I walked down to the water today, but not at the usual beach. Instead of Jericho Pier, I went down to Point Grey Road.

Point Grey Road runs along the water and it's one of the few waterfront areas of Vancouver where the land is private, at least down to the high water line. Decades ago the City Council decided to try to reclaim the waterfront for the public, so the city started to buy waterfront lots along the road.

This was a fool's errand, as any real estate person could have told them (and some did tell them). Each lot they bought drove up the value of the others for two reasons: increasing scarcity and increasing desirability because of the appearance of adjacent mini parks. So lots that started out expensive became ridiculously expensive and the city had to stop buying them.

Now Point Grey Road has several tiny parks on the water, each one the size of one or two building lots. I walked to one of these parks: Jean Beaty Park.

In the North West corner of the park there is an inconspicuous unmarked stairway.

If you walk down the stairway you find yourself on the beach.

It's quite a nice beach, and there are seldom more than a handful of people on it. The entrances to the beach are out of sight and therefore out of mind. Besides, there isn't any place to buy expensive coffee.

Today there were more geese than people.

On my way home I passed a house with a high cedar hedge. Between the hedge and the sidewalk there was a tasteful selection of weeds, including some thistles.

I remember the tone of voice my father-in-law used when he spoke of thistle. He was an excellent farmer, and he didn't like thistle one bit. I could see why. It's prolific and vigorous and hard to kill, it crowds out desirable plants, and if it mixes into your crop the value of the crop falls. I don't dislike it as much as he did, but I wouldn't want it in our yard.

This thistle is what you might call a normal thistle. It grows about chest height.

When I arrived home I was greeted by my usual view of a neighbour's back yard fence.

Various interesting things grow between their fence and the alley. For instance, here is a dead tree covered in morning glory and surrounded by blackberry.

The pièce de résistance, however, is a group of three thistles. These are not normal thistles. They are like no other thistles I've ever seen. The tallest is well over 2 metres in height. The spikes on the vegetation are vicious - they'll bite through standard leather work gloves.

I picked a sprig from the tallest one. I didn't think our neighbours would mind.

Here's one bud before it opens into flower.

And here's a flower. I have to admit they're somewhat pretty, in a vicious sort of way.