Monday, 7 May 2012

Friday, 9 March 2012

Caught in the act?

It was Wednesday morning; the garbage bins were lined up for a feast - but this little fella was being tailed by a horde of noisy crows. He seemed to be looking for somewhere to hide!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Picnic places

Today's snowy weather seems to have suppressed demand for Whalebone's favourite picnic spots.  Amazingly, there was no-one dining out in either Hummingbird or Blue Heron Park.

No diners, maybe..... but the views were still spectacular!

Snow morning at Nanaimo Airport

This morning I had a conversation with my daughter in England - went something like this : Air Canada has changed my flight times, I now only have 45 minutes to transfer in Nanaimo on my way back. Nanaimo flights aren't delayed too often are they?

No, of course not I said. And out of curiosity I checked how YCD was coping with this morning's snow. It's 0930 and that's the 0740 to Vancouver sitting on the apron shivering. The 0605 should be boarding soon....

By 0945 a path has appeared from the departure gate to the waiting aircraft (out of sight to the left)

and eager passengers throng to the plane at 0955
It's 1010 and the Vancouver flight makes a dash for the runway (above), only to return to the terminal (below) at 1030. 

 After de-icing and more ploughing (or is that plowing?) it's off again - and it's now 1108.

ok, so there are some slight delays to arrivals into Vancouver - but you'll be fine!
 Oh, and the 0740 finally left Nanaimo at 1245. No problem!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Missed opportunities

It's great to see that Port Place mall in Nanaimo is finally starting to re-emerge with some retailers and services moving into the shops facing the new roadway that will eventually run up the centre of the revelopment.

Such a pity though that it looks like the area has already been set out as just another parking lot - wouldn't it have been so much better for Gabriolans if the street layout had been designed to accommodate a new transit exchange? 
Instead we will still have to walk to the top end of Front Street for buses to the hospital, and (in March) we hear that the 'express' bus to Woodgrove (replacing routes 8 and 9) will no longer serve  Port Place, but will instead follow the same route as the hospital buses, departing from the top of Front Street, close to the Service Canada building. Only the snail-pace #1 bus to Woodgrove will serve Port Place - and that's hardly going to entice us to leave our cars behind, is it?

No doubt the thousands that were spent on 'upgrading' the Prideaux exchange rule out the common sense alternative of relocating the terminal to the new Port Place. Foresight? I don't think so. 

Don't mess the seats......

So finally we have some decent seats back in Quinsam - well, the same seats really but with some padded seats and backs bolted on.
Strangely, we're told these were "left over" when alternative seats were ordered for the Bowen Queen. They're a one-time opportunity though - and if they're vandalised, they're gone.

Within days, notices have appeared in Quinsam's lounges indicating that some damage has already been reported - and (if the perpetrators can be identified from the security CCTV footage) the RCMP will be brought in.  Let's hope there's something on the CCTV tape - and if it's not enough to identify those involved, maybe BC Ferries will post the images in the lounge so someone else can identify them.

After all, as the notice says, if it happens again we'll all be "back sitting on cold, hard metal seats". Now, I'm trying to remember - did BC Ferries tell us at the time that we would be getting "cold, hard metal seats" as part of the $16m refit?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Just a hop away.....

For those of us who have travelled through airports in Vancouver, Seattle or London, the greatest frustration is the time spent standing in line for check-in,  security, and at the boarding gate. Then, when you arrive it starts all over again at immigration, at customs control and baggage reclaim.

It's a world-wide problem - and all for our own good, we're told - but it really does put the 'pain' into plane travel.  We've flown to many destinations in Europe with 'budget' airlines that seek out smaller (and presumably less costly) regional airports and although these are often remote from the cities that they claim to serve, it's always a pleasure to discover how much more relaxed and friendly those smaller airports are. Many of them, and the communties they serve, depend heavily on tourism for their economic survival and with just a handful of flights each day, it's surprising just how much effort some airports make to woo the traveller back. My personal favourite has to be Nimes, France which handles a mere handful of flights each day to Britain and Belgium, yet boasts (for me) one of the best restaurants in town - the “Côté Sud”  open lunchtimes only, with a daily 3-course menu for just 15 euros ($20). It's worth checking in early for an afternoon flight just to experience the restaurant!

Nearer to home, Nanaimo Airport strives to achieve that same excellence in customer service - especially for long-haul Air Canada passengers who can avoid the long check-in lines at YVR with check-in and security this side of the water. 

With no more than 50 passengers to check-in for each flight, the whole process is completed in a matter of minutes, leaving you time to relax before your short flight to Vancouver. And yes, you can hop outside to talk to the bunnies while you wait!

Facilities for passengers are, in fairness, functional rather than exciting - yet the calmness and cleanliness of the surroundings go some way to making up for the lack of things to do. 

So what are the downsides of travelling through Nanaimo airport? 
Well, cost can be a factor - though not always its seems. Flying from between Nanaimo and Ottawa in February can cost just just $40 more than flying from Vancouver.  Flying transatlantic to London, the cost difference can be $75 - again, less than the cost of a one-way floatplane ride to YVR.  However, book a flight from London to Nanaimo on the same dates and the extra cost rockets to almost $300! It's time that Air Canada acknowledged the value of incoming business as well as offering inducements to local passengers.

There's also the question of getting to the airport. Nimes Airport, 22km from Nimes itself, provides a shuttle bus meeting each flight for just 5 euro (under $7) each way. That's $2 less than the cheapest advance fare from Nanaimo to the airport by Greyhound bus (connections not guaranteed) and just a quarter of the price of using the Nanaimo Airporter shuttle. 

Nanaimo Airport Commission's mission statement is “To provide a safe, efficient and financially viable airport, offering excellent services and value to all users while fostering economic development.”   It seems that their objectives of excellence and value to users have yet to be embraced by some of their partner organisations. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

BC Ferries closes Duke Point until further notice

I wondered why there was no 3.15 departure from Duke Point today. Now we know!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

My perspective

No matter how long I spend gazing our from our home across the Georgia Strait to the Sunshine Coast, I still cannot reconcile the fact that this view is pretty much the same distance away as the French coastline is from the cliffs of Dover. 

There's not much of the Pas-de-Calais to see from Dover Castle - and even from Cap Gris Nez, the cliffs of Dover seem incredibly distant and small.

So I'm still blown away by the sheer scale of the view from our window - and in some light conditions it's just begging for a photo. And yes, I can cheat a little using a telephoto lens.

Yet there remain so many unanswered questions. Where is the horizon?  My guess is that the sea ends about 8-10 miles out. But how much of the Sunshine Coast is hidden below the horizon? And most perplexing of all, how many trees are there in this picture? Answers on a postcard please. You may need to click on the picture to view it larger.

As others see us......

After three years, I'm still discovering Gabriola - and it's often difficult to describe the place to those who've never been.

Such was the challenge set to a group of ethnology students enrolled at Royal Roads University in Victoria - to describe the meaning of Gabe in a postcard and 400 words. 

The result? Well, take a look for yourself here on the Royal Roads website.

This series offers a view of our island culture that maybe we're all still discovering........