Posts Tagged: nature

Apr 13

I admit it: I have become a total nature-worshipper since I got to Vancouver…

Yup. I'm swooning over flowers.

Yup. I’m swooning over flowers.

And so it would seem that I have become the kind of nature-worshiping hippy who drools with glee at the sight of FLOWERS and TREES. The rot set in during autumn when I found myself beaming broadly whenever I walked outside to see the leaves doing their annual colour-burst parade. But the start of spring, with the cherry blossoms in full bloom like so many pink and white pom poms on the trees, has done for me. Oh Canada, I blame you entirely for being way too pretty. You have completely turned my head. 

Everything seems about to burst into flower

Everything seems about to burst into flower

It’s good, I suppose, to see that all that torrential rain for months and months and MONTHS had some purpose: to create the riot of jaw-clanging natural beauty that I see everywhere in Vancouver right now. I took these photos on a ten minute walk around my neighbourhood. Everywhere buds on plants and trees are aching to pop; I know that I’ll see new flowers from day to day and I’ve found myself eyeing green shoots and thinking, ‘Ooh – what colour will that be tomorrow?”.

Flowers all the way down to the sea

Flowers all the way down to the sea

Most wonderful of all is the feeling of walking in a confetti-swirling storm of cherry blossom shaken from the trees whenever it’s windy. I come home and shake flowers from my hair. I walk down the streets, strolling on a carpet of crushed blooms. It’s intoxicating. And in the exact opposite to sweet-smelling blossom, I saw my first skunk as I came home late last night. How odd that skunks by night and blossoms by day should be my clues that we’re closer to summer than winter.

In every corner of the city there are flowers

In every corner of the city there are flowers

Apr 13

Gulf Island Hopping Part 1: Galiano Island

My suitcase wheels crunched over the pebbles as I walked the short distance from the BC ferry dock to the Galiano Island Inn and spa, my first stop on a six-night island-hopping adventure around British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, a chain of islands inbetween the lower mainland and Vancouver Island. Just a 55-minute ferry journey from Vancouver’s Tsawwassen terminal, yet Galiano feels a world away from Vancouver city life.



It’s a small island; sparsely populated (just over 1,200 residents) short and thin (27.5km long and only 6km across at its widest) with a pleasingly quirky feeling and an abundance of natural beauty. While I was there I saw bald eagles circling overhead, spotted seals snoozing in the midday sunshine curled up like kittens in a basket and tiny quicksilver hummingbirds darting between the trees. If I’d waited a few weeks to visit, I could have gone whale watching – from the comfort of my patio – as between April and October resident pods of Orca whales make their way through Active Pass, the narrow strip of water which separates Mayne Island from Galiano island, right in front of the Galiano Inn and Spa.

This is what I meant by 'quirky'. This is apparently a hummingbird. Not a winged teddy-bear.

This is what I meant by ‘quirky’. This is apparently a hummingbird. Not a winged teddy-bear.

My suite at the Inn was bigger than my apartment at home; full kitchen, cosy lounge, the works. I’m always infuriated by hotels who have that ‘towels and wasting water’ card in their bathrooms if they have individual plastic bottles for their toiletries – it feels like the worst kind of tokenism. ‘Hey!” I always mutter when I see that. ‘If you really cared about the environment, you’d use pump dispensers, not zillions of plastic bottles and save the earth that way. Doofus.” Hurrah, then for the Inn as they did just that – filled with gorgeous-smelling locally-made products created just for them from nearby Salt Spring Island. Best of all, my waterfront terrace boasted a whirlpool bath, fireplace and a BBQ  – all of which I put to excellent use on my second night, curled up in a blanket, eating char-grilled prawns and drinking ice-cold wine by a crackling fire. I’m a sucker for any chance to laze in hot water in the outdoors; soaking in that tub, the jets bubbling away as I watched the sunset blush the sky a perfect apricot-pink, is a memory I’ll long cherish.


Not the Caribbean, the Gulf Islands... Perfect view from my terrace.

Not the Caribbean, the Gulf Islands… Perfect view from my terrace.

I spent my first day soaking up all the other good things the Inn had to offer; I walked on a cherry blossom-covered path to a warm wooden hut beside a pond to get a massage. I’d had a painful, stiff neck and shoulder for days and my therapist delivered a soothing, muscle-melting treatment that left me gurgling with delight. The rest of the spa is upstairs above the reception in the main building. I had a choco-therapy pedicure there, my feet scrubbed, then moisturised with chocolate-infused products while I sipped on mint-chocolate herb tea, flicking through a copy of Chocolat and scoffing a chocolate truffle.

Cross the blossom-path to the spa pavilion.

Cross the blossom-path to the spa pavilion.

Dinner that night was at the Inn’s restaurant, I started with a perfect espresso Martini, then dived into a rocket-covered, goat cheese-flecked, honey-crusted flatbread, just-right scallops and a juicy local salmon steak with sweet potato mash and a tangy lime-spiked yoghurt dressing. I sat and watched the stars come out and planned a trip back in summer when the pizza oven terrace in the garden re-opens and I could maybe sip cocktails in the summer warmth and see those Orcas cruise past. Tomorrow I’d explore the island in one of the cute smart cars that the Inn has to lend to guests, but tonight I’d just enjoy the relaxed pace of island living…

I stayed as a guest of the Galiano Inn and Spa. My views – as always – are 100% my own.

No need to bring a car - borrow theirs!

No need to bring a car – borrow theirs!


Oct 12

The accidental leaf peeper


I’ve never seen the charms of “leaf peeping” before. And yes, that is a thing, not a made-up word. Leaf ‘peeping’ is the name given to going to see the autumn leaves when they change colour. ‘Leaves!” I thought to myself, ‘How exciting can looking at leaves be?!” Well, it turns out that I was probably looking at the wrong type of leaf, as I found myself reaching for my camera when I was on a walk last week around my neighbourhood in Kitsilano.


Dazzling candy-apple reds, zingy lemon-yellows and pumpkin-orange leaves took my breathe away. I even found some trees where the leaves were mid-change and spent far more time than is usually considered normal just beaming stupidly at the vivid colours.



Am I going to become a proper ‘peeper’? Go on peeping missions to peep? Um… I’ll get back to you on that. Er, maybe. But I love how gorgeous the leaves are; so incredibly bright, and yes, I’d like to see them reflected on a lake perhaps, or in full flush in a forest. I love the ones I can see here in Vancouver as the sudden shock of a vivid red tree in a street of green leaves is dazzling, but I’m told seeing whole forests aflame with colour is something else.


Oh, Canada, what have you done to me. One month here and already I’m slack-jawed with nature worship!

Keep exploring Canada



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