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Wheels of Invention
Keeping moving and expanding into space.
“If you’re going to live in Sheffield, you may as well live in Sheffield” a friend said. I agreed but it was too late, we’d just AirBnB’d three months in the slightly deprived area to save some cash. It was about 30 minutes of slow traffic each way in the van to see family and get to where we usually hang out. By not venturing out much I got a lot of work done, and the little garden was private but for the piercing shouts of some dementia patients and the staff’s fag-break chatter from the care home behind the fence. Packing for Vancouver, I concluded paying for premium housing area is usually worth it.
Paying for a premium-economy BA flight was definitely worth it, and thanks to a grant from University of British Columbia the almost 10 hour flight was made more than bearable. Apart from waking up and panicking once each way because I couldn’t stretch and carry out the rest of my post-nap routine, all was really well, in fact luxurious and I arrived back in time in pretty good shape. If you can, pay the double price and be treated to excellent service, free food and drinks brought to you, reclining seat, blanket, pillow and an overnight bag. I watched half the new Bowie film, Moonage Daydream, on the way there and the rest on the way back. What a lot of time to have daydreams of my own. Looking down over the Rocky Mountains on the return took off was nothing short of exhilarating. Jet-lag on return was the worst part, it took me a whole week of 3-4 hour sleeps before a final mammoth 11 hour stint to adjust, which dampened the high from the 9 day trip.
Vancouver was eye-opening. I’d never been west over the Atlantic and always really wanted to explore and taste the USA. As this was for work and on my own, I was very reluctant but strong encouragement from my spouse helped, and I’m glad I went. The work consisted of a few short meetings around co-delivery of a full day autistic-communications workshop so there was plenty of time for me to explore. I was happiest just traipsing round the main streets, marvelling at how much everything was just like in the movies… swinging overhead traffic lights, six-lane grid-system roads in the middle of town, monster trucks and vans. I learned about the ‘first nation’ indigenous people, gawped at the cannabis shops, rode a hired electric cycle round Stanley Park, watched boat-planes taking off, reactivated my real fear of heights walking over Granville Street Bridge and walked a labyrinth to a surprisingly emotional centre and back out into the world again. I saw Osees play a perfect 2 hour set at the Commodore with my new friends, the hubby of my work colleague and his friend, a couple of full-on, real Canadian guys to hang out and have fun with. Kitsilano on a sunny last day was relaxing, with its expensive hippy shops and California vibe. I nearly bought a skateboard. The large park-beach teamed with roller-blading, basket-ball playing, joint-smoking, the immediate backdrop of the tree-filled Rockies watching over the city and and huge natural harbour and islands below.
Instead of describing my despair of UK motorways on returning up north I’m happy to report we made it back, currently in a much better area of Sheffield, at least until next week when we return to France, for the summer (a country perfect for wheels) with a 950cc motorcycle, two pedal cycles, a skateboard and the cat in the back of the van.
See you next time.