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Parker’s Pen – February 2022

David Parker

Unless things change drastically, this will be another year of staying-close-to-home travel. Nevermind the health issues, it’s no fun hanging around airports and then there’s the stress of worrying about getting a return flight home.

Steve Reeves and BBC Travel documentaries are good substitutes, but nothing beats a good book to get me dreaming.

I’ve never really understood mountain climbers who I thought risked their own lives – and those of other – in pursuing selfish feats of daring. But after enjoying The Spirit of the Hills by F. S. Smythe (now a top 10 in the list of the many books I’ve read), I have a better understanding of the pleasures realized in enjoying the grandeur of the British low hills to the majesty of the Alps and Himalayas, and jealously read of his experiences that include climbs on Everest and Kanchenjunga as well as in the Canadian Rockies.

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We are blessed to be living so near to our spectacular mountains. I’m looking forward to another round of golf at Kananaskis where every mountain and river view bring to mind how far visitors travel to gaze in awe at what we too often take for granted.

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One of our favourite holidays that continues to bring back many pleasant memories was on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Besides the climate, magnificent scenery and wild toboggan ride from the top of the cable car down through the streets, there’s also Madeira wine. Not so popular here, but wine expert Llyn Strelau of Jewels by Design is importing some of the top labels that can be found at better liquor stores. One of the memories was a tour of Henriques & Henriques – Vinhos, a winery founded in 1850 that is well worth a visit.

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I was always thankful in watching protests in many countries around the world that we were not of the same ilk; demonstrating in the streets no matter how peaceful at the outset so often turn ugly. Yet, of late, it seems that people are congregating outside city hall for all manner of excuses resulting in shouting and hassling others.

Thank goodness we have not stooped to firing Kalashnikovs into the air.

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I’m not much of a shopper, but I expect to be able to find want I’m looking for when I do have to venture into a store. How disappointed to wander the aisles of a large mart in search of a bar of soap to find rows and rows of liquid hand soap and foaming hand soap and liquid hand wash, but not a single bar of soap – not a one.

I like to handle a bar of soap and rub it together to get a good lather. Thank goodness for companies like Rocky Mountain Soap whose products are worth searching for.

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The New Year’s Vienna Philharmonic concert was splendid, but brought to mind the comment on violins by Somerset Maugham, “Why one should want to hear anyone scrape the hairs of a horse’s tail over the guts of a dead cat is something I shall never understand.”

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Final words: A man who fails well is greater than a man who succeeds badly.