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?

Turbulent…

Turbulent?! Oh no, it’s not a rant is it? Turbulent! Well now, this could apply to quite a lot – the economy? Politics? Weather? One’s stomach? No, no, not the last, all is well, and I wouldn’t go so far as to write on such matters. And it’s not a rant either. Not this week anyway…

Incoming

So, the economy? Do we want my take on fiscal responsibility and supply side reforms? Gilts and bonds? Why green initiatives make economic sense given you might want to be alive – stop, just stop, PlaidCamper, you know when you start to rant, it’ll guarantee a frosty reception in some quarters. No need…

Frosty reception

Let’s skip economics, important though the topic is, and also skip politics so all our blood pressures remain relatively stable. Although I can’t resist saying, given the midterm outcomes as of Wednesday morning, things could have been worse. Would have preferred better, but anyway. Glimmers of hope…?

Hope

That the leaves the weather! A safe enough topic if I resist the temptation to start on about the environment. No worries, at least for now – we’ve got as far as this paragraph, and blood pressure is within norms, let’s keep it that way. The weather being turbulent is where we are this week!

Best viewed from a distance

After a mostly delightful and balmy fall period, the weather finally broke and we’ve received much needed rain. Last weekend brought a robust storm, one that left many without power for a day or two, and we’d fully expected to be in that boat, but were spared this time. It was great to be down on the shore, well back from the crashing waves, and enjoying an exhilarating blast of ocean air. A day to hold on to your hat.

On the shore

Then we had a good old calm after the storm, and woke to a close to wintry scene of frost and frozen rain/snow that took a few hours to melt away. It has remained persistently cold ever since, with mostly blue skies and brisk mornings, and an almost perfect way to shake oneself awake after a bit of reluctance to step outside.

Chill

I’ll leave it for this week, as we must go and pack for a quick trip to Victoria, where hopefully we’ll still be enjoying the cold and bright days, and making the most of it knowing the rain will return. Sometimes, turbulent isn’t so bad when it’s followed by calm…

“Reluctant to step outside on a cold day? Me? Never!”

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

“I’m never turbulent, and always chilled…”

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!

Rainforest reminder

After a somewhat worryingly lengthy dry spell, the weather has taken a turn for the expected the past few days, and reminded us we do live in a rainforest. Temperatures have gone down, hoods have gone up, and relatively normal meteorological service has resumed.

Definitely damp

Scout can usually be relied on to jump up and be first out of the door if a walk is mentioned, but she was decidedly less enthusiastic this week as she heard the rain bouncing on the roof. In fairness, it was quite loud, and her ears are quite large. Fortunately, her curiosity always gets the better of her, or at least a fear of missing out on potential hiking snacks, and her mood always improves after the first few steps. Or bits of kibble. I find I’m the same, although I haven’t tried the kibble.

Greener

The forest smells right, with a return to wet and mulchy rather than dry and dusty, and to my eyes the greens are greener. I’ve missed the pattering of rain on leaf and raincoat, and although there’s much to enjoy hiking in the dry, it’s nice the temperatures have dropped a bit. It all feels a bit more alive somehow.

Not so gentle patter

The forecast is for a fair amount of rain the next two weeks, and we have definitely entered rain season, so let’s see how far our early enthusiasm goes. Will it be dampened? Probably not, as long as Scout can endure the indignity of towel drying each time we get home. I do assure her it’s laughing with and not at her, but she remains unconvinced…

“You said you wouldn’t share this one…”

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

Seasonal greens
“Large ears? Me? Not a problem, other than I can hear him when he thinks he’s being funny…”

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!

Old stuff, new stuff (yes, this is a terrible title) and a big green space

We really enjoyed our recent visit to Quebec City, such a friendly and lively place, with an enticing mix of the old and new existing comfortably side by side. Where to start? We have so many highlights. How about outside? One large space that we grew to love very quickly was the Plains of Abraham. Such a delight to wander, a place that has always held a fascination for me since childhood. Boredom alert! Not so interesting pieces of my past are shared below. Old stuff.

Leafy and lovely

I remember as a child reading about General James Wolfe and how he was victorious in battle on the Plains of Abraham against General Montcalm and his French forces. Those childhood primer history books were old even then, written and first published when Britain still clung to notions of greatness based on empire, and were British biased to say the least. They did not go into any great details beyond the triumph of Wolfe. Not much mention of the intricacies and dubious presence of two empires busily exporting their European wars to far flung places and messing things up there. Hmm.

Anyway, younger me wasn’t too concerned or aware of missing nuances – I mostly liked the maps showing how opposing forces were arrayed. Yes, I was a nine year old armchair general. Such a strange child… Getting back to the battle on the Plains of Abraham as told in my history book, I was always bothered by the thought it wasn’t much of a personal victory for Wolfe, given that he died in the battle. Come to think of it, older me still isn’t convinced that’s the best way to win…

Bloody history acknowledged, today the Plains of Abraham are a vast green space providing city dwellers and visitors quiet places to overlook the St. Lawrence River and the town of Levis on the far bank. It’s a busy waterway down there, so if watching boats is your thing, there’s always something moving.

I like this space!

Along with the rolling fields of grass and areas of military significance, there are hundreds of leafy trees, dozens of welcoming benches and tables, as well as planted garden areas where a person can sit and stare, or sit and doze. Or both, one after the other…

We did stay awake long enough to visit the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) which is situated overlooking the park, and if we were slightly sleepy before heading in, the collection of contemporary Quebec art dating from 1960 to the present certainly woke us up. What a vibrant and thought provoking array of work it was. New stuff! Highly recommended if you get the chance.

These stairs lead up to a wonderful contemporary collection!

I’ll leave it here for this week, with my head mentally, if not geographically, still wandering the plains, and feeling much relieved my bloodthirsty battlefield map loving younger self grew up into a pacifist. What a site, though. Did I mention how much we enjoyed it there? Here are a couple more photos:

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

On our travels…

Where are we?! Hmm…

On our travels and with indifferent/intermittent internet connection, so I’ll keep this very short. If you want to play along, feel free to hazard a guess as to where we’ve ended up – maybe not so hard to work out from the photos provided?

Very European looking…

We’ve had a delightful time eating and drinking more than usual, and trying to walk some of it off as we wander around this small(ish) and very friendly city. Anyway, low bars on the wifi indicator, and more bars requiring our attention, so I’ll leave it here this week.

Leafy!

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

We’ll walk this off!
Had a drink in the bar up there