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Fuji x10

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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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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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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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If regular perusers of these periodic postings have been able to detect any particular theme prevalent therein, it would most likely relate to the improbability of any of the schemes or plans dreamed up by the Kickass Canada Girl or myself actually panning out the way that it was originally intended.

This week’s ‘retreat from Moscow’ concerns our as yet untried hot tub. The gentle reader may recall that the proposal on the part of our designer to relocate said spa to the end of our new deck had resulted in the requirement that we hire a structural engineer to ensure that the new deck could successfully carry the load. This in turn led to the requirement that the foundations be suitably enlarged.

It now transpires (the which became apparent once the old structure had been removed) that the wall of the house to which the new deck is attached at the point where the tub would be would also require reinforcement. This would have involved tearing out and rebuilding the outer wall of my studio and would – naturally – have added to the cost of the whole project.

‘Enough is enough’ – we cried. The tub goes down below!

Actually – now that we see how things are going to pan out – this is clearly a better option, giving more privacy and protection from inclement weather.

Decision made, our contractors powered ahead with the framing of the new deck. These pictures afford a pretty good idea as to how the whole will eventually appear.

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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After the pyrotechnics of the first week of our deck renovation project – during which the sun-rooms and all of the rotten structure at the back of the house was peeled away – the second week was considerably less dramatic. Our contractors are, however, now into the first phase of the build – which is most exciting.

The first thing to be done was to replace the guttering and downpipes, as the originals had been on the outside of the sun-rooms. This task was carried out in about ninety minutes by a single Vietnamese installer, who thought nothing of swinging from a ladder twenty feet above the ground whilst manipulating twenty foot lengths of aluminium gutter.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidAlthough some of the existing footings could be built upon for the new deck, for the end at which the hot tub will sit it was decreed by our structural engineer that a deeper foundation should be provided.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidFoundations have been poured and left to set.

Next week the structure should start to rise above ground level.

The house looks 100% better already!

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“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers”

Thomas Tusser

Well – this winter has turned out to have been endowed with a drearily long tail here in British Columbia. Once the snows and ice had cleared and the winds had receded we all scampered each morning to our windows to gaze expectantly out at the big wide world without, hoping to welcome a glorious springtime. Instead the temperatures remained stubbornly low and the rain fronts continued to sweep in relentlessly from the Pacific.

There are at last – however – signs that the weather is about to pick up now that May is here. In any case the garden (yard!) has decided that it can wait no longer and is starting to burst out in all of its verdant glory. These vernal blooms – and many others – are greeted joyously…

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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On Monday last the good ship Dignity left us for a sabbatical with our friends in Saanichton…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
…so that her accustomed spot could be taken instead by a humongous ‘bin’!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhase one of our deck replacement project – remove the old sun-rooms and demolish the deck and spaces thereunder.

Click on the images for the big picture!

Going…

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

Going…

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

Gone!

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

Now to start building…

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Pender Island provides splendid opportunities for walking and trails may be found to suit those of all abilities – many such offering spectacular views.

The trail to Oaks Bluff, on the west coast of North Pender, is a mere 0.4 kilometers in length (about a quarter of a mile) but in that short distance it climbs some 66 metres (more than 200 feet). The effort is well worth-while, as these images surely attest.

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

 

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…as promised.

In need of a brief break from the hurley-burley we retreated to a rented cottage on North Pender for three nights over the Easter weekend. Though perhaps slightly less ‘artsy’ than neighbouring Saltspring, Pender still has a very particular ‘island life’ feel about it, the which we liked very much.

Pender – incidentally – was once a single island, with the two current entities connected by a narrow isthmus. To save locals and visitors from having to sail all the way round to reach the settlements on the other side a canal was dredged in 1903, with a narrow road bridge above to maintain land-based access.

Though we set out from Swartz Bay under lowering skies the weather subsequently smiled upon us – improving day by day.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid
On our first full day on the island we followed the inescapably circuitous route to Poet’s Cove on the south island – the which lies scarcely a few hundred yards (though on the other side of Bedwell Harbour) from the point at which we started. Poet’s Cove – though diminutive – is a major(ish) entry port for yachting folk arriving from the US – the reason for which would become clearer should one consult a map of the southern Gulf Islands. To this end it hosts a small customs dock, which does the great majority of its business in the summer months.

Poet’s Cove also hosts a rather wonderful resort and spa, in which the Girl and I duly submitted ourselves to ninety minute relaxation massages, spells in the ocean-vista’d hot tub and a visit to the steam cave!

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

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