BC Landscape

16 09 2012

So, I was challenged a few months ago by barbaraelka and kalyrical to post some photos of the wide open spaces of BC.

Now BC is a very diverse province in terms of landscape. The Lower Mainland is pretty urbanised in places. There’s wide open areas of agriculture in the Fraser Valley. Obviously the ski hills around Whistler as well as Big White are different again. Loads of unspoiled first growth as well as second, third etc. growth (i.e. previously logged and now managed) forests. And desert and near-desert in the east of the Province.

A couple of weeks ago, I took my son and heir (in lieu of the missing hair) for a couple of nights camping, when we had a public holiday. Expecting the more popular sites to be totally heaving, we went to one of OUR favourite sites. Being a bit out of phase, our favourite places are  w-a-a-a-a-y  less likely to be busy. Sure enough, we easily got into the Juniper Beach Provincial Campsite, just outside Cache Creek. As well as the usual RV pads, it’s a lovely tent site with a beautifully manicured lawn to pitch on, as well as hot showers to offset the usual pit toilet experience common to BC campsites. So why so easy to get a spot on the long weekend? Easy… trains. Lots of trains. It’s in the Thompson valley, with CPR tracks on one site and CN tracks on the other. Every hour or so (all night too) there’s a freight train on one side or the other. You get used to it, but apparently it’s not to everyone’s taste!

Needless to say – I took a few snaps. The colours were a challenge, as it’s quite an arid area, with lots of washed-out hues. Below are a few of what I think are the better photos. Comments always welcome…


Canada Day at Minter Gardens

1 07 2012

Canada Day started quite fine in White Rock. It’s been a trifle damp for several weeks, and even for a rain-lover such as I, it was a pleasant change to see a bit of sunshine. After a languorous start to the day which involved hot croissants, buckets of tea and eating toast in ones pyjamas (plates seem so passé, don’t you agree?), we finally headed East up the Fraser Valley to spend a few hours at Minter Gardens. (Yes, dear reader – I did get dressed first).

Named after Brian Minter (BC’s answer to Yorkshire’s Alan Titchmarsh), it’s a lovely oasis from the bustle, though you can still hear the cars race for the Cascades beyond Hope on the adjacent Trans-Canada Highway running just behind the bushes. There were some interesting bands of cloud hanging in lines across the hills that edge the valley, and before too long there were a couple of very light showers. Nothing major though, and the two wedding parties taking place at the gardens seemed blissfully unaware.

Inevitably I had my trusty camera, and given the changing light, chose to limit myself to my fast 50mm. I must force myself to do a long range set soon, this 50mm is dangerously close to being the only lens I use now…

So – here are a few snaps of the gardens, dripping with the dampness that makes BC such a wonderfully vibrant and colourful place to live.

Marilyn and Me

21 05 2012

Second born burst into the parental bedroom this morning asking if we’d like “flat” pancakes.

As opposed to lumpy ones?!

No – as opposed to “fluffy” (North American style) ones.


Proper pancakes were on offer. British and Euro-style crêpes.


Mais oui – definitely up for some of that. Especially if I don’t need to make them myself. As a kid, we’d always have them with lemon juice and sugar. Now we live in Canada, we inevitably add (real) maple syrup to the buffet of options. Second born loves to have hers with dark chocolate spread (like Nutella, but with more chocolate and no nuts), and showed an unnatural patience in spreading it just right to ensure the correct distribution of chocolate in the subsequently rolled pancake.

For one simply must roll the pancake into a tight cylinder before slicing it into delicious if somewhat unhealthy bite sized chunks. I prefer to trap an edge between two fork tines and roll the pancake that way, but second born uses manual dexterity, claiming it produces a tighter roll. It might be interesting to watch a dusky Cuban maiden from the tobacco fields, to see her technique. No particular reason. Just the voyeurism.

Anyway, all this as a tortuous lead up to my new found favourite condiment. Marilyn’s spicy red pepper jelly. Lovely on pancakes. I think I bought it at Canadian Superstore, which always has lots of eclectic foreign foods due to the local demographic of Surrey, BC. So anyway, it turns out that it’s made by Tower Foods in Abbotsford, just down the Fraser Valley in BC. Marilyn Tower is the owner it seems – hence the name of both the product range and the company. They produce a range of different jellies made of different peppers, but I’d bought this one due to the word spicy. It has a bit of a tang to be sure, but it’s certainly not chilli hot.

The ingredients are listed as:

  • Sugar
  • BC red peppers
  • White vinegar
  • BC jalapeño peppers
  • Pectin

So basically, it’s jam. Made with peppers. I’ve had it on toast as an alternative to Silver Shred (also available at Canadian Superstore), and it works very nicely. Keep an eye out for it on your next grocery trip. Totally recommended.

While hunting for a product photo, I also came across this little article about Canadian beaurocracy, and French labelling on Tower Foods products. Quality local foods taken off the shelves because of the lack of French on the label. In a part of Canada where Mandarin or Punjabi would be way more beneficial to customers! Bureaucracy – The British Empire’s gift to the world…

Marilyn Tower, owner of Abbotsford’s Tower Foods, with some of the products seized from Vancouver’s Home Grow-In Grocer by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency due to alleged inadequate labelling. Credit: Doug Shanks — From the Weekender