Give em the Slip!

RabbitSnareWas reading through some old posts the other day, and seeing mention of my buddy Eric, and also of my Uncle, Larry Leawood, I was reminded of tailing slips.  I think pretty much every young boy has experienced this back home, and likely most continue to do so as long as they can.

For the non Newfoundlander, or perhaps for some of those too, you CFA’s know them as rabbit snares, but they’ll always be rabbit slips to me.  Essentially, they are a loop of wire tailed in a rabbit trail used to catch rabbits for eating.

Back in older days, slips were always made out of this…. braided? not sure the right term right now, but was made up of many many filaments, and was nearly impossible, for me anyway, to keep it in a loop shape without it twisting.  I still remember buying it, and the newer alunimum? wire at Handy Andy’s back in the day. Part of the fun I think was interacting with Stan and Dennis, but you could buy the wire and the licence nearly anywhere.

I also remember playing with the old filamented wire on the old flashlight batteries, and having the little ends glow red hot, but I digress.

Often times, you could tell who owned a slip in the woods, just by looking at it, as they were often as unique as the person who tailed them.  Uncle Larry for example always tied his on with a granny knot, while others made their loops in slightly different ways or shapes.  You’d often see them tailed in the same rabbit run year after year, and others you’d see someone make a spot to tow the rabbits, chopping down some tasty young birch and making a run of your own to tail your slip in.

This wasn’t done for fun, though it can be fun too, but rabbits were and are a big addition to the winter food store.  And quite tasty to boot, I’d like to have a freezer full right now!

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Lion’s Fall Fair

Crown and Anchor

It’s not quite fall yet, but school has started and the nights have started to cool off (thankfully, need it for sleeping!) so its getting closer. Back before I moved away, and quite possibly still, the Random Lion’s Club used to put off a fall fair as a fund raiser, and for that matter a fun raiser!

Its amazing how time flies by, and I can’t even remember much about it now, but I do remember there being games of chance (crown and anchor anybody?), food (fish n brewis I think? Moose burgers maybe?) and the hightlight (for some anyway, young boys/men included) a queen of the fair competition.  I can still see Warren Brooking, Bert Crummey, Allison Bugden, and many others I’ve not seen (and in some cases won’t again) in years.

I am pretty sure there was also a vegetable show and sale, perhaps with prizes? I don’t rightly remember, but I do remember seeing some nice Newfoundland Blue potatoes (mail me some!), and of course carrots, turnips, cabbages etc.

But most of all, it was a social event, a “time” if you will, a time for everyone, young and old to get together and shoot the breeze, have fun, and celebrate.

Anyone have memories to share?

Brush that Stout off your Back! And Mind the Hornets!

Berries

Its that time of year, or it was when I was younger anyway, berry pickin time!

Really I guess there are multiple berry picking times, we go for Bakeapples in July usually, and Partridgeberries in September or even October, but when you mention berries to me, the first that come to mind are Raspberries and Blueberries, probably because they were so plentiful so close to home.

We’d sometimes go as a family, but often as not, I would go alone, or me and Eric would go off somewhere. We didn’t have to look very far usually. I loved picking blueberries, not sure why them since there was more bending over, but I did. There was a patch just to the right of the old road leading from the old school garden in Apsey Brook, and there was no trouble to pick a gallon or more there in a short time, some as big as marbles.

Whats odd to me, is that I never really cared for raw blueberries, I find the kinda tasteless, but still loved picking them. But once they were home and in a blueberry pudding, well then, yum!

Raspberries on the other hand, I loved raw, but disliked picking. There were a couple of reasons for that I guess. One, they were hard to pick clean (ie: with no leaves and all good berries) mainly because they ripened fast and spoiled fast and you’d always have some ones with spots on them. Another reason was there were always stouts around. Anyone from Newfoundland knows what a stout is, annoying as hell, always pitching on your back, bites as hard as hell when they do, and nearly impossible to swat. They have a black bar across their wings, and apparently are properly known as deer flies.

And lastly another reason I hated picking them was because a lot of the bushes grew amongst old dead falls back home, or at least the easily accessible ones, and there was always a hornets nest somewhere around. Even if you didn’t step in a nest, you were likely to get a sting from a hornet somewhere along the line. nasty bastards, they are mean, and like to sting just for pleasure I think.

The thought of stouts and hornets always reminds me of Lloyd Colbourne and Newfoundland Outdoors. There was an episode where I can remember now Lloyd saying “Brush that stout off your back there Bryce!”

The Afterglow

Maybe I heard it somewhere else, or maybe I can attribute it to me, but the recurring thought I’ve had since yesterday is: Some people are a candle, a flame burning brightly. I am not one of those, but I hope that the light illuminates me, and I gain something in the afterglow.

Many people have come and gone since the advent of social media, may celebrities, sports stars, and ordinary people have lost to their demons or just the normal part of life that is the ending, yet, for me at least, I’ve never seen an outpouring of sustained sadness from everyone, without dissent, that I’ve seen for Robin Williams since yesterday (and dissenters need not show up here and now).

I’m no celebrity expert, heck I’d not know most of them if the bit my ankles (which I’ve heard they are inclined to do). But Robin Williams was special, he had a gift, a gift to lift us, to make us smile, no matter how we felt. I don’t know anyone who didn’t find at least some of his material hysterical, and his ability to improvise was amazing.

Its unfortunate them that he had no soul that could lift him. We’ve all had our Robin’s in our lives, those whose demons became too much.  We are learning more about them every day. Support often seems hard to find, but its there, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places.

For what its worth, I’m here, for whoever.  I don’t have answers, I don’t have solutions, but maybe, just maybe, we can share a laugh, or a cry.

Rest in Peace all you flames, and those who you’ve illuminated.

Paths

Granny Walter's Hill, Old Road to Petley.

Granny Walter’s Hill, Old Road to Petley.

Apsey Brook, and even Random Island aren’t/weren’t highly populated places, but we seemed to have an abundance of paths around. It always amazed me how long they lasted, with not a ton of traffic to keep them without becoming grown over and disappearing in the brush.

I’m sure that likely has happened more so back in Apsey Brook in recent years because there are even less people now than was once the case.

But still, memories return of paths.  So many of them.  There was one from the old road down by the old bridge and Uncle Luther’s mill all the way to Uncle Hay’s, and yes even further though less plain all the way down to Colin’s house across the old garden.

There was one around Ross’s fence the sheep used to take to get down to the beach area up to the old school garden area.  There was one from Sam’s meeting the old road, and of course the old road itself that ran from over by Edgar Martin’s all the way to Petley! And of course off shoots everywhere, to get to all the ponds and berry patches along the way.

One from McGrath’s Cove to Friggen’s Cove Rattle, and likely beyond.  Paths to the steadies and to the barrens where Dad would tail slips for rabbits.

I’m sure each community had the same, as over the fields and through the stands of trees, and over the bog holes we’d make our way.

Just another memory of home, and the freedom we had, and something that stays with me over time as I think about how they formed, and how they remain.

Not London Day 5

Dear Paris, two words…. Air Conditioning!

Thursday I had an early start, getting up at 4:50ish London time to get to the St. Pancras Eurostar Station for 6:00 to meet the tour people.  We got our tickets, and instructions and then went through bag check, passport check etc and got on board our train, which left at about 7:30. We traveled the 213 miles or so in about 2 hours on the train, which was pretty smooth and comfortable. It has a bar and food on board, tho I didn’t avail, but all in all I much prefer it to flying!

Once there, we departed and met our guide at the station.  This tour was in some ways the most disappointing of the three I took as we didn’t have a dedicated tour bus, but rather were availing of one of the hop on hop off services (with no air conditioning) with the guide just interjecting some.  We traveled around and saw the opera house, and the stopped near the Eiffel tower.

We didn’t head there right away though, first we took a quick cruise on the Siene. That was very nice but not overly conducive to taking pictures because of the lexiglass sides and bad angles, but was nice to see museums, the Louvre, Notre Dame cathedral etc from the water. It was a hot hot day, 30 degrees Celsius, and the trip on the water had a nice cooling effect as well.

After the cruise we wen’t to a restaurant for lunch, again no air conditioning, and oh yeah, the water wasn’t cold either! After lunch we went back to the Eiffel Tower and some went up to the observation deck, this didn’t appeal to my dislike of heights so I just stayed down, relaxed in the shade and took some pictures.  Of course we also had the most brain dead tourist ever with us, who had already gotten lost once and caused us to miss time while the guide tracked him down.  Up on the tower, he decided to come down early without telling anyone and made the rest of the tour search for him for 20 minutes more wasting everyone’s time!

After that, we fought our way through traffic (I would never drive in Paris, its like those pictures you see of India!) to Notre Dame cathedral, seeing the Louvre, the Opera House and other things who’s name escapes me now en route.  After that we went to the opera district, but because of “our friend” we really didn’t get much time to do anything other than get a snack at the House of Lindt.

From there our Paris excursion came to an end, heading back to the train station for the uneventful trip back to London.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Louvre

Louvre

River Sienne

River Sienne

Flame of Liberty

Flame of Liberty

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Luxor Obelisk

Luxor Obelisk

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

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St. Pancras Station

 

London Day 4

Today was the day I came to London for, the day of the Monty Python reunion show.  But that wasn’t till 6 o’clock.  So, as I wanted to see some things that I had seen on the bus in more detail, I bought a day pass for the London Underground for 9 pounds, and around 8:30 took off from the hotel to find the famous department store Harrods.  I walked quite a ways to the underground station (probably a couple kilometers) mainly because it was new to me, and I really had no idea what was involved in transfers, so I went to a station that was on a direct line to the station near Harrods.

The trip once aboard took 10 minutes or so and I got there shortly after 9 to find that the store didn’t open till 10, doh! Guess I should have checked.  So I walked around the block to look around, to find that Harrods IS the block, the store takes up a whole city block.  I can’t remember how many floors there are (Google says 7), but I do remember the guides saying it has over a million square feet of retail space.  Easy to believe!  I walked through and looked around some, not everywhere, but some, was quite overwhelming, with many luxurious things I didn’t even want to think of the price of!  I’m not a shopping lover, but I’m sure there are people who could spend days wandering inside!

From there I caught the tube again and this time did take a transfer and went to the Westminster area to get a better look at the Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament.  All so beautiful, and all stone, hard to really fathom how old things are in Europe! I took some pictures, heard Big Ben chime 11, and headed back to home base to get some food and relax a bit.

Wandered around the local neighborhood for an hour or two, then lay down for a bit because I had an early start planned for Thursday and knew I would be fairly late from the show.

I left the hotel around 5:30 and took the 2 minute walk to the local station, caught the tube, transferred at Waterloo (seems so odd to say these names I’ve always heard in relation to doing things myself) and from there to North Greenwich, just outside the O2 stadium.  Looked around at the overly outrageously priced souveneirs and when the doors opened made my way to my seat, where I nearly panicked and left! I’ve been to arenas here in North America, but I really don’t recall the nosebleed section being so steep! felt like I was on the side of a cliff.  Anyway, I was able to relax after a bit, and just focus on the stage (I have anxiety issues, not just being a total wuss here) and made it through. Once the lights were down, it was much better, and once the laughs started, it was great.

Monty Python did a lot of thier classic sketches,  Argument, Four Yorkshiremen, Cheese Shop, Parrot, Spanish Inquisition, etc) but I think the biggest laugh for me was seeing how much fun they appeared to be having.  John Cleese in particular was unable to say his lines a couple times because he was laughing so hard, and in the Cheese Shop sketch, Michael Palin said to him something like: gesturing at the audience, “You know all these people have home to get to” to which John, through laughter said “Then why didn’t you come up with a punch line?” and then they walked off laughing together.

The show ended at 10:30, with an attendance of about 16000.  Was wondering how long the return journey would take, wasn’t sure how many could jam into a train!  But I was back in my hotel from that size of an event in 30 minutes (10 miles per google), amazing really.  Just think how long it takes to get home from a Mooseheads game!

Some pictures from the day:

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King Richard

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Argument

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Nudge nudge

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I’m a Lumberjack

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Four Yorkshiremen

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The O2 Arena

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Another building near the O2

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Westminster Abbey

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Big Ben

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Harrods

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Parliament

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Parliament Entrance way

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Westminster Abbey