Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Returning home

Our epic honeymoon is drawing to a close and so it seems fitting to cast down a few insightful pearls of wisdom (cough cough) I've gleaned over the course of our travels.

1. Never put on a brave front when offered a mountain bike with a hard narrow seat designed for a man, it's just not worth it.

2. Be wary of any doctor who tells you to wear a moonboot for a month, especially when they don't express any concern that you can't move two of your toes.

3. Your Spanish teacher is incorrect when she warns "you will die" if you continue to enjoy the odd Hiram Walker gin and tonic.

4. La Ley y El Orden or Law and Order is pure television gold..."chung-chung"

5. Don't touch the shower head when it's connected to a 30amp current as you will have a dead arm for at least half an hour.

6. The Settlers of Catan is an addictive boardgame if you play it with the best people.

7. You will always meet friendly, generous and inspiring people no matter where you travel in the world.

8. Beware any foods that look like tofu - appearances are deceiving and reconstituted fish remains make not for an enjoyable soy substitute.

9. Aotearoa is beautiful and I feel lucky to call it home.

It has been a pleasure writing this blog.

Until the next journey, with love,

Mrs R

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

7 haikus for 7 days and 280kms

Vancouver to Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island

Bus, skytrain, ferry
Bike, ferry and bike some more
Icecream in the sun!

Cowichan Bay to Lake Cowichan

Box of granola
Fresh coffee, harbourside ride
Bumpy railway path

Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew

Lonely logging road
Skinny dip in Lizard Lake
Albacore tuna

Port Renfrew to Point-No-Point

Meaty uphill grind
Sunset dining with vino
Utter luxury

Point-No-Point to Sooke

A meagre breakfast
Red log bridge to Point-No-Point
Love that buttertart

Sooke to Victoria

Galloping Goose Trail
Tea and toast with Colina
Peach and apple wines

Victoria to Vancouver

Easy riding now
Hearty luncheon at Roost farm
Missed the bloody boat

The Rs

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vancouver Island - bring it on!!

We have been living in Vancouver for 9 weeks! Packing up our small furnished apartment has been a little sad but also revealing... check out all the coffee and tea we have been through!
Tomorrow we head over to Vancouver Island where we have 7 days of cycling to look forward to. Travelling by bicycle seemed like a cost effective and fun way to explore. Having said that, I suspect we have some (enjoyably!?) challenging days ahead of us given that we decided not to hire panniers and are instead opting to ride with a small backpack each. Kiwi-ingenuity and a certain sense of oneness with each other and each others sweat and possibly increasingly smelly cycle gear will have to dominate!

The basic check-list looks good though:
- decent weather report
- wet weather gear, down-jackets, gloves etc in the bags just in case the weather turns sour on us
- spare tubes and associated repair kit sorted
- accommodation booked - showers/baths/even a spa pool on one night - so we can go to sleep smelling of roses even if there isn't always the opportunity to wash our cycle gears!
- coffee - bound to get headaches if we go without
- almond and peanut butter plus plenty of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate!

Ben is currently attempting to consume as much cereal as he can based on his motto ... you never know when you're next going to get a meal. If I'm anxious about the cycling he is beyond anxious about getting hungry!!!

See you on the flipside

Mrs R

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Timbits and the Double Double

The Double Double is a Canadian classic. We knew it had to be done and done well... as for Timbits, we were like kids in a candy store.

Ah yes the double double... It all began in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario. That's when the Tim Hortons chain was founded. Apparently Tim was a legend in the National Hockey League back in his hey-day.

The first stores served coffee and donuts, simple and successful. Timbits came a little later in 1976.

Ever wonder why the need for the hole in the middle of a donut? Well if there wasn't a hole there wouldn't be a genius marketing ploy to sell bite-sized donuts at Tim Hortons!

This is us at Tim Hortons with our Double Double (coffee) and an assortment of Timbits!

Post Tim Hortons I can tell you the Double Double consists of filter coffee with double cream and double sugar. It doesn't really taste like coffee - not when you normally take it black or with light milk - BUT it does taste good! Lets face it, fat and sugar mixed together pretty much always tastes good!

As for Timbits, I liked the chocolate and the old fashioned......but if I had a choice I'd rather eat another Canadian classic, a decadent cinnamon roll!

And if I keep up my log rolling I reckon I can enjoy a few more before we head home!

Mrs R

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poolside chats...

We're enjoying some glorious sunshine this weekend, perfect weather for swimming and sunbathing. The Kitsilano Pool closes for the season today so we have made sure we've spent some time there. Here's what we overheard yesterday....

A young girl (5 years old) was with her Dad (his native language was probably German).

Girl "Can I come to the pool by myself Daddy?"
Dad "Not yet, you're too young. But when you're 8 then you'll be able to come. How old are you now? 5?"
They count out her age on their fingers, confirming that she is indeed five.
Dad "In three years when you're 8 then you can come on your own. You will be able to drive the bicycle yourself."
Girl "But I want to come with you Daddy."
Dad "Oh I know, and I will still come when I can, but it just means you will be able to go when I can't"
Girl "But what if I don't know the way?"
Dad "Ahhh but when you're eight years, you will know the way!"


Moments later we observed a young child, tottering around in the shallows, his sagging nappy soaked with the crotch hanging dangerously low between his chubby knees. His mother was nearby, as was a friendly albeit concerned lifeguard.

Lifeguard "Excuse me, we don't normally allow children in the pool without swimwear. I don't have to tell you, that diaper looks like it could just explode."
Mother "Oh, can you buy waterproof ones here?"
Lifeguard "Yes I think they sell them at the front office. Because you know, if it explodes then we've got a BIG problem."


A collective sigh of relief was heard poolside when the mother returned with a blue waterproof diaper. Public health crisis averted.

Mr and Mrs R

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vancouver Triathlon

I have had my head and body buried in training for most of the last 6 weeks, so it was with excitement at the opportunity to actually compete, though also a certain sense of foreboding, that I entered myself in this morning's Vancouver Triathlon.

This is basically the reason I entered:

I am particularly taken by First Nations art, especially depictions of wild animals, the Orca being top of my list of favourites. The prospect of receiving a competition T-Shirt with the above image printed on it meant my entry was certain, regardless of the timing of the race in the lead up to my slightly more important, if less likely to be represented by ANY KIND OF INDIGENOUS CULTURE WHATSOEVER, race in Perth on October 25th.

I gleefully scaled back my training routine over the last couple of days, whilst unfortunately suffering insomnia as a result. There will no chance of that tonight. I enjoyed the lengthy process of gear-checklist-ticking which could be considered the fifth sport of triathlon, after the 3 usual suspects and general self-aggrandising. I managed to pick up a pair of aerobars for a lazy fiver from the local bike shop, a place so busy and popular they offered me the sidewalk to fit the bars myself! For that price, I was happy to call the pavement my workshop.

With everything tucked into my bursting backpack, and a hearty breakfast of homemade Bircher, stewed nectarines, 2 spoons of exquisite Olympic yoghurt and a cinnamon raisin bagel with real peanut butter (I wrote that out in full so as to experience again a little of the delight I tasted as I ate it) I set off along the wet roads of autumnal Vancouver, in pitch dark, for Stanley Park and the shore of Second Beach.

I racked my bike beside marvels of bicycle technology that surely could never have been envisaged by the original inventor of the humble velocipede.

Wooden Velocipede 1866 image courtesy of The Velocipede Museum, Delaware. Someone needs to update Wayne's World - "Delaware, home of the Velocipede...schwing"

My wooden bike had gained weight in the rain, and I wondered how it would hold up on the killer descents. But seriously, the ocean temperature was a chilly 16 degrees, making me glad I had brought an extra swimcap for a less vicelike icecream headache. We assembled on the beach, and I was thankful to find that the brilliant organisers had chosen bright orange "bu-eys" for the course, easily visible through goggles left constantly fogged by the vast temperature difference between my skin and the Pacific's 49th parallel. Not everyone found the bu-eys so easy to see however, and I experienced an unusual variety of schadenfreude as I caught 2 swimmers who were zig-zagging their way to shore. I clambered onto my bike some considerable amount of time after the leaders.

For an inner city course, you actually couldn't design a more picturesque venue than Stanley Park. Nor is there a better way to celebrate the foresight of the founders of Vancouver than to hold a manly test of endurance within the place dedicated by Lord Stanley "to the use and enjoyment of peoples of all colours, creeds, and customs, for all time". The 9.6k cycle loop skirts the perimeter of the park, past stands of Kwakwaka'wakw totem poles...

...alongside pounamu-green waters, and the inspirational bronze sculpture of Harry Jerome...

...before taking in a steady winding climb above the elegant Lions Gate Bridge, and a cracking descent back to second beach.

3 times round, I approached this circuit with vigour. I was passed only by a couple of bigger riders, and felt confident they would succumb to the pursuit of my eager feet on the run. What I didn't really recognise was how cold my hands were getting on each long descent. Straightening out of the corner onto the final lap, and passing the thickest mob of spectators on the course, I went over a bump in the road which caused my frigid fingers to bounce up off the hoods. As the front wheel twisted sideways beneath me the tire exploded with the report of a Colt, and I slid, mercifully, along the slick wet road, rolling from front, to left hip and onto my back, coming to rest in the gutter.

I stood up to a collective wince from the onlookers and expected that that was the end of the race for me. But along came the only two St Johns' first-aiders on the course, who cleaned and dressed my wounds while Good Samaritan Brian (to whom I dedicate the race), set about repairing my flat! Tube and body thoroughly patched, I received a wonderful ovation from the crowd who had seen my spectacular double twisting back. I completed the final lap conservatively, happy to be in one piece and still in the event.

The run was another lovely scenic loop, this time along the shore of Lost Lagoon and through towering forests of cedar and fir. I felt surprisingly good, unhindered by my extensive road rash. After the first lap in 19mins I decided to have go at posting a decent run time and quickened my step to record 36:57 for the 10k and 2:24:05 for the roughly olympic distance event, including the 12mins I spent "recovering" during the bike leg!

The post-race highlight, other than a kiss from Mrs R, was the delicious feast of athlete-favoured foods! What an insightful bunch the Multisports Canada organisers are: they had fruit and muffins, all conveniently pre-sliced, and then the piece de resistance: a line up of bagels beside enormous jars of nutella, peanut butter, and jams including Saskatoon Berry - more Canadian than even Maple Syrup! I was in heaven.

Lessons learnt for Perth: go hard, so as to best enjoy the tucker on offer when you finish; but unless you've got Spidey reactions and a Fairy Princess to grant you 3 wishes

you better respect the conditions or you might get a reminder of today that you'd rather never repeat!

Mr R...ashy