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

Thursday, 30 August 2018

We Are The World Blogfest # 17: Oxford Martin School – a visionary approach to improving the world …




I’ve spent quite a lot of my life in and around Oxford, so was surprised I had never heard of this ‘school’ or the founder – set up in 2005 by a visionary, who’d made a fortune writing books …


 This ‘school’ has over 30 institutes and projects concerned with different aspects of the future … each institute only functions when integrating multiple disciplines …


… all the 300+ post-doctorate scholars and professors work across the University of Oxford … collaborating world-wide.




Sir James Martin (1933 – 2013) wrote ‘The Wired Society’ forty years ago … which is still considered timely; he was a quiet man ‘foreseeing our future’ …





… in 2012 – he produced a short feature film (29 mins) called ‘Revolution in Oxford(link below) in which he talks to leading academics about the difference they are starting to make in Oxford and the world.  I hope you’ll take time out to watch and listen to it … so worthwhile.




I found out about the Oxford Martin School from a book our book club thought of reading (Age of Discovery) … some of us did – I know I scan read.   I made notes as I went … it is not an easy read – but very informative … and I’d never have found out about Sir James Martin – amazing man …




To leave you with one thought stated in the book:

‘Don’t just get an education.  Make one.’ …


… the book is about the developments of the Renaissance era (years 1300 – 1600) comparing them to what is happening now: the challenges and the opportunities …


For us the participants of #WAWTB … this short film is definitely an eye opener … if we can take cognisance of our own possibilities and encourage all, we will benefit so many more people in our societal spheres …

Dr James Martin in Oxford



I want to say we are the revolution … we are … and we can be … #WAWTB …



We Are The World - In Darkness Be Light


Oxford Martin School - the founder and site

Revolution in Oxford - video (29 minutes - excellent to watch)

James Martin in Wikipedia ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 24 August 2018

Abkhazi Gardens and Miss Willmott’s ghost …




Extraordinary things you can happen upon … Miss Willmott’s ghost being one of them … it is actually Eryngium Giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’ (per the RHS site) … isn’t it pretty … prickly, but pretty …

my iphone photo



The Ghost was on display at Abkhazi Gardens as a plant of interest with the note about Miss Willmott’s ghost – quite honestly wouldn’t you have been quizzy about this apparition let alone its owner …





A rough photo (in difficult light) of the
note appending the examples of the
3 plants on show at Abkhazi Gardens
Equally Ellen Willmott (1858 – 1934) is one of those real life characters of whom stories could be made … I’ve included some links … but aged 7 she found a cheque for one thousand pounds from her rich godmother … these sorts of cheques continued on, until in 1890, when she and her sister shared the inherited fortune (the equivalent of five million pounds each).


Both the Willmott parents were wealthy and doted on their daughters – Ellen’s sister, Ada sadly died, but Rose survived – marrying into the aristocratic Berkeley family, this branch lived at Spetchley Park, just outside Worcester … where Ellen extended her gardening influence …


… but back to the 7 year old Ellie and the family with a love of beautiful things … and an obvious candidate for a flourishing garden.  Her father moved them out to Warley Place, 24 miles commuting distance from Frederick Wilmott’s city life, bought another 22 acres over the road, built a cottage for the girls and life continued on!




Warley Place as painted by
Alfred Parsons

Ellie, a passionate horticulturist, who became an influential member of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), was said to have cultivated more than 100,000 plants, sponsored expeditions to discover new species … and has more than 60 plants named after her.



She inherited the 33 acres of Warley Place after her father’s death in 1892, and bought two more properties in France and Italy … she loved her plants and her life … and was a prodigious spender.


Rosa Willmottiae -
Ellen was a rose fundi

Due to her total immersion in all realms of horticulture she was very influential at the RHS, became a member of the Linnaean Society of London … was accorded all kinds of awards by organisations in Britain, France and Italy.





She was highly talented playing the violin and piano … she owned a Stradivarius … Queen Alexandra (Edward VII’s wife) and various princesses visited Ellen and Warley for musical soirees or to view the estate  … yet ‘my plants and my gardens come before anything in life … when I can no longer plant, as it is too dark, I read or write about them’


Spetchley Park Hall
Rose’s husband’s property Spetchley Park, near Worcester, looks like a wonderful place to visit … Edward Elgar was a regular visitor … they are reviving the gardens to their historical and horticultural best



Ellen and Rose as children

… including the carriages, a melon yard, a horse pool, a root cellar and all the essentials of a modernised country mansion for the touristy visitors …




Sadly her own prodigious spending came home to roost – despite the fortunes – she had to sell her overseas properties, personal effects and then when the time came her death duties were settled by selling Warley Place.


Abkhazi Gardens - painted by Kmit,
see my post on Clearwater Studio


It had been neglected … and is now a nature reserve after the house had been demolished.  A sad end … but perhaps fitting to have a Silver Ghost appearing around the world in various gardens that Miss Willmott had wandered through quietly dropping seeds as she went.



The Essay:Miss Willmott’s Ghost … by Jane Brown appeared in The Independent in 1999 … about various gardeners …

Oxonian Gardener - article on Ellen Willmott

SpetchleyPark in Wikipedia

SpetchleyPark Gardens – the official website


Abkhazi Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia - my post 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Abkhazi Gardens, Victoria …



One of those extraordinary stories … of developing love … surviving World War II, despite both being captured – one in France and the other in Shanghai as an ‘enemy subject’ held captive by the Japanese  … somehow keeping in contact … eventually to marry and start a garden …


Abkhazia is orange, then Georgia is grey
c/o Wiki - to see the Ossetias
Romantic or what … an exiled Prince of Abkhazi … an orphan adopted by a rich couple… ‘the child’ eventually settling in Shanghai in 1938, the place of her birth.


Nicholas, the Prince in 1919 had fled the Bolshevik Revolution living in Paris with his mother … where he met Peggy during those years accompanying her domineering adoptive mother around Europe. 


The house peeping out

They enjoyed each other’s company and when in Paris did what cultured friends would do … walked, visited galleries, museums, listened to recitals and conversed in French, their common language.  When Peggy was travelling they corresponded through letters …




The summer house at the top of the property
from where they could survey, plan and design
their garden, prior to their home being built




War came … both survived … they found each other … married and came over to Vancouver Island, where Peggy had bought a small one acre plot … their love flourished, as too their home and garden – now preserved by The Land Conservancy.







It’s a tiny heritage property and I should have visited in the late Spring/early Summer, but next year I’ll go again … when the rhododendrons, azaleas and spring flowers are in bloom …







I did not have much time at all … but managed to fit in one of their special Silk Road teas … I enjoyed the tea … and must find out more about this brand.  






Looking across from the house



I was grateful for the tiny sandwich/ scone/ cake offerings on the cake stand … not because I ate them in situ … but from the box on the way home, as I was caught up in traffic on that dreaded Malahat road, curbing my rumbling tummy, as supper was distinctly late that night – eventually not needed.




I think these must be Garry Oaks leading
across to the summer house



I hope you can see the delight of the garden and its plantings … as too the layout of the land … a cascade of glaciated rocks – announcing its need for creative gardeners to foresee the opportunities for green fingers within this tiny space.




The terrace where tea can be served





There’s a hornbeam hedge at the front, the garden itself sits high above surrounding properties, native Garry oaks remain, Japanese maples and rhododendrons have matured … and there are now carpets of heather, irises and day lilies – all to be enjoyed next year …






Part two of this is a story about a plant … and more garden insights in another land …


The Land Conservancy – Abkhazi Garden ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Write ... Edit ... Publish ... Bloghop: Change of Heart ...





Why on earth did she have to have that item to make a meal from … while the others had, to her mind, easier foods … but she had a plan … she would stuff hers ... so far she only had one to use.


A questioning eye ...
what change of heart ... 


Her fellow contestants – what a motley lot they were … uncouth, uncaring, unhelpful … she deserved to win … and she was doing all she could in that direction.  She just had to be careful and so clever.





Hearts make for good eating … and oh boy does she have an interesting one to eat … perhaps she’ll find a couple of smaller ones later on  – but that would take some effort … and set the cat amongst the pigeons giving away more than she intended … her secret had to remain hers …




For now – let’s think about the cooking … but what will she do … grill slices, skewer it whole, stuff the two larger chambers – she couldn’t be bothered to make four stuffings … two would be fine …




… or make a meatloaf … ah mix and hand-mush the finely chopped ingredients together … that would be fun … but would be cooked, or she could make heart-tartare … and then no-one would know what they were eating … and she’d have squelched the heart in her hands …




Dice some onion, celery, mushrooms finely chopped and lightly sautéed … add in salsa verde to flavour one of the stuffings and a few peas to brighten the ruby colour, while the other mix could have chimichurri combined with breadcrumbs … that’d make the heart tasty …


Then the pleasurable bit … massaging and manipulating that heart to clean it up … strip off the fat, all obvious squishy tissue, valves, papillary muscles and tendineae … her fellow opponents would know and appreciate the care she’d taken – but would they guess about Jonas …


Bleeding Heart Yard, London
A body was found here 1646 - torn limb from limb,
but the fresh heart still pumping blood ... 

Stuffed heart – that’s the idea … no need to Change that Heart … but perhaps she could have had a Change of Heart …


They would question her – where was Jonas … well couldn’t they see he was in front of their eyes … now it’s too late for a Change of Heart – her butchery skills had been tested …



The time had come to present the dish to the judges and other contestants … to see what they think … as they sample that heart …


… then she’d better disappear … her disguise and hiding place have been well established … should be a cinch …


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 10 August 2018

Cherry Point Art – Clearwater Studio and farm …




A visit with a society I’m a temporary member of while I’m out here … took us to a member’s home – where her artist daughter and intrepid husband live …

Fire Lily - centre piece of art in her mother's house


The Times Colonist did a wonderful write up (see link below) on their home looking out towards the lower gulf islands in Satellite Channel …






Cherry Point area on Vancouver Island ... showing
some islands, inlets, ferry routes etc


I was talking to Kmit, the artist, as I do … and she offered to show me round their studio and home – so once again I had a private tour: very lucky me …





From the mother's home looking out to Salt Spring Island



… it’s an extraordinary home – as you can read from the article and from the notes and photos I took that match each other …








Kmit's giant easel ... for the large
art works she creates ... 




I suggested to one of my book club contacts they take visiting Colorado friends to the Gallery … they stayed two hours … I bet they engaged with Kmit and her husband … like–minded souls, I would think …






Blue bottle tree - I gather, they need two more



Anyway enough of my back story … and on with the tour … they are both so talented as you will see from the photos …


Some interesting facts taken from the Times Colonist article – but noted as I was shown round the building:






Butcher's block from recycled Maple


Industrial plant/barn converted to this amazing art, workshop, music space …





Once the building was surveyed … including the upstairs floor being of car deck strength (as in car ferry supports) …






One of Kmit's shire horses




... Kel, Kmit’s husband, conserved and utilised the various woods on the property … fir, maple, … and see article for other innovative places resources were found and put to good use …








Abkhazi Garden as painted by Kmit



The art … Kmit loves horses, particularly shire horses … and plants and gardens – you’ll be getting a post on the Abkhazi Garden shortly … but here’s Kmit’s stunning painting of it …






The barn/art/music studio's kitchen - where they live



Talk about luck at being shown around … and in the article (linked below) I love Kmit’s words ‘We hope never to retire’ … they’ve developed their small property into a self-contained and community friendly farm …




An art work Kmit made while at university ...
one I rather liked





Lots of photos here … and I know you’ll understand why I wanted to share with you all …









The Times Colonist's article - which gives more detail ... if you wish to read ... 

Clearwater Studio ... website here ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories