Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some of the things I like about this place

I won't claim that our experience here applies to everywhere in Canada, or even British Columbia, but here are some of the highlights for me about where we are now living.

Courtesy on the roads - pedestrians come first: Whether a car is emerging from a gateway into the road, or at an intersection with a stop line, or in a parking lot, traffic gives way to pedestrians. In those early days when I walked Megan to school through the suburbs of Victoria, what a breath of fresh air after the "I'm a motorist, get out of my way" attitude in St Peter Port traffic.

Go ahead, have fun: Parks and playgrounds everywhere, with well-maintained (and unvandalised) play equipment. And adults joining in un-selfconsciously.

When we went swimming at the Panorama recreation centre for the first time, I saw grown-ups amongst the youngsters using the rope swing and the six-foot slide by the side of the pool. "Can anyone use that?" I asked one of the attendants, being so accustomed to rules and restrictions. She gave me an odd look, as if the question was meaningless. "Of course," she said.

Now I think about it, I don't think I've ever seen a sign here prohibiting the bigger kids from taking part.

Family-friendliness everywhere: This cuts both ways, from child tolerance in "adult" settings like restaurants, to encouraging parents and friends to join in childrens' activities arranged by schools, clubs, and churches. Picnics, barbecues, games nights, movie nights, camps and other outings, the rule of thumb is "the more the merrier" combined with "and why wouldn't you want to be with your kids?"

Then, of course, there is the country itself. Forests, lakes, wilderness. Coming from a small island, it's an amazing feeling to be a short drive away from so much emptiness. And wildlife so close to home. Eagles, hawks, seals, orca, deer, raccoons, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, owls. Apart from seals and orca, we've seen all of these just sitting on our own deck. And, just to remind us that we are living in still largely untamed country, there are occasional sightings of bears and cougars on the Peninsula.

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