Finding Home

I’ve left quite a long gap since the last post, but I’ve been sort of finding my feet (whilst trying not to let them get too rooted) and saying a long, sad farewell to my home. It needs to be sold, and I need to find somewhere else to be. Though the next step is a somewhat smaller journey, geographically, it’s a big leap for a change-averse prevaricator unable to make big decisions!

However, decisions have to be made and personal priorities understood and, well, prioritised. As a good team player I’m canvassing opinion far and wide, but led by my heart I’ve only looked at three properties so far:

Hated the first.

Loved the second too much.

Considered and loved the third, which, in estate agent’s terms, is probably the runt of the litter.

An update will follow on some of those, but for now here are some lovely pictures of home.


Bristol, for now

I’m back in Bristol, faintly bewildered and considering my next move. For the non-Bristolian followers, I have included a couple of shots from the garden. Spring is definitely in the air, and has eradicated all traces of Christmas on the streets which was the last view I had of the city. Sounds silly, but a part of me had expected time to stand still. I have been patrolling my local area and spotting too many changes to cafes, bars and the pedestrian bridge for my favourite walk boarded up.

And now I am looking for inspiration for what to do next. It’s a shame the Mongol Rally is all booked up for 2016.

where next?


Hipster East Van

I’m staying just off the Drive in East Van (as us locals call it). A little like Shoreditch, East London, only with cherry blossom and a distant backdrop of snowy mountains. There are cafes, organic grocery stores, pungent ‘Pain Management Centres’ (i.e. legal cannabis dispensaries), beardy men and vintage shops. Big, glorious vintage shops packed with fabulous dresses.

My favourite is Mintage Vintage which has beautifully presented clothing from 1890s onwards, biker jackets, cowboy shirts, new clothes from re-purposed fabrics, amazing accessories and lingerie. And much more. They have an etsy store, so if you see anything you fancy, go ahead. Except for the lovely black 1950’s cocktail dress with the big bow, that’s mine. Perfect fit and just a little bit special.

Three of the dresses I tried on

Farewell to friends

My last day on Hornby Island, and it’s another gloriously sunny one. Spring is definitely on it’s way, marked by sightings of bees, butterflies, a kingfisher and a great blue heron in quick succession on my walk. The big highlight was a garter snake sunbathing on the path.

To end my stay in style, we had a big fire in front of the ocean as the sun set and the moon rose. While my toes froze and my thighs roasted, I reflected on the intensity of spending 2 weeks with good friends that I may not see again for years. Andrea told me how observing the movement of fire and water can help children (and maybe adults) move from one emotional state to another.

As there were no marshmallows available, the three girls didn’t spend long by the fire. Foucault, the ancient cat, was happy to stay though he is sitting on a chair destined to be firewood. I hope cat pictures are as popular as dogs…

A little life on Hornby

It’s not all watching the herring mate and the sea lions frolic on Hornby Island. By ‘a little life’, I mean that during my 2 week stay I have had a little taste of the life here.

In an attempt to limit my impact a little on the family I’m staying with, and to broaden my experience here, I’ve had a couple of small jobs to do around the home as well as the opportunity to join in with some local activities. In no particular order, I have:

Cleared the wood from the fruit tree prunings into a big pile for a bonfire (I’m hoping that might happen while I’m still here). This job entailed a choice between wheelbarrows with two different malfuctions. One that could stand up, but had a puncture so could only be pulled or one that wheeled well but didn’t like standing up.

Cleaned out one of the chicken sheds, with the help a few curious goats. For this I had a functional wheelbarrow.

Shovelled compost into the vegetable garden. With a well functioning wheel barrow, but a less cooperative surface – which was waterlogged, but solved with a plank walkway.

Had a go at Ukrainian pysanky eggs. I want to say ‘learnt to do pysanky’, but I didn’t exactly master the craft…

Was a stand in, twice, for the rehearsal of a play ‘Rapture, Blister, Burn’. Anyone who knows me well, will know this is somewhat out of my comfort zone, but it was a real pleasure watching the process unfold and actors developing their characters.

Attended the Hornby Island Community School ‘How it Works’ science fair. Highlights were the displays on hibernation, eggs and octopus and the marimba performances. And the bake sale.

Watched up to 20 bald eagles bathing in puddles.

Stay beautiful

I’ve almost come full circle on my trip and have arrived at Hornby Island. I left Prince Rupert last Friday and took a boat down the Inside Passage overnight to Port Hardy at the northern end of Vancouver Island. I have a hankering to stop at Klemtu, midway down, which can only be reached by boat as I would like to visit the Great Bear Rainforest and see the spirit bears (Kermode bears) but as they are still sleeping, I’ll save that for another day.

A woman at the hostel in Port Hardy commented that I seemed to have sought out end-of-the-line places; Port Hardy could be considered the end of the line for Vancouver Island, Prince Rupert the end of the road and rail lines of British Columbia and Haida Gwaii is called ‘the edge of the world’. Therefore, by heading south towards Hornby my horizons were opening out. Though I take issue as to whether any of those places are end-of-the-line, as it depends on your perspective, I like the neat metaphor it provides for my journey, so we’ll stick with it.

I’ve been here since Monday, and am staying in the heart of a beautiful family; good old friends and all round good people. There are goats and chickens and cats, and three fabulous little girls (one not so little). We are on the edge of the woods with an ocean view where the incredible annual spectacle of spawning herring is taking place. The sea turns a milky turquoise and the sea lions, sea birds and eagles flock and feast on the abundant fish, competing with small fishing boats.

It is a place to rest and reflect and feel loved before moving on to Vancouver. Could this be the cabin in the woods therapy?

Big drift wood

Director’s cut

I had a review of the blog and realised what a disproportionate vision a blog presents. It’s all very selective, and effected by mood, moment and short term memory. There is so much that’s been missed out, and an apparently random selection included. Obviously, I can’t document EVERYTHING partly because I can’t be bothered, and partly because it would bore you witless. People who know me well can also read between the lines.

So, in no particular order of importance or interest, here are a few extras from my diary:

I saw the flick of a humpback whale’s tail as the boat approached Sitka.

I gave myself food poisoning in Prince George and felt rough all the way to Prince Rupert, even though the views were very pretty.

There were wolves in Prince Rupert, I didn’t see them but I was told not to do one of the local park walks just in case they took a fancy to me.

I spent one evening in Sitka doing colouring in with the host, watching a movie and eating a bowl of M and Ms. All provided for me, including the use of glitter felt tip pens.

One of the artists I met on Haida Gwaii created a set of wonderful ceramic dogs embellished with gilt flowers, quizzical expressions and displaying prominent penis and balls.

Apparently, I don’t have much of a British accent which is why no one can tell where I am from. I’m not sure how I can sound much more British than I do…

Sometimes I have been very alone and not felt it, sometimes I have felt very alone.

I broke one of the plates at Premier Creek. It took me at least an hour at the thrift store trying to find a suitable replacement that looked exactly the same, even though none of the crockery matches anyway.

On the whole, people are nice and friendly. It doesn’t matter what their political or religious viewpoint is, you can probably get along. And they might give you free coffee; the free coffee tally now includes BC Ferries staff at 6.30 when the canteen wasn’t yet open.

By chance I met film maker Ellen Frankenstein. Although based in Sitka, Alaska, she had recently completed a film about Haida elder and master weaver Dolores Churchill. Tracing Roots is being shown at a major film festival in Los Angeles, soon.

A tiny, elderly lady on the old school bus/shuttle bus from the ferry in to Port Hardy couldn’t pay her fare until her husband got on because, as she said, ‘my honey has the money’!

I have no images to illustrate any of this, so here are some previously unseen highlights.

A flock of bird art


I seem to have acquired a small gallery of bird themed pictures on my travels. There wasn’t any specific intention to collect birds, it just seems to have happened. It’s quite an eclectic mix, though three of the artworks feature ravens.

In order of acquisition, the first is called Birds of a Feather and I got it on my second day in Vancouver from the artist I met on a street corner. The next two are from Haida Gwaii. Both tiny, one is on canvas and one on a piece of wood. The last one – for now – is a small, exquisite woodcut from an artist in Sitka.

All of them are small and portable, and leave a little slither of space in my suitcase for a couple more…