasing. The key is to overestimate so, when the price ends up being lower, you’re pleasantly surprised! However, in this country I may have done a happy dance upon learning that I no longer have to use the “thinky part” of my brain. If something is priced at £5.99, it will be £5.99! Huzzah! My basic math is going out the window for sure–oh well!

The wildlife: Even though I’m originally from a large urban center, it wouldn’t be all that strange to see wild animals roaming about, from small (raccoons and skunks) to medium (coyotes) to, well, large and dangerous (cougars and bears). I remember approaching a loop trail around a lake and there was a sign that said “Warning. Cougar in area” (keep your jokes to yourself, I’m talking about the animal here…). The types of wildlife in this area? Birds, foxes, mice and rabbits. I’ve seen plenty of those! I like knowing that when I’m out for a walk in the woods and I hear a branch snap that there’s no way it’ll be anything harmful. Not needing a bear bell when out in the middle of nowhere is a plus, too! I’ve traded deadly animals for cute ones like badgers and hedgehogs. Awesome.

oneyear-02

Beauty in the landscape: I live on the edge of the Cotswolds, an area known for its rolling green hills, chocolate box villages and market towns. I used to live near Vancouver, known for its ocean views, mountains and glass buildings. One might say, “There’s no way you can compete with the beauty of the mountains and the ocean”, but I beg to differ. This is a lovely country (the parts I’ve seen of it, anyway) and there are plenty of natural wonders to take in–if you’re into the sort of thing! Being a former student of literature, I can see why so many famous poets and novelists came from this area of the world–it’s pretty easy to get inspired! Now that I’ve experienced all four seasons in England, I have to say that I’ve loved watching the landscape change as I passed by it on the bus. I love being close to farms and walking through fields of sheep. And, even though I hate climbing uphill, I have loved those epic “views from the top”.

oneyear-03

I guess the final thing I could comment on is the amount of times people give me the “Where are you from?” question. A lot of people assume I’m American and quickly apologize when I correct them (aww, c’mon, not all Americans are bad!). I’ve even met someone at a geocaching event who once lived in the city I just left (and not too far away from my neighbourhood at that!).

I get plenty of people saying, “Why would you come HERE if you’re from Canada? Why would you even leave?!” Well, I think I listed a few reasons above as to why I came here and, well, the rest basically detail my reasons for staying. There is plenty this country has to offer and I look forward to seeing more of it and the areas beyond.

Oh, Brit-folk. Sometimes you’re way too hard on yourselves.