Update from the We(s)t Coast of Canada

I can hardly believe it has been 3.5 months since I returned home to my beloved Bowen Island, and two months since my last blog post.  Time sure is flying and I have been keeping busy ….. in a good way ……no craziness, no running and racing and only working 3 days a week (sometimes 4 days).  I wondered if I would get bored with less working days and more leisure days, but I am loving this part-time working lark – it’s blissful!  I am no longer cramming multiple things into my days which has resulted me getting more enjoyment out of life, and that includes work!  Maybe this is the wisdom I was seeking during my Year of Mid Life Enlightenment.

My friend Rita who lives in Swinford Co Mayo, told me today that Bowen Island has been voted 11th in the UK Sunday Times list for the Best Places to Live Overseas.  How they possibly found Bowen Island and considered it for the list is beyond me, but I do agree, it does rank high on places to live for me!  It’s just beautiful here.  Not just our rainforests, ocean and great community, but also my good friends who did not skip a beat and welcomed me back warmly on my return.  You always know good friends when you can pick up where you left off.  The only time I go off island and into the city nowadays is for work.  This makes it a little difficult to stay connected with city friends, but they have been patient while I get my fill of Bowen Island.

So what have I been up to in the last little while?  I’ve been doing lots and lots of cooking – in particular Indian meals for a multitude of friends.  I cannot stop myself, so much enjoyment!  I’ve tried many of the recipes that I learned in Kolkata and Jaipur, and added a few more to my repertoire.  I’m loving being back in the kitchen and having the time to cook .

So little counter space!

So little counter space!

As you can see my kitchen is tiny, if the fridge door is open, only one person fits in the kitchen.  Clearing the dining table of dishes has to be done in stages, there is just not enough counter space for everything.  But I still manage to cook meals for up to 12 people in this little kitchen – you just have to be efficient is all.  Saturday night I had a few neighbours over and I remembered to get a few photos taken of the Indian food I prepared.  Thanks to Ellen for her smartphone when my camera acted up.

To start:  poppadums with  several homemade chutneys:  cilantro/chilli green chutney, cayenne pepper onion chutney and sweet mango chutney with coconut and tamarind.  The dish  top left on the plate contains store-bought hot Punjabi mix.

To start: poppadums with several homemade chutneys: cilantro/chilli green chutney, cayenne pepper onion chutney and sweet mango chutney with coconut and tamarind. The dish top left on the plate contains store-bought hot Punjabi mix.  Also a glass of salty lassi with mint bottom left.

From near to far: shahi paneer, Weldon's cabbage dish (he won't give me the recipe!), moong & masur dal, pindi channa, saag bhaja, bengali chicken curry, roti & naan. All made from scratch except the naan

From near to far: shahi paneer, Weldon’s cabbage dish (he won’t give me the recipe!), moong & masur dal, pindi channa, saag bhaja, bengali chicken curry, roti & naan. All made from scratch except the naan

Note the tablecloth which I got at Aarong in Dhaka.  It is a block-printed cloth handmade by Bangladeshi women – beautiful, isn’t it?

My next challenge is to produce a Nepali Dinner for Six mid April, with Peter & Claire’s help thankfully!  You may remember the raffle prize at our January Fundraiser for SIRC’s Poor Patient Fund www.sirc.org.np  was Nepali Dinner for Six.  The date has now been set with the winner – yikes!

This photo of Peter & Claire was taken at my house while we prepared the Nepali snacks for the fundraiser we did earlier this year.  We ate sushi for dinner that night from Bowen's pretty decent little sushi place.

This photo of Peter & Claire was taken at my house while we prepared the Nepali snacks for the fundraiser we did earlier this year. We ate sushi for dinner that night from Bowen’s pretty decent little sushi place.

SIRC’s Esha, Nikita, Dr Raju and Dr Prakash all have waded in on what the menu should be for the Nepali Dinner so I will do a trial run of a few recipes I have not cooked before over the Easter long weekend so I get it right for the prize winners. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

In keeping with the food theme, I took part in a cheese making course recently on Bowen.  The fellow comes from Salt Spring Island and has run courses on Bowen in the past.  He was back by popular demand and going by the level of interest (I was lucky to get a place on the course), I think he will be back again!  I learned how to make a yogurt cheese and how to inject it with various flavours, as well as a soft rind cheese that can be eaten as is, or form the basis for mozzarella or a Camembert.  I’m very excited and am anxiously awaiting the box of cheese-making tools I will need to get started with cheese making at home!  He was to demo the making of paneer (Indian cheese) but changed his mind when people did not really know what that was.  What a pity as the making of paneer was the attraction for me … now that I am cooking so much Indian food these days.  So he’ll give me a helping hand over the phone when I make here … once my cheese-making tools (yay!).  Wish me luck.

Besides hikes and meals and long conversations and much laughter with friends, I’ve been busy being a part of Bowen’s interesting cultural scene.  Yin yoga has done me a world of good and I am thoroughly enjoying that.  I’ve been to a bunch of concerts (a particular highlight was the Karen Savoca concert brought to Bowen by local resident and Juno winner Shari Ulrich).  How lucky are we to live on an island so brimful of talent?  I’m also enjoying the Forward Focus Documentary Series which lately showed Wisdom to Survive – thought provoking to say the least.  Cymbeline is a Shakespearean play that usually takes 4.5 hours to get through.  Fortunately local director Graham Ritchie cut it down to 1.5 hours and for 3 performances only, presented the abridged version to much acclaim.  I find it pretty neat to see good quality acting by my neighbours and friends – makes it fun-er (I know there is no such word but you get my drift).  There’s also an annual fundraiser by the Arts Council called the Mini Gala.  Canvases are handed out to artists on Bowen, who anonymously create a work of art – some deviate from their usual techniques entirely, others do not.  The pieces go up for auction starting at $125 and you never know if you are picking up a piece very cheaply by an artist who usually sell their art for $10,000.  Always a fun night, raucous even by Bowen standards and a great way to spend Valentines Night!  Jude Neale‘s afternoon of poetry and music was a fun and creative event too.  Jude’s performances always stretch my analytical mind to new levels – it’s good for me!

I’ve had a few visits by friends from the city – Vancouver and Toronto.  Karen H visited from Toronto and got a good feel for life on Bowen over the few days she visited.  I think she is gonna come back too, so that’s a good sign.  While it was -30 degrees or something in Toronto, it was a balmy +15 degrees on Bowen that weekend, with blue blue skies so she was feeling rather smug having swapped wintertime for springtime!

Karen H and I on the trail down to the ferry before she hopped her flight to Toronto.

Karen H and I on the trail down to the ferry before she hopped her flight to Toronto.

And I had a bunch of ex-PHNICers over for an Indian Feast and get together … I never took a photo of the gang which I now regret.  Once many left on the last ferry back to Vancouver, the night continues with Simon and Gary – oh what a night!

Yes, it was as goofy a night as it looks :-)

Yes, it was as goofy a night as it looks 🙂

I am happy to be home on Bowen, happy to be working part-time and am fortunate to be living a good life here.  But just because I am happy to be home on Bowen, does not mean my travelling is done.  On the contrary!  For now it is good to be earning Canadian dollars and to be paying my bills.  I’m in constant contact with my friends in Nepal, a piece of my heart and soul is still there and I cannot let go.  In fact I am heading back to SIRC and Banepa for a month later this year, they cannot keep me away.  Depending on when I go will determine what work I will be doing – Esha will direct me I am sure!

The good news is SIRC have been keeping very busy since I left, leveraging some of the work we did while I was there and started many new programs too.  Esha and team at SIRC have been so busy with their various programs, on reflection I think it warrants a separate post.  I cannot do it justice now so watch out for another post sometime soon.  If your curiosity is getting to you in the meantime, check out the SIRC Facebook page for the latest.

Over and out on this rainy evening on Bowen Island.  We’ve had a very mild winter this year as compared to other parts of Canada, evidenced by my veggie beds all ready and waiting for planting so early in the season, and a little-used wood shed with much of my winter wood stash remaining!

Veggie beds are at the ready (forefront) and the bright green of the garden after so much rain this winter.

Veggie beds are at the ready (forefront) and the bright green of the garden after so much rain this winter.

No, your eyes are not blurry.  Those are raindrops obscuring the wood shed!

No, your eyes are not blurry. Those are raindrops obscuring the wood shed!

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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4 Responses to Update from the We(s)t Coast of Canada

  1. Judi says:

    I can attest to the delicious food. THANK-YOU to all Kate’s teachers and Weldon! when Kate finally gets the recipe out of him hopefully she will share it too!

  2. Kate Coffey says:

    It’s THANKS to Rajashi in Kolkata and Suman in Jaipur who taught me so well, and gave me the confidence to try other Indian dishes and add them to my repertoire. Delish!

    No thanks yet to Weldon, still waiting for the recipe for that cabbage dish.

  3. renu says:

    Greeeat to have u back 😉

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