The collection of flags Sarah Simpson’s nephew selected from the flag shop that fateful day. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Column: An expensive trip to the Flag Shop

Travelling for flags reminds me of seven years ago when my young nephew was over from the mainland

I got an email from Pitcairn Island Tourism on Tuesday.

Ally, from that organization wanted me to forward the following to Mr. Neil with regard to my last column on his flag hobby.

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“Hi Mr. Neil,

Greetings from the tourism board of the Pitcairn Islands. We are so happy to hear you’re literally ‘flying the flag’ for all 49 of us on the island, in Canada. We think you should make the journey and come visit us as soon as possible. So, what do ya say?


Ally from Pitcairn Islands Tourism”

I wonder if he’ll take her up on the offer. If he does I should probably go with him. You know, to report on the meeting.

Travelling for flags reminds me of the time seven years ago that my young nephew was over from the mainland for a special visit with his auntie. It was just after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and so he was a flag-obsessed five-year-old. As such, we decided to go to the Flag Shop in Victoria to find some new mini-flags. The flags themselves were reasonably priced, I’d say a couple bucks apiece, because I recall letting him choose a whole handful of them, but the trip itself was expensive.

I took great care and attention to buckle him into his booster seat. I drove ever so carefully over the Malahat with my sister’s firstborn, the apple of my eye, in the vehicle, likely singing songs about trains as we pointed out the various work trucks we drove by. Somewhere around Millstream I was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

Oops. (In my defence, I was going with the flow of traffic — we all say that don’t we? — but police don’t care about that.)

Speeding tickets are expensive and I was gutted, but we carried on and I hid my disappointment because our visit was special and I didn’t want to ruin that. The speeding ticket was not in the flag budget, that’s for sure, but my nephew got to see a policeman up close with flashing lights on his vehicle and everything and that was pretty cool for a little kid.

We got to the flag shop on Fort Street without further incident and to my great enjoyment, we got rockstar parking right outside the store. That never happens. I plugged the meter, giving us about a half an hour — how could you possibly spend more than a half an hour looking at flags? — and we went inside.

An hour later we left the store with probably $40 worth of little flags my nephew had carefully scrutinized before selecting.

We had so much fun.

I quietly took the parking ticket off my window before I carefully buckled my nephew into his seat again.

We went out for a big lunch before heading back to Duncan. The financial floodgates had opened, so I figured we might as well have full bellies for the trip north.

Two tickets, some 10 flags, and a big lunch later, though, I made sure to pick a restaurant with free parking.


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