As much as I love writing about our adventures, it sometimes takes a bit of time to get these experiences onto this site. After all, there are only so many hours in a day and yet so many places and stories to share! This is the reason why you sometimes may see a new post come up about a hike we did a few months before. My publishing list is SO long and things do get pushed down from time to time.

For this reason, I thought I’d start a quarterly catch-up (every 3 months) which I’d let you know what we’ve been up to as well as our future plans. I also wanted to bring back more of a personal element to the site. Off Track Travel started as an online journal about my working holiday experience in Canada so it’s nice to return to a little of that kind of format. Updates closer to real-time are shared on our social media channels yet I realise that not everyone is into this!

I’d love to know what you think of this kind of update as I played with the idea for ages before committing to it! I know some bloggers send monthly updates to their email subscribers and I’m still considering whether that is the way to go.

this year so far

I spent the whole of January in the UK, visiting friends and spending time with family. Jean Robert to flew to Europe mid-month, touring a little of France first before travelling to the UK. He was unfortunately delayed in Paris after a security alert on his flight (a passenger got OFF the flight while boarding). Once reunited in the UK, we embarked on a 100km hike through Wiltshire taking in ancient sights, pretty thatched villages and lush countryside. The first revelation of the year – winter hiking in the UK is totally do-able for prepared and determined walkers.

Returning to Canada at the end of January, we found ourselves flying into a huge winter storm (welcome home!). Redirected to Montreal, we finally arrived in New Brunswick late the next day. It’s a big change to be living on the East Coast. Our current base is JR’s dad’s house, located in the middle of a boreal wood. Completely surrounded by trees, our nearest neighbours are a kilometre walk up the driveway. It’s a beautiful place to be (and we are very lucky to have this opportunity) yet it does come with its own challenges. Let’s just say that I’ve shovelled more snow in the last two months than the entirety of six years in Canada put together!

Walking the Great Stones Way, Wiltshire

Becoming a Canadian citizen

The last two months in New Brunswick have been fairly quiet. We’ve been enjoying the solitude and conveniences of the house while getting plenty of work done. The biggest ‘event’ was a 1000+km road trip to Fredericton and back, via a few detours. The primary purpose of this trip was my Canadian citizenship test. For those unaware, I became a Permanent Resident in 2014 and have been waiting ever since to apply for citizenship, finally becoming eligible this past October.

The test itself was 20 questions about Canadian history and culture, some of which are definite head-scratchers if you haven’t studied. I’m happy to say that I passed the test with a 100% score! The next steps are my citizenship ceremony in around 3-6 months time. From that point, I will officially become Canadian – this means I will be able to apply for a Canadian passport and vote in elections. To answer a question I get often, the UK and Canadian do allow dual citizenship. After my ceremony, I will be writing more fully about my citizenship experience in a dedicated post.

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coming up next

April – As soon as the weather warms up enough, we will be starting our van conversion! There is some painting that needs to be done but this requires a minimum of 10c outside temperature. The cold and snow have been sticking around longer than we anticipated so everything has been on hold. Other than that, I’ll be putting my head down to finish the mammoth list of online work I would like to finish by May.

May – This is when things start getting more exciting. At the start of the month, I’ll be going to my first blogging/influencer conference in Quebec City – the Women in Travel Summit. Not going to lie, I’m a bit nervous about it but it’s good to put myself out of my comfort zone sometimes! Shortly after the conference, we’re going to be exploring the beautiful Quebec maritime region. This includes the rugged Gaspé Peninsula (Gaspésie), an area that has been on my bucket list for quite some time!

June – June is going to be all about adventuring in the Maritime provinces of PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We’re thinking coastal kayaking, fishing (and lobster eating!), lighthouse hopping, winery touring, hiking and maybe a multi-day canoe trip with the help of Tourism Nova Scotia. My birthday is on the first day of summer and we always go on some kind of wilderness adventure to celebrate that.

what I’ve been writing about

The winter months have been the perfect time to work on a number of big writing projects as well as some sites updates.

    • I’ve got two new eBooks on the go right now, with the writing for one almost finished and the other firmly in the research stage. I haven’t written an eBook since 2015 so it’s been interesting to get my head back into it. The first will be released later this month!
    • A long overdue overhaul of old posts (would you guess there are over 300+ on this site?!) is currently ongoing. This varies from simple format updates to total article rewrites. It is exceptionally time consuming but I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! I have and will be republishing some of the posts with the biggest transformations that I feel our readers will enjoy the most.
    • We now have a Travel Resources section – it’s a quick reference guide to our favourite travel-related companies and services. Our eBook links can also be found here, and in time, a list of the outdoor gear we use on backpacking and paddling trips.

Things we’ve been loving this quarter:

Snowshoeing! We’ve been snowshoeing A LOT this year; it definitely helps that we can snowshoe from our front door here in New Brunswick. There’s something so satisfying about stepping into the pristine snow and exploring deep into the woods.

Snowboarding! OK, so the Maritime resorts may not have the elevation of BC mountains, but we had a great time snowboarding at Poley Mountain, New Brunswick on the way back from my citizenship test. I am very much an intermediate snowboarder and I loved the lack of lift lines, cruisy runs (not too steep, not too flat) and lack of vertigo at the top. I also loved not being the slowest on the hill!

Experiencing another side of Canada! Not only is New Brunswick’s landscape completely different to British Columbia (lighthouses! rolling hills! huge tides!), but the local culture is quite different. For one thing, the residents where we are living mostly speak French as their first language. It’s almost like being in another country sometimes, yet it is somehow still intrinsically Canada.

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As always, thank you so much for your ongoing interest and support! It means so much. See you in the next quarter catch-up in July!
Gemma and JR, March 2018

Gemma
Author

One half of a Canadian/British couple currently based in New Brunswick, Canada. Gemma is happiest with a kayak/canoe paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

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