Snowmageddon!

Snowmageddon was what I wanted to call this post when I was thinking about writing it a month ago. Now I might have to call it “Springageddon” as ski conditions have been a little too “spring-like” recently…

I just checked when the last post went up and I am rather embarrassed to see that it was three months ago, however this has coincided with the commencement of both dog ownership and the ski season… excuses, excuses… So what’s been going on…

Ridley

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Back in November, the day after successfully completing his doggy training classes, Ridley managed to get lost. After ditching the dog-walker, he took off on his own and got his lead wound around a tree branch. The photo above was taken just after we managed to find him following a worried, sleepless night. Camo-dog or what?! We hadn’t realised quite how attached we were to the little guy until he disappeared.

This was really a time that home and our family and friends seemed like a very long way away. In saying that, we were blown away by the amount of support and help to find him we had from new friends, neighbours and colleagues in Pemberton – it made us realise what a great little community we have found here 🙂

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He loves the snow and is daft about chasing balls – snowballs, tennis balls, rubber balls… any ball will do. Hasn’t he fattened up nicely? Now at every meal time he looks a little grumpy that we have slightly reduced his food intake so that he doesn’t get tubby.

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He enjoyed Christmas and his Christmas presents much more than the above photos suggest.

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Oh the guilt… every time we go out of the house without him.

Skiing

We have done quite a bit of skiing…

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Skiing on sunny Christmas day!

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Skiing with friends

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Skiing with in-laws…. skiing when it was -9 and Nick got beardsicles 😦

(Please note that it isn’t always sunny here when we ski – it’s just nicer to take photos on sunny days!)

Christmas and visitors!

Christmas day started with the Christmas morning skype. I made it to 30 years old without ever having spent Christmas away from home, so this skype date was set in stone.

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Followed by more skiing, with a festive addition to our coffee. And making mulled wine – they don’t have it in the shops here (Noooo!)

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And best of all – Nick’s parents came to join us!

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During their visit we did a helicopter tour – my first ever ride in a helicopter! (Does it look like I’m driving? I think everyone involved was relieved I’m not). We flew over Whistler and Blackcomb and landed on Rainbow mountain. Amazing!

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And we celebrated Nick’s birthday!

Work

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At the beginning of November it was so cold hiking outdoors with my ladies that I had to call my boss during the session and ask her to bring me more clothes so that I didn’t freeze (hence fleecey purple trousers – don’t be fooled by the sunny background – it was bone chillingly cold!) We closed for the season in mid-November, just before the serious snow started, so it was back on the job market for me…

Around the same time a part time accountancy role came up in Pemberton, just five minutes from the house so I am back number-crunching a few days a week. Didn’t realise how much I missed spreadsheets, and my calculator!

Our next visitors from home arrive on Saturday, so I’d better get baking (and febreezing… will we become one of those houses that smells of dog but we don’t actually notice because the doggy smell has become “normal”?!)

love and big hugs from Canada, Jen xx

PS Do you remember those spiky maple leaves on the roof I was laughing at when we moved in? Here is why we need them…

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Who’s laughing now…!

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Hikes, Bikes, Dogs and Bears

Another month in heaven (Pemberton…) and we’ve really started to settle in. For those who have asked the frequent question ‘Do you actually do any work?!’, the answer is definitely yes, but we have made the most of our time off like, this hike up Wedge Mountain to the glacier.    IMG_2225IMG_2221 IMG_2212 IMG_2196

This hike was a ‘short out and back’ as described by Leah and her sister, which meant 6 hours of hiking and an elevation gain the same as Ben Nevis… The legs were feeling a little tired by the end so we treated ourselves to some hot tub/ plunge pool action at the Scandinave Spa in Whistler that has a special on during the shoulder season. Not too shabby.

There was also the opportunity to help out our local community mountain bike trails association by doing some trail building which we did with a couple of gents from the local fire department. The work was slightly interrupted by a call to help retrieve a couple of tranquillised bear cubs and their mother who had caused some problems in a local garden… They were fine except for the fact that they were going to wake up about 100 miles from where they ‘fell asleep’.

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The bears of Pemberton seem generally a fairly friendly bunch, although still requiring a healthy dose of respect. However, after a few run ins on the roads and trails and following the destruction of our plum tree (not to mention the bear sized ‘deposit’ left in the garden), they have now moved from ‘threat’ to ‘pest’ in our minds…

Another day, another hike and this time to Semaphore lakes in the Hurley Pass about 45 minutes from Pemberton. We found the trailhead marked by a couple of pink ribbons and nothing else, so were lucky to get this far!

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With the end of summer has come some rain, but that has only meant that the biking that was easy is now harder and the biking that was harder is now easy (easier?) Some stunning views are available from less than 20 minutes from our back door. I even tried my hand at the downhill trails in Whistler- lots of fun as the trails are so well constructed you can really let rip and hit the jumps aggressively. At least on the blue trails…

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We took full advantage of the Annual ‘Turkey Sale’ in Whistler where most stores have a huge blowout over Thanksgiving weekend- the winter wardrobes are now well stocked with ski jackets, down jackets (not to mention a new ski touring setup for me!) so we are well prepared for the upcoming snow. This is creeping ever closer to the valley floor and after every storm there seems to be a little more on Mount Currie.

IMG_2233IMG_2256 There is a palpable excitement in Pemberton and Whistler with much discussion about whether it will be a good season or not. So far there has been a lot of snow in the Alpine, but a warm spell could yet ruin that… we will see.

Of course, the most expensive acquisition of the past few weeks is this guy…

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Ridley was surrendered to the local animal shelter ‘WAG’ in a malnourished state and sorely needing a sausage supper or two. He is around 11 months old (we think) and after a few tumultuous nights has really settled into life with his new family. He’s still a bit on the skinny side, but is working on that with additional feeds and plenty of exercise. He has a lovely personality, has been learning some tricks and makes a great running partner! We love having him around already- though after a couple of ‘accidents’ his stock fell a little… It remains to be seen whether he will be a good skiing buddy too. We will see.

So that’s the last month pretty much covered. We have been working 4 day weeks, as well as a 1:4 on call. But wasn’t the rest more interesting? By the time we write our next update the ski hill in Whistler will be open, so it might be a bit longer before we get round to writing it. As the Starks of Winterfell say, Winter is Coming…

30 ain’t so bad

I can’t believe that it has been over a month since we last updated the blog… September has flown in and now the leaves are falling off the trees, and I’m wearing slippers again. Winter Is Coming…

So over the past month we have done very well for visitors… Graham and Ellie stopped by to see us on their travels across Canada. They are normally road bikers but we forced them to hire mountain bikes and explore some of the trails in Whistler with us. I think they even enjoyed it.

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We hung out with more friends/fellow expats and enjoyed a bit of time pond dipping and stone throwing.

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Nick got his truck! It will never replace “Snoop” the campervan, but it has certainly lessened the pain of giving him up. Nick hasn’t shaved since the truck arrived – there must be something about having a pickup and a beard…

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I turned 30! And got lots of lovely prezzies. I really appreciated all the gifts, cards, messages and skypes – thanks everyone for making me smile all day 🙂

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We took a little birthday trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island. Everyone had told us how beautiful and chilled out it is, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a very small surfy town on the west of the island with beautiful beaches and little cafes.

There was celebratory drinking

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Mainly of alcohol (although significantly less than my 21st, thank goodness!)

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and the occasional coffee.

Although it is the end of the season the weather was sunny and warm. We took a boat trip to the hot springs and on the way our guide pointed out a grey whale, sea otters and sea eagles.

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They have bear watching tours too, but since they roam around Pemby we don’t really need to do a tour.

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Tofino has a lot of these signs. Fortunately there were no earthquakes while we were there!

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Every night there was a beautiful sunset. We loved Tofino – would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of coming out in the summer.

We’ve been wanting to go up the new Sea to Sky gondola which was just built this year near Squamish, so we entered the Sky Pilot trail run which took place on the trails at the top of the gondola. This was no normal race – there were ropes at some points to help you scramble up and down sheer rock face. I hadn’t really grasped that a total 600m of ascent meant that it would probably take me longer than a normal trail run. I just found this photo on a page of photos taken that day – I think my face sums up my feelings.

Sky Pilot Jen

And then relief that it was over and some time to enjoy views out over Howe Sound below.

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And finally, after ten weeks of living out of a bag, all our stuff arrived! All 73 boxes of it.

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Absolutely terrifying – I had no idea we had that much stuff. A week on, the house is still in chaos but we are chipping away at it. It doesn’t need to be “perfect” until Nick’s parents arrive at Christmas, so we have a few months 😉

This weekend the sun came out for us again – and I got a chance to use my horse riding birthday gift. It has been more than ten years since I was last on a horse, and didn’t my bottom know about it the next day! Great fun though – something I enjoy that I had long forgotten about.

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We also had visitors from Vancouver!

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Andy & Mallory came up and did some hiking with us on Whistler Mountain. They are closing the mountain in a couple of weeks and it will re-open once the snow is lying. You can see the autumn colours starting in the background.

What a long update! Well done to anyone who is still reading. We are now taking bookings for spring/summer 2015… 🙂

#Pembierules

Just used my first online hashtag… but please don’t click away yet. It’s a little joke on Nick as he didn’t realise what the use of the hashtag referred to (if you’re not sure, please follow this link http://mashable.com/2013/10/08/what-is-hashtag/)

He was just making up phrases and putting a hastag in front of them because all the cool kids were doing it… (sorry Nick!)

Anyway, back to life in Pembie. It’s been a busy couple of weeks! We’re awaiting the arrival of our container and needed some kitchen bits and pieces to tide us over for the next month or two, so we paid a visit to the Whistler Re-Use-It Store. It’s amazing – they had loads of stuff – we got everything we needed for $13!

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And a few things we couldn’t find in the Re-Use-It Store:

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Essential purchases as we needed to cut down our expenditure on smoothies and hot drinks!

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And you can’t live here without owning a BBQ. It took about 3 days to assemble, but we’re loving it now that we’ve got it up and running. Currently working on our technique for barbecuing corn on the cob – the Canadians do it so well. We have a lot to learn!

We took a “hike” (this word makes me laugh – it makes a walk sound much more adventurous!) in Joffrey Lakes National Park. It was so hot in Pemberton that we had to escape to the relatively cooler alpine.

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Thank goodness the only bear we saw was a wooden carving…

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Nick couldn’t resist a dip, but this was a glacier-fed lake. Swimming didn’t last long!

The Crankworx festival was on in Whistler so we demo’d some bikes.

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My first time on a full suspension bike – it definitely improved my biking. (The easy biking here is much harder than the stuff I’ve done at home!) Hefty price tag so I don’t think I’ll be getting a carbon frame model any time soon…

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Typical sign on the front door of a shop in Whistler!

We also had our first visitors – Paddy and Amy! They were visiting Vancouver Island on holiday and stopped in to stay with us on their way back to Alberta (all photo credits to Amy – thanks!)

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We did some SUPing on One Mile Lake

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And some brunching! It was lovely to catch up and exchange stories about adjusting to life in Canada.

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Pemberton also hosted it’s 10th annual Slow Food Cycle last weekend. Everyone in Pemberton (it seems) gets on their bike and cycles along Pemberton Meadows Road, stopping at each farm along the way to sample and buy their produce. The farms are spread along a 15 mile stretch of road and you can buy everything from fruit and veg, honey and coffee to ice cream, burgers and cocktails!

2014-08-25 21.53.04     2014-08-17 11.24.48     Unfortunately the ginsicles were gone by the time I deemed it appropriate to start drinking (midday…?!) but we did enjoy their gin cocktails. The main aim seemed to be Pemberton Meadows beef to get one of their amazing burgers before they ran out. I can see why – they were yummy!

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Missing everyone and everything at home, but managing to distract ourselves ok 🙂 xx

Welcome to Pemberton!

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We arrived in Pemberton and moved into our new house last Friday. Probably one of the easiest moves we’ll ever do with only three large bags and a couple of bikes. The house is furnished so we have a bed, tables and chairs. I think it’ll be chaos when the container arrives.

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The upstairs part of the house is ours, and we have a downstairs neighbour who is renting “the suite”. His (unpictured) truck is enormous and makes our car look like a mini. Nick has massive truck envy. I’ll have to get a photo (quite difficult to do that without being creepy).

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Can I draw your attention to the spiky maple leaves on the roof… I had no idea what these were for. Apparently it’s to stop you getting avalanched on your own doorstep. With temperatures in the mid thirties, it’s very difficult to imagine (at the moment!)

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And this gate leading to nowhere… so that we can brush the snow off the decking without having to lift it up on a spade and chuck it over the side!

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Since the house is furnished, it has lots of “quirky” bits and pieces. We are very much looking forward to our own stuff arriving!

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After doing our unpacking and making it as “homely” as possible it was late afternoon and very warm so we thought we’d cycle over to our nearest Lake “One Mile” for a dip.

No sooner had we arrived than a girl bounded towards us smiling… “Perfect timing guys, It’s Date Night and we only have space left for one more couple!” Before we had time to think we were whisked onto Stand Up Paddleboards, handed a paddle and were gracefully gliding (in my head, at least) along the lake with all the other couples who had come along to enjoy the evening sunshine. We felt very Canadian!

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This was followed by dinner – delicious tacos from the Pemberton Taco Co – a local business started by a couple of guys who love biking (https://www.facebook.com/pembertontaco) Amazing tacos!

We found out that we had earlier been greeted by Laura, who with her husband Mike run the Stand Up Paddleboarding rentals at One Mile (http://omstandup.com/standup/) during the summer.

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Since it was date night, all us girls were given flowers too 🙂 It was such a lovely chance to meet and chat with some new Pemberton people and some visitors over from Whistler.

What a fantastic introduction to our new home!

Goodbye Vancouver, hello Whistler!

It’s a Jen update today 🙂

It has been another busy week – we wrapped up our time in Vancouver with more admin, but also some fun stuff:

Visiting Stanley Park – from the lookout point we could see lots of people zubbing about in speedboats and flying their little planes overhead.

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Wandering around Kitsilano and Granville Island, and a ferry trip across the river2014-08-03 21.02.50     2014-07-27 15.31.532014-07-27 15.27.37

Going to Yoga (only Jen – the yoga studios are amazing here… and everyone is really, really good at yoga!)

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Enjoying beers and raspberry mojitos with Andy & Mallory

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Meeting friends of friends, Alex & Alice also from the UK – they are working over here for the year so they packed up their three kids and came over about a week before we arrived. They treated us to dinner at their house and we discussed how excited we all were about being here, and all the things we want to do and see. Alice also iced an amazing green dinosaur cake that she made for her son’s birthday the next day… I wish I had taken a photo!

Picking up our new car. They brought in a box of registration plates and let us pick our own… Nick felt that this one would be most appropriate. At least with the subtle mountain biking reference I have a chance of remembering which one our car is…

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So it was into car and off up the road to Whistler! I was delighted that Nick agreed to drive us out of Vancouver as they have all sorts of odd rules that you find in North America, for example turning right on a red light is fine unless you’re about to knock someone over…

We arrived in Whistler and although it was supposed to be an AFD, we felt that we had both earned a reward for making it there in one piece with all our stuff.

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The next morning we ventured to Crossfit Whistler (obviously). Afterwards, spurred on by some friendly banter he had received in Glasgow, Nick was determined to reassemble our bikes by himself:

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Using the free tools and bikestand available to the public (only in Whistler?!) he got them up and running, and we went out to Lost Lake for a spin. It was hot – Nick couldn’t resist jumping in!

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The tiny toads were migrating so they built them their own underpass! They really were tiny.

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Other highlights included a delicious dinner and beautiful views at the posh Niklaus North Golf Club:

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We hadn’t realised that we could have brought our own seaplane… maybe next time(!)

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And “beergaritas”

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We are now in Pemberton and have moved into our new home, but this post is long enough… more to follow soon!

Bittersweet departures, excited arrivals!

Given this blog is about keeping our friends updated on our move to Canada, we thought it probably an idea to actually leave the country… This we have now done and what a five days it has been!

Both sets of parents were in Glasgow for a family send off- and a visit to a very special art gallery. Those who made it to our wedding will recognise the artwork of Scott Naismith (Jen’s cousin) who’s take on Scottish landscapes is both unique and compelling. His painting of the Three Sisters of Glencoe was used on our wedding invitations and we were delighted to be able to see the original at Scott’s home. If you would like to see it for yourselves though you will have to make the trip to Canada to see us as well due to the generosity of Mum and Dad Fisher who have bought it for us as a wedding present! We are totally delighted as it has so many links for both of us.2014-07-22 16.28.37

To see more of his work follow this link http://www.scottnaismith.com  

My first (and last) nose wax courtesy of Chiko's Turkish barber in Uddingston...

My first (and last) nose wax courtesy of Chiko’s Turkish barber in Uddingston…

With our last bits of admin wrapped up in Glasgow (including a painful visit to Chiko’s in Uddingston for me) we were off to the airport for tearful goodbyes with three huge bikes and bike boxes stuffed to the brim.

 

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The Fishers and Sheridans doing a wonderful job as Sherpas

The flight was largely uneventful and allowed plenty of reading and a catch up on various films we have missed over the past couple of months. Then we were there! Vancouver airport! All prepped and ready with immigration documents certificates, work permit documentation and an abundant enthusiasm to get out in to our new homeland we rushed towards the nearest immigration official. Us: “Hello! We’ve arrived from the UK as new immigrants! Where should we go?” 

Official: “Welcome!” Indicates huge queue of non-canadian passport holders “Same queue as everyone else.”

A little deflated (and somewhat glad we arrived at the Work Permit desk before the 30-odd spotty but well dressed teens wearing name badges declaring their membership of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints) we were finally issued our Work Permits, Visas and set off for downtown Vancouver.

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What a city. We have been staying in a small apartment belonging to a friend of a friend of Jen’s from University, five minutes walk from the famous Granville island, where we made the mistake of trying to eat and drink our way through our jet lag. By 6pm this mistake was apparent to us and we retired for an early night.

The next two days were a whirlwind of efficient activity, including such exciting activity as obtaining Canadian driving licences, Social Insurance Numbers, Health Insurance, Mobile phones, Bank accounts etc. Most exciting was the purchase of a new car (a silver Ford Escape 4WD)

Some sweet new wheels for Jen. This is a small car by Canadian standards!

Some sweet new wheels for Jen. This is a small car by Canadian standards!

Last night we met up with Andy and Mallory for dinner and to watch one of the twice weekly firework displays at English Bay that make up the Festival of Light competition. This display was put together by the American team and the climax involved a combination of Gun’s and Roses ‘November Rain’ with perfectly timed and stunning blooms of fire and explosions. Incredibly impressive.2014-07-26 22.03.27

To summarise then we have come up with a list of other things we love so far (and a few we don’t)

1. 1Kg Peanut Butter jars. 2014-07-23 23.43.36

2. The price of new cars

3. Crossfit (obviously!)IMG_1788

4. Reasonably priced craft alesIMG_1762

5. Green Smoothies!IMG_1767

Things we’re not too keen on…

1. Cost of car insurance (3x the cost in the UK even with 10 years No Claims!)

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3. Test driving your new car in rush hour on a Friday in Vancouver. Not recommended.

As we hope you can see we’re having a wonderful time so far and though we miss you all, we’re really looking forward to the next stage which will see us move up to Whistler for a couple of days of R&R before moving into our new house in Pemberton. We’ll keep you updated!

Goodbye Glasgow!

Another busy week, but with less organising, and more socialising!

Of course no one in Glasgow can have failed to notice that the Commonwealth Games are coming to town on Wednesday – I think we’ll be flying out as everyone else is flying in!

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We are so sorry to be missing it – Glasgow is looking in great shape, and we can’t wait to watch it on TV.

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It’s been a great week of visiting friends and family –

Nick found an alternative to Crossfit:

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(doesn’t poor Tarny in the background look worried!)

We played some competitive table tennis:

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We saw some beautiful Scottish views:

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Caught up with friends and family:

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And attended our first 1st Birthday party!

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(Where we were able to torment the birthday boy with a fancy dress backpack… he may never forgive us!)

What a fantastic few weeks we have had, and how lucky are we to be able to have such great friends (not all pictured!) Although we didn’t manage to catch up with you all, we squeezed in as many as we could in the time available … you’ll just have to come over and visit!

On top of this there have been goodbye Skypes, and a lot of ebaying. Isn’t it amazing that people want to pay you for stuff that has been lying dusty in your garage for years!

Tomorrow Nick’s parents are arriving, my (first) car is going, and we’ll do our final packing up of stuff before flying out on Wednesday morning… tissues at the ready!

Goodbye Richmond

What a week it has been!

Lots and lots of cleaning, packing, and on Friday morning the movers arrived (very) early to pack up our lives for shipping:

Boxes in house     Contents of Garage

They certainly had their work cut out for them. Priority was ensuring our three professional packers were sufficiently fuelled with extremely sugary tea. Kettle and mugs were packed last! They managed to get everything packed and loaded into the van in just over 5 hours (less tea breaks).

Packing the moving truck

Then the sun came out so we wandered into town for a hard-earned treat.

Ice cream reward

And then off to crossfit for our last WOD at DL2. Team WOD of Double unders, Kettlebell swings, Ball slams and Ab mat sit ups… not recommended after a giant ice cream. Sweaty post-WOD photo with Coach Richo – sorry we didn’t get to say goodbye to you all at DL2 – we will really miss you. Planning to continue crossfitting in Whistler…

Goodbye Crossfit DL2

We were also lucky enough to have Anthony’s professional help to pack up our bikes for safe transportation whilst flying. Nick assisted whilst Ann and I enjoyed the sunshine. Anthony (wisely) suggested we get a proper bike mechanic to reassemble the bikes when we arrive in Pemberton!

Antony Mechanic     Team bike dismantling

We camped in the house on Saturday night – dinner was a mixture of things which have been lurking at the back of the fridge/freezer.

Camping in our house

And after numerous trips to the rubbish tip and charity shop, it was time to do the rounds of all of our friends and neighbours for our final goodbyes.

House for rent

Goodbye house in Richmond – we’ve had such good times here. We will be back!

Arrived in Glasgow last night for the next round of goodbyes to start…