Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Spring is Here...FINALLY!

Oh man was that a long winter! It felt like the longest winter of my life...except for maybe that time I lived in Scotland! but the good news is the sunny days are just about starting to outnumber the rainy days which is a cause for celebration in itself! Although as shown in the picture above...the rain is always lurking somewhere, and it certainly hasn't gone away completely! 

Not only that, but we have been blessed with lots of blue sky days recently...

and springtime in Vancouver means CHERRY BLOSSOMS and lots of them!

and in case you don't follow me on facebook or instagram, or you've been living under a rock then you might not have realised that I LOVE cherry blossoms trees!

So I have been snap happy all over the city every time I come across some! which is literally every other block! Our neighbourhood in South Vancouver has some especially great ones so we've been taking lots of walks to enjoy them as I know it will be short lived.  One night I headed over to Kitsilano, I was meant to be meeting up with Byron but I got sidetracked by some cherry blossom lined streets and ended up being late! When he called me and asked where I was he said he knew I would have been cherry blossom hunting! I just can't help myself! 

Spring evenings also mean it's been staying lighter later! So we've been able to play more! 

We went to La Taqueria Taco Shop with a couple of friends to try their tacos which are gaining quite a rep around Vancouver! I was pretty excited about their Jarritos Soda's too - I do love a pineapple soda! 

We were impressed with their tasty tacos.  The Al Pastor one with pork and pineapple was my fave, but I think next time I'll give the Mole a miss - the chocolate and chicken combo just wasn't working for me! 

In other news, Byron had his last lecture a few weeks back and then a week of exams and now he just has a field trip to finish and then he is all done at UBC! It seems like it has gone crazy fast! 

The weekend he finished his exams, yes he had an exam on a Saturday - who does that! we headed to Queen Elizabeth Park on a sunny evening.  We don't really have any good parks round near us, and it always seems a bit crazy to hop 2 buses just to go on a nice evening stroll but since By didn't have any work to do for once there was nothing stopping us! 

I LOVE that place! I loved it in summer (when we first arrived, in autumn, in winter...and I'm completely loving it now spring is here! 

I've never seen these crazy flowers before but they reminded me of pineapples...and I like them!

It was approaching sunset...

so there was a lovely golden glow making all the flowers look even more magical!

I loved the shape of this imperfectly formed cherry blossom! 

I love how many amazing sunsets we've had recently! It is getting me SO excited for the many more we have to come with summer on the way!

Speaking of summer did someone say milkshakes?

I've been wanting to try The Templeton on Granville for aaaages, based purely on the fact that they had a large milkshake selection I wanted to check out! 
The fact that each booth came with it's own real working jukebox was an added bonus! 

I picked the key lime flavour...because have you ever been anywhere that has served key lime milkshakes? I haven't, and so that had to be rectified! They got my seal of approval for serving it in the silver cup...but it could have been thicker in my milkshake perfectionist opinion!

By is pretty much always happy with what he orders! 

My burger more than made up for my milkshake disappointment though! Not only was the actual burger served with pineapple salsa which was a nice twist, but I upgraded my side to poutine because I just can't get enough of the stuff - it was delish! 

Last week, By finally hiked the chief in Squamish! as a little post exam celebration! with his friend from Bangor Uni.

The trail starts off at the base of Shannon Falls...

and then progresses through the forest.

There are 3 different peaks...I think this was the view from the first one, and then you just keep climbing...

It looks so scenic and beautiful in all the pics, I was sad I missed out!

To get to the third peak you had to use chains to help you along the rocks!

They made a furry friend at the top...

and this was the view from the 3rd peak! So awesome! Hopefully we will get to go back and do it together at some point before we leave...preferably when there are less clouds around!

On Saturday night we headed out on a Jerk Chicken quest to The Reef.  Our friends Cassie and Peter were craving some Jerk, and By and I didn't need much persuading to join them! Remember how much we used to love Jerk Friday's at Chinson's on the island?

We don't usually order starters when we go out to eat or 'appies' as they call them here! Is that a North American thing or just Canada? I'd never heard of it before! Funnily enough at The Reef they referred to them as 'Small Tings' but anyways...when there is Jerk Poutine on offer then we bend the rules! Jerk Chicken Poutine?! 

You know I love poutine anything! So crossing two of my favourite foods together was either going to be dangerous or wondrous.  Fortunately it was the latter! If I ate there again I'd just order 3 bowls of this and nothing else! It was amazing! 

After our small tings, they brought us some complimentary Johnnycakes with mango and coconut butter! These were so delish as well, like a fried cornbread doughnut! I could have gone home without even needing a main course and I would have been perfectly happy! 

By went for the straight up Jerk Chicken with Rice 'n' Peas - of course! It wasn't quite in Chinson's league but then this is Vancouver and not Turks and Caicos! 

I had a Jerk burger with pineapple and yam fries! 

Our friend Brock had a Jamaican roti, which was jerk curry wrapped in a flatbread! 

Afterwards we were feeling like some kind of chocolatey treats! Luckily Sweet Revenge was only two doors down!

and their chocolate treats filled the dessert sized hole in our stomachs perfectly! I had an amazing chocolate gateau filled with ground hazelnut and raspberries.  

Kristen's chocolate mousse cake tasted pretty good too! and I didn't snap a picture of By's mammoth sized double hot chocolate! 

It was such a fun place to end the night eating decadent over the top treats...and drinking tea! and we love our Vancouver friends so much! I'm trying not to think about how sad it will be to say goodbye when we leave! 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

An Easter Kayak up The Indian Arm!

This Easter there was no slip and slide and dessert bar or a Good Friday American themed dinner! but we did kayak up a Canadian fjord known as The Indian Arm which is just as good right?

I worked out that it was the first Easter in my 26 years of existence that was not spent with the Jones family, which also meant I missed out on our awesome easter egg hunt! but we managed to have a pretty awesome time anyway! 

We started off at Deep Cove, which has become one of my favourite little spots in Vancouver! It's so scenic and beautiful! and I'm pretty sure we managed to get the first two days of sunshine in a row we've had this year so that was an added bonus! 

We rented a double kayak, packed up our camping gear and headed off for a day on the water!

We stopped off at the Twin Islands on the way to have a spot of lunch and admire some of the beautiful scenery! 

and I saw a snake! I called out to Byron and told him there was a 'MASSIVE' snake crawling in front of me.  I may have exaggerated slightly...but it just took me by surprise! 

I couldn't get over how amazing the views were! 

It's a good thing the scenery was so awesome, because it was a good distraction from the 18km kayak that lay ahead of us! 

After a few stops and a leisurely 5 and a half hours later we reached our camping spot at Granite Falls.  Is that not the most awesome place to pitch a tent?!

The falls were pretty cool too! 

With thanks to self timer we actually managed to get a picture of the two of us together! 

Everything was so lush and green!

even this crazy seaweed!

We trekked into the forest, and found some crazy massive trees! The forester in the family was loving it!

A beautiful little peek of the view through the trees!

and some more waterfall action on the way back to camp!

We had a spot of dinner...

Sadly the campsite didn't allow open fires which meant we couldn't toast marshmallows and make s'mores! but no camping trip is completely without s'mores so I made a baked version the night before and we brought some with us! You have no idea how much that tasty little chocolate marshmallow graham cracker delight motivated me during my day of kayaking!!

The scenery was still pretty beautiful even as the dark crept in!

and I loved this pic Byron snapped of our tent! We also lay out under the stars for a while in our sleeping bags and managed to spot a few shooters! 

The next morning we woke up refreshed and revitalised after a good nights sleep, well I did since I'm a heavy sleeper.  Byron, on the other hand had been kept awake all night long by that beautiful yet oh-so-loud waterfall we had camped beside! 

We were excited to see the clouds from the day before were nowhere in sight, and all that lay ahead of us were blue skies! 

and not just blue skies, beautifully calm water! We had managed to wake up before all the speedboats were on the move and so the water was so still it was like glass! 

You could see amazing reflections of the mountains in the water, including this snow capped peak! Those ripples were just from our oars.  

and then to top it all off we saw a seal! which was very exciting! and after the first seal we spotted, we saw about 9 more on the way! Apparently seals are early risers too! 

I think this early morning part of our kayak back to Deep Cove was my favourite bit of the whole trip! I can't even describe how tranquil and amazing it was! 

and then it started to get super warm out! which made it even more magical! (until I discovered I had got sunburnt but only on one half of my face!!)

We stopped off at the other side of the Twin Islands on our way back to have a spot of lunch with a view!

There were some amazing amazing waterfront properties that we passed.  You've never seen such big houses before! At one point I thought I saw a moderately sized one so I pointed it out to Byron, only to be told it was just the pool house for a ginormous house just behind it! 

This was the view of Deep Cove as we started to get nearer! Isn't it just the cutest little place! 

and I snapped this picture after we got back on to land, this is the view as you look out to the water.  Sooo pretty!

It's a very small little town, what we would call a village really, with only one row of shops.

That one row of shops contained a very good Gelato shop though called Gelato Express.  Can you see that cute little train in the top right of the pic? It would ride all the way around the shop on those tracks up there! So fun!

and oh that gelato was oh so welcome...in fact my sunburn was coming up so much at this point I really would have liked to put my face in that gelato!

It was a well deserved treat to finish off our little kayak trip!  By was clearly a fan!

With flavours like coconut and lime, how can you not be!

We decided that for dinner that night when we got back to Vancouver, we really needed to pig out! As we'd eaten pretty light during the trip since we didn't have room to pack too much stuff! 

So we headed to Peckinpah for some Carolina Style BBQ!

Byron tried Birch Beer for the first time - it was like a cross between root beer and cream soda and was really yummy!

I ordered my fave - a root beer float! and I was delighted when this beast arrived at the table! 

By pigged out good on his brisket and ribs platter...

and for me you just can't beat a pulled pork burger!  

Oh Vancouver...how will we ever leave you!