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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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

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    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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