The Tale of Two Innkeepers
Mathew Abrey is a journalist student that work with the Peachland Chamber of Commerce during the summer of 2020. He created a program called “The Humans of Peachland” and his interviews have been published on the Chamber website. Mathew was kind enough to interview Valerie and I.
Here is “The Tail of two Innkeepers”
MURRAY: “She was the girl next door – well, the tent next door. I had just joined a ski club, where Valerie had been a member for a number of years. Every year, they had a big get-together in the Shuswap, and it was basically just a huge party for four or five days. Valerie was camping next door with her girlfriend, and I was there with a buddy.
” VALERIE: “I had a feeling that it was a little bit contrived that him and his buddy just happened to be camping next-door. My girlfriend and I were pretty much glamping next door. We had a coffee maker, a blender, and actual sheets on our beds. I think it was more the smell of bacon cooking in the morning that drew them over to our tent.
” MURRAY: “I think we had a cup of yogurt and a loaf of bread in our tent. We had only known each other for 48 hours, but we both knew there was a spark there. She was living in Burnaby and I was living in North Vancouver at the time, so when we got home, we started to date. That was 25 years ago, and we’ll have been married 20 years in September, 2020. We got married late in life. We don’t have kids. I was 47 when we got married. We were both physically and chronologically past the nesting age, so we could mostly focus on the relationship and building something together that we could be proud of. We were both very independent to begin with, so we laugh and just say to each other, ‘How can I miss you if you won’t go away?'”
VALERIE: “And that’s just how long it took for me to find a good man. A good man who treated me right and respected me for who I was. I didn’t have a great self-image when I was younger, and I think that’s why I had so many bad and unhealthy relationships. But being in that right frame of mind at that point in our life was so beneficial. The idea of having children wasn’t really on the table by the time we met, so we both had time to build a relationship that worked.
” MURRAY: “That’s always been one of our strengths. We know that whatever comes down the pipe, we either face it together and take advantage of the situation, or we struggle and survive together.
” VALERIE: “And since moving here, we have totally embraced the feeling of community. Growing up in the lower mainland, I didn’t really know what I was missing in terms of being part of a tight-knit community. It was hard at first to leave all my friends and network behind, because the unknown was just so starkly different. But those nerves disappeared pretty quickly once we moved to Peachland. We have both found a new love in volunteering. It has really surprised us, just how much more rounded-out our lives are. We have both made so many new friends, and really feel a new sense of purpose. I joined the team of wonderful people at the Peachland Wellness Centre – PWC and have used my training as a counselor to co-facilitate their bereavement group. I also connected with the Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) and now help facilitate their bereavement walking group. At COHA, I met a group who call themselves the ‘Caring Clowns.’ They go to hospitals and long-term care homes dressed in clown costumes of their own design to entertain and visit with residents. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be dressing up as a clown, I would’ve thought you were crazy. But here we are. I passed their interview and training program and ‘VALentine the Clown’ came to life. I have always loved dressing up in costumes and we now have a giant storage container in our yard, half-full of my costume bins. Of course since COVID hit, there isn’t a chance that we’ll be going into any long-term care facilities. It’s sad, but we know that once this is all over, we’ll have a chance to clown around again.
” MURRAY: “And on top of all that, we had no idea this bed and breakfast was going to be so successful. It has really been a highlight in both of our lives. We’ve met tons of people from all over the world, and when we read the reviews, that’s what really makes it all worth it. To know that we provided a place for people to think, fall in love and make memories is the greatest feeling. It never gets old.”
“I have never done any volunteering in the past but since moving to Peachland I have been a director and Vice President of the Peachland Chamber of Commerce and Valerie has her projects. If you want to meet great people and stay young, volunteer.”
You can see Matthew’s work at matthewabrey.ca