Barcelona: The Adventure Begins

Written by Harold McNeill on November 18th, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


Gruel Park Barcelona

Gruel Park Entrance:  The marble pillars above, give way to rock structures that support much of
hillside.  Photos in the attached album provide a better feel for the area.

Link Here for Full Set of Photos

With the population rapidly pushing toward 1.75 million, a history that traces back several hundred years, a football team that commands world attention and an architect whose works continues to define many aspects of the city, Barcelona has plenty to offer. Since gaining their freedom barely 35 years ago, Barcelona and Catalan Province have become top tourist destinations of the Eurozone.

Situated in the north-east part of Spain, the port of Barcelona hosts more cruise ships and cargo tonnage than any other single Mediterranean destination. When wandering around this carefree city it is hard to believe that it was only 1976 when the Catalonian people emerged from 40 years of brutal repression under the iron fist of the Franco regime.

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Brazil: World Cup 2014

Written by Harold McNeill on September 23rd, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


Brazil: World Cup 2014

Brazil Girls Collage

Photos: These photos were taken by Chris Vaughn, a friend from Nanaimo and former publisher of the World Football Pages (a BC based Magazine that ran for several years).  Chris always had a keen eye for capturing the essence of our International Football Matches and, as you can see in this series, Brazil brought out some very colourful Canadian girls to support the Canadian Team.  

The two game series was played in 2006 when the Brazilian U20 Men’s Team challenged Canada in a warm-up to the 2007 U-20 World Cup. The teams split series at one game each.  Below is a photo of the teams on the field at Royal Athletic Park. 

(The collage was created using a freeware system, so, of course they put their name in the middle)

Are You Thinking of Heading to Brazil in 2014?

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Japan, East Coast: A Journey of Recovery

Written by Harold McNeill on September 21st, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


Japan East Coast Soccer Teams

Photo: Just a few of the kids and adults we met during our trip along the East Coast. At this newly refurbished soccer pitch, Canadian flags, World Cup soccer balls, pinnies (including several used by the Japanese U20 mens team) along with other pieces of memorabilia from the 2007, U20 Mens World Cup, was very popular. Many of the older soccer players were aware that Victoria had hosted the Japanese team during the U20 World Cup as the games were broadcast and streamed live to Japan.

Link Here for Chapters 1 – 5

Link Here for the East Coast Slideshow on You Tube

あなたチューブの東海岸スライドショーのためここにリンク

Link Here for Individual Photos on Flicker

フリッカー上の個々の写真のためにここにリンク

Link Here for Photos on Facebook

Facebookで写真のためにここにリンク

Chapter 6  A Journey of Recovery

While an important part of our mission to Japan was flying the colours of Victoria in our sister city of Morioka, another, and equally important part, was assisting in modest way with the East Coast recovery efforts.

Morioka, for those who are not aware, is the Capital City of Iwate Prefecture, the Prefecture that encompasses much of the heavily damaged area.  For the citizens of Morioka and surrounding area, dealing with the immediate and long-term effects of the disaster was and is an immense challenge, challenges they accepted with equanimity.

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Japan: The Adventure Begins

Written by Harold McNeill on September 6th, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


P1040957

The City or Morioka is nestled in a broad plain below Mount Iwate-san (background right) in the central part of Iwate district. The 2000 meter mountain and surrounding hills feed two rivers, the Kitakami-gawa and the Nakatsu-gawa that, along with the lush green surroundings, lend the city an ambiance that is unsurpassable. The above photo (click to open), along with that of several wildflowers (linked photo album), were taken after Lynn and I climbed Poet’s Walk behind the home of our first host family, Rieko and Yoichi Sakashita.

Chapters and Photos

The photo albums attached to this story have been placed on an open Facebook Page and are available to everyone regardless of whether they have a Facebook account.  While the pictures will tell much of the story, the following notes provide a general outline of our travels P1040908of our two week visit.  As Wi-Fi access and preparation time was limited, the notes being presented below are compiled from earlier Facebook posts to family and friends.

Photo: Rita, Bill and Lynn push the carts with our ample supply of luggage.  It may have seemed like overkill for four people, however, four large suitcases contained gifts and other supplies, much of which was destined for school children and sports groups along the East Coast.

We are certainly grateful to our friends, Bill and Rita McCreadie, for inviting us on the journey and who led the way from Canada. They shepherded us through our arrival at Narita and onto the shuttle train that would connect us to the Bullet Train for that speedy ride Morioka. The transfers were managed with such ease that we could well have been out for dinner and movie in our home city of Victoria. As you might have guessed, the McCreadie’s have taken this trip many times before and we could not have ask for better travelling companions.

Chapters and Photos

1. A country of friendly people and lush green landscapes:     Photos for Chapters 1 -3 Link Here
2. Welcome to Morioka and an Introduction to the Sansa Festival: Photos for Chapters 1 -3 Link Here
3. Suma Wrestling: The National Sport:  Photos for Chapters 1 -3 Link Here
4. Go Grulla Go – To the J3: Photos for Chapters 4 & 5 Link Here
5. Aomori Nebuta Festival: Photos for Chapters 4 & 5 Link Here

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A Mediterranean and Middle East Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on May 30th, 2013. Posted in Travelogue


River Beatrice Photo

Tag along on this Blog and the McNeill Life Stories Facebook as GarthEsther, Lynn and Harold embark upon a new adventure that extends from Barcelona, Spain to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
It seems a few hardy souls have backed away from this voyage into antiquity because of perceived dangers, but their choice was our good fortune. Our research suggests most parts of the Middle East is as safe to explore as most other travel destinations, including our friendly neighbour south of the ‘forty-ninth’, the United States of America.

Exploring the Empires of Antiquity

After departing Victoria on November 9, we kick things off in Spain by spending several days becoming acclimatized to the seasonal average temperature of 22 – 26 C. (a little warm for Canadians, but we shall persevere). After savouring the sites, sounds and wines (we have long since learned that wine helps one to acclimatize) of Barcelona, we then join the Oceania Liner  “Nautica” for a 24 day of cruise that will see us meandering across the Mediterranean with stops in Italy and, after passing through the Strait of Messina and crossing the Ionian Sea, will check out Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.   

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14 Night Hawaiian Land/Cruise Dream Holiday

Written by Harold McNeill on October 16th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


An exotic 14 night Hawaiian dream vacation May 3-17th 2013. Experience the Hawaiian Islands as never before aboard the majestic Radiance of the Sea cruising from island to island, and across the Pacific to the beautiful port of Vancouver. The perfect gift for someone special. (Don’t forget Mother’s day is May 12!)

Perhaps a second honeymoon, anniversary or transition to a well earned retirement is the order of the day?

Arriving from Vancouver by air, you will spend three unbelievable nights enraptured by the inate beauty of Hawaii. Stroll along the famous Waikiki Beach, explore the nightlife of Honolulu, immerse yourself in the history of Pearl Harbour, and explore the many more attractions of Oahu before embarking upon an unforgettable cruise of the Hawaiian Islands and home aboard the Radiance of the Sea.

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Prague: At War and at Peace

Written by Harold McNeill on May 26th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Photo from Painting
View of the Charles Bridge looking toward the main city centre. Paintings, sketches and drawings, such as the one above, depict various scenes around the city. Many are the work of talented young people trying to make their way in life. For a small donation, the artist allows pictures to be taken.

What ever direction you might travel in Eastern Europe, a few days in Prague is a must.  For Esther, Garth, Lynn and I, a four day extension of our Danube trip was barely enough, however we did manage to savour every last second. We would have gladly stayed for another week just to touch upon the many things that still awaited our eager senses but, alas, time (and booked flights) conspired against our wishes. For other travelers we highly recommend a minimum of one week, perhaps ten days if you can squeeze out the time. A three month stay in Prague and the surrounding country would be heaven.

As with many cities and countries in Eastern Europe emerging from thirty five years of war (World War I and II), then forty-one years of communism, peace comes with a cost, but that cost seems worth every penny in hard cash, blood, sweat and tears. Around the world we see these costs being paid everyday for a small taste of that elusive dream we call freedom. (Reference Footnote on Quebec Student Protests).

Photo (Web): This is typical of the foothill farm country through which we passed. Many of the farms along the highway had seen better times.

Our four hour bus trip from Passau, Germany then across the southern Republic, left no doubt this was a country once held by iron fists, first those of the Nazi’s during two World Wars, then during the decades of an equally brutal Soviet communist dictatorship. As we crossed the now open border from Germany, warnings were still in place advising tourists of the danger of land mines in a strip of ‘no man’s land’ between the two countries and at our one stop for refreshments at a small, remote service station, the feeling of being in another time and another place was clearly evident.

While the countryside was beautiful, much as it is in the foothills of Alberta, the mix of worn down buildings, old railway stations and broken shelters, serve as a reminder of those decades of death and brutal repression. A few stark examples of how ordinary people suffered; following the Nazi occupation, it is estimated over 155,000 persons of Jewish descent (86% of the population) died in the streets, at concentration camps or during ‘death marches’ that took place near the end of the war.

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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.

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Comments

  • 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

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother

  • Louise

    December 21, 2018 |

    Amazing collection of photos of the weekend ❤️❤️

  • Harold McNeill

    December 21, 2018 |

    Hi Dave,

    Not sure if you are the same Armit as was at Oak Bay PD or not. Interesting to see your comment on Danny Cain and your birthdays and family friendships. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Thanks, Lynn. It appears there was a problem with the comment system. Cheers, Harold

  • lynnmcneill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Hi Harold – looks great!

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.