More re: Le Tour de France 2013

Tomorrow, Saturday 20 July, is the last day of Le Tour de France in the Alps, before this epic race ends Sunday in Paris.  This last day in the mountains contains a big obstacle to overcome, on 'Col de Semnez'.  After 114 kms. on the bike, a 16km climb, from Quental to the top at Annecy-Semnez. The 8.5 % (degree) grade will once again be decisive in deciding the final General Classification of this mega cycling event.
 Nairo Quintana (Colombia) and Chris Froome (UK) battling it out yesteday in the French Alps.

Henri van Bentum


Observing a German Shepherd opens memory chanbers to boyhood experience

We mentioned before that we live a few metres from the Pacific Ocean, just across from the sea walk overlooking Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic mountain range.  Our neighbourhood is the quaint district of James Bay here in Victoria, BC. The area is one of the most popular spots for walking and dog walking. 
People can be seen of all ages and sizes.  (The seniors’ residence, Somerset House, is nearby.)   
Two seniors in the winter of their lives stroll along at their own rhythm on this sunny summer day
A lone member of the Human Family bravely moves step-by-step, assisted by two skipoles
There are many young mothers pushing their infants in strollers, and joggers of course too.   Being summertime, most of the Human Family wear light-coloured and lightweight outfits. Also we’ve noticed lately floppy, broad-brimmed hats for women are back in vogue now, for protection from the sun’s rays. Back to dog walking. 
Two lassies with baby stroller and 4 purebred dogs, on their daily walk
There’s an amazing variety of breeds, also all ages and sizes. In one month you’ll see Dalmatians, Poodles (black, white and ‘champagne’), Huskies,  slender Greyhounds, Irish Setters, many types of Terriers including Jack Russells, Bloodhounds, Labradors, Rottweilers,  the rare Borzoi, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, Schnauzers, Border collies, lots of Shih Tzu, Dachunds – and of course the majority are an assortment of mutts – all loved by their owners, who at the same time, get their exercise. 
A happy pooch on the seawalk

While sitting at a bench towards the end of our morning walk a woman came by with a young German Shepherd. This brought back vivid memories of my boyhood in the Lowlands, 77 years ago before the start of WWII. We had a wonderful German Shepherd, “Tarzan”.  My father, who was a diamond-facetter, in his spare time enjoyed training dogs and sometimes volunteered to help the local village police with their training (mostly German Shepherds). The regular training exercise was to have a volunteer pretend to be a thief or criminal. He wore protective clothing such as a thick, felt sleeve on his chest, arms and had special gloves.

German Shepherd in training exercise

After a signal was given to the dog, the volunteer raised his (well padded) arm. The dog had to bring down the culprit.   A successful outcome for the dog resulted in a friendly pat on the head and a treat. This type of training is still done today. Father had a knack for testing the ‘mettle’ of dogs that were being considered for training. The method was simple:  leave the dog in a living room where another volunteer had been told to put a small object in his pocket.  A well-trained dog like Tarzan would pretend to be asleep.  He was very good at this part of the exercise! But the moment the volunteer put his hand on the doorknob, the dog reacted quickly, leapt up and prevented him from leaving. Numerous dogs failed this test and were disqualified for police dog duty. Interesting how a fleeting encounter with a German Shepherd this morning can bring forth memories of long ago.
 Henri posing with Wild Sweet Peas at shoreline, seawalk, James Bay, Victoria

Henri van Bentum


Canmore, Alberta - early oil pastel done in 1959

The recent flooding in Canmore, Calgary and other regions of Alberta brought back vivid memory pictures of the time I spent in the Rocky Mountains, including Banff and Canmore.

Oil Pastel, The Three Sisters, Canmore, Alberta 
by Henri van Bentum, 1959. Private Collection Ainslie Goodman 
via Dr. Wilfred S. Goodman, gift by the artist.

Speaking of pictures, here is an oil pastel I did, Summer 1959 in Canmore, of the Bow River with heads of 
The Three Sisters mountains peaking high above the clouds.

Henri van Bentum


Today, Tour de France, Mt. Ventoux, Bastille Day (Quatorze juillet)

Epic Climb Today

Today is "Quatorze Juillet" in France (Bastille Day) and le grand boucle tackles the venerable Mt. Ventoux.  

Henri van Bentum