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August 18, 2017

After yesterday’s rant I’m now out by two days in my tale of Irmani’s visit last week. Where was I? Oh, yes: staggering off to bed.

For the second morning that week the first thing I did when I woke up was head to the bathroom to swallow a couple of aspirins and a big glass of water. Sheesh. My head. Why is it there are some lessons we just never learn? Do not mix your drinks. Although I suddenly remember an old rule: Beer before wine, fine. Wine before beer, oh dear. So the pint we had with Pat whilst playing pool was fine and so was at least some of the wine we’d consumed. It was the Caesars and the G&T that did it.

Irmani, clearly made of sterner stuff than I, had decided upon waking to sweat it off and had gone for a walk upon waking. Unfortunately she’d somehow got turned around on the trail I’d shown her the previous morning and ended up having a much longer walk than intended. By the time she got back to the house I’d had breakfast and was in the middle of making a batch of granola. (Yes, for those of you who’ve known me for some time and just spat out your tea, I do make my own granola, based on a friend’s recipe. I also make my own bread, thanks to the recipe of another friend. And, yes, if you’d told me ten years ago that I would end up doing either of these things, I would have laughed in your face.)

We were planning to head down to Drumbeg after she’d showered, but the granola we’d both had for breakfast just hadn’t done it for either of us. I looked her and asked, “Bacon and eggs?” She enthusiastically agreed. Every Brit knows that the only real cure for a hangover is a greasy breakfast. So bacon and eggs it was. And it worked.

Drumbeg is a park at the south end of the island. It’s always been my favourite place, as it was Mike’s (and indeed it is for many people). We used to go down there regularly for picnics in the summer. Mike would swim in the too-cold-for-me water and I would stretch out with my book. The rocky shore below our picnic spot was the place where his children, grandchildren and I scattered his ashes after his death in 2011. For a while it was the place I went when I wanted to talk to him. For a while after that it became too painful to go there on my own, so I only visited when I had visitors. It’s good again. I go for a walk there every new year’s day, which is something Mike and I always did. It’s lovely. (As all visitors can attest.)


This is a photo I took last new year’s day. As you can see, even on a cloudy day you can see the coastal mountains. (Or just about. Trust me, you can see the snow capped peaks.)

Back in the 1990s Mike and I went to see a Terence Stamp film, the name of which escapes me. Stamp played a British hard man who’d gone to Los Angeles to kill the wealthy man responsible for his daughter’s death. After arriving in LA he somehow teams up with a Latino guy. The two of them walk into the rich guy’s house while there is a party going on. The rich guy lives up in the hills somewhere. Standing on his deck, the Latino guy says to Stamp: “Will you look at this view? You could see the sea if you could see it.” A reference of course to LA smog.

drumbeg haze

That line came back to me last Wednesday when Irmani took this photo. Not smog (although Vancouver has its share of it), but smoke drifted west from the forest fires that continue to rage in the interior. Given what the people living there are going through, I can hardly complain about an obscured view, but it was disappointing for Irmani whose seen the view in its full glory on past visits.

Aside from normally spectacular views, Drumbeg also offers an opportunity to see these bizarre trees.


Yes, two Arbutus trees growing sideways. I’d say “pretty neat, eh?” but sadly the one at the back, which continued to produce leaves for many years after being knocked over in a windstorm is now nearly dead.

Back to the house for a cup of tea. (No, not a drink.)

Irmani had voiced an interest before she arrived in meeting some of my island mates. As she likes beer and burgers and pool and as the pub has a burger and beer special on Wednesday evenings, an obvious rendezvous struck me. Although a few people I invited were going to be away, most were happy to accept the invitation.

So, back to the pub for the third time that week.

When Irmani originally contacted me last winter to say she could come out for a week in August, she suggested her visit might include a trip to the Okanagan.

In case you didn’t know, with the exception of tropical rainforest, somewhere in British Columbia you can find pretty much any climate type. The Okanagan is the desert climate. Yes, desert. In Canada.

The last time I was in the Okanagan was twenty years ago with Mike. (Tumbleweed? Seriously? Oh, my god!) I had my doubts about going in August, which would be peak tourist season and I thought it would be rather rushed if Irmani also wanted at least a couple of days on the island. But it was her holiday, so what the hell? Let’s take advice and investigate options. As part of this investigation I discovered that it was possible to take a ride on the Kettle Valley steam train, which twice a week included a train robbery by cowboys demanding your change for charity. Oh, my god, I thought, we have to do that!

I was in rehearsal for An Unhelpful Complication at the time, so two of the people I was asking for advice were Dave and Charlie. Both agreed the Okanagan was worth a visit, but questioned the timing. Dave shook his head at me and asked why I would want to go to the Okanagan when it was positively heaving with tourists and when temperatures were regularly in the forties? It was a good question. Then Charlie asked if Irmani wasn’t the friend with whom I’d gone to Whistler the previous winter, the one who, like me, had hated the place because it was full of skiers? I agreed this was true. Then he also shook his head and asked why, if we’d hated Whistler in the winter, we thought we’d like the Okanagan in the summer? Another very good question which I shared with Irmani. Put like that, she was inclined to agree. The Okanagan could and should wait for another time. Just as well really, as we would have had to cancel reservations once the forest fires started and the air in the Okanagan became unbreathable.

Anyway, the reason I mention all this is that I was explaining the original plan to mates in the pub, including the potential to take part in a train robbery. My friend Donna rolled her eyes, obviously thinking it sounded unbelievably naff, whilst her partner Garry was prompted to tell us a story from his childhood. Apparently when he was all of about six or seven, he and his friends used to taken their toy guns down to the railyard on Saturday mornings when a freight train was scheduled to roll slowly through their small town. They would shoot their toy guns at the train and be rewarded with a handful of change tossed to them by the crew.  The haul usually worked out to a nickel each – enough for a popsicle or a small candy bar. They were train robbers!

Bit of a break in writing to go down to the village for the first play of this weekend’s theatre festival. Oh My God. One Man Pride and Prejudice, written and performed by Charles Ross was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Apparently he’s heading off to Edmonton tomorrow to perform it at the fringe festival there and I suspect he will turn up at other festivals. If you have a chance to see this show go!

Fairly easy to finish off Wednesday. Suffice to say Irmani thought all of my friends were lovely (which they are) and they all thought she was lovely (which she is).

Early(ish) to bed that night, as tomorrow we have a bit of a road trip and want an early start.

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