Monday, 24 March 2014


It turns out that Victorian England didn't just happen in England but all over the world!  This was brought to my attention by a visit to Roedde House Museum here in the heart of Vancouver.  On Sundays they do guided tours followed by cups of tea - how could we resist?

Mr Roedde was a German but his wife was British, having been born in Heligoland before we swapped it for Zanzibar.  Ah, the heady days of empire!  Anyway, he came to the US and eventually found his way to Vancouver where he set up as the city's only printer, giving him a monopoly and a licence to print money, as it were.  A lot of this money went on the family home.

Now it's a museum, but not one of those where you're not allowed to touch anything.  You're encouraged to write with Victorian school pens and try on Victorian clothes.  There's even a nice big piano to play the national anthem on ("God Save The Queen" I'm referring to here).  Our volunteer guide knew, literally, everything, and it was great fun, especially for a one-year-old who currently thinks his name is "Nopeter".

I can't be as glowing in my praise about the tea.  It was Lady Grey but had the colour and taste of...well, I'll save the vulgar descriptions and just say they might want to add several more teabags to the pot.  To make matters worse our guide poured the tea before the milk!  In Victorian England this was a hanging offence but, for better or worse, I suppose we now live in more enlightened times.

Here's the house, in fashionable (for the 1890s) "Queen Anne Revival" style, complete with cupola.

The Roeddes, a nice Victorian family.

I tinkled some genuine ivories.


I hope our tea is served with this set!

Pete fancies himself one of the upper class.  In truth, he would have been down the workhouse

God bless you, ma'am.

Don't you tell me what I can and can't touch!

Plenty of this in years to come.

In-suite laundry.  I'm guessing that no one cloth-diapered in Victorian times.

Finishing with a nice* cup of tea.
* It wasn't nice.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bald and majestic

Look what just flew past our window!  How American Canadian can you get?

Hoping to see a bear fly past sometime soon.

Friday, 14 March 2014

The road to the Emerald City

It was time to call our bank in the USA again, which led to another round of telephone ping-pong and the conclusion that I'm not allowed to transfer money to myself!  And they're probably right, because I shouldn't be trusted.  In conclusion: I had to turn up face-to-face, again, and so rented a car to cross the border.  Ironic, as Claire and Eavan have just brought us a humanitarian Trader Joe's package, but it saved me having to smuggle in cheese with all the associated risks.

As luck would have it Hannah had a last-minute overnight trip to Kitimat so, instead of having to look after ourselves, Pete and I decided to drive down to Seattle to see the Pellegs where Ayal (3) and Guy (1) could entertain him while I drank coffee with Dana.  It didn't really work out that way, but we did consume plenty of caffeine and there were moments when all three were not crying/smashing toys/trying to eat pebbles at once.  Pete found everything Ayal did hilarious, and Guy was generous in letting his toys be snatched from him, so a special thank you to them both.

Wells Fargo bank was as ruthlessly efficient as ever.  "I've actually never seen that form before," said the specialist helping me, "I'll note down the number, as I had a customer asking about that yesterday."  Sigh.  It looks like trips south will be a regular part of our Canadian experience, but that kind-of makes us more genuine Vancouverites.  Also, after Claire and Eavan's visit, I now need tagalong Girl Scout cookies more than I need anything from Trader Joe's, so thanks to them for the added dependency.

We had dinner with Dana, Amir and the boys and then drove back, which worked very well from a baby sleep point of view.  Two cars had managed to crunch into each other in the queue for Canadian immigration, which didn't speed up the process, and I had to answer numerous questions about why I was travelling without my wife.  "Just you and the baby, eh?" asked the border guard.  "Yes, officer," I replied respectfully, "and I'm not even smuggling cheese this time."  She let us by with a wave, and a mile up the road it began to rain.  We were home!

Pete and Guy; if not playing-with, then playing-near each other.

Doubling down for a trip out.

Coffee - that's why you come to Seattle...

...and that's why you come to Caffe D'arte.

Three men in a tub.

Seattle was very generous with its weather, and we had two days of near-summer.

Pete checks to see if the pebbles taste the same here as in Vancouver.  Inconclusive - more tests are needed.

Ayal relaxes on a seal.

Oh, we did do one touristy thing: Pike Place Market.  Next door they have the original Starbucks, where we didn't get coffee.

Guy and Pete enjoy the playground.

Then the rest of the Pelleg family joins in.

No shoes or socks.  The boy's still Californian at heart.

Amongst the daffodils and cherry blossom.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Visitors, from the outside

Claire and Eavan came to visit from a small country just to the south of us.  Vancouver welcomed them in the traditional manner: a downpour of biblical proportions that led even the Brits to look heavenwards and wonder "how much more water can there be up there?"  Luckily we had nice raincoats, but (though pre-warned) our guests came with outerwear that only Californians would describe as weather-proof.

But you know where it doesn't rain?  Inside restaurants and coffee shops, so that's where we took them after a brief and drenching stroll along the waterfront.  And Claire is pregnant, so we made sure mummy-and-daddy-to-be got plenty of practice with feeding, changing, book reading, bathing etc.  It's been a quiet weekend for me!

Luckily the rain ran out today and we had a nice walk down to English Bay, a ferry ride out over the water, then fish and chips for lunch, carrying on the themes that the weather had started.  It was a flying visit so they left this afternoon and emailed to say it took them 90 minutes to get through the border crossing.  Everyone holidays in Canada and returns south for Monday morning.

The stash of contraband they managed to sneak across the border.

Welcome to Vancouver, here's your complimentary umbrella!

The steam clock, because you have to.

If the pregnant lady wants a nutella and banana crepe, the pregnant lady gets a nutella and banana crepe.

Pete is educated in the art of the selfie, and Claire kindly guarantees that Hannah and my phones are never safe again.

Practice is needed.

Meanwhile, I beat Eavan at the real version of pool.

Relaxing in a coffee shop on Sunday morning.

Our cruise ship sails in.

Eavan's on a boat!

So is Pete.

Fish and chips don't seem to cheer him much either, although things improved when someone gave him ketchup for the first time in his life.  Suddenly (and predictably) food became a reusable ketchup delivery system.

Walking it off afterwards.

Saturday, 1 March 2014


A woman bishop?  Whatever next?  Jesus and his disciples were all men - surely only men should be allowed to prance about in purple dresses!

Despite the obvious logic, Vancouver's Diocese of New Westminster is more sensible so today enthroned our new bishop: Melissa Skelton.  There was a two-hour service in a local convention centre, where 1,800 people turned up.  With so many Anglicans in one place it's amazing Jesus didn't pick that moment to return.

Anyway, we're not mad enough to take a baby to something like that so instead snuck into the cathedral where all manner of ceremony and welcoming took place after a long procession through downtown.  The bishop knocked on the closed door and had to explain herself before being let in, and got her hat, her crook, and her throne.  She's the first woman to hold the post, so it was all quite historic.

More importantly, today is St. David's Day!  My worry that this would be forgotten proved to be unfounded.  Daffodils were handed out to everyone, and "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah" was the closing hymn.

More importantly than that, countless parishioners (including Hannah) have been baking furiously and the trays of cakes available afterwards were, literally, heavenly.  Then, just as I was receiving yet another compliment on my Wales rugby shirt, someone walked by with a plate of Welsh cakes!  Welcoming a woman bishop is one thing, but embracing the Welsh is a sign of absolute enlightenment.

The Anglican church on the move, stopping the traffic.

Peter, the dean of our cathedral, leads the way.

Drummers of the Nisga'a First Nation played as the procession made its way in.

No pews!  Scandalous.

Young faces of Anglicanism.

The dean leads the bish to the front, and...

...there she is!

History is happening over there, Pete is more interested in a Welsh cake.