Spend too much time in shared hotel rooms; that’s when irritation starts to set in. Emphasise how nice it will be to spend time together. They won’t agree. Book too many early starts – for teenagers, a holiday means a lie-in. explore Vancouver, they found themselves reluctantly agreeing that the city is intoxicating. We lost track of time as we wandered through public squares with fantastic water features and witty sculptures. We breezed through hip, Victorian-era Gastown with its buzzing boutiques and coffee houses, our only concern being that, after all the urban buzz, wild Vancouver Island might fall a bit flat.
As exam stress slipped away, the twins’ mood lifted and we felt even more reluctant to leave Vancouver. Strolling along its beachfront boardwalk, we remarked on how it seemed like an advert for healthy living as its citizens enjoyed rollerblading, jogging and cycling. Hiring bikes ourselves, we whizzed through semi-wild Stanley Park on a guided tour, marvelling at First Nation totem poles, giant cedars, raccoons and a beaver lodge – all within walking distance of our hotel. Exhausted, we refuelled at the Glowbal Restaurant, which bills itself as “unapologetically chaotic” and serves spicy “strippeddown North American cuisine”.
The wrench of leaving this waterfront idyll was softened by our luxurious rental 4x4 – a Ford Explorer. After a civilised 1hr 40min ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, we penetrated deep into what felt like Jurassic Park. Just 30 nautical miles offshore and a third