Fight stigma and discrimination – be human

27 06 2015

There’s a lot of mistrust and hatred in the world. Don’t be part of it.

Misinformation and “knowing” facts that are actually just plain wrong is the root of prejudice.

This project in Finland by broadcasting company Yle Kioski had a man who was HIV+ asking for the simple human act of being touched. It’s all in Finnish, but pretty much the only word spoken – repeatedly – is “kiitos”, meaning “thank-you”.

A man with HIV asked strangers for some human contact. Their sweet reactions brought him to tears.

A man with HIV asked strangers for some human contact. Their sweet reactions brought him to tears.

The best bit for me is that (more well-educated) mothers are happy to hug the complete stranger, or let their kids do the same. Where would we be, really, without the non-judgemental love that mothers offer?

Grouse Ascent 2015 No. 4

26 06 2015

Route: BCMC Trail

Time: 01:28:01

Well, this week I was accompanied by both my son and younger daughter. They drove me to my best time of the season, but they did it by basically disappearing over the horizon and willing me up to join them. The trail seemed quieter than of late, and we only saw about 6 other people. It was incredibly humid, and I must have lost a few pounds in sweat and evaporation. (“Sweat is just the fat crying” as one placard read on the Sun Run). For a couple of minutes it reached 100% and there was some light drizzle on the last quarter.

The erosion continues to concern me and I do feel guilty for my part in it. The ground is so dry that each footfall kicks up and displaces a small cloud of peat dust and further exposes the already nude roots. One result of this erosion was clearly visible on the first climb of the hike where the trail leaves the BCMC trail and ascends a rocky rise. Here there was a newly fallen tree blocking the path and needing us to limbo underneath.

Well, that makes 35 officially timed ascents (several others were unofficialc). Only another 5 to go before I’ve done “Mt. Aconcogua”.

Grouse Ascent 2015 No. 3

18 06 2015

Route: BCMC Trail

Time: 1:29:15

I was joined by my second offspring this time. The theory being that her fit and youthful physique would somehow encourage me to faster things. Well it did… by 15 seconds. :( Those of you who have seen “Run Fat Boy Run” might suggest she equip herself with a spatula next time. The ground was tinder dry compared to last time, but the massive damage from erosion is still plain to see, with exposed roots and deep gouges into the soft peat. It seems that the management company that run the chalet at the top have changed their supplier for baked goods, and my favourite treat of a chai tea latte (extra hot) and a fruit scone had to be modified to substitute a tripleberry crumble slice. The current fruit scones I think are supplied by Home Depot’s building division. The crumble was not much better as it was really just granola, and not crumble per se. Just to top it off, I seemed to have sliced my leg on some errant stump or other on the way up. I wouldn’t say I was focused or “in the zone” or anything, but it is true that I didn’t notice the damage until we’d stopped, at which point it began to sting like buggery. (Though I use the word metaphorically and not from a personal data-point).

QE got an owie

QE got an owie

That’s 34 officially timed ascents (several others were unofficial, out of season – round the fence, etc). That’s the equivalent of 29,002 metres or 95,151 feet (but unfortunately not both). Another 6 to go before I’ve done “Mt. Aconcogua”. Here’s the whole list:

  1. Mt. Kosciusko, Australia – 7300 feet, 2228 metres – 3 grinds
  2. Vinson Massif, Antactica – 16050 feet, 4892 metres – 6 grinds but need 9 total ( 3 from No.1 above plus the 6 for Vinson)
  3. Mt. Elbrus, Europe – 18510 feet, 5642 metres – 7 grinds, 16 total
  4. Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa – 19341 feet, 5895 metres – 7 grinds, 23 total
  5. Mt. McKinley, North America – 20320 feet, 6194 metres – 8 grinds, 31 total
  6. Mt. Aconcogua, South America – 22841 feet, 6961 metres – 9 grinds, 40 total
  7. Mt. Everest, Asia – 29029 feet, 8848 metres – 11 grinds, 51 total

What’s in a name?

8 06 2015

I was invited out for drinks and a bite to eat on Friday with some old work friends. “Old” as in long-standing, as opposed to elderly. That said, we’re none of us getting any younger. Anyway, we ended up at The Main on Main, in Vancouver’s trendy Main Street. Parking was a pain. Though plentiful, the meter-controlled parking on Main was unavailable due to me habitually travelling like royalty… and therefore without cash. Eventually I parked in a twee residential area around the back and only a few minutes walk away.

I’d arranged to arrive early for pre-drinks and my friend and I took a table in the open (as in not present) window to soak up a few rads before the others arrived, and to more readily watch the world pass by. I noticed a large old pub sign on the wall, being used as “art”. It was a Tetley’s sign for “The Oak Tree Root”, and obviously a few thousand miles adrift from its origins in the north of the UK somewhere.

Tetley's Sign - The Main on Main

Tetley’s Sign – The Main on Main

I innocently asked if they served Tetley’s and the waitress asked if I’d like tea. Taken aback, I had to explain at length that Tetley’s tea had nothing to do with Tetley’s brewery. Despite being far from a common surname, they were in fact two completely different things. The Oak Tree Root is a bit of an unusual name for a pub, and it turns out it’s in Howe Bridge, near Manchester. No idea if they realise their pub sign has been stolen though…

A photo of the pub (complete with assurances that they did indeed sell Tetley’s) can be found here on Flickr. Unfortunately it seems they went bust and the building is now a cheap Costcutter shop.

The sun was warm and still high, and we enjoyed a pint of  Driftwood’s White Bark wheat beer. Thankfully it didn’t arrive with the usual fruit salad. What is it about putting orange slices into wheat beer?!

Driftwood - White Bark

Driftwood – White Bark

Our other friends arrived, and as predicted, we had to move away from the window due to their vampire-like dislike of the sun. Oddly, I’m not a big fan of hot weather, but I don’t mind sunshine per se. The Main on Main is OK, foodwise. Slight air of pretension with the way it serves its pretty basic food, but clean and friendly. There were a few too many Greek items on the menu for a traditional pub, but all-in not too bad.

Grouse Ascent 2015 No. 2

4 06 2015

Route: BCMC Trail

Time: 1:29:32
First officially timed ascent this year. Hey – I’ve been busy!

It was higher than usual… most of the way I was following a couple of hip dudes who were smoking and smelt distinctly of skunk. They still beat me!

The weather looked iffy, but it was only when I got to the very top and into the low cloud that it actually became damp, and even then only with tree drips. The ground was very soggy most of the way up though which was odd because we’ve not had much rain recently. Definitely humid though, my microfibre face cloth (lovingly called my dew-rag) was soaking wet by the time I finished. Asa wearer of glasses, it’s really annoying when my face sweats, so I carry this microfibre cloth to wipe my eyebrows frequently.

I felt quite shocked and horrified at the trail actually. Shocked at just how deteriorated it has become since just a few weeks ago. Horrified though to realise that I’m as much to blame for that erosion as the next person. The Grind has become so popular that the BCMC is now the overspill and is getting way more popular than when I first began to hike it. Especially at the top there is now a tangle of exposed roots and some quite slippy sections where the mud has become so dominant.

That’s 33 officially timed ascents. Another 7 before I’ve done “Mt. Aconcogua”


26 05 2015

Well that was a busy few days. A few more to come too.

As I mentioned a while back, I flew to the UK to visit some customers.

Raven and Fog Woman - YVR departure lounge

Raven and Fog Woman – YVR departure lounge

LHR T2 art

LHR T2 art – Zivko Edge 540 stunt plane

Hotel view - gasometers

Hotel view – gasometers

I headed North to help my mum celebrate her birthday (“The North remembers”) with a trip to the Lake District.

Theakston's Bitter

Theakston’s Bitter – The Ship Inn

It's all backwards

It’s all backwards

Boat rentals: Bowness on Windermere

Boat rentals: Bowness on Windermere

Sir Ranulph Fiennes' sledge. Antarctic expedition 1996

Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ sledge. Antarctic expedition 1996

Vintage MG detail

Vintage MG detail

Ruined boathouse - Fell Foot, Windermere

Ruined boathouse – Fell Foot, Windermere

Limestone lintel - Fell Foot

Limestone lintel – Fell Foot

Ruined boathouse - Fell Foot

Ruined boathouse – Fell Foot

Speeding past Ingleborough on the way to Ingleton

Speeding past Ingleborough on the way to Ingleton

Then I spent a few happy hours walking the haunts of my childhood.

This is not a play area. Allegedly.

This is not a play area. Allegedly.

Skipton Road. Victorian houses... with satellite dishes

Skipton Road. Victorian houses… with satellite dishes

No longer an off-license but someone's home

No longer an off-license but someone’s home

Jeff - still cutting hair 40 years on

Jeff – still cutting hair 40 years on and proud to be a Yorkshireman. Doubly.

This used to be a butcher's; now a baker's; perhaps next a candlestick maker?

This used to be a butcher’s; now a baker’s; perhaps next a candlestick maker?

L'Arche. Meeting the need wherever it's found

L’Arche. Meeting the need wherever it’s found

Tag 'em and bag 'em - death co-op style

Tag ’em and bag ’em – death co-op style

Haute cuisine - Yorkshire style

Haute cuisine – Yorkshire style

Silsden bridge

Silsden bridge

Leeds-Liverpool canal with Ilkley Moor in the background

Leeds-Liverpool canal with Ilkley Moor in the background

Next I flew to Cologne/Köln for a trade show.

The back of the bar in the Gaffel brewery

The back of the bar in the Gaffel brewery

Kolsch from the Gaffel brewery

Kölsch from the Gaffel brewery

Hotel Dorint - literally over the road from the Messe

Hotel Dorint – literally over the road from the Messe

Art. Or poor taste?

Art. Or poor taste?

German graffiti

German graffiti

Police vans at the Dom. There was a nearby protest about refugee immigration

Police vans at the Dom. There was a nearby protest about refugee immigration

Beautiful reflected sunset on the Köln Dom

Beautiful reflected sunset on the Köln Dom

Sunset over the opera house

Sunset over the opera house

Then back to the UK for a quick curry then back home to Vancouver.

Ashari curry house - Sipson.

Ashari curry house – Sipson.

Bugger the jet lag – Saturday was my birthday and we took a trip to a local formal gardens at Darts Hill. It’s rarely open to the public, and I took my 100mm macro for a jaunt in the spring showers.

Flag iris - furled

Flag iris – furled

Raindrops on peony petal

Raindrops on peony petal

Edelweiss (no singing, thank-you...)

Edelweiss (no singing, thank-you…)

Delicate painted petals

Delicate painted petals

Sunday saw a bit of gardening and a visit to the cinema with my son to watch the Mad Max relaunch (basically a 2hr car chase through the desert. Think “Dakar rally meets Wacky Races”).

Because the trade show spanned a statutory holiday in BC to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday I took Monday as a holiday in lieu. A day trip to Victoria on the Island seemed appropriate and my two youngest and I spent an interesting day in the provincial capital.

Today saw me back at work just to do a bit of paperwork, and tomorrow I’m off again. This time to Connecticut. A US state I’ve never before seen. I gather it’s quite a sight in autumn. As for spring, I’ll let you know…

Busy Few Days

13 05 2015

Well this afternoon I make my way to old Blighty for a couple of customer visits in Brum. It’s an overnight flight so when you add the inevitable lack of sleep from annoying seat-mates or teething children to the lost 8 hours due to physics and time zones, I’m really hoping I just remember to drive on the left when I get there! As I recall, LHR to Birmingham is pretty straightforward, but traffic in the UK was already a nightmare 15 years ago when I left. I think I’ll swing by my father-in-law’s in Milk’n’beans for a sit-down and a cup of tea en route. He’s coming to the Wet Coast in June to join us for my eldest’s graduation from Waterloo, so I’m half-expecting he’ll be wanting me to carry something or other back with me.

Anyway, from Milton Keynes I continue to the hotel in Birmingham tomorrow night and visit the customers on Friday. I have to pick up a colleague flying in from Dusseldorf, so it’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.

The pay-off though is that I get the weekend in the UK to myself. It’s my mum’s 74th birthday on Saturday, so I’m heading up to Yorkshire to buy her a fancy dinner (despite her insistence on using some voucher at the local pub/restaurant). Sunday night I’m flying with Germanwings to Cologne, and spending the week there at a trade show. FESPA if you’re in the ‘hood.

Monday’s a holiday here though, so I’ll miss out on that. I’ll just have to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday on my own in Köln. Quelle domage. Fizzy beer and sausage!

Thursday night, I’m back in Heathrow and stopping off for a curry in Sipson – most recommended, by the way. Time zones and physics pay back on Friday and I land in Vancouver at a time that is impossibly close to the time I set off. Saturday I’ll most likely sleep it off, which is a shame because that’s my own birthday.

I really must start looking into the possibilities of growing up.

Nah… maybe next year.


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