Victoria Day Weekend

All in all, it’s a world away from the hubbub of life in the Lower Mainland; and that’s one of the things I so enjoy about living here.

One of the regular reminders of BC’s more recent heritage, well more recent by Brit standards, is the Victoria Day public holiday. Celebrating the birthday of the long departed Queen Victoria has been part of Canadian life since before Federation and maybe the original intent has been lost or at least diluted as the country becomes more multi-cultural. The Victoria Day long weekend now seems to be known as the first camping expedition or maybe first barbecue of the summer.

The day off work is dependent upon the Province or Territory mandating a Statutory holiday so although most of Canada breaks out a tent, there are some places, mainly back east where you’ll possibly find yourself at work. Of course there’s also Quebec’s approach which is to celebrate the 1837 rebellion. Ah, life in a slightly disunited kingdom.

But what to do on a relatively sunny long weekend? Pursuing a couple of things I like to do was my aim, and it turned out rather well.

Since relocating from the UK I’ve tried to get in to North American sports. I’ve been to a NHL and CFL game as well as minor league baseball. I’ve watched NFL again (first time since the 1980’s Channel 4 coverage) and I’m afraid nothing sets the pulse racing the way football, the real football, the beautiful game, does. Having said that I’ve also tried to get into MLS and have struggled with the out-of-sync summer season. However, with no World Cup and no Euro’s to distract me, this is the year of the Whitecaps.

I’d arranged to go to the Whitecaps game, a Cascadian derby vs the high flying Portland. What made this event rather more special was being able to go pitch side during the warm up. I was one of the works draw winners that gave me the pre-game experience at the Portland match. It turned out to be rather fun. BC Place is a smashing stadium and being down on the pitch (turf) gave me a whole new perspective, not just of the stadium, but also on the fans. It’s been well documented and I can confirm that the Pacific Northwest rather likes football. Add to that, that the standard of football is improving and the whole experience becomes more appealing.

An entertaining game finished all square and was a fair advert for the game over here. I’ve tickets for a few games this season so, come the end of the year I may well finally embrace sport in my own brave new world.

As a compete change from football, the sunshine also gave me a chance for a social scoot. A few years back I’d ridden around Barnston Island when out with a biker buddy. This time I’d be heading back with my wife on our Vespa’s. the island seems to have been named after a former Hudson’s Bay Company employee and apart from farmland and a Reserve, there’s nothing on the island. Why go there? Simple. The ferry crossing. The ferry is nothing more than a barge strapped to a tug. That’s it. Cars drive on, back off and vice versa. It’s rustic, functional and fun. The crossing must take all of two minutes, and is free of charge.

Barnston Island appears to be popular with cyclists, particularly families and people out for a short hike. I can certainly see the attraction for leisure cyclists. There are very few cars to contend with and on a warm sunny day, circumnavigating the island (all 10km) has to be a pretty relaxing thing to do. There are no amenities on the island so its very much a case of bring your own snacks or picnic. All in all, it’s a world away from the hubbub of life in the Lower Mainland; and that’s one of the things I so enjoy about living here. It really doesn’t take long to escape in to a peaceful, place and it doesn’t have to be the wilderness.

After a very leisurely scoot around the island it was back to the mainland to find a coffee shop and refuel before heading home. I sure there are those that would consider a trip to Barnston Island pointless. For me, it’s actually a joy to explore my new home and that’s enough. Sometimes the point is, there is no point. It’s about disconnecting, shaking up the routine and recharging. Back in the UK I didn’t disconnect enough. In BC, people seem to get it far more.

So that was the Victoria Day long weekend. No camping, no barbecue, just reconnecting. It was time to reconnect with football, with nature and with family, all made possible by the respect for a long departed sovereign.

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