Archives December 2020

2 Weeks in Sun Peaks

Eat, Sleep, Snowboard, Repeat.

Adapting to our first fortnight in the second largest ski resort in Canada, here is a summary of our experience so far.
Our studio room has served us well so far. It is convenient that we are a short walk from all the shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as the chair lifts and the gym, not to mention being a 2 minute walk to work. We are lucky to be living here and not in the normal staff accommodation at the Burfield which is 30 minutes walk down to the West side of town.

Looking out of our bedroom window we can see 40m tall conifers climbing up Mt Morisey and icicles hanging down from the edge of our roof which get bigger every day. Somebody said they are likely to reach the floor at some point. Quite often we hear the jingle bells attached to the snowplow which we mistake for Father Christmas. 
We get ready to go out snowboarding at around 9.30am. I have been going more often than Shell because in her first week she was doing 9-5 but now she doesn’t start until 12 and we have both been improving every day. I have been up to the top of Mt Tod and completed the 5 mile run back down to the village twice. I’ve also been up Mt Morisey to do ‘The Sticks’ but I most regularly go up the Sundance chair lift to do ‘Homesteader’ or ‘Rambler’.

The difficulty levels are different to Europe – green is easy and blue is intermediate, while black is still the hardest level. The names of the runs are often representational e.g. ‘The Sticks’ is through the trees and ‘Homesteader’ is the fastest route to the ski village. I will let you know when I take on ‘Intimidator’ for the first time. Some of the bars name their cocktails after the runs, with the stronger cocktails named after the harder runs. I have been improving my toe turning and I am getting more confident with my speed. Here is a map including all the runs, pink lines are the chair lifts.
One or two hours a day is enough and we go back in time for Shell to go to work. We have a bite to eat and I do some work on my online program. I then go to the gym at around 1pm for an hour to do my bodyweight training plan. I am currently focusing on handstand, muscle up, planche, bridge and back lever at the moment and hopefully I will master a few of them by the time we leave.

I get home and have lunch before starting my shift in the kitchen at 2.30pm or 3pm, I have never been a chef before but so far I am really enjoying it. There are 6 of us working in the kitchen: The head chef is Richard from Toronto, he is very chilled and has a dry sense of humour. Kimsley is the sous chef, she has a funny French accent even though she is originally from Milton Keynes and doesn’t speak French. There is another Matt who is from Aberystwyth in Wales, he is a Liverpool fan so I don’t like him very much at the moment. Clare is a Scottish girl who loves snowboarding and yoga, she already has permanent residency in New Zealand and is applying for it in Canada as well. Finally we have Paul, who is a 21 year old Canadian guy from Kingston, Ontario. He is by far the most polite and friendly person I have ever met – a true Canadian. 

They all have a lot more experience than me working in the kitchen but they are very understanding and patient with me as a beginner. I am working mostly as a dishwasher but I am also doing food on the cold side where the main roles are to prepare appetisers, salads and desserts. There is a lot of prep work to do at the start of the shift and I have found that once somebody has shown me something once I am quite capable of repeating it. 

The appetisers include braised pork belly, baked brie and an antipasto platter. The salads are the caesar salad, mixed salad with maple dressing, roast beet and chevre salad (pictured below), and a crusted goats cheese and mixed salad with fruit tea dressing. Desserts are chocolate brownie, apple crumble, creme brulee and Grand Marnier cheesecake. 
The restaurant is a steakhouse and the smell of meat lingers in the air. I watch carefully while Clare prepares the steaks, seasoning with salt and pepper, massaging them until tenderised and then cooking them partly on the grill and partly in the oven depending on the cut and the customers cooking preference. The steak cuts are new york striploin, ribeye, sirloin and tenderloin. We also have chicken, lamb, ribs, salmon and bison on the menu.

Matt and Paul do the veg and carbs to accompany the meats. They pre-roast seasonal veg which gets fried in butter before service. The gnocchi is also fried in butter and goes underneath the chicken which in my opinion the most appetising thing on the menu. The mash potato is extremely creamy as are the seafood tagliatelle and mushroom risotto dishes. The presentation on the plate is then done by Kimsley and Richard who also prepare the sauces such as bearnaise, peppercorn and red wine veal jus. As you can tell, everything is very rich and it all looks and tastes amazing.

We have to wear masks for the duration of the shift but you get used to it after a while. It helps to stop me from nibbling on everything in sight because the smells are so tantalising. Luckily, the hotel owner Mario – who has a knack for popping up out of nowhere – said to us that we are allowed to eat a free meal on shift as long as we don’t pick the most expensive things on the menu which is fair enough. The other day Kimsley made a massive stew with all the offcuts of steak which we combined with the leftover mash to make a ginormous cottage pie. 

My shifts generally finish between 9pm and 10pm. This is because it is very quiet in the resort and we assume that if COVID wasn’t around then we would be doing longer hours. Over 30 hours for me is good going round here at the moment and lots of people are doing multiple part time jobs. Shelley has been struggling in housekeeping to get hours because there simply aren’t enough people checking out. Strangely, we might end up getting more people come to stay in the resort because Whistler and Big White have both had outbreaks of the virus, so hopefully people might divert their Christmas vacations to Sun Peaks instead so we can get more hours.
Our days off at the moment are on Saturday and Sunday, probably to keep the most experienced people in the kitchen on the weekend. We sometimes walk down to the West side of the village through the woods, where there is a nice deli and a yoga studio which is currently out of use. The other day I hired out the studio for a few hours to do some filming for my next 6 week online fitness program which starts on 4th January.

If you would like some information about the program or any of my other personal training services, please do not hesitate to message me to book a free online zoom consultation. There is a 25% discount if you sign up for the challenge before Christmas and it could be a great present to a friend, family member, partner or even yourself to get a head start on your fitness in the new year.

Sign up here.

Today is our last day off until Boxing Day, we will both be working on Christmas Day and possibly New Years day but that is to be expected in hospitality. We will be missing our families but Zoom and WhatsApp will provide us with a virtual Christmas experience. It is sad to hear that the UK is going into a full lockdown over the festive period but keep positive and stay safe, look forward to the future, it’s going to get better. Understandably we are also not allowed to meet inside with other households or have parties here, but I will be on the slopes on Christmas morning tearing up the snow on my snowboard. Sorry to rub it in.

Merry Christmas and best wishes.

Arrival to Sun Peaks

Snow’s it going? 

We finished our 14 day quarantine and now we have moved on to our new home for the next four months in Sun Peaks, BC. 
When we finally got out of our Air BnB like moles returning to the surface we were surprised (and a bit annoyed) to see a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains. A sight to behold for anyone even when you had only seen the inside of a flat for the last fortnight.

We spent the first day out sightseeing in Vancouver including a bicycle tour of Stanley Park where we saw a family of racoons hanging out on a tree. In the evening, we went to meet an old colleague for dinner at the ramen noodle restaurant Jinya and then went home to sleep before our flight the following day.
The flight was a short 45 mins in a dinky little plane with propellers and less than 20 passengers. The views from out the window were stunning and it was just miles of mountain ranges, lakes and snowy peaks. We landed in Kamloops at around 14:45 where we were greeted by our (slightly eccentric) driver Gordon who took us on another 45 minute journey up to Sun Peaks ski resort.
 
The views on the drive up were sublime and Gordon pointed out all the different mountains and told us their names and some histories about them. We asked if there were any moose or bears in the area and he said they were rare but deer, mountain lions and coyotes were slightly more common. There is also apparently one fox that lives in the resort who is not afraid of humans.

We arrived at the resort at around 4pm and our new boss Silvia at Sun Peaks Lodge showed us to our new home which is a fantastic hotel room with a kitchenette and king-sized bed. We couldn’t believe how nice it is and when she left us to unpack our things we jumped around the room in excitement. 

Later on that evening, we walked around the village and enquired in a few ski shops about hiring some gear. We got measured up and rented snowboards, boots and helmets for $50 each until 6pm the following day. We went out to a pub across the road from our hotel and had dinner out. The streets are really quiet still because the season hasn’t officially opened yet.
The next day we headed to the slopes to practice snowboarding for the very first time. We went up the carpet lift on the smallest slope and managed to fall over spectacularly every time on the way down. We stopped to have a break and a late breakfast before attempting the slightly bigger ‘rabbit slopes’. We tried to use the button lift but fell on the first few attempts in front of some of the smallest kids I’ve ever seen on skis, who made us look very amateur.

After a few successful button lifts up we actually started to get the hang of it! We both made it down a few times in a row without falling and it started to click, I convinced Shell to go up on the chair lift which carried on for 15 minutes, a lot further than either of us expected. We followed the easiest route down and fell over loads but it was good experience, when we got to the bottom I decided to go back up and do it again.

That evening we got a supermarket delivery from Kamloops which we ordered before arrival and then went out to give the gear back. I decided to buy a Salomon snowboard and clips, a pair of K2 boots and a helmet for a substantial fee but it will save me a lot of money compared to renting.

Our bodies are aching so bad but it is so worth it to be here. I start work on Sunday morning at 10am for my first day being trained up in the kitchen and then my following shifts are 1.30pm starts meaning I will get plenty of chances to do a few hours of morning snowboarding.

Maybe I will become… The Snowmad Trainer?

Healthy regards as always,

Matt