blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Germanic pleasures

Trunken müssen wir alle sein! / Jugend ist Trunkenheit ohne Wein; / Trinkt sich das Alter wieder zu Jugend, / So ist es wundervolle Tugend. / Für Sorgen sorgt das liebe Leben, / Und Sorgenbrecher sind die Reben. 
(Drunk! We should all be drunk! / Youth is intoxication without wine; / If old age can drink itself back to youth, / that's a marvellous virtue. / Trouble is part of our precious life, / and vineyards counteract trouble and strife.)

I paid a preliminary visit the premises of Ottawa's Maple Leaf Almrausch Club yesterday, shall be going there again in a month or so. It's 15 minutes from the eastern edge of town, down the 417, Exit 104.

I was amused to find that Goethe poem in Gothic script on the wall of its Europahalle, liberally hung with flags. Downstairs is the Schenke (taproom) with long wooden tables and corner booths. Here's where you'd pick up your tankard of beer and sway to the music. On the top level is an indoor rifle shooting range offering noisy target practice, and outside are the soccer fields.

Almrausch is a word meaning Alpine rose (a kind of azalea native to the Alps). In 1964, when the Maple Leaf Soccer Club and the Almrausch Bavarian folk dance Group decided to amalgamate, the result was the Maple Leaf – Almrausch Club Inc. The new Club obtained a plot of land and built their chalet-type Clubhouse. Spring is celebrated here with a Maifest (May Day Festival) and autumn with a traditional Oktoberfest. The Club also holds dance parties: the Schuhplattler musicians and dancers stage a Bavarian Festival every spring; the Schützen (Shooters) present the Schützenfest (Shooters Festival) in the spring and the Jägerball (Hunters’ Ball) in the fall. The Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) takes place every year on the third weekend in November, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In the Schenke you can order snacks, or hearty meals (Gulasch, sausages, etc.) well as cakes, coffee and Glühwein. A Schnitzel Dinner is offered to members and non-members on the third Friday of every month from January to April.

You don't need to be a German immigrant in order to enjoy this place, but it helps.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Nineteenth century pumping stations

My great-great-grandfather (my mother's father's mother's father) William Willis was an engineer, born in the north of England in 1825. His father was killed in the pit of a coal mine at Jarrow when he (William) was a baby. Moving to Durham, the boy was self educated, eventually becoming a railway engineer and then an engineer at the Darlington sewage works. He and his family lived at Sewerage Cottage (!) in those days. His last job was as superintendent of the pumping station which meant that he could live until his retirement at Tees Cottage, a place much loved by his younger relatives.

This week Chris and I visited a similar pumping station in Kingston, Ontario, now the city's Pump House Steam Museum (we had been there before). I picked up a leaflet telling its history, and this is what it says:
The City of Kingston Water Works Company was incorporated in 1849 ... Prior to this, residents obtained their water from wells or private carters, who would fill a cart from the lake and sell the water in the streets ... Originally, drinking water was collected at the waterfront, where the city also deposited its waste.

... Kingston was in the race to become the capital of the Province of Canada. In order to be considered for capital status there was a list of requirements, one of which was having a pumped water service ... Kingston became the capital from 1841-1844 ...

The water was drawn from Lake Ontario to the Pump House via an intake pipe. It passed through the pump to a water tower 1.5km away ... the company began to encounter problems in the late 1880s ... In addition, there was an outbreak of cholera in 1886 due to poor water quality [therefore] the City added three extensions to the existing intake pipe in order to reach the cleaner, fresher water offshore. The pipe was extended to a length of 760 metres and ... still lies on the lake bed today.
The restored steam engines that we saw in the pump room had been installed in the 1890s, replacing the older ones. One of these was able to pump 5 million gallons of water per day to the water tower on Tower Street. The facility was manned by two people, a fireman to shovel coal into the boilers and an engineer to keep an eye on the engines which quietly kept the pump in operation.

I'll add another juxtaposition to this post which brings the story full circle. My father-in-law was a water works engineer as well, employed by the British military. He began his working life as a boiler attendant, shovelling coal.

All the way down the Lake

Owing to the prospect of severe thunderstorms and too much rain on the Bruce Peninsula, where we'd thought of flying, on leaving Hamilton on Tuesday we decided to fly east to Kingston instead. A good decision; the weather stayed fine there for another two days. This wasn't a new destination for us at all, but we had never before flown the whole length of Lake Ontario, as we did that afternoon for about 300 kilometres, sometimes over the lake and sometimes just to the north of it. The most exciting part was when we were told to keep north of the CN Tower at 2000 ft.

Causeway at the western end of L. Ontario

At 2000ft between Hamilton and Toronto, north of the direct route to Kingston

Approaching the CN Tower

Skyscrapers and Billy Bishop (City) airport off our right wing

Flying past Toronto on a good day for views!

Transparent water off the shore of the lake, near Coburg
Landing at Kingston we left our bags at the Central Airways FBO and went for a pleasant walk round Point Pinole as we'd done on our last visit. The FBO receptionist was able to find us a room at the Waterfront Holiday Inn at their business rate, where we spent the night, with a steak supper on the patio at The Keg near Kingston's City Hall.

Shoreline at Point Pinole. I dipped my feet in the water there.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Away to Hamilton

On the way to Hamilton, south of the Toronto islands
Hamilton was a new destination for us, although we have landed at the airport before. We may not do so again, since there is no fuel available there for small aircraft, only jet fuel. The man at the Glanford FBO who came out to meet us on the ramp when we arrived lifted his eyebrows a lot when he saw what kind of aircraft had pulled in, and laughed in surprise when we told him we wanted to tie down here for the night. (The ramp fee was $25 and we don't yet know the landing fee. We should have gone to Burlington, apparently, for general aviation services.) Nonetheless he and the lady in the office were courteous and helpful, allowing PTN to stay there and advising us where to rent a car and would have helped us find accommodation if we hadn't already booked an hotel room.

We came to Hamilton in order to take Ben home to McMaster University. Ben had been visiting his parents in Ottawa (Chris works with his dad). We sat Ben in the co-pilot's seat to give him good views on his ride, preferable to the long bus ride he usually endures; we stopped for lunch at Peterborough airport and enjoyed superb views and flying conditions all the way, especially along the stretch off shore over Lake Ontario, passing Toronto.

Signs of industry at Hamilton
Approaching Hamilton we could see the remains of its industry. It used to be a home of the steel industry, but its prosperity has since declined and more than a few of the grand old buildings have fallen into a dilapidated state. Some of the Hamiltonians must be troubled because even in the airport FBO I saw notices saying that bad language and abusive behaviour wouldn't be tolerated. We got the impression that the city is struggling to survive, but the downtown core is being "revitalized" now and it seems that vast sums of money are being spent to improve the look of the place.

I don't think the university population visits downtown Hamilton very often. Ben's house was in the leafy suburbs 10 minutes' drive away and the MacMaster campus is in that area.

There's an attractive fountain at the centre where James Street crosses Kings Street, and the new flower beds on the sidewalks are lavishly planted and nicely maintained. We were aware of the down-and-outs at the street corners with nowhere else to go that holiday Monday afternoon and we found a plethora of pawn shops, dollar stores, cheap food outlets and money lending establishments, as well as a large Bingo Hall and abandoned businesses with their windows boarded up. The non-abandoned businesses, closed that day, were fronted with metal screens. In 1982 this part of town was designated a Business Improvement Area. However, many brand new buildings are now interspersed, including our hotel, the Crowne Plaza.

Walking through this district after checking into that nice hotel we decided to keep going towards the waterfront. The lower part of James Street near the redbrick military buildings seemed more gentrified. Further down the street was the former Canadian National Railways Station on Immigration Square, as imposing as a palace, now serving as a banquet hall.

Many immigrants once ended their journey to Canada here, but there's no longer any access from the back of the buildings to the railway track. No passenger trains stop here now.

After crossing the railway bridge we discovered the splendid Bayfront Park by the water, where we wandered over the grassy hills and sat under the willow trees watching the geese and boats till it was time for supper. Returning up James Street, we found the Gate of India restaurant, named after the famous arch in Mumbai (I added that link for Chris, who had misidentified it as Marble Arch). According to the taste of my saag chicken with rice, the glowing reviews posted in its front windows are justified.

In the morning I had a swim in the hotel pool, then we had breakfast (an excellent mushroom omelette for me) and studied the weather forecasts carefully before checking out. It no longer looked like a good plan to fly north to Tobermory that afternoon unless we wanted to spend the following day in a motel room staring out at the rain, so we chose instead to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens on the edge of Burlington, before flying east again, to Kingston.

The gardens were glorious, informative too. The Mediterranean garden featured plants that grow in the Mediterranean climate (many Australian species here––the scent of eucalyptus takes me straight back to Sydney). In the Hendrie Park gardens on the other side of the road I learned about medicinal plants, etc. while Chris patiently waited for me in the rose garden watching the goldfinches and the butterflies and thinking about the garden scene in Shakespeare's Richard II.

In the (indoor) Mediterranean garden

Entrance to the main gardens, looking towards the Tea Room

Information in the Medicinal Garden

A lovely crop of Echinacea

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Uses of the mini

(our honeymoon car was orange)
The "Mini" used to be a car like the one we took on our honeymoon in 1973, but nowadays it's more likely to be an iPad tablet. We have acquired one as a backup for the other, larger iPad which Chris now uses for IFR navigation in his 'plane. The application for pilots known as Foreflight gives him access to airport information, approach plates and all the usual charts as we fly along and to weather (radar) maps on the ground. As the advert puts it,
Discover the joy of a lighter flight bag and increased situational awareness.
Using his iPad for navigation (photo by Chuck Clark)
Now that we have the same thing on two portable computers, Chris has removed all the old paper charts as well as the cumbersome Canada Flight Supplement from his flight bag and thrown them away! I retrieved some of these from the waste box in case the electronic devices ever let us down, and am hiding them in a cupboard, but as long as we keep Foreflight updated, I'm probably being over cautious.

The iPad Mini only weighs about 300 grams, which, to me, is its best attribute. This will not only serve as a means of communication when I'm away from home; it also means that on short trips I no longer need to bring books, or magazines, or a notebook, or even a camera! I'll have to remember the cable and charger, but they're only tiny.

Nicholas Nickleby takes his revenge on Mr. Squeers
In anticipation of being away next week, I have loaded some free eBooks (c/o Project Gutenberg) onto the device, and am already half way through The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens, which I'm discovering for the first time. Really entertaining!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Forty years on

The heading isn't a reference to the Alan Bennett play but to our marriage. Our 40th wedding anniversary came due this week and we celebrated it by taking a cruise on the river with some friends. All the details are on my other blog, but here's a picture of us that I didn't post there.

40 years ago
I did put the picture on my Facebook page, and my brother-in-law added the comment:
What a time we had, Rosie. What a time we had.
quoting from The African Queen (which has a happy ending, never fear). Yes, it's been a great adventure so far.