Posts by Craig Phillips

A Traveller has Arrived

Kelowna. Almost smack in the middle of Beautiful British Columbia. What a place! What an utterly different world it is for a fair skinned settler from the blustery East Coast of Scotland. As a teenager and twenty something, the thought had never entered my often over-gelled head that I might one day emigrate here. Yet eight years after I first arrived, here I am— a card carrying member of the great Canadian public.

I first came as a traveler, and like any good one of those, had not much of a plan. As a Mountain Biker and Snowboarder, BC was on my radar. Visions of a new Ocean, of majestic snow capped peaks, and of endless trails under ancient forest canopies held an irresistible allure, and I packed by bag for the Pacific Northwest.

I knew nothing of the Okanagan then, until my newly snagged Canadian girlfriend— a Vancouverite— took me to her Mum’s place in Naramata. I couldn’t believe I was in Canada, the scenery was so removed from the typical image of Canada that most Scots have of the place. It was dry, fresh and mystical. I felt I had ventured up the Coquihalla and somehow ended up in a John Wayne movie, fully expecting to see Rooster Coqburn slumped at the bar of the Camp Creek Station, or spot a couple of indigenous braves astride their horses, looking down from the arid bluffs. The contrast was phenomenal and exciting.

When my travel time was up, my new ‘marshallette’ sold up the contents of her Vancouver rental suite and followed me back to Scotland, swapping new world for old. We spent a few happy years in Ole’ Caledonia, renting a place on a Victorian Terrace next to the canal. We ventured to the Highlands with our hiking boots and mountain bikes and braved the inclement weather. Afterwards as we sipped local ale by the pub hearth, our hearts would turn to the Okanagan. Having tasted summer in the valley, the North Atlantic rain and wind seemed harder to bear. The Lake, the fruit and wine, and the sunshine. The dry clay trails and desert plants- when the time came to return to BC, it took little time to settle for Kelowna.

After two years, we are glad of the move and smile as we watch our two huggable half-breeds splash in the Lake. We eat the best cherries from our own tree and douse our noodles with tomato sauce from our own patch. It is Canada so it ain’t summer all the time, but we don’t mind waiting while riding knee deep in powder!

We love our new base. The Okanagan is great, but you can access so much from here and that is why we love it to. Point your land cruiser in any direction for four hours and you can be in some incredible places in this amazing province. And when we do it helps to remind me of how I ended up here- as a tourist. Even now that it is home, I will always look at this place with those same tourist eyes.