Sunday, December 25, 2005


Christmas morning cannot go without at least one sibling fight.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Jasmine gets ready to go outside in the deep snow

Angela commandeered my camera during her Christmas visit to Canada and posted most of the pictures to her blog before I could. So, I have been left a few... but few worth publishing. Angela took this image of her grandmother's dog.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hikin' through a winter wonderland

Apps Mill makes a great winter wonderland.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Respect for the Road (and other Road Users)

When we moved to England I had heard the horror stories of Canadians (American’s too) picking up a rental car at Heathrow and travelling only a few miles before abandoning the vehicle because they could not grasp driving on the left side of the road, or they lost it when they could not master that first roundabout (in a clockwise direction).

I too was very nervous the first time out. I picked my rental car at Marble Arch (not Heathrow). The strategy was to take the Underground out of the city core. Marble Arch, I thought, would be in the west side enabling me to catch the A4 to go west toward Bath. Little did I know that Marble Arch is one of the busiest places in London. I had to learn real quick…

Roundabouts took a bit of mastering... think left… but look right.

The roundabouts range in size from mini to the size of a large city block in Manhattan. You can think of a mini-roundabout as a single lane intersection in North America with a circle painted in the middle of the intersection. They grow in complexity from a single lane circle to multi-lane circles. Some have become so complex and burdened with so much traffic they have installed traffic signals to control the traffic. Then there are those nasty nested roundabouts and multi-joined roundabouts.

Have at look at this UK roundabout…

The Magic Roundabout

Now that we have moved back to Canada I miss proper roundabouts. I am pleased to see, however, roundabouts being installed in some locations throughout Ontario. One particular roundabout reminds me of Europe. It can be found on Townline Road in Cambridge, Ontario. Approaching this roundabout from the north there are two lanes entering the roundabout, making it just a bit more complicated for that unfamiliar Canadian driver.

You can see it here:

In most situations these beat the hell out of a traffic light system. They are designed to keep traffic flowing not stopping it like the traffic light. I have had enough of the traffic light. Who the hell designed this system... Who would design a system where if you want to turn left you are placed facing oncoming traffic that also wants to turn left, but blocks your view of the oncoming traffic--preventing a safe left turn.

Ontario road users do not signal their intentions at roundabouts. Road users should signal right, in the case of an English roundabout, for a right turn before entering the roundabout if they intend to go past the 12 o’clock position of the roundabout (i.e. they are not turning left or going straight). Also they should put the left signal on if they plan to take the first exit on the roundabout. Ontario drivers do not signal their intention when they enter a roundabout.

Once you drive pass the exit immediately before the exit you want, you should signal your exit from the roundabout. Again, Ontario drivers do not signal their intention. Everyone just drives. In Ontario I’m not sure what the kids are being taught when they approach these great ancient inventions—but we need to get it sorted. Any driving instructors (or police officials) want to comment?

While driving in England I had an impression that the English drive way too fast, that the law didn’t care, but road users were generally more polite then those found in Canada (that last comment is so TRUE).

The speeding comment was based on experiences such as driving on narrow crooked roads (with 90 degree turns) at 50 miles per hour—while traffic queued up behind me. Speed limits, in general, are nation wide. They have a national speed limit system.

If you see a sign like this:

…it means you can travel at the national speed limit for that type of road. So you need to know what type of road you are on. On a motorway (i.e. divided highway) the national limit would be 70 mph (for a car). Dual carriageway (2-lane highway) the limit is 60 mph (for a car).

In this way if they decide to change the limit there is no need to change the signs.

Though people break speed limits, the English roads, I think, are becoming safer. They have installed a record number of safety cameras (a.k.a. speed cameras). These are permanently installed or placed in mobile units that take a high quality image of you and your car if you break the speed limit. They are over the country.

The law does not care if you know where they are (ie. Go ahead and purchase a GIS system that tracks them, or buy a camera detector)… they want you to know where they are so you’ll slow down. They claim to make them bright yellow so you can see them when you approach them. Hmmm. If speed kills and you place one of these every 1 mile down the road you might just slow down. Hell, half them don’t work, but you won’t know which ones work from those that don’t work.

In Ontario, the government prevented our Ontario roads from being littered with these cameras. And, the road users are sure to show us that they don’t need or want them. I have never seen so many speeding road users. Eg. 110 km/hour is not uncommon up highway 24 from Brantford to Cambridge in the morning. For those of you not familiar with the speed limit here (and that includes you road users that actually drive on it) it is currently 80 km/hour.

As for my comment about the UK law caring… well, that just isn’t so either. They are out there in full force. In Ontario, I have seen a few cars pulled off the road getting their well-deserved ticket or warning. But, in general, their presence is not there. As I say, in general, I believe this is the case. There are exceptions. I have seen or heard of those days where they go out on a mission, focusing on a specific issue---two-day enforcement program. TWO DAYS—Okay, we will drive safely for just 2 days then. :(

One thing I have been proud of is the way Canadian officials have enforced drunk driving over the years. This is something England was very poor at doing. During the last 2 years however, this has been changing.

Now it’s time to crack down on bad habits, poor driving, impatience on the road, and just plain ignorance of the road rules. I heard on CHUM FM news last week that Toronto had 20+ deaths due to pedestrians being hit by cars. Why… I bet being impatient was a big part of it. “I didn’t see them.” This means I didn’t stop my car and couldn’t be bothered to wait to see who else might be actually using the road.

Instead of waiting to put the pedal to metal at the next red light, observe the other users of the road and to see how they use it. See how many cars you can count that stop at a red light before proceeding to turn right on that red light. Stop means your wheels come to a complete stop (not over the cross walk). Hell, I watched 12 cars in a row not even slow down at the corner of Franklin Road and Chaplain in Cambridge. Did the laws in Ontario change in the past 6 years. Oh, hell, yes, you can turn right on a red as long as you beat the other guy to the intersection… and hell, you are already there... so go.

Come on—let’s enforce the rules. Put the cops back on the road and start fining drivers and maybe drivers will get the message. And, believe me, the officials will be rolling in the revenues.

And, when did it become legal to drive on the shoulder of the road? Last week, while driving north on Highway 24, a driver of a south bound car decided to drive down on the wrong side of the road and then on the east shoulder of the road so he didn't have to wait for north bound traffic.

This week I had a driver turning left in front of me at an intersection. However, he had to floor the engine and race his vehicle to get between the driver in front of me and my car. Can you picture this… as he guns it he now sees a pedestrian crossing the street where he wants to exit the intersection. I had no chance of stopping. I managed to squeak behind his car.

One last point… why are Canadians bitching about the high cost of automobile insurance? I can see why. The insurance industry has two things against it--the high cost of repairs and the high volume of impatient road users. England has the high cost of automobile repairs and my car insurance was £283 for 2005 (okay they bitch about high cost of insurance too...but...). I’ll let you convert that to Cdn $, but I'll bet you’ll have a tough time finding an Ontario insurer to get anywhere near that annual premium.

Watch these videos and listen to these mp3's (all of them) -- and pass these links on to your friends... SLOW DOWN and don't be one of those drivers...

Kill your speed

It’s 30 mph for a reason

Late Morning

Drink Driver – Crash

Mobile Phones 1

Mobile Phones 2

A Perfect Day

Think! Always wear a seatbelt

Always wear a seatbelt

Teenagers are most likely to be killed

Teenagers are most likely to be killed 2

Teenagers are most likely to be killed 3

Recorded on someone’s mobile phone… very real…

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Apps Mill (a.k.a. Rest Acres)

One of Brant County's best places for a walk... hell, it's one of the best places for a walk on the planet... right Angela?

I know this is one of my daughter's favourite places to go... and mine too. I have some unique memories of Apps Mill when it was Rest Acres.

In the 1960's the city of Brantford ran a summer camp here called "Camp Toreaca". I think our main meeting place was about here. There were cabins located at this site (image above).

Located along Whiteman's Creek we'd swim, and catch turtles. There were high cliffs (high for us kids) for us to jump off into deep areas of the creek.

There were many sleepouts... one every Wednesday night. I remember building a lean-to in case of any rain (at about this location).

Camp Toreaca's final year was 1971.

They appear to still have a camp for the kids here. Camp Imaknuna is held here. Though the area still gets plenty of people passing through I was please to see a lack of litter.

If anyone has any stories, pictures, etc they'd like to share about Rest Acres and/or Camp Toreaca, please place your feedback here. Camp Toreaca seems to be a forgotten past of Apps Mill.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Pumpkin Fest

Another annual event not worth missing is Waterford's Pumpkin Fest. I like to attend autumn fairs and Pumpkin Fest in the evening. I was impressed by this years huge display of pumpkins.

Dan, Cheryl and Shelley enjoy the displays in the cool but dry and very comfortable weather conditions.

I think the displays have been getting higher too.

I was a bit disappointment in the number of homes that were decorated. However, those that were decorated--great job. And as usual a great fireworks displayed ended a good evening.

Shelley has made our home more festive too.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Norfolk County Fair

Date: 09 Oct 2005
photographer: Craig
Location: Simcoe, Ontario
After missing out on 7 years of Ontario county fairs I found it a must to attend this years Norfolk County Fair. BTW, this year's pumpkin winner was with a pumpkin weighing in at almost 900lbs. There was another entry of over 900lbs, but it was missing that orange colour. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Old Friends and Family Meet

Date: 02 Oct 2005
photographer: Craig
Location: Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shelley's new wheels

date: 29 Sep 2005
photographer: Craig
location: Wilkes Park, Brantford

Windy Weather

date: 29 Sep 2005
photographer: Craig

During a wind storm last night the weather could not blow away Shelley's weightless scarecrow decoration off our front porch, but it managed to uproot this tree on Dundson Street.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Out on the farm

Date: 17 September 2005
photographer: Craig

We spent an afternoon on the farm--workin' this time. Late in the afternoon Shelley and Marjorie return from the garden with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cat Condo - Summer project is complete

Date: 08 Sep 2005
Photographer: Craig
Location: Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Rocky and Callum enjoy the new home.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Battle of Lundy's Lane - 25th July 1814

date: 02 Sep 2005
photographer: Craig
location: Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

The Union Jack proudly sets atop this pole in Drummond Hill Cemetery on Lundy's Lane, the location of the Battle of Lundy's Lane which took place on 25th July 1814. I'm back in Niagara researching this six-hour battle where the British, Canadian and Native troops held their ground against the attaching American forces. Though the American's retreated their attach, both sides claimed victory. This was one of the final battles before the end of war, which again, both sides claimed victory, though the British held their ground and the borders between the US and Canada remained unchanged.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Queen's Royal Park, Old Fort Niagara in the distance

date: 30 August 2005
photographer: Craig
location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada

This image was taken at the Niagara River, where the river feeds Lake Ontario, at the Queen's Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-lake. Old Fort Niagara can be seen in the distance. A sign of early autumn can be seen on the tree on the right.

Monday, August 29, 2005

From a distance Harris keeps an eye on the bird feeders

date: 29 August 2005
photographer: Craig
location: Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Sunday, August 28, 2005

What the hell is this all about...

This eye soar of a billboard posted up on highway 5 near Flamborough was very disappointing to see. What the hell is this all about anyway...
date: 28 August 2005
photographer: Craig
location: Flamborough, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Shelley locating the best tomatoes in the patch

photographer: Craig
date: 25 August 2005
location: Stratford Farms, Old German Road
(north of Brantford, Ontario)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Cat Condo under construction

photographer: Craig
date: 20 August 2005
location: Brantford, Ontario

This past week Brent, Laura and I have been working a minor summer project--a cat condo.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Callum enjoying a little Led Zeppelin

photographer: Brent
date: 18 August 2005
location: Brantford, Ontario

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

3-hour driving rain leaves plenty of water

date: 26 June 2005
location: Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Monday, June 27, 2005

Craig & Shelley say good-bye to local pub owner

date: 27 June 2005
location: Fox Inn, Thorpe Waterville, Northamptonshire, England

When we moved to England in January, 1999 our first meal was in Andrew's Fox Inn. When I left to move back to Canada my last meal was in the Fox.

Old Thorpe friends gather

date: 27 June 2005
location: Fox Inn, Thorpe Waterville, Northamptonshire, England

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Overseas container is almost full

date: 25 June 2005
location: Oundle, Northamptonshire, England

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Shelley rescues a baby hedgehog

photographer: Craig
date: 19 June 2005
location: Oundle, Northamptonshire, England

After a one night stay in Oundle, the hedgehog was taken in by a local animal rescue centre, run by lady out of home near Irthlingborough (on Addington Rd.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fotheringhay in the Spring

Date: 18 May 2005
Photographer: Craig
Location: Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, England

This image was spliced together from 6 images to give an interesting perspective of Fotheringhay, showing the Nene River, Fotheringhay church, the bridge into the village and the castle mound. You may need to click on this image to appreciate the shot.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Brent washes up Shelley's car

Date: 24 Apr 2005
photographer: Craig
location: Oundle, England

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spring has sprung

Date: 17 April 2005
Photographer: Craig
Location: Oundle, England