My English friend David Sandles (who also appears on my friends page) turned 50 in April 2003, and we decided to surprise him by showing up unannounced at his birthday party in Vancouver, BC. Needless to say, it was a blast! Caroline, his better half, had rented a sort of church hall to accommodate all the guests, and there was music and dancing and all that good stuff.
Other school friends of David from England also showed up unannounced, notably Ian Orme, now living in Colorado. Ian and David had attended the same school, the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe. My school, Sir William Borlase’s, was four miles away over the hill in Marlow. The names do seem to have something in common! Not sure that I should speculate as to what.
David and I met during the 1970 High School exchange trip to small towns in upstate New York which was the first visit to North America for both of us. We each decided pretty much there and then that North America was where our future lay. It’s not a popular position in England, liking Americans, but each of us did and stuck to it. We hung out together a fair bit after the exchange trip. I even met a girlfriend through a group of his friends in Princes Risborough, where he was raised, and he and I met up during at least one pop festival. Maybe two. Things got a little misty during that era! But David and I stayed the course, and we had kept in touch and visited regularly over the years.
We had a little “likely lads” reunion at his birthday party. “The Likely Lads” was a British TV sitcom in the late ’60s, revisited in the early ’70s, about a couple of lads with prospects, as we were in our day. In the words of the chorus of its theme song during the revisit, “what became of the people we used to be?” It had been 30 years since we had hung out together in Buckinghamshire.
Well, we were all three in North America, each in pretty cool places. To be honest, we’d each lived enough of our respective dreams to feel pretty good. David has a thriving physical therapy clinic in Vancouver: they used to treat Shaq, among other famous names. Ian is a world-renowned immunology researcher at Colorado State University, who has focused on HIV and tuberculosis. I’m practicing law with a chip company in Northern California. It was great to check in after all those years.
As six of us in our family had made it all the way up in Canada for the first time, we decided to spend a week’s vacation exploring Beautiful British Columbia. Nick and Tom were with their mother’s family for that week. The rest of us flew up via Seattle, and were based at a hotel in downtown Vancouver.
We took the ferry ride across to Vancouver Island on our way to visit Victoria. The beginning of the Trans Canada Highway, the city had an English reputation, which the parents wanted to look into. Alban, Charles and Alex had a wild time on the ferry because of the very strong wind on the deck, and then all three made faces for the camera. The odd thing about the photo is that there is not the smallest sign of that wind: the apparent calm of the water’s surface even belies it.
One of the other fun moments was our day at Whistler, about a two-hour drive north of Vancouver. While we were staying there, Vancouver was fighting hard to host the winter Olympic games in 2010. Whistler was central to the campaign, because of its great runs. There was an enormous lighted “2010” sign on one of the downtown Vancouver skyscrapers. We could see it from our hotel room, and pretty much wherever we were out exploring the city. (Remember, this was in 2003.)
That hosting campaign was a success, by the way, and Vancouver duly hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Other photos of our day trip to Whistler can be found on the page devoted to our skiing.
Above, we find Alban is standing on the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a modest wooden pedestrian bridge suspended 230 foot over a ravine. It’s a Vancouver tourist attraction, which we dutifully visited. Alban is leaning over the rather low banister, just to get a rise out of us! He did. You feel as if you’re suspended in mid-air on that bridge, because you sort of are! When I was photographed on the same bridge, you can see more of that feeling!
Here is Daphné on the same bridge.
Unfortunately, not everything changes on vacation! On the left are Alex and Charles, glued to their Gameboys in our hotel room almost as if they were still at home. This was probably late in the evening or early in the morning, because we did keep them moving during the day.
Daphné and Alban were going through an ambivalence about being photographed during this trip, during the whole year, I think. I was looking for them on the slopes while they and Charlie and Alex were skiing, and couldn’t find them at all. They just disappeared, probably to find more challenging runs, but I didn’t understand why they didn’t ski down past us to the base of the ski-lift. They must have found another lift. In the cafe after the skiing, they ate separately from the rest of us. I figured out that there, at least, I could take a picture of the two of them. Check it out, below!
Finally, below center is the group minus the photographer on the day trip to the Capilano Suspension bridge. Perhaps inspired by Alban, the younger boys too were going through a period when they could not resist the temptation to make faces whenever the camera appeared, and the first and last photos on this page showcase the results. At least Marie-Hélène and Daphné appear normal!
Vancouver was our first Canadian vacation, but won’t be our last. We’ve also vacationed in Florida and New York City in the US, not forgetting Disneyland in Anaheim and a Colorado road trip.