Calgary Stampede

I can’t believe this was over a month ago already and I’m only just getting round to writing about it. I had the best time and would definitely go again. The Stampede is what makes Calgary famous, well there’s not much else to do there. It lasts for 10 days during July. It even calls itself the greatest outdoor show in the world. That alone must make you want to go next year.

I really didn’t know what to expect, I wanted tacky cowboys and delicious food trucks. I was not disappointed. I have never seen so many cowboy hats and boots. Some guys pulled the boots off, some didn’t. And the food was so varied but they all had one thing in common, deep fried.

So from Vancouver, you can fly or drive. Victoria and I opted for a 1 hour and a half flight rather than a 10+ hour drive. Also Uber operates in Calgary so it is super easy to get from the airport to where to you need to be (without a big price tag). We got delayed so took an Uber straight to the Stampede to catch the evening show.

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We were greeted with a huge line up to get into the Stampede grounds. Luckily we were through the gates in no time, as they quickly checked tickets and bags. We sped through the grounds and found our seat in the grandstand. The evening show is a series of chuckwagon races, followed by a huge performance on a stage that is wheeled out by an even bigger tractor. Oh and then fireworks, a lot of fireworks.

I had no idea what was happening when the chuckwagon races was on but it was fun to watch. The show was the most random thing I have ever seen but it was obvious how much effort was put into it. The night ended with a massive firework display. Pretty impressive start to my stay in Calgary. The evening ticket was $59, (plus Ticketmaster’s rip off fees) it includes your entry to the Stampede grounds.

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Whilst in Calgary we used the C-Train, or a tram. During the 10 days of the Stampede, it runs 24/7 which is great as we were staying out of the city centre. It is also at a reduced rate, just $6.50 for a full day. What a way to welcome guests, cheap transit! It was just one line to our hotel, I hate having to change or use various methods of public transport so it suited us perfectly.

Our only full day in Calgary was spent exploring every inch of the Stampede grounds. We watched the rodeo show at the grandstand. It didn’t blow me away and I will admit, I nearly fell asleep. It just didn’t grab my attention the way the evening show did. Victoria and I decided to leave early and just walk around the grounds, eating and catching the free shows. The rodeo cost $39 which also includes your entry to the Stampede, so overall not too bank breaking.

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We rode on the Skyride, a chair lift which runs from one side of the grounds to the other. This is great for getting a birds eye view of the place. It is so relaxing too, yet you can see the chaos unravelling below. We saw a miniature horse show, experienced a fake auction (think Storage Hunters), wandered round the animal barn, watched an adrenaline motor show, ate a lot of deep fried food and browsed very expensive Cowboy boot stalls.

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The dog show needs its only little paragraph. I’ve developed this love for dogs since being in Vancouver. I’ve always liked dogs but never wanted one of my own, until now. So when I saw a free dog show on the schedule, I needed to see it. It was produced by Canine Stars and it was fab. The doggie stars did tricks, relay races and jumps. The host really got the crowd going and the dogs were adorable. I found a promo trailer on YouTube.

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The only thing we didn’t do much of was drinking. It was hot, over 30℃ and a very long day. The heat and walking all day was draining so we didn’t consume hardly any alcohol. If you wanted to get drunk drunk then it would have cost you an arm and leg. It was ridiculous money for a small can of Palm Bay (which is barely alcohol).

The Calgary Stampede has a big thumbs up from me. I loved it and I would definitely go back. I urge you all to go at least once in your lifetime. Get your cowboy hat and boots ready!

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Movie in the Park

A few weeks ago I went along with SWAP to the movies in the park. This is a free event during the summer in Vancouver. They show classic movies in Stanley Park on a huge inflatable screen. I never went last summer so I had to go this year and the line up is pretty decent.

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I went to see The Goonies, which I love. Although I must admit I didn’t enjoy the full outdoor movie experience. As you can see it tells you above that the movies begin at sunset. I met SWAP at around 7:30pm. For those of you who don’t know, the sun sets around 9pm here. If you want a decent viewing area, I recommend getting there early. Even at 7:30pm I was surprised to see so many people there.

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Image taken from freshaircinema.ca

Now the movie didn’t start until 10pm, or even later actually. Sitting on the grass isn’t so comfortable and I already had a numb bum before the film even started. You are allowed to bring chairs, which I wish I did. However I wasn’t too happy about people with chairs sitting in front of you. They should definitely have a chairs only area.

I don’t mean to complain about the whole night, it was nice to meet new swappers and chat before the film started. Victoria made me a small bag of sweet popcorn which I really appreciated after only being able to get salt popcorn here. And I did enjoy the film, I haven’t seen it in forever.

I will go back, with a chair or upgrade to the Gold Circle VIP Reserved seating area. You have to be comfortable to sit somewhere for nearly 5 hours. I brought snacks too, snacks always go down well in these situations. Also it is hosted by Evo, the car share scheme in Vancouver. If you aren’t a member already, you can sign up for free. If you are a member, you can get 15 free minutes. Win win!

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Harrison Hot Springs

Weekends are for road trips and hire cars. James and I headed to Harrison Hot Springs resort last Tuesday. FYI Tuesday and Wednesday is my weekend. It’s about an hour and a half away from Vancouver and it’s located at the bottom of a 37 mile long lake.

After filling our tummies with a classy Denny’s breakfast and driving for 90 minutes we were finally parked up at Harrison Hot Springs. The first thing that hit me was the heat. After an hour and a half in an air conditioned car you forget how hot it is outside. Especially when you are no longer surrounded by the ocean breeze in Vancouver. Secondly the town of Harrison Hot Springs is so cute. I only saw one street of this small town but it was postcard worthy.

Next stop was to hit the waterpark. The inflatable waterpark is on Harrison Lake. It is bloody freezing. You can do a variety of water sports including jet skis. We stuck to the waterpark which cost $30 per person. You can come and go as you please, all day long. I must admit, I’m not sure it’s worth that price tag but it was an experience. We only went once as the prospect of sliding into that freezing cold water after drying out was not pleasant.

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There’s slides, trampolines and various floating obstacles. You have to wear a life jacket which is included. We also braved it without a wetsuit but there’s an option to rent. I recommend just throwing yourself down a slide to get into the lake. I thought about lowering myself in but I knew I didn’t have the balls for that. So I slid right in and it certainly took my breath away. In fact I couldn’t catch my breath. With just a short swim I was back on the float, panting like a tired dog.

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James and I may have been one of the oldest there however we enjoyed ourselves. It wasn’t probably a good idea for James with his injured shoulder. I need to remember he has a broken shoulder when I book these kind of adventures. We laid in the sun for a bit afterwards, had a drink and a prawn cocktail then drove back.

I really wanted to do a hike here but it was over 30℃ so I’ll just have to return to this adorable place. Maybe for a few days and catch some rays at the same time. Oh and as you can probably guess there’s a hot spring you can soak in.

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And one from Instagram…

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I’m heading to Calgary later today to visit the Stampede, watch this space!

 

 

Vancouver Canadians vs. Everett AquaSox

How is it the 10th July already? And it has already been 2 weeks since I was celebrating my first year in Vancouver. I need to work on my consistency and keep you up to date. With that said I’m throwing it back to Tuesday 20th June when I went to see my first (and probably last) baseball game.

It was held at the Nat Bailey Stadium, near Queen Elizabeth park. It was just a short skytrain and a very short bus ride away. I went with Swap and two girls from work for a grand total of $14. I’m always up for something cheap and cheerful.

I was going for the atmosphere and a hot dog, obviously. I wasn’t going for the baseball, sorry Vancouver Canadians. I think they won (I’m useless). I was there for a total of 3 and half hours. I would have left mid game however I was holding out for the firework extravaganza at the end. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, it was fun trying to figure out what was happening. I had fun complaining I was too hot and then too cold when the sun disappeared. It was fun drinking $7 beers and eating a decent hot dog. It was fun watching someone change the manually operated scoreboard.

I’m pretty sure baseball is very similar to rounders however I hear they are very different games/rules. Nonetheless you should go at least once. It felt like a proper Canadian experience and that’s what I’m here for. And for under $20, you can’t complain.

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One Year On

Today marks my one year anniversary in Canada. It certainly has flown by and I feel like I’ve barely seen any of Canada. In my defence, it is a huge country. I still have one year left on my working holiday visa and I can’t wait to make it count.

This post is to my support system and how you have all contributed to my time in Canada; whether you are in Canada with me, in England or also travelling the globe. I couldn’t have done this without you.

To my new friends…

Through SWAP and my job at Spokes , I have been able to make some awesome friends. You have become one of my main reasons to stay in Canada for this long. Without a good group of friends I think this experience would have been totally different. You have also made my weekends without James worthwhile. You have made me feel loved and welcome in a city so far away from home and I hope you’ll be in my life a very long time.

To my friends back home…

You are always on my mind. I try and WhatsApp you as frequently as I can. Weeks go by and I may have not spoken to you but I know nothing has changed between us. I love catching up with you when our lives are moving at different paces. I love hearing you’re now expecting a baby or you’re about to buy your first home. I love catching up about your day at work or your latest weigh in at Slimming World. I just like to be involved, even though I’m miles away. I can’t wait to see you all when I’m home.

To James…

We have been through a lot during our first year in Canada. I’m not going lie, it was tough moving across the world with you. It was also fun and exciting. We have learnt a lot about each other and I’m unsure what our future holds. I do know that I’ll always have this experience with you and I can’t thank you enough for always being there for me.

To my family…

You are forever supporting me and my number one fan. I have missed so much since being here but I have still managed to get involved someway or somehow. This experience has definitely made me appreciate you all so much more. I’m so lucky to have an awesome family to come home to at the end of my working holiday. I’m also thankful that I could show you my new temporary home and share the experience with you. Here’s to more visitors in the next year.

To Canada…

You will always be a special place to me. You’re a beautiful country and I am forever grateful for being here. Your people are friendly and you have made me feel safe in a world full of chaos. I can’t wait to explore more of Canada in the next year. And I know for sure I’ll be back in the future.

I’ve managed to cross a few things off my list that I posted back in March. Here’s to crossing off more and sharing it with you on my blog.

  1. Hike Joffre Lakes
  2. Do the Grouse Grind
  3. Visit Seattle
  4. Visit Portland
  5. Attend the Calgary Stampede – It’s booked
  6. Visit Vancouver Island – Tofino and Victoria
  7. Go snowshoeing
  8. Go paddle boarding at Deep Cove
  9. Hike Garibaldi Lake
  10. Hike The Stawamus Chief
  11. Go wine tasting at Okanagan Valley
  12. Do white water rafting
  13. Visit Steveston
  14. See an ice hockey game
  15. Do the Whistler bungee
  16. Learn snowboarding, next winter
  17. Work in a ski resort, next winter
  18. Go to the Scandinave Spa at Whistler
  19. Visit Maligne Lake
  20. Visit Salt Spring Island
  21. Visit Bowen Island
  22. Go kayaking
  23. Ride a seaplane
  24. Visit Jasper
  25. Take advantage of the free National Parks pass
  26. Blog more frequently
  27. Take more photos

Here are some of my favourite photos during the past year. It was a tough decision, I have thousands.

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Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, likes my posts and follows Brits, Bears and Beavers. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about my life in Canada and I will continue to do so.

 

 

Somewhere in the North Shore

A few weeks ago I went for a wander with Daisy, Rachelle and Stella the wilderness dog. The original plan was to go bike riding, however my lazy self turned it down. Although in hindsight it may have been less strenuous than our 9 mile walk.

Nonetheless it was scenic, peaceful and fun. I had no idea where I was, just somewhere in Lynn Valley (I think). It was nice to saunter along and talk about pointless and interesting topics. I feel like I’ve known all the people I’ve met here forever, so I love talking about life events before we met and learning new things.

We stopped for a drink and a sweet treat, obviously. I had a Nanaimo bar and a mango iced tea. FYI, a Nanaimo bar consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate. It was delicious.

The North Shore is a perfect escape from the city. It is just 10 minutes via the sea bus and you can hike, swim, bike, kayak and so much more. It’s good to be outdoors when the outdoors is so beautiful here.

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Peace out from Stella the Wilderness Dog

 

The featured illustration was taken from the Neighbourhood Small 
Grants website.

Italian Day on The Drive

On the 11th June, Commercial Drive became a car free, cultural street festival. I finished work early and so James and I biked there to check it out. I had no idea what to expect from Italian Day. I was hoping for pizza, pasta and all things Italian.

I was first overwhelmed by the amount of people there. It was a huge turnout. I was however disappointed at the lack of Italian vendors. I saw Indian, Thai, Greek and Japanese food. I came across two pizza stalls and no pasta. I was starting to think it wasn’t Italian Day after all.

I did enjoy a pesto cream cheese bagel, pizza from Whistler Wood Fired Pizza Co. and a cannoli. For those of you who don’t know what a cannoli is, it looks a little something like this…

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It is a tube made of fried pastry dough, stuffed with a ricotta filling. It was delicious, despite it looking similar to a poo in a sick bowl (sorry).

I love exploring events like this, not just for the food. I enjoy people watching, taking in the atmosphere and dawdling in the sunshine. James and I stayed about an hour after walking the full length and back. We also entered a raffle to win a trip to Paris via Italy. I haven’t heard anything so I presume we didn’t win.

We biked back, hoping to stop for an ice cream on the way home. Unfortunately James had an accident, he fell of the bike and broke his shoulder again. James has taken it in his stride and on the road to recovery. Fingers crossed for no more accidents.

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Whilst we were in the area, we walked to our Airbnb which we stayed in for our first ten days in Canada. It was weird going back somewhere which once felt so alien to us. It’s nearly one year since we lived in that small bedsit. It was incredibly nostalgic to relive those first moments in Vancouver.

Watch this space for my one year “Canaversary” post.