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…and ladies!

A few final random (photographic) representations from our recent ramblings ’round the southern end of Vancouver Island.

I always enjoy showing guests this view from Beacon Hill Park across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic peninsula – particularly as it is revealed abruptly after an unsuspecting stroll through the park.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThere is always something to see in the inner harbour…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidFirst stop on the road up island is this viewpoint on the Malahat. The vista is of the Saanich inlet and the peninsula – and then across the hazy Gulf and San Juan islands to Mount Baker beyond. Spectacular!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe remaining shots are of the aptly named ‘Cathedral Grove‘ near Port Alberni. Some of the trees in this carefully stewarded residuum of the ancient rainforest date back over eight hundred years.

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

 

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On our recent trip up to Port Alberni and Tofino we visited the beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park – Wickaninnish, Long and Chesterman. Naturally I could not resist taking photographs – any more than I can now resist posting some of them here.

One of my favourite places on the planet…

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 ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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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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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidContrary to popular wisdom – or at least to the wisdom of popular song – the first cut is not always the deepest (ho, ho! – see what I did there?).

As you may gather from the accompanying image my subject here is cutting the grass (or mowing the lawn, should you so prefer). More specifically it concerns that all important ‘first cut of the year’.

The Royal Horticultural Society has this to say on the matter:

“For the first mowing in spring, set the cutting height to the highest setting. Thereafter, gradually reduce the height of cut until the desired height is reached. For fine lawns, this will be 6-13mm (¼-½in). For ordinary ornamental lawns this will be 13-25mm (½-1in) in summer and up to 40mm (1.5in) in spring and autumn.”

Now – in no way does our lawn aspire to the ‘fine‘ designation nor perhaps even – should one be perfectly honest – to that of an ‘ordinary ornamental lawn’ (the ‘ornamental’ being the debatable point here) but there is surely no harm in harbouring such ambitions on behalf of our (half) acre(s)!

Country Living magazine adds this:

“When cutting your lawn for the first time, you should always follow the one third rule: never cut more than a third of the blade of grass in one go. This is because cutting more than this can stress the grass. You should gradually reduce the grass length over a number of weeks to reach the desired length. Cutting the grass too short, too fast, is known as ‘scalping’ which can lead to disease and weed infestation.”

Here, here – say I! And so the lawn was duly mowed – with great care and consideration so as not to stress the grass!

Actually – the subject of this post is not the cutting of the grass itself so much as that with which it was effected – and of the great kindness and generosity of dear friends. When first we arrived upon these shores and moved into our splendid ocean-view residence we abruptly found ourselves in charge of an estate of just shy of half an acre – much of which is laid to grass. Grass which was growing vigorously!

As ever in moments of need I turned to our dear landscape-gardening friends in Saanichton. The head honcho duly promised to look out for a second-hand machine for me and in the meantime lent me a mower from their fleet to tide me over. I have had that mower now for a year and a half!

Well – no more. Our friend finally found me a splendid Toro (The Bull!) mower – in excellent nick and a considerable bargain to boot. I have gratefully returned his machine and now find my self (somewhat to my surprise for the first time in my life) the proud owner of a proper lawn mower.

We are, as ever, overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and to them extend again our grateful thanks.

Now all I need is a gas trimmer…

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183311Well – the good ship Dignity finally hit the waters again the other evening as our dear friend from Saanichton helped me to take her for a brief early evening sea trial to ensure that all of the bits and pieces were in full working order.

She had been sitting on her trailer for a good long time and was somewhat reluctant to part company with it. Those who know about such things will attest that the procedure for putting a boat into the water at the boat launch (once in position and having carried out all the ‘pre-flight’ checks, including freeing the vessel from its carrier) is to back the trailer sharply into the water and then to brake hard. At that point the momentum of the boat is meant to carry it gracefully off the trailer rollers and into the water.

In this instance Dignity – not having dismounted for a considerable period – took three attempts. I have no doubt that as she and I become more accustomed to the procedure the operation will prove easier to effect.

She was also a little rusty from not having been run properly for quite a while, and needed to be thoroughly warmed up before going into drive without futtering out (technical term!). Once fully awake – however – she demonstrated that the Penta V8 has more than enough power to get her moving in a serious fashion. She goes onto the plane easily and handles the water well. I am not yet sure what this will do for fuel economy, but I feel inclined in any case to handle her cautiously (as one should a lady!) – at least until I have had a chance to log some statistics.

As a next step I am contemplating finding her a berth in a marina for a month, so that I may spend some serious time gaining as much practical on-board experience as possible.

So much to learn…

 

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To Edmonton for a long weekend – on an excursion with two objectives. The first of these – and the subject of this post – was a visit to long-time friends who previously lived in Victoria. It was lovely to see them and they spoiled us rotten – plying us with all manner of sweetmeats and tinctures and laying on the most excellent and generous entertainment (even if the price thereof was having my a*se kicked at street-hockey by our friends’ ridiculously talented six-year-old progeny).

With my Canadian experience limited thus far to British Columbia (it is a very big country!) all that I really knew about Alberta beforehand was that it was flat – relentlessly flat – and that this is not the best time to be in oil! This first visit confirmed that it is indeed flat (with impressively big skies) but also that there are numerous other places of interest in and around Edmonton – a fact to which these photographs will attest.

At Elk Island National Park we had the truly magical experience of being able to get up close and personal with the splendid herd of plains’ bison. It was possible – if only for a fleeting moment – to gain some sense of what this country must have once been like.

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

It is also possible to get a sense of the past at Fort Edmonton Park, where the history of the city is brought to life in a series of recreations of the townscapes of different eras.

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

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidLast Friday was not the first Canada Day that I have enjoyed in the country (I arrived for a visit on July 1st back in 2012) but it was the first such that I have experienced here as a resident. We duly made a weekend of it.

Sidney spreads its celebration over two days and features a firework display on the night before Canada Day itself. At the last minute we decided not to attend – both being somewhat weary from our busy weeks – and reasoning that we could probably see the display from our windows anyway – which we could. We thus also saw the results of the ‘computer glitch’ that fired half the display within the first ten seconds – followed by a lengthy pause before the rest of it carried on as it should have. Glad we didn’t venture forth for that!

Our dear friends in Saanichton hosted a barbecue for the day itself which was lovely for all sorts of reasons – not least of which was meeting his father (a most redoubtable gentlemen) for the first time. At the end of the evening they announced that they had some spare passes for the following night (the Saturday) for Butchart Gardens. Summer Saturdays at Butchart mean live music and – yes – more fireworks… so we did get to see some after all.

The traffic queues to get into and out of the gardens on a summer Saturday night are all too reminiscent of some of those in the UK. If, however, one has a boat conveniently moored in a nearby marina – as do our dear friends – one can sail the short hop across Brentwood Bay and up to the Butchart back entrance off Tod Inlet. To my great delight this was indeed the plan and we duly puttered our way over in style.

Boats – music – picnics on the lawns – a stroll round the fabulous illuminated gardens – fireworks! It doesn’t get much better…

Here be a handful of random images:

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

 

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Image from Wikipedia.enSpeaking as I was only recently (in the sense of posting to this picaresque periodical) of living legends… cf. Mr Richard Starkey… not more than a couple of weeks have elapsed since that joyous outing until I found myself again heeding my own dictum – ensuring that no such opportunity be missed to catch these legends whilst there is still time.

Billy Connelly – like Ringo – is in his seventies, though he is by comparison a mere youthful seventy two. Unlike Ringo however (who has the air of a man intent on going on for ever) Connelly not only came through a recent prostate cancer operation and the subsequent treatment, but has also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

This hardly seems fair – though fairness naturally plays little part in such things.

When Connelly shuffled onstage at the Royal Theatre in downtown Victoria (whence we had gathered with dear and good friends on Wednesday last) for the second of two shows in a city of which he is clearly very fond, his painful lack of mobility and apparently fragile voice caused one’s heart momentarily to skip a beat – for a second wondering how on earth he was going to get through the show.

Two and a quarter interval-less hours later we had our answer and the capacity audience responded by giving the comedian a generous standing ovation. No encore was expected or offered – which seemed in the circumstances to be entirely appropriate. One should never forget that Connelly is a Glaswegian, that he started out as a welder in the shipyards and that whatever has happened to him since he is undoubtedly hewn from that tough stuff for which the inhabitants of that tough city are reknowned.

Not everybody gets The Big Yin. Not everyone appreciates the genius of his comedic talent. For me he is simply one of the funniest men on the planet, and that is before taking into account his award winning acting career and his heart-warming TV travelogues.

Respect – I say. Respect – dammit! I wish the man nothing but the best and I am delighted to have had the chance to catch him here in Victoria whilst he is still touring.

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Photo by D Sharon Pruitt on FlickrA few weeks back (there having been so much to write about over this last period that I have been struggling to keep up with it all) I went with one of our dear friends from Saanichton to a concert – or perhaps more accurately a gig – at the Memorial Centre here in Victoria.

Peter Gabriel visits aside I don’t venture forth to big gigs that much these days. I find that large impersonal arenas, the gridlocked post-gig car parks and the obligatorily aggressive comestible marketing all too often result in a somewhat wearing night out. Granted that modern technology usually now produces a auditory experience that would have been unimaginable when I first started attending live concerts (a good thing too as my ageing ears would not otherwise stand the strain) but that does not altogether compensate.

So – it takes something pretty special to get me out of the house of a night. In this case the something special was provided by Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band.

Now, I am a long time – a very long time – Beatles fan, but to this point I have never seen a Beatle perform live. There have been numerous opportunities over the years to catch McCartney in London and Ringo has been making these All Starr forays since 1989. I have not before, though, felt the slightest need to catch either of them – so why now?

Part of it is clearly the ‘London’ effect (other options available). Like London buses, if you miss one there will be another (or possibly two or three!) along in a moment. Cultural events are just so thick on the ground that if you miss a big show you can almost certainly catch it next time round – or just choose something else from the extensive selection on offer. For Victoria it is different. If the big names do land here the opportunity should be grasped with both hands.

Another reason is that there has been little incentive to see either Beatle right now. Yes – seeing either of them might be on the bucket list – but where’s the hurry?

Well – Ringo is 75! That’s right…

Fair enough – if I look a fraction as good at that age as does he then there would be serious suspicions that my loft housed a pretty decent collection of art. The point is that neither of these guys will go on touring for ever. In the same way that – a few years back – I decided not to miss a single Peter Gabriel show in case it turned out to be the last – I didn’t want to let this opportunity slip.

As for the show itself… It was excellent! The format is thus: When not bounding around the stage like a teenager flashing peace signs Ringo sings pretty much all the songs one would expect. The All Starrs – Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Santana) and Richard Page (Mr Mister) – each get to lead the band for three of their own best loved numbers. One thus gets to hear seriously good versions of songs such as ‘Africa‘, ‘Rosanna‘, ‘Black Magic Woman‘, ‘Oye Como Va‘, ‘Love is the Answer‘, ‘Broken Wings‘ and ‘Kyrie‘.

Best moments? Ringo announcing a song that he used to do with: “That other band I used to be in… Rory Storm and the Hurricanes!” – and Gregg Rolie commenting of one of his numbers that: “We played this at Woodstock!”

Blimey! It’s enough to make one feel old!

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“Boats are like rabbits; you can have one boat or many, but you can’t stop at two.”

Aristotle Onassis

Given Victoria’s position on the southern tip of Vancouver Island – and surrounded as it is on three sides by the sea – it is little surprise that the city should be included in what is quite an extensive circuit of classic boating extravaganzas. The Victoria Classic Boat Festival was one of a number of events that took place in and around the provincial capital over the long weekend just passed.

I spent a few happy hours in the Inner Harbour with one of the dear friends with whom we are currently living. At some stage in his widely varied past he owned and lived aboard a 46ft Chris Craft dating from the 1960s, and it was fascinating to ‘sit in’ on his conversations with other wooden boat owners. Most of what was said went over my head, but listening to experts – in any field – is one of my favourite pursuits. At one stage our friend found himself taking to one of his boat-building heroes – Bent Jespersen – which was definitely the highlight of our visit.

I had with me the Fuji x10. I recorded some images:

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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