Category Archives: Vancouver

Oh, Canada

And yet again I don’t post for weeks and start this one off with an apology for the fact. Terrible, I know. Blame Twitter.  Which I do, copiously.

So! I went to Vancouver a few weeks ago on a press trip to the Stargate Universe studios. I flew out on a Wednesday, arrived at 2pm and spent the rest of the day re-discovering my favourite city, spent all of Thursday on set and then had Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday free to do what I wanted. Because it was a work trip, I had my flights paid for, was put up in a swanky hotel and had my meals included. I spent an extra night staying with a friend, got to hang out with her and eat honey doughnuts and, in total, spent £35 during my entire stay.

HAVE I MENTIONED RECENTLY HOW MUCH I LOVE MY JOB?

Here, have a few pics:

The view from my hotel room.

The Stargate and me.

A very purple me with Stargate Universe star David Blue.

The glorious view from Prospect Point.

Star Trek fans (there was a convention).

To sum up: I love Vancouver. I’ve loved Vancouver since I first went there in 2004. This is my third visit and I’ve decided I want to live there. Alas, I have no job to go to, no money and no chance of being able to do it. Piffle and balderdash! Still, at least I’ve visited enough times to know I love it as much as – if not more – than London.

Also?

RACCOONS!

I’d never seen them in the wild before, so coming across this chittering, chattering little family in Stanley Park made my day! Of course, by the time I’d finished strolling around the park I’d seen so many raccoons I wasn’t that thrilled any more, but… CUTE!

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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…

buntzen-fb.jpg

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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Happenings

I’m now just a few days away from my long-awaited trip to Vancouver, which is currently shaping up to contain:

1) Lots of sightseeing.

2) Lots of relaxing.

3) Lots of photography.

4) Lots of me crossing my fingers about something.

5) No work at all.

6) Apart from the photography.

7) And the thing I’m crossing my fingers about.

Hmm. Was that vague enough? It’s very difficult trying to write about what’s happening in your life when you’re sworn to secrecy, even if the things you’re sworn to secrecy about aren’t actually that interesting, but your employers don’t want another magazine knowing anyway. It either makes you sound enigmatic and mysterious or annoyingly smug and irritating. Unfortunately, that’s kind of how it goes, and it was either this or I write another post about how much I love The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but I just wrote an SFX column on that, so there you go.

It’s a strange old life, being a freelance journalist – or, in my case, half freelance journalist and half freelance sub-editor, as I tend to work half-and-half on each. Just this week I was double-booked and had to turn down both a set visit on a new TV show and a set visit on the new Harry Potter movie, which, as you can probably imagine, was rather upsetting. (Although I hear from the person who visited Hogwarts on my behalf that there was no Snape to be seen, so I feel better about not going.)

I also attended a preview of all the new movies being released by Fox over the next year or so, some of them coming with personal messages from the likes of Baz Luhrmann, Eddie Murphy and James Cameron (on the set of Avatar, no less, although the cameraman wasn’t allowed to show us anything). Of the selection I’d say that M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening looked the most intriguing, and I was stunned at how many of the romantic comedies were set in New York. What, does nobody fall in love in Kansas or Nebraska or South Dakota? Why does New York get all the star-crossed pretty people? And why didn’t I get star-crossed when I was there?

After the preview I was sitting in a cafe in Soho, writing a feature for SFX, when who should walk by the window but three members of the magazine itself – which might not sound amazing, but SFX is based in Bath, so it was. They were just as stunned to see me as I was to see them, and understandably very happy that I hadn’t spotted them walking out of a sex shop or anything. We ended up spending what seemed like an hour chatting inside the Vintage Magazine Shop until the guy on the desk politely asked us if he could help us with anything (shopspeak for “Buy something or bog off”).

Waving goodbye to the guys, I then went off to have a meal with a friend (unnamed for their own protection) who told me how they’d arranged an interview with Madonna and had never seen so many make-up and hair people around one person in their life; they had to fight their way through a cloud of face powder and hairspray just to catch a glimpse of her. Which reminds me: how amazing was Tilda Swinton when she turned up to the Oscars with no make-up on? I’m still not sure about the dress, but the hair and face were great. I’d like to see Madge do that!

And oh dear, I’m rambling a bit now. I’m also very tired. I’ve been working almost non-stop since the start of the year and I’m trying to get as much work as possible out of the way before my holiday, so my poor brain is suffering. It’s wonderful to be busy and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but occasionally it’s hard to think straight. Am I writing a blog entry, a review, a feature or an advertorial right now?

But I love Sarah Connor. That much I DO know. I hope you’re watching it…

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Start spreading the news/ I’m leavin’ today…

… Although I’m actually leaving on 23 December, but the principle’s the same. Yes – to celebrate my return to the outside world I’ve booked four nights in wonderful New York over Christmas! I’ve never been, I’ve always wanted to see the city and I had just enough left on my credit card to pay for the trip. (I’m trying not to think about how that money should probably have gone to the taxman next year. Oh well.)

I emailed the Empire State Building yesterday to ascertain their plans for Christmas Day and discovered that they’re open until 2am. So, I’m going to watch the sunset from the once-tallest-building-in-the-world, probably singing “Ding dong merrily on high” and irritating everybody around me. Now THERE’S a plan!

(Additional cool factor: there’s an email in my inbox right now which says “Sender: The Empire State Building”. I had an image of the skyscraper trying to get its ginormous concrete fingers to fit on a keyboard…)

Next up: Vancouver in March, to stay with my lovely friend Justine. I’m probably booking the ticket next week. Money? Be damned. I have a lifetime to pay it off. After having such a rotten year healthwise, I’ve realised that life is too bloody short to worry about a few hundred quid. If my back gives out again and surgery can’t help, I’ll regret never strolling through Central Park. Some things just have to be done, dangnabbit!

I’m a teeny tiny bit excited now.

On Monday I had a fabulous time in Camden with artist Judith Clute, who is now one of my most favouritest people after a four-hour gossip and a tour of her extraordinary house. Books, books, paintings and more books… it was incredible. Barely a flash of bare wall in the building! What a marvellous woman she is – and so inspiring. She also knows Harlan Ellison, who you may spot further down on this blog in an earlier entry, and regaled me with tales of his very own spectacular house. Suddenly my flat, decorated as it is with floor-to-ceiling pictures and stuffed with so many plants it resembles the forests of Borneo, seems very drab indeed.

I need to buy me some bookshelves.

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