Bewilderment, a bridge, some beer, and a small blue dog

Here we are in pre-Brexit Britain, and what a state they are in…

As visitors, we’ve listened with a sympathetic ear, and then dulled the pain and propped up the economy by making sizeable contributions to the beer and hospitality industry.

On the Brexit front, conversations participated in and overheard have left the impression that regular folks are exhausted, disappointed with leadership, and baffled and bewildered by what might (or might not) happen next. With the deadline a mere two weeks away, it appears uncertainty rules the land.

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The Ironbridge iron bridge

We’ve been happily catching up with friends and family, and happily staying in pubs and forcing ourselves to drink a variety of on tap beers. The Bird in Hand, a pub dating back to the early 1700s, was our first rest stop, and it was delightful. Brasses on the wall, black and white timbered interior, a location above the fast-flowing Severn River in the Ironbridge valley – birthplace of the industrial revolution, and now a pretty world heritage site – we were cocooned in essence of English pub. Steve, the friendly landlord, recommended the Cheltenham Gold, and who were we to argue? A wonderful pint.

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Old Speckled Hen and a pint of Cheltenham Gold? Balm for the Brexit blues…

From Ironbridge we had a short drive up to my Dad’s hillside farm in Wales, and it being Wales, we were treated to sunshine, sleet, snow and rain all within minutes of each other. We were also treated to green valleys, fields of sheep, and thousands of daffodils. A host, even…

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Green

Meandering conversations by the wood burner, fuelled by coffee and something a little stronger, are what is best about visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Old OldPlaidCamper, and we were sorry, as always, to be moving on when we left. We did leave with a smile, because we got to meet my Dad’s newish canine companion, his four legged best friend (he denied it, never one to admit sentiment toward a furry friend, but we weren’t fooled one bit) and this was Blue, the prettiest little daschhund you’ll ever see!

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Blue!

Mrs. Old OldPlaidCamper is a big fan of wolves, and she’s looking forward to the day we manage to photograph one out on the coast. We send her pictures of Scout doing wolf impressions, but she isn’t fooled.

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Not a wolf?

As I write this, we are sitting in The Woolpack Inn, an old pub located a short hike from Hardknott Pass and Roman fort. Their Hardknott Pass golden ale is just the ticket. We thought so after one pint, and this was confirmed by the second.

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Gold

Weather permitting, or not permitting, we are heading out shortly to take in the views, with heavy rain and strong winds being our likely companions as we stride onwards and upwards. We know there’ll be a pint of something good when we head back down, and my brother should have arrived – he’ll be nursing his own glass of something good, and holding a space for us by the fire…

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They heard we were visiting…

The internet is sketchy here, so I hope this makes it out. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Departure (and letting things go)

It’s good to let things go. If you read on, a word of warning – this might not be about what you think it could be about. Just saying…

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Departure point

A departure from my recent regular schedule as Mrs. PC and I head off for a visit to dear old Blighty. Life on the road and in the air is generally fun, and access to internet permitting, I’ll aim to have something to post each Friday. Most of our time over there will be spent in the wild and woolly west of the country, so lots of hill-walking, pubs, old buildings, pubs in old buildings, coastal scenery and pubs for rest and recuperation. And rain. The real reason to be there is catching up with family and friends, and that means a bit less hiking and a lot more pubs. Oh, ok, if we must.

Last week was rain free, and the weekend out in the forest was a cold, dry and sunny one. We had over thirty boys, youth and young men, active and eager to learn land based traditional practices away from the distractions of the modern world. These fine young people are shaping up to be the leaders, protectors and providers for their communities in future years, drawing on skills and teachings shared by present day elders. It was a delight to be there and see the growth in esteem and abilities.

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We had to stop archery on the beach – too dark to find the arrows!

These boys looked out for and after each other, showing great responsibility in the boats, setting up camp, sharing the cooking, or teaching and learning archery. It’s something of a cliche, but it’s true to say eyes and faces were shining all weekend long. Even when one of the boats broke down as we were heading back, and there was a possibility of being delayed and stranded on a small island! These guys took it in their stride – I don’t think they wanted to head back as soon as we had to…

There was much laughter, singing and drumming around the fire, and stories from previous outings and experiences were shared, with a strong thread of humour running through many of the tales told.

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Story time

I’ll leave you with one story shared by J. He’s a quiet young man, growing into his role as a leader, and becoming more comfortable with using his voice in a group situation. He is rarely in a rush to speak, but when he chooses to, he’s a wonderful deadpan storyteller. He told me the following:

“I was invited to a gathering by another nation. We went by boat to their island and stayed in their longhouse. The food was good, and there was plenty, so I filled up. I am lactose intolerant and hadn’t realized how much cheese I’d eaten until my belly started to tell me. I couldn’t ignore the rumbling and asked a neighbour for directions to the outhouse. It wasn’t far, but it was dark, and I couldn’t find it. My need grew so great that I had to let things go before I found the outhouse. Luckily, I seemed to be in a small clearing with leafy trees all around. I needed many leaves.

The next morning, I joined a group setting off to explore some of the nearby trails. We went around a corner, and there, in the middle of the trail was a large pile of poo and leaves. It wasn’t left by a bear. Everyone was horrified. Who would do such a thing when the outhouse was so close? I was horrified as well, but I did not say why.”

J was laughing when he told this story, and then he started to grimace. His belly was beginning to rumble right then.

“It’s ok! This is better than an outhouse!” he cried, grabbing a shovel and heading away from the fire, a man on a mission.

There are plans to build an outhouse one day, along with a longhouse to make the traditional camp more appealing and accessible to all who visit, but until then, it’s grab a shovel and dig.

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Heading home

I think J is right about how it is good to let things go. I’ll stop there, and you’re probably quite relieved about that.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Inspiration Point!

A name like that deserves an exclamation point! Or two!8EE130C4-12E4-4E77-A9AA-CF4A6BBF7FEE

A very short post this week, as I’ve mismanaged my time and I’m now scrambling on Thursday evening to prepare for a wilderness weekend away with youth. Fortunately, I’m not the main planner for the coming weekend. I just have to remember some spare socks and a bottle of water. Well, perhaps a few items more – like the new lightweight solo tent I’ll be trying out, one that is rated for winter yet still weighs little more than a pair of socks. I’m excited about that. The tent, not the socks.

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Inspiration Point was where Scout insisted we go last weekend. After a morning of showers, we made the most of a weather window to hit the coastal path. Scout dragged me through brush and over rocks, around trees and across streams, and almost over a rainbow. We had a great hike, resting up on different overlooks and sunny spots around Inspiration Point. It was rather inspiring, warming ourselves in the sunshine, listening to the crash of waves below, watching the bald eagles and other bird life getting on with their lives.

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Yes, inspiring, exhilarating and hard to drag ourselves away. Not so hard for Scout because she was in full adventure mode, whereas I knew I was supposed to be sorting myself for the trip away, but was happily engaged in doing nothing in the sun as a displacement activity. It’s an effort to gear up, but a worthwhile effort.

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This weekend is meant to be below seasonal norms for temperatures, but bright and sunny. I’ll take that over a rainy forecast, and if it is dry, we’ll count ourselves lucky, as we’re heading out to a location reputed to be the second wettest for rain in Canada.79C1E966-AD1F-4563-8F8F-46853EC4B90B

Right, time to end this piece, and finish the gearing up that I never really started last weekend. Rain or shine, it’ll be fine, because I’ve already packed spare socks. Just about ready. Why, I’m almost prepared…

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Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Snow daze

Snow, so much snow!

I was a touch unsure how good the snow was going to be at Mt. Washington last week. I also thought it might be warm, relatively speaking, for skiing and snowboarding. Well, I was wrong about all of that.

There was so much snow, and the first day we got there, it was cold. Minus 3C, but with a windchill into the minus double digits. When our young people jumped out of the minivans, they were still dressed for the coast. Within thirty seconds, bags were being raided to find as much warm clothing as possible. I’m telling the truth when I say one person managed to put on 5 hoodies! Snow dazed!7A056C51-0664-47AD-B6D3-5AE2C7BB7037

It was such fun to be out in the snow with a group wanting to learn to ski and ride. They had boundless energy and enthusiasm – even after the lessons started, and they realized how challenging it can be at first. Two out of fifteen had had a previous lesson, and it showed. These two were carving steady S turns pretty quickly, and some of the others, newbies, weren’t too far behind.F81EB35F-1340-4296-ABFD-0C1707BBD5B2

I’m happy to report my return to snowboarding was a triumph, if measured by how many times I saved myself after catching an edge. No falls, but plenty of wobbles. Danger is my middle name. Or is it safety?F607A3F1-6958-4852-A8DF-BA74D332DA1A

The tube park was a big hit. Safe and speedy fun for creaky kids of all ages, the young ones had a blast, and I had a go or two, enduring gentle mocking for not wanting to be spun around as I was sent on my way.9C3F06AF-3A6A-427D-8011-455B9751614A

If you’re ever on Vancouver Island in the winter, and you’re missing some alpine action, I can highly recommend Mt. Washington. It’s a quiet hill, even when they said it was a busy day, compared to other places, and very well run, with friendly and helpful staff from the rental shop all the way to the lifts. As well as the downhill action, you can also choose to xc ski or snowshoe on what looked to be well maintained trails.

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I’ll be sitting back and resting up this weekend…

Since returning, on a high and in a snow daze, I’ve been asked by students over and over “when can we go again?” I think we’re working on that…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Treacherous…

Sounds exciting, but it isn’t – still, you’ve read this far, so you might as well see it through – I’ll keep it brief!

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Sunday snow

The treacherous part? The roads on Wednesday morning! They were slick, and not in a good way. The previous two days, we had something approaching significant snowfall. So significant, Ucluelet schools were closed and students were delighted. Almost 5 cm coated the ground, and snow forts and snowmen communities were built all over. Out here, if there’s a snow day, children don’t waste any of it!

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Coastal snow

I had to drive over the bay on Wednesday morning, and had already enjoyed a quiet chuckle or two (to myself, not out loud) as I watched several cars and trucks try and fail to drive up a steep little incline just outside our building. I was full of the confidence that only a seasoned Alberta winter mountain driver armed with a Jeep has. Ha! I thought, that’s not a problem, barely any snow. Oh, I thought, a few minutes later, as the Jeep fishtailed and slipped, and eventually climbed to the top. Wet snow on top of a very thin layer of ice is a different kind of slippery compared to the powdery and heavily compacted snow over the provincial border there. Why, it’s treacherous.

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Barely snowing…

I made it to work on time, pretending I hadn’t had several slightly alarming snow/ice wobbles along the way, feigning nonchalance about the cooler temperatures and unusual snowfall.

On the way back down the Port Albion road close to midday, the scene was really something. On my left, the trees and embankment were covered in snow, and on my right, where the sun had melted the snow away, it looked like spring. I felt like the White Witch of Narnia in reverse, or Aslan had passed by, melting away the dark winter.

I did stop the car and take the photo below, but where I stopped the full divided effect wasn’t as sharp as a bit further back down the road, closer to Hitacu.

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Midday thaw, Wednesday

Well in truth, this short blast of real winter hasn’t been at all dark, and the snow shone and sparkled delightfully on Wednesday before melting away. A treacherous beauty, but only on the roads.

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Winter beauty

Keeping it brief this week, as I have to pack my bags and prepare myself for a trip to Mt. Washington on Thursday and Friday. By the time this is posted, I’ll have discovered if I can remember how to snowboard after a season or two off the snow. We are taking a group out for their first snowboard/ski experience, and it’ll be fun. More to follow.

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Friday night (an educated guess at the time of writing)

I’ve rediscovered a proper respect for winter, and I sure hope it isn’t too treacherous on the mountain…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Weathered

We’ve heard that parts of North America and Europe have been unseasonably cold in the last little while. I’ve also read that Australia has been unseasonably hot, even by their warm summer standards. I’d love to write about how the west coast here has been mild, with a weekend ahead of gentle sunshine, but that wouldn’t be true. If the forecast is correct, we’re due a relatively chilly snap, with a suggestion of snow. I’m rather looking forward to it…1318da27-5d14-46b6-a7d4-f10f602f3981

We get out and about whatever the weather, unless it is dangerous to do so, and this almost brave and rugged outdoor approach is, understandably, reflected in my appearance. Why, not so long ago, a delightful young chap I’ve been working with heard it was my birthday, and he asked if I minded looking so old? In fairness, I believe he meant to say rugged, but it isn’t a word in his vocabulary. He then asked if hair loss hurt, and could anything be done about it? After putting my toque back on, I replied, with a quaver that gave the lie away, that I didn’t mind going bald. After all, aren’t bald eagles majestic? He agreed, they are quite something, but they aren’t actually bald.

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Majestic

Last weekend ended up being far more overcast than had been predicted, but young dogs need to take rugged humans and run them ragged on long walks. Off we went in search of adventure and a bald eagle or two. As promised in my previous post, I remembered to bring along a camera with a better zoom than the phone, and I’m glad I did. We nimbly leapt down from the trail into a rocky area, and with an easy and let’s say spry spring in our step, moved to a sheltered area to enjoy our coffee and admire a bald eagle perched slightly away and above. Once again, the eagle remained in place for our entire visit, and at one point it tipped it’s head back and sang out when another eagle flew past. What a thrill!

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Rugged

The following day was also grey, and the wind had a bit of bite to it. Undeterred, we set off to stretch our legs along a beach to a distant set of rocks where we’d spotted oystercatchers on a previous trip. No oystercatchers this time, but when we clambered (I mean skipped) up the rocks, we were treated to a fine collection of weathered and storm tossed logs. The greyish glow of the light seemed to bring out the shape and texture, and I messed around with taking some monochrome and silver shots.

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Silvery

I’m almost tired now, so I’ll leave it here for this week. Perhaps a quick nap, then I’m off out to enjoy our forthcoming little chill, hoping to see some local snow, and also hoping my toque keeps the bald spot warm…

Thanks for reading, have a wonderful weekend, and whatever the weather throws at you, I hope you get to be outdoors!

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“This is easy!”

Ocean Rebel

Yes, Ocean Rebel! A wonderful name, and I had to use it for this post heading. It is such a good one, could be a story title, and it’s great for a boat – which is where I saw it. If I ever write the untold and untrue account of my exploits as a paddler, I now know what the title will be…

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Prepared, as always – can you see the eagle there?

Never one to be caught up in daydreams about writing, I’m attentive and eagle-eyed, almost always aware of my surroundings. For example, I saw the boat docked at Whiskey Landing (hard to miss) but have to confess it was a few minutes before I noticed the real Ocean Rebel perched up high. Prepared, as always, I didn’t have my camera, so had to snap a few distant shots with my phone. The eagle looked great up there. Patient, watchful, and occasionally ruffled by a gust of wind.

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Perched and patient, a Saturday morning spent sitting on the calm side

A photographer armed with an impressive looking camera stopped by and took a number of shots, and the eagle seemed happy enough about this. A family trundled down to the lower dock to take in the view, and from where I was sitting, it seemed to me they didn’t spot the eagle above them. Either that or they were too cool to show they’d seen it. I still get excited every time I see one…

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The stormy side, Saturday afternoon

On Sunday morning, we were on Long Beach, a sunny day after a stormy one. Gulls were out in force, and we saw and heard quite a commotion down the beach. As we got closer, we could see a bald eagle being harried by a handful of gulls. Or was it a handful of gulls protecting themselves from a rampant eagle? Turf wars and lines in the sand? Ocean rebels? Right and wrong? I’m probably supposed to take a side and stick to it in these partisan and alleged fake news times…

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Calm down, there’s enough space…

Yes, prepared, as always, I didn’t have my camera, so once again the photograph above was taken on my phone. By the time this was taken, the gulls and eagle appeared to have reached an accommodation – smart move, and no need to start a beach shutdown, all was well. It’s a big beach, with plenty of room to roam.

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Can I be an ocean rebel?!

We will be on the beach and on the trails this weekend, as the forecast is for a couple of dry days with some sunshine. This time, instead of wishing I had my camera, I’ll bring it with me, and be thoroughly prepared to capture some ocean rebels, if they don’t move off before I find the right button. (That’s captured photographically speaking – I wouldn’t want to imprison the wild and free!)

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Wild

Hmm. Wild and Free? I believe we have a sequel to Ocean Rebel! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful, wild, and free weekend!