I like sunshine, it means I get to wear sun dresses and stupid sunglasses and smell like Haiwian Tropic sun lotion. Its probably a good thing that I happen to like sunshine as the bay of San Francisco is currently going through an immense heatwave which took temperatures to over 105f today (not sure on the celcius translation is but maybe about 40...). Therefore the usual mist that covers the bay is nowhere in sight meaning that San Fran couldn't be any more beautiful. Our days have been spent wandering round drinking Starbucks iced pink lemonade, sitting in parks and watching sunsets :-D (we had amazing meal at The Cheesecake Factory on the roof of Macy's where the sunset was just amazing). Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge, Nob Hill, we've wandering through all of it taking far too many photos and cursing the geographical layout of this city (its on a massive hill).

The trip to Alcatraz was so interesting and its quite ironic that the prison was built in such a beautiful place, maybe they were silently trying to torture the prisoners re. the freedom they had been denied. Greg and I managed (somehow) to end up on a private tour which took us to bits of the prison that had been closed to the public for decades as they don't have sufficient volunteers to handle the numbers of tourists. Seeing the "forbidden" areas just made the trip even more special and our guide was so knowledgeable about the prison and its infamous inmates like Al Capone. We also managed to meet a former inmate, Darwin Coon, one of the last to leave when the prison closed in 1963. He was in for bank robbery and is one of only four surviving inmates still alive.

Then Thursday was spent doing what Jen and I do best, BEVERAGING!!! We booked a winery tour of the Napa and Sonoma valleys to sample their finest products ;-). This could have been a cheaper day had we done it ourselves, however then we are faced with the issue of two alcoholics who can't drink at a winery because they have to drive home....I DON'T THINK SO. We went on a bus packed full of grannies to visit three very different winery's all over northern California. We sampled four or five wines at every winery and I have just one word; LUSH!!! It was really cool getting to try wines that I wouldn't usually order because (I thought) I didn't like them and obv the fact that we started boozing at 10am was a massive plus. The countryside was beautiful and it didn't feel like we were in America, totally more like Tuscany. Needless to say the wine slipped down rather easily and led to an amazing end to our San Francisco experience.

Also I had some amazing news from school (HEC) today, one of my massive projects from this semester scored me a nigh on perfect grade which according to my prof is unheard of for a HECer never mind for an exchanger. She has subsequently offered me a place on their masters scheme/research program no matter what degree classification I get, SCORE. Just a shame that the last thing in the world I want to do now is go back to school for another few years!!!



I leave home for 1 year and this is what my devil of a brother does to my car..... git ;-)


Kate Kate Kate Kate

OHHHH MYYYYY GOOOOOD!!!! Serious amounts of catching up to do urmmmmm OK where do I start.....
When I left you last we were in Seattle, and having drank ourselves into a Mountain Dew and vodka stupor and visited numerous micro breweries we set off on a 4 hour bus to Portland. However not before we visited the first ever Starbucks (which is at Pike Place Market) and encountered massive amounts of freaks in and around the hostel. I had a bit of bad news from home; my Uncle Syd had passed away and I was a bit stuck in limbo with what I could say or do for my dad when 5000 miles away however he had a really amazing life and defiantly was someone who lived to the full.

Portland was one of those places that we didn't know anything about or know anyone who had ever been. In fact, the only reason we were stopping there was to tick off the state of Oregon and break up the huge drive down to San Fran. HOW WRONG WE WERE!!! Having settled into our "green" hostel (it has no environmental footprint and a living roof) which was amazingly homely we decided to go and get some food and more importantly a beer (or 5). Plus on the bus on the way to our hostel we met a wicked Alaskan called Autumn who had invited us for some drinks. After exactly 2 minutes we realized we were in one of the coolest places EVER (a suburb called Hawthorne) as the number of bars and restaurants was overwhelming. We settled in this amazing warehouse come brewery come venue and as we tried to pretend we were cool enough to be there but the local brew was flowing strong. Autumn was so nice and this made us think if we had finally left all the freaks behind in Seattle....

Having been armed with loads of tips for pubs, shops and sights we set off early Sunday morning on our adventure into Portland which should probably be renamed as the most pointless city on planet earth. Our tourist trail was fun as we had just highlighted things on the map the night before (when smashed) and we navigated to them blind having no idea what we were going to see. It turns out that Portland has no real sights, although it boasts some old tall trees and a massive copper statue (second largest after Lady Liberty herself). Having had our fill of tourism we decided to stop for coffee, this them seemed impossible as Portland (unlike Seattle) has NO coffee shops and only seems to be jam packed with amazing breweries and funky bars. In the avo we decided to check out all the shops that had been recommended to us.....yes I know DANGEROUS. We spend hours rummaging in amazing vintage stores picking up some amazing jewels and funky clothes for next to nothing. It was then that I realized I was totally in love with this pointless city and its quirky nature; everyone was too nice and so eager to talk and help us out, even the bus drivers seemed happy! Plus the beer was so good and the cheapest we had encountered on our year in North America.

Then, the fun really began as the Kate Nash extravaganza kicked off. Her gig in Portland (at none other than the Wonderballroom) was AMAZING, the best I've ever seen her and to top it off we have some amazing photos and Jenna's first real brush with stardom ;-). TALKING OF JENNA she decided to get utterly smashed at the gig and after the 4 pints and 3 double vodka mountain dew's pre gig she managed to carry on with more beer and double G&T's. Needless to say she wasn't feeling amazing for the last morning in Portland, however a massive Chinese and a morning in some Thai Chi gardens sorted her out in time for the 18 hour train to San Fran.

Portland has massively been the highlight so far, so I sit here, freshly showered, having just checked into our San Fran hostel with a nicely suntanned face, a very pretty 1960's puffball dress (thank you vintage Portland) ready for what the gay capital of America has to offer.

Plus Greg (a friend from Montreal) joins the Jenna and Lorna tour tonight which is probably a good thing as we need protecting, not in that sense but we just keep loosing things haha. Jenna has no lost 2 towels and (almost) her handbag and I have sacrificed a jumper to the cause. Oh well...probably a good thing for the weight count. xxx



Mountain Dew

I've never been good on boats (there was a very dodgy experience on a school trip to Spain in 6th form when I'd cleverly drunk half a bottle of vodka before we sailed and needless to say I was never really the same after the 13 hour roller coaster crossing) THUS I was a bit scared of the prospect of so many boats around Victoria and also the clipper ferry we would be taking to Seattle. Apparently (and I don't want to speak too soon) I am cured miraculously from my seasickness however I will never go to an IMAX ever again. The massive screen and the fact I thought I was flying into it totally made me want to vom (ewwwwwwwww) however the Tour de France film was actually quite good (yes Ollie you read correctly, I paid to go to the cinema to see a bike film however don't kid yourself that its frequently going to happen next year).

I can't remember where I left you but we're now in Seattle and have finally left Canada (the wonder land) behind. We have walked for literally days and days (Jenna reckons more in the last 24h than she has in her whole life) and virtually circled the whole city. The Space Needle was a tourist must see however then we "hiked" up Queen Anne Hill to look over the whole city and admire all the amazing million dollar houses. We went to the trendy Fremont area to spy on the massive troll carved out from beneath the mountain side, looked for Meg Ryan's houseboat a la "Sleepless in Seattle" and then ended up at Hooters (yes we are classy...and STRAIGHT) for some excessive afternoon happy hour drinking.

We met some amazing old people on the boat to Seattle who talked us through all the sites and gave us tips for some good restaurants (one of which, a Greek one, will be tried tonight). For those of you that don't know I TOTALLY LOVE OLD PEOPLE and was consequently engrossed in their conversation about roof fires, camera lenses and waterproof jackets. We decided that we want them to come to Las Vegas with us because they were pretty much living legends (one of them liked pina coladas at 11am when she was on the cruise boats) however sadly they have previous engagements.

The freak count is also on the rise. Our first real freak encounter was a guy in our Victoria Hostel; marine biologists are now on the list of people to avoid as he proceeded to tell us information even your closest friends needn't know. In addition apparently we shouldn't get any weed of men in Calgary hostels (looooooooser) yet there was no chance of him pouncing on either of us as basically his introductory sentence was "Hi I'm Colin, don't worry I'm not trying to chat you up, I'm gay." Way to make a lady feel special.

Ahhhhh and finally the best thing about having entered "the land of the free" (apart from the augmented risk of getting stabbed, raped or shot) is that we can now consume Mountain Dew to the max. Having discovered the Mountain Dew and Vodka combo on Spring Break we were most happy to return back to our drinking habits of former months and drink ourselves into giggle stupors. For those of you who haven't had the joy of sampling Mountain Dew, its like Red Bull on speed with about 10 times the amount of caffeine. You better watch out. xxx



There are certain things that I am just not supposed to do and over the last few days I have discovered something else that should be added to the list; KITE FLYING. On Sunday morning we headed down to the beach equipped with numerous dangerous pieces of flying equipment, I really don't understand how Mary Poppins made it look soooo easy because after precisely 30 seconds I had almost decapitated a 7 year old and reeked havoc over a village of sandcastles which had previously taken 1 hour to construct. Charlotte and I are now friends again however only as long as I promise never to go near her whilst wielding some strings and nylon.

The rest of Vancouver went by in a blur of Louise's home brewed beer and wine (massively lush)with the additional highlight of the FIRST YORKSHIRE PUDDING CONSUMPTION IN OVER 11 MONTHS during Sundays roast dinner. Monday was spend shopping Downtown and wandering round all the different neighborhoods of Vancouver. I met up with Jen and Graham (a friend from Montreal) for a cheeky beverages (or more precisely a few pitchers of cheeky beverages) before having an amazing last meal with the family on Granville Island.

Stanley Park, UBC (University of British Columbia), the beaches argggg all of it was amazing but it wasn't Montreal and with every day that goes by I realise that I miss "home" so much and do not want to go back to England. I have a sneaky suspicion that I might have been born on the wrong continent.

Having had a wicked time in Vancouver with the family I found myself on a boat to Vancouver Island on Tuesday afternoon. The 1.5 hour crossing from Twasawan to Horse Shoe Bay was beautiful as the boat weaved between all the different islands. Following a 1 hour bus down into the heart of Victoria we settled in at out hostel just time time for a bottle of wine, some clam chowder and a few pints of beer.

Our first day in Victoria was AMAZING as we went on a whale watching trip all around the southern and western coast of Vancouver Island. Having been suited up in the most hilarious bright yellow all-in-one fisherman's outfits (and posing for the usual facebook profile picture) we went off on our tiny tiny inflatable boat (just like the ones Blue Peter always made you raise money for). Four hours later we had seen Bald Headed eagles, Porpoises, Sea Lions, Seals and also we had tracked a family of orcas for over an hour. It was soaking and cold but I massively loved the fact I'd managed to see Killer Whales in the wild. They were beautiful and soooo close, I think I'm still smiling. After the boat ride we wandered all around the harbour and ate fish and chips next to the seagulls (Jen like usual was freaking out cos she hates big birds). Then we managed to squeeze in a hilarious (free) tour round the Parliament buildings before returning home for a few beverages in the evening sun.

I "heart" Canada!!!!


"Beautiful British Columbia"

I don't like flying at the best of times so you can imagine the joy I experienced when I was told that my flight (via every airport in America) to Vancouver was canceled because the plane had no oxygen. However all clouds do really have a silver linings as I was then rerouted onto a first class direct flight to Vancouver WHOOP WHOOP.

The number plates on the cars here say "Beautiful British Columbia" and dude, totally spot on!!! The view of the Rockies as my plane flew in was BEAUTIFUL and this place is massively green and (wait for it) there is not a snowdrift in sight. However I never thought I would have that much of a adjustment as it may be 3000 miles away from Montreal yet is it still the same country; however I am currently dealing with the head mash speaking English rather than the Franglais I had been so accustomed to "back home."

As my five month summer kicks off (jealous?) I'm adjusting to life as a human climbing frame for my "cousins" Henry, aged 6, and Charlotte, 7 and a half (I forgot how important half years were to kids and heaven forbid I actually say that she was 7). I also use the word cousin in the loosest of senses because they are more like 3rd cousins once removed however when you have a family the size of mine, 3rd cousins once removed are actually considered to be close relatives. Yet the sights have been amazing so far (despite the rain) and hopefully I wont kill Alan (dad) before the end of my trip as currently I have him doing 5km runs with me so I don't get lost in the Vancouver countryside and Louise (mum) wont kill me with the quantities of her home brew I am currently consuming.

Jen arrives in Vancouver later today so the trip can really start whoop whoop. Let the madness continue. xxxx
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