Monthly Archives: March 2008

Dear Santa: please can I have a seaplane in my stocking next Christmas? Thanks!

Today has been lovely and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, if you excuse some guilty glances towards the pile of features I’m supposed to be ploughing my way through this week. Instead of working, I’ve been trotting off to garden centres, filling up hanging baskets and repotting houseplants who were starting to look at me like young Oliver Twists (“Please mum, can we have some more soil?”).

Caspar the cat spent a very relaxed week with me before being rehomed to a young family who will, hopefully, understand just how cool he is and how much he really loves playing with that catnip mouse I sent along with him. Thus, I’m currently cat-less, stress-less (as long as I don’t think about those features) and full of spring-cleaning spirit, which means I’ve also stripped my lounge walls of all their photos and am planning on painting the room a fresh orangey-yellow-beigey colour the minute I feel energetic enough to do it. Or the minute I finish those features, anyway. After all, I have to pay for the paint somehow.

My holiday now seems a distant memory, which good holidays are sadly always wont to do once you return home and get stuck into ordinary things like washing up and vacuuming. During my stay in Vancouver I didn’t get to do some of the things I wanted to do – the work-related ones – but did manage to fit in a few surprises, including taking a flight to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, aboard a seaplane:

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Which had to be the highlight of the entire trip, mostly because I adore flying and seaplanes ROCK, but also because we flew over a rainbow and I watched the whole thing curve upside-down beneath us like we were in the centre of a giant prism. Here’s how it looked as we left it behind:

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Upon landing in Victoria I had a lovely guided tour of Hatley Castle, otherwise known as Lex’s mansion on Smallville or a certain school for mutants in the second two X-Men movies:

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Yup, definitely the highlight of the holiday. Although I have to say that my second trip to Grouse Mountain was rather wonderful, too. Just check out this amazing view:

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And I also had the good fortune to run into an episode of Smallville being filmed – quite an important episode, too, but I won’t tell you exactly what I saw or which castmembers were there because I hate spoilers:

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To top it all off, on the flight home I got upgraded to business class and was waited on hand-and-foot the entire journey – they offered me a glass of champagne before I’d even sat down! I still don’t quite know how I got the upgrade, but I figure it was because I was nice to the guy at the boarding gate when everyone else was whingey and horrible. Sometimes it pays to smile. Remember that, my young Padawans.

Next up: Los Angeles in October. Although I spent so much in Vancouver I’m not sure I can afford it. I guess I’d better get cracking with those features, then…

… but not before I post a lolcat which made me laugh like a maniac the other day. Bye!

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Back To The Grind…

Greetings! I’m back in Blighty (it’s raining, natch) and wracked with guilt over not updating this blog for over a week, but unfortunately I think I left my brain in Vancouver. Not to mention my free time: I have over 200 photographs to sort through, label and put on Facebook (I’ve already sorted through hundreds more) and have spent the last few days fighting off jetlag, trying to get used to London’s pollution and noise and tiny roads (I mean, seriously, could it have hurt to build this city on a grid like those clever people in North America?) and also doing phone interviews with various TV types while staring at the big stack of commissions building up on my desk and wondering when I’ll get my head into gear so I can start writing again.

Phew!

Oh, and I have a foster cat for the first time since November! Meet Caspar:

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He’s a chilled-out, laid-back, playful kitten of a cat who used to be a stray and now follows me everywhere and learnt not to stand on my laptop within a day of me taking him in, so he’s officially a winner. All we have to do now is find him a home!

Right, I’m off to look through a million photographs. Hopefully I’ll have a few ready to put on here soon, with a condensed version of my adventures while I’m at it. As Captain Picard would say to my brain: “Engage!”

(PS I just watched the very first episode of Blood Ties, mainly because so many people had told me I should, and I just finished up four seasons of House and had a slot for a TV show to fill. To my surprise… I liked it. It’s The Dresden Files, but a million times better, and I really like the main character (and not just because she’s called Nelson, although that helps). Shame the lead guy is so young though – I officially can’t ogle him whenever he takes his top off because it feels icky, and he seems to take his top off a lot.

Typical.)

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Evil Crows

I’m having a relaxing Sunday after a week spent running around so much that my once-tight trousers are now seriously in need of a belt (quite amazing, considering how much I’ve eaten while I’m here!). I’ve done something cool every single day, even the days I’ve decided to take off, like today – I’m currently sitting in a coffee house on Broadway using their wifi and watching the world go by the window. Bliss!

Since I last blogged there’s a whole batch of new pictures up on Facebook (now my profile picture is a shot of me with bright ginger hair, in case you want to find me). For your edification and amusement, here are my favourites so far:

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This was taken from the top of the Vancouver Lookout, which has a 360-degree observation deck from which you can see all of Vancouver. The pretty building behind the ugly Province skyscraper is Canada Place, a convention centre which also houses the IMAX cinema. It’s not as nice inside as it looks on the outside…

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This is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which spans a 270ft drop over a river gorge, and is really rather wobbly indeed. I used to be terrified of heights but now I seem to be fine, although I am hanging on for dear life in this photo:

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This is Jericho Beach, just a few minutes from my friend’s house:

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And look, here’s a rainbow!

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Here’s a cool place – Simon Fraser University:

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Some of you may recognise this from Stargate SG-1 or Battlestar Galactica. It was amazing – unlike any university campus I’ve ever seen before, the kind of building which would get listed status in the UK despite all of Middle England hating it because it’s made of concrete. Well, sod them. It’s a work of art!

I’ve also been to the Museum of Anthropology, which contains this impressive sculpture that also appears on the Canadian $20 bill:

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This doesn’t appear on any kind of currency though (I wonder why?):

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And finally, two pictures I absolutely love (thank you for the loan of the camera, Vanessa!). The corner of Granville and West Broadway with the mountains in the distance:

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And some Canadian crows, probably up to no good (they’re really sinister round these parts!):

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And that’s all from me today. I have no plans for the next week; I’m going to see where my feet take me. What larks!

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A Sad Lack Of Crocodiles

It’s Sunday night here in British Columbia and I’m chillin’ with my friend Justine after a day spent exploring Kitsilano, Granville Island and the culinary delights of her favourite restaurant, a veggie place just around the corner from her house which is open 24 hours (imagine that!). It’s been a lovely weekend, and not just because I’m Canada: it’s a joy not to have to work for once! My cup really does runneth over. Particularly that enormous cup full of ice cream I got from Dairy Queen last night…

Yesterday Justine’s friend Mary kindly drove us to some must-see tourist spots: beautiful Cleveland Dam, Grouse Mountain and Buntzen Lake. I saw Grouse Mountain on my last visit, but nothing beats that wonderful cable car ride through the clouds up to the ski resort atop the peak. Vancouver was sunny but snow was piled everywhere on the mountain; it was like another world. We took a sleigh ride around the slopes and wondered why the groups of Japanese schoolgirls milling everywhere were bare-legged in teeny tiny skirts when they MUST have known they were going somewhere snowy. I’ve never seen so many blue legs in my life. I blame their parents.

Here’s me grinning like a loon on top of the mountain:

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Buntzen Lake was an hour away and the journey took us through miles of fir tree-lined highways straight out of The X-Files. It was creepy as hell when we got there: the sun was setting, the lake was so full it had flooded over the beaches surrounding it and everything was eerily quiet. It was utterly gorgeous and so recognisable – this is the lake that’s appeared in everything from Supernatural and Smallville to Lake Placid. (We didn’t see any crocs, though.) The trees surrounding it were covered in dripping moss and oh, the air was so fresh! I could have stayed there for days…

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I’ve also paid a visit to Vancouver Aquarium, which houses the sea otters that took YouTube by storm a few months ago (you must have seen the footage of the otters bobbing about on the water while holding paws because everybody has by now). I also made the most of a sunny day by walking around Stanley Park’s seawall – which was pretty as hell – and lounging on Third Beach while watching the gulls dive and soar above me, until they were joined by a bird I’m pretty damn sure was an eagle. They scarpered pretty sharpish after that.

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All my photos are on Facebook if you fancy a look – if you haven’t friended me by now, keep an eye out for the Jayne Nelson with a sepia-coloured profile picture.

And before I go, some facts about Vancouver for you:

1) For all their famed politeness and sunny dispositions, I can attest that Canadians turn into maniacs when they get behind the wheel of a car. Not only do they speak on their cellphones while driving, they also text, write and – for all I know – knit jumpers. I’ve yet to walk down a street here without hearing the screech of brakes as someone nearly dies at a crosswalk.

2) That said, bus drivers are wonderful. Not only do they do the unheard-of ‘smiling’ thing I mentioned in my last post, they also wait for old people to sit down before setting off. I thought that kind of courtesy died out in 1967.

3) Downtown Vancouver is the noisiest place on Earth. Not from traffic or people or birds (though the crows are bloody squawky), but from the construction work that’s going on in every inch of the city at once. This is a growing city and boy, is it hard to forget it.

4) Everybody wears Vancouver’s national dress: hiking boots, jeans, windcheater, hoodie. The only additions to this list are snowboards/skis/roller blades. They’re very sporty, these Canucks.

5) They have black squirrels here with fluffy little pawsies.

6) There are an astonishing number of phenomenally sexy men everywhere you look.

7) Unfortunately, there are also an astonishing number of phenomenally sexy women on their arms.

8)  It’s only rained a little bit since I got here, but tomorrow the precipitation apocalypse begins. Wish me luck…

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V For Vancouver

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to YVR Airport. We hope you enjoy your stay in Vancouver. If you have to make a connecting flight, please proceed to Carousel 23 to pick up your baggage, as we will not check your bags onto the new flight for you. If you do not collect your baggage, it will slowly migrate to baggage heaven. Thank you.”

* * *

Ah, Canada. Home to misty fir forests, rain that falls harder than anywhere else in the world and airport tannoy announcers with a sense of humour. And, for the next three weeks, me.

I arrived last night after a 12-hour journey which was the nicest flight I’ve ever had, despite the plane leaving two hours late due to a computer glitch and the fact it was an old-fashioned aircraft with screens dotted throughout the cabin instead of groovy individual TVs in the back of the seats (how Dickensian!). I watched Juno, didn’t fancy Rush Hour 3 and killed time watching three episodes of House on my laptop and chatting to the nice chap sitting beside me (who’ll also be on my flight home, oddly enough).

I’m staying with a friend in West Vancouver in her housemate’s room (she’s gone away for a few weeks) and sharing the premises with three fishtanks, four parakeets and a tubby cat named Daisy who is without a doubt the noisiest feline I’ve ever met in my life. She’s also adorable, especially at 3am when you’re awake with jetlag and she climbs into bed with you and snuggles like she’s known you for years. The parakeets don’t like her much though.

Today I took the bus to downtown Vancouver and nearly fainted when the driver grinned at me and said hello as I climbed on board – that NEVER happens in London. Believe the hype: Canadians are very polite. I was last here four years ago, spending seven out of my ten days on Canadian soil doing set visits (Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Smallville, The Dead Zone and Dead Like Me) which were great fun, particularly Smallville, but I didn’t see much of the city. This time I’m going to know every damn inch before I’m done!

And because this is Vancouver, otherwise known as ‘Hollywood North’, I can safely attest that in the space of just one day I was filmed by a movie crew walking down Robson Street, saw several lamp posts with those luminous instructions for location units taped to them* and was interviewed by a team wanting to know if I approved of their latest TV commercial for milk (the “Got milk?” slogan seems to have mutated, but I’d better not say what the new one is in case I get in trouble).

Right now Daisy’s snoring on the sofa, my friend Justine will be back from the cinema soon (I was too tired to go, for fear of snoring in public) and the parakeets are looking bleary-eyed. Tomorrow I’ll find another part of Vancouver to explore while the sun’s out and I’m going to make the most of it, because once it starts raining here it’s like the end of the world. Vancouver rain is the wettest, hardest and scariest ever.

This is where umbrellas come to die. FACT.

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* I remember reading a few years back that an artist had mounted an exhibition of those Day-Glo signs for location crews after he’d collected hundreds of them from all round the city. But the TV/film companies took him to court, claiming the signs were their property. I wish I knew how it turned out…

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