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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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold