Sunday, 14 October 2018

Whale Trip out into the Salish Sea …




I took the opportunity of a clear, calm day to jump a trip to see some sea life out in the San Juan Islands and Straits to the east of Vancouver Island …
 
Leaving Cowichan Bay going south-east

… and while out thinking how difficult it must have been for those early navigators plying the seas to find a route through the intricate network of coastal waterways …




Showing Victoria, capital of Vancouver Island -
and then the border line interspersing the islands up
to 49th parallel south of Vancouver



… yet I also remembered that for centuries the indigenous peoples knew their lands, the flora and fauna all essential to their slower full way of life …








Looking east to the snow-covered Mount Baker



Just looking at that daunting land, full of mountain ridges interspersed with volcanic valleys, or the many ‘dead ended’ inlets … 






Java rock chain with Sealions, seals and plenty of birds



... then the multitude of islands and islets – some just called ‘chains’ (reefs) … ie rocky formations just at or below sea level – boggled my mind.





Enhanced iphone photo
We did see in the distance – but c’est la vie: it was lovely to be out and to have the opportunity – a Biggs Killer Whale pod, a harbour porpoise being eaten I believe … as it was being tossed around … Steller Sea Lions, seals numerous, lots of birds, including common murres …




Spieden Island


… on Spieden Island fallow deer from Europe, Moufflon sheep from Corsica, Sika deer from Asia (Japan) remain after it was set up for sport hunting … now it is unoccupied, but the animals thrive and remain … until (I guess) inbreeding occurs.



All on board - rarin' to go ... 
As an after-thought – you may know James Jannard who owns Spieden … he started and owned Red Digital Camera – forty of which were used to film The Hobbit.


We cruised down at 55 kmph (28 – 30 knots) … I sat hunkered down letting my eyes drift across the gentle calm waters … over to the USA mainland, or westwards towards our British Columbian coast …  


I had lots of layers on ... 


It was a lovely excursion run by Ocean Ecoventures, who are passionate and dedicated, responsible for ethical whale watching and wildlife viewing. 





Spieden Island is marked

They are a small owner operated tour company, members of the Whale Watch Association while supporting local researchers and conservation efforts. 


It was delightful … and I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon out with them … so friendly – I did feel a bit like a teletubby – the only downside to the whole trip – but I was warm!

Ocean Ecoventures website and blog ... with some amazing photos

Here’s the Hobbit link to James Jannard and Red Digital


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 5 October 2018

The Obedient Plant … found in Butchart Gardens ...




A second visit to Butchart Gardens highlighted ‘the Obedient Plant’ … having come across Miss Willmott’s Ghost at the Abkhazi Gardens in Victoria … the Obedient Plant became an obvious candidate for a post.



Obedient – the flowers stay in situ once bent back … as here ... 




For those Latin minded gardeners - it is Physostegia




Unobedient … if that’s a word?!  As the poor plant should be without man-handling!






So here are some views, some notes, some comments for a Thanksgiving post … Canadians celebrate on Monday … the history I will do in a follow up …




An early 1900s view of the limestone quarry (cement works) prior to its conversion into the Gardens we see today …




The Sunken Garden as I saw it … sadly it was a gloomy day ...











I’d gone back because I wanted to take the boat trip they offer from the tiny Tod Inlet – which is the secluded water leading up into the Gardens.

Tod inlet – small and sheltered … though the boats only run during early Spring to early Autumn (Fall I guess to you!) …






The trip gives a little history of the origins of the Gardens and goes around Brentwood Bay … I’d come over on the ferry – as a way of connecting the Cowichan Valley across to the Saanich Peninsula where Victoria’s airport is.

This captured pic gives an idea … I live just to the north of Mill Bay …



One of three ... 



I love the specimen trays they have out in the information centre – which is where I’d found Miss Willmott’s ghost.  

 
Specimen trays and …






Pears, Walnuts, Beechnuts and a Dogwood berry



Autumnal displays …









Here another find is the green Echinacea flower … interestingly the Greek ekhinos means hedgehog: live and learn!





There were hundreds of people there … and trying to find a few quiet moments is almost impossible – but good that the Gardens are thriving, I guess!





Seedbeds that earlier in the summer were grass … they are utilising their space effectively …





The various photos are briefly described …



My tomato and goat cheese tart was positively delicious – I went back for another before I left … couldn’t resist!  Apologies for the bite out!!






From a very wet Black Friday … the sun is due to reappear tomorrow … I hope you all have lovely weekends and for Canadians enjoy your Thanksgiving day …






This is an iphone photo… I think it is the Eunonymus Europaeus …



This iphone photo doesn't do it justice - the colours are
lovely ... while the Blue Poppy itself is gorgeous








You can buy one of these delightful shopping bags … advertising their special Tibetan Blue Poppy … another story – another day!




Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 28 September 2018

We Are the World Blogfest # 18: Discover Books - let the stories live on …




After the Church’s September Festival there were some books left over – and I was pleased to see that there’s a program: Discover Books – which will collect, sort and appropriately distribute the excess works …


To Discover Books


I had never come across Discover Books – and here’s a captured image from their site …


A (miniscule) few of their books



… and here’s some thoughts on their approach:

Striving to divert books from landfills, help with the global problem of illiteracy …

Books are here for discovery, imagination, achievement, to be read again, donated to someone in need …

We all drool as we look at
filled book shelves - with
Discover Books others can
join us
The environment is precious … so books are sent onwards not ‘dumped’ into landfill; literacy improvement is essential; where books are in good condition – they can go to libraries in need …

Have a look at their website – I’m sure it will be a useful reference tool for many of us – I had not heard of the organisation and often wondered what happened to the many books that seem to be discarded …

As their site says ‘Put your Books in Motion, not Storage or worse dumped' …


Resell                      Redistribute              Recycle



Here’s to a great organisation … we all love to read and know our books are going to a good cause … this is it.  Frankly I was so pleased to know Discover Books would be collecting the balance of publications the Church had left over …





We Are The World – In Darkness Be Light


DiscoverBooks – let the stories LIVE ON …

Here's the Facebook page link ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 24 September 2018

September Festival – St John’s Church, Cobble Hill, British Columbia …




I’d been asked to help with the book stall … and despite the drizzly day the hoards were there to garner up many bargains …





... the September Festival seems to be a great place for bargain hunters to snap up any number of interesting items …






The vicar would be attending!


… including offering a venue – where ‘The Vicar is IN’ - for 5c: seems that a donation might be suitable too – actually from what I could see the whole Festival was very well organised and happily run by the many volunteers … who were taking care with their stalls …







St John's Church when the sun deigned to appear briefly
right at the end of the afternoon, before the rain came down
Clothing, Yard Sale, Best Buys: Jewellery – spelt correctly here!!
Bake Sale, Divine Desserts – spelt correctly here too!
Food at the Church, the desserts and drinks, a wood-fired burger bar
Silent Auction, Children’s Fun Area
St John’s Church, Pastoral Centre, the Ministry;
Country store … and outside the entrance or exit – the book stall


The book stall ...



… people on their way out were piling past our book-stall loaded with goodies – then the books caught their eye, and they had to come back … ‘we’ (the books) made over $1,200 … a goodly sum …






The back courtyard - very early


On the Friday, 24 hours before the Festival – the awnings were put up, the books were out, then the extra sorting carried on til late pm … we were given lunch – I had leek and potato soup – which happily filled my cockles! 




Chilli - mine looked as good ... this is c/o Wiki

A lunch voucher was available on festival day: I had chilli-con-carne – food for my soul as it was cool and damp … after that I was able to wander round the stalls for a quick look – but my corner was with the books …



  

The crowds had gathered ... 
There were a lot of books … and mostly all was well – but a few books almost become uncategorisable … as I would put one there, then another volunteer would think – oh no … that should be there … and so it went – until everything was in its place.  Then the trestle tables were covered overnight with tarpaulins against (this year) the weather …


The banners ... someone's spelling isn't very good!


An example:  Near the end a chap came up and asked for a book about England by an author under ‘L’ – luckily I’d spotted what I was fairly certain he was looking for … except it had got moved to history (but that was understandable) …



… it was London by Edward Rutherford and earlier on he’d have found it under ‘R’: he was happy it was still available.


The piper got us under way - and
piped us out ... lovely to hear
I’d been seconded to ‘sell’ bags for books … ie fill your bag for $15 – I quite enjoy doing that sort of thing … so I spent a few hours using my English stentorian voice to broadcast our wares! 


We did sell a lot of books, and I can be quite pressing in situations like that – always happily smiling, with a joke to hand … but the remainder of the books – well there’s always another story to tell … see Friday’s We Are The World Blogfest … InDarkness, Be Light …



The graveyard at St John's
Please join us in this blogfest - link is above ... where we seek to promote positive news across the world ... 

Congratulations to St John's Anglican Church, Cobble Hill where they do so much to help others and those in need ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Seamounts ... mountains in the seas ...




On the east side of Vancouver Island there are islands galore … with some really treacherous sea navigation conditions to work through … while on the west coast, which appears to be relatively easy for marine travel … the waters are equally perilous …

iphone photo from The Times Colonist of
some of the Seamounts off British Columbia


When is a rising land not an island, nor an islet - logical I suppose: when it does not rise above sea level.  Yet there are nearly 10,000 of these underwater mountains of varying sorts … the one you will probably be aware of … is the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain: most of which is undersea.






iphone photo from paper of A Shortspine Thornyhead -
a kind of rockfish found in Canada, Russia and the US

These underwater habitats are one of the most common marine ecosystems … the currents interact at various levels in the ocean attracting plankton, corals, fish and marine mammals … and yes we need to protect these valuable resources.





Bathymetric mapping of part of
Davidson Seamount off the coast
of central california (see Wiki for further
explanation of different sea zone levels)

A partnership of the Haida Nation (Haida Gwaii – my H in this year’s A-Z), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada sent the Exploration Vessel Nautilus out to explore ‘the local’ seamounts.  Some of these are 3,000 feet (1,000 metres) below sea level, others are just 75 feet (24 metres) under the surface … a danger to most shipping.





EV Nautilus

The Nautilus has been exploring these marine oases … to learn about their critical habitats and environments … how we can better protect our fishing grounds … 




... further details can be found about the research ship and its history via the Wiki page on Exploration VesselNautilus (EV Nautilus) – it is an interesting read.


Nudibranch - a group of soft-bodied,
marine, gastropod molluscs
(see Wiki article)

Long-term ocean monitoring instruments have been installed on the Dellwood Seamount (see map above for geographical location) … to record the homes and stop-over spots for the various species – flora and pisci-fauna …



This isn't the best iphone photo - but I've left the caption
which reads: Sponge in centre; tracks' white lines are the
marks of the nudibranchs eating it.  The white cirles (four
on top, one on right, one on left) are eating the sponge.
The species is a white-rimmed nudibranch.




The world beneath the waves also needs protecting – for some fascinating film about our underwater life … watch the video … made by Protect Oceans … here’s the link:









The August article in The Times Colonist's 'Islander' supplement spurred my interest on the Seamounts to write this post on a subject that I had not taken cognisance of before ... I will be aware in future.  (The photos in the article are much clearer than my iphone copies!).


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Fancy a Tipple? ...


This came about as I’d wanted to visit Morden (Coal) Mine, which I thought would be interesting; but the miner’s cottage and artefacts are in Nanaimo museum … 


Morden Colliery as marked - slither of green in centre -
while Boat Harbour is under the 'pin'.
… the tipple though is all there – well that’s a tale unto itself.  It’s a concrete tipple … not quite what I was expecting … but then the early 1900s was an innovative period for building, at a time when the technology of reinforced concrete was becoming increasingly identified with construction …


… so it’s difficult to comprehend that in 1913, when this tipple was being constructed, reinforced concrete was a novelty.  The pithead has been fenced off, but …


This noticeboard was all the information
available ...and only viewed through this type
of chainlink fencing ... difficult at best

  • the old railway line is now a 1.2 km trail down to the river

  • a wooden trestle took the railway over the river

  • which then wound its way to Boat Harbour

  • where coal would be unloaded, but on one occasion ‘scabs’ (men) were loaded in a box car to break the Union’s line …

  • it didn’t work – the ‘scabs’ joined their fellow miners on strike


    The trail is marked in red: the board wasn't clean, the
    chain-link enclosure didn't help, nor did the reflections!
  • the small park covers some of the mine workers’ web of tunnels


  • in 1913 they started the mine having struck an eight foot seam of coal at a depth of 600 feet ...


  • … which went down as far as 900 feet once the shoreline (map above) was reached

    Shows the railway line superimposed on
    the sketch of the maze of sub-terranean
    tunnels below
  • the men would use the railway line further up as a path to get to work … for a few kilometres from their dank, dreary, living quarters to the tipple

  • guided only by their headlamps, once down in the cage … from which the coal had been tipped … then walk 2 or 3 kilometres through the maze of subterranean tunnels to the coal face …



Site plan

  • after their shift they would then turn about face and repeat the journey to get ‘home’ to wash the coal dust off … probably with freezing water …



  • before the morrow dawned and the day would start over …





  • but as one lad described: “It wasn’t such a great mine.  It was terrifically gassy.  For the first couple of hours you went down there you’d be absolutely sick until, I guess, your bloodstream got the gas mixed in and you were back on your feet again … my brother lasted seven hours and was working so slow they fired him”



This is what is left - sorry! difficult to see because of
the light - you can just make the info board ... its roof is at
the top of the fence ... with the detail underneath.


The strike provided the management with an opportunity to erect a concrete tipple replacing the wooden one … this method had been pioneered in Britain, Europe, South Africa and Australia … so Northern America was catching up.






Kinsol Trestle near us in Cobble Hill -
recently repaired and restored

After the strike ended in 1914 … experienced workers, who had been blacklisted by other mines, were welcomed to work at Morden.  For a while all was well … but financial problems plagued the company, soon closing the mine.




Life in the early 1920s was not easy … and at some stage I’ll get to see the museum in Nanaimo, which I’d like to combine with a visit to a marine park on one of the islands.


Miner's Memorial at side of tipple

It was not so long ago … about a hundred years ... when life here was so different … yet those were the times when the miners’ camaraderie was their common bond … 


... with the knowledge that each time they went to work, they might not come up … and knowing that they were there to help each other out of difficult situations.



I visited twice - each visit only for a few
minutes ...I'd been hoping there'd be more to
see ... the slide show does a very good job.
The early pioneers in all trades started off the provisions for the health and safety standards that we have today … for which I know we are all grateful ...



Here’s an interestingslide show which let us see some great pictures of the Morden Mine and its tipple …



There is more history at this Historic Places site ...


A short video (3:21) on a coal tipple line - provided by Lenny - thanks so much ... it's a good watch with some 'cool music' as Lenny advises ... very true!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories