Les and Yvonne Phillips might just be two of Neil Oliver’s biggest fans. They enjoyed his natural history series Coast so much, they pulled out their UK atlas and plotted a trip along Scotland’s northern coast.
Inspired by the historian and archeologist, who is known for his engaging storytelling as well as his windswept black locks, the couple spent 30 days last fall travelling the picturesque coastline. The trip took them to the rugged islands of Islay, Mull and the Orkneys, as well as Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the British mainland.
“The cliffs in that section are just amazing,” says Les. “We spent virtually the whole day walking the coastline and taking more photographs than we ever would if we had to pay Kodak for it!”
They also got snap-happy on Mull, the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides. With its brightly painted houses and buildings dotting the shoreline, it reminded them of Newfoundland, one of their favourite places in Canada.
The Port Moody couple, who are retired teachers, have driven across Canada twice - something they say everyone should experience at least once to get a real sense of the country. They’ve also travelled throughout the UK, and spent three months living on a remote Indonesian island as part of a CIDA work exchange. Les now does volunteer work for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme, which takes him around North America inspecting schools that are seeking IB designation.
Les and Yvonne are fascinated by the geography and history of the places they visit, but just as in Coast, it’s the people they meet who really make their travels memorable. While the destination of their next trip is still up for debate, they’re thinking of Ireland in the fall.
“We last went there in 1982, when we were living in Exeter as part of a teaching exchange,” says Les. “We have very fond memories of it because we had small children at the time. It would be a very different trip this time.”
When they’re not travelling, the couple enjoys watching the history series and British mysteries on Knowledge. Yvonne also confesses her love for Shaun the Sheep, a quirky claymation children’s show that has its fair share of adult fans. They choose to support Knowledge because, quite simply, they appreciate the quality.
“The name says it all,” explains Les. “There’s always a knowledge factor to the programming, whether it’s about history or geography or other cultures. Even the British mysteries are more than just entertainment; they show the culture of a place or era that often isn’t familiar to us.”
As for Coast, the Phillips have an idea for a new series that they’ve proposed in a letter to Neil: a trip along the BC coastline from Vancouver to Alaska, or as another option, around Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii. Now that would be a perfect fit for Knowledge!