Kate and Will’s Farewell

It was an action packed week for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. It was the youngster’s first debut into the celebrity status that they’ll have to endure all of their lives, but by the time they left, both seemed quite comfortable with the adoring crowds and cameras watching their every move. George and Charlotte spent most of their time at Government House in Victoria, where they they were made to feel quite at home. Royal watchers caught glimpses of the children at play. The kids even spent some time at Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay.

Meanwhile, from their Government House base, their parents did a whirlwind tour of British Columbia, spending time in Vancouver in the Downtown Eastside, taking in wineries in the Okanagan. up to Haida Gwaii,  and then up to Whitehorse. Their itineraries have been well covered in local and national media, and I won’t dwell on them in detail here.

Here in Victoria, there were two main opportunities to see, and if one was very lucky, to interact with the Duke and Dutchess – Wills and Kate. When they arrived offered the greatest opportunities, but huge crowds made it impossible to get close. Some people staked out their spots along the royal route hours in advance.

On their final day, we went to the Ogden Point breakwater. Kate and Wills were scheduled to ride a tall ship. It was a situation of hurry up and wait, but being part of the crowd in a celebratory mood is a big part of the experience. As their motorcade drove by, I did manage to get a shot of the royal couple in their limo. Following are some photos of the scene at the breakwater.

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Here they come!

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Here they are! “Hi John”, Wills calls out.

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The Breakwater was packed

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A tall ship off Ogden Point

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Lots of interesting people.

A few hours later, we went to the Inner Harbor to bid farewell to the Royal family as they departed via float plane for Vancouver, and then home. I’ll bet they were exhausted, with all of the meeting and greeting, handshaking and talking they have to do, all the while looking attentive and happy.

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A fond farewell –  Christy Clark  in red

 

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Heavy Lifting -Scottish Style

Highland Games 56 pound weight throwAye, The 2016 Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival  was a braw celebration. The skirl of the pipes from a dozen or more bands mingled with the grunts, groans and yells of the ‘heavy events’ athletes. These days, the heavy events are in the spirit of sportsmanship but their origins date back centuries to the Scottish highlands. When they weren’t  fighting a neighboring clan, or joining forces to fight the English, the crafty highlanders devised imaginative ways to challenge each other. The modern iterations are the ‘heavy events’. It used to be that the heavy events were just for the lads – but nae mair! Modern lassies, proving themselves just as daft as the lads, take their turns, too.

Heavy events include shot-putting a big rock, in highland games jargon imaginatively enough called ‘the stone’. Then there’s the weight throw. Kilts fly high as competitors twirl  at dizzying speed and then launch the implement. It soars high in the air, bruising the ground with a thud and leaving a small crater. Not an event appreciated on manicured lawns.

The ‘hammer’ doesn’t actually look much like one. It’s an iron ball attached to long shaft.  Competitors wear shoes with long knives protruding from the toes. They dig these into the ground to keep their feet in place and use their arms and torso to rotate the hammer several times before letting go. A chiropractor is on hand for spinal re-alignments.

The ‘weight-over-bar’ event is a one-handed effort. The thrower assumes a crouched position, legs apart, and swings the weight back and forth to build momentum and then heaves it upward and backwards to clear a crossbar. It’s a risky venture if the competitor doesn’t angle it just right – and it comes down on his – or her head.

Heavy events are among the most popular draws at highland festivals, and ‘throwing the caber’ is the most popular. The caber toss an improbable looking endeavor where  competitors hoist and balance a large pole, run with it and then try to ‘tun it over’- flipping it end over end. Another uniquely Scottish invention.

Heaving an empty beer keg down the field is usually the final event – the full keg saved for aprez- games camaraderie.

Yes, I write fiction, but improbable as these events seem, I’m really not making them up. Click on the u-tube link for a video of the ‘heavy events’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28QFio97Nnk

Next post – Bagpipes – a weapon of war.

Crime fiction meets reality

RCMP Dive recovery team

A friend, similarly inclined to pen nefarious fictional crime plots, e-mailed me about a RCMP open house. Always striving to make scenes realistic, it was an opportunity not to be missed. As a former diver, I was drawn to the recovery dive team. Their  display showcased state of the art diving gear, and a command van complete with a compressor for refilling air tanks. Working in pairs, the divers wear helmets fitted with cameras linked to surface monitors, providing extra eyes  on search areas that often have poor visibility. In my soon to be released book, The Douglas Document – Betrayal, a police dive team recovers a body from the Inner Harbor in Victoria.

At 33,000 pounds, the Tactical Armored Vehicle (TAV) is used for hostage and armed standoff situations. It makes a Hummer look small. The TAV houses eight Tactical Team (TAC) members in a compartment that rivals a bank vault security. The friendly TAC team member on hand to answer questions, advised that just the arrival of the TAV at a scene often results in a quick resolution. Yeah, that would do it for me. When the eight guys in the back of the TAV come out, it’s a big problem for whoever is unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end. In my second Douglas Document book – Retribution – there is a hostage situation, but no TAV or TAC team – just Scott Rockland,  my stalwart detective, his crippled partner, Liz Bailey, and an RCMP Sergeant.TAV RCMP

 

 

 

The police dogs and their trainers were amazing. To the dogs, it’s all play – fun and games. Police dogs are German Shepherd specially bred for police work. The first  was a young dog in training. The second was a three year old animal with that classic police dog look – sleek and powerful. The ability of the dogs to focus in the midst of multiple distraction is truly amazing. Police dogs don’t appear in any of my stories yet – but it could happen.

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Nice puppy!

Forensic identification is always of interest to me. There was a finger print display, and an exercise at matching. The RCMP member explained crime scene examination and techniques for collecting evidence and taking foot imprints. DNA evidence figures prominently in crime investigation – guilt or innocence may depend on a single hair. Items carefully collected at crime scenes are sent to the RCMP forensic laboratory for analysis.

If you have thoughts or information about crime scene investigation, stories you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve Been Published!

I’m excited to announce that my short story, Dancing on the River, was selected for publication in the Summer 2013 edition of the Island Writer Magazine – the literary journal of Vancouver Island and the Gulf islands.
Dancing on the River is a work of creative non fiction. The story setting is the coulees and river bottom near Lethbridge, Alberta. The story is posted on this website.

Click on the following link
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Dancing on the River cover pic

BLOODY WORDS 2012

Bloody Words Mascot

This time last year I was introduced to the world of fiction writing when the Bloody Words Conference was held in Victoria. At that time, I was about half way into writing my first novel The Douglas Document.  Sometimes, I didn’t feel like I was making much progress, but taking a few minutes to look in the rear-view mirror, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. I’ve finished the first book ( until I decide to make more changes) and I’m about two-thirds into a second. I’ve also written two short stories and have started another novel – this one is a crime fiction mystery.

The book  that started out as ‘Killing Time in Victoria’ transformed into ‘The Douglas Document,’ a title that captures the essence of the book. At the Bloody Words conference this year, I ‘pitched’ the book to an agent. She asked for a synopsis and the first few chapters – always a good sign.

I also received a manuscript evaluation from Mel Bradshaw, a published author from Toronto and a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. Mel’s comments were both  encouraging and instructive.

The Bloody Words conference was very good again this year. The highlight for me was the attendance of Gayle Lynds, international spy thriller writer. ie  ‘Masquerade, Mosaic and The Book of Spies to mention a few. Gayle is an excellent speaker and did some very informative sessions – like the seven secrets of writing a thriller.