“I can usually walk down Main Street and find a new place which will keep me occupied.”
Hayden is a Watford supporter. I forgave him and we met at Queen Elizabeth Park on an overcast yet clear Sunday afternoon. I wanted to find out more about Hayden and in particular, what prompted him to up sticks and relocate to Vancouver.
Haydens choice of meeting spot is an absolute gem. Despite the clouds hanging over the North Shore mountains, the views across downtown Vancouver are amazing and the park itself is a tranquil haven. Great choice, Hayden.
I dived in with the obvious question, What brought you to Vancouver? Hayden was really open about his reasons. “I used to manage a bar in a town called Watford, which is just outside of London. After working there for just over a year I realised how boring my life was, how stressed and crowded I felt living in such a densely populated area. So I decided I needed some adventure and even if it was going to be the worst time of my life, at least I've done it.” That last sentence really resonated with me, one of no regrets, I need to do this. The same overwhelming sense of the need to change and move was something I’d experienced years before. Walking away from the known, the familiar, the safe and the loved isn’t for everyone yet was a common theme among the Brits in Vancouver I’ve met.
Something for Everyone
Hayden had travelled to other parts of the country, Toronto, Quebec and Montreal (which for him was a real winner of a city) but has settled in Vancouver. I was curious as to why here. “as soon you walk outside in Vancouver you are greeted by the mountains, I remember thinking back to the town I grew up in, a town called Sandbach, an old farmers market where nothing happens and there's nothing to see. And then thinking about how lucky people are to live in this area where there is an abundance of nature and scenery, you can never get bored of the views!“
It seems that Vancouver offers that complete package - a little of everything and, Hayden agreed, “While the city offers little in comparison to a place like London, it does offer something for everyone. I personally like trying new restaurants, watching the local sports teams and going to the breweries. To be honest I can usually walk down Main Street and find a new place which will keep me occupied.” Working as a Chef at the upscale OEB Breakfast in Yaletown it’s little wonder that Hayden enjoys his food and drink experience here and I remembered Anastasia’s challenge to eat around the world from A-Z. Only in Vancouver?
Even though there’s the positive ‘something for everyone’, Hayden also picked up on the less positive side of living in a popular city, the cost of living here whilst at the same time finding hidden treasure. He added ”how expensive everything is, although I'm surprised I can find Irn Bru at my local Safeway.” A silver lining indeed.
One thing that’s been pretty consistent feedback from the Brits I’ve spoken to is the challenge of meeting people that are not other Brits. Hayden’s take was “It can be very lonely when the 2/3 people you hang around with from work with are busy. Seems like most Vancouverites are content with their friendship group.” So not impossible to socialise with locals, but maybe more challenging to get added to existing social circles.
Missing the 'Orns
One of endearing and enduring conversation topics for Brits is footie and, as I also know another Watford supporter back in the UK, the chat with Hayden was certainly sprinkled with some light-hearted banter and baiting. When asked about what he would have brought from the UK but couldn’t, Hayden’s response was ”Vicarage Road, I do miss going to watch the football on a weekly basis.” I mentioned the Whitecaps and, well, despite being live football, we agreed that the standard was far lower than we’d gotten used to over the years.
I have to admit that time flies when I have my Brits chats. This project has been a wonderful way to find out what drives certain people to up sticks, travel half a world away and pick up life in, for the most part, a largely unknown city. Without doubt the people I’ve spoken to so far have landed here as they’ve been seduced by the beauty of the city’s setting as well as the access to outdoor activities.
Even though Vancouver cannot offer Hayden Vicarage Road and EPL quality football, he’s clear that there’s plenty on offer to keep him here.
Thank you Hayden for being part of Brits in Vancouver. Enjoy your time here, however long it lasts for, and welcome to the TARDIS fellow traveller.
You’ll find more images from Brits in Vancouver on my photography site.