Sunday, 31 March 2013

Spring Break Part 1: Steveston, Deep Cove & The States!

So when you work in a school over here you should know that half terms and Easter breaks don't exist! 
You get your two weeks at Christmas, one week in March for 'spring break' and then that's pretty much all the time you get off during the year aside from public holidays! So that severely limits the amount of time we can get out an explore and do things! It leaves us one day in ever week, Saturday, that we are able to get out and about.  So when spring break happened...I knew we were going to take full advantage of every spare moment we got! 

Not only that but the colleague I work with had gone to Mexico for spring break and so had very kindly lent us his car while he was away! It was amazing! I knew getting around by bus was not so fun...but having the car made me realise how much I miss not having a car and how amazing our life would be if we had one! So it meant we got to go to lots of places we wouldn't usually get to see!

It was so awesome that I'm splitting it up into two blog posts because I have hundreds of pictures of all the fun we had! 

First things first, we headed back to Steveston! I knew it wouldn't be long before we made our way back there.  The last time we went I had spied a mammoth platter on the menu at Hog Shack for four people to share so when I told our pulled pork BBQ loving friends about it we planned a date night and headed out just in time to catch an amazing sunset.  

We took full advantage of having someone else to take a picture where the two of us are actually together!

and we found ourselves in front of the largest platter of meat you've ever seen! Pulled Pork, Baby Back Ribs, St.Louis Ribs, Dino Ribs, Brisket, Sausage, Chicken Thighs...and a whole lot of tasty sides too!

I have never been so full at the end of a meal! It was an awesome night with awesome company.

The next morning I made By do an obligatory bakery stop! I have been wanting to check out The Last Crumb for a while but it's not a part of the city I ever go near so with out car we were able to drive there so quickly! It was awesome!

It's a really cool place inside, and there motto is 'Life is short, eat dessert first' which I love!

They had tons of delicious treats to choose from but we went for a bit of Saturday morning pie, yes we had pie for breakfast.

I didn't love my coconut cream slice but By's peanut butter pie with oreo crust was delish!

We made our way to a Ripcurl sample sale at the Ripcurl headquarters in North Van where By picked up 3 pairs of shorts for $60 - quite the bargain! and after that I suggested we carry on to Deep Cove, as I'd heard good things about this cute harbour town.

When we got there, we realised we'd left the memory card at home! Epic fail! but By snapped this pic of the view on his phone...

It was SO beautiful and I knew it would be even better on a sunny day, we also tried Honey's donuts because we heard they are the best.  I wasn't that impressed, but it was still a fun afternoon!

The highlight of my week though had to be going Stateside again! You all know just how much I LOVE America.  

I went with Cassie and I was even more excited when she told me to write down all the addresses of where I wanted to go and we would do them all! So I went crazy...tracking down cupcakeries and gelato and of course all my old usuals!

We went on a beautifully sunny day! 

and our first stop of the day was Target! My fave!

I went crazy in the easter candy aisle!

What they lack in actual big size easter eggs (which apparently don't exist in North America) they make up for in their varieties of M&M!

I was so happy throwing fun seasonal stuff into my basket that we don't get in Canada!

I had read about a cute little coastal town called Fairhaven, just 10 minutes south of Bellingham that sounded like it was worth checking out.

Co-incidentally, it was home to a cupcake store too! and one that had won the tv series 'Cupcake Wars' so I was sure the cupcakes were going to be great! Unfortunately they were a big disappointment, and we ended up throwing them away they tasted so bad! but I did like the cute polka dot plates they were served on!

Fortunately, the gelato shop across the street more than made up for our bad tasting cupcakes because it was amazing! Seriously, some of the best gelato I've had!

 Of course I had to go for Oreo flavour, this tasted like Oreo frosting but in gelato form.  I need to take everyone I know to this shop to try this flavour one day because if you love Oreo you need this in your life! I also had some coconut which was amazing! 

We were seriously impressed! 

Of course, we ate lunch too, to balance out all the sugary stuff we were consuming! We were recommended to eat at Skylark's Hidden Cafe.  

It was quite traditional and reminded me of England actually.  It was like an old English pub inside, mixed with a grand English house! Like all these random mirrors on the wall! 

I had pulled pork and chorizo stew which was so tasty!

 Outside, we found this English phone box so of course I had to be a tourist!

Luckily, there's always more than one cupcake stop when I'm involved so we stopped in at Cupcakes Like It Sweet after another candy stop at Walmart!!

I had tried these cupcakes once with Byron the first time we came to Bellingham and they were so good, plus their flavour of the day was S'mores so I knew I had to stop by!

That's just the way we like it!

The cupcake I came to try!

and the mini's that helped us enjoy that border queue a little bit more!

They were seriously tasty! 

As we were driving slow enough, I managed to snap a picture of the peace show peace between Canada and America - maybe they should build one of these on the Scottish/English border! Haha

and the international boundary line! As our car crossed past this point I guess you could say we were in two places at once! How very 'Walk to Remember'! 

I've never taken a picture of this sign I'm usually more excited about the sign welcoming you the other way!

As we came back towards Vancouver, we crossed over the Alex Fraser Bridge and it was a pretty cool sight with the snow capped mountains ahead of us!

It's no America, but I'm still a fan!

and we enjoyed one last sweet treat as we crossed the bridge home - a piece of root beer float fudge! It was amazing! You just can't get stuff like that back home!

So that night I laid everything out when I got in, when I had left that morning By had told me 'don't buy too much candy'.  As I walked in the door with two brown bags full of the stuff that night, he told me 'you bought too much candy'! but we have been enjoying it ever since so it's all good...because how could I turn down Coconut Oreo's or Root Beer Float flavour gum! or peanut butter easter egg shaped M&M's!!

Can you believe that was only part 1! Man, I love spring break!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A rare sunny day spent in Steveston

In England, one of our favourite things to do is spending a Saturday in a different town or city.  I've asked around and observed and it just doesn't seem to be something that Canadians here do...but on reflection I think it's because most of their cities seem the same.  Vancouver borders 3 other cities...which are all very similar, they all have malls with the same chain shops, same chain restaurants etc.. and so I guess people don't really see the point in driving an hour away to get all the same stuff you can get if you stay in your own city.  Whereas in England each town is so different from the next, there is so much charm and history and so many quaint and unique shops from one place to the next which makes travelling to different places so interesting! Don't get me wrong...I love having as much root beer as I want on my doorstep, I love having the mountains overlooking where we live and a stones throw away, but I miss the quaint-ness that England has to offer more than I ever thought I would!

So when I heard about a little fishing town called Steveston, it seemed like just the sort of thing I was after! So when a rare blue sky day came along I knew it was time for us to check it out!
When the first shop we came across was this cute little bread store, I knew it was just what I had been looking for! 

I loved how rustic and old skool it was inside!

and check out the size of that oven! It was pretty amazing! We tried a free sample of their bread and then the owner promptly asked us how many loaves we wanted to buy! Byron said 1 and then the guy asked us for $10!! It was tasty bread...but not $10 tasty! So we said we couldn't afford that much...and the guy gave us a free mini loaf!

I felt kind of embarrassed going into this shop! The amount of times I used to go to American grocery stores back in London or hunt down American groceries online...and now here I am surrounded by them and I'm going into an English store - whaaat?! haha, but it was just fun to check it out! I miss squash more than you can imagine but for $7 a bottle I'm just going to have to miss it for a few months more! I looked longingly at their chocolate and some of their packs of biscuits but decided I would feel too silly buying English stuff so I gave it a miss!

I'd tried to sell the idea of Steveston to Byron a few times...and he wasn't really getting it.  Checking out a fishing town by the water in winter? Where's the fun in that! When we 'stumbled' across Bell's Bakeshop he discovered my real intentions of coming here! What can I say, I travel far and wide to hunt down cupcakes...especially when Vancouver is lacking good ones so badly! I had found out that the owner of Bell's Bakeshop had worked at one of my favourite UK bakeries, Angel Food Bakery in Brighton, for a few months before moving back to Canada to open up her own cupcakery! So I knew her cupcakes were going to be worth the trip! 

We were met with a cabinet full of delicious sounding cupcakes...

it was pretty hard to choose because I wanted to try so many!

and it wasn't just the cupcakes that took my fancy, check out that malteser layer cake! yum!

In the end Byron opted for the peanut butter/choc combo...

and I went for my all time fave - Oreo! and there's nothing better than pairing a cupcake with a root beer in my opinion! We were seriously impressed with these cupcakes...finally! Byron's peanut butter frosting was super creamy and went perfectly with the rich chocolate cupcake.  I had bits of Oreo strewn through my vanilla cupcake and a huge mound of cream frosting covered in Oreo crumbs.  It was moist and fresh and delicious...everything a cupcake should be! I'm definitely taking my mom and sister here when they come to visit in April!

After our cupcake stop, we took a walk around the town to burn off some of those calories! We headed down to the wharf.

It was a really lovely day to be in Steveston with the sun reflecting off the water.  Apparently we weren't the only ones who thought so as the town was really busy, despite it still being a pretty chilly day!

There were lots of boats down at the wharf selling fresh fish...

It was fun to see!

but I don't know anyone who would buy sea urchins! Apparently they are used in sushi and sashimi and eaten raw! There was certainly a crowd of people around the boat selling these so I guess Asian people like eating them! 

How cute is this baby, rocking her pink sunglasses!

I can imagine this place would be even more fun in Summer! The wharf is lined with shacks selling seafood and fish and chips and ice cream, we will have to come back and check it out!

We walked by this deli, it was packed out and it looked so fun inside! I also found a lot of nice gift/card shops...another thing that is hard to find in Vancouver itself so that was a bonus! 

Even the clocks look old too!

I loved these travel markers too!

and just when we thought our day couldn't get any better! I remembered the other reason Steveston has been on my radar for a while...The Hog Shack

This root beer has become my favourite brand since being here! It's made by Henry Weinhard...and it's so creamy and delish! 

I loved this quote on the wall!

By went for a ribs and pulled pork platter...

complete with cornbread and all!

and I had this epic hotdog.  Not only was it a Nathan's hotdog (which is my fave!) but it was wrapped in bacon and smothered in pulled pork too!

It was the perfect ending to a perfect day...because every day that ends with pulled pork is a good one!