Camping Close to Home 2012, Inaugural Edition

Written by Harold McNeill on April 24th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

View across the front yard of Leney Place. The story of the Gnome is posted in a footer.

It only took four guys, three chain saws, one chipper, two hours and a bit of bush whacking, to clear a spot as close to home as we could get for our first “Camping Close to Home” experience of the 2012 season.  While driveway camping is “ok”, it just doesn’t feel the same as being surrounded by trees and a bit of grass especially when you look out from your bed at night.  It struck me this spring that I could do better than the driveway, so checked out the angles, trees and shrubs to find the best use of our smaller property.

After two days work this past week, the trailer was moved in, fireplace set up, BBQ moved from the back deck and we were ‘good to go’ for our first BBQ of the season.

As those who live in Victoria know, this week-end really kicked in the feeling that summer is finally on its way. Along with our friends Linda, Bjorn, Sandy and Ron (Sandy and Ron over for the week-end from the Lower Mainland to visit the Island Boat Show in the Inner Harbour), we settled in for an evening of wine tasting, hamburgers, potato salad and corn on the cob. Given the weather we have had over the past few months, it was a treat to sit outside by the fire without feeling one was going to develop hypothermia with those frigid winds blowing in off the water.

Later in the evening, after our friends headed home, Lynn and I set up for a night of peaceful sleep under the trees of Leney Place.  Ahh, nothing better than having friends over, a couple of bottles of wine, great conversation and later, being able to snuggle in under the stars in the great outdoors.

Bring on summer – we are ready….

Harold and Lynn

Note on Gnome in front garden:

Gnowaway (Go Now Away or G’now for short):  G’now mysteriously appeared in our lives not long after Lynn and I returned from an extended trip to Australia. During our time camping along the Gold Coast, and after making friends with a young family on holidays from Melbourne, we became involved in a mystery trip to Fraser Island (a World Heritage Site off the Gold Coast).

After the daughters, Nicole and Dana, asked us out one night to meet some of their nocturnal animal friends, we suddenly we found ourselves in a magical parallel world. In this new world we met a number of Australian animals, reptiles and birds, as well as a family of trolls with whom we could easily communicate. They took us on an amazing several day trip around Fraser Island.  As a result of the altered time and space, it seemed to others back in our world though we had only been away for an hour or so.

After our return, I wrote of our experience and, along with pictures, posted the story on Facebook.  Then, several weeks later after our return to Canada, we found this little Gnome in our front garden. In late night conversations with the young fellow, we learned his name was “Gnowaway” and it soon became clear we were kindred travel spirits.

Gnowaway told us that after having heard of the ‘crazy Canadians’ and the young girls from Melbourne found wandering around Fraser Island, he decided visit our family in Victoria (easy travel via a time warp).  He has since taken up residence in our front garden and in evening conversations it is clear he has found life in Victoria very much to his liking and decided to hang out with us for a few years.  More on his story and of our night travels on Fraser Island, will eventually be posted on this blog.

About six months after Gnowaway arrived, his older brother, Gfaraway (G’far) arrived.  The two have since taken up permanent residence and have show no signs of wanting to leave.  I expect they have become close friends with the many deer, squirrals, otter, cougar, birds and slugs that live in the area. I am looking foward to finding the time to complete the stories these two have passed along about life in Australia and, in particular, on Fraser Island that I now realize is a sacred sanctuary for many animals that were previously held in captivity.


Links to other camping and dining stories.

Island View Beach: Camping Close to Home 2011

Dining with a Difference  (Victoria 2011)

Photos of Campsite (see also attached Photo Album)

April 21, 2012: Lynn and I celebrate our first (outdoor) BBQ of the year
in our campsite with Ron, Linda, Sandy and Bjorn.

A wonderful evening for sitting around the fire with a glass of wine.

Just enough of a change to make sitting down for a game of crib and
a glass of wine to make it feel as if one is in a time and place far
removed from the usual routines of home.

While touring Austria, we noted a great majority of rural (and many city) homes, had large stacks of wood in the front yard that were readily visible from the road.
Our tour guide informed us this practice had began many decades back as a show of the wealth of the home owner.  Over time the these ‘stacks’ also came to symbolize the endowment of the female ‘head of the household’, hence, the saying “well stacked”.  Now the question has been posed to me, should I pile all the wood from our recent tree cutting exercise in the front yard of our home on Leney?
(Photo from Web)

Lynn’s 60th Birthday while Camping Close to Home



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  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.


    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.


    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman