Titchy Jo

all about me, my boys and my adventures in Canada

Museums and Meltdowns

Our lovely friends, Sach and Roxy, have been staying with us this week, we’ve loved having them here and have enjoyed acting as tour guides once again, though we modified our tour slightly from the parent friendly version to include a brief (but memorable) view of the downtown street affectionately nicknamed “Crack Alley”.  We also drank cocktails the size of our heads, delicious Lychee Mojitos.   They were rather more delicious than the “Bubble Tea” we tried, a popular Taiwanese drink which has “pearls” at the bottom, balls of black tapioca that had the taste and texture of snot, I think I’ll be very English and stick to Tetley.

Looks nice enough

After a stunning start to their visit the Vancouver weather resumed business as usual so in the rain we picked up the tourist trail and headed to Capilano Park and Suspension Bridge (http://www.capbridge.com/).  The trip started well but skidded downhill more rapidly than the water below us.  Casper somehow inexplicably managed to drop one of the boots he was wearing into a pool of water then refused to put it back on so we had to fashion a waterproof sock from the hood of Sach’s free yellow poncho – he was devastated.  This kept Casper happy for a while though and we continued on our merry way marveling at the views from our position high in the trees.  Little did we know, inside that calm and happy exterior a full toddler meltdown of epic proportions was brewing.  Then, the perfect storm of tiredness, over excitement and hunger (he hadn’t eaten for at least an hour) erupted.  Parenting books say that if a toddler is having a tantrum then, if it is safe to do so, just leave them to it, I suspect that in the middle of a 230 foot high, 450 foot long suspension bridge is not one of these occasions. I couldn’t pick him up as he would have been straight over the edge so I just had to calmly drag him along offering encouraging words such as “don’t worry we’re nearly there” in the vain hope that everyone else might take pity on him and think he was scared, and pray that no-one saw him half an hour earlier thundering down the same bridge giggling.  At least it made me forget my vertigo.

The perfect place for a tantrum











Another trip with Sach and Roxy has made us realise that it’s probably not worth us going to any museums for about the next ten years.  On a rainy day we went to the architecturally stunning Museum of Anthropology at UBC (http://www.moa.ubc.ca/).  Whilst it was stuffed to the rafters with wonderful indigenous art such as some great pieces by the legendary Bill Reid, all Neil and I really learned was that toddlers love rolling down the slope in the great hall, the room which held the Doug Cranmer exhibition had a great echo if you shouted really really loud and there are five “C’s for Casper” in the information written on the cubicle door in the ladies loo.

In a celebration of all things Canadian we went shopping at Granville Island and cooked ourselves a feast including Alberta Steak, local Spot Prawns and Smoked Salmon all washed down with utterly delicious British Columbia Ice Wine.

Funnily enough though we weren’t persuaded to buy these…











Or this cheeky little fella….











I haven’t quite sussed out the enigma that is Canadian humour yet.  Neil certainly has to tone down his banter a bit at work for fear of giving anyone, staff and patients alike, a coronary and my prudish phone insists on changing Damn to Darn in text messages but, in the chic homeware shop across the road, they think nothing of selling a babygro with the slogan “When I grow up I want to be a slut like your mom” emblazoned across it.  I hope I’m not getting a bit conservative in my old age but I just can’t work out why anyone would want to take a child out wearing that – surely no-one wins in that situation.

In a cracking PR stunt, one sunny Saturday afternoon recently a hoard of promo girls swarmed upon the many families enjoying the afternoon at Kitsilano park and beach plying them with free “Cravings Cupcakes” to promote the film What to Expect When You’re Expecting ( http://whattoexpectthefilm.com/ ).  I went for vanilla with bacon on top (surprisingly delicious), another option was chocolate with dill crisps but Casper made a beeline straight for the one that was made to look like a nipple. Yum.

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Terrible Twos

I made a mistake recently when emailing a friend back home saying that I thought Casper had overcome the worst of the “terrible twos”, even as I was writing it I knew I was doomed.  The very next day he emptied the contents of our bathroom bin into the loo and flushed, just to see what would happen – unsurprisingly what happened was the loo blocked and overflowed and I spent the rest of the day bailing, plunging and flushing whilst trying to keep Theo from splashing about in all the water (and sending miserable texts to Neil about how unglamourous my life has become).  Little did I know though that this was just a minor prelude for what was to come.  Two days later he spectacularly trumped that behaviour and caused the most terrifying experience of my life.  I went to Granville Island with some friends and the five children were merrily playing by the duck pond.  They were all sitting together on a log, I looked down to check Theo hadn’t fallen off (which is fairly likely in these situations), looked back up and Casper had gone.  I searched in the play boat next to us where he had been playing and he wasn’t there, nor was he feeding the ducks.  The more places I looked the more it sunk in that he had vanished.  Panic set in, my vision clouded over and I didn’t know what to do. Luckily I was with friends who calmly made sure we searched everywhere – at this point all I could see was the unfenced water hazard and main road.  I was running up to strangers asking them to search for him, shouting out his description in shops – I never knew I had it in me, I was possessed.  Once, many years ago I was at Covent Garden tube and heard a woman screaming that she had lost her child, I remember the absolute terror in her voice, now I know how she felt – I wish I didn’t.  Eventually my friend Laura found him in a shop in the Granville Island Kid’s Market playing with the train sets after what could only have been about ten minutes of searching but felt like a lifetime.  If I had been thinking straight I might have known he was answering the irresistible lure of Thomas the Tank Engine (he’d been to that shop once before a few weeks earlier and must have stored it in the special “trains and all their accessories” part of his brain) but in my panicked state I could barely remember my own name.  When I saw him I was both over the moon to see him but also furious at him for doing it, I certainly needed a very large glass of Canada’s finest wine when I got home.  Gladly he knows what he did was wrong, he has a book in which the mum cries (incredulously because her children were being naughty and driving her mad, how far fetched) and now always says “Mummy’s crying, don’t run away to play with trains, Mummy’s scared” when we get to that page so hopefully he won’t do it again.  Thank you so much to Laura and Claire for being there.  I may now never let him out of my sight again which may prove troublesome when he turns 18 but he’ll just have to deal with it.

Luckily I currently have and extra couple of pairs of eyes to make sure he doesn’t sneak off again, my parents are visiting.  Unfortunately the weather has been so shocking that they’d been here for ten days before seeing the tops of the mountains.  They have though seen a man on a unicycle, another man dressed in full 1920’s regalia – spats and everything – twice (and he was wearing a different outfit each time) and a wizard.

It has cleared up a bit now and we have managed a few days on the beach.  The re-emergance of the sun has also meant the volleyball players have come out of the woodwork displaying a disturbing (though not unpleasant) lack of body fat.  Add to that the kite surfers, paddle boarders, canoeists and tightrope walkers (yes – loads of them setting up professional looking ropes between the trees near the beach – it’s no ‘Man on Wire’ but pretty skillful nonetheless) I am feeling I ought to get out there and join in the relentless physical activity, either that or buy a Victorian bathing machine if I ever want to grace the beach with my pale, jellylike presence.


I’ll be the one in red.

It’s good fun being the tour guide, it makes me realise how at home we have become here.  Mum and Dad still look like startled deer jerking their heads in every direction when trying to cross the road whilst I stride confidently out, I know that this sentence is very VERY bad “the Canucks were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs” and I know what signs like this means…










Though some things still remind me how far away I am….











You don’t get many Coyotes in Didsbury, or Skunks, Racoons and Bears come to think of it….oh, and a Loonie is a Dollar by the way (and a Toonie is, you’ve guessed it, two dollars).