Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Tradition Gingerbread House

Every cool Grandma helps their granddaughter make a gingerbread house. Linda and Madison put this creation together today. Last years was spectacular so this year they had to bring their A game. Madison loves her dog Echo, so they decided they would do a dog house. So here it is..complete with dogs, dog bones and a Christmas tree. Job well done ladies....enjoy the pics.  For more pics go to our Facebook Page.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Victoria is for the Birds!

If you are old enough you will remember Alfred Hitchcock's horror film "The Birds".  So when you see your neighbourhood filling up with crows, it is hard not to remember the movie and the results.  We just lost our pet bird Mozart, so if you saw the movie, you know what has been going through my mind.  Every day at dusk, the crows in Victoria migrate to a communal roost. About an hour or more before dusk, the crows will begin to fly towards the roost, collecting together into ever larger flocks as they get nearer. Generally, it seems as though most birds do not fly directly to the communal roost, but stop at nearby "staging areas".

In some cases there may be several staging areas fairly near the roost. Often staging areas are in cemeteries or other areas where fairly open areas are surrounded by or interspersed with trees. Birds will fill the surrounding trees, hunt for food on the ground, and engage in general socializing. A roosting area may be virtually empty while nearby thousands of crows mill about in a staging area.  So why did they have to pick my cul-de-sac for their staging area?  They never use to.  I guess were just lucky.  There were hundreds in our cul-de-sac.  Enjoy.
For more pictures, please go to our Facebook page.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December in Victoria at Goldstream Park

Under blue skies and 10C I made my way to Goldstream Park today to enjoy the beauty and all the activity created by the annual salmon run. The run is virtually over, but the Goldstream river is full of dead salmon and the gulls and bald eagles are have Christmas Dinner. The bald eagles we all around me as I watched from the estuary viewing platform. I am sure I saw at least a dozen in the same tree. Many of them are further out in the estuary, but some come very close. There were lots of photographers taking lots of shots. Enjoy a day at Goldstream.

For more pictures of this adventure, please go to our Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Crocodile Burger - In Victoria?

Yesterday, I had lunch at Nautical Nellies and had my first crocodile burger.  Who would think that something this ugly could taste so good.  Just think how many burgers this little puppy would make.  Well it was truly delicious.  Succulent white meat that looks like halibut. So drop in and try one out.  Not even the Pink Bicycle that specializes in burgers has a Croc Burger. Krikey it was good, all smother in roasted red pepper and augmented with srirracha aioli -  Gourmet or what?

 My lunch partner had Shrimp Pappardelle.  It also looked very good.  My only problem with Nautical Nellies is that the menu has so much selection that it is hard to choose just one item.  So, we shared a vegetarian spring roll.  That got the flavour juices flowing.  I love this restaurant and highly recommend it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Magic of Christmas, CVS Sightseeing Tour

Last night we had the pleasure of joining The Magic of Christmas Tour, offered by CVS Sightseeing and Discover the Past Tours. Hosted by Tom from CVS, and guided by Kate from Discover the Past Tours, we embarked on a three hour walking and bus tour of Government Street and Oak Bay. Kate kept us entertained, despite the chilly weather, with fascinating stories of historical Victorian events and Christmas traditions. Government Street was the hub of 19th century Victoria, as it is today. Many of the buildings are original and tenanted by local businesses like Roger's Chocolates, established in 1885. Their delightful Christmas window displays look much like they did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kate explained that many of our Christmas traditions originated with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, mingling her British heritage with his German home sickness! The merchants of Government Street competed with each other for the best window displays to entice customers in to buy their wares. Robert Service lived in the heritage building on the corner of Government and Fort, where he worked in the bank. The building is now a pub, named in honor of Robert Service - The Bard and Banker! Kate had dozens of these interesting nuggets of information for us as we walked along Government Street and then progressed by bus down the Christmas lit Oak Bay Avenue.

Oak Bay has its own unique history and unusual characters. In the late 19th century, Oak Bay was almost a whole day's horse ride from Victoria, through forest, bush and the ever present mud. Last night, many of the businesses were open and we had time to explore the village and do a little shopping and even had time to stop by The Penny Farthing Pub for some Christmas cheer and a welcome chance to warm our toes!. We were fortunate to encounter roving singers from the Victoria College of Performing Arts, who sang carols along the Avenue. Our next stop was the Oak Bay Beach Hotel where we enjoyed a scheduled visit to Kate's Cafe and listened to more stories with a festive drink and OBBH's famous home baked cookies. Kate's Cafe contains many architectural items salvaged from the original hotel, which adds to its charm. We had time to check out the beautiful lobby and the famous Snug before boarding the bus back downtown. Kate our guide regaled us with a ghost story to cap off the night.
The Magic of Christmas Tour runs Friday and Saturday nights, 6 to 9 PM, from December 6th to 21st. At a cost for adults of $39, it is a wonderful experience at a bargain price. Tourists, visitors to the city and residents alike would all enjoy this amazing tour. Learn about the city you live in and hop aboard a CVS Sightseeing tour. Details of this and other tours can be found on CVS's website at

For more pictures visit our Facebook Page

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nautical Nellies 17th Anniversary

There is a reason Nautical Nellies' has been around for 17 years...good food, great customer service, excellent surroundings, superior location and very good management.  The food is always fresh and very tasty.  The staff are great and well trained.  Check it out and you will see what we mean.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Butterfly Gardens Reopens...Grand Opening Dec. 7

DATE: 29 November 2013
After a 9 week ‘metamorphosis’ Victoria Butterfly Gardens is now ready to emerge from their pupae and show off their new wings, or in this case their new roof and redesign. December 7, 2013 is the grand reopening of Victoria Butterfly Gardens.
The facility is a 12,000 square foot glass house, although now the new roof has been made from a polycarbonate material, which weighs very little in comparison to glass. Its insulation properties are up to ten times better than the glass roof that was there before, plus it provides a much safer environment in the event of an earthquake.
David Roberts, General Manager said “It was the right time. The building has been in existence for over 20 years and as technology changes we wanted to take advantage of these factors to lower our carbon footprint.”  Because the Gardens are tropical and host a variety of tropical plant life, birds and other creatures the temperature is maintained at a balmy 25 degrees Celsius.   The energy savings are expected to be considerable with this new roof.
“We have been getting so many questions about every aspect of the construction, relating to the animals, butterflies and plants. Pupae are onsite and will have emerged into butterflies by the time we open 07 December.
Our friends in the industry have helped keep our animals safe and healthy during the closure. Some have stayed in temporary housing on site and others have been housed at approved homes of site. The safety and wellbeing of their animals is of paramount importance. They are part of our family. Most of the animals at Butterfly Gardens have come from private homes where owners have not been able to look after them any longer, and some have been rescued from places where they were not receiving the care they need.”
Other improvements have been to the look and feel of the admissions and gift shop area, which are now more user friendly and inviting to guests. The average guest will not notice the change in the roof but many of the pillars have been removed for better sight lines and visitors will definitely notice some of the new tropical birds that have just arrived. 

All in all, “the Jungle”, as the staff like to refer to it, is ready to give you a dose of the tropics. So as the weather outside gets colder, wetter and gray….a trip to Butterfly Gardens is like a trip to a tropical paradise.
Christmas lights are on in the jungle from 10am daily with last admission at 5pm from December 7-31 (closed Christmas day).
Contact: David Roberts, General Manager. Victoria Butterfly Gardens. (250)508-0075, email:

For more pictures go to our Facebook Page.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kitchens of Distinction Boutique Bistro

We had another excellent lunch at Shirley Lang's recently opened Boutique Bistro at 638 Fisgard Street. in the Ambrosia Event Centre.  Today we had Sweet Spicy Smokey Chilli and Seafood Stew.  The Chilli was one of the very best we have ever had.  I am not aware of any restaurant in Victoria that changes the menu every day, like Shirley does.  Give it a try, you will be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nautical Nellies Restaurant Best of the Best

Tonight members of the Victoria Guest Services Network were hosted by the owner of Nautical Nellies.  Jeff wanted the opportunity to showcase his new menu items to workers in the tourism industry.   Jeff told me that he wanted everyone who comes to Nautical Nellies to feel like they are at home and have exactly the kind of individual experience they are looking for.   Jeff emphasized at Nautical Nellies he guarantees a quality you won't find anywhere else, always served with a smile by friendly, caring and knowledgeable staff.  I checked around and everyone I talked to through the course of the meal said exactly that.  Most said that it was the best restaurant in Victoria and the food was always top quality and very delicious.  Jeff brought out a series of tasting plates that included Corn and Clam Chowder, sushi (Hawaiian Role and Mermaid Roll), Crocodile Sliders (croc meat from Australia), a Lobster Sandwich, Iva Mae’s Spinach and Crab Dip, and a superb West Coast Paella.  VGSN members were also treated to drinks from an impressive wine, cocktail, martini and beer menu.  The food was absolutely delicious.  The attached photos also show some of the main courses enjoyed by VGSN members .  What a feast!  The servers were skillful and friendly, and we were amazed at how quickly our meals arrived at the table, considering that the restaurant was busy and we were a group of 30.  Jeff has been in business for 17 years in Victoria and from what we saw this evening, it is easy to see why he is so successful.  There are many great reason for choosing Nautical Nellies, including a great location on Victoria's  waterfront, lots of parking, great staff, superior food, comprehensive food and drink menus, beautiful decor, a caring attitude, an oyster bar, and the best seafood and steaks in Victoria.  We always recommend Nautical Nellies when seafood is called for.  Our guests have always been impressed and it is our "go-to" restaurant for special occasions.  So why not impress your guests when they arrive in Victoria?  You won't be disappointed either.

For more pictures from Nautical Nellies please go to our Facebook Page.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Grand Opening Boutique Bistro and Abrosia Event and Conference Centre

Tonight we attended the Grand Opening of the Kitchens of Distinction Boutique Bistro and the Ambrosia Catering and Convention Centre.  His Worship Mayor of Victoria Dean Fortin, assisted by Bistro owner Shirley Lang and Centre Manager Guy Le Monnier cut the ribbon.  Mayor Nils Jensen from Oak Bay was also in attendance as was Councillor Pamela Madoff from the City of Victoria.  About 200 people attended to congratulate Shirley and Guy and enjoy delicious appetizers and champagne in the newly refurbished Ambrosia Centre.  It has been some time since we have attended an event here and the transformation achieved by French trained chef (and owner of Island Gourmet Catering), Guy Le Monnier is stunning.  Guy took over the business and expanded on the solid foundation of good work and quality reputation built by its former owners.  Both businesses, Shirley Lang’s Boutique Bistro and Guy’s Ambrosia Conference and Event Centre are centrally positioned at 638 Fisgard Street in downtown Victoria in historic Chinatown. Situated between Government and Douglas streets on the main floor of Ashlar Manor, it is a short walk from Victoria City Hall and Centennial Square. Affordable, secure covered parking is located directly across the street in the City Parkade. In the month that Shirley has been in business, the accolades for her delicious food have poured in.  If you have not visited her Boutique Bistro and checked out Guy’s Conference and Event Centre, you are missing something special. Congratulations Shirley and Guy. While at the Bistro, check out the feature artist of the month, currently photographic artist Laura Breckenridge.For more pictures please go to our Facebook Page.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bird Sanctuary Esquimalt Lagoon

 Ever since Madison was little she loved to chase the gulls, or perhaps she thinks she can fly like they do!  When we get into the lagoon and pull out the hen scratch, they start coming from every corner of the Lagoon.  Geese, ducks of all kinds, gulls, swans, and pigeons all flock to the shore, even if you don't have food, they think you do.  It was another great late October afternoon as the fog finished burning off just as we arrived.  What a beautiful place we live in. For more pictures please go to our Facebook page.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Take a pea Victoria Style

We have had a wonderful summer and an extraordinarily dry and sunny October.  Everything in Linda's garden came early this year so Linda replanted some items.  The carrots, beets and peas are doing amazingly well for a second crop.  As you can see, October 25 and the peas are still flowering.  Our resident hummingbirds have been feeding at the pea flowers.  The peas are delicious and would be very plentiful had it not been for a deer who was smart enough to crawl under our fence.  I picked these peas today and promptly ate them.  Who would have though that we could get two crops of peas.  Linda did!  It is so wonderful to be living in the amazing place.  For more pictures, visit our Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10 Acres Bistro Bar and Farm

After the VGSN meeting tonight, Linda and Ron met Joanna Mercer, former VGSN member from the Delta. Joanna says hello to all her old VGSN friends. For appetizers we had a cheese plate and chicken liver parfait....mmm delicious. For mains we had Tagliatelle....wild mushroioms, roasted farm vegetables, citrus brown butter and parmesan chees, Spaghetti and meatballs with granapedano and herbs, and an open face burger with onion jam, rosemary aioli, Taleggio, frites and greens. All meals were delicious. Nice surroundings and good service. We suggest you give 10 Acres a try

For more pictures, please visit our Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tilley Store Victoria BC presents Hidden Places Travel

Tonight we attended the Tilley Store to hear a presentation by Dag Georing and Maria Coffey owners of Hidden Places Travel. In 1991 they started to explore the world's most spectacular places as photographers and writers. Several years (and several books) later they began sharing their experiences with others by developing and leading adventure tours. In 2000 they founded Hidden Places Travel and quickly became renowned for their unique, off-the-beaten-track itineraries. Dag and Maria support local communities and conservation projects. That provides their trips unprecedented access and a loyal following of repeat guests is a testament to our professionalism and nurturing approach. In 2013 Hidden Places Travel was recognized by National Geographic Traveler who selected “100 Miles for Elephants” as one of their ‘50 Tours of a Lifetime: 2013's most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best–guided, and most sustainable tours.

The evening started with appies and time to tour the store and see the diversity of products offered at the Tilley Store. Jennifer Robinson, store manager introduced Dag and Maria and the presentation began. We were treated to reviews of hidden places in Vietnam, Laos, Indochina, Myanmar, Africa, India, Mergui, Croatia, Turkey and the Galapagos. The tours looked amazing and each certainly seems to meet their goals of providing trips that are a work of art, honed to perfection and filled with the ‘hidden gems’ that are their trademark.
This most enjoyable evening ended with draws for door prizes and everyone went home with a beautiful gift bag.  Thanks Jennifer.  For more pictures please go to our Facebook page.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Finlayson Arm Road - an unusual side trip!

Today I ventured where no man had ever gone before.  I felt like Capt. Kirk from Star Trek!  Well truth is man has gone there before, but my guess is 99% of the people who live in Victoria have not.  Two suggestions:  don’t go there when it is raining or snowing!  There are two ways to get on it.  One is on the road that turns into Goldstream Park.  If you are coming from Langford it is a safe turn into the park.  If you come out that way, then you have to turn left onto the Island Highway from Goldstream Park and this is not so safe.  However, I think the road is more enjoyed from the other end.  To get there, head for the Highlands on Millstream Road and turn left on Finlayson Arm Road.  Right away, the yellow caution signs come out.  The road is narrow (sometimes only one vehicle wide), has lots of curves and goes up and down quite a bit.  Mount Finlayson is about 400 meters high and it feels like Finlayson Arm Road gets pretty high up in the mountains. 


Not far into the road, you pass Lothlorian Wilderness  Retreat and Spa.  Until today, I never knew it existed.  It appears to not have a web site and I have never seen an ad for this place.  It is truly a mystery to me and I am in the tourism business.  Further along the road I pass a fence that is made out of pairs of skis.  There are beautiful homes, mobile homes, homes that look like they were built bits at a time…the standards seem to be non-existent.  This is truly a unique place to visit.  No chance of getting car sick.  You would be a fool to drive fast enough for that to happen.  There is a trail that goes to the “Ridge Top” and it appears that it also goes to the trail head for Caleb Pike.

There are signs and more signs.  There is one with a truck on it looking like a grade of 45 degrees downhill.  It is steep by manageable if you drive sanely.  Enjoy the pics.  For more pics go to our Facebook page.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Vic Theatre Re-opens

Tonight we joined the Victoria Film Festival (VFF) for the re-launch of The Vic Theatre at 808 Douglas Street and corner of Humboldt St. The Victoria Film Festival recently took over the theatre, and after a few coats of paint, we're ready to launch The Vic seven nights a week! Guests were treated to “cocktails and nosh”. The excellent wine was from the Devine Vineyard and the “nosh” was provided by Michael Murphy owner of 10 Acres Bistro + Bar + Farm. The staff and volunteers from VFF served the “cocktails and nosh”.
Thanks to VFF for inviting us to their grand opening night. We really enjoyed the “Secret Screening” which will be showing later on this month. Tonight’s film was Good Ol' Freda
by Director, Ryan White, a 2013 documentary where Freda Kelly tells stories from her career as the secretary for the Beatles.
We are aware that this is a society that is keeping this historic Victoria theatre running and that they really need a modern projection system, so if you are in a position to support them, please go to their web site and donate what you can. They are doing great work and deserve some support.

You can see more pictures on our Facebook page.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. The monument is located in the Kedu Valley, in the southern part of Central Java, at the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia.  Could this be one of the Hidden Places of Asia?  Well find out at:

Jennifer Robinson, Manager of the Tilley Store at 560 Yates st, is hosting an evening  event called Asia’s Hidden Places, presented by Dag Goering of Hidden Places Travel, a boutique travel company based in Victoria. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Jennifer at  250-590-6381.