Sunday Valley Drive

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by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Everyone’s talking about the weather!  It has been fabulous! For the past month we’ve had an unmitigated run of yellow sunshine, blue skies and warm temps!  It’s the summer we never had.  I believe next week we’re headed for stormy skies and lower temperatures but we’ve certainly had nothing to complain about lately.  Frankly I adore a lovely autumn day.  The air is clearer and drier than in the summer.  And if I can get away with wearing a light sweater that’s a plus too (which if you care to know is not strictly a fashion choice but rather a lamentable accommodation of my protuberant belly).

Admittedly in addition to the weather we now have lots going on to shout about.  We’re counting the hours to our much anticipated departure for Florida on Friday.  We’ve managed to complete all the niggling details precedent to our hibernation. We’re virtually packed and ready to go.  So today – a Sunday – when I awoke to another brilliant day I was prepared to enjoy it.  Lest this sounds like a trumpet of excitement, allow me to clear up that delusion.  My fuddy-duddy habits quickly diluted anything that might have reasonably passed for enthusiasm.  First there was my sliced Navel orange with black coffee; then the requisite plate of protein (ham, eggs, cheese) and veggies (tomatoes and green pepper slices).  All the while I pored over my computer, checking email, BBC news and – sigh! – Facebook.  Then it was into the shower to perform the ritual purge, culminating in the application of creams and product.  For the next hour at least I would glisten and glow!

And just when I might have recognized my lapse into the unforgiving and undeniable reality of my age and physical condition, I determined to take the car for a wash, always an uplifting vicarious enterprise.  As I nosed the sedan out of the underground garage I revelled in the midday air, the windows down and the landau roof open wide.  I put on my RayBans.  As I tootled along the Appleton Side Road, cautiously passing cyclists, cherishing the late summer fields and humming Nino Rota’s “Amarcord” theme, I fell upon the idea of going for a walk.  By design I hadn’t taken my usual bike ride this morning. I am intent upon discovering whether my lower back problem is perhaps attributable to the repetitive bicycling which I have done virtually every day throughout the year for the past three years.  Granted it is an unlikely gamble but I am determined to see if anything changes as a result of temporary abstinence.  And while I wouldn’t normally say that I enjoy walking – or more to the point that I am able to withstand it for longer than 30 minutes before it renders me a teetering, crinkled old man – I have of late unintentionally found it to be of some unprecedented value.

Forgive me for lapsing into the vernacular but the thing about me and exercise is this – given my notorious matutinal consumption of coffee I cannot subsequently stray far from a pissoir. It’s cause and effect; I cannot have one without the other. That’s definitely one of the reasons I like bicycling because while I can cover quite a bit of ground it never takes long to get to the nearest pit stop, whether a public facility, a gas station or a coffee shop.  But walking any distance presents a logistical problem; and I have little appetite for experimentation in this indecorous arena. So I decided that, based upon my most recent (and mildly disabling) experience with walking, I would go to the Scene of the Crime which is to say the Bayshore Mall near Bells Corners.  It has besides favourable parking by my standards – namely, I know where I can get far enough away from most of the annoyingly bad drivers in those places. The equally critical key of course is that I also know where the rest rooms are.  They too qualify as convenient and – though it might surprise one to hear it – clean.  The one at Walmart for example is not only located immediately at the entrance from the parking lot but is obviously routinely and well maintained.  There is after all a reason Mr. Walmart is doing so famously!  It’s these small details which count upon private reflection.

To be candid the other reason I promoted the idea of walking in the mall today – this bright, sunny day under an azure dome without a worry in the world and nothing but the endless horizon to contemplate – was that upon my last visit there (to get some shorts and Polo shirts at The Bay I recall), I stumbled upon a watch which caught my eye at the jewellery counter on the second floor.  I confess I routinely make a habit of scoping the jewellery counters at these department stores (as well as the higher end retailers but without the same conviction). I have incrementally weaned myself off jewellery by determining never again to buy anything made of solid gold and dismissing the cogency of expensive watches (they’re primarily a marketing hoax as far as I am concerned – especially since the cheap models perform their putative task flawlessly and have just as much teaser appeal over the long run – and without the hype, cost, insurance and regret).  This must sound like sour grapes or some feeble excuse for parsimony or pauperism but the truth is I have exhausted the fun of Rolex, Cartier and Breitling including the alligator straps.  By comparison, the model I had spied at The Bay the other day was a G-Shock piece with a touch of gold colour on a predominantly black bezel with a resin strap and the usual minimum 44 mm diameter bezel (though likely somewhat larger).  Remember, I’m doing this from memory.  It may have looked something like this:

 

Though you can buy this watch on the internet (Amazon for example) for about US$129.99 I believe it retailed at The Bay around $195.  I already own three G-Shock watches which I bought last year on Hilton Head Island for between US$49 and US$135.  They’re amazingly accurate. You don’t for example set the time, just choose the nearest large city – New York, Hong Kong, London, Paris, whatever – and the watch automatically does the rest. It has endless capabilities for the most minute (pardon the pun) stopwatch measurements and I suspect there’s even a built-in microwave oven. The watch is waterproof (for surfing – obviously) and is lightweight which is not my usual preference though once I overcome the aesthetic partiality the practicality is apparent. They come in every imaginable colour, though my choices were off-white, teal and black.

So thus armed with this antecedent wallpaper, I parked in a remote location on the top floor of the parking lot, voided my bladder at Walmart and trudged into the mall in search of the Object of Desire.  Actually I first investigated what Mr. Walmart had in his inventory but quickly abandoned the appeal of even the most compelling attraction at $28.95.  I mean, really, even in these trifling matters of retail there have to be some standards!  So when I left Walmart I immediately took the staircase (remember – the predominant theme of exercise) to the second floor which, on the way to The Bay, I knew was where I could find Winners and their jewellery department. I had formulated a strategy of knowledge and elimination in this commercial venture. But I never made it to Winners.  Within seconds of gaining the second floor level (and after having perfunctorily exhausted the utility of examining any of the stores at the new eastern end of the mall) I passed by the Charm Diamond Centre.

Charm Diamond Centres is the largest independently owned Canadian jewellery retailer, and second-largest jewellery retailer in Canada. In 2012 the company employed more than 700 people in over 70 stores, primarily within regional malls, in six Canadian provinces including Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.

Charm Diamond Centres uses the Kimberley Process to certify that their diamonds come from legitimate sources.

Charm Diamond Centres’ was founded in Nova Scotia by Richard Calder in 1972, the chain is still owned and operated by the Calder family. In 2007 Calder received the Entrepreneur of the Year Special Citation Award for Retailing Excellence in the Category of Business-to-Consumer Products & Services at the 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Charm Diamond Centres has been chosen as one of Canada’s Fifty Best Managed Companies since 2007, and in 2013 it received Platinum status.

In January 2017 the company announced it had acquired the brand rights to Ben Moss Jewellers which had gone into receivership in 2016. Charm rehired many former staff members and reopened 2 stores in Winnipeg, and announced its intention to open several others in ensuing months.

I pride myself in always being able to extract something of value from almost any experience. Here I was on a mission to purchase what by most convention would be considered a modest device and suddenly I am doing business with “the largest independently owned Canadian jewellery retailer“. Wow!  Who knew?  So much for my having kept abreast of the Canadian business scene!  And I thought I had insider knowledge for having learned that Drummond Birks sold out to the Italians! Not to mention the reputed collapse of retail when the Bay stopped selling Mocha chocolate shakes in the basement on Rideau Street!

It was a testament to the talent of the Charm team that I received an immediate and helpful reception when browsing the jewellery counters.  Indisputably it also helped that I located an “item of interest”; viz., a watch closely resembling what I had in mind but with the added advantage of being better quality.

It’s called the Bulova “Marine Star“.  Shamefully the name alone appeals to me as I am always stirred by things nautical (which I suppose is an established marketing ploy with those of us who regularly succumb to our fathomless imagination). This particular watch won me over in short order because of its size, weight and the silkiness of the rubber strap (which – in spite of its rose gold glitter – makes it suitable for a casual idiom). The very pleasant retail clerk and I concluded the business transaction promptly and I again found myself wandering the hallways of the mall.  Undeterred by this patent derailment I continued to prosecute my initial scheme of retail sleuthing by dipping into both Winners and The Bay. To my delight I found nothing that competed with my new purchase.  Thus mentally refreshed and enlivened by the prospect of doting upon the new toy I headed back to the sedan and made my escape from the maws of profit-making.

But it was still a sunny day, a lethargic Sunday, so I alerted my compatriot and we agreed to direct ourselves to the Neat Café in Burnstown for a pleasure drive on this splendid afternoon and to enjoy one of their incomparably delicious coffees and cakes.  Nor were we disappointed.  We punctuated our tour at Neat Café by conversing with a local family about themselves and their guide-dog-in-training (Rumba) then returning to Almonte along the exceptionally beautiful Campbell Side Road and Waba Road through Pakenham and Blakeney. The rural homesteads were all shown to enormous advantage today as the setting sun bathed them in the afternoon light angled across the late summer fields.

Editor’s Note:This was to have published last Monday but we missed it somehow.