There’s No Business Like Snow Business

I’m just going to leave these here…

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70cm of snow in the last 24 hours and I feel like this town has completely transformed. We now live in a snow globe and aren’t mad about it at all.

Also in the last 24 hours:

Both of the mountains have opened for skiing and snowboarding (!!), our neighbours have rented out their place to air b’n’b-ers who are making a nice attempt at this video, we begun playing Christmas carols at work while setting up decorations and unpacking Christmas treats, I traded exercise for a mini Friends marathon, have felt in desperate need of some more sleep, and am gearing up for the new Gilmore Girls season available tomorrow!

Love to all,
Hanbel.
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10 Things That Make Me Terribly Happy About Fall

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  1. Crunchy orange leaves, waiting to be climbed over
  2. Scarves, jackets, gloves, beanies and boots (what will winter bring?)
  3. The first of the crockpot meals, pulled pork tacos no less!
  4. Netflix marathons…
  5. With comfy trackies and warm tea
  6. The first snowfall of the season!
  7. Rosy cheeks and cold noses
  8. My first and last Pumpkin Spice Latte
  9. Fairy lights in pine trees
  10. Cold, crispy air on my very early morning walks to work

Hanbel.
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Aloha-mora

After an absolute whirlwind three week trip away, we have returned to our humble abode. It feels damn good to be back you guys, even though it’s rained a lot and there’s not a lot happening in this little town. Anyway, I digress, the point of this post was to tell you all about our pitstop in Hawaii!

After quite an early start, our last Qantas lounge layover (GOD I will miss these, damn Andrew and his Gold status expiring!), minimal sleep, a lovely taxi driver and early check in, we settled into our hotel in Honolulu. Side note: we flew out of Perth at 7am and landed in Honolulu at 6am… on the same day.

Safe to say the first day was long and full of naps. The next few were more eventful, although not exactly the holiday we were after…

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Other than napping, day one essentially consisted of eating and walking. We grabbed a pitaya bowl and french toast, bought Andrew a new phone, visited our favourite American institution Buffalo Wild Wings, and wandered back for a bedtime my grandmother would be proud of.

First impressions of the city left us a little underwhelmed, I had been warned that Waikiki could be compared to Surfer’s Paradise and I’m afraid to say that I could see those similarities. Nonetheless, we set our alarms for the next morning to prepare us for our North Shore tour.

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The Surf Bus picked us up in town and set off in a northerly direction, and like any good tour guide gave us little tidbits of information along the way. He explained how our day would run, giving us options of activities in the morning (bike riding, a walk to the waterfall in the national park, snorkelling, surfing) and again in the afternoon (SUP or kayak, hanging out in the town of Haleiwa town).

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We opted to hire bikes, ride to the waterfall for an incredibly refreshing swim and head back along the coast, checking out famous surf spots such as Pipeline and Sunset.

The Waimea Valley National Park was gorgeous and much more like the tropical Hawaii I was expecting. The humidity settled in as we walked towards the waterfall and diving into the tiny lake provided some much needed relief.

We popped by a taco truck for lunch, before being picked up by the bus and driven to our new spot for some stand up paddle boarding. Goddam, I forget how much of a workout this sport is. It’s incredible for improving your balance, exercising your core and working your arms. Our reward came in the form of giant sea turtles gliding underneath us and we pushed back to shore.

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For those who didn’t share our experience, the bus made a stop on the way back at a beach renowned for basking sea turtles. You have to stay 6 feet away and are absolutely not allowed to touch them, but that works for us nature fans as we got to observe this dude from afar.

The Surf Bus provided an awesome day for us, I am quite the fan of the North Shore. We could have done with a little more action, but at the same time we both slept very well after this little adventure.

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We’d previously walked past a little carpark hiring out mopeds and trikes, and after a long sleep in and third consecutive Acai bowl breakfast, we picked one up to explore the coast a bit more.

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Leaving Andrew in charge of the driving (I know what I’m good at, and driving ain’t that!) I got to point in the general direction of where we wanted to go. As our trike chugged along at a measly speed of 35km/hr we stuck our heads out and caught glimpses of the incredible coastline.

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I’m a backpack kinda gal now, thanks to Whistler. 

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We got chatting to another couple of tourists from the US (also on embarrassingly small mopeds) who told us to head back and check out the cliff jumping at the China Walls, in Hawaii Kai. By the time we made it the swell had set in and there was no chance of us taking a dip, but it was still a pretty sweet little spot. So thought teenage boy who was taking a series of modeling-esque photos of his girlfriend while we were there…

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A cocktail (I say one, because we basically sculled the drinks so we could leave the overcrowded bar) for sunset, take-away dinner, a much regretted Haagen-Daaz sundae and “The Jungle Book” on DVD concluded our third day on the island.

For our final morning we woke early to take the bus up to Diamond Head Crater. Already heaving with tourists at 7am, we joined the ranks and climbed our way to the top. The hike is set up very well, the climb is never too hard and there are plenty of break spots for those struggling. The view from the top is spectacular, and if you tune out the loud music some people play and the endless selfies being taken, it was rather serene.

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I hate to judge a place after only three days, but I’m going to anyway. While the people of Hawaii are just lovely, and the North Shore is something special, I left feeling a little disappointed. I’m sure our experience in Waikiki can’t be compared to other islands and even smaller towns, but this is not what we were expecting. We struggled to find anything resembling authentic food, we struggled to even find restaurants that could seat us. We were overwhelmed with the amount of tourists and the high end shopping metres from the beach. When I pictured Hawaii, I wasn’t thinking of Chanel on the beach and Tiffany’s after a swim.

I’m glad we went, at least to break up the long trip home and get over some jet lag before jumping back into work. I’d like to visit again (although perhaps Maui or Kauai), but there are a lot of other places I’d head to first.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from flying over though, if you’re after a holiday of lying on the beach, endless shopping opportunities and hearty American cocktails and food, then this is your jam. I think ours a geared a little more towards the adventurous and rustic way of life (thanks again Whis!).

We are happy to be home though, and if nothing else this holiday has taught us that this is the place we are meant to be. Now bring on the snow!!

Much love,
Hanbel.
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Beaches, Babies, Beers and Brides (Part Two)

Rightio… where were we?

Ahh, that’s right. So, the day after the Beauvine evening with my lovely ladies, we were preparing for the real reason we decided to fly 38 hours back home… The nuptials of one Joseph Rossi and one Jemma Koios!

A must say a huge thank you to Vicki for inviting us all over to get ready and eat at her house beforehand, and also doing full make up for the four of us girls. Such a gem! Lynn also receives a special mention for organising the food and doing the lion’s share of the cooking. I truly believe that getting ready for any big event is just as exciting as the event itself and I had so much fun doing that with these stunners:

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The wedding day was perfect. Perth weather finally turned it on and the sun did not stop shining all day long. Everything ran smoothly as far as we could tell, the bride looked breathtaking and the groom couldn’t stop crying. It was absolute bliss to spectate.

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The reception was held at Sandalford, in their barrel room. The rows of fairy lights strung across wine barrels piled over polished concrete gave the room such an impressive glow that we couldn’t help ourselves by being astonished as we all walked in.

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The delicious food, heartwarming speeches and entertaining Italian and Macedonian dancing topped off an already spectacular day. We got a special mention in the groom’s thank you speech, but all I needed was to see the newlyweds looking as happy as I’ve ever seen them. Congratulations Jem and Jo, you two are a dream!

Now, if only Andrew and I could take a decent photo together…

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For the rest of the week, after moving to Mum’s place, we continued the varied catch-ups. We saw old faces, met some brand new ones, celebrated an 83rd birthday, and had quite a surprise…

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Andrew learnt how to hold a baby, his gorgeous cousin’s boy James. James had a plethora of toys in front of him and all he wanted to do was munch on the plastic cups on the table. Such a big boy, but so happy!

I took Mum’s ratbag Darcy to the beach where I received further proof that he is not like other dogs. I think the whole sand/water concept really confused him as he continued to look for me for guidance as to what he should be doing. When I sat down to appreciate the view he sat right behind me, hidden from the elements. Weirdo..

Andrew got out his cruiser bike and after seeing this grin the whole afternoon I’m so glad he didn’t end up selling it before we left. This was one happy chappy (though I think that was more to do with the amount of Pokemon he’s managed to catch since being back).

The last few nights were a whirlwind, but I have to thank all of our parents for the amazing dinners! Dad and Melissa, thank you for the incredible experience of dining at Wildflower – it was something else!
Mum, you’re amazing for putting on a full Indian feast and serving it all on Royal Doulton. I’m still dreaming of that butter chicken..
Glenn and Louise, BBQs are your house are always loud, delicious and entertaining. I love every minute πŸ™‚ I wish we’d grabbed some photos, but I always get too caught up in the moment.

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On one of our final days we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Maggie Matilda, who was born a few months after we left. She is delightfully delicious, barely made a peep the whole three hours we were there and is such a welcome addition to our Perth family. Jared and Carls, you made one cute baby. Wishing you three all the best!

To finish off our time at home, we were surprised by the arrival of our darling friends Brooke and Sean. They had received some awful news while being away and travelled for two days to come home and be with family. I won’t go into details, but I will say that even under those circumstances it was so good to see them!

Brooke, my sweet girl, decided that they should use the time they have at home to work on their wedding planning, before heading back to continue their European adventure. Little did I know that that would asking four of us ladies to be her bridesmaids!

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I accepted immediately with a beaming smile on my face. The thought of standing alongside one of my best friends while she marries another of my best friends is already bringing tears to my eyes. I’m so honoured to have this opportunity and will try my very best to help as much as I can from the other side of the world. I love you schnooky and I can’t wait for all the happiness that next year will bring us all!

Oh my heart, be still. We have been showered with love and joy since landing in Perth, and from the huge meal Andrew’s mum prepared for our first night to the miniature Christmas dinner my Mum planned for my last night it’s been a wonderful visit home.

Much love to all, you really do mean the world to us. But… Whistler Winter is calling and we’re going to answer her loud and clear.
Bring on the snowboarding, the white Christmas, the mulled wine, the snow angels, the crockpot meals, the rosy cheeks and allllllllll the layers!

Hanbel.
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P.s. Forgot to mention that we’re ducking past Hawaii on our way back, keep checking in for updates on our mini island getaway!

Beaches, Babies, Beers and Brides (Part One)

It’s Monday the 31st of October… Halloween. It’s a perfect 20 degree day with the sun shining brightly over the backyard. Alistair’s cactus has bloomed, and Darcy has consequently bitten the flower since then (Darcy is Mum’s dog, not a human – that would be weird). Baker’s Delight have started stocking their fruit mince pies and we’ve snagged a couple to eat while watching Love Actually. My backpack is packed, my final catch ups completed, my stomach content and my heart is so, so full.

Our two and a half week trip home is nearing an end, and a little part of me is relieved. To say it’s been busy would be an understatement. However, it has been so worth the long journey home.

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We hit the ground running seeing family, friends and the familiar sights of our home town. I think on day two I was already back at Jacob’s ladder, simultaneously checking out the city and struggling to breath.

We visited our beloved beach and fought against the sea breeze to ride down to Yelo for a coffee and breakfast. I never realised how much I love our seaside until weΒ were away from it for an extended period of time.

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The first week we stayed with Andrew’s parents, his sister Chelsea and their cat named Tess. I must admit it was lovely to wake up and have the house full of people running off for bike rides, or making coffee, chit-chatting the whole time.

One quiet day in the middle of the week we thought we’d play tourists in our own city and headed out to hike a little at Lesmurdie Falls.

This hike was quite the opposite of those we’ve done in Canada, but it was just as serene. Nothing makes me feel more at home or more relaxed than hearing the birds chirping, insects buzzing and kookaburras laughing in the middle of the bush. This day was such a nice reminder of why we will eventually return to this beautiful part of the world.

I was also lucky enough to spend a decent chunk of time catching up with my favourite gals. My beautiful Brianna was back in town for a weekend (she’s moved to Melbourne since I’ve been gone) and we all celebrated over wine and pizza at the Beaufort Street event Beauvine.

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The wine tasting was warmly welcomed, the food was tasty but the company was what made my night worth it. There’s something to be said about a friendship that can pick up right where it left off no matter how much time has passed. I’m fortunate enough to have eight of these, and seeing all of these faces makes me one happy gal indeed.

More to come on our time in Perth, if you can believe it our second week was busier than the first!
For now, Mum and I are celebrating Christmas instead of Halloween and making up for lost time.

Hanbel.
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I Think I’m Fallin’ For You

Well, well, well. Here we are. Two weeks shy of our six month anniversary of our Australian hiatus and we’re packing our backpacks to head back home (only for two and a half weeks!).

Yesterday was Canadian thanksgiving, but also the last official day the bike park was open and therefore the last day of the summer season! It was quite fitting for those two things to fall on the same day (ha, Fall – geddit?). It was quite a day of reflection and to feel thankful for this incredible place. I’m feeling so full of joy looking back on our first Canadian summer.

The last few weeks in particular have been a dream, from conquering my goals in the bike park;

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to walking into work everyday with a huge smile on my face;

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to having Alistair’s girlfriend Ellen visit, having a ball with her and hitting up the train wreck hike again (it doesn’t get old!);

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to watching Fall officially hit Whistler, with trees changing into the most vibrant of colours;

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and seeing the first snowfall of the season!!!

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We’ve also spent a small fortune on winter gear, snowboards and ALL THE LAYERS. I’m getting so pumped for winter and what this new season will bring for us.
But first, to head home and celebrate the wedding of two very dear friends! Can’t wait to see some familiar faces, eat some fresh food and soak up the last of the sunshine. See you all very soon!!!

Hanbel.
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P.s. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to wish my love a very, very happy 29th birthday!
I feel like I’ve said a variation of these words a million times since we left, but my goodness I am one lucky duck. To get to explore so many new places, a new way of life and new experiences everyday with your best friend by your side is a dream come true.

We both thought this move might be a bit of a test for us, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve never been happier – individually and together. Bring on the next year and more incredible moments like these! I love you, you crazy kid. x

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The Great Outdoors

This past weekend has probably been the best ever. So, so, so much fun. So much sunshine, so many outdoor activities, so many goals ticked off the list.

And the weather has been absolutely glorious! After the first two week of September washing us out and freezing us to the core, we were convinced we’d be in for a rough Autumn. Mother nature had other ideas though, and blessed us with non-stop sunshine and mid-twenty degree days.

This weekend we had planned for our mate Reuben to come up for a visit. He and Jill (this beautiful married couple) have been living in their van, travelling around BC, climbing rocks like crazy folk. Jill is down in Vancouver at the moment, learning how to become a yoga instructor, so Reuben thought he’d pop by to give mountain biking a red hot go.

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One lap of Easy Does It (the basic green run on the mountain) and he was bored, which made Andrew and I SO HAPPY. Reubs rode bmx as a kid and picked up mountain biking so quickly. We managed to tick off a tonne of blue runs, snuck in a black and made it to the garbo zone for a full hour long run. Safe to say he was one happy chappy, and I ticked off so many personal goals that day too. It was by far the best day I’ve had on the bike and I have Andrew to thank for being the perfect balance between coach and riding buddy.

I’d also been out with a work mate a couple of days ago (who snapped the below picture you may have seen on my instagram), and the combination of those two days out means that I’ve now ridden every blue and green run on the mountain – happy days!

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The next morning, my legs had seen better days but with a day off together we pushed ourselves to head back up the mountain – without a bike this time. Andrew and I hopped in the gondie as soon as it opened, rode it as far as it would take us and set out on an alpine hike.

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We took the Harmony Meadows to High Note to Half Note Trail, which would have been around 10km and took us 2 hours, 40 minutes. We had to cut it short due to Andrew’s riding plans, but I was secretly ecstatic about that.

The hike was stunning, alpine hiking is insane and like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The thinner air and constant uphills made it challenging, but we made it through and still smiled by the end!

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We actually started in the opposite direction to what is recommended (the chairlift to take us to the the proper trail head didn’t run until 11am), so we begun in rough, open conditions, full of loose rocks and mediocre scenery.

I’m glad we got that out of the way though, because as we turned the corner an hour in, we were dumbfounded by the sights.

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Photos absolutely do not do it justice, because the views of Cheakamus Lake and surrounding mountains were breathtaking.

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A couple of tips for long hikes:

  • Clif bars are the greatest thing in the world
  • As is water
  • Don’t buy that last wine at the bar the night before
  • Wear sunscreen. FML
  • Have a good hiking buddy and make fun conversation about all the amazing adventures you’ve already been on
  • When you start climbing steep hills, stop that conversation immediately
  • Apologise to your knees for the downhill slopes
  • High-five at the end because you didn’t die!

With all the riding we’d been smashing out, I’d forgotten how great hikes can be. This weekend definitely showed me how incredible Whister is in the summer, and how many activities there are to fill your spare time.

We finished up the weekend with healthy nachos, plenty of guacamole and beginning season four of Scandal. It was grand!

Very tired, but super content.
Hanbel
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