Happy Campers

It’s Canada Day next Wednesday, a day we like to stop and think about how fortunate we are to be living and working where we do.

Warmer than it looks

For almost everyone, the year so far – are we only six months in?! – has been challenging, so it’s good to pause and be positive.

A different sense of time

Canada is very far from perfect, but I choose to believe that it’s a nation trying to progress towards greater inclusivity, aiming to ensure what comes next for all Canadians is an improvement on the past. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, in good times or tougher times, and I’m looking forward to Wednesday. Peering ahead, I’d like to think every day is Canada Day for all who live here.

Taken from Mount Ozzard. Hitacu near side, Ucluelet far side

So if you’re Canadian, know a Canadian, will become a Canadian, have visited Canada, would like to visit Canada, or you’re a big fan of maple syrup, then happy Canada Day to you!

A good idea from Nelson Brewing, BC

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your weekend!

All accompanying photographs were taken this week when I was at work – what a spot to work in! (Not the beer photo – that was after work!)

Backwater

Backwater? Used here positively – as in isolated and peaceful locations, not places that could be perceived as backward, societally. With my usually vibrant social life much reduced (although I have enjoyed Zoom beers with friends where we compare hair loss and beard growth – anyone else doing this?) I do what many others have been, listening to music, the oldies but goodies from my youth. Yeah, ok, PC, but Backwater?

Scout and I have enjoyed sunnier and warmer early morning walks this week, inhaling the soon to be past it blossom scent up and down quiet side streets in our neighbourhood. When we cross some of the busier roads, we’re struck by how noisy it is. Starting to pine for the coastal backwaters…

Sunnier and warmer paths!

Backwaters again? Are you going somewhere with this? Yes! It leads us to the two tracks I’ve (over) played the most this week. “Backwater” and “Just Take Me” always put a smile on my face. The percussive stomping and forward motion of these two tracks are irresistible, and make for a fine opening to the 1974 Status Quo album, “Quo” – if only the previous album was called “Status”…

Here is a video of the boys (um, boys?) in the band playing these two tracks several decades later. If you have the time to watch it, I guarantee you’ll be smiling, and maybe even tapping a toe. So much to enjoy here. My parents telling me to turn that bloody racket down. Francis Rossi’s hairline. Alan Lancaster’s moustache and hair. John Coughlan’s drumming. Rick Parfitt fully embracing being a rock star, and the sadness he is no longer with us. All best appreciated with the volume up and Mrs PC out of the room.

We took a drive south of the city last Sunday afternoon, in its own way a trip down memory lane. Not because we lived in southern Alberta back in the 1970s, but because in those days, at least as far as I remember, “taking the car out” on a Sunday afternoon was what families did. I have hoppy memories of sitting in a sunny London pub beer garden, flapping away wasps from sticky tables, drinking warm lemonade and watching my uncle sink a pint or two of Worthington E. Sneaking a sip, I liked the smell, but not the taste, of Worthington E back then. How times have changed.

Sunday, somewhere in southern Alberta

Last Sunday, we didn’t find a pub with a wasp infested beer garden – oh, if only – but we saw cattle, clouds and those lovely metal bridges with wooden decks. Yes, we’re missing the coastal backwaters, but I like the Albertan backwaters too, a chance to be out of the city and under big skies.

Would you believe, I don’t have a photograph of a pint of Worthington E? We have enjoyed a glass or two of the following, and it was just right after taking the car out on a sunny day:

It’s no Worthington E, but I bet my uncle would like it

And on that golden note, I’ll leave it for this week. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

PS The third track on “Quo” is “Break the Rules” – I’m looking at you, Dominic Cummings. I know, I shouldn’t have…

Upbeat

I’ve a cheerful face, with movie star good looks best suited to radio. When I stand on my head, I appear to be smiling. Appearances can be deceptive, as I’m actually quite a happy soul, a glass half full person, especially when my glass is half full. Keep me away from the daily political and environmental news, and you’ll see a happy chappy.

Glass half full – this was an excellent IPA!

Having said all that, like many of us, I’ve had days when the current crisis has dented a positive outlook. How couldn’t it? What a time we’re all going through. Initially, there were aspects of stay at home social distancing that were quite welcome for this introvert. I didn’t mind the extra quiet that befell the city, especially at the start of the shutdown. Reduced traffic and hushed streets were rather enjoyable. Vehicle use is picking up again now, noticeably so, and I’m looking forward to when we’ll be able to return to the less noisy coast. It’ll happen.

Fresh

The city is brightening up, greenery more abundant, and the first blossom starting to show. Scout and I stood under a tree the other morning, sheltering from the rain and breathing in the fresh fragrance. Heady stuff, and we’d have stood there longer, but people were starting to stare…

Staying dry

We’ve missed being able to hang out with mates, so when we were invited by mountain friends to go have a physically distant beer on their deck, we jumped at the chance. Calculating we’d all been in isolation (aside from a weekly supermarket run) for over two months, and hadn’t had any significant interaction with anyone outside of our respective households, we rolled the dice and said let’s meet.

Colour!

The weather didn’t cooperate, with intermittent rain and low cloud cover obscuring the mountains. Never mind, and it was coffee rather than beer, sheltering under the deck instead of up on top.

It was so good to catch up, to sit (together but apart) and chew the fat, make plans for a camping trip to be taken… well, who knows? But it’ll happen.

It’ll happen

The best part of the day wasn’t for the humans, it was for the dogs. Our friends have taken in a rescue pup, a delightful little dog called Ponyo. Part husky, part beagle, all fun, Ponyo and Scout had a wild time. They wrestled and rolled in the backyard, ran and ran in the dog park, then wrestled and rolled some more. We’ve never seen Scout so tired!

Wrestle and roll

All in all, we aim to remain positive, maintain an upbeat outlook, make plans for the summer and beyond, and keep our glasses half full. And beyond.

Ponyo!

Thanks for reading, stay safe and well, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Show pony shutdown

Time to saddle up! Be warned, it’s a rambling piece this week, detours and tangents aplenty as we take an armchair slow ride to nowhere in particular. That being said, with no topic or destination in mind, how will we know there’s been a detour? Anyway, I’m allowed to be off topic and tangential – squirrel – I’m not a president. Just saying…

High noon, Kneehill County

I got an email from a friend yesterday morning, describing how he’s coping with lockdown in London. Some brief background? Ok. My buddy is a young man, only a year older than me. We met over 30 years ago, when I started my first proper job, working for a government department in central London. I can’t say exactly where, or name the department, all very hush hush. Regular readers know I can be trusted with the truth. Hank (not his real name, but one he wishes was) still works for a government department, and he’s currently plotting, I mean working, from his small apartment in North London. He’s fine, the evidence being he’s taken to dressing up in C&W clothing, complete with Stetson, and is listening to “Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels” by Whitey Morgan and the 78s. (Good cover there of a great song – what do you think?) Cowboy duds and country music – that’s normal for North London these days, isn’t it? He’s doing this as preparation for a (now postponed) road trip we were due to take this summer. I might have dodged a bullet there…

High plains drifting

Sticking with the Western theme, Scout and I were moseying down the middle of 10th Street at high noon yesterday. As with all good, and not so good, Westerns, townsfolk scurried indoors as we passed, shooing their children ahead of them and peering out through the gap in the curtains. Showdown! Hairy and mean looking varmints (squirrels) moved from tree to tree, trying to get the high ground and a clear view of the sheriff (Scout) and her good looking and trustworthy young deputy (me, of course – how could you even ask?!) We faced them down, made it out of there.

The sheriff, tracking

‘Scuse me while I take a moment, spit my chewin’ baccy into the ol’ tin at my feet. Well sh*t, now I gone done made a mess on my boots. Shee-it. New old timey story? Ok. Okey dokey. You bet. I pardnered up with a law-abiding school master from Red Deer a few years back. He was principal of a Junior High School that had even more than the usual share of middle years miscreants, rebels, and wannabe outlaws. Education badlands, allegedly, but in truth, not at all bad, these were spirited and lively young people. Sheriff Duane was excellent at his job, corralling and educatin’ his young steers with great good humour. He was never overly fond of a meeting, preferring to be in the field teaching, rather than pushing darn papers. He’d always start a meeting with “Let’s get this dog and pony show on the road!” This young buck never quite understood what that meant, but I do think of Sheriff Duane every time I drink a Last Best Show Pony pale ale. Yup, all that just so I could use this photograph:

No dog, all pony. Cheers, Duane!

Well, I think that’ll ‘bout do it for now. I gotta get me a glass of something to sip slow and steady as I sit on my rocking chair, watch the sun set, dog at my feet, with Whitey Morgan and his boys crooning quietly in back. So long!

Goodness, what is going on? Where did all that come from? You’re doing something similar, yes? Or is it just me? Is this what happens when an old PlaidCamper is in a long term shut down. Or decline? Neural pathways rewiring themselves in new and not so interesting ways, and make believe takes over. It’s not all make believe. I am actually growing (or trying to grow) a fine “sad cowboy” moustache, for when Hank and I finally take that Western road trip. We’ll look (and sound, haha) completely authentic. You have been warned, small town bars of Alberta, Montana and Wyoming. That fast moving cloud of dust on the outskirts? Two thirsty show pony buckaroos riding into town…

Thanks for reading, I hope you’re well, safe, sane enough, and ready to enjoy your weekend!

PS I’ve just finished listening to “Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels” for the second time. It might (or might not) be a great way to plan a road trip, but it is definitely a fun old school country album. You’ll be growing your own sad cowboy moustache, or drawing one on. My thanks to Hank, the North London urban cowboy, for the recommendation.

Looking back to look ahead

With the long Easter weekend almost upon us – life has turned into one long weekend if you’re one of the many staying close to home right now – I thought I’d post a few past pictures taken around this time of year. Sort of heartening and disheartening at the same time…

Take the long view

Aiming to be positive, it’s nice to think that next Easter, or maybe the one after, most that choose to do so will be able to celebrate with their friends and families close by, rather than on FaceTime etc.

Maybe next year?

On a lighter, borderline trivial note, and perhaps somewhat worryingly, I have a trove of beer photographs dating back many, many years. Hmm, now why is that? Well, don’t some adults take pictures of trains and write down the engine numbers? Not that I’m being defensive or anything. The real reason is one of my brothers doesn’t like beer (you remember, he only drinks Peroni, proving he doesn’t like beer) so whenever we’re out and find ourselves – and this is rare – trying new beers in a microbrewery or bar, or a friend’s house, or at home, or on a day ending in a “y” – like I said, rare – then I’ll take a photo and send it to my brother. It’s ok, he likes getting the photographs, he really does. Anyway, seeing the photo below of North Coast Brewing’s Red Seal ale reminded me we haven’t tried that in quite a while. This is clearly an issue for me, because there’s still the important research needed to catch up on the past three years of AB new beers before revisiting old favourites. Looking back to look ahead. Clutching at straws, but maybe that’s a lockdown silver lining…

Not Peroni…

I’ll finish this one as I did last time. I do hope you’re keeping well. The current crisis is very serious, and frightening for so many. I admire and thank all the people who are doing all they can to keep what is necessary going. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful long weekend.

Positively strutting! Striding forward, that’s the way.

Today’s soup is…

Beer?! No! Not yet…

Soup, of course! More about the soup below. I know, you want to bail out now – but then you’ll never know about the soup. It’ll eat away at you…

Did you really think it was beer? It’s not like this blog posts a seemingly endless stream of beer photos.

Oh. Erm, a hop forward soup?

We walk past this chalkboard at least once a day, and if the current specials aren’t too inspiring, I find the soup of the day makes me smile.

Why not?

At PlaidCamper Towers, yesterday’s soup was a rather good homemade tomato and lentil, cooked from scratch with love and care, and the need to do anything except read another online article about how to improve oneself during the enforced sabbatical. I mean, if I read one more thing about how making your own soup from scratch with love and care will help you cope with hours indoors, and help me reach my potential, why, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll start writing about how making soup can help while away hours spent indoors. Is it too early for beer yet?

This blog is meant to be about the adventures of an almost outdoorsman, but given the current situation, I may have to rename it. Ooh, rebranding, isn’t that a thing, like conservatives suddenly loving public health, and finding the magic money tree is actually a magic money forest?! Time to start over, a new identity. Maybe, the adventures of a confirmed indoorsman? Indoorsman – is that a word? Adventures in dusting behind the books, vacuuming the baseboards twice a week, sweeping the little deck, and some updates on how the paint is drying where we’ve fixed a couple of drywall dings. I might even start some deliberate dinging of drywall just so I can fix it, and then write about it. Did I mention yesterday’s soup already?

A brief escape for the indoorsman

Anyway, I’ll leave it for this week, as I’ve got to go and find the hammer, plaster, paint and brushes Mrs. PC hid while I was writing this.

I do hope you’re keeping well. The current crisis is very serious, and frightening for so many. I admire and thank all the people who are doing all they can to keep what is necessary going. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

City tails

I was walking down our local high street the other day, aware of the need to have space between myself and any other person out and about. It was early in the morning, but still, it was so quiet. Scout and I saw barely a handful of other pedestrians throughout our walk, and very few cars were on the road. It has to be said, well done, people, for taking the distancing seriously. From what I’ve read, that isn’t the case in all places.

A near empty bus did go past, and the destination lit up on the front was “North Haven”. I’m not sure where exactly that is in the city, but it made me think. I hope wherever you happen to be, it resembles something of a haven, north, south, east or west.

Well, this is new…

Being back in Alberta, we’ve switched to winter, at least compared to the coast. Toques and coats, and hold on tight as Scout leaps into snow banks, tail wagging furiously. I slip and slide and smile as she reacquaints herself with the delights of snow…

Yeah, snow!

Being back in the city means that (an appropriately socially distant) visit to the beer store offers the chance to catch up on the Alberta craft beer scene. I’ve over two years worth of developments to discover!

Yeah, beer!

I was drawn by the name “Hawk Tail Brewery” and hoped the beer was a match for the packaging – I can say I’ll be drinking another glass or two of this when the weather warms up. Clean and crisp.

Thanks for reading, please be well, and I hope you have a pleasant weekend!

Flights of fancy

I was going to call this one “Taking Flight” but Walt over at Rivertop Rambles got there first earlier this week. Do go over and read his blog, and if your reading tastes run to fine writing on matters outdoors, I can highly recommend any of his books – he’s just published a new one…

Back to not taking flight, and flights of fancy. The new brewery in Ucluelet opened a couple of weeks ago, and we were delighted to pop in and sample the beer, see if the extended (and extended) wait was worth it.

Wings over water…

Of course it was! The converted and repurposed church premises are lovely looking, inside and out. Pale walls and big beams up to a vaulted ceiling, all just right in a small temple dedicated to hops. It’s an intimate space, and it was great they resisted the temptation to squeeze in too many tables and chairs. You’ve got elbow room, space to hoist a glass without jolting your neighbours and new beery best friends.

We were all beaming

Yeah, yeah, thanks for the architecture and interior design reports – what about the beer?

Ucluelet Brewing Company – hop stuff!

I’m very happy to say the beer is good! We had a flight of four, ranging from light to dark, and each was perfectly drinkable. A Kolsch style, a Belgian wit style, an IPA, and a porter. Of the four, the Kolsch and IPA were particularly good, the Tragically Wit (yup, they did) was fine but not my favourite style unless brewed in Belgium (yes, I’m a beer princess, guilty as charged) and the porter seemed closer to a nut brown than a true dark beer along the lines of Fuller’s London Porter. Given that London Porter might be my all time favourite and the one I’d pick if I could only drink one for the rest of eternity, the porter at Ukee Brewing had no chance. The St. Aiden’s Porter was Mrs PC’s favourite, just ahead of the South Swell IPA for her. I fancy that a pint of the Seventh Day Kolsch will be very enjoyable after a warm and sunny day of hiking/paddling, particularly if you’ve snagged an outdoor seat overlooking the bay.

Obviously, to make sure our recollections are clear and correct, we’ll have to go back at least once (!) more, to be absolutely certain this report is accurate. There’s so much fake news out there these days, it’s important I get the facts right. Discipline and dedication. Thanks for your concern I might be putting too much time into the research, but surely someone has to win a Pulitzer for beer reporting?

A flight of fancy…beer

Cheers all, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers!

Piling on! (Don’t panic, it’s a love fest…)

Uh oh, is this a rant?! It is primary season, and it does seem there has been plenty of political piling on, in New England, around DC, in post-Brexit Britain (where Brexit “got done!” – Really?! Oh please…) and elsewhere in the infernal news cycles. No, no rant, if I stop this paragraph now.

Love is in the air! How about a list of loves? Yes? OK!

Canada (a small corner – the piling on the right is a kingfisher hunting spot)

Friends and family, Canada, camping, the natural world, beer, camping with beer, coffee, camping with coffee, books, movies, Scout! I could go on, but we’d all grow tired.

Beer (good for camping)

This week, I have loved seeing a belted kingfisher ruling the inner harbour here. I spy him on gangway railings, perched on a hemlock bough, and best of all, up on a piling and ready to dive. He truly is a king fisher, an absolute champion, and a regular delight on recent harbour walks.

Kingfisher (old photo, but it’s the same bird – I can tell by the hair!)

I’ll keep it brief, only adding I love that you’ve taken the time to stop by and read this. That is always appreciated! Alright, it’s getting awkward now. All far too warm and fuzzy this week – I’ll aim for a tougher stance next time. Thanks, and have a wonderful weekend!

Scout! (Good and ready for any adventure!)

A hazy shade of pale

A self indulgent musical interlude this week, brought on by the weather. Well, the weather, spending last weekend painting the entryway into our little apartment and listening to the rain hammering down outside. Watching paint dry, the walls closing in, I needed musical distractions.

Not raining, almost bright

There are so many songs about the rain, and so many rain-connected OldPlaidCamper musical memory moments. Musical memory moments?! I sound like a DJ on a golden oldies radio station. (Smashie and Nicey!) You might want to spin the dial, find another channel. I won’t mind, and you know how it is – we all think our musical taste is simply great. Although I’ve read ahead, and I’m not too convinced about mine. Anyway, here it is, a rain-inspired mix tape. Oh no…

Rain! (The blur in front of the wheelhouse is a belted kingfisher, photobombing and about to dive in!)

Press Play

Ongoing rain had me humming “Rain” by Status Quo. Not my favourite Quo song, but still a good one. My favourite Quo album? “Hello!” Even as a child, I thought “Hello!” – that sounds pretty friendly, much like how the band came across. Some music critics have said that if you’ve heard one Quo song, you’ve heard all Quo songs. Bit harsh, that. I love the album closer on Hello! Forty-Five Hundred Times – I’ve probably heard it 4500 times, and it doesn’t get old. I recall a very happy evening in 1982 at the Hammermith Odeon, leaving with slightly damaged eardrums after the one and only time I saw Status Quo live. It was fabulous. Oh, and I expect it was raining that night.

Light rain

Fast Forward (FFWD)

When we were in France, I’d very occasionally go out to a local bar, talked into it after heavy persuasion from a friend. This was usually on a rainy night in winter. Rain in southern France in the winter? Yup! The musical connection was we’d sometimes run into Vince Clarke. If you liked mid 80s and into the 90s and beyond synth pop and EDM, then you’ll know all about him. He’s an electro pop giant in small human form. A quiet man with a very dry sense of humour.

It might be a controversial stance amongst chin-stroking muso-journo types, but I much prefer Erasure to Depeche Mode. If an Erasure tune doesn’t (at the very least) get your toe tapping, you probably need to see your doctor about the lack of a pulse. If forced to choose, and how difficult it is, my favourite Erasure album is “The Innocents”, and favourite track is Yahoo! If all that upbeat gospel-sounding camp doesn’t make you smile, then what will? Even if you’re repainting white walls, you’ll smile.

It rained shortly after

Rewind (RWND)

Thank you, Vince Clarke! His public demeanour is somewhat similar to that of another pokerfaced keyboard whiz, Christopher Lowe. He’s a Pet Shop Boy, the quiet man to Neil Tennant’s deadpan, half-singing but mostly spoken delivery. You’ll be fascinated to read that if I’ve played some Erasure tunes, I’ll often then play some Pet Shop Boys, happily lost in the synth-pop bleeps and blurps. Is blurps a word? Is there a Pet Shop Boys song about rain? Not sure. There is one where it stops raining! Miracles! Pretty good, but not my favourite PSB tune – that’s revealed below.

As we’re here, and I’m sharing not so interesting stories, here’s another. My very slight connection to these chaps is an (unintentional) appearance in the original video of West End Girls. I happened to be walking by when they were filming around Waterloo Station back in 1985, and I have a blink and you’ll miss it moment. (I’m the pretty one – you’ll know if you’ve seen it.) Personal fame and international stardom aside, even this isn’t my favourite PSB tune. Hmm, hard to choose, but I’ll plump for either Being Boring or Vocal. Surprisingly, and to the disappointment of many, I wasn’t called back to feature in either of the videos, A sad loss for the MTV and YouTube generation…

So there you go, an unnecessary, indulgent, and overlong musical interlude brought on by the rain. If you’ve read this far, thank you, and you’ve probably spent more time on this than I did doing the decorating last weekend!

Oh, raining? Might as well repaint the hallway…

Press Stop

All this being boring was fun for me. I promise you I won’t be writing another music related piece for quite a while. Perhaps next time I’m doing some repainting, and hopefully no sooner than next decade. Thanks for listening to a terrible mix tape, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

A hazy shade of pale