Canadian beach shelter

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Canada is not renowned as a hot place.  Anything above 25 degrees is a getting too warm for the locals comfort.  As a scientific experiment I put the power of the Canadian sun to the test by wandering around the pretty Vancouver Island capital of Victoria without a hat or sunscreen on a “hot” and sunny day.  This is not typical behaviour from an Australian of fair-skinned parents.  I burn quicker than the bush after a drought.  In an equivalent Australian setting I would be horribly burned within 30 minutes.  It took a good few hours of wandering around here to make my nose look like Rudolph, but even so I must congratulate the Canadian sun on having more oomph than I expected.  It’s a lovely warm sun and I have the best chance in years of getting a tan rather than my usual burn/white skin cycle.

When travelling through the US with my friend Tim we drove a car for someone from Washington D.C. to Omaha, Nebraska.  There would be very little reason to go to Omaha otherwise but it was an instructive journey in the middle American diet (think lots of meat, cheese and sugar).  On this trip we stayed the night in Columbus, Ohio and met a couple with a whisky collection.  For those that don’t know I am a big whisky fan.  Meeting someone with a whisky collection was like stumbling across El Dorado.  To my everlasting regret we couldn’t take up his invitation to sample a few the following night as we discovered the next day that we were not meeting the car delivery expectations of our client, so we had to hoof it out of town.  This potentially life-long regret has been salved by my de facto cousin’s partner’s whisky collection.  Bless you Brian for righting the wrongs of the past with a very fine assemblage of Scottish and Irish whiskies and pouring with a generous hand.  We stayed with Steph and Brian in Victoria.

Vancouver Island is an idyllic place with a small population and great scenery.  Covered in verdant forest it’s also home to great fresh produce and boutique beer and is a thoroughly enjoyable destination.  Just don’t go for a beach holiday.  The area around Victoria looks like it has lots of great sailing through all the small forested islands but it’s the use of that timber on the beach that betrays the nature of lying on a strip of towel by the ocean in this part of the world.  Huge driftwood logs wash up on the beach and are used by sun-bakers to build elaborate shelters to act as wind-breaks and at least let the sun have its tanning effect without the wind chill.  No-one was swimming in the ocean.

We also stayed with another of Sarah’s cousins in Victoria, Michael, his wife Laura and their kids.  This must be a North American thing but we pulled the kids part of the way up a mountain near their house in a little wagon.  All the adults took turns being beasts of burden, our only reward being fresh blackberries picked along the path and the amazing view from the top.  Michael took us on a tour of the coastline around Victoria, ending in the harbour with the permanent houseboats, most of which seem to be for sale.  They are a great location in the centre of town, but I don’t know that I would enjoy waking up to the sound of the sea plane landing in the morning.

View more Vancouver Island photos here

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