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Summer

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Image by Andy Dawson ReidEven so, there were times I saw freshness and beauty. I could smell the air, and I really loved rock ‘n’ roll. Tears were warm, and girls were beautiful, like dreams. I liked movie theaters, the darkness and intimacy, and I liked the deep, sad summer nights.”

Haruki Murakami, ‘Dance Dance Dance’

Summer is at its height and that must perforce mean that Wednesday evenings are spent in Pioneer Park, Brentwood Bay, chilling with friends on the greensward, dining al fresco and listening to some good music.

The season was caressed into life at the beginning of July by the smooth but soulful stylings of The R & B Toasters and the Butterhorns from Vancouver. These guys are all old hands and could probably crank this stuff out in their sleep. They feature one of the tightest rhythm sections I have heard in a good long time and for an outdoor gig their sound was exemplary – punchy and tight. I expressed my admiration to the bass player and drummer at the end of the show and they admitted that they had been playing together for a very long time.

Week two brought us Auntie Kate and the Uncles of Funk. Auntie Kate sings the blues and The Girl and I have seen her before – The Girl many times! We both agreed that she was in even better voice than we had heard previously. There is obviously something in the Vancouver Island summer air that brings out the soul in a performer.

We were looking forward to week three as – it seems – were many other inhabitants of the Saanich peninsula, evidenced by the extensive crowd staking out their spots in the park well before kickoff time. The focus of this interest was Dustin Bentall and the incredible Kendel Carson. Dustin has been mentioned in these dispatches before – being the son of Canadian superstar Barney Bentall – and Kendel is his even more talented other half. We have seen them both with The Caribou Express and if expectations were high they were well lived-up to. Kendel has a gorgeous voice and is a hugely gifted fiddle player – not to mention being ‘awful easy on the eye!’ – as they saying (probably) goes.

Week four’s offering – Echo Nebraska (pictured above) – were always going to struggle to match the Bentalls. They have a decent singer but the rest of the band are a perhaps little one dimensional and they still have much to learn. They are yet young though…

As can be gleaned from the image above, the bands currently play on a small temporary stage just outside the Brentwood Bay library. As of next season they will instead grace a purpose built and very beautiful permanent stage (construction of which has just started) courtesy of the fundraising and organisational efforts of the Brentwood Bay Community Association. Kudos all round – say I – for such a splendid campaign and fantastic effort.

We are in little doubt the the remainder of this season will match the standards set thus far – which means that we are all in for further treats!

Good-oh!

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I am always quick – when friends or acquaintances make appreciative observations concerning our garden (yard!) – to sing the praises of the previous owners of this fair domicile, who clearly knew a great deal more about gardening than do I (though it must, of course, be pointed out that that is not difficult!).

Yet – even though I make reference to the fact that there is scarcely a week during the spring and summer months when there is not a riot of colour and activity somewhere within its boundaries – I still find myself surprised that – just when it looks as though the display is about to peter out – some fresh wonder bursts forth.

All this by way of making apology for yet more photos of plants!

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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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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There is so much to see at Butchart Gardens that I thought the gentle reader might indulge me were I to share another batch of images from last Saturday evening. Hope you don’t mind…

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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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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There are so many parks, trails and other good places to walk scarcely a stone-throw from our neighbourhood that it will be a considerable  time before we have visited them all even once. Bear Hill is pretty close to the centre of the peninsula – about half way between Sidney and central Victoria. The Girl and I ‘yomped’ up it last weekend – Fuji x10 in hand. Here be snaps!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidIf you expand the panorama by clicking on it you will get a good idea of the vista from the top of the hill.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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No – the Kickass Canada Girl and I are not emulating the couple in Ford Madox Brown’s painting of the same name. No quite yet at any rate!

These are instead a few random Fuji X10 images – most likely the last such for now – capturing facets of the English summer.

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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The Fuji x10 understandably gets more use in the summer months than at other times of the year and I try to ensure that it is always to hand whenever I am out and about.

I find myself looking out for interesting shapes and textures, or for the interplay of light and shade on different surfaces. Here are some snaps taken both in and out of town.

Hammersmith Bridge makes a constantly fascinating subject, even on an overcast day:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid…as do the ‘Canadians’ that live nearby:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidWhilst at the opposite end of the spectrum lies this rural idyll – observed on the occasion of a most pleasant Sunday lunch with good friends whom we have not seen for a while:

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

 

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Some studies of the north bank of the Thames in West London – basking in the July sun. I thought these were quite… funky!

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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admittance-98620_640I have been fortunate enough – for the past several years now – to have been the recipient of a kind invitation to spend a day as a guest at the Henley Royal Regatta.

The Stewards Enclosure at Henley is the most extensive of the spectator areas along the course and also encompasses the finishing line – which naturally makes it the most desirable spot on the river bank. The enclosure is – unsurprisingly – open only to members and to their guests. Such membership is primarily available to those who have at some point in their lives actually competed at the regatta – which encompasses a surprisingly large number of former boatmen (and occasional women). Fortunately my host – an old boy of the School – is one such.

The Stewards Enclosure enforces a strict dress code which – you may be surprised to learn – troubles me not at all. It also – however – apparently adheres to other codes concerning which I am less acquiescent.

My progress was arrested at the entrance to the enclosure by the now ubiquitous security operative. He invited  me to don my blazer, which garment – since the day was already agreeably temperate – I was carrying over my arm. I agreed so to do as I moved to enter – reluctant to hold up the queue. He stopped me…

Before you go in…” – he instructed.

I raised an eyebrow but – being English – acceded politely. I had – however – by this point clearly irritated the man. I was carrying – amongst other items – the reporter bag concerning which I have posted previously. He scented an opportunity.

“What’s in the bag?”

I offered him a guided tour. He took a cursory look.

“Sorry” (he obviously wasn’t!) – “You can’t bring that in”.

I enquired as to why not. His eyes lit triumphantly.

“It’s the policy!”

To this there was no profitable answer. He pointing out the Left Luggage tent adjacent to the entrance. I sighed. Smirking a not inconsiderably unpleasantly smirk he applied the coup de grace…

“Of course – if you were a woman – I would have let you take it in”.

Now – I sense it likely that some readers of the gentler sex – and I include Canadian girls amongst this number – might consider this rank discrimination to be merely a much overdue rebalancing of the books when it comes to the treatment of the sexes.

Fair point!

Needless to say – I was far from amused!

 

 

 

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