The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Canada Memories

The recent cold snap providing Boxing Day’s significant snowfall an enduring life over the past few days reminds me of many winter snow days in Canada. Indeed, I think back wistfully to those times. That is in spite of the intensely cold temperatures one often has to cope with in that beautiful country.

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During my many visits I had the good fortune to ski, both downhill and cross-country, ice skate and snowshoe through incredible and out-of-this-world landscapes. I went on snowmobile trips, engaged with wildlife and generally lived the life. Hugely influential on me were trips to stay in a genuine 1930s Canadian log cabin by Wabamun Lake in Alberta. The cabin was an experience like no other as it had little in the way of home comforts or even basic utilities. Water was gained by walking on to the frozen lake and using an auger before dropping a bucket down into the icy water. There was wood to be chopped, fires to be maintained, coffee to hand-grind and so on. It felt grounding to be released from modern technology and to get back to life’s most basic things.

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There is nothing quite like ice skating – and even better, playing hockey – outdoors. It is an absolutely exhilarating experience. I remember one Canadian saying to me that skating was ‘the nearest thing to flying’. I particularly knew what he meant the first time I managed to achieve my own ambition of playing for fun outdoors on Wabamun Lake, thirty miles from Edmonton, Alberta.. What a memorable day that was. A small party of us set out, wrapped up well, carrying sticks and pucks. Being born in the UK I’d been used to scrambling and scrabbling across the odd frozen pond as a kid – with some trepidation as the surface heaved, threatened and cracked. All such historic fears and reservations of collapsing ice were allayed however when a large truck drove past us on the ice! We cleared snow from the ice to form our rink with the obviously quickly-frozen ice as smooth and clear as glass. Even the fish underneath the ice could be seen swimming around, what a beautiful experience!

I still remember well the ringing click-clack sound of sticks on puck and skating into the frigid air, the freshness – that feeling of just being alive.

I was since fortunate enough to mess around with a stick and puck and skate on quite a few ponds and lakes in Canada, also in such hitherto unlikely areas as school playgrounds with the snow piled up in surrounding banks to make a rink. There really is no feeling like it. How I miss it.

‘Keep your stick on the ice’ eh.

In loving memory of Margaret Weaver and to all my friends and family in Canada.

December 29, 2014 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: Buckley’s Mixture!

It’s that time of year once more – practically everyone appears to have some kind of cough/cold/flu/man flu complaint. Every room you enter is accompanied by the orchestrated coughing and wheezing of young and old alike. Every year we are told that there is no cure for the common cold, albeit there may be substances to relieve the depressing and uncomfortable symptoms of this annual trial. I think I have just discovered one in all it’s awful glory during my recent trip to New Brunswick, Canada – Buckley’s Mixture!

Let me tell you a little about this stuff. It’s singularly the most ‘bogging’ medicine I have ever taken – seriously awful. After my initial two teaspoons full I sat stunned and horrified for several minutes whilst the milky white solution reached parts of my throat I never knew I had. I have never experienced anything quite like it.

The evil potion was first concocted by pharmacist, one William Knapp Buckley after taking over a Toronto drug store way back in 1919, producing it for marketing the year after. Buckley was a shrewd entrepreneur and used the relatively new advertising mediums of print and radio to promote his product Canada-wide and eventually for export. Continue reading

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , | 8 Comments

Canada ’08: Looney Dooking

Every New Year’s Day in South Queensferry near Edinburgh under the gaze of the massive Forth Bridges an event takes place which literally takes the breath away. The ‘Looney Dook’ is a well-established lemming-like rush into the ice-cold waters of the Firth of Forth by stupidly brave locals to signal the New Year. The event has something of a history these days and is not it’s own in the genre. Today’s Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, tells of at least two more similar events here in Atlantic Canada.

I visited nearby Mispec Beach a few days ago and it is a charming spot. Ideal for summer bathers in spite of the reported cold waters of The Bay of Fundy which lap the sands there. Nearby, all around lay petrified waterfalls of solid ice, beautiful though forbidding at this time of year. Not so for some brave souls however. Continue reading

January 3, 2009 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: New Years in Saint John

Well things are going very nicely here in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada – thanks for asking. The family welcome for our Christmas and New Year break has been marvellously warm and kind – a complete contrast thankfully to the Canadian winter that we face here.   

I run every day – it’s a given. That applies to wherever in the world I am and whatever other commitments I have, I alwaysrun – at least a short distance, every day. Through the cold, fog, rain, snow and icy sidewalks, being here in the Atlantic Canada city of Saint John presents no exception to that rule.

I have to say it’s been difficult.

In fact I can honestly say that all told, its the most difficult place I’ve ever run in.

 

 

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January 1, 2009 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: The Road to Saint John

An unwelcome and shrill alarm call heralds the long day ahead. It’s Christmas Eve, 2008 and today heralds the long journey to Saint John in Maritime Canada, via an initial flight to Montreal from London.

I crawl out of bed, yet with a purpose, to get dressed into makeshift running kit and head out of the door into a gloomy and damp 5.30am Nottingham morning, just as the electric whir of a milk float passes the front drive. Of course I don’t choose to shoehorn myself out of bed and on the road at this time of day for any old reason. Today’s itinerary tells me this will be the only opportunity to run on this elongated day however. Continue reading

December 26, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | Leave a comment

The difference with REAL snow

Many people here in the UK remark to me about the Canadian winter climate . They often say things like ‘yes, but it’s a different kind of cold’ or ‘but Canadians dress for it’ – that type of thing. I always feel that there is an element of truth in those kinds of statements but at the same time they over-simplify what, to British people, would often be a barbaric set of winter conditions. My partner largely hails from Edmonton, Alberta – a Province that is no stranger to harsh winter conditions. I’ve not experienced the very coldest temperatures in Edmonton – the mercury only dropping to a balmy  -30C at the worst during my many stays. It’s not rare to have a savage -40c plus another -20c of wind chill. When walking downtown in particular, as soon as the wind rises a few miles per hour it feels like it’s going to cut you in half.

Anyway , I slightly digress. Here’s a story I spotted on the BBC site today. It may seem pretty extreme by UK standards but it’s not such an unusual story by Canadian standards. Why, the last time I was in Edmonton over the holiday, a poor chap perished on the front door step of his own home having locked himself out on New Year’s Eve. You just don’t take any chances with Canadian winters…

Canada woman survives snow burial

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: The Colours of Silver Star

I had a recent trip up the road from Kelowna through the City of Vernon and on to the beautiful ski resort of Silver Star. I’ve been there several times previously with my partner, her family and our friends amidst the ski season on Christmas/New visits. This time it was to be a ‘dry run’ however, before the winter fun starts, hopefully promptly in November if snow conditions permit.

It’s been three years since my last visit on New Year’s Eve in 2005. On that occasion we skated on the excellent Brewster’s Pond at the resort. I whiled a couple of frigid but enjoyable hours on the ice, flipping a puck around with a rented hockey stick on that occasion. That was before retiring to a cosy bar to see in the UK New Year at 4pm Pacific Time.

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October 24, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Canada ’08: Janson Towers

A recent worrying rash of serious road accidents involving motorcycle-vehicle collisions in Kelowna was added to a day ago by the news of the rider of a Harley-Davidson who collided with a young driver’s pick-up truck in Westside. The rider is said to have sustained a leg fracture and it’s thought he will survive. The circumstances of the accident are not clear at this point.

This story, reported in Kelowna’s Daily Courier is a sad reminder of a tragic tale that hit the front page of the same publication just recently on October 12. None of us likes to hear these stories but this one struck me as particularly heartbreaking. It concerns the story of 21-year old Okanagan Sun running back, Janson Towers who died in a collision between his motorcycle and a large semi-trailer vehicle at the busy junction of Gordon Drive and Harvey Avenue. Janson, who was on his way home from training with the club, sadly died from his injuries in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

Janson is reported to have had a series of speeding convictions and some would quite reasonably point to his style of riding putting others in danger. Without delving into the why’s and wherefores of this and the accident itself, it’s always terribly sad to see someone so young and gifted with their whole life in front of them taken away from us in this way. In another heart-rending note, Janson from Alberta had just four days previously been honoured as the Okanagan Sun’s most inspirational player. 

A day later, the Sun’s opponents, the South Surrey Rams offered to postpone their fixture scheduled for The Apple Bowl in Kelowna but Janson’s family insisted the show must indeed go on. Janson’s number 25 jersey was carried aloft on to the pitch before the game and his teammates managed to produce a 38-7 victory in his memory with a gutsy performance. Condolences go to the young man’s loved ones and all who knew him.

One hopes that Janson Towers’ story, and all the other recent senseless accidents will not go unheeded. Motorists out there please keep an extra watch out for motorcyclists and motorcyclists, please think carefully about your speed and safety. Hopefully the sad and unwanted increase in these type of accidents can be arrested.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 3 Comments

Canada ’08: The Immaculate Conception Church, Kelowna

Last Sunday evening I paid a visit for Mass in the pleasant, friendly and welcoming, Immaculate Conception Church in Kelowna. I reconciled to arrive a little early and take in the atmosphere of the church, this being my first visit. No more than a mile’s walk along Ethel Street took me to the modern building situated on Sutherland Avenue for twenty to six in the evening, for Mass at six and a scattering of a congregation already in place.

My regular place of worship is Saint Barnabas RC Cathedral in Nottingham, UK, a traditional and older church and I was looking forward to comparing the difference with my regular Sunday evening Mass with that of the experience provided at the Immaculate Conception Church. Of course one understands that the message is the same one worldwide, but still it was interesting to spend my Sunday evening in a much more modern construction with a few different ways of doing things.

At the front of the church there is a welcome from Our Lady of Fatima, whilst upon entering from outside I picked up the Parish bulletin which was informative and free for worshippers. Interestingly there was a ‘Milestones and Anniversaries’ section which included the name of Hockey Hall of Famer, Mario Lemioux as a birthday boy that Sunday! Of course my interest and affection for the Immaculate Conception was now signed and sealed!

Mass began with Father Peter Tomkins who proved to be likeable and affable with the congregation, using an informal style when appropriate, particularly with the children that came forward to receive their awards.

A band played provided the music in a more modern, popular style than I am normally used to. It wasn’t my personal preference but it was hard to fault their excellent musicianship, sincerity and commitment. This echoed the whole feel of the Mass. I guess that I am used to a more sombre and serious affair and this experience felt very ‘light’ by comparison. Perhaps some would argue that this is just as things should be in these days of dwindling congregations.

Father Tomkins talked at length and with some authority in a pleasing manner, helping make Mass an enjoyable and interesting experience. One lighter moment was when a tiny boy ran clop-clop-clop-clop from the very back pew to him to eagerly be handed his award by Father Peter. The young lad was so small it was impossible to barely do anything but hear him, invisible as he was, beneath the level of the pews!

The Mass had a very mixed and (hey this is Canada right!) informal congregation dressed in a variety of ways! None of this ‘Sunday Best’ stuff here for some of the members!

The service ran promptly and finished a little quicker than I am used to. I walked out of the door with my usual lift in spirits for a Sunday evening and wandered off for the mile walk home in a rapidly cooling and crisp Kelowna evening. This was not before engaging in conversation with another member of the congregation whilst walking along the sidewalk. It’s pretty hard not to be sociable with people here in Kelowna, smiling and friendly as the locals invariably are. The congregation of The Immaculate Conception Church on Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna are certainly no exception.

Another view of The Immaculate Conception Church

October 16, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , | 1 Comment

Canada ’08: Howie Morenz – The Stratford Streak

Hockey is a great game for nicknames. Consider ‘The Chicoutimi Cucumber’, the name given to goalie, Georges Vézina for his cool head in between the pipes for many a year in Montreal or ‘The Production Line’ used to describe Detroit legends Gordie Howe, ‘Terrible’ Ted Lindsey and Sid Abel of fabled scoring exploits. Howie Morenz of the Montreal Canadiens collected two such monikers in his all-too-short time in the game.

When playing for his hometown Mitchell Juveniles, Howie quickly became known as ‘The Mitchell Meteor’ for his blazing speed on the ice. When he moved over to the nearby team in Stratford Ontario, Howie again earned a new nickname when in winning the Provincial title he became widely known as ‘The Stratford Streak’ for similar reasons.

Montreal quickly got wind of Howie’s abilities and signed him on a two-year contract only for him to break his contract and head home to Mitchell, homesick. The Canadiens were not to be denied however and visited the Morenz family, placing the then huge sum of $850 on the Morenz kitchen table as a signing on fee. Howie was a Hab again.

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October 9, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | 3 Comments

Canada ‘08: A Canadian Institution (3) The Dollar Store

From inauspicious beginnings ten years ago in 1998, The first Dollar Store opened in Merrit, British Columbia followed very shortly afterwards by a similar outlet in Kelowna in the same province. Those two early stores spawned a huge chain of successful stores Canada-wide, now numbering over 170 franchises.

Of course we know that the concept of an ultra-low-price retail store is not just the preserve of Canada. Indeed in the UK we have our Pound Shops, but there just seems something so erm…intrinsically Canadian about these stores.

I’m actually a real sucker for these places and I’m not entirely sure why. I seldom spend much (well I guess that’s the general idea) or anything at all in them but I still can’t resist them – I can’t walk past one. I guess I just take a feeling that I might well be missing out on a great deal on something I really need. Dollar Stores are like that – all the stuff inside them is merchandise that you feel you can’t possible leave without and well, it’s a only a dollar (or two) anyway so you may as well buy it!

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October 8, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 7 Comments

Canada ’08: It’s Hockey Time!

It’s Hockey Time!

I feel fortunate to be in British Columbia now that the hockey season is upon us. It seems (and is) only days ago that I was lounging by the pool in 25C temperatures, now the Weather Channel is now predicting snow for tomorrow. Fall is a fairly dynamic concept in this part of the world!


As I write, a new theme for that great bastion of Canadianism, Hockey Night in Canada it about to be chosen imminently. The familiar original music that was a clarion call to the whole of Canada every Saturday evening during the Winter months has copyright issues surrounding it and can sadly no longer be used. Things change, but it seems a shame to lose this little Canadian institution.

I was watching a little pre-season hockey on the TV and was rewarded greatly by a terrific game between Detroit Redwings and my own favoured sons, The Montreal Canadiens. A few fresh faces being iced by both teams saw an extremely fast run-and-gun type of game that was hugely entertaining. Happily (for me) after two goals each in regular time the Les Habitants ran out winners in a knife-edged shoot-out with some well taken strikes by both teams. Viva le Blau, Blanc et Rouge.

Here in Kelowna a lot of the NHL interest is in the Vancouver Canucks, the nearest franchise to the Okanagan at around four and a half hours drive away. It’s from Vancouver too that a curious story is being reported in the local media of

Roberto Lunogo holds on to another puck

Roberto Luongo holds on to another puck

late. It concerns one Roberto Luongo, the Canucks’ ace goalie being appointed captain of the team. It’s been fifty long years since Bill Durnan performed the same role for Montreal in 1947/8. At that time Durnan would reportedly leave his crease regularly to talk to the officials in his capacity as team leader. This caused the league to introduce a new rule that prohibits a goal tender from acting as captain or alternate captain on the ice, or wearing a ‘C’ on his jersey.

The Canucks were being seen as teasing NHL bosses a little when Luongo appeared in a pre-season game against Anaheim with the ‘C’ not on his jersey but on the lower part of his helmet that protects his throat. When asked if the C stood for Captain, Vancouver boss Mike Gillis countered ‘it can stand for whatever he wants it to stand for’ presumably meaning that it may stand for Canucks as opposed to Captain.

Though it sounds a trivial matter, and is in some ways, the NHL bosses harbour concerns that allowing a goaltender to carry out a captain’s duties and obligations on-ice will offer a team unscheduled and unfair time-outs. At this time, stellar goalie Luongo is not allowed to discuss calls with officials. This however surely calls into question how effective he can truly be as the leader of the Canucks.

October 7, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: I Was Walking in Wal-Mart

An early start was required today as we were to take two of my partner’s aunts to Kelowna International Airport for their flight’s back home out East. Suitcases duly loaded, we were whistling through the early morning work traffic before 7am for a drop-off and goodbye to those dear ladies.

A welcome cup of coffee in the Skyview Lounge and a fond farewell, we were on our way back home before 8am, having picked up a rental Kia Rio for the journey and the coming week. Then came the call of Walmart before reaching home…

I’m always interested in inspecting stores in Canada, (albeit as we know Walmart is a very American company). They’re so different to British stores for many reasons. As we entered the huge hangar-like premises a meeting of sorts was being held on the shop floor. A convivial gathering of some fifty people was going in, something in the way of a staff meeting, rabble-rousing pep-talk for the day’s duties ahead. I’d heard of these corporate Walmart customs before but had never witnessed one in the flesh so to speak.

The speaker must have been some orator (or have the job positions of many of his junior staff in his hands) as the
gathering was eliciting a huge belly laugh here and there. ‘Way too cheerful for this time of day’ I considered in my regulation British manner. Phooey.

For the uninitiated, Walmart is a heck of a store. They sell just about everything – twice. You can actually marvel amongst the aisles in these places. They’re great for people watching too. My first port of call was in the area showing dental supplies. Like a modern day chamber of horrors they have a brush/tool/implement for practically every part of your pie-hole, probably powered at a rush by batteries too for the less-than-nervous.

I’d a lot of ground to cover here so I ignored my curiosity and strode purposely past the animal toys and boutique aisles. Another day they will be mine though. You know what I really like? There a certain male oriented scent found in many hardware stores. It’s that satisfying yet cloying smell of rubber, I call it Eue di Canadian Tire. The men reading this will understand exactly what I mean here.

Walmart assistants tend be of a different breed I have noticed. Mostly kindly, endearing and helpful certainly but there seems to be a hint of hard bitten, raging against the corporate machine, going off inside. Maybe those Wal-Mart!, Wal-Mart! ra! ra! ra! sessions in the morning don’t work that well after all. Just like in British supermarkets these days there are many seniors stocking the shelves and smiling benignly at the customers. I have mixed feelings about this as I always try to imagine them in their proud former working lives and careers. Having said that one always recognises the dignity in work and labour.

The pricing in Walmart is of course what everyone is really interested in and here they stand comparison with most. Often enough there is a matching lack of quality but by no means always. It’s always occurred to me that Canada the country is the big boots capital of the world. It’s probably something to do with the weather to be honest but what really can beat a good ‘ol pair of Kodiaks for a winter spent kicking snow around. Nothing like that here though – just row upon row of workers boots that look a lot like walking boots. Tough, sturdy and masculine and starting at around twenty-five dollars. In Canada you can wear this sort of footwear anywhere – even at…no especially at weddings.

A few slightly incongruous items of clothing are available on the shelves too. Today’s ‘spot’ were tee-shirts displaying the logo’s of Juventus Football Club of Italy and Football Club Barcelona, the Catalan giants of the beautiful game.

The sports section of any large store in Canada is always an eye-opener. By comparison UK contemporaries are bland clothes shops with rack after rack of ‘leisure wear’ exploding with corporate logos. Not here. After passing the counter with firearms safely under glass, I pondered on a lethal looking archery bow with attendant arrows. Maybe I should acquire one, along with one of the menacing looking camouflage jackets and matching hats. A new-era British Columbian Robin Hood indeed.

After what seemed like half a life-time I managed to locate my partner (yes, that’s another problem) and sneak out of the door without buying anything. That surely has to be some kind of record.

October 4, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 1 Comment

October begins in Kelowna

The Kelowna Daily Courier has the welcome sight of two bathing beauties on the front page of the October 2 edition today. Any excuse one might say but the real reason is that The city hit record high temperatures for this time of year yesterday of 25.5C, beating the previous best by 0.5C. It’s all very welcome of course and certainly ‘Esdra Gunn and Kelli Strynadka both 21′ pictured sunning themselves at Gellatly Bay are easy enough on the eye over breakfast.

That same page has a much less salubrious article too unfortunately recording the possible plight of the some of the large population of bunnies that are to be found running wild on the grass verges around Kelowna. I’ve spoken of Kelowna’a bunny problem previously but at that time the eventual destiny of the floppy-eared creatures was yet to be decided. Some weeks later a ‘rabbit eradication program’ has begun rather sadly. It seems the rabbits are being shot with air rifles by a company called EBB who have been instructed by the local authorities.

City calls stomping disgusting and appalling

Today’s Courier report however speaks of a review on proceedings and rather more sinister actions than a straight cull of the animals. This has occurred after an EBB employee was reported as stomping a rabbit to death after it failed to die to order after being shot. The EBB have claimed that stomping on the animal was intended to ‘put the animal out of it’s misery’ after only being wounded by the shot.


Joe Creron. The Kelowna City Parks Manager is quoted as having asked a veterinarian about the practice of crushing a rabbit’s skull as a means of euthanasia and was informed that this was considered ‘a humane means of putting the animal down’. Creditably Mr. Creron begs to differ, claiming that ‘Although this may be considered humane by professionals, it’s not acceptable to the city’. He added ‘I was disgusted and appalled when I heard about it;. Hear hear Mr, Creron.

It’s easy to understand and accept that the Kelowna bunnies are a problem in the city, particularly posing a threat to farmers and their crops. At the same time I have to agree with Joe Creron and the city’s stand against this unfortunate practice.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market

Farmers Markets. I really quite enjoy he idea of these things as in my better moments I’m always keen to try fresh local produce wherever I am in the world or simply at home. These days we see an encouraging trend towards local produce and this can only be viewed as a good thing.

Driving through Kelowna this lunchtime, we realised that it was the last day of the current Farmers and Market situated off Dilworth Road not far from home so we decided to drop and and sample the wares. Such delectable goods on sale were a hat stand made of ice hockey sticks, a fridge magnet toothpick holder complete with Provincial emblem and other Canadiana. How much would I like that to fit that hat stand into my suitcase! What I like about these events is the food though. Pure honest to goodness local fruit and vegetables without the custom ‘perfection’ of the imported supermarket food, but stuffed with goodness and taste. Some of the corn on the cob bought on the market today was the finest and sweetest I’ve eaten in many a long year.

One thing I do find slightly difficult in my slightly reticent British way is engaging with the stall holders occasionally. I quickly begin to feel beholden to buy something. My cupboards at home can lay testimony to this in the past. Today a modern-day ‘medicine man’ was proffering his lotions and potions quite loudly from behind one of the stalls. I attempted to skulk past without him noticing but it was to no avail – he spotted me getting away and shouted a friendly ‘hey there!’. What was then delivered like a volley across from behind the bottles of goodness-knows-what still took me by surprise though. ‘Hey – I have something here for stiff limbs!’ Slightly nonplussed I flashed a weak grin responded equally with an equally lame ‘er…no. I’m alright thanks’. This of course has had me considering my gait for the rest of the day since that flip comment from Dr. Medicine. Do I walk kinda funny? Am I genuinely a little stiff after that slightly longer run by the waterfront the day before yesterday? Am I getting old. Damn you Dr. Medicine – you got under my skin with that off the cuff remark of yours, little did you know (or perhaps you did?)

A Cherry Pit Spitting Contest in full flow

This was not all by any means. There was further unwelcome thinking to do. I spied a printed leaflet detailing events held around the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market. Events that I could have barely imagined from my no-Canadian little world. Try this on for size, how would you fancy taking part in a Cherry Pit Spitting Contest? or a Gourd Bowling Contest? Perhaps a simple Weird Vegetable Contest would suffice if not? Fun, Fun Fun as The Beach Boys used to say. With a capital ‘F’.

I’m there already.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: When Penticton Ruled the World

Fifty-three years ago the might of the Soviet Union team were the world new super-power in ice hockey winning the World Championships. Always previously known as ‘Canada’s game’ the on-ice game was changing fast as the Soviets had defeated the East York Lyndhursts of Ontario who were representing Canada. This ignominious defeat by seven goals to two sent shock waves reverberating through Canada and the world of hockey. Previous to this, mighty Canada had always sent a top amateur team to contest the competition against other nations and now the call went out for someone to restore Canada’s pride. The team selected for the task were The Penticton Vees. 

Penticton is but a small (and very pleasant) town at the southern end of Okanagan Lake. Tourists visit for the fine beach and winter skiing. Although always being fond of it’s hockey, it’s probably an unlikely place to search for a team to beat the might of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the Penticton Vees were the chosen to claim back the title, the team and Canada’s reputation being seriously at stake.

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September 11, 2008 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: Wild Apple, Manteo Resort, Kelowna

Another restaurant review to offer for the visitor to the Okanagan. As previously stated, there really are some wonderful eating places to choose from in the city but Wild Apple is surely amongst the best at the ‘high end’ of the price range.For the UK visitor, that term will not cause too much dismay. Canadian prices being what they are, this attractive grill at Manteo Resort will not cause great consternation when ordering the bill.

On the night, at around 7.30pm Thursday, we found it a little difficult to park and finally had to park on Lakeshore a short walk down the road. On reaching Manteo, the foyer of the resort is very impressive and relaxed. Though plush and well-appointed, a resident bedecked in towelled robe and sandals wandered unconcerned across the polished and spacious reception area as we made our way to the two young female receptionists stood behind a lecturn. In a quiet alcove a businesswoman sat in a huge leather armchair tapping on a laptop.

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August 26, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada ’08: Snakes Alive!

Out on of my daily runs around the sidewalks in Kelowna, a surprising thing happened to me the other day. I’ve got used to my usual daily slog in the Okanagan heat. The longer runs can be something of a strain in the mid-thirties sun, sometimes without too much shade whilst running alongside the local orchards. One thing they certainly do offer is a challenge.

There have been very few occasions in the past when I have found myself in something of a scrape. Two in Italy come to mind. One was getting hopelessly lost in the streets of Rome and another being confronted by a pack of dogs up a dark lane in Napoli. A few times I’ve felt dangerously cold whilst running, another occasion saw me contracting heat-stroke which left me pretty poorly for a day or two. (Curiously I have never craved ice cream as much as I did on that run!)

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August 25, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: The Sunny Okanagan

I don’t claim this to be an original set of observations by myself but it tells one of the stories of living in the Okanagan area of British Columbia, Canada. It’s a hot place sure enough. A nice dry heat that I personally find easy to adapt to without the familiar humidity of the UK. Officially a desert, it really feels like it sometimes. I don’t find too many of the locals complaining though…

What’s not to like?

THE OKANAGAN – WHAT A PLACE !  

 

May 30th:
Just moved to THE SUNNY OKANAGAN. NOW THIS IS THE PLACE TO LIVE … Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. What a place! It is beautiful. I’ve  finally found my home. I love it here.         

 

 June 14th:
Really heating up. Got to 30C today. Not a problem. Live in an  air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to  see the sun everyday like this. I’m turning into a sun worshipper. Continue reading

August 24, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: Guisachan Heritage Park

Sometimes when on our travels, we barely notice the little gems right under our nose. Such was the case when I visited Guisacan Heritage Park recently. The home I have been staying in for the past three weeks in Kelowna, BC. Canada is but a few metres across Cameron Avenue from Guisachan Heritage Park.

I should really explain. Not only is the park practically on my doorstep, shamefully I have been walking and riding past it for over three weeks now with only a glimpse through the trees at the inviting looking picturesque gardens, fronted by an ancient looking wooden cabin which is now a private home. Finally I popped in there on the way to the local Guisachan Village shopping plaza, armed with the camera, and what a pleasant and interesting surprise it was.

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August 22, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: In and Around Kelowna

It’s been a few weeks since I arrived in Kelowna, British Columbia from the United Kingdom via Vancouver. I had meant to compile a few observations about the old place before now. It’s certainly been interesting and fun in the meantime though.

Pandosy Street

The manner.

After some (around) twelve visits to Canada – most of them reasonably protracted ones, some of the first observations I ever made years ago still come back to surprise me. The first one is the openness ad friendliness of the people. In this instance I talk of people in and around the Okanagan Valley but the same could be said for the majority of my Canadian destinations east to west. Sometimes Canadian folk are just surprisingly friendly.

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August 21, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Canada ’08: The Mirthmobile is dealt a lethal blow!

We were due to travel to Penticton down at the foot of Okanagan Lake today. A few things awaited us there in the pretty town with its attractive beaches and relaxed atmosphere. Penticton is the home of the single best second-hand bookstore I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending my ill-gotten in for instance. The Bookshop is basically set out in two rooms on a couple of heavily packed levels. At a floor space of 5000 square feet, the store is a complete haven for readers. The last couple of occasions I had the pleasure of visiting I wished I’d taken a packed lunch as I practically had to be dragged bodily out of the place.

Penticton

Penticton

Another promising visit for me personally was to be the Penticton Memorial Ice Rink to view the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame. Well I’m in close-season suspense and I’m in Canada eh? I need my hockey fix badly.

There’s a simple, straightforward route to Penticton from Kelowna which most sensible people take. It entails an uncomplicated and very attractive drive that follows the Okanagan Lake past Peachland and Summerland. That why we chose the difficult way of course, through the mountains on the opposite side of the lake. It seemed like a great idea at the time to see a road and some tremendous views that we’d not had the pleasure of on past visits.

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August 20, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: Gasthaus on the lake, Peachland

Last night I had the pleasure of taking the short drive down to Peachland from Kelowna for dinner. In truth, the choice of restaurants in Kelowna is most daunting. Not for any negative reason but conversely for the huge range of good quality eating in the city. It’s almost impossible to make a decision where to eat some days.

With a little more time on our hands on a Sunday evening, we chose to cross the newly-constructed floating bridge over Okanagan Lake at Harvey and head on through Westbank to our eventual destination, Peachland and specifically Gasthaus on the lake.

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August 19, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada ’08: The Kettle Valley Trail

One of the visits I was most looking forward to during my current stay in British Columbia was an excursion to see The Kettle Valley Trail which has points just 18km south-east of Kelowna. Some five years ago the original mountainside trestles which the Kettle Valley Railway had historically travelled across were horribly destroyed during the Great Okanagan Mountain Park Fire which ravaged the area and changed the landscape for ever.

Our trip was to view and walk arguably the most spectacular part of the old route, The Myra Canyon with its huge wooden trestles newly restored, promised a unique experience up in the foothills of the Purcell Mountains.

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August 17, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: A Canadian Institution (2) Tim Hortons

After fulfilling all your important shopping needs at Canadian Tire, what better than to take a refreshment at that other great Canadian institution, Tim Hortons? Never mind the fact that the company merged with the US owned, Wendy International of hamburger fame back in 1995, Tim Hortons  still has a Canadian identity with a capital ‘C’. Albeit the business is now publicly owned.

The donut chain takes its name from former owner, Tim Horton himself. Horton was a stalwart on the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey club for many years and was considered an immensely strong performer on the ice in his day. His focus obviously extended to his new business foray in 1964 which traded only in donuts and coffee. It now holds the position of largest quick service restaurant in Canada with 2750 outlets and another 350 in the USA.

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August 12, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 2 Comments

Canada ’08: A Canadian Institution (1) Canadian Tire

There are many businesses I have come to associate Canada with, rightly or wrongly, on my numerour visits over the years. Names such as London Drugs, Dairy Queen (yum) Earls and The Keg restaurants trip off the tongue. None however remind me in quite the same way about the country as Canadian Tire, the general merchandise dealer and Tim Hortons, purveyors originally of excellent donuts and fine coffee, now providing an ever increasingly diverse range of food and drinks to a grateful Canadian public. These two businesses in particular, it always seems to me, are bonded into the consciousness of Canadian people and are much loved in their own different ways.

Like Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire is a national institution in Canada. I have always had an affection for the stores since first visiting Canada and gazing wondrously at the infinite amount of goods on display. ‘Crappy Tire.’ as it is often termed by Canadians ‘specialises’ in home products, hardware, tools, auto goods, sports goods, camping gear and lawn and garden products. Yes they do actually serve tyres too, not to mention being the largest independent gasoline supplier in the country.

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August 11, 2008 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 1 Comment

Canada ’08: Father Pandosy’s Story

This is a story about faith, courage and devotion. It’s a story about the man who is credited with forming the settlement through his mission in the Okanagan Valley which became the city of Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada

Father Charles Marie Pandosy was born in 1824 near Marseilles, France and was ordained into the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, an order of Catholic Priests founded in 1824 in France. Oblate translated means ‘total giving’ or sacrifice, and this is what those ordained set out to achieve by means of missionary work.

After a period working in Oregon in the US, Father Pandosy and Father Pierre Richard established a Mission in the Okanagan area in 1859. Their Mission in what is now known as Mission Creek was lovingly tended and nourished for thirty years. It became a local focus for religious, cultural and social happenings whilst they built up a large farm and cattle ranch. They also built the region’s first church and school.

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August 10, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Canada ’08: Echo Lake, Cherryville

Many years ago in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada, workers and settlers were sought to provide vitality and prosperity to the valley. Someone at that time envisaged the notion of giving many of

Echo Lake

Echo Lake

the area’s pleasant towns and villages attractive place names to attract people from other parts of the country. Examples are such as Summerland and Peachland – both offer an enduring image of idyllic destinations with the accent on nature’s beauty. Another such place was the quaintly named Cherryville and it’s to this area we were drawn on two occasions during the past week. Specifically to visit friends at a camp site situated in Echo Lake Provincial Park.

Cherryville was originally a gold mining camp way back in the 1860s’ and was at that time populated by a hundred people, many of them Chinese miners. The area got it’s name from the wild Choke Cherries that grew along the banks of the local creek. Overshadowed by the spectacular Monashee Mountains, Echo Lake gains it’s name from the echo provided across the water from standing in the foothills of these mighty hills.

Driving north from Kelowna and past the now familiar Kalamalka Lake, we hit the small city of Vernon and turned right to the small community of Lumby before heading off down a gravel road which saw our little Mitsubishi skittering about the unmade surface, churning up a dust storm to match the one created by the pick-up truck being tenuously steered in front of us.

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August 7, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: Ellison Provincial Park, Vernon

Ellison Provincial Park, Vernon, Okanagan Lake

It’s Monday so it must be a trip up to Vernon on Highway 97 to meet old friends and their two teenage sons. The friends are on a camping vacation at beautiful Ellison Provincial Park on the north-east shores of the huge Okanagen Lake. We have taken the drive to Vernon on several occasions in the past, normally to head through to the lovely Silver Star ski resort for a little winter fun. Today though we pass up the pleasant highway past roadside fruit stands and people inspecting boats and huge camper vans at dealerships.

Notable to the right of the highway is one of the most stunning bodies of water in the whole of Canada, Kalamalka Lake. The lake is famed for it’s multi-coloured appearance which can vary from a deep cyan to vivid indigo in different areas at the same time. What more – in spite of many proffered theories nobody really knows why.

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August 2, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada ’08: The Kelowna Daily Courier

I check out the local paper frequently here in Kelowna. In truth I really enjoy Canadian newspapers but rarely find the time to inspect them too closely on my stays over here. I love the style of all those different sections to peruse, it’s so expansive, so I really must find more time to do this.

Here’s a couple of interesting stories I noticed over a quick breakfast read yesterday morning. The former is not in fact a Canadian story but nevertheless a North American article which could not be passed over. The second one is from Kelowna, BC. Canada, and might well stay in the consciousness a little longer…

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August 1, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | 1 Comment

Spirit Island and Maligne Lake, Alberta, Canada

If I had a second home I’d like to say it’s Canada, particularly in the west of that Country in British Columbia and Alberta. Having a Canadian partner I have been privileged to visit that vast and beautiful country many times over the years and each time has been very special.

Today I wanted to post a favourite image of mine from one of my favourite places. It’s one of those classic, iconic views that many of us instantly recognise. The picture above shows Spirit Island on Maligne Lake in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta. Situated around 12km from Lake Louise and 40km south east of Jasper, it is spectacularly situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

The lake has the most vividly blue waters which are apparently caused by glacial silt and is arguably the oldest visitor attraction in the Canadian Rockies as well as being one of the largest lakes in the mountain region.

It’s possible to take a boat ride or hire a canoe out to the island which is one of the most photographed scenes in the Rockies. This does not deter from the beauty and mystery of the tiny island sat in this huge lake. I look forward to my next sighting of it’s grandeur.

June 9, 2008 Posted by | On The Road | , , , , | Leave a comment

Driving the White Stuff

So the snows return, if not to Nottingham at this time. Maybe the city will perform it’s regular trick of avoiding the worst that winter can throw at the UK. Other people have not been as fortunate though, in particular Northern Ireland which appears to be recording record falls. Snow is fine when we can stay at home and enjoy it’s mystery and beauty, the other side of the coin can be much grimmer however, especially for those caught in difficult situations on the roads. I can empathise because I’ve had a couple of reasonably terrifying situations in Canada in the blizzards to deal with. Continue reading

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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