“I can see the sea!”

Here’s a trip down my Memory Lane, and you’re very welcome to come along. It’ll be a civilized and genteel stroll…

When we were children, my three brothers and I would start craning and leaning forward in our seats, desperate to be the first to call out “I can see the sea!” as we approached a vacation destination. It was something of an annual ritual, and signalled the end of the backseat silent territorial war being waged for extra space in a crowded small sedan.

I can see the sea!

Our parents would start to relax, knowing their four boys – delightful children all – were about to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting British beach, and they could stop pretending we hadn’t been fighting and elbowing each other the past few hours. Four sweaty urchins on a leatherette bench seat? How fragrant.

The lucky destination? Usually somewhere in Devon, Cornwall, North Wales or Norfolk. The United Kingdom isn’t the largest of countries, and you’re never too far from the coast, but I bet on those road trips my parents wished they lived on a smaller island…

I can still see it!

Are we there yet? Yes, off you go! Take the cricket bat, footballs, kites, and dog, and come back next week. I mean, before 7pm. And don’t fight. Look after each other. Yeah, right. The unspoken code was to do pretty much anything stupid short of broken bones, and no telling the parents later. We’re all still alive today, and no bones were broken – hard to believe – so I guess we sort of looked after each other. It was always advantageous to be the one with the cricket bat.

“Memory Lane? Yawn…”

These days, it’s pleasant to sit on a log, watch the waves, drink that essential second cup of coffee and wind down after a work week. Goodness knows, my parents must’ve needed to wind down. They worked hard, particularly at being parents to four little angels, even if they weren’t getting along so well with each other. At the beach, my mum would reach for a book, no doubt hoping the children didn’t suffer any serious injuries, and my dad would sometimes join us to play cricket, if he hadn’t disappeared to the nearest golf course. One year, he brought along some sea fishing gear, and spent a week catching no fish. It looked so boring to us, and I think that was what he had hoped.

Winding down time

What prompted all the not so misty-eyed nostalgia above? Last weekend, we were heading down to Sunset Point to enjoy the early morning sun – aren’t we the contrarians? – and as we wandered along, I had a sudden sense of being that (adorable) little boy again, spectacles shining in the sun, excited about glimpsing the sea. I’d quite forgotten that feeling, probably because in recent years we’ve seen the ocean every day, but it hit hard last weekend. It is a thrill to see the sea! Even better when you aren’t nursing new bruises and can walk straight there, no cramped car journey to endure and no need to carry a cricket bat. Golden memories of innocent childhood days.

Sunset Point, but not sunset

I’ll leave it there – I have to take Scout out for a (beach) walk, go see the sea, and anyway, I think I have something in my eye. I bet I’ve a cricket bat hidden away somewhere. Might need it post-COVID when siblings come visiting. Oh no, don’t think that! To play cricket, of course. Genteel, remember?

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

An old favourite

In these somewhat restricted times, we find our fun where we can, and how pleased were we to see an old favourite in town last week?

Visitors? Is that allowed? What about non-essential travel, OldPlaidCamper?! It’s ok, these visitors were properly contained, safely transported, suited up in glass bottles and clearly labeled “Lagunitas” with a best before. Best before? I don’t think that’ll be a problem.

No problem

Lagunitas? I’ve done some extensive research (no he hasn’t, aside from tasting the beer – Mrs. PC), and I believe a rough translation, medically speaking, tells us Lagunitas possibly means “very good for you but don’t overdo it.” Small doses, small delights, great relief. Sounds medical and reliable to me. I’m getting the hang of this fake online thing. Trust me, I’m not a doctor. Easy.

Another old favourite was seeing the layers of mist, cloud and rain cloaking the low mountains across the bay and above Hitacu. The special combination of water, mist, clouds, mountains, and shades of green feel so very PNW, and when the heavy rain has obscured such views for a lengthy period, it’s so good to see.

A good combo

We have a snowfall warning for the next couple of days, and since the last one came to nothing here at sea level, hopes are high (amongst the student body at any rate) that this time there will be enough to make a snowball or two…

A brief post this week, as work piles up in a positive way, and we get things done before the long weekend – Family Day. Bittersweet once again, given the current circumstances, but with vaccines rolling out, it feels we’re moving in the right direction, and the next time Family Day rolls around, it’ll be celebrated properly. In the meantime, it’s a quick dash to the beer store, in the hope there’s still a six pack of an old favourite looking for a weekend home.

It’s not all green and grey…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the long weekend if that’s for you, and the regular weekend if not!

PS I don’t speak Spanish, so an uneducated guess on Lagunitas, after some more sketchy research, has me thinking it is related to “laguna” and a small lake or lagoon. Or really good beer.

Sad and smiling

My Dad died last week. We’re sad and smiling, as we recall so many memories of time spent with him. I don’t want to write anything lengthy here. My aim is to catch up reading your blogs, and to be writing my more usual posts from next week. Perhaps bits and pieces about my Dad will be woven into some of the stories.

The photograph is from summer 2019, when we enjoyed our last evening out together. He was very keen I had a beer photograph to post on the blog! We went to a bring your own beer local curry house, and ate too much and laughed a lot, like always.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

“Oh no, elephants!”

I was out with Scout earlier this week, tramping the neighbourhood streets, enjoying the nonappearance of spring, and laughing at the squirrels laughing at us. We came across (another) patch of ice, frozen snowmelt, a perfect mini-hockey rink spread over the sidewalk, and another opportunity for me to reenact and explain to Scout how Iginla and Crosby combined to score the gold medal winning goal at the 2010 Olympics. Given the number of icy patches out there, various hockey moves happen quite a bit. To mix things up, I’ll sometimes charge the net, and Scout also appreciates my ability to score on the wraparound. I’ll admit that Scout’s stick handling is the best…

Wednesday, no spring

The picture of sporting excellence I’ve painted in your mind is, obviously, quite something to see, so now it’s going to hurt me (and you) to come clean, tell the truth. Ready?

We came across (another) patch of ice, and I muttered to Scout “Oh no, elephants!” She did what she always does when she has no idea what I’m going on about, wagged her tail and looked expectantly at my coat pocket that has the extra kibble. She’s a well fed dog.

Scout, lots of spring!

“Oh, no, elephants!What are you going on about, PlaidCamper?

Good question. Let’s take a time travel trip, back to the distant, distant past, to an era when young PlaidCampers roamed the earth, wearing NHS spectacles and terrorizing the neighbourhood when playing out on bikes for hours at a time.

We would build ramps so we could perform death defying leaps across canyons filled with (toy) trucks, pedalling furiously to gather up enough speed so when we hit the ramp it would fall apart before any chance of lift off. Looking back, it’s strange none of that group of friends and family ever became engineers or involved in construction projects.

Anyway, back to the elephants. I think we came to the conclusion that jumping over toys wasn’t sufficiently dangerous, that we somehow lacked motivation, the necessary element of danger. The solution? We didn’t need to leap over toys, what was needed was for the smallest of us to lie down in the canyon. It was at this point someone said “element of danger” and it became, because we were young and silly, the elephant of danger, a kind of shorthand for when we were doing things we shouldn’t. Not that that ever happened. Riding down Langley Hill, a steep, busy and pot holed road, a speeding stream of (poorly) self maintained bikes, wobbling madly in an attempt to keep up with the fastest kid, the guy with a speedometer, shouting out “32mph!” No elephant of danger there. How about climbing up onto the garage roof, leaping from garage to garage, knowing the construction was little more than balsa wood and tar paper? Yup, one of us fell through the roof, stuck at the waist and shouting for help to get free. It’s hard to help when you’re practically peeing yourself laughing, and looking around hoping there were no adults ready to give us what for.

Tall can, tall tales (The truth? This one is excellent – you can believe that…)

Yes, the elephant of danger. There are other stories, but if I told them, I’m quite certain there’d be a knock on the door, and the long arm of the law would finally catch up. There are untold reasons behind why I keep moving on…

Back to the present day. I’d forgotten all about the elephants of danger until confronted by the ice sheet earlier this week. Did I really reenact the Iginla to Crosby Olympic golden goal? The truth? The long forgotten elephants phrase popped into my head as I flailed wildly, skating and slipping to reach the other side and the safety of drier pavement, as if being chased by the Hanson brothers. Less Olympian, and more Slap Shot. It’s probably the glasses…

Yesterday, signs of spring?

Yes, that’s why the squirrels were laughing. As for spring and safer sidewalks, rumour and the Weather Network has it that we are due a warm, sunny and dry spell the next few days, which is great news, as I’m not as young as I was, and certainly far more cautious around elephants.

Thanks for reading, stay safe, and have a wonderful weekend! Must go, I can hear a knock at the door…

What a week

First off, I hope all is well with you, your friends and your family. Trying times…

Very quiet

I was in Calgary last week, a flying Spring Break visit, and quite a good thing too as it turned out. We were aiming to surprise Junior, who is (was) teaching cookery and early years in the city. The surprise happened, smiles and elbow bumps all round. Then we had to scramble to find her a flight to Scotland via London, because, not being a Canadian, Junior’s partner is unable to return to Canada for the foreseeable future. Understandably, they didn’t want to be apart, so, fingers crossed, by the time this is posted they’ll be reunited in Bonnie Scotland. We’ll miss them, but know they are together to get through the next little while. Aah, lovely!

Very cold

I returned to Ucluelet, just long enough to pick up Scout, shut up shop, and, travel restrictions allowing, should be on the road as you read this, heading to Calgary once more so Mrs. PC and I can be together full time. Aah, lovely! Mrs PC can’t wait to see Scout.

I did try and explain social distancing to her

I know you might not be, but if you’re willing to watch something virus related, try this from Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland. It’s how a leader should sound in times like these…

Yup, what a week. Please take care of yourselves, friends, neighbours and family, and, although it might sound strange, I hope you find ways to enjoy your weekend.

The back nine?

Wandering around St. Andrews last week, in the middle of visiting friends and family in varying degrees of good health, it occurred to me I’m pretty much on the back nine.

Castle

That’s a sobering thought, and enough to send you in search of the nearest microbrewery, but for once I managed to resist. St. Andrews Brewery, rest assured I’ll visit next time. Instead, I spent quite a number of happy hours walking in the rain, all around the edge of the Old Course, along the Eden Estuary, past the castle, the cathedral, the university buildings, and down to the pier.

University

I have to say, even in the rain, I found St. Andrews to be a pretty and genteel little town. I’ve no idea if it is full of golf snobs in the bars and clubhouses – I didn’t bother going in – but everyone I met and chatted to was very pleasant indeed. They had time to stop and share a few words with a damp and bedraggled tourist, which was nice.

Swilken Bridge

It’s been many years since I’ve tried to swing a golf club with real conviction, but I’ll admit to being absolutely thrilled seeing the bridge over Swilken Burn at St. Andrews. The course looks easier and smaller than it comes across on television. Many a fine golfer has been undone on this famous course, and long before reaching the 18th.

I saw excellent golf shots played as I mooched about, and I also saw many poor shots – shots I’d have been proud of. Maybe I should dust off the golf clubs and bring them with me next time? I’m on the back nine, perhaps I need to (re)take up a more sedate pastime?

From the pier

Best not – as I recall, my ability to remain calm under (golf) pressure wasn’t ever (ever, ever) a strong suit. Sport and comedy will have to remain the poorer for my early golf retirement. I’d rather be out not spoiling a good walk, and enjoy smelling the flowers. Almost every day when we’re out and about, Scout reminds me of that and I’d be wise to listen.

Smell the flowers

Being on the back nine isn’t so bad, if you can convince yourself you’re wiser for being older and that having hair on top of your head is overrated. We’re all headed for the nineteenth, might as well enjoy it, water hazards, sand traps and all, before getting there…

Close to the end!

Thanks for reading, and wherever you are on the course, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

“Smell the flowers!”
Scout and friend doing the right thing

Songs from Northern Britain

With thanks to Teenage Fanclub for the post title. Never heard of Teenage Fanclub?! No? Try this: Ain’t That Enough?

I’ve been driving about northern Britain for the past week, windows down and enjoying almost sunshine and one or two rain showers. Then the windows go back up. They’re also back up whenever I start to sing, seems only fair to the people living here.

St. Andrews Castle

I never lived in northern Britain, but visited often over the years. I felt a little nostalgic for a place I don’t know that well, but I think it was more the music I’d chosen. My driving playlists had a northern leaning, and they made for better listening than the ongoing Brexit/Bloody Boris Johnson stupidity dominating the airwaves. Grrr.

Where was I? Teenage Fanclub, excellent listening for the past three plus decades, and very appropriate for the Scottish leg of the trip. I remember an album review from over ten years ago that described them as “wizened” even then – they were younger than my age now! So this wizened listener enjoyed hearing the old songs, particularly from the Songs From Northern Britain album. “Here is a sunrise, ain’t that enough?” Well, yes, sometimes. The last three tracks on that album are even better than the opening three. Cue beer fuelled debate with sibling.

The pale ale was better, unless you asked my brother…

When I drove away from St. Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife earlier this week, having caught up with Junior McPlaidCamper, the weather was a touch misty – or I may have had something in my eye. Whatever the cause, I’m pretty sure I passed a sign for Angle Park. Let the memories from distant youth flood back. Angle Park? The bonus track on The Crossing by Big Country? Big Country! I was in a big country alright, with high hills and low mountains accompanying me through the Kingdom of Fife. What pleasant surroundings to find yourself in. The North Fife coastal path will call me back for further exploration. Never heard of Big Country?! Try this: Big Country – The Seer

Sunny St. Andrews

Junior is happy enough in St. Andrews, working hard in several of the hotel kitchens, and producing good food mostly made from local ingredients. We visited the store that provides ice cream to the hotel, and if you’re ever up there, can I recommend the pistachio? And the rum and raisin? And the mint choc chip? And the salted caramel? And pants with an elastic waistband? Yup, that’s how some of the evening went.

I get a brain freeze just looking

Before St. Andrews, I stayed a few days with younger Brother PlaidCamper, allegedly to help him out a bit as he recovers from a hospital stay. Mostly we sat in his sunny backyard, talking nonsense about books, movies, and music, and drinking a beer or two. Then more nonsense. He’s on the mend, and probably not because of my medical bedside manner…

Didn’t see a purple moose on this trip. Next time?

My final stop on the northern Britain tour was in North Wales, and an overnight with Pa PlaidCamper. He’s also on good form, pretending to be annoyed with Blue, his constant canine companion. They’ve sold the farm, and will be moving to a small hillside cottage located a few minutes away in the same valley. We drove past it yesterday, and it is in a beautiful location with spectacular views in every direction. If you can imagine steep green hillsides dotted with sheep and stands of trees all about, then that’s where they’ll be. Green and pleasant is an understatement.

Blue!
Green! And pleasant.

Thanks for tuning in this week, and so to a final rousing song – if you know the words, feel free to sing along (I’ll roll the windows up): In a Big Country

There will be more about St. Andrews – and far less music, I promise – next week. Have a wonderful weekend!

Some Dad stuff

With a tip of the hat to this coming Sunday, let’s say the photographs and some content this week is slightly Dad biased. That said, you don’t have to be a Dad to enjoy old trucks and good beer. My Dad does enjoy old Land Rovers and Range Rovers, and he will drink a beer if there’s nothing else, but he’s more partial to a full bodied Rioja.

Full bodied

Before we moved away from the UK, each summer my Dad, brother and I would meet up for a few days and play three rounds of golf. That’s not quite true. My Dad would play golf – he’s a very good golfer, toyed with the idea of turning pro – and my brother and I would go for a long walk trying to find our errant golf balls. My Dad was referee/coach/guidance counsellor/man mercilessly taking the piss out of our monumental sporting struggle. My brother and I were playing to win a penny. It’s true! We even called it the penny trophy! (I’m not the current holder…) My Dad had tremendous patience in the face of our (mostly my) inability to remotely master the game, and if you could have seen how bad we were (I was), his restraint has to be admired. We’d enjoy a glass or two of something good after each round, recounting the highlights and lowlights, and I do miss those fun summer meetings, even if I was often a miserable so and so on the course. I know, that’s hard to believe!

Summer 2019 release – cheers!

Anyway, cheers to my Dad, and to Dads, and cheers to everybody, because it’s fun to raise a glass if you’re so inclined, and I will for almost any reason, but maybe not on a school night.

School nights? Not too many of those between now and the end of the academic year! Lots to keep us busy between now and then. I was at a celebration of Nuu-Chah-Nulth learning earlier this week, one where some beautiful murals were unveiled and blessed at a high school. A collaboration between local indigenous artists and high school students, the three paintings were stunning depictions of local history, nature and culture. To see so many people of all stripes come out and celebrate, enjoying the artwork, singing, drumming and dancing was wonderful to see. The accompanying feast was also a highlight, with multi-generations present.

On the way home, I saw this green truck parked up, and I had to stop and take a picture. They do look good in green, don’t they? It probably isn’t what’s meant by going green. Old man dreams?

Going green?

At a cafe the other day, Mrs. PC spotted a weighty tome she thought I’d like to look at. It was a picture book – she knows me so well – with great photographs of pick up trucks past and present. Perhaps her thinking is if I look at the pictures, that’ll be more than enough to be going on with, no need to actually buy an old wrecker. Good strategy, bound to work, and anyway, the real thing is too expensive to maintain. Far better to buy a cup of coffee at that cafe every now and then, and look at the book.

Low maintenance? I think so!

The following day, we were leaving the grocery store when I spotted this old pink-wheeled delight. Imagine being the proud owner of a truck like this. I bet it doesn’t need that much maintenance. After all, it’s been going this long, it’s bound to have many years left in it. Way more fun than looking at a book. Probably even has cup holders?

I’ll leave it here for now, as I’ve got to head over the bay, put some hours in on the forthcoming education celebration we’ll be enjoying next week. You’ll be interested to know I always slow down when I’m passing this beige beauty:

A beige beauty? Perhaps not

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!