Sunday, 13 January 2019

Just So … life goes on …




Another year … and I feel the same as I did that January day seven decades and one ago … well perhaps not – I guess I was a squawking new born …

A few more candles needed this year!

… my uncle came to see his younger brother and the family’s first born … then constantly reminded me through the decades – whether we were in Johannesburg, Cape Town, or here in Surrey/ Sussex – how mighty cold it was that year … thankfully 2019, so far, is giving us an easy ride – not like the European blizzards …


Today starts the 11th year .... 

 Another celebration happens with this post – I’ve been blogging ten whole years … amazing … I cannot believe that I’ve kept it up, settled into a ‘way of life’ …





… teaching myself so much, opening doors to other disciplines … and before another year goes by or I get too much older I must broaden my horizons further …


So for now – the Just So exhibition at Bateman’s in the two weeks after Christmas inspired the title … ‘Just So …’ as Kipling’s daughter demanded he repeated his stories exactly … just so



That's a clear glass in the centre - looks slightly odd in the
photo - luxurious colours ... 

The National Trust had decorated the house in rich Indian colours … set out the various story lines for the children, and let us adults peruse many of his creative achievements (words and art particularly) – as too his father’s and other connections …


How the rhinoceros got his skin -
Kipling woodcut - December 1901


We are lucky to have these great story tellers to tell us about life of the past, in different countries … and to set the scenes so well for us …







Batemans glowing in the winter light

I went out with some friends, as I now don’t have a car, and they are kindly taking me over to lunch at my brother’s house at Alfriston on the edge of the Sussex Downs … sadly other friends are away or ill … it’s that time of year … but …




Camel decoration ... 
I’m off now – another year wiser mainly about Canada: those posts I will continue – and who knows what happens next as we are living history as it happens (something I thought I’d never see) …






Alfriston Clergy House - the first National Trust property -
purchased in 1896 for ten pounds sterling

Thanks for all your support through the years … I’ve loved interacting with so many of you – and feel I’ve friends around the world … and I know from the few I’ve met – that is the case …



 


Here’s to a happy, healthy year to you all …



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 6 January 2019

New Beginnings ...



New Year and being able to be back in my homeland … bliss – I loved Canada and definitely would like to see more at some stage … as you’ll find out in my future posts …

New Beginnings ... the gateway
to Bateman's:
Rudyard Kipling's home

It’s a wonderful country and I was really lucky to be able to get out and meet lots of new friends round and about on Vancouver Island and briefly seeing Vancouver on the mainland – fascinating city …




I had a stopover in Calgary … not having to leave the hotel til mid-day helped – and would have been fine, but West Jet lost a computer somewhere and needed a new one before we flew on to Gatwick … 


Father bear ... totally magnificent to look at


... so an extra few hours ‘floating around’ the airport wasn’t desperately helpful … a young English engineer and I chatted for a couple of hours …




Family of bears on the concourse
Some bears were encountered on the concourse – beautiful sculptures by Stewart Steinhauer … which were hand-carved from granite, then polished, bush-hammered. Finally being placed on flamed granite bases … they were stunning to see and duly admire.





(A bush hammer is a masonry tool used to texturise stone and concrete … or in this case the igneous rock ‘granite’.)
 




Life has been a matter of adjusting to a situation I wasn’t expecting for another year … I am really grateful to my brother for finding a flat for me for the time being – it’s furnished – so that made it easy … my things are in store until November … which gives me time to make some decisions.



Sussex Downland ... Spring is on its way!


The first twelve days I spent with my brother and SIL … as there was a lot going on there … I’d come into Eastbourne when I could to acclimatise myself, get to a few University of the Third Age ‘classes’  and other meetings that were going on … and of course bump into ‘old friends’ as I was walking around.





Then settling in … life continued on – other group meetings, friends to see, parties to go to … and so on … it’s taking a while to work out where I’m at … but am getting there …



Location of Eastbourne for info ...
courtesy of Brighton University


We’re in the New Year of 2019 and this time of year two more anniversaries cross my horizons … so I’ll be up and running by the weekend … Sunday …





But thanks for all your well-wishing comments on my return to this little island … I’m glad I’m home – even turbulent times equals history in the making …


Take care and all the very best for us all as we move further into 2019 – Happy New Year …


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 3 December 2018

Up Up and Away … Goodbye to Canada …




I will have arrived back in little old England and will be back in my old home town of Eastbourne … by the time you read this …


Seven Sisters and Cuckmere cottages
... having left on Thursday 29th … overnight at Calgary, arrive back at Gatwick in the middle of the morning on Saturday 1st December … being collected – I’m glad to say with my luggage! – by my brother …




I think I have a flat to go to … need to sort that out and should be in by the middle of December … a few things are planned after that – and then I’ll be settling in to normality …

Eastbourne panorama looking east towards Hastings


Reefs seen from the float plane


… my friends, and those in the various organisations I belong to – haven’t forgotten me – and so I’ll be back going to talks etc … at least my brain won’t atrophy …




The bays - Cowichan Bay

Once I’m up and settled then I’ll be back to normal – though may just take my time til early January 2019 – oh how time flyeth …



Victoria from a float plane trip





 I will miss lots about living here – it’s been a pleasure and I look forward to coming back at some stage … views to die for, opportunities not to miss,  food and vino I've enjoyed ... 






When I was out the other day ...
My wine tour was conducted by Cheers Cowichan ... and is well worth doing - they pick you up ... from all over the show - eg Villa Eyrie ... a place I'd love to visit ... 




BlueGrouseEstate Winery … present owners have knowledge of Peruvian vineyard as they lived down there … 









Avocado and Crab salad at Cow Cafe


Zanatta – lunch here … Vinoteca restaurant ... see Monday's and Friday's posts ... 









Island Oysters 'Antoine' with pernod at Cow Cafe


Enrico Winery  ... another vineyard with a difference ... 


CherryPoint – very early vineyard, then taken over by First Nations, then bought back and now a vineyard again …




Trees, trees, old and new
One last story appropriate to this ever changing world …

I was in one of the local liquor stores ... and two, what (in England) I would call construction guys - but here ... probably loggers or similar ... I'm waiting to pay by the open door ... 

Cowichan estuary looking out from a hide


... there's a heavy smell - almost dung, tobacco, brewery extracts ... I remark on it ... the cashier looks at me and looks at them ... I'm oblivious and keeping a cheery face ... 



I never saw one of these ... but love the board
letting us know they are around - wildlife will be missed


... they are in the other queue (not to say there's a queue often in this part of Canada) buying their evening drink ... 



Cannabis



I wonder where the smell is coming from ... as do the others ... but it's a sort of 'difficult' situation - anyways I pays my way and offs I go ...






Cowichan harbour - floating homes
I go in again about a week later - and the cashier says - oh you remember those guys: yes, I say ... they came in earlier today too - and as they came through, they asked me if that English lady was here??!!






History - these plots were allocated
to the early settlers ... and I have
to tell you more about these maps -
they are on show in Cobble Hill

No - she says and they apparently all have another good laugh - which I will now join in with ... they'd been smoking cannabis ... gosh it reeks and hangs around ... 

We laugh away ... with more repartee ... and comments about these working lads - and my English accent ... then I say I'm going home and she says - oh no ... I'm so enjoying your company ... I'll miss your way with words and conversation ... 





The evening sun glistening through some
of the many trees


So for now – goodbye Canada … and yes for my blogging friends I will continue with my pioneering series, 



and other things I'd like to alert you to - an art gallery, a perfumier par excellence in my book, and lots of other subjects that I've never got round to ... so Canada will continue from the coast of little old England.


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 30 November 2018

We Are the World Blogfest # 20: Nourish Cowichan …




Nourish Cowichan is brilliant local food programme which will let every child in the Valley have a healthier life …



… this has been started by the chef, Fatima, from Vinoteca (see my previous post) who had been alerted that the children in the area were falling asleep, becoming ill and generally not able to cope – these were the kids who were nutritiously deprived.


There are five other programs or programmes!


Fatima leases the kitchens and runs a restaurant at the Zanatta vineyard … and realised she could help … 




... so with other volunteers – in a tiny kitchen – they have been making up rolls with various fillings, offering muffins and fresh fruit in a pilot breakfast programme.



Nourish Cowichan logo

Within six months they were provisioning three other schools, and now they supply 13 locations: 3 daycare, 1 maternity centre and 9 schools …



Fatima on her phone in
the tiny kitchen


Fundraising started and now they have an 1,800 sq ft facility being finished as we speak … which should be up and running by Christmas … the aim is to provide 500 meals as soon as possible …



Fatima said it will be bliss to be able to have the space to work in – rather than the cramped kitchen they presently operate from …




The start of breakfast rolls -
variety for the different needs
… mind you her food is fantastic … but I can quite see getting 500 meals out (with variety) from their present location is difficult.



Talk about ambition … Nourish Cowichan is in negotiations with various appropriate authorities – schools, health units and social services – while working independently under its own auspices as a British Columbian Society – a charity status.




There are six initiative programmes:  Breakfast; Weekend take home snacks; Give Back Art – encouraging the children to do something for others; Nutrition Education; Universal Inclusion; Food Save Programme …



See more attheir site … I am so pleased I was able to spend a very short time with Fatima – she was getting some breakfast meals ready to be sent out … 



There are art works available at the vineyard



... and also fending off queries re the huge fundraising event she’s just put on – for the new facility: it was a huge success, I understand – though was unable to go.




It’s an amazing project for the Cowichan Valley – there’s a lot of deprivation here – yet there’s an awful lot of generosity … 


We Are The World – In Darkness Be Light




Thank you for reading … please visit other entries … and now it is getting towards Christmas - give generously to all food programmes ... 


Could you please note I will be away from a computer - so will get to answer when I can ... see my next post ... early December 




Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 26 November 2018

Vinoteca – a restaurant with a difference …



Vinoteca … delicious food served at a delightful, traditional Italian-Cowichan Valley vineyard …


Vinoteca's patio set for an outside lunch

 I was lucky enough to be able to go on a wine tour … and we visited four vineyards – more about those later on …

Fairly obvious this - just good
I wasn't driving that day - though
bought a bottle home


… but for now – this ties in with the We are the World Blogfest (sign up here) month end post many of us do – highlighting positivity around us …



Believe it or not … I had not been to a vineyard since I arrived – so I just had to make a plan … and promptly visited four in one go – such is life! 




Bringing home the grapes ... the farms in the Valley
are all small-holdings and help each other out


One before lunch, then lunch here at Vinoteca, then two more … all different and with interesting takes on the growth in the Cowichan Valley area from those pioneering days …




Yam and Ginger soup,
with coconut milk

So a few pictures of my meals and views … as well as introducing you to Fatima of Vinoteca – who will feature as my positive human story this month … amazing lady.



Here’s some of her food though … and when I explain her background you’ll understand how interesting her dishes and flavours are …





Roasted beet salad, caramelised apples, crispy prosciutto,
candied pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, Italian parsley
with a ginger truffle vinaigrette


She came over from Mozambique – settled first in Quebec, before moving over to the west of Canada … learnt her range of tastes … catering to the multi-cultural peoples of Canada … from her mother.




At Vinoteca she’s mixed her ideas into the Cowichan Bay way of life and brought in the Italian tradition of the Zanatta family, who own the vineyard.

Seared local sole with tomato, caper, dill and olive oil
dressing; potato wedges and a fresh salad

It was a pleasure meeting her and learning more about the opportunities she is giving families in the Duncan area … and how much she is doing for the under-privileged children in the Valley.



Please enjoy with me … when the post comes along at month end ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Cowichan Valley ... the settling and opening up: Railways, Roads, the local Ferry and the Ice ... part 5



Fog, Ice and Snow are very much a part of this area … we need transport to get around ... ships, trails, roads, rail and now air ...



Sorry - I've enlarged it ... so out of focus ...
... but you can see some of the ferry routes -
Mill Bay to Brentwood is bottom middle
(this is zone 1 map - see Wiki BC Ferries)
... the weather could be much more extreme … mostly it’s tolerable – occasionally it becomes severe, which can upset a few applecarts



Travel used to be by sloop, steamer, ox wagon, horse ride, or just two feet to get to and fro from the capital Victoria … 




Bringing struts across Kinsol Trestle for repairs
... the railway, that mixed blessing bastion, was built by Robert Dunsmuir – the coal baron – from Nanaimo to Esquimalt Harbour, Victoria in 1888 - before being sold after his death in 1905 … the service of which has been a hallmark of inconsistency … 



Repairs are needed ... but they're starting on the
northern section
It has just been announced, to be ratified next month, that repairs to the line will be made … and all things being equal the railway will re-open from Spring onwards … eventually reaching Victoria late next year.






Malahat - unmetalled road in 1917
But back to 1911 when the Malahat easterly crossing was built … the motor car arriving from Germany in 1899, or the USA in 1908 … ‘luxury transport’ was available for those who could afford it …



Main routes now from Victoria out to Cowichan Valley and
back; some ferry routes shown - but the Saanich
Peninsula is clearly shown.  The thickened blue line was the
old main route through along the coast - before the
Trans Canada Highway was built ...


Freighters supplied the coastal communities with grain, hay, fish, livestock … the SS Cascade was one of those - being built in 1906 – it plied its route for 13 years.








1928 SS Cascade coming into Brentwood Bay Dock


After WW1 it was sold and changed into a coal transporter travelling between Union Bay, Nanaimo and down to Seattle.  Occasionally also supplying





Very early steam ship

Two Royal Navy officers, after WW1, saw an opening for a ferry service, which began in 1924.   They adapted the SS Cascade … advertised the savings in mileage for intrepid road tourists …







The intention was to bring the railway to the Bute inlet -
it runs through Kamloops now, then south to Vancouver

The west coast of Canada, and Vancouver Islands – were new lands to explore and find out about … Victoria the capital was well known … but to promote the rest of the Island … potential investors, settlers, tourists … needed to see as much as they could …





Closer view of Bute inlet and the intricacies of the
British Columbian coastline adjacent to
Vancouver Island


… this place of beauty, the climate, ideal weather, wildlife to see, fishing, camping and hiking opportunities, let alone the tiny inlets and bays for the sailing fraternity …








The Sunken Garden

… new places too – Mr Butchart’s Garden, which I’ve yet to write up about, or the Observatory which has escaped my wanderings, the Saanich peninsula … 




... the airport, or any form of airfield, only arrived in 1939 … so the peninsula was another area to explore when motoring was becoming ubiquitous … using the ferry saved a second road journey over the Malahat … not tarmacked until 1940 …



The old advert shown today on the ferry
- dated 1930s
… thus taking the 3 mile ferry trip would save one of the Malahat trips – at times not pleasant even in this day and age (and the road has improved considerably!).


Most of the time all was well … but in 1926 … it was so cold there were mini ice floes around … the ferry continued to run – to get passengers over to the Valley … as the Malahat would have been impenetrable …





Tug boat pushing log raft off
Vancouver, 2012

The Bamberton tug pushed ahead of the ferry, which ploughed on through six inches of ice … but … a huge chunk must have struck the ship’s bow tearing a hole in her hull.






SS Cascade awaiting a refit 1933


Fortunately a man on watch discovered that water was coming up the ship’s well … the captain immediately turned back, safely disgorged his passengers and cars …





… but nothing could be done for the ferry – she sank alongside the wharf – was repaired and restored back into service …


Ferry Terminal in Victoria in the 1920s


… it’s a delightful journey … a maximum of 22 cars (no lorries) – depending on the size can be carried …   200 vehicles a day compared to the 25,000 vehicles that daily ply the Malahat in 2018.





Cowichan Bay November 2018 - which can be frozen over ...
salt water does not freeze so quickly ... there's a lot of fresh
water here - hence the salmon boats.

As was advertised back in the 1920s … two lovely scenic drives of the Island are linked together … so the same road need not be travelled twice in order to see Victoria and its hinterland – returning home in time for supper or dinner.






At times the weather defeats us all … Cowichan Bay can get frozen … with farm vehicles taking the ice across to Genoa Bay avoiding the road home …





Fog, snow and ice prevail to make life very difficult – that any alternative help is much appreciated … ie not taking the Malahat – which now has a ‘by-law’ recommending that winter tyres are used, and that vehicles should carry chains …








I’m not quite sure where this series is taking me – there will be one more … as I want to note a few things of interest that interact with this series and correct a few minor inconsistencies …




Cowichan Valley looking south


It’s not the easiest place to explain how it worked, might have worked, or did work … or how it all happened to be the wonderful place we know today …








So for now … what will winter this year hold in store for present day Islanders ... but I will continue to enjoy its seafood!



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories