Monday, 29 April 2013

Kitsilano Stroll on the Sea Wall

A truth: I have been using blogger for nearly two years, and I have never actually scheduled a post for the future! I always write and post in real time. But not today! I thought two posts in one day (Sunday) would be overkill, so I've scheduled this to appear at a reasonable hour on Monday instead. Here goes nothing...

Saturday was all kinds of dreary: rain, wind, chill, you name it. So Matthew and I visited Gramma for a long cup of tea and a chat, and then wasted an hour in Metrotown (a large shopping mall, and one of the infamous 'circles of hell'). The day was rectified when, at 6pm, the sun miraculously appeared wanly though the clouds, and we walked from our place to Broadway for our friend Stuart's birthday dinner. Such a nice evening, and met/caught up with lots of friendly people.

Sunday was not so drear. So, in true Zoe fashion, I pretty much stamped my foot and pouted and begged Matthew to take me on an outing until he relented. We walked down to Granville Island and instead of charging straight for the deli section, we took a left turn and wandered along the sea wall for an hour. It was delightful.

Granville Island Marina, overlooking Yaletown and Granville Bridge

Totem pole under Burrard Bridge

Getting ready for Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival ("It's in tents")!!
With Vancouver Museum to the right

Totem Pole in Kitsilano, on Ogden St I think

Rolling green of Vanier Park

False Creek and English Bay

Click to enlarge. We named this 'The Bay of Sunken things' because we noticed a sunken sailboat, and then in the foreground, a sunken bicycle!

When we got to Kits Beach, we were a bit surprised to see so many people out and about. There was even a swimmer! We were near faint from hunger, so we walked up Yew St and sat outside (!!) on the porch of a cafe under the pink spring blossoms and tried to enjoy a vegan chocolate chip cookie. It was okay, I guess.

We then panted up the steep hill to 4th Ave and wandered homeward, with only a trifling delay at a local wine shop. Not bad for a Sunday stroll, not bad at all.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cousin Day!

Last Tuesday I was met at my front door by a car full of cousins! Eleanor, Carolyn, Sophie, Emily and I all gathered for a day out on the North Shore, exploring the neighbourhood of Ambleside.

The weather was sunny, warm and gorgeous, and the water looked particularly stunning as we went over the Lions Gate Bridge. We arrived in Ambleside at 11ish, and parked near the beach. We wandered on the pier for a while and watched people fishing for crabs.
Cousins on a log, overlooking Kitsilano (in the distance)

The whole team, overlooking Lions Gate Bridge

Sophie looking wistfully

Sisters: Carolyn and Eleanor

Emily striking a grand pose

A ginormous seagull.

Then we found a lovely art gallery surrounded on all sides by beds of orange tulips. The gallery contained local landscapes and cityscapes, all uniform in tone and yet all by different artists.

It took us about 15 minutes to locate the nearest consignment store (it's like we have a homing device or something) and we spend a heavenly half hour inspecting furs, pearls, cowboy boots, and various technicolour blouses and dresses.

After avoiding any purchases, we walked up the main street to the infamous Ambleside pie shop.The decor was like a country kitchen circa 1940. Lots of old heavy wooden tables and lurid vinyl chairs, and huge old metal kitchen appliances and storage containers. Totally retro heaven.

We pretty much all ordered pie. I actually had two pies: tourtiere (a French Canadian pie with beef and pork in it), and then raspberry rhubarb for dessert. Yes, it was a bit much. We certainly didn't have room for an afternoon coffee as we had originally planned.

After pie, we wandered some more into the shops and along the beach. Things were pretty quiet, but it was a Tuesday. Along the water we saw several sunbathers flaked out on the sand! Seriously, it was a gorgeous day, but only about 13 degrees. They were pretty keen, I think. The sunbathers were lying directly in front of the yeacht club shed, so I think it sheltered them from the wind.
Seriously. Keen.
Wind and big hair

Stanley Park across the Burrard Inlet

Half a swan
Wildlife report: There were a million dogs out and about on the waterfront, and as my cousins are generally dog-lovers, we did a lot of admiring and patting. At an estuary/pondy thing beside the beach, we also saw a big white swan! It was seriously fishing with its neck deep underwater, so we mostly just saw its tail. But it was still sort of elegant.

(Non sequitur: Much later in the day, Matthew and I went out for a coffee and when we came back there was a man taking his giant fat ginger cat for a walk on a leash. Funniest thing ever. Like a dog, the cat was stopping to sniff all the things.)

Thank you to the cousins for a gorgeous day out at the beach (ingeniously involving pie, well done!).

Best of happy travels to cousin Carolyn, who (after a rough start) has departed for Melbourne, Australia, and will be keeping a blog of her adventures: The World To See.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Vancouver Sun Run 2013

We got up at 7:30am, which is pretty keen for a Sunday. We decided to walk to town because we weren't sure how reliable public transit would be and also because we thought it would be wise to get warmed up. We arrived at the Vancouver Art Gallery at just before 9am (from where our 'white' section was taking off) and proceeded to freeze until 10am, at which time we were allowed to jog. Luckily, in that freezing hour, the sun decided to come out.

9am and excited to start! (Sorry, Matthew's head.)

Our section at Howe and Georgia

The throng behind

The throng ahead

Just before the starting line, a cover band playing strictly overplayed radio hits from the last 30 years.

Me, way less excited by this point, still not started, and with chattering teeth

Finally we shuffled forth a bit past Burrard and West Georgia. We jogged down West Georgia and up Denman, then took a turn down Robson to the edge of Stanley Park, and then staggered along the beach until we got to the Burrard Bridge. Oof. That was tough.
Course map, shamelessly copied from the Sun Run website
Matthew managed to multitask: he took this while we jogged across the Burrard Bridge

Our game plan was for Matthew to just go at my pace so that we wouldn't get separated. This was very sportsmanlike of him, since his pace is significantly speedier. Nevertheless, we both did a lot of wending around walkers. It was my goal to run the entire way, and I think we did it. At 6ks, just after the Burrard Bridge, I was feeling pretty puffy, but by 7ks we were dreaming. The sun was way out at that point, so we just enjoyed it from then on. Even the surge up Cambie Bridge didn't feel as hard as Burrard.

We jogged across the second bridge and even managed a mini-sprint for the finish-line at B.C. Place (sports stadium beside Cambie Bridge). As we approached the finish-line, we were stoked to hear 'The Beavis Family' announced by the race caller! I actually turned to Matthew and gave him a high-five (I'm not really a multi-tasker when jogging).

I looked at my phone and registered that it was only 11:06am -- ever not knowing our exact start time (roughly 10-ish), that beats the pants off any training runs I have done over the past couple of months.

Post-race: Pooped and proud.

I'm afraid to say that we got a bit freaked out about the milling of the crowds, so we promptly walked back over the Cambie Bridge, and watched the runners behind us stream in. When we got to 8th we stopped for a very early and gratuitous burger and Matthew ordered a whiskey hazelnut milkshake. You read right.

On a whim, we texted our friends Martina and Stu (Martina was also doing the Sun Run, but in a jolly faster category than us) and they joined us for the longest slowest lunch ever. While we ate, the rainclouds gathered, and just as we left the bar it started to bloody pour.

We abandoned our plan to leisurely walk home, and bolted for a bus. Despite transit, this is what I looked like when we got to our front door:

Not amused

We checked our times on the web when we got home, and we both came in at 1:02:52, a good 10 minutes faster than any of my training runs. I can't thank Matthew enough for having the grace not only to go along with the whole scheme, but also to run so patiently at my pace. Champion!

I'm not sure whether we'll do this again, because we spent more time freezing in the grey wind and rain than actually jogging in the streaming sunshine, but I'm proud to say we've done this iconic Vancouver activity.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Photopost: VanDusen and Shaugnessy in Bloom

First things first: after a rather busy university week on Friday evening, I took my fellow English grad friend Maddie to a cocktail bar on Granville, and we cheerfully and systematically sampled their menu until the sun got very low in the sky. Naturally this morning, though the sky was blue, I was reluctant to venture forth too early. So on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, Matthew and I finally decided to make good on our promise to visit the local botanical garden. Before we got to the garden, we captured some of our neighbourhood.
On our street: the mock tudor apartment block in bloom
View down Hemlock
West 20 Avenue and Oak, the pinkest street in Vancouver

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Matthew in front of the entrance

Fountain (um, what else can I say?)

Such dainty flowers, such undainty name, 'Spurge'. Rude word scrabble anyone?

Cherry Blossom Walk, about a week too late.

Gettin' chilly


Very fancy and geometric camelia

Korean Pagoda

The ground covered in perfect leaf skeletons

The monkey puzzle tree in the middle of the maze, Matthew looking smug at finding the middle of the maze

Outer view of the maze

Most appropriate signage

I am please to have named these 'fisticuff ferns'

Magnolia tree grotto

Not sure what this purple flower was, but it a thin black leaf and a checkered petal

Space alien flowers

Close up, including fuzzy ball and two protruding clones. Seriously alien.

Sea of tulips, some daffodils, some other
A larger-than-life anthropomorphic goat statue by the tulip plantation

Miniature succulent rockery

Canada goose napping

After all that strolling and snapping, we repaired to the garden cafe for a quiche and a cup of tea. ...And who should we meet but Aimee from UBC! She was meeting a friend for an afternoon of similar strolling. While we waited for Aimee's date, we lingered over our tea and made fearful predictions about the Sun Run we've all signed up for tomorrow. It was very serendipitous, and it made us feel like we are really getting to be locals, when we can go for cocktails with friends spontaneously, and just bump into other friends at the gardens.

We had put away the camera, but we took turn away from Oak and walked a new way home, and the manicured private gardens and mansions of increasing grandeur could not pass undocumented.


Tiny pompom flowers (no, that is not their botanical, nor their common name)

Pansies all in a row

Astonishingly red tulips

The first most best mansion we saw all afternoon. It was Quite A Pile.

Bulbous tree trunk.
When we got back to Granville St, we passed our local corner store and Matthew very gallantly bought some tulips of our very own to remind us of our adventure.