Category Archives: The Boys

UBC is a very cool place


{Jamie & Charlie during the UBC cycle classic}

Even though it’s summer holidays, the University of British Columbia is so huge, with a permanent population that there’s always something to do here. From the Museum of Anthropology (First Nations), the Botanical Gardens, Museums for Fossils, the Olympic (Ice) Hockey stadium, the swimming pools, the beaches and of course Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Here’s some pics from this place.

{these babies are everywhere and just so damned cute}

{The UBC cycle classic was a brilliant evening. There were youth, corporate, female & male races. The women’s and mens pro races were brilliant around a rectangular block course here on Campus. The action was close as you can see, and really intense. The boys loved it – well anything that keeps them up out of bed late is fun eh}


{the boys were given a camera each to use, unfortunately we didn’t know at the time that this camera Chuckie is using was damaged in transit from NZ – the bloody lens was broken ;-( }

{everything is a competition eh, just even running to get a better spot to watch the cyclists}

{we are very lucky, as out our backdoor & quite literally across the street we have the forest walks of the Pacific Spirit Regional Park. In this park which separates Vancouver from UBC, there are coyote, snakes, beavers and all manner of strange things like snakes. Still it’s a wonderful place to be, and we go more or less every day}

{this sculpture is outside the UBC thunderbird olympic skating rink (Ice Hockey venue). It’s pretty cool eh, it’s copper car parts that are made to look like transformers meets first nation art – I love it}

{one of the dozens and dozens of parks that are on UBC. The campus has something like 20,000 people living full time out here, with thousands of families from all over the world, so parks are everywhere.}

{we went to the UBC botanical gardens, they are a great place to hide away for a day. Was just having a little fun with the camera}

{this forest canopy walkway was new since we were here last and quiet simply one of the coolest things to do in Vancouver full stop. You get something like 60-70ft above the ground, the walkways are very secure but you do feel very exposed. The boys were in heaven. So much so we did it a second time…}

{except for janine who had her fill of heights and white knuckles first time around. So she was more than happy to snap some pics of us from below to show height.}

{The boys have some homework set by Mrs B & Mrs Sharma. We got our Starbucks drinks and head off to the Life Sciences building for the massive study hall – they are geeks as they loved the homework sessions}.

{Final pic is a rough pano I took from the old penthouse of a 14floor apartment block which has been turned into an adult residents only study room. It’s got the most amazing views, but the balconies are locked and the people up there are so quiet that the camera shutter even annoys them ;-( This pic was almost at sunset looking north to the mountains north of vancouver }

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Filed under The Boys, UBC, Vancouver

Revisiting fav places – or the Claytons Summer

Aside from the lack of true heat in the sun, days settled down into 21-23°C temp days. So with bus passes itching to make tracks we very very quickly re-associated ourselves with the city, in particular the water front areas of Kits Beach, Granville Island & UBC.

One of the essential things to do in Vancouver regardless of the season is head to Granville Island. It’s an old industrial Island that once was one of the major industrial hubs of the city.  Amazingly one of the biggest industries on the island still exists – thanks to False Creek (Vancouver’s opening to the Pacific Ocean), the cement factory.  Aside from this, the place is now home to a massive produce market, arts & crafts stores & some of the yummiest restaurants, cafes & pubs.  Not to mention home to Vancouver’s coolest University, Emily Carr (http://www.ecuad.ca/). The map below opens to a large PDF. You’ll see on that map bottom centre, the water park. It was a great place to come with the boys last time, although Chucky was a little, well little. But as you can see from the pic above, the boys are fully into the water park. It’s nothing like an amusement park water park, it’s got 2 slides only, both very small, it’s got lots of water jets and some nice places to hang out in the sun. But for some reason it’s fantastic – possibly because it’s free & easy to get to.

A pic of the last remain large commercial heavy industry on Granville Island. It’s amazing how the massive concrete trucks (much bigger than in NZ) can live with the tens of thousands of tourists on the very tight narrow lanes – but somehow they do.

This is a view from the Sandbar restaurant patio. It’s a wonderful place, we had to take Carl & Jeanie and Ingrid there last time we were in Vancouver. Because it’s very high up, against the water and nestled under the Granville Bridge, the patio can be a little cool.  They have that sorted, with the heaters & blankets for folks knees. Not the cheapest place in Vancouver, but also not the priciest, and with a view like that, one of the coolest.

These water taxis have been a fav of ours ever since we’ve been coming to YVR.  They are a very cool way to get around False Creek. I LOVE them.  This pic is looking north across to Downtown.

Another view of Yaletown & Downtown

A view of Granville Bridge

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Filed under The Boys, Vancouver

Hotels

One thing that has amazed me, even from our first trip here with the boys, is how much fun the boys get out of being in Hotels.  Since our first two nights in YVR (Vancouver) needed be in Hotels (IKEA couldn’t deliver same day), we had two nights in two very different hotels.

The first night was downtown by Granville Island, in what was meant to be a posh place, but in reality it was just another hotel. Very nice, great view from the 14th floor.  But the second was something else.  After a long day at IKEA and with full bags, we were stopped outside the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond (south of Vancouver) and I thought, what the heck, see if they have anything cheap.

Sure enough they did & not only that because they liked the boys they upgraded us to a 2 bedroom suite.  Talk about posh. It was the nicer hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  Not only were the rooms big, the beds were huge and the plushest bed I’ve ever slept in. They boys had their own massive double bed & their own TV.  The resort had several restaurants to choose from, but the buffet was the best value.  The boys love Buffet.

After dinner it was off the swimming pool with the boys. What a pool – right next to the health spa.  There was a hot tub of course, but the pool was huge and had a big slide in it which Jamie just adored. So thanks River Rock Casino – I may very well come back to watch Three Dog Night in concert.

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Filed under Nina, Paul, The Boys, Vancouver

IKEA

Once again we found ourselves needing to get to IKEA asap, as the apartments at UBC are unfurnished.  Last time cause we were here for most of the year it was easy to buy a lot of stuff, this time we tried to be a little more restrained but we still needed to get the most basic stuff we could get by with, beds, dining table, pots, pans, plates, beds etc etc.  The last time we were here the boys were 4 & 18mths old and it was a lot easier as Jamie was in the creche for a couple of horse at a time. This time we took the boys all the way through with us, once again they were troopers. So $1500 and a few hours later.  The only sour point is IKEA (despite their false advertising) doesn’t deliver everything. Anything breakable they don’t deliver.  We got a very nice woman who took pity on us, as they are only allowed to deliver big non-breakable stuff, and we boxed up so much stuff. We still had to carry so much crap on the bus – which is no small feat so far from our apartment.


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Filed under The Boys, Vancouver

Dud-ChCh-Auk-YVR

When the reality of going half way around the world with the boys dawned on us again, the first thing that came to Nina & my mind was the lack of crap that we won’t be taking with us this time. No nappies, no cots, no formula bottles blah blah blah, how easy was this going to be.  Well as anyone who has done long haul flights will tell you, it’s never easy. But boy oh boy was it going to be easier than last time.

And sure enough, thanks to Air New Zealand and their genius direct flight Auckland to Vancouver (a mere 13hr flight) the travelling was a lot easier.  Leaving Dunedin airport can be a bit underwhelming at times, and considering the security we were about to go through, a lot laughable. No security checks, just boarding pass and a short walk to the plane.

We were of course leaving early Winter in Dunedin, and in a few days (lay over in CHCH) we’d be in the middle of summer (or so we thought).  The boys were excellent travellers.  Yes it did help having the lay over in chch, after all we had Jamie’s 8th birthday to have with the grandparents – and yay no earthquakes.

Next was a short flight to Auckland, a very quick turn around late in the evening, and finally on our flight to Vancouver – that was after some power Duty Free shopping.

Aside from that fact that it wasn’t a 747 that we were boarding, and the seats we got for ourselves weren’t what we thought, the flight & plane was awesome. The 777 only has 3 middle seats, so poor Nina was stuck with the boys for about 2/3 of the flight.  Being a late flight the formula was pretty simple. Get settled, get dinner into the boys, change into their PJs, watch some of their TV or play games then lights out and sleep. Well aside from some inevitable “i’m too tired to sleep” routine, this is how it went. Sure it was long, sure Nina and I got bugger all sleep, sure I didn’t drink as much as I was hoping to, but the Air New Zealand staff were bloody brilliant. Even when there was a full on medical emergency, things still went smoothly.

How happy were we the next morning to realise that not long after breakfast we’d be not too far off the NW coast of North America.

All in all it was a brilliant trip, bloody hard work, but the boys were of course spectacular in their behaviour and their patience, after all do they ever sit down for 10mins let alone 13hrs.

Landing in Vancouver, we were immediately greeted with a wave of heat (wasn’t to last) and free wi-fi, so of course I needed to make the most of that, sending out tweets and reading all the messages sent to us while in transit.  Aside form the massive line (which moved very fast) the immigration was dead simple and over and done with in minutes.  Collected our bags and we were back in Canada baby!

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Filed under Nina, Paul, The Boys, Vancouver

Vancouver 2011

So 4 years on, the boys are older (so are their parents), Vancouver is a little bigger, they’ve had the olympics & almost a Stanley Cup, and we are back in town.

Back out at UBC loving the busses & of course the boys are having a ball of a time. We’ll be posting pics and videos as soon as I get my act together.

Nice to be back in town (even if the boys are missing their friends).

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Filed under Nina, Paul, The Boys, Vancouver

Disney Hong Kong’s main attraction: Charlie!

We’ve had a great day in Disneyland HK (ending the trip as we began). Those of you considering transit through LA to go to Disneyland should reconsider. HK Disney is great, particularly for little kids. Smaller, but so are the queues, it is much cheaper all round with the Kiwi $ and you don’t have to get fingerprinted and eyeballed to get in!!

Much to our surprise, Charlie was one of the main attractions. Seems they don’t have so many blond visitors to the park. In fact, at one point, we had so many people want to have their picture taken with Charlie that we were considering setting up next to Mickey and Minnie Mouse to save the congestion we were creating everywhere we went. Charlie, to his credit, dutifully hugged and kissed all his fans, and Jamie, to his credit, was very proud of his little brother-star and told everyone his name was Charlie John Hayward Le Comte. Photo evidence is needed to show the scale of this insanity – see below.

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

Hk Disneyland
This woman had about 10pics with Charlie taken by her man in various poses – he loved her (Charlie that is).

Hk Disneyland

Hk Disneyland

hk Disneyland

Hk Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland
Another random who just picked up Charlie and had a pic taken – bizzare

HK Disneyland
It wasn’t just the punters who were taken by blondie, it was the staff.

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland

HK Disneyland
Hong Kong Underground
HK MTA

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Filed under Hong Kong, Nina, Paul, The Boys, Vancouver

London Hong Kong

Hello folks – this is the little lady making another rare appearance on the blog.

The trip from London to Hong Kong tried its best to be a disaster, but we definitely pulled it off in the end. We were delayed making our connecting flight to Frankfurt and watched our three hour stop over turn into five minutes from the time we touched down to the time the flight to Kong Kong departed. With a child under one arm and cabin bag in the other we ran like crazy kids and made it before the flight closed. They couldn’t guarantee our luggage would come with us, but we got on all the same and settled down for ten hours of fun (actually the kids were great – much sleeping was done once we made a little tent for them to sleep under). As it happened, only one bag didn’t make the flight and it was the very big heavy hockey bag with stuff we didn’t need (what the hell is in that bag?) so it was fantastic that the airline would deliver to the hotel the next day.

Two things were immediately apparent when we arrived. Paul is a big fan of Hong Kong. Mix Asian efficiency with English signposting and Paul is in heaven. After a the man had directed us off the train with his white gloves; a woman had kindly ushered us through the ‘urgent’ queue at immigration because Charlie let out a screech that upset the punters; a random gentleman appeared from nowhere to show us the way to hotel shuttles; and we were informed in three ways that one of our bags did not make the flight; Paul was grinning from ear to ear and declaring Hong Kong the easiest place to visit. I must admit that I agree.

The other thing that was immediately apparent was the fact that Charlie’s blond hair attracts rather a lot of attraction. In fact, it caused a commotion and more than once we had to retrieve him from his adoring fans. But more of that in the Disney entry to follow…

Tibet
Tibet

Tibet

Hong Kong AirportHong Kong Airport

Happy Travellers

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

View
The view from our 32nd floor executive suit room.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Jamie and Charlie
This is how they slept last night, while I was on the couch and Janine squished on the edge of the bed.

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Filed under Hong Kong, Nina, Paul, The Boys, Vancouver

Hampton Court Palace

There’s not a lot of point trying to describe this place. It’s one of my favorite buildings and grounds in the world. On our second to last day in London we managed to get the two families in the cars and down to the Palace (only 5 min drive), in what was a stunning blue sky day. We didn’t spend the $2389 kiwi dollars to get into the place, but a walk around the gardens is more than enough for the morning anyway.

Swans

Bushy Park Police

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Nina Hampton Court

Thames

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

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Roger and Alan

Finally after much telephone tag we were able to borrow Sarah’s car again and head off to see some dear friends of Mum and Dad’s, Roger and Alan. They live in Chessington (Surrey) on the southern edges of London and the theory is that we should have got there in about half an hour. But once again, what the hell is with all of those roads. Not only are they are complete mess, you can be driving down a stretch of road and suddenly without warning or reason it’s a different name, and of course don’t mention those daft road signs, but we got there.

Unfortunately the boys weren’t in the best form, which is a real shame as this was a ball of a visit. Roger and Alan are both long time entertainment industry people which is how Mum met them. Roger is Cliff Richard’s tour manager or something along those lines and met the folks down under years back. Their house is amazing and I can see why they loved mum’, it’s just like her house!!!

The back yard garden is amazing to say the least, words and unfortunately my photos don’t do it justice. The bought the property with an asphalt tennis court out the back, which the ripped up and have planted in the most intricate garden with a maze like path that takes you all around the place. The boys loved it, and Janine was once again in gardening heaven.

The visit was all too short as they are the greatest guys and I would have loved to have spent much longer there, without the boys that is (as Janine would testify).

So thanks Roger and Alan, it was a great all to short visit and we can’t wait to get back to your place again soon. Sorry the pic of the xmas tree, the boys moving is a bummer, I am still to work out the camera and the flash is just too bright.

The Garden

Roger and Alan

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Filed under London, Nina, Paul, The Boys