Tag Archives: Canada

Canadian wine

Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Wine in the land of the frozen north? Bill, are you taking the piss? Oddly enough no. Mildly irreverent and contemptuous of fools as ever, but no piss taking.

When Mrs S and I first made the jump over to this side of the pond I secretly wondered if I would ever taste a reasonable wine vintage again. At least nothing that was not Australian, New Zealand, a Chardonnay, which is not my favourite grape variety, or hideously expensively imported French. However, it is with significant pleasure I can report that there are some quite reasonable, even remarkable, wines springing full blown from the Okanagan valley. Even at the budget end of the market ($14-20 a bottle).

Although I make no claims to have an educated wine tasters or epicures palate, I do know what is drinkable, and would like to share my top nine vineyards and most liked wines (in no particular order) with whomsoever cares to visit this blog. To set my baseline; I like wines with a pleasant bouquet and nicely rounded flavours that leave little or no aftertaste.

Mission Hill: 2010 Viognier, 2009 Pinot Noir
Quails Gate: 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart Family Special Reserve
Volcanic Hills: 2011 Gewurztraminer
Mt Boucherie: 2011 Pinot Gris, 2010 Gamay Noir
St Hubertus: 2010 Pinot Blanc
Cedar Creek: 2011 Pinot Gris
Gray Monk: 2011 Siegerrebe, 2010 Auxerrois
Intrigue: 2011 Gewurztraminer
Ex Nihilo: 2010 Pinot Noir

Best red: Quails Gate’s 2009 Pinot Noir Stewart Family Special Reserve. No question. By a country mile. Superb. Close second was Mt Boucherie’s 2010 Gamay Noir. Light and nicely balanced.
Best white: A tie between the subtly perfumed but eminently quaffable Gray Monk 2011 Siegerrebe, Cedar Creeks clean and rounded 2011 Pinot Gris and Mission Hill’s perfectly suppable 2010 Viognier. Honourable mention to St Hubertus Pinot Blanc.

We have tasted and purchased bottles of all the above wines and look forward to making suitable occasions to drink them. Did try an Ice Wine, but only one and did not purchase any so any comparison would not be fair. I would also like to mention that no Rose’s were tasted in the writing of this blog.

About the vineyards we visited: Some awards.

Bill Sticker Prize for most impressive goes without contest to Mission Hill. Their open air restaurant is superb and the staff a delight. Beautifully styled grounds. Architecturally stunning.
Bill Sticker Prize for most intimate: This is a toughie, but after due consideration I’d recommend Mt Boucherie. Smallest wine shop, but really worth a visit. Close run second; St Hubertus.
Bill Sticker Low Bullshit Quotient award: St Hubertus. No fancy talk. Small gift shop. Will go again. No question.

Downside: Being charged $5 for tasting three less than impressive wines.
Upside: Incredible views and some surprisingly sippable vintages.

We only managed to visit about sixteen vineyards, but were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of most. There were few disappointments (No names, no pack drill, but SBML knows who I mean), and places I wouldn’t visit again, but they are not mentioned in this post. As for the mentioned; fill your boots. They’re good. Even to a tyro with a Biryani ravaged palate like mine.

There are vineyards we didn’t visit simply because of time pressure. Which means, oh dearie me, heavy sigh, we’ve got to go back there at some stage. Life’s a bitch, eh?

Go to work on an – argh!

For those of you who can remember the old UK egg marketing board adverts, (I can, but I was very young back then) the latest twist is that a researcher in Toronto makes the specious claim that egg yolks are bad for you. Very bad. Nasty. Malign even. Lethal in fact. As bad as (de-dah-DAAAHHHH!) smoking. You are all doomed. Sorry but there you are. You have to die of something, and egg yolks are back on the ‘NO’ list.

No doubt we will soon be told that grocery stores will become ‘egg free zones’. No purchasing of eggs within three metres of the door or ventilation intakes. Plain packaging campaigns for egg cartons. Omelette free zones.

What is the matter with these people? Do they want to live forever? Chickens.

Perhaps Dr Spence never saw this video.

Frankly my dears

… I couldn’t give a damn.

About the bread and circus of the 2012 Olympics.

I’m not anti-sport or spectacle, but there are just too many other things to do and see this side of the globe…….

Our pool awaits. I may be some little time. Call me in September. Maybe.

Re: my previous post

The point I was making, or trying to make; is that lobbying organisations pose as charities by giving the barest of lip service to the work of a charitable institution. If you got that, you will understand how howlingly funny I find the video below.

Yes, give these fake charities taxpayer money to pay for lawyers and lobbyists to lobby for new laws to outlaw and prevent smoking, drinking alcohol, meat eating, Canadian oil pipelines, cheap energy from shale gas and well, everything…….

You’d only spend it on enjoying yourself, anyway.

They do things differently there

Picked up on a couple of news items regarding an Albertan retiree who may face charges of assault after trying to get rid of a doorstepping political candidate who wouldn’t go. Apparently the Retiree in question had signs on his lawn indicating his intent to vote for the Wildrose Alliance party. Yet still the opposing candidate didn’t take the hint and whined when the old man ran out of patience and manhandled him off the property. Too busy talking and not enough listening seems to be the cardinal error here. A certain amount of offence-seeking and previous antipathy between Candidate and Retiree seems to be in evidence.

All the argy-bargy notwithstanding, that got me wondering exactly who the Wildrose Alliance were. So I went and had a look at their policy green book and was mildly impressed.

From my brief reading, their ideas and solutions for Energy development, Education, Free speech, Trimming politicians ‘Golden Goodbyes’, Law and Justice all seem relatively realistic and sound. Worth a deeper read.

Afterwards, Mrs S and I fell to discussing such matters, and our conclusion is that there is a firm dichotomy between predominantly Semi-Rural and Suburban lifestyles. The Suburban is complex, introverted, and safety seeking, while its opposite is simpler (But not always), more outgoing, and not so risk-averse. The Suburban are mainly pro statist solutions, letting ‘Government’ do all the heavy lifting, while the Semi-Rural tend to like less interference, and will predominantly seek their own solutions.

Blog admin

Nothing much happening I care to blog about, so today having mostly caught up on sleep lost since February, I’ve been doing a little sidebar admin. Links have been updated to people who’ve migrated their blogs, and I’ve added a few bits like the climate widget and some science links to various Auroral and Quake monitoring programmes.

The sun is shining, and the great Canadian outdoors is calling, and that’s one call I’m not going to “cop a deaf ‘un” to.

End of Canadian long gun registry.

Just received:

Changes to the Canadian Firearms Program

On April 5, 2012, Bill C-19, Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act, came into effect. The key changes are as follows:

Removal of the requirement to register non-restricted firearms
Destruction of the existing non-restricted firearms registration records
Allowing the transferor of a non-restricted firearm to obtain confirmation of a transferee’s firearms acquisition licence prior to the transfer being finalized

Until further notice, due to a Court Order issued by the Quebec Superior Court, residents of Quebec are still required to register non-restricted firearms with the RCMP Canadian Firearms Program.

It is important to note that the new law does not change the requirement for all individuals to hold a licence in order to possess a firearm. The licensing, safety training and safe storage requirements for anyone who uses or owns a firearm continue to be in force.

The legislation also does not impact registration requirements for restricted or prohibited firearms.

Update: A subsidiary thought occurs that the new regulations on Ammunition storage are a business opportunity for the makers and fabricators of suitably sized heavy duty lockable boxes.

Auroras and Sunstorms

Well, never mind the odd missing Server and a few 500 series errors, there might be real fireworks within the next twenty four hours. The little G class star from which all our solar energy flows is having a bit of a hiccup. An X5 solar flare no less. Not quite a Carrington event, but it looks like I might even be lucky enough to see my first ever Aurora borealis down here near the 49th parallel if the predictions hold good.

My Skymaster binoculars are on standby, and I shall be out on my deck in the predawn hours wrapped up warm with camera at the ready and a very large mug of hot coffee.

For those interested in events of this nature, the Canadian Space Science site has this real time auroral monitoring page. The NASA OVATION prediction page here.

Update: Bit of a disappointment so far. Too much cloud, and the view line is still a few hundred miles away, north of the Queen Charlotte Islands Heavy sigh. I was getting quite excited about that. Never mind. It’s not over yet, and there’s been a lot of flare activity over the past 12 months. Still, there was a nice Sunrise first thing. The sun blurring into an elongated vertical oblong through the clouds. Happens most mornings this time of year. I’m told it’s something to do with sunlight diffusing through ice crystals.

Update: Thursday 8th March 20:45 PST. Just had a look at the latest predictions for the Auroral ovals. If the current activity keeps up and there are a few clear patches, there’s a chance that even Seattle might get a glimpse. I’m hoping for a clear patch of sky to the north around 23:30 PST.

Update Friday 9th March 13:25 PST. Occasional vague green flickerings on the horizon in the early hours, but nothing more to report because of the cloud. Oh well, perhaps next time, or maybe when I’m further north some time.

Taxes

Mrs S and I have just finished compiling our tax returns for the Canadian tax man. The file has just been fired off to our accountants who will cut and paste the figures into our online tax forms. They will send us a bill, which we have put money by to pay, and then we’ll cough up. Relatively painless, and as long as you’re honest, they don’t bother you much.

Unlike the UK where HMRC think every cash transaction is ‘cheating’ the tax man, to which my response is a curt “Who earned the fucking money in the first place, sunshine?” Now I do not mind paying a reasonable tax burden, but what HMRC and their political masters have forgotten is that it wasn’t their money to start with, and they owe the taxpayer a duty of care not to piss public funds up the wall.

A small act of rebellion

See picture below. This just under the external electricity meter for our little domicile. The notice below was posted there by our landlord.

These notices have been appearing all over BC. According to some sources at as many as one in 12-15 households. Gossip has it that Bill Van Der Zalm, ex Provincial Premier, is just one of the many voices behind this campaign, including the Greens oddly enough (As ‘Smart Meters’ are supposed to be a ‘Green’ power solution). Rumours also abound about the Meters reliability and safety.

Gossip has it that the Corix installers are instructed to leave meters or premises with this notice on alone.

Gossip has it that BC Hydro, when the rollout of ‘Smart Meters’ is complete, will cut off the electricity supply of any premises that do not have a ‘Smart Meter’ installed.

Gossip also has it that BC Hydro has only three people in the entire Province capable of fixing ‘Smart Meters’ if they go wrong. Apparently they fired the rest.

Word is that the threats are baseless, and premises will not be disconnected, as legal challenges are already prepared to hit the courts.

Now as far as the health concerns go, I’m of the mind that they are baseless and with about as much credence as the ‘Cell phone radiation causes Cancer’. However, I personally am opposed to the idea of Smart Meters on purely economic and Health and Safety grounds. Some of the models being installed have had issues with overheating, and there is a very real fire risk. Especially where wood frame building methods are the norm. On economic grounds because BC Hydro are reported to have doubled or tripled the electricity bills of premises equipped with Smart Meters. On the basis that this will increase my rent and other base living costs for no good reason, I am further opposed to the installation of Smart Meters.

Despite the growing opposition, the current BC leadership have brushed off dissenting voices as being of the tinfoil hat persuasion. Yet the opposition grows. If I was the current BC leadership, I’d be looking for a fallback strategy over this issue, because this is how they lost the HST referendum. It may well be how they lose the next Provincial and Federal Elections.

Whatever happens, it’s going to get really interesting really quickly. Log store topped up, propane tank full, generator ready……

Update: The head of BC Hydro has just resigned, seemingly over political interference from the Provincial Government. Well, well, well.

Meanwhile…….

Over here on Vancouver Island…..

In a meeting this afternoon I introduced myself as ‘The token Englishman’. Good meeting, lots of ground covered. Stuff organised without fuss and bother. People have heard my accent and diplomatically tiptoed away from the subject of wall to wall riot reports.


This evening Mrs S and I went to see ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ a Spielberg Sci-fi / Western / Horror romp. In the queue outside one of our two local multiplexes we took our place in line, only to be handed a free two for one ticket by a complete stranger. Not a promo worker, just someone who had saved up a bunch of special offers and handed them out to the queue. So we had the added bonus of getting in half price. Enjoyed the movie thoroughly with Mrs S hanging tightly onto my arm during the shlocky bits where the monsters almost leap out of the screen at you.

Walked outside, in the middle of town with the highway less than a hundred metres away. You know what? Without a siren in earshot. Not a Cop, a Fire Engine or Ambulance. The traffic barely a whisper. In the car park there was no discord. No shouting, no arguments, just a little far off good natured joshing between friends. Even in my relatively quiet town of origin in England that would almost be unthinkable. Every day was punctuated with sirens of one sort or another.

There are days on this Earth, in this locale, with the neighbours and space we have, that it seems like this part of Vancouver Island is the place God comes to chill with the locals on his time off. Although I’m sure some selfish self-entitled tosser will try and ruin it at some stage. But for the moment we have peace. I intend to savour it while it lasts.

Buy Canadian, buy ethical

Who’d a’thunk it? Ethical oil adverts. Web site here.

‘Dirty’ tar sands? Or ‘cleaning up the worlds biggest natural oil spill?’ You decide.

Compare and contrast

Living in BC as I do, and currently passing through Europe. I’m minded to compare and contrast my own experiences at the various customs points and checkins.

Local airport, Canada; Small, clean, friendly, and apologetic for all the security checks. Got all our boarding passes issued and luggage checked in for the whole three flight hop. Flew to Vancouver with barely a murmur, apart from a minor delay down to air traffic. Passed through Vancouver airport without a secondary check as we were in transit. Almost stepped straight through onto our transatlantic flight without breaking step. Couldn’t sleep much on the overnight, but that’s nothing unusual for me. Too much background noise. However, we’d spent the extra money on the extra legroom seats, so there was no repeat of last year’s air cattle truck experience.

Arrive in Europe; although we haven’t left the airport system, we have to pass through one of those whole body scanners and I still got frisked, as no one had bothered to look at the zip leg trousers I was wearing and wondered where those funny lines were on the whole body scanner. At least we passed through immigration fairly quickly as the desks were fully staffed (for a change). Quite frankly I don’t make a fuss about the security and just treat it as one more minor indignity, even if the operators appear as baffled by the technology as most travellers.

Ah yes, I have a few carefully chosen words for Google. Having had four gmail email addresses since it was in beta, I am quite frankly highly pissed off that I can’t access my email from my wife’s laptop in europe. I am now in the process of migrating to a more flexible webmail system that I can access from wherever I fucking well please without some cuntish crap to ‘verify’ who I am because I’m on a business trip. Isn’t that the whole idea of a webmail based system? To enable travel and mobile access to communication? Well chuckleheads, if Google can’t build a modestly secure webmail login system, their ‘product’, useful though it has been, is now far too unwieldy and user unfriendly for my purposes. Time to migrate.

As an additional note; if Google has lost me money because I can’t remotely access my email. I am currently considering legal action. Their new ‘security’ means I am now effectively out of touch. No email means no business, no business means no money. Needless to say, they are not my favourite people right now. However, you get what you pay for, and since their service is free, it appears to have gone one quantum leap further and become completely worthless. This means I will have to wait until returning home to access my webmail. Which rather defeats the object of the exercise.

Warming? What warming?

We have a solar heated swimming pool. The weather has been so unusually cool that it will not get warm enough to use this year. Last year we were already taking dips to cool off.

Mt Washington has ski runs open in late June FFS!

Reduced snow melt means local water restrictions.

I can see snow covered mountains from my front deck. There’s usually much less on the coastal ranges by now.

Yet publicity hounds like David Suzuki and his camp followers are claiming that the current warming will be disastrous. Current warming? Where? I’d like to bloody see some.

EU Referendum has already taken a pop or two at these people and their delusions. Science? More like a bunch of whack jobs waiting for the comet / rapture / farcical non event.

Don’t even get me started on what utter nonsense the whole ‘cooling is warming’ is. Then again I’m using mark 1 eyeball and not some fancy scmancy computer model.

Yo! Canada!

First seen here on Wattsupwiththat. This is going to piss off a lot of pseudo-environmentalists, but there will be no Federally mandated Carbon tax in Canada. Yes! (Punches air in delight) There is hope.

“It’s off the table,” he (Environment Minister Peter Kent) told reporters Thursday after accepting an award from World Wildlife Fund International on behalf of Parks Canada.
“There’s no expectation of cap-and-trade continentally in the near or medium future.”

Now all we have to do is pressure the BC Provincial government into dropping their Carbon levy on gas and it’ll be a summer to really celebrate.

Oh, and the ban on incandescent light bulbs has been set back.  (Walks of whistling happy tune).