The eagle-eyed amongst you – and probably in this case even the short-sighted – will spot at once that the image above is the original from which the masthead to this blog was derived. It was taken in August 2010 on a really rather inexpensive digital compact shortly before said camera ceased working entirely a few days into our honeymoon – forcing me to seek another such in the (relative) wilds of southern Alaska. One of the things that I like about the photo is that I did nothing at all to pre or post-process it – this is exactly as the camera saw it.
One of the great joys of our recent break in Provence was that – for the first time in ages and notwithstanding the demands for attention of our dear Saanichton friends’ (our travelling companions) two young sons – I was able to catch up on some reading. I finished David Ross’s excellent and comprehensive biography of Richard Hillary – of whom I will write more later – as well as hugely enjoying Stanley Booth’s kaleidoscopic description of the Rolling Stones fated 1969 tour of America – ‘The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones’. You are probably familiar with how that particular tale ended, but needless to say this classic narrative – sufficiently difficult to write that it was not published until 15 years after the events concerned – is the definitive guide to the essence of the times. For those of us who grew up in the late 60s – and for those who wish that they had – it is required reading.
Neither of these weighty tomes, however, moved me as much as did a slender volume that I picked up (in Costco of all places!) whilst in Victoria at the beginning of July – ‘Long Beach Wild’ by Adrienne Mason. Subtitled ‘A Celebration of People and Place on Canada’s Rugged Western Shore’ this is a heartfelt evocation of Long Beach – that spectacular sweep of sand on the west coast of Vancouver Island between Tofino and Ucluelet – written by someone who has lived in the region for 20 years and is clearly in thrall to the place.
The connection between these two apparently unrelated items – as you might already have guessed – is that my photograph was itself taken on Long Beach, with which I have also fallen in love though, of course, much more recently than did Mrs Mason. The image is of what is now the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre but which was – as I learned from Mrs Mason’s excellent history – the original Wickaninnish Inn that was closed and taken over on the foundation of the Pacific Rim National Park and the incorporation of Long Beach thereinto. A new – and somewhat up-market – Wickaninnish Inn was created rather more recently a short distance to the north on Chesterman Beach, which destination will – I firmly intend – be the location of my sixtieth birthday celebration in January 2014.
Those of you who are inhabitants of Vancouver Island will probably already be familiar with this part of the Pacific Coast. Some may not find themselves moved by its austere attractions, particularly during ‘Fogust’, though I myself find even those mysteriously murky mornings strangely enticing. In any case, whether an old Long Beach hand or a complete ingenue I recommend regardless investigation of Mrs Mason’s book and of her excellent blog on the subject – The Long Beach Blog – one that will certainly be added to my blogroll.