As it starts to get colder I find myself pining to be back into the thick of winter, I mean real winter. Over 2013 & 2014 I spent a year living in a small town called Fernie, in British Columbia. There were many great things about living in Fernie, but the best thing was the lifestyle. Having nature's playground (the ski hill) 5 minutes up the road is what I miss the most (& my friends of course).
Living away from NZ for a year was the best learning experience I ever had. I have travelled a bit in the past but I have never lived in another country & faced all the challenges it presents. I travelled a total of 16 months & visited the US either side of my stay in Canada.
A massive thank you to my Canadian families, The
In Canada, I experienced lots of firsts (see images below). Some other first include: shoveling snow, snowshoeing, snow-blowing & moose sightings.
Photo credit | Cheyney McDonnell
Yep, before I went to Canada, I had never been to the snow. Nothing like diving into the deep end. The coldest temperature I experienced was -30ºC (windchill -50ºC). One night I'm sure my toes were about to snap off. Even though it was cold, I loved it. It isn't like the damp cold you experience in places like Auckland (where you can't warm through). It's a dry cold & as soon as you step back inside, you're warm again.
The above image was the first dump of proper snow I saw (other than on the mountain-tops). It was during a trip to Calgary with the Purdys. Needless to say, I was a bit excited.
Photo credit | Cheyney McDonnell
Kerrie was making a quilt & I wanted in on this skill. I made one for my brother to send home for his 30th. Haha, the lady in the quilt shop asked me how old my brother was & when I replied '30', she had a good ol' laugh.
I lived in Fernie for less than a year. Some of the connections I made are as strong as the connections I have with my oldest & dearest friends. Fernie is a transient town, people come & go, usually with the seasons. I met & connected with people from all over the globe. Some I have caught up with since, some I keep in contact with, some I don't. We all have something in common - Fernie.
THE GAASTRA SISTERS
Photo credit | Lauren Gaastra. Nicola on the left, me on the right.
I had to go all the way to Canada to meet these amazing Kiwi girls. I met Nicola when she came into Freyja (where I worked), she invited me to her place for dinner. I'm so glad I went. A potluck dinner, a trip to the pub & a spontaneous trip to Idaho, we were instant friends. Her sister Lauren moved to Fernie & with similar taste in art & music, we hit it off also. Nicola has the patience of a saint & is the reason I know how to snowboard. These two girls (& Levi, Nicola's boyfriend) all hold a special place in my books.
Nicola has since moved to Sydney & started her business Delicious Skin. Check it out here. More recently she has written a children's book And so you asked. She's an inspiration to me & her products are to die for!
FELLOW KIWI GIRLS
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Left to right: Me, Mon & Anna.
Mon - The life of the party. Everyone's best friend & so much fun to be around. Girl, I wish I saw you more!
Anna, my flatmate, my friend, my partner in crime. I love this girl! The easiest person to live with. A straight up, no-nonsense girl who I have all the time in the world for. Thoughtful & giving. Anna saved me when I broke down 3.5 hours away from home. That was a big deal for me, in New Zealand I have so many friends I could call upon in that situation. It's a bit different when you're in a new town, with brand new friends - that's a big ask. She didn't hesitate. I miss living with Anna & would live with her again in a heartbeat if we lived in the same city.
THE SWEDISH GIRLS
All gorgeous, all lovely, all killer skiers. The only pic I have with these girls is one where Dionne is pulling a face (I don't think she would want it on the internet). Please, girls, come stay with me whenever you like. I hope to make it to Sweden one day :) I was lucky enough to have Dionne & Matty come out to NZ to visit last year. Come back!
The most beautiful girl both inside & out with a heart of gold. I met Amanda working in Freyja & we got along like a house on fire. The most positive being who radiates good vibes & infectious energy. Amanda, you need to get down to NZ.
Photo Credit | Some random at Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Alberta.
Aussie Anna, AKA
CHANMy boss at Freyja (the clothing store I worked at while living in Fernie). I have always had a weird attitude about making friends at work, particularly with the boss. Chan turned this around. Ever since I met her, Chan has been an inspiration to me, the best boss ever! She still continues to be an inspiration. I admire her as a business owner, boss, mentor, friend, & (as of recently), a new mum! Whatever she does, she kills it. All while maintaining strong, healthy connections & a wicked sense of style.
THE SELF DISCOVERY
I discovered the following things about myself on this overseas experience:
• I'm a winter girl, I love the snow.
• A true homebody who needs to travel, but belongs in New Zealand.
• Moved & inspired by nature, particularly beautiful landscapes
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Taking a photo of the reflection of Mt. Fernie in the Freyja shop window.
My big epiphany to start Camille Co. grew from working for Chan at Freyja. It's funny how these things play out. If it hadn't been for my job in the shop, I wouldn't be where I am today. Chan ensured me that if I returned home to start a business, I would be fine. Something I never thought I would do. Here I am, two years on & two business later, a big thank you goes to Chan.
SOME NATURE IMAGES FOR YOU
Lastly, I want to share with you some of my favourite nature images from my time in Canada.
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Kayaking with Kerrie at Whiteswan, BC.
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Whiteswan, BC.
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Just out of Sparwood, BC.
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Alberta.
Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.
Has anyone been to Fernie? If you're a skier or snowboarder, I recommend you get there in winter. You don't hear much of it, but it is a hidden gem. You can thank me after you have been. I hope you have enjoyed this blog post.
Until next time,