Sunday, 27 April 2014

Run for your wife

Pete has a 50% chance of growing up sporty.  He also has a 50% chance of growing up loving computer games (a number boosted by sitting watching me play all-day-every-day).  But today the sporty side won out when we saw Hannah compete in the annual Vancouver Sun Run.

Now in its 30th year, the run is named after the local paper rather than ironically after this city's weather.  It's a 10km race around downtown, starting right by the cathedral and trailing through Stanley Park, over a bridge or two, and finishing at the stadium.  It's the second biggest run in North America, attracting around 50,000 entrants.

Hannah has adopted a grueling training regime...intermittently...but it worked when she clocked a time of 59:10, finishing around the top 20% of all runners and top 15% of her category.  Unbelievably impressive!  I'm going to have to work harder at my computer gaming, shortly after giving my Olympian wife a foot massage.

Hannah is runner 803 - that's my favourite number in the whole world!

Plenty of others line up as well.

With her work/running-mate Gillian.  They made up the Chevron team from her office.

Here's the view from the very back of the line as Pete and I try to escape from a totally closed city centre.

 And this is the start!  Hannah had to wait over an hour to cross, given the vast hordes and the way they started people in groups, but luckily they only time you from when you cross the line...

...except this group - these are the elites who started off first, to win.  I thought of breaking into the lead pack pushing Pete in his buggy, for the unbelievable photo opportunity, but thankfully reconsidered (given that my fastest flat-out sprint wouldn't have got me near them anyway I avoided epic fail embarrassment).

And there go the rest.  We didn't spot Hannah, but did see two bananas that she started alongside.

Next year it's my turn, I guess.  Or not.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Baby's first Twinkie

They don't sell Twinkies in Canada.  I'll let that phrase sink in for a moment.  And then I'll repeat it: they don't sell Twinkies in Canada.

They used to, but after the infamous cake crash of 2012 and the subsequent resurrection no one bothered to distribute the most amazing food ever north of the 49th parallel (hang on - does Alaska have Twinkies?  That would be deeply wrong).

Luckily our contraband mules James and Gen managed to smuggle ten through YVR (I didn't ask where they hid them) and so I am in receipt of the only pack of Twinkies in 50 miles.  Apart from all those people who cross the border to shop in the USA every weekend I suppose.

But who should I share this treasure chest of spongy gold bars with?  No one, obviously, but then I remembered how important it is for our son to remain connected to the cultural heritage of his birthplace.  He's never tasted inorganic food so I reluctantly handed over an artificial-cream-filled miracle.  His reaction?









Thursday, 24 April 2014

Senior childcare position: immediate vacancy

Argh!  They've gone!!  Mum and Dad got into a taxi this afternoon and are somewhere above the northern Atlantic now, and they didn't even have the decency to take their grandson with them.  The Hollands disappeared back to the sunshine on Monday, and to add insult to injury Hannah's travelling for the rest of the week so it's just me and the baby!  Thank goodness there are so many leftovers from Easter; lamb sandwiches followed by cake and chocolate again tonight, Pete.

It was wonderful seeing children, parents and grandparents, but the local ducks might starve to death now the number of bread-throwers has been drastically reduced.  The local gin distillery may go out of business too, but I'll work hard to keep that from happening.

As a result of the exodus an immediate position of nanny/child entertainer has opened up in our apartment.  An ability to cope with a grown man crying for his mummy and daddy would be a distinct advantage.

It was Dad's 81st birthday while he was with us.  Let's hope I look that good when I get there (still a while off because I'm only 27).

Mum takes the reins, again.

Comfort eating now they've left.  That Malteser bunny never stood a chance.

Sunday, 20 April 2014


Easter came to Vancouver, and with it eggs, bunnies, chicks and lambs.  Some of these were hunted for, some of them were judged cute, most of them were eaten in abundance by the various members of the Davies-Holland clan sat around our dining table.

It was, as always, a day of tradition, with a visit to church (complete with new bishop) followed by gin and tonics, stuffing our faces with food and cake, and then the obligatory afternoon walk.  It was raining, of course, which didn't go down well with California-girl Frankie (jumping in puddles is apparently fun until you get cold).

Logrolling: a classic Canadian pastime!  This was before Easter, I think - it all blends into one when you drink as many G&Ts as we did.



Dads are ok too.

We caught a boat to Granville Island market, and again sub-contracted childcare.

The chaos of the meal out.

Suddenly, everyone was in a better mood.

Corrupting influence.

Catching the boat home.  We had it to ourselves.

We'd run out of G for our T, so took Phil to the local distillery for some sampling.  We're banned now.

Sunday, outside church.  What?  We're not doing anything naughty!

Frankie gets a big slice of the cake she decorated.

After-lunch walk.  Even the ducks had abandoned us due to the rain.


Oh yes, before all that the Hollands had a day trip to Butchart Gardens down on Vancouver Island.  The Butcharts were a rich quarrying family, and after one of their quarries was exhausted they turned it into a sunken garden, and then kept adding bits.  It's now huge and rather spectacular, and James took lots of photos but I've indexed them for easy perusal:


Cute child.


Cute children.


Cute child.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Overseas rendezvous

"We're in Vancouver for Easter!" said my parents.  "We're in Los Angeles for Easter!" said my parents' close friends from home.  Then, with a Somerset disregard for international geography: "Let's meet up!"

Luckily my parents' friends are none other than the parents of our friends James and Gen, and so a busload of Hollands arrived on our doorstep!  Literally a busload - they got the biggest rental car available.  Unfortunately, to welcome our Californian neighbours, Vancouver put on its best display of weather; the kind of downpour that would leave the folks of Orange County concluding that the end times have arrived.

Brits still outnumbered Yanks which meant we reacted to the torrential storm by picking up umbrellas and going out into it, specifically to the aquarium where none of the fish minded the extra water.  Young Frankie took inspiration from them and, on the way home, jumped in every available puddle.

It's wonderful to have them here, and with so many grandparents around we've even managed to organise a child-free restaurant trip, like when we were young.  The only problem with their visit?  They've only been here 24 hours and we've already run out of gin.

A tri-et.  They're a talented bunch.

Yep, exactly like meeting up in Frome.

Frankie the penguin.

Nice weather for ducks and/or penguins.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Dereliction of duty

Why have a dog and bark yourself?  If I'd planned this better I could be off at a hot spring while grandparents and grandchild entertained each other.  They'd get confused why no one was constantly bringing them food and drink, but apart from that...

Anyway, my parents brought fantastic weather with them so there's been plenty of wandering around in the nearby parks.  I even left Mum and Dad in charge of the baby at his weekly music and dancing session!  Everyone enjoyed an afternoon nap following that.

Unfortunately, but predictably, the rain came down today, but we didn't let that stop us heading out to Vancouver's maritime museum.  Pete followed his ex-Royal Navy grandpa around several wooden ships - now he wants to be a pirate when he grows up.  So far everything's going very nicely, but we haven't hit the chocolate-and-sugar-fueled Easter weekend yet.  That's when I actually might leave.

At the Chinatown gate.

Mum keeps Pete on a short leash, like she did with me.

Where's Wally?  (Multiple answers accepted).

The highlight of Dad's holiday so far: a trip to one of the world's biggest ice rinks.

Up the Sea to Sky Highway.  Not too shabby.

Not too shabby either.

Two of Pete's favourite things: Grandma, and float planes.

Three generations.

Pain au chocolat for breakfast?  My grandparents must be visiting.

Back to the usual Vancouver weather today.

Dad takes the wheel at the maritime museum.

Who's at the porthole?

Hannah decides to take advantage of the grandparents too.

Just like his mum, he takes ownership of the oil.