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2017

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The beautiful summer weather has finally arrived here in BC just in time for us to entertain long standing friends from the UK. I have seized the opportunity to take a short break to bring them up island for a visit to Tofino.

First – however – from Port Alberni a trip on the much loved ‘Frances Barkley’ down to Bamfield and back. The ‘Frances Barkley’ is a working ship and makes stops all down the Alberni inlet to deliver the post and all manner of other essentials to communities that have little or no road access.

Here be photographs…


Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

This is one cool way to collect a delivery…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

No fisherman’s tales here. This guy looks pretty proud of his catch…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…and here is the ‘Frances Barkley at Bamfield.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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Now that our deck project is all but complete – bar a little making-good and top-coat paintery – I thought it might be interesting to have a final look at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images.

We are not only delighted to have removed the dangerously rotting structure that was an add-on on to the back of the original house – to our mind the whole look of the property has been significantly improved. We have added an excellent al fresco space (just in time for the weather to turn really nice) and have re-connected the house to the garden (yard) by the addition of the external staircase.

Interested to know what you think…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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It occurs to me that regular readers (should any such be in attendance) might care for a progress report on the hummingbird that chose to nest on the string of festive lights that were left hanging immediately outside our front door. Any such adherents will doubtless be delighted to hear that the mother is finished her long stint of nest sitting and is now furiously feeding two rapidly growing chicks. The nest itself is starting to expand to keep pace with their increase.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn the above image you can just make out one chick’s fast growing beak poking out of the nest. Whilst in the egg the bill is tiny – no more than a bump – but it grows quickly once hatched. I must apologise, incidentally, for the grainy nature of these images, to which a certain amount of enlarging, cropping and processing was required for them to become at all clear. I really don’t want to impose myself any more than I have already done on these gorgeous but minute creatures.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn this image above (double-click to get it as large as your screen will allow) you might just be able to make out the mother delivering a regurgitated mixture of insect protein and nectar to one of the chicks. Yum!

Here below – one hopefully happy hummingbird family (sans father, naturally!)…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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I wonder if some kind soul out there might be able to assist me with the identification of some plants (whose images appear below) that seem to be all too prevalent in our garden (yard). I have endeavoured to ascertain their particulars but thus far without success.

Should the gentle reader be tempted to advise me simply that they are ‘weeds‘ – then my gratitude might seem somewhat muted. That much I already know!

Thanking you in anticipation…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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“Hard times require furious dancing”

Poems by Alice Walker

Sometimes it is difficult to know quite what to write…

There was a relatively brief period – of which my recollections are still very clear – back towards the end of the last century during which it seemed that a corner had been turned and that the world was after all going to become a better place.

The Berlin Wall had fallen and the Iron Curtain had been rent asunder. Apartheid had been consigned to the trashcan of history and there was hope of a long-awaited resolution to the Irish question. Reaganism and Thatcherism had been kicked – if not actually into then certainly in the general direction of – the extremely long grass.

Things could only get better…

Then came the millennium… and we all know what happened next!

The further that recent history descends determinedly into farce the harder it becomes to conceive any rational view of it.

In the UK the tory party – clearly considering its brilliant strategy of holding (and losing) an entirely unnecessary referendum on leaving Europe to be an unqualified success – repeated the exercise by calling (and losing its majority at) an entirely unnecessary election. Seems that the tories – believing that they currently face no viable opposition from other parties – have determined to do the deed themselves and have emptied the barrels of the shotgun into both feet simultaneously.

One might take some pleasure from the unexpectedly reasonable performance (certainly with regard to its recent history) of the UK labour party, were it not for the fact that they seem to be enthusiastically celebrating losing the election by some fifty seats! Strange days indeed!

Then – of course – there is Trump! Trump!! How on earth did the world get from Obama to Trump?!

Of recent terrorist atrocities throughout the world it is also hard to know what more can be said – though it is clearly important to say something if only to reinforce that which we all know already – that this too shall pass. However painful for those directly involved, in retrospect it will become clear that in the grand sweep of world progress these small tragedies will be shown up for what they truly are – utterly meaningless and mindless.

One of the truest things I have read recently concerning these hideous events was penned by Guardian journalist Hugh Muir under the banner “This is a war on joy“:

“There is no obvious or significant ambition to destroy the pillars of the state: the men who use cars and vans as weapons and strike at random with foot-long knives aren’t obviously seeking to obliterate army barracks or police stations or the Bank of England. Theirs is a war not on the foundations of a free society or on our vital infrastructure, but on people enjoying the benefits of a free society. It is, in many ways, a war on joy, motivated by a warped sense of piety.

We go out and dance and drink and eat. To zealots, these things are decadent and trivial. Yet they are in themselves small acts of political symbolism: we go where we like, do what we like, wear what we want, we love whom we choose, because we have a social framework and a political system that largely allows us to do that. If the extremists cannot dismantle the system, or the foundations that underpin it – and they know they cannot – then they seek to strike and terrorise ordinary citizens who benefit from the gaiety it offers and the freedom it brings…

But there is a bigger danger, and it is that we now start to think twice about the things that bring joy – the night in a pub or a music-filled bar or club, the evening of shared experience in a public place, the mass sporting events, the standing-room-only concert halls, the shopping malls, the cinemas, the theatres – the many experiences that give life texture and richness. The risk in those places isn’t likely to disappear any time soon, for they seem to encapsulate everything the murderers hate. But the risk will always be minimal; we are going to have to price it in. How we work, how we play: they are two sides of the same coin. Even at a time as painful as this, the biggest risk is that we let the zealots rob us of what makes us who we are.”

You heard the man… Go out and spread joy!

 

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Greater abundance?… Further abundance?…

Hey ho!

Pictures of flowers in the garden…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Of all of the many joys that the natural world has to offer the expat from Europe one of the most enthralling is the prevalence of hummingbirds throughout the Americas. These amazing, beautiful but minscule birds are simply not found in the wild to the east of ‘the pond’.

For the price of a cheap plastic hummingbird feeder and a bag of sugar one may readily contrive countless hours of wonder and entertainment throughout the year as the diminutive creatures besport themselves before our mesmerised gaze (although not, of course, actually for our benefit!).

The nesting habits of hummingbirds are – however – considerably less public and significantly more mysterious. This – from ‘Birds & Blooms‘:

“Like a crown jewel, the nest of a hummingbird is one of the great wonders in all of nature. They are so tiny, yet so perfect. Few of us have ever seen a hummingbird nest. This is because they are nearly impossible to find. From the ground, they look like another bump on a branch. From above, an umbrella of leaves conceals them. And from the side, they look like a tiny knot, quilted with lichens, plant down and fibers.”

…and this from ‘The Spruce‘:

“Hummingbirds choose safe, sheltered locations for their nests, ensuring that their hatchlings are protected from sun, wind, rain or predators. The most common nest locations are in the forked branch of a tree, along thin plant branches or sheltered in bushes. Thicket-like areas or thorny bushes are especially preferred for the extra protection they provide.”

Why should it be – therefore – that one particular hummingbird has chosen to construct her nest (the males play no part at all subsequent to conception) in the string of festive lights that I had left up for far too long after Christmas – immediately outside our front door? Hardly a ‘safe, sheltered location’, given that most traffic into and out of the house passes immediately below the spot. Did the bird simply not notice?

Given that ‘The Spruce’ advises:

“Like all nesting birds female hummingbirds can be shy and skittish, and may abandon nests if they do not feel secure. It is always best to keep your distance from a nest and enjoy it from afar rather than risk harming the nest or chicks by being too eager to see them.”

…we have been forced to adopt a new route into and out of the house – through the garage…

We know our place!

(I do encourage the gentle reader to enlarge the attached image by double-clicking it. I didn’t want to get any closer to the nest and my little Fuji camera has only a limited zoom).

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As suggested in my post on Victoria Day, week six of our grand deck project was busy, busy, busy – with major progress being made on all fronts.

On the Monday the plywood deck was laid:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOn the Tuesday and Wednesday the vinyl installers applied the waterproof covering and our contractors installed the new sliders (patio windows):

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe Wednesday also brought a bevy of electricians who installed cables for lighting, re-instated our irrigation controller and put in a new feed for the hot tub:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidFinally – on a blazing hot Friday and working alone – a Vietnamese gentlemen installed all of the new soffits:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe deck rails and glass panels should be done in week seven – with final detailing and painting still to be done – but one can already get a good idea as to how the whole will look:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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“That’s why the words “Let’s go!” are intrinsically courageous. It’s the decision to go that is, in itself, entirely intrepid.”

Tim Cahill

I made reference a couple of posts back to further personal news regarding the theatre/drama scene here in Victoria and promised an update in a post to follow shortly. Aiming to prove myself a man of my word… here it is!

Whilst in self-referential mode I would further draw the gentle reader’s attention to previous postings to this blog on the subject of the Victoria Fringe Festival (be patient – there is a  connection) to which The Girl and I are enthusiastic attendees. The fringe is one of three festivals hosted by the splendid Intrepid Theatre, who have been promoting theatrical events on Vancouver Island for some thirty years. Intrepid are clearly one of the major cultural players in Greater Victoria.

A couple of months back The Girl drew to my attention an item on the Intrepid website to the effect that the company was seeking interested parties to serve on their board of directors. Such board posts are – quite naturally – voluntary and though the ideal candidate would undoubtedly have experience in the area of fundraising (which I do not!) the main requirements would seem to be an enthusiasm for the theatre, some experience of involvement in similar non-profit endeavours and (as is the certainly the case for me) sufficient time on ones hands to be able to render useful service. At any rate, my progress through the interview and AGM voting stages went smoothly (as it did for two other neophytes) and Intrepid has gained a fresh batch of eager faced supporters for its board.

Formalities over, the first order of business was the twentieth incarnation of Intrepid’s ‘Uno Fest‘ – a feast of solo performances over a week and a half in the company’s two venues, the Intrepid Theatre Club and the Metro Studio. The board director’s main role in such events is to attend performances and to help to drum up support, as well as to volunteer to pick up and drop off performers at the airport or ferry port as they arrive and depart from Victoria. I attended five performances and ferried four of the performers. This latter ‘task’ is quite simply a delight. One gets the chance to chat to actors, directors and writers whom one might recently have seen in action (or be about to see).

The keynote opening performance – by Canadian theatrical luminary Daniel MacIvor – was entitled ‘WTF’ (What’s Theatre For) and was a thought provoking disquisition on why those of us who do make theatre – and why many of those who don’t attend it. I was lucky enough to be able to run Daniel back to the airport a couple of days later. He is a very interesting man!

It is immediately clear that involvement with such an excellent organisation will bring me into contact with many more of those involved in the theatre here in Victoria.

All good stuff indeed!

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Week five of our exciting new deck project was indistinguishable from week four – but week six started with a bang. Regardless of the fact that Monday was a public holiday in Canada (a joyous celebration of Victoria Day) our contractors arrived bright and early to lay the plywood surface for the new deck. They had obliged themselves to work on what could otherwise have been an extremely sunny and welcome day off because they had booked the vinyl installers for the following day.

The Kickass Canada Girl and I did not stay around to spectate but ran away instead to spend a lovely day in the sun at French Beach – out to the west of Victoria beyond Sooke. French Beach looks across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Peninsula – the closest part of the American mainland to Victoria.

A picture is worth a thousand words – of course – so here are a bunch of them (double click for the full effect)…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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