Sparse

A bit thin, not much on top. A post about male pattern baldness, or something else? You decide…

Scout and I have been doing our best to enjoy early morning walks. We live and wander in a very green and pleasant place, a rainforest skirting the edge of the ocean. So the trying isn’t so bad, let’s be clear about that. It’s less the place, more the time of year. I’m not a huge fan of November.

Sparse

When we lived in Calgary, November was a month of promise but little delivery. There was (in my head) always the hope of decent snow, and sometimes the higher runs in the mountains delivered earlier in the month, but often not. In town, leaves had dropped long ago – mid to late September, and without snow, it always looked a touch drab. Less so here, due to the previously mentioned rainforest, full of evergreens, but the last of the deciduous leaves are dropping, and bare patches are apparent.

Full of evergreens – stop complaining!

Again, not so bad, but combined with the (admittedly long overdue) fall rains, shorter daylight hours and grey skies, it all feels a bit dreary. November blahs! Having been spoiled by the warmer late summer and fall, it seems a tougher adjustment to the grey and damp this year. Like male pattern baldness, hardly a major concern, but it’s there! I guess I’ll pull on the wooly toques, and get acquainted or reacquainted with the coastal winter. Might need a trip or two up island, get into the mountains there and wallow in the snow…

Damp and grey – but lovely, so get used to it!

A sparse post this week on a thin topic, those early winter blues. Or greys. To finish on a more positive note – November is almost over!

And it’s not always November grey… some early winter blues!

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend – and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating that just to the (somewhat warmer?!) south.

There’s grey and there’s grey – a hint of sun here…
“Don’t listen to him – it’s great here!”

Stout?

Or porter? Or any dark beer? I’m not too fussy this time of year. It’s been colder than usual the past week or two, and that has provoked conversations about if we’re skipping fall and jumping into winter? Fall or winter, it’s all the same to me – when viewed through beer goggles. We’re in the chronologically/meteorologically less known but quite important dark beer season. Difficult to pin it precisely on the calendar, and the subject of some debate, which is why most (erm, all?) calendars skip dark beer season. Porter season? Stout season? Stout, you say? Sounds a bit personal; I tend to move out a belt notch or two this time of year, and wear a larger sweater…

Stout, you say?

All the above is a long winded way of getting to the lack of a point this week. We were in Victoria last week, and ended up at Spinnakers, and ended up in the taproom and ended up drinking their dry Irish stout and ended up having another. They’ve a good range of beers, but their best, to my mind, is the stout, closely followed by the nut brown.

Why I otter…

If I was ever stranded on a desert island, and could never be rescued and was only allowed one beer to drink, I’d choose a porter or stout. I’d then sit in the shade wondering how it came to pass I was stranded on a desert island with only a porter or stout to drink for the rest of my life. Is that a punishment or a reward? Who would think of such a thing, much less write about it? These are the big questions, and like many big questions, answers aren’t always easy to come by. So I won’t.

A place to ponder

Anyway, you’re (I’m) going to be on the island for ever, and that means you (I) have to choose the right porter. Or stout. Yes, there is a source of drinking water, and the weather isn’t too bad. Those aren’t important concerns for now. No, no internet. (I’m still not sure if this is a punishment or a reward?) Shall we get back to the important stuff? Yes, let’s! What stout – or porter – would you choose, PlaidCamper?

Guinness – a good choice!

I’m glad you asked that. You’d want to get it right, because say you went for Guinness – a good choice, can’t go far wrong with a Guinness – but then after day 700, you suddenly had a hankering for a Murphy’s? There’s not too much between them, but I think it’d play on my mind. A sailor might get shipwrecked on your island, and it’d be awkward if they turn out to prefer Murphy’s…or they might have beer tastes that extend beyond the more mass market dark beers. They’re a sailor after all, adventurous – if not that successful – and a mere Guinness might not suffice.

Adventurous sailors

I’m not even on the island, and the social nicety complexities are challenging. Time out isn’t easy. Moving on. History time. My first non-Guinness dark beer was a pint of Theakston Old Peculier. Peculiar in the spelling but not too peculiar in the taste. We were hiking in the Lake District with friends and, as the light was fading, we stumbled down off the fells and into a fine flagstone floored pub that catered for thirsty walkers. A pint of Peculier? Well why not, and goodness it was a revelation! Aside from Guinness, my beersploration at that time was fairly limited – pints of lager, the occasional bitter, and youthful hangovers that reflected how, in my case at any rate, youth is sometime wasted on the young. Theakston Old Peculier is a great beer. But is it a “the only beer for the rest of your life” beer? Pains me to say it, but probably not.

Hiking in the Lake District

More recent history. The first brewery we visited when we arrived in Canada was Calgary’s Wild Rose Brewery. Based in an old Anderson shelter just down the road from our first Calgary home – no, I didn’t know it was there before we signed the lease, honest – we used to drop in after work on a Friday and enjoy the range of beers and good food. With the Calgary Farmers Market on the same site, Friday evenings were pretty well catered for. In winter, the Wild Rose produce a limited quantity of Cherry Porter. Now this is a seriously good beer. I don’t believe in Father Christmas, but he believed in me and would leave a bottle in my stocking. It was a large bottle, and kept me company throughout the festivities. Yum! But is it an all the time on a desert island drink? Probably not. Ouch! But on the plus side, perhaps the shipwrecked sailor I mentioned earlier managed to rescue their kit bag before the boat went down, and perhaps there’s a bottle of Wild Rose Cherry Porter tucked away – in a stocking – in there? That could happen, and it’s a bottle made for sharing.

Now in cans! (Photo from Wild Rose Brewery AB)

Goodness, is that the time? I could share beer stories all day and beyond, and that’s just for dark beers. Imagine how great it would be if we moved onto pale ales? I can see you’re excited about that, but let’s leave it for another time. I know, I know…

Any time to talk about pale ales? Not right now? This was tasty…

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

What’s that? You’re still here and you really do want to know the winning stuck on an island forever dark beer? Or porter? Or stout? See below!

We have a winner! Unless Fuller’s London Porter is available. And what about Young’s Double Chocolate Stout? Maybe it should be the Wild Rose Cherry Porter? And I do like the Old Peculier… Can we have a bigger island?

Way back when…

…I was a schoolboy, aged 10, my teacher was Mr. Ross Laugher (pronounced law, not laugh-er if you valued your recess time) and he was, initial impressions and appearances to the contrary, a lovely man. Over the years, I’ve been taught by, learned alongside, learned from, and taught or mentored dozens and dozens of wonderful educators, and of them all it was Mr. Laugher who came to mind as I was walking with Scout this morning.

Damp

I suspect he popped into my head because I remember him as being so enthusiastic about the natural world. Scout, as ever, was being enthusiastic about the natural world. It was a brisk and barely above freezing outing, and we were checking in with our favourite trees and inhaling the invigorating air, damp and mossy after the overnight rains. I think Scout maps the world through her nose. Light or dark, wet or dry, she has an unerring instinct when finding her way. Scout scouting!

A favourite tree

Back to Mr. Laugher. If you didn’t know him, or were apprehensive about moving into his classroom for your final year in elementary school, you might have thought he was a slightly forbidding and imposing figure. Bearded, gold wire rim spectacles, collar and tie, corduroy slacks, an array of sweater vests, and a brisk and purposeful way with movement and words, he induced a nervousness amongst pupils who weren’t taught by him. You’ve probably had teachers like that? They have a bit of a reputation for being fierce, but if you’re lucky enough to be in their class, it turns out to be a case of bark worse than bite? Ross Laugher was like that to me. It wasn’t that he couldn’t be strict – he was – but he was fair, and you knew where the lines were.

Bark? No!

He encouraged questions, looking up answers, reading, using the library, map making, experimentation, responsibility, common sense and using your senses. I don’t remember seeing him laugh or having a sense of humour, at least not with students, but he praised enthusiasm and effort.

Bark? Yes!

Friday afternoons in the upper elementary school were devoted to clubs. You could choose from (or were assigned based on seniority and if you had previously attended or not) cookery, clay, puppets (yikes, too scary, no thanks), bird club, needlework, painting, drama, music, model making and likely many others I’ve forgotten. Mr. Laugher ran the bird club and grade 5 me did not want to be there. It was bad enough thinking about the 50:50 possibility of being in his class for grade 6, so why run into him any earlier? For the record, in grade 6 I wanted to be in Mr. Lemaire’s class. He taught music, had that early 1970s rock band hair, flared trousers and no scary gold glasses. Like, cool, man.

Another favourite

Anyway, the education gods knew best, and I got Mr. Laugher in grade 6 and bird club not puppets the back end of grade 5. Bird club? Nooooo, I thought, that’s too square, man…We would go on walks through the school grounds, peering in hedgerows and up at trees, trying to spot nests, scaring birds off before we could identify them, then sitting with binoculars hoping the scared birds would return. We also looked for tracks, put up bird houses and filled feeders. Back in class, we were encouraged to draw maps to include what we’d discovered, and use reference books to identify what we thought we’d seen, then draw and/or paint any bird that we liked. (I was always rather taken by the storm petrel. Yup, I’d also like to know why…) For homework, we were encouraged to keep a bird spotting diary. Homework? For a school club?! Like, no, man…

Bird club

I would never have chosen bird club – in my young and shallow world view, Mr. Laugher would not be mistaken for my real role models, you know, a rock god or footballer – but it turned out it was all a good fit. Superstar sports and music ambitions aside, I was already enthused by maps, and had that odd childhood love of identifying and categorizing anything from cars and planes, to tanks and trains, so bird club made a kind of sense.

I even did the homework, making maps of our backyard and noting tracks and bird sightings. Robins, thrushes and sparrows mostly. Nope, no storm petrel. As we’re all enjoying these tales from the distant past, shall we add a few more details as I remember them of childhood me?

“Is he still talking about himself? I can’t bear to watch or listen…”

Outside of school clubs, I collected football stickers, had a brief flirtation with stamp collecting, was far too keen on old WWII movies, loved Viking, Greek and Roman myths and legends, anything Arthurian (reading this now, how did I not end up some kind of swivel-eyed right leaning loon?), tales of Robin Hood (phew, looks like I also had a leaning to the left and concern for fair redistribution of wealth from the 1%) and also spent time frequently modifying and falling off modified bicycles. I never enjoyed train-spotting, because that was for nerds. Yes, I know what some of the sentences before that describe, but c’mon, there are degrees of nerd…(Oh, ok, I might have been train-spotting once or twice with friends, and I might have enjoyed it. But we’ll keep that quiet?)

Misty, slightly faded

And once again back to Mr. Laugher. He opened my eyes to the natural world in my own backyard, school yard and neighborhood. He helped me see the small natural wonders and start to understand how they are actually rather large. He wasn’t the first or only person to do this. Parents and grandparents also encouraged a love of learning and sense of curiosity, and any number of family, friends and colleagues have also done so since. But as I said at the top, it was Ross Laugher who popped into my head this morning. And here we are, many years later, me the bearded teacher, sometimes requiring glasses, and corduroys in the closet. Talk about teacher influence… Wait a minute! No no, it’s ok, I don’t have a sweater vest. How could I? There’s only one Ross Laugher – an excellent teacher and role model, and in my mind, no one will ever rock a sweater vest the way he did…

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

What is happening?!

The past few weeks have been pretty strange. That could be a reference to our prolonged and very dry spell. Or it could be a description of what has been taking place politically and economically in my birth country… Maybe it’s both. What is happening?!

Political scene

I’ve been very distracted by events back in dear old Blighty. We haven’t lived there in nearly two decades, and whatever reasons we had at the time for moving away don’t seem to have been too far off the mark all these years later. It’s not that we saw what was to come. Anyway, it’s been upsetting to see – we have family and friends enduring the ongoing political clown show, and it isn’t funny. How many Prime Ministers, Chancellors, Home Secretaries in the last few years? Months? Weeks?! What is happening?!

Scout sees things clearly. Scout for PM?

I’m very aware that there are many places suffering far worse, militarily, politically, and economically, than the UK. To my inexpert eyes, it would appear the rise of “populist” political figures (surely there’s no link between years and years of woefully underfunded education/less teaching of critical thinking and the rise of these figures?! No…) equates to the demise and decline on view.

Back on track – I like this viewpoint

A friend texted me earlier, just after Truss resigned. We’d agreed at the time she was “elected” PM that that was the bottom of the Tory barrel. Now she’s been ditched after a destructive and disastrous few weeks, and the Tories are looking once more, but where do you look if you’ve already scraped the bottom of the barrel? Is there a barrel? Is it the same barrel? Or another one underneath, one that contains some previously undiscovered talents? Isn’t the well, or barrel, dry? How low do you go? Hmmm.

Oh, I could go on, but I won’t, you’ll be pleased to hear. I’ll just get upset! Let’s try and get back on track. The almost ranting old man went for a walk with his dog, and he was calmed by that. The weather was pleasant (aside from the worrying lack of rain) and the views were lovely. The dog was content. There you go, almost normal, or what passes for normal around here. I’ll do better next week…

“Chill, man – it’ll pass…”

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

Mystic haze!

Mystic haze?! Really, OldPlaidCamper? What’s going on? Too much time in the company of hobbits? Or you’re finally coming clean about those Dungeons and Dragons days? Perception altering fungi? No, nothing like that. My thanks to Vancouver Island Brewing – without their beer name inspiration, I would never have gone so far as to call this post “mystic haze!” (I mean, does that sound like my way with words?) No, this was mostly the recent weather and my beer choice coinciding… That, and the fact I was stuck more than usual for a title. I bought and enjoyed the beer, and as our recent weeks have been full of mystic haze, here we are, at possibly my longest and most pointless intro paragraph to date. Are you still here? Stick around, try the haze, it’s far out…

Like, it’s hazy here…

Fall continues to be surprisingly warm and dry, and I, less surprisingly, continue to write a version of that sentiment each week. I bet we’re all hoping this keeps up?

Happy blues

Scout and I have tripped out (teehee) most days, stopping off at our favourite stopping off places, admiring the mist and sunshine on the water, with me eventually giving way to Scout’s pleading insistence I take her picture. All is groovy on days like these.

Groovy

We had our first weather advisory of the new season last weekend, with talk of wind gusts bringing down drought weakened larger branches and cutting power. Perhaps the forecasters were hoping for a bit of meteorological disruption to the long run of placid days, and got a bit carried away? A few more leaves blew off the trees overnight, but that was about it. The weather “event” missed us, which was not a bummer at all, man.

Golden and mellow, warm and cool.

Anyway, I think we’ll leave it here for this week. Scout is looking out the front door with a meaningful expression. I think it’s the one that says it’s golden and mellow out there, with a hint of mystic haze under the rising moon. Oh, so that’s where I got it from.

Nope, it was from the beer

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

Thanksgiving

We’ve been enjoying a very benign fall season so far, one where during the day temperatures have been as good as summer or better. At last! Rainforest? Not right now… Still, we know real fall and some rain is ready to make an appearance in due course, but until it does, we’re thankful for the misty mornings and mild sunny afternoons.

Misty mornings

Thanksgiving is here this coming Monday, and along with the current mellow seasonal moods, we’re thankful for so much more. We moved to Canada this time of year many years ago, so the holiday is special to us. We’re grateful to live where we do, and count ourselves fortunate to be able to do so. The wider human world appears to be as confused and contrary as ever, almost at constant war with itself over resources that ought to be enough to share, if only we could see reason and make some necessary changes for the good of all.

Still warm…

Anyway, preaching to the choir isn’t very helpful, so I’ll leave it here this week, feeling thankful for family and friends wherever they are, and thankful that we live in our quiet(ish) little corner of the world.

A quiet corner hangout

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

Chill early fall or late summer morning

Transition time! Scout and I enjoyed a chilly walk yesterday, a bright fall morning shot through with mists and spells of sunshine. Fall foliage is beginning to show, mornings are cooler, but for now we’re still just about hanging on to summer, with at least a hint of warmth most afternoons…

Late summer/early fall

A rather brief post this week as we prepare for what feels like our first longish distance trip in a number of years. Excited for that, and more to follow when we return. Where are we going? Let’s find out next week. Oh, the tension…

Warm light

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful late summer/early fall weekend! (Any Southern Hemisphere readers will be looking forward to spring – hope it’s a pleasant one!)

“Tell me again how good I look – I’m all ears…”

Fogust

You wait all summer for it to be summer, and then when it is (at last!) Fogust pops up! To be fair, we had quite a lot of Fogust in July, when July wasn’t being March. Is it safe to say by the time this is posted, we’ll be back to full on summer? One can hope…

Sea views? The ocean is there…

Yesterday afternoon was a warm and sunny one, so Scout and I dressed appropriately for the weather – sunblock and pants for me, fur coat for her (what was she thinking?) – and off we ambled about town, looking good and looking for a shady spot to sit and keep looking good.

“Yes, I look good, but if you’re done, I’m heading under that bench behind you!”

With the sun high, if not quite at the midday zenith of high summer, empty shade was in short supply, so we settled for a favourite spot, a small platform in front of the inner harbour. Scout, quite sensibly, sought the shade under the bench I was sitting on, and wouldn’t move over to let me under.

I see shade here

We lasted about ten minutes before the relative heat got to me, protected though I was by sunblock, sunglasses, a baseball cap and the aforementioned good looks. We headed home, almost wishing we’d get a short spell of Fogust to break the brief warm spell. Be careful what you almost wish for…

A tad chilly…

I’m off to put on an extra layer. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Playing out on bikes

I’m not sure if I’ve been having iPad issues or WordPress issues, but I’ve certainly been having technical issues the past few days. Let’s see if this one gets posted…

An outdoors day

Instead of staying indoors and fixing the technical issues, I did what’s best and went outside to play on bikes. That’s what we used to say back in the day. We’d tell our parents we were going out to play on bikes and then use them as getaway vehicles as we terrorized the neighbourhood. Astonishingly, in that particular group of friends, there were no broken bones or arrests made, so let’s leave that in the past and say we were good kids really.

Present day getaway vehicle

Present day, I like to pedal (assist) my way slowly and carefully around town – when the sun is shining. My small combined mission to not fall off and do all errands in Ucluelet by bicycle or on foot has proved successful so far. A friend has an e-motorcycle and likes to tell me how fast it “could” go, but we’ve resisted the need for speed, and I’m not going to push my no broken bones from a bike record for a midlife crisis and curiosity about could an e-bike make that jump? (I think it could, but I’m not succumbing to peer pressure or forgetting to act my actual on the outside age…)

“After speeding down a ramp I took off, flying through the air before landing right here, narrowly avoiding crashing through the barrier and plunging into the water!” Oh, alright, I rolled to a slow and gentle stop and then sat quietly admiring the view.

Anyway, the sun is shining again today – we’re getting the second half of summer, even if we didn’t get the first half, or any spring, not that I’m bitter about it – so I’ll end this now and head back outside. I noticed some local youth have set up a ramp, made from a few bricks and planks. Looks safe to me…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

UBC

UBC? Would that be the University of British Columbia? Well, yes, but no, not in this case. UBC is a fine institution, a seat of learning where several of the post secondary students I work with are studying, but all that is far too highbrow for this particular post. That said, although it is summer, with less focus on education-related work than usual, important research has to continue. (If you’re still with me, thank you, but be warned, this post has absolutely no point – but there will be a pint…)

Somewhat hazy

The header photo already gives it away, but my learning in recent weeks has been more focused on the other UBC here in Ucluelet. Yes, the Ucluelet Brewing Company! Since throwing open (and then closing, due to pandemic) their sturdy wooden doors almost three years ago, I’ve really hankered after enjoying an unhurried pint on the outside patio overlooking the water – and my office across the bay! (I think doing so demonstrates my deep commitment to things I love – learning and beer – how professional is that?)

I’ve completed some worthwhile research here

We’ve enjoyed several evenings inside the converted church, but timing or weather hadn’t allowed us to get outside. A few weeks back, one Saturday afternoon, I happened to be out and about running some essential errands. I was heading down the hill about 2pm and glanced up at the brewery, thinking it was bound to be busy. An empty patio?! Goodness.

Essential! (Thank you, universe)

Bearing in mind I’d set out to complete some essential errands that could not be delayed, I did the right thing, which was why, a few minutes later, I was sat up on the balcony overlooking the water, a lovely pint of Harbour View Hazy Pale ale close to hand. Did someone say essential errands?

Almost summer, and can almost see my office from here (it’s out of shot, to the right, and no one’s in right now)

What a happy hour that was! Good things are worth the wait, but I hope it isn’t another almost three years before it is repeated… And those errands? Time for those later, if I can remember what they were…

As stated at the start, a post without a point, but it did have a pint. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!