It was late in August and our first trip to the interior of BC was to Sicamous, about a 300-mile drive from Vancouver. Why Sicamous? Well, it’s a bit of a long story, but a couple of months prior to the trip I’d had a mail from someone I was at secondary school with.
You may be familiar with the website Friends Reunited. Its aim is simply to get friends back together again. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. I received a mail from Belinda, someone from the same school, same year group as me. Her name was familiar, but I really couldn’t remember too much about her. Belinda, it turns out. had lived in Canada for 28 years and was currently in Alberta, near Calgary. Having noticed that I was living in BC, she mentioned that she would be on holiday in Sicamous with her partner mid to late August, and how about meeting up. So, my thoughts initially were something like, “Okay, here’s someone I can hardly remember that I haven’t seen for over 30 years suggesting that we could meet up. Let’s do it.”
Plans were made and I headed off with the family to the Interior. The drive was actually a great part of the time away. It meant leaving the more urban lower mainland, heading along the Fraser Valley to Hope and then into mile upon mile of nothing but mountains and rivers. Our route took us along the Coquihalla Highway past Merritt to Kamloops. Having spent many years in the safe environment of South East England, coming across chain-up areas, landslide warnings and gates that obviously close off the road really brought home to me that I was living in a very different environment. Once past Kamloops, it was back on the Trans-Canada Highway toward Sicamous – the houseboat capital of Canada.
We’d booked a bed and breakfast near Salmon Arm, and what a fantastic place to stay. The room was large, very well furnished and spotlessly clean. If you’re ever exploring the area I can thoroughly recommend ‘The Inn at the Ninth Hole‘ The Dutch couple that run the inn are really friendly hosts and the breakfasts are wonderful. A major plus for me was that they source as much food as possible locally, a real sustainable approach to B&B.
And so to the meeting. Actually, things worked out really well. It was an opportunity to dip back into school days, muse over the teachers and discuss the probability of hairpieces. Belinda is one of those people that flourished outside of the formal educational environment, or to put it another way, she bunked off school a lot. But, she’s carved a life out for herself and is enjoying the delights that Canada has to offer, and it really made me question “what’s a fulfilling life?”, particularly as Lesley and I continue to battle to either generate income from self-employment or find suitable employment (that’s a whole different story, particularly if I get on to the ever-increasing income gap in BC and how earning have actually decreased in real terms over the last 25 years).
We only had a short break due to other commitments, but we had a chance to get out on the Shuswap Lake on a couple of occasions and visit nearby Vernon. Standout moments. The sheer, mostly unspoilt beauty of the area. Witnessing the devastation being caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle as many, many trees are killed off. Experiencing tubing off the back of a speed boat for the first time (despite there being no photographic evidence of me having a go – believe me, I did, and had a great laugh). Weirdest feeling of the break. Five former pupils of a now-closed Secondary School in Thurrock, Essex, UK stood on a beach on the Shuswap Lake. Somewhat surreal.
Thank you Belinda and Lavern – you were great hosts.