Coastal Oasis

When we left Toronto in 2014 to begin our “young retirement” travel sabbatical, we got rid of almost everything we owned – either sold, gave away or donated it. A couple of possessions remained including our charming little cottage on the Atlantic Ocean in Chester, Nova Scotia. This little gem has been in Erin’s family since the 1980s and now it’s time for a new family to treasure it. We’ve been enjoying it in recent summers by taking boat rides with friends, hosting guests, enjoying a swim on a hot day and kicking back with a cold beer. The place is in awesome shape, having been renovated in 2012- 2015 (other recent renovations listed below). Please share this post with anyone who is seeking a great cottage on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Our sabbatical adventure has taken us around the globe, landed us in Peru for a bit and now we are enjoying time in Vancouver. Needless to say, skipping to the cottage for the weekend is not as easy from the West Coast. So we want someone else to enjoy it and make memories!

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This vacation oasis could be your summer residence! This rare, affordable, ocean-view find in the Chester area will not last long. This maintenance-free, freshly-painted (inside and out), fully renovated cottage is located at 27 Secret Cove Road in East Chester, just steps from the Atlantic Ocean in a friendly, gated community. You also will have access to an in-ground pool, tennis court, dock and beautiful grounds. As a resident in Chester, you will be able to get the resident-rate at the Chester Golf Club. This property is perfect for couples or families who like to enjoy their summer and not worry about cutting grass or doing maintenance (which is taken care of for you).

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Master bedroom

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Second bedroom (2 of 2)

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Kitchen area

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Living and dining area


Loft space (additional sleeping or storage space)


Cottage features:
-Freshly painted inside and out
-Fully renovated
-New appliances (fridge and stove included, other small appliances negotiable)
-Picture window with views of the Atlantic Ocean
-2 bedrooms and loft space for additional sleeping
-1 bathroom with shower
-Parking spot behind cottage and additional by tennis court
-Wood stove

Property features:
-Swimming pool
-Tennis court
-Beautiful grounds

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Gate and private drive






Tennis court


Ocean-side fire pit

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Child’s play area


Community garden and horseshoe pit


Location features:
-Secret Cove is on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean
-Picnic area at Graves Island is 2 kms away
-Access to Chester Golf Club at a resident rate
-Get to your vacation spot from downtown Halifax in 40 mins
-15 kms from Queensland Beach
-Access to walking and biking trail across street from property gate


More information:
-As a shareholder in Secret Cove Properties Limited, you will own exclusive rights to your cottage while also having the outside of the cottage and all grounds and amenities handled by the corporation.
-A small fee of roughly $305 per month covers all maintenance to the outside of your property, upkeep of the pool/tennis court/dock/grounds, lawn mowing, all taxes and insurance (excluding additional individual/content insurance which most people add onto their primary residence package for a small fee), as well as contribution to a reserve fund.
-This cottage has recently had the following completed by the corporation: new front steps (2015), new window in main living space (2014), new back door (2012), and a new roof (2012). Rest assured, you will be able to come down and relax as all of the work is done for you and the inside is freshly renovated as well.

$149,000 OBO


Contact us for information and to make this yours! Erin at or 902 802 7897. All reasonable offers will be considered!


Dr. Chiropractor in Huancayo, Peru

By Jackson Mann


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In November, I became THE full time chiropractor at Centro De Quiropráctico Ray in Huancayo Peru.

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It’s a busy clinic. They were without a chiro for a few days when I arrived. so my first day was crazy. I treated 20 or so patients in 5 hours. Here’s how the model works: the patient comes in (no appointments) and meets me. I do a history and physical evaluation. I send them away with my general ideas and they go for therapy with a therapist we have on site here (if appropriate). We use TENS, ice, heat and traction. They return the next day for their report after I’ve had time to review and put together my diagnosis and recommendations. I get stories of how the surgeon is going to operate on them if the pain comes back.  We rely on our staff for therapy and rehab so I focus on assessments and adjustments.


My first week on the job, I was happy my patient brought his wife and ….pet.

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Chiro is new in Peru so I’ve been on a few television shows. I’ve been told I have that “something” that TV loves. It’s great fun and I’ll be back on in a few weeks.


This is a pic just before Christmas/Navidad with our friend Julia visiting from Canada on the left, Ruth my office manager in front of her and Erin, my wife on the right.


A little bit about living in Huancayo

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My apartment is provided by my boss. It is inexpensive to live here. AND I live down the street from the clinic. Only in South America would you show off a bathroom. But yeah, it’s nice to have the conveniences of a home.

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View from my apartment

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Finding a dentist was pretty easy. It was his idea to take a photo together (maybe for his promotional materials). We may have been the first foreigners to visit him.

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The gym does the trick!


Insert some metaphor about reaching for the top….or climbing to success

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The ready-made entertainment is a little thin here, but we’re starting to make friends (and of course we’re taking visitors from Canada!… with an extra bedroom all ready for guests).


The food is cheap and awesome. Ceviche everyday…yes please ($4 Canadian).


And this town of Huancayo is responsible for one of Peru’s favourite sauces – Huancaina sauce. So there is one claim to fame!


Chasing the dragon

By Jackson

Sometimes in the early mornings I feel an intense sadness. I kick around on Facebook for a bit seeing if anyone noticed my carefully crafted posts. I crawl to the gym, sadness in tow. I reluctantly grip the 10 pounders. Half heartily warming up. Again I press. Warmth creeps in. I can feel the sadness shrink as my chest swells with blood and life. Again I press, harder heaves and AGAIN. I WAIT … stacking the 60s. Something wimpers “wait jackson, 10 more seconds”. The urge overwhelms me. I grip the weights firmly. Press, presss, PRESSSSSS.

All at once SNAP. The pain hits as hard as a horse. DAMN. I pushed too hard. Chasing that fucking dragon. It will be a week of ice and chiropractic appointments, before I’m reunited with my second love…. you are my drug, my addiction, my medicine.

So the next time you see a buff guy doin’ his thing, remember this post.

Photo by Erin Hancock.

Body (mind) transformation

By Jackson

See me post-triathlon (2012) above, working my ass off but still with a gut.

To be clear, I’ve been working out and aware of my “diet” for over 14 years. I’ve been a lot of places with my body but never here. My shirts don’t fit in the arms and I can see my abs. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would say,I’ve found my flow.

The shift for me began in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I was alone in my van for the weekend waiting for my wife. She was hanging with friends and I had no interest in shopping and pedicures. We had recently begun our 6 month tour of the US in my parents’ 17 foot camper van (Road Trek). Sitting outside of the laundromat I had this unexplaiined urge to drink booze. This thought came on strong but passed as soon as it arrived. I spent the night in a Walmart parking lot by myself (other campers will know they allow campers to park overnight for free). Before I fell asleep, I was drawn to the Walmart to buy something. I was in a fully-stocked van wanting for nothing. However, I found myself roaming the ailses aimlessly with an armful of crap food.

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There was an announcement in the typical unenthusiastic Walmart voice “Hello shoppers, we are now closed. Please bring your items to the front and thank you for shopping at Walmart.”

A bolt shot up my spine and the urgent need to grab more crap off the shelves overcame me. …

In my van I was surrounded by crap food and a bunch of booze I would normally never drink (premixed margaritas and the like). I was confronted my my actions, so alien yet so decisive, so desperate. But why? I slipped into a confused introspective sleep.

I awoke to the grunt of an old truck whizzing by at 6am. I posted on FB a question about vulnerability and heard back from my community on what it was like for them to be vulnerable. That was helpful to feel connected. I was not capable of understanding what had shifted for me at the time but a transformation was imminent. After a quick and effective browse of “Eventbrite” (a social website that lists events and gatherings happening), my day was booked. Lego wars, a right wing political rally and a jello-eating competition filled me day.

It first struck me on a short jog to the lego war around noon. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. So I grabbed a candy bar in the lobby and then joined the crowd of 500 screaming 12 year olds. Side note – I went to the restroom and a middle-aged man followed me and stood against the wall. He did not use any of the facilities – just waited for me to finish and left when I did. I didn’t see him again until the event was over and I went to the rest room again. There he was. Standing off to the side, not staring but not looking away. Then it occurred to me I was solo at a child’s event 🙂 I guess I come off as a predator.

I found the candy bar in my pocket at the political rally when reaching for my wallet. CRAP it was 5pm and I hadn’t had a bite to eat. All was well because it was a catered event with finger foods. I chucked the bar and began schmoozing. After a belly full of finger crabcakes and an ear full of right wing US politics, I was on my way to watch people stuff their faces with jello.

Acutely aware of the age of patrons this time, I restricted my restroom breaks to one and kept my hands visible at all times.

Here’s the insight/epiphany

I use food, shopping and drinking to deal with life. I was confronted with the question “am I worthy of love?”. The answer was normally drowned in distractions like shopping, drinking and eating. Now to deal with my “coping mechanisms.” I worked out, set a budget and added structure to my drinking.

From that point on food tasted different. I lost the push to eat. I wouldn’t remember to eat. Erin would say “have you eaten today?” at 3pm. I would look back in my memory rather then checking how I felt (unlike before where I would constantly check in “do I feel hungry?”). I was free to choose.

I chose exercise – Body Beast by Beachbody. It’s a 90 day workout program focused on body composition. Within 2 months I was on the shores of Key West in a transformed body and mind.


Since then

Since I had a ‘change of heart/mind’, that old way of being has not returned. All of my old rules around calories, types of food to eat, equations of how long it has been since I’ve eaten last, etc doesn’t have a hold on me. I still play games with food, but it’s not a heavy (significant) process. For a couple weeks I even had a diet mainly consisting of cheesecake and found myself losing even more weight. Once my mindset changed around food, I was in charge and food wasn’t in charge of me.  And I’m really living it up in the gym. It’s how I start my day with my wife.

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Growing wings: learning to fly

Growing wings: learning to fly

By Jackson


This is not symbolism, we’re talking about becoming a recreational pilot. Ok, not living the childhood dream of literally growing wings, but the adult version of completing a privet pilots licence.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have talked about flying. Christmas normally had the latest flight simulator under the tree. My parents dream became realty when they bought there first plan 10 years ago. At the time, I was amazed and impressed. You know how to encourage your kids to “reach for the stars”? It is to live an extraordinary life yourself. Well, my parents do that. So when I found myself in my hometown for the summer, it wasn’t long before I was sitting in a Cesna 182 staring down the barrel of a runway.

The process begins with a trip to the medical doctor for a check up.

Ground school can be done online and takes about 80 hours. I signed up to and cost under $300 but if cost is going to hold you back, you might as well not begin. Because 40 hours in a plane with a trainer, fuel, exams & other red tape will set you back about $15,000 out of pocket.

My instructor Will Dobbins, is a fun and considerate person on the ground. But in the air he is demanding and unwavering. It is his way or nothing. Which is comforting as you stare at the earth from 10,000 feet.


10 things to remember when you start flying

1) Start. There is a constant drive to ‘prepare’, but don’t let that stop you from just getting started. There are a few time sensitive things that expire (medical 5 years) but for the most part just starting is a big step.

2) Perfection is a killer. The type of people that are interested in flying are normally the technical type and when faced with death as the consequence, we tend to want to “do it right”. Trust me, if you are doing or thinking about something that is risky or dangerous, you will know. I’m not advising cutting corners at all. I’m advising not re-watching the 45 minute presentation of engine layouts 4 times. If you miss or forget something you will be reminded during a quiz, in the readings, by your instructor or on an exam.

3) Take notes when talking with your instructor. They will tell you exactly what to do and what to remember. They have the experience and your best interest in mind. Use your notes to ensure you do everything they ask/recommend.

4) Arrive early to lessons. When you are paying hundreds of dollars per hour to fly, be there early every time. Even if you are completely ready and there is nothing to do, just give yourself a break to breathe.


5) Not everything is a discussion point. I tend to chat. I like people and want to talk about things. Leave this attitude on the ground. Develop good focus in the air. If something the instructor is explaining is unclear then mention it. But resist the urge to dive into every thought. You don’t need to be right. You need to be alive.

6) On the ground ask the instructor questions like “how can I make this easier on you”? The focus is always on you. Shift the context by acknowledging the trainer is there and is dealing with you.

7) Don’t take it personally. If you knew how to fly, land, operate a radio, maintain paperwork then you would already be a seasoned pilot. Much like learning a new language, leave room for mistakes and learning.

8) Realize it takes time and more time. Because everyone starts flying Visual Flight Rules(VFR) weather gets in the way.. a lot. So plan to fly and be prepared to fly but half the time weather cancels your flight. This is the nature of the beast.

9) You’re not a test pilot. Everything you learn is what you need to keep you safe. There is no need to do anything outside the requirements. No need to “push yourself”. And if you have the adrenaline junky disposition, best pick up a safer sport like skydiving and let someone else fly 🙂

10) Recognize that no one uses a private pilots licence for anything but fun. It is of very little utility, never makes money, and is at best fun. So relax and enjoy yourself.


Here is a flashback to last year when we went to Calgary’s Aerospace Museum. I guess it’s been an interest for a while!

Bold pilots

How to buy your parents a car

Jackson had been home for less than a week and he was ripping down the Trans Canada Highway in his mom’s 25 year old Mazda Miata roadster convertible. A whistle started at 80km. The radio was stuck on 95.5 and the car’s max speed was less than 100 kms/hr. Ok, this is a bit of an exaggeration but the car was definitely feeling more like an antique to be enjoyed with care as opposed to a roadster ready to take a corner on a dime. Sometimes in life we choose to take on projects that seem outlandish (even for us) and projects where we don’t necessarily know how we’re going to make them happen at the outset. This was one. We decided to buy Jackson’s parents a new car.


Testing the waters

Jackson’s parents are two of the most generous people we know. They are kind and always pointing attention at others while expecting nothing in return. They are the perfect people to surprise because they are so not expecting it. However, it was also hard to gage whether they would accept a gift like this. It’s hard to buy things for people who are pretty darn on top of having all of the gear and tools for life. So, naturally, getting them something they already have just newer and better is a safer bet than a gift out of nowhere. So we started with replacing small things in their life that were a little worn out….a watch….a blender. That went smoothly. They were grateful, and there was no resistance. Jackson bought a new jackknife and his dad said it was cool and he’d like to get himself one. Jackson offered it to him. His dad immediately said, “no, no, I’ll get my own”. Okay so these tests left us still a little uncertain, but we were still hopeful.


Things to consider

We started by visiting a Mazda dealership and taking a 2015 Mazda MX5 for a drive, which are the Canadian versions of the Miata (his parent’s old Miata was bought in the US). We got to see the features, compare the different trim levels and talk with the sales people. We then starting hunting to see what was available in Canada. We knew we wanted it to be white with a manual transmission which the older one is too. We knew it had to be sleek but without a lot of jazz (lots of chrome, stripes, decals, etc). We found about a dozen worthy of consideration.

If you’re buying a car, consider the following. Always look at several different options so you get a gage for the price range and the various features that might be included. Create a chart/grid of the various aspects of the car so you can compare the different ones you’re considering. We included the following headings:

kms (or miles)

trim level



body (any extra bells and whistles)





other considerations


We took all of the information we had on each car and fit it into the chart so we could compare easily.


Negotiating time

We set aside 4 hours one afternoon and called around to each of the dealerships letting them know we planned to buy a car that day so we were looking for their best price. They always needed to talk to their manager and call us back so it took all afternoon to get the best price on each. We lowered it down to 3 options and then slept on it. We decided to go with the top trim level in a 2014 model as opposed to the mid trim level 2015 model. We also found one that was a demo. Demo means a Mazda rep drove it around to promote the model so this one had 7000kms on it.


Getting a deal


There are lots of ways to get the best deal on a car. These are the ones that made the most difference for us.

End of the month – most dealerships work on monthly stats so when it’s the last week of the month, sales people are typically very motivated to sell.

Financing – most dealerships give bonuses if you can pay cash (or find your own financing).

Trade in – this is something we considered since we had a 2010 Mazda 3 that we didn’t need anymore. You don’t really make good money but it can save you the hassle of having to sell on your own. We actually got a low offer from the dealership. We thought we could do better so we put it on kijiji for sale and sold it at a way better price in just 5 hours.

Late in the season – since the car is a roadster and fall is just around the corner, it’s a good time of year to negotiate a bargain. Also, the new 2016 models (a total overhaul of the design) were coming out later in the summer, so dealers were really motivated to get the old models off the lot.

Having multiple options – considering various options means you can cause a little competition between the players to try to sweeten the deal.

Incentives and rebates – dealerships give rebates on anything from paying cash to being a recent college graduate to already owning a car from their brand, so make sure to ask.



The reveal

Keeping the secret was the hardest part. We checked in with Jackson’s brothers on their ideas about buying the car and the reveal. It was cool to have them involved. We got advice from a few friends, but mostly it was a secret. We wanted them to be shocked. We picked it up from Montreal and drove it back to Fredericton. We got a huge bow made and parked it near their house…but not too close. There is a trail that runs behind their house so we parked it behind some bushes at the trail head opening about an 8 min walk away. One of our friends hid in the bushes to capture some pictures. It was a hard go to get them to go for a walk, but we finally got them out with a story about having a cool idea to pitch to them. We were walking along to the trail head opening  as the flies got worse and Jackson’s dad started losing interest in being out at dusk. We coerced him to walk just a little bit longer (all the while trying not to be too weird or suspicious).

As we walked out past the car, Jackson’s mom declared “Oh, someone’s getting a gift”. Then she saw our friend in the bushes. Then she said “wait, did you guys buy a car….where’s mine (giggle)”. Erin said, “this is yours” and Jackson handed her the keys. She kept saying, “I don’t understand” over and over as we explained the featured and showed them how the automatic top goes up. Jackson’s dad said “I also don’t understand but I’m getting in that car.” He handed Erin his rubber boots and got in (he didn’t want to get the new car dirty with his boots). Still in shock and mid sentence, they ripped away. We laughed like crazy.

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We saw them out in town an hour later.

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They sent a text saying “How did you know this is exactly what we needed in our lives, when we didn’t even know? We’re going for a drive around the dam. Don’t wait up.”