First Impressions

I’ve been in Big White for 3 weeks now and it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m living in this snowy haven. So far I’ve been out skiing 6 days, not full days but a few runs here and there. I’ve had 2 snowboarding lessons. I’ve spent too much money on alcohol. I’ve met a lot of Australians. And most importantly I’ve learnt how to ration food.

A typical day at work consists of serving a handful of customers and then spending the remaining 7 hours chatting with my coworkers. It’s nice to get paid and make new friends but the time drags. I’m basically part time right now. ย My bank balance doesn’t know what hit it. Not all the mountain is open yet so the beginning of the season is slow. I hear that it will get busy in the next week or so. So I’m trying not to fret about the measly 20 odd hour paycheck I’ll be getting next friday. On the plus side I’m doing half days and I have the next couple of days off so I hope to spend lots more time on the slopes.

I’ve skied since I was about 8 or 9 years old, according to my Mum. I can ski well and I love it. If you ever get the chance to go skiing, please do. It really is one of the best holidays you’ll ever have. Anyways I decided to give snowboarding a go. I have done a week of snowboarding before, many years ago. I went back to skiing because I can do it, I don’t fall over and I didn’t want to waste anymore valuable skiing time learning to snowboard. So with free lessons as one of our work perks, I thought why the hell not. My first lesson went well, my minimal snowboarding skills came back to me and I managed to get down the small bunny hill on toe and heel edge with turns. I was optimistic. I was thinking this could be it, I could swap to the dark side and snowboard from now on. Then I had my second lesson. It wasn’t as successful. It hurt, I fell, I had those similar thoughts “why am I doing this when I could be skiing, why do I have snow in my pants, why does my arse hurt”. I think I’ve given up already but I will never say never.


In my defence I was born with a club foot and I do hate to blame that when I can’t do something. In fact it makes me want to succeed even more. I have two very different sized feet so my rented snowboard boots were one size, like my ski boots may I add. This meant on my toe edge, the front of my left boot is empty. Therefore I have no strength in my left side so trying to brake on toe edge was proving rather difficult. It was painful actually. Maybe I needed better boots, maybe I should try two different sizes. Or maybe I should just stick to skiing where it doesn’t hurt and my foot is securely fastened in those stiff, extremely comfortable ski boots. Why try to make something work when it clearly isn’t working?

Ok I’m sorry for waffling about my first world problems. I am extremely grateful to be here. Every time I catch the views out the corner of my eye I think how lucky I am to be able to call this place my home. Don’t worry, it isn’t my forever home.

I have made a bucket list of stuff I want to do whilst being at Big White…

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Tubing
  • Improve my terrible ice skating skills
  • See a Kelowna Rockets ice hockey game
  • Ice climbing
  • Possibly a dog sled tour (money dependant)
  • Try all the restaurants
  • Take advantage of discounts at other ski resorts
  • Ski as much as possible

I only have 119 days left before the resort closes. I need to make them count.





I’m a Ski Bum

So one of my dreams has come true. I am working in a ski resort for the winter season and I could not be more excited. I am a rental cashier at Big White Ski Resort and I started nearly two weeks ago.

I wasn’t super thrilled about leaving Vancouver behind. I had set up a whole new life there. I had a job and my friends. I knew Vancouver, I had been there for nearly 17 months and I loved it. But I have wanted to work in a ski resort since I can remember. I had to apply and take the risk. Although I was sad at the time, I am now happy in my new place surrounded by new people.

Big White is close to Kelowna, about a 4/5 hour drive from Vancouver. It is one of the largest ski resorts in Canada and I feel so lucky to be here. The resort itself opened last Thursday and I’ve been here over two weeks. We have had 187cm of snow. The snow bank outside my house just keeps getting higher and higher.


I’m not earning big bucks, I don’t have the dreamiest of jobs but I do get to ski for free for nearly five months. I have access to free lessons so I can learn snowboarding. I get free rentals on equipment and most importantly I get 50% off at some of the restaurants. Like most people say I’m definitely here for the experience and not the money.

So far I have learnt to budget my money wisely. It really doesn’t go far when you are working part time and earning just over $10 an hour. It is best to buy food in Kelowna and save your money for those essential alcoholic beverages at Snowshoe Sam’s or Session’s. My inner foodie is already struggling with not eating out as regularly as I’m used to. The advantage of this is I’ll probably lose some weight during the season, I’ll let you know how that goes.

Money is something I worry about a lot. I’m not very good at saving, when I have money I’d rather spend spend spend. You only live once, right?! Saying that it would have been more fun and less stressful if I did put extra dollars away before coming here. After paying rent, spending $100 on food and getting across to Big White I had about $100 to last me until my next unknown payday. My first payday was Friday and I spent my last $3 on carrot cake the day before. It is definitely do able but if you want to drink a lot and keep up with everyone else I’d say come with more than $100 to your name. The Big White website advised me to arrive with $3000 to get set up with. I was $2900 short but I made it work.

Accommodation is hard to come by in Big White. Luckily I kind of knew someone who was a massive help and got me a bed. Staff accommodation is sparse, my manager could only offer 7 beds for 40 members of staff. I’m sharing a room for the very first time. It was quite daunting arriving and not knowing who my roommate will be. However all is good because my roomie is lovely. Sharing a room is very common here. In fact having your own room is pretty impossible, unless you want to pay over $1000 a month.




Apart from my money troubles and accommodation struggles, the mountain lifestyle is something else. I take a gondola to work. It has snowed non stop for nearly 3 days. I don’t have access to McDonalds or a Starbucks. I know what you’re thinking, how is she coping? You unexpectedly lose half your leg in deep snow every now and then. Walking in snow is an effort, I haven’t seen a clear sidewalk in over two weeks. The snowy trees are out of this world. Snow makes everything look so pretty and magical. WiFi is everywhere, no need to use that whole 1GB of data I get every month. I can’t not mention the skiing too. We’ve had so much fresh “Okanagan champagne powder” (a phrase from one of the VP’s here) that the conditions have been unbelievable for an opening week. The amount of fresh powder makes up for the lack of visibility. Here’s to many more ski days and afternoons.






Mum and Daughter Vacation

My Mum came to visit and we had the best time. ย She was here for a total of five full days and six nights. It was short but very sweet. I wanted to pack as much as possible into her stay and I think I achieved it. Our itinerary looked a little like this:


I did my last ever shift at Spokes. It was emotional but I was so excited to see my Mum in a matter of hours. I hadn’t seen her for a whole 495 days. I actually was a little nervous to see her, I guess I just wanted her to love Vancouver as much as I do. I took the skytrain to YVR airport and eagerly awaited her arrival. It seemed like the longest wait in the world and she didn’t recognise me at first. We exchanged a few tears and a big hug. We made our way Downtown to check in at the Executive Vintage Park Hotel. You don’t understand how excited I was to stay in a hotel with a comfy bed and blackout curtains. It certainly did not disappoint. We spent our first night feasting on burritos from Tacofino in Yaletown, followed by a G&T at the Morrissey Pub on Granville Street.


Reunited at last


I wanted to show my Mum the best places to eat so I already had written a list of places to go for various meals. Red Umbrella was on my breakfast/brunch list so our first morning was spent here. We actually waited 40 minutes for a table but it was definitely worth it. My Mum couldn’t come to town without riding the seawall around Stanley Park. After working in a bike rental shop for the entire time here I cannot recommend riding the seawall enough. It’s my number one thing to do in Vancouver, apart from eating obvisouly. So we went to Spokes and rented two cruiser bikes for the day. I guided her around Stanley Park and towards False Creek. We stopped at the Cirque Du Soleil tents to enquire about tickets for the same evening. Luckily they had tickets left so we made our way back to Spokes to return the bikes. We got a takeout Donair on our way to the hotel, basically a fancy doner kebab but I knew my Mum would love one and she did. The Kurios show by Cirque Du Soleil was amazing. I didn’t really know what to expect but it blew us away. A lot of talented performers and an initimate circus tent so all seats are close to the stage. I believe it is on till the end of December so you still can go.


We decided to test the breakfast out at the hotel, it wasn’t badly priced for a hotel breakfast and enough choice to fill you up for the day. The waffle station deserves a mention. I loved making my own waffles, topped with banana and syrup. I shared my favourite mode of transport with my Mum, the aquabus. We hopped on this to get to Granville Island. We wandered round the public market and the shops. Unfortunately we were so full from breakfast so no tasty food was consumed, apart from a few strips of candied salmon. Next on the agenda was a quick pit stop at the Swap office. It has played a huge part in my life during my time in Canada so far. They have helped me with so much over the past year and a bit so we popped into the office to say hi. In the afternoon we browsed the tourist shops in Gastown and had sushi. We filled our evening with hot dogs and beer watching the Vancouver Canucks lose against the Detroit Red Wings. Whether they win or lose, it’s always a cool atmosphere at an ice hockey match. My Mum enjoyed her first ice hockey game. The free beer was appreciated, thanks to you who cannot be named in case Rogers Arenas reads this (lol).


You can’t come to Vancouver and not visit Whistler. Whistler is great anytime of year so I didn’t hesitate to arrange a night here with the winter season looming. I hired a car from Enterprise (my go-to car rental company) and we were on our way in a shiny red Kia Soul. We stopped at the Galileo Coffee Company at Britannia Beach for a no whip mocha. The Scandinave Spa has been on my to do list for a long time so I was super excited to finally make a visit here. We hadn’t booked any treatments, just because they are pricey. Instead we opted for the paid entry into their outdoor spa which includes hot tubs, plunge pools, saunas, steam rooms and relaxation lounges. I believe it was $65 each plus a rental fee for a dressing gown. It was a very relaxing afternoon, even though we weren’t allowed to speak to each other. Yes there’s a no talking rule in place. The complimentary herbal tea is a must. Although expect a shot sized paper cup to decant it into. We had a small lunch in their cafe, slightly overpriced but also very tasty. Once all relaxed we made our way into Whistler village to check into the Summit Lodge hotel. The room was lovely, a small studio with your own kitchen and balcony. Of course we had to eat somewhere good for dinner. We got a recommendation off a fellow hotel guest in Vancouver, Pasta Lupino. We were drawn in by the “2 can dine for $40” meal deal. This included 2 courses with a bottle of wine. Our day ended with a stroll through the moonlit village of Whistler, stopping at the liquor store for a bottle of prosecco. If anyone saw my Snapchats from that evening, you will have seen that we were slightly tipsy.


A quick Google search gave me a few options for a cracking brunch in Whistler. We decided to go with closest, conveniently located next to your hotel. Elements Urban Tapas Parlour did not disappoint. Plenty of breakfast options with us both settling on an eggs benedict. It wasn’t just a traditional eggs benedict, it was an English Breakfast stack with tomato, mushroom, duck sausage and double smoked bacon. I’d like that again please. After probably one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in Canada so far, we walked around Whistler in the daylight. We made our way back to Vancouver, with a Tim Hortons pitstop and a scenic stop at Horseshoe Bay. Unfortunately no fish and chips were inhaled but we walked along the water and got some pictures. In the evening we glammed up and went for dinner at Black and Blue. It is a steakhouse with a fancy roof terrace. We had deep fried mac & cheese sticks and calamari to start with. We both had skewers for the main course, mine were steak, lobster and prawn. The meal was to die for, especially the truffle potatoes. To say we have eaten well this holiday would be an understatement.


Our final day called for another delicious brunch. We ventured to Jam Cafe and filled our faces with eggcellent eggs. This was our only day with a bit of rain so we got really lucky with the weather during the week. With that said it didn’t stop us going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I’ve been before so this was purely for my Mum’s entertainment. The rain and time of year obviously deterred a lot of people so the park was empty. It was a nice change from last time I went in August. We found this time of year is a popular time for construction. A few places were working on upgrades and renovations, including Capilano. However it didn’t ruin our visit. After catching the free shuttle back to downtown we shopped till we dropped. We were out all day and then met Daisy and Rachelle for lebanese food at Nuba. This place is probably one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver. The food is amazing. Mum and I shared La Feast which is a vegetarian mezze sampler. We also shared a halloumi dish. Isn’t halloumi cheese just the best?!


Time was quickly running out. My Mum flew back to the UK mid afternoon so we only had the morning together. We had our last breakfast at the hotel then made our way straight to the airport. It is always sad saying goodbye but I’m so glad I got to share one of my last weeks in Vancouver with my Mummy, showing her where I live, eat, work and sleep. It was action-packed, full of lols and very “interesting” (private joke, sorry).

After reading this back, I am now extremely hungry and salivating at the thought of those delicious meals we had. Thanks Mum for the best time, see you really soon.


Vancouver Island – Tofino

On the drive into Tofino, we stopped by Long Beach. And yes it’s very long. It was very cold and grey but still amazing to see nonetheless.


I wasn’t expecting such a long drive into Tofino, it just seemed to never end. It’s a peninsula on the west side of Vancouver Island. It’s a very attractive and quaint seaside town. We had two nights booked at the Paddlers Inn. The room had 2 single beds and a double in a very strange layout but it added character.


We had a wander around on our first evening here. I felt strange in Tofino, like an outsider. I know I am but considering it is meant to be a place that attracts tourists I thought it would feel more welcoming. Anyways we were on the hunt for warm clothes. During our trip so far, we realised we hadn’t packed the right clothes. Or maybe not enough layers. We all didn’t expect it to be so cold so we spent the evening searching for cheap clothes and we failed miserably. All the shops closed so early. I guess we did visit just outside of peak season.

We spent the evening in the hotel, drinking and playing very aggressive snap. Then we had the pleasure of listening to a live band, in the legion club opposite our hotel. We laid in bed and could hear the full set. Who knew it could be so lively on a Monday night in Tofino.

In the morning we booked a kayak tour for the following afternoon. Kayaking is something I’ve never done and have wanted to do forever. So I was more than keen to take part in this activity. Luckily our hotel is also a base for a kayaking company so it worked out really well. Guests at the hotel get discount too.

We spent the morning hiking after getting a coffee and a breakfast pizza from Tofitian Cafe. The mocha was really good. The first hike we did was called Radar Hill. I wouldn’t call it a hike, it was very short but there’s a cool viewpoint at the end.


Oh Vicki, I miss you. Come back!


We drove a little further and walked the Schooner Cove trail. You walk along purpose made walkways and then you come out onto the beach. The forest you walk through is beautiful, so nice in fact I took no photos. I was too busy taking it in and trying not to tumble off the walkways. I took photos of the beach…




Photo fail but had to post for your entertainment


For lunch we had fish and chips at Big Daddy’s fish fry. It was actually a pretty decent fish and chips for Canadian standards. It just what we needed to fuel our afternoon of kayaking.


Our kayak tour lasted about 2-3 hours and cost around $60. We were lucky enough to have the tour guide to ourselves and we kayaked around a small island and back to the hotel. The tour guide was very informative and you could tell he enjoyed sharing his facts with us. He was very patient with us, considering Vicki and I were complete kayak virgins. I love being by the water so kayaking was right up my street. I didn’t fall in either, bonus. I’ll be kayaking again for sure.

In the evening we went to Tacofino. It’s a famous taco shop which originated in Tofino. There’s a store and a food truck in Vancouver. The original is a food truck too, I presumed it was a shop. Anyways it was the best tacos I’ve ever had. Just a shame you can’t enjoy them in the warmth inside. We also took a visit to the Tofino Brewing Company. I’m not one for fancy beers, lager is fine but it was nice to try beer you wouldn’t normally order. It is a small place though and they’ll only serve you if you have a space at the bar or tables. So expect a small wait but I’d recommend a visit.


We had a chilled evening, carrying on the intense snap and other card games. No live band to deal with this evening so we slept like babies. We didn’t have much desire to explore Tofino’s nightlife, if it actually exists. You do what you want to do on vacation.

Our final day was spent travelling to Nanaimo to catch the ferry to Horseshoe Bay. Nanaimo is closer to Tofino and Horseshoe Bay is way closer to Downtown Vancouver so this isn’t a bad route to take. We stopped for a McDonald’s on the way back because we had gone a few days without it. We also stopped at the Goats on the Roof for an ice cream. They have a ton of flavours and dairy free options too. My friends are slowly but surely having to cut dairy out their diet. I really hope it doesn’t happen to me, that would be a sad day.


I don’t think I would hurry back to Tofino or maybe I would in the middle of summer. I would like to try surfing and I need to get a postcard. I collect postcards from every place I visit. I’ve started framing them and hanging them on the walls in my bedroom. I didn’t get chance to get one from Tofino so I guess I need to go back just for that.


Vancouver Island is huge though, I need more time to explore there. Lots of outdoor activities to be done and wildlife to see. I’m still on the hunt to see a bear in the wild. My to do list for next time…

  • Visit the Sooke Potholes
  • Go tubing at Lake Cowichan
  • Explore Nanaimo
  • Visit Qualicum Beach
  • Explore Ucluelet
  • Island hop the Gulf Islands

Again, thank you to Vanessa for the panoramic photos.





Vancouver Island – Victoria & Errington

In September myself and three friends from Spokes took a road trip to Vancouver Island. It is somewhere I’ve wanted to go since arriving in Vancouver however it isn’t really an easy to place to get to without your own transport. So a big thank you to Carson who kindly lent us his car.

So it began with a ferry ride from Tsawwassen ferry terminal. We actually missed the one we planned on getting, so we waiting an hour for the next one. Luckily the terminal had various food options and shops to kill the time. The ferry takes about 1 hr and 30 minutes.


We didn’t arrive until late so after checking in at our hostel and taking advantage of the free cocktail we headed to bed. We stayed at the Ocean Island hostel in Victoria. We had our own private dorm with two bunk beds. It was good location and suited us perfectly. You also get a free breakfast included in your stay.

The next day we wandered the streets of Victoria, feeling a little deflated. I wasn’t completely blown away. We walked along the harbour and through downtown, up to Chinatown. It is very different to Vancouver, it feels like an English seaside town. After an hour or two we decided to hit the road and make our way to Errington for our second night on the island. It was also Holly’s birthday so we stocked up on alcohol for an alcohol fuelled games night.


We didn’t have the best weather, however it conveniently rained whilst we drove. I enjoyed driving across the island, the views made it worthwhile. We decided upon Errington as it half way between Victoria and Tofino. We booked an Airbnb cottage and we were pleasantly surprised. It was idyllic, it stood on its own in a field, surrounded by trees. The owner was so helpful too, he told us a lot about the area and his past (maybe too much).


We ate dinner in Parksville, possibly at the only place open. It was a ghost town. After dropping our bags off at the cottage, we headed to Englishman River Falls for a short hike. It was late in the afternoon so the trial was deserted. You can see waterfalls and hike through the forest. It’s a beautiful short walk and really close to where we stayed.


After this we drove to the Goats on the Roof in Coombs. The most bizarre place I have ever been to. I’m not even sure how I’m going to be able to describe this to you but I’ll try. It is basically a tourist trap where you can buy anything you could possibly want. Apparently the owner travels the world finding products to sell in his shop. On top of the shop are goats, just chilling on the grass roof. It is worth the trip because I doubt you’ll see anything like that on Vancouver Island or maybe even in Canada.

Our Airbnb had a little games corner. We played various games, whilst drinking and snacking. It was a great night in, in the middle of nowhere. The cottage even had access to Netflix for that essential background noise.

The next day we went to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. We kind of stumbled upon this whilst driving round the area and for $10 it was a fun morning. We saw a lot of birds, all rescued and now can’t live in the wild. We saw part of a bear, he was hiding and we watched the bear cubs on a webcam.

We made our way to Tofino for our final stop on our tiny road trip across the island. On the way we stopped at Cathedral Grove to check out the famous trees there, 800 year old giant Douglas Fir trees to be precise. This was a recommendation given to us from our Airbnb host. We stopped a bit later on by a lake too, I have no idea what it was called but it looked something like this.



Big thanks to Vanessa for letting me use some of her photos. Check back soon for the Tofino instalment.



Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes is a must if you’re ever in British Columbia. It is past Pemberton, which is north of Whistler. It takes a couple of hours to get there from Vancouver but it is worth the drive. Plus the journey is very scenic.

The car park is questionable. I went on a Wednesday and it was busy. There’s no spaces marked on the floor so people park all over the place and not in a sensible fashion. Anyways after perusing the car park for a while, we managed to park safe and sound.

Joffre Lakes consists of three very blue lakes. The hike is 10km and takes about 3 hours. The first lake is a short walk from the car park and I’m pretty certain those were the people crowding the car park with their expensive cars. The second lake is about an hour away and it is uphill for the majority of the way. I realised how unfit I was during this part. You are then rewarded with the most unrealistic blue lake you’ll ever see.



The second lake is a popular spot for those Instagram-worthy pictures. You can walk along a log in the lake and get the selfies in. We walked straight past, heading towards the third and final lake. We perched on a big rock and ate our lunch in a secluded spot. I did bring my swimsuit but I chickened out. I put my feet in, that was enough. It is a glacier fed lake so you can imagine how cold it is. You lose the feeling in your feet pretty quick.



After chilling and relaxing by the third lake, we headed back to the car. You walk back the way you came so it is downhill the majority of the way. Every time I saw the lakes I was completely blown away. They just do not look real. It is something I’ve only ever seen in pictures.

A hike would not be complete without me falling over. So yes I lost my footing and fell. In the process of falling I bent my sunglasses. Luckily Rachelle is the queen of fixing sunglasses so I didn’t have to repurchase.

On the way back we stopped at Mile One Eating House in Pemberton. I had a really good mac and cheese here, so you should go. We also stopped in Whistler for a wander round the shops. I love Whistler at any time of year.

In other news I got a job for winter in a ski resort. I’ll be working in the rental shop at Big White in Kelowna. I cannot wait to share it with you guys.


One Day in Seattle

When my good friend Amy and her hubby were in town, we did a day trip to Seattle. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. Unplanned trips are always the best.ย We went on Wednesday 9th August. It seems like ages ago and that’s because it was.

I hired a car from the trusty people of Enterprise, I really can’t blow their trumpet enough. I have never driven across a border before so I was little apprehensive, even though I had nothing to hide. We did have to fill some forms in and pay a fee to get into the US. However we arrived at a good time and the queue wasn’t crazy. Setting off at 6:30am had its benefits.

The original plan was to park downtown, however close to Seattle I saw a sign for park and ride. We parked up and hopped on a double decker bus into downtown which was hassle free and bank balance friendly.


Taken from the top of the park & ride bus

The first thing we did was visit the Pike Place Market. It was heaving but cool to explore the various levels, sloping corridors and stalls on offer. You can literally buy anything your heart desires there. It is a must see when visiting Seattle. I wish I bought flowers. The florists featured in the market were so cheap and beautiful.


Close to Pike Place market is the very first Starbucks, however the huge crowd flowing out the door made me not want to step inside. I must see over 10 Starbucks a day in Vancouver so I wasn’t completely blown away but cool to say I’ve seen the very first Starbucks in the flesh.


Also at the market is the famous Gum Wall. I’m not sure how this started but it is basically a wall filled with various types of chewed gum. It was pretty gross but have you ever seen a gum wall? It also makes interesting photos.


After stopping for a beer and a coke for Amy we headed to the monorail which takes you to the Space Needle. I’d say the monorail is more of a tourist trap rather than an actual mode of transport. It’s a fun way to see the city from the sky and even better when you get a seat at the front sat next to the fat controller. He wasn’t fat, it just reminded me of Thomas the Tank Engine for some weird reason.



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Due to forest fires in BC, the visibility in Seattle wasn’t great so we decided against going up the Space Needle. We did have a wander in the gift shop, yes I love a gift shop. There’s a few things around the Space Needle, like the Museum of Pop Culture, Pacific Science Centre and Seattle’s Children’s Museum. I was pleased to see the Chihuly Gardens and Glass which exhibits Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures.

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I studied Dale Chihuly in my art class at school so I was happy to have a look around. The $24 entry fee isn’t bank breaking and you can also get packages which include entrance to the Space Needle and other tourist attractions. It blows my mind how you can create such colourful and interesting shapes with glass.



Before leaving Seattle we were hungry so we made our way to Serious Pie for some tasty pizza. We were not disappointed. I even had two because it was cheaper than one. In my defence they were small pizzas.


I would love to go back and stay over night. And then head towards Portland because it isn’t too far from there. I’ll see you soon Seattle.