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Vancouver Convention Centre

Vancouver Convention Centre

This blog will bring you up to date with our visit to the south-east of British Columbia.  There have been many highlights.  It is a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world and we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to see some of it.  Having a base on Mayne Island was wonderful as we were able to travel from there to Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  Wherever you go there are snow capped mountains looming in the distance, azure seas, green parks and garden, daffodils of every hue and color have been in bloom and now the tulips are magnificent.  It is Spring and the trees are all in bloom,  the ornamental plum and  the cherry blossoms.  In Vancouver and Victoria streets are lined with gardens and shrubs and flowering trees abound.

I’m going to leave it to the photos to tell the story and I hope you enjoy the journey as much as we have. 

Cruise Ship coming into Vancouver under Lions Gate Bridge

Cruise Ship coming into Vancouver
under Lions Gate Bridge

Vancouver CBD

Vancouver CBD

Vancouver Lookout

Vancouver Lookout

Top of Lookout

Top of Lookout

Church from the Lookout

Church from the Lookout

Vancouver from Lookout

Vancouver from Lookout

Duncan Laughing Men's sculptures

Duncan Laughing Men’s sculptures

 

Sunset  English Bay near our accomo -  dation in Vancouver

Sunset English Bay
near our accomo –
dation in Vancouver

Vancouver English Bay

Vancouver English Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a bus from the City to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.  We had a wonderful couple of hours walking across the bridge, through the rain forest, along boardwalks and crossed the new Clifftops walk, not for the faint-hearted.

Capilano suspension bridge

Capilano suspension bridge

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge

Bottom of bridge

Bottom of bridge

Us on cliff walk

Us on cliff walk

 

On cliff walk

On cliff walk

Cliff walk

Cliff walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Mountie Bear at Souvenir shop Capilano

With Mountie Bear at
Souvenir shop Capilano

Au revoir for now. The next post will be of our tour of the south west and east of Vancouver Island and then there is one of Seattle.  We took the Victoria Clipper from Victoria to Seattle, USA a journey of about 2hrs 40mins.  Duncan was not sea sick thanks to our friend Nadine who had told him about some tablets which he had prescribed before we left Oz, worked a treat.  Also our stay here in Victoria to come.  After that when we get home I’m hoping for a fantastic blog on the awesome Rocky Mountains of Canada.

We are looking forward to catching up with all the news from home, don’t hear much over here.  Hope you are all well and please take the time to read this and comment and/or reply.  The Silvernomads.

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Map of Vancouver Island

Map of Vancouver Island

Floyd's Diner Sidney

Floyd’s Diner Sidney

SUN, SNOW, SEA, SURF, SEA LIONS, SEALS – just some of the highlights of our travels across Vancouver Island, not to mention great food, great wine, and new friends.  The beauty of this Island is its diversity –  from the City of Gardens, Victoria, and the Butchart Gardens, to the Pacific Rim and the seaside towns of the West Coast, the mountains, forests and sandy beaches, the East Coast towns with their totems, murals, fishing and timber industries and the rugged landscapes of the north.  The map highlights Vancouver on the mainland of British Columbia, Victoria (the Capital) and the red lines are where we have travelled so far.  If you look between Vancouver and Victoria you will see a small Island called Mayne Island.  That is where we are staying.

This time we arrived on Vancouver Island and travelled the short distance to Sidney for brunch at Floyd’s Diner.  This Diner had been recommended to us by Jan and wow what a treat.  The menu is extensive offering weird and wonderfully named food and drinks and is based on Diners back in the 60’s, aka “Happy Days” TV show.   There are photos of the Beatles, Clint Eastwood and Marilyn Monroe on the walls and other memorabilia.  My order was a small serving and my eyes almost popped out when it was served and yes, no surprise to those of you who know me well,  I got through it all (See Photo).

Very well sated we headed north to the town of Nanaimo.  We had visited here on our last trip but it had been raining.  The day was sunny and warm so we visited the Tourist Information Centre situated underneath mountains, walked around the centre of town and along the harbourside before heading to our motel for the night where I had a swim and a spa using bathers I had borrowed from Jan.  Didn’t think to bring any with me, had no intention of swimming at any beaches this time of year!!

Next morning bright and early and with the weather in our favour, sunny and warm, we headed north and then towards the west coast.  A sign saying “Englishman’s Falls” caught our eye so we decided to make a detour.  This turned out to be a highlight of our day.  We walked to the lower and upper Falls and along the river through a Forest with groundcover of moss and ferns.  Photos just don’t do these places justice.  It was really cold down in there and I had forgotten my gloves.  You would think my husband would have offered me his!  Duncan took a video and I took so many photos it will be hard to choose just a couple to add to this post.

Englishman's Falls Duncan on footbridge

Englishman’s Falls
Duncan on footbridge

Englishman's Falls Vancouver island

Englishman’s Falls
Vancouver island

 

Englishman's Falls Landscape

Englishman’s Falls
Landscape

 

 

Back on the road again we were mesmerised by the views of snow capped mountains on either side of the Highway.  The Highway skirts lakes and rivers and pine forests  and the scenery is breathtaking.

Snow capped mountains

Snow capped mountains

Mountain and Lake Scenery

Mountain and Lake
Scenery

We arrived at the West Coast town of Ucluelet, checked our bags into our Motel and set off to explore further afield.  We drove to the town of Tofino.  Unfortunately being here at the end of Winter meant that most of the activities this area is renowned for were not operating such as whale watching, guided bear-watching tours  and all water activities.   In the summer  months Tofino is the surfing capital of Canada. However we were able to get a snapshot of the beauty of the town with its wide streets, cafes, and views overlooking Clayoquot Sound, a magnificent expanse of water sheltered underneath the distant mountains.  We had coffee and biscuits (scones) at a wonderful bakery, walked through the shops and the Art Gallery and I lingered in a jewellery shop run by a Polish couple with awesome, original pieces.  On the drive back to Ucluelet we stopped at Long Beach where I walked along the beach taking photos of Incinerator Rock, the crashing waves and heaps of driftwood.

Ucluelet Harbour Our Motel view

Ucluelet Harbour
Our Motel view

West Coast Town of Tofino

West Coast
Town of Tofino

Long Beach Tofino

Long Beach
Tofino

 

 

Amphitrate Point Lighthouse

Amphitrate Point
Lighthouse

Amphitrate Point Ucluelet

Amphitrate Point
Ucluelet

 

The town of Ucluelet is bordered by ocean on three sides.  Here there are fishing guides and charters and for the more adventurous the Wild Pacific Trail, a walker’s paradise.  Another unusual leisure pastime is winter stormwatching.  Apparently visitors from around the World come to watch Mother Nature unleash her wrath on the rocky shorelines.  We ventured to the rugged site of  Amphitrate lighthouse.   Crashing waves, huge pieces of driftwood, small islands everywhere along the coast attested to the shipwrecks which have occurred over the years in this area.  There is a very defined walking trail and I ventured along it for some distance however having read signs about bears, cougar and wolves, I soon turned back when a guy and a dog approached silently behind me.  When I heard the crunch of leaves I jumped out of my skin (laughing now, not funny at the time).  There were signs in our motel room to say do not leave any rubbish around as the bears will snuffle their way into it.  Yeah I was taking no chances although I did mention to Duncan that I might take a walk in the dark to see if I encountered one for a photo, I won’t repeat his re-action.  I took many photos at the lighthouse as it was approaching dusk and we stood there slowly savouring the pink and salmon sunset which is also a highlight of many of our evenings on Mayne Island.

 

Amphitrate Point sunset

Amphitrate Point
sunset

Fishing boat Uclluelet sun set

Fishing boat Uclluelet
sun set

 

Early the next morning it was back down the mountains through the rugged landscapesagan passing through the snow capped mountains and lakes to Nanaimo before heading back to the East Coast.  Along the way we encountered an accident on a sharp bend in the road.  Thankfully no one was injured which was a miracle in itself as the car had flipped completely over and the two young men had been able to extracate themselves.  The driver was in shock but people in front of us were attending to them.

Awesome landscapes from Highway

Awesome landscapes
from Highway

Further on we came across the Forests of Cathedral Grove where we stopped to wander through the magnificent  Douglas Fir trees some over 800 years old.  One wonders what stories they could tell.  The photos don’t do this forest justice but you will get an image of our experience.  Once again I forgot to put my gloves on and I went off leaving Duncan in the car to another area of Forest.  Truth to tell I wandered off the pathway to get a clearer photo and became disoriented.  After some time wandering, probably around in circles, I found the entrance albeit shivering with cold.  Duncan was about to send search parties, I think.  Evan had loaned us warm jackets and I had forgotten to put it on, won’t make that mistake again.

Douglas Fir over 800 years old

Douglas Fir over
800 years old

Cold -  you bet

Cold – you bet

 

Deciding against taking the fast Highway north  we took the “road less travelled” to enjoy the 0cean views.  We were hungry so we stopped at a small, rather isolated café/restaurant further on from Qualicum Beach with ocean views.  We had the best meal we have had in a long while.  I had wild salmon, home made coleslaw, home made tartar sauce and fries while Duncan had BLT and he chose the chicken/rice soup as his choice of soup, salad or fries which came with the sandwich for a very minimal price.  The service was wonderful and by the time we were ready to leave the place was full.  We had had some awful experiences with food and service at some of the places we had stayed so  it made a nice change.

Enjoying the drive we both, at the same time, saw a colony of sea lions so we stopped, drove back and wandered out onto the jetty.  It was freezing cold but what a wonderful sight to see these wild animals lazing contentedly right in front of us.  There were sea lions, seals and cubs barking and making such a racket.  There were boats just coming back in loaded with oysters.  We watched as they unloaded and having taken so many photos and Duncan a video we reluctantly got back in the car to head further north.  Just up the road I saw a large shed where workers were shucking the oysters and selling some.  Wow I have never seen such large oysters even in Tasmania and the taste!!!!

Sea lion colony

Sea lion colony

Ship Sea Lion colony

Ship
Sea Lion colony

Family of Sea Lions

Family of Sea Lions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By this time we were in the beautiful Comox Valley which is nestled between the mountains and the sea.  Once again we drove alongside stunning mountain peaks, rivers and lakes, lush forests and farms.  We passed a magnificent golf course aptly named  Duncan Meadows Golf Course  so had to take a photo, ha ha.  This guy is very popular over here.  The towns of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland are situated in this Valley.  One of my friends had emailed me the address of friends of hers who live in Courtenay so we had been in contact and had been invited to stay the night.  Before our visit we explored the town of Comox and surrounding area. We experienced wonderful hospitality with John & Audrey who made us so welcome with dinner and some of John’s blackberry wine made from local blackberries which grow in abundance in the region.  It was overcast and visibility poor so we were unable to see the Comox Glacier which, on a clear day, can be seen from their kitchen windows.  Maybe next time as they have invited us back before we fly back to Australia.   We have made so many new friends who I’m sure we will keep in touch with. Next day, rainy and overcast we headed south back to catch the Ferry to Mayne Island and to our wonderful hosts who had prepared a St. Patrick’s Day feast for us.

Our next adventure will take us to Vancouver and surrounds.  We had a glimpse of the beauty of this City when we arrived so we are really looking forward to spending some time there taking in the sights and sounds.  So stay tuned for the next adventure of the Silvernomads. We send our love and best wishes and we hope all are well.  We would love to hear from you either in reply to this, by email or Facebook – Rhonda and Duncan

Sage Cottage Mayne Island

Sage Cottage
Mayne Island


Still on Vancouver Island with free tickets in our pockets and having heard so much about this tourist attraction, we were lured to The Butchart Gardens in spite of snow having fallen the prior two days and lightly snowing as we boarded the bus.
These Gardens are a National Historic Site of Canada and have been in bloom for over 100 years. When Italian couple Robert and Jennie Butchart came to live on Vancouver Island they named their home “Benvenuto” – Italian for “Welcome”. They started the Garden by planting sweet pea seeds and a rose bush. With great vision the barren landstone quarry that had been excavated to supply the cement factory nearby was slowly transformed and is now 55 acres of breathtaking gardens. Dogs on leashes are allowed and I have included a photo and a sign which made me laugh.

There was still so much snow laying around but we were able to appreciate the landscape which is divided into themes including the Sunken Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden, the Gift Shop and Restaurant area to name a few. In the summer months (July and August) the Gardens are also open in the evenings and a festival is held including fireworks. Spring and summer are the best times to visit but the Gardens are open every day of the year and there are plantings for each season. We are going to return at the end of the month when lots of the bulbs will be in bloom. Also this is one of the places we visit on our tour early in May before we return home.
I am including some photos. Some are indoor plantings which were spectacular. As you can imagine so many and these are just a snapshot. When we visit again later in Spring I should be able to post some of the tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.

Lightly snowing cold

Lightly snowing
cold


Sunken gardens

Sunken gardens


Japanese garden

Japanese garden


Garden themes

Garden themes


Snow in the gardens a rare occurrence

Snow in the gardens
a rare occurrence


Butchart gardens Orchid

Butchart gardens
Orchid


In hothouse

In hothouse


Pond with fish

Pond with fish


Butchart Gardens  visitors

Butchart Gardens
visitors


She put US on a leash

She put US on a leash


Nearby are the Butterfly Gardens – another must visit while in Victoria. We spent a couple of hours here. There theme is “More than just butterflies” and indeed that is what we found; the inhabitants include thousands of free flying butterflies with an amazing display of their life cycle; different species of free flying tropical birds including a macaw; poison dart frogs (behind glass thank goodness); tortoises; hundreds of koi (tropical fish) as well as my favourites, the flamingos The flora is spectacular in itself.
A snapshot of our visit –
Butterfly Gardens Macaw

Butterfly Gardens
Macaw


Blue Morpho Origin Costa Rica

Blue Morpho
Origin Costa Rica


Giant Owl butterfly

Giant Owl butterfly


White tree nymph Philippines

White tree nymph
Philippines

    Giant owl butterfly

    Giant owl butterfly


    Butterfly Gardens Flamingo  Pad

    Butterfly Gardens
    Flamingo Pad


    Flamingos

    Flamingos


    Poison dart frog

    Poison dart frog

    On our third day in Victoria the rain set in but we drove north up the mountains to a small town called Duncan where, of course, we had to stop, have lunch and take photos in Duncan’s namesake town. This town is named the “City of Totems” and more than 40 of these are situated all around the small town, quite a sight to see. Just north of here is the town of Chemainus, Mural Town, with 41 wall sized structures featured around the region. We continued on to Nanaimo, Harbour City but, by this time, it was raining quite heavily. We were able to go for a walk along the waterfront and watch the sea planes landing and taking off. We woke the next morning to snow so we made our way back down the mountains to Victoria and to the town of Sidney. We stopped along the way at Merridale Estate Cidery as our host, Evan, hds mentioned this was well worth a visit. We were looking to get out of the snow and have a hot lunch and a glass of Cider. To our disappointment they are closed over the winter months Mondays and Tuesdays. However the young woman felt sorry for us we think as we said we had come all the way from Australia. She let us taste several of the ciders they sell and we purchased a couple of bottles (plastic bottles as if the cidar is put into glass it will overheat and implode – must be in the summer months surely!). It was quite an experience driving down the mountain with Duncan driving on the right side of the road (or is that the wrong side) through heavy snow, stop – start in many instances. He really managed it incredibly well. We had a pub lunch at Sidney wandered around the shops, bakeries, restaurants and then back to our Ferry for the journey home. We are already looking forward to our next trip back to Vancouver Island where we will venture further north, east and west hopefully with much better weather.
    Our visits to the towns of the Cowichan Region and Merridale Cidery in photos –

    Vancouver Island drive through the mountains

    Vancouver Island
    drive through the mountains


    Totem Pole Duncan

    Totem Pole Duncan


    Duncan Mall

    Duncan Mall


    Totem Poles Duncan

    Totem Poles
    Duncan


    Chemainus mural

    Chemainus mural


    Native Indians mural

    Native Indians mural


    Bullock train mural

    Bullock train mural


    Nanaimo "Black Frank"

    Nanaimo “Black Frank”


    Husky at Nanaimo

    Husky at Nanaimo


    Sky plane Nanaimo

    Sky plane Nanaimo


    Nanaimo the Harbour City

    Nanaimo the Harbour City


    Duncan Merridale Cidery

    Duncan Merridale Cidery


    Merridale Estate cidery

    Merridale Estate cidery

    I hope you have enjoyed coming along on our travels with us. We are looking forward to so much more, back to Vancouver Island this weekend and in a couple of weeks
    spending time in Vancouver and surrounds. In the meantime we are doing it tough in this beautiful cottage right on the Bay.
    Thanks to those of you who have replied and/or made comments. Until next time, the Silvernomads.

Snow capped mountains, ocean landscapes, huge pine forests; the diverse Capital of British Columbia, Victoria the City of Gardens with its controversial past; history of the First Nations people as depicted in the royal BC Museum; Chinatown; Parliament Buildings; Craigdarroch Castle; Buchart Gardens; vast arrays of shops making for a shoppers paradise just to mention a few of the delights we experienced on Vancouver Island described as “heaven on earth” and “Canada’s Pacific Northwest paradise”. Having said all of that perhaps our visit did not do the City and surrounds justice as winter is clinging on and we experienced snow and temperatures from 0deg to 4deg.

We travelled to Canada’s far west coast by British Columbia Ferry to Swartz Bay not far from Victoria. Vancouver Island is the largest of the Gulf Islands of which Mayne Island, where we are staying, is also one, which stretch north-west along the Canadian Coast. The Island is the exposed top of a submerged mountain range and stretches for 460km/285ml from Victoria in the southwest to Cape Scott in the north. On this trip in six days we only managed to wander around Victoria taking in the tourist attractions, shopping and eateries as well as travelling to the lower southern towns of Duncan (City of Totems), Cowichan (City of Murals), and Nanaimo, a large City on the waterfront. We did not get to explore here as it was raining quite heavily and when we left the next morning snowing heavily. Duncan did an awesome job of driving down the mountain back to Victoria through the snow on the right side of the road in the right side of the car (or is that the “wrong” side in Australian terms).

I seem to be getting ahead of myself, back to the beautiful City of Victoria. We took the bus from the Travelodge where we were staying and our first stop was a dutch bakery where we had coffee/tea and pastry. Setting the tone for the day we set off exploring the shops, the Inner Harbour, found the Information Centre where we picked up maps and a “Be a Tourist for a Day” promotion pass. This was for three days with free passes or deals into tourist attractions and pubs and eateries promoting the city to locals and tourists. We visited the Royal BC Museum with it’s diverse selection of exhibits including a lifelike prehistoric mammal and First Nations historic exhibit. We toured the Parliament of BC with buildings dating from as early as 1898 and structurally beautifully designed interior. Over three days we explored some of the many attractions including Craigdarroch Castle perched high over downtown Victoria. The Castle was built in 1887-90 for the coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. There are four floors of exquisite stained glass, intricate woodwork and lavish Victorian-era furnishings. The tragedy is that Dunsmuir passed away before its completion so only his wife, three of their daughters and two orphaned grandchildren ever lived on the original 28 acre estate.

Once again I will let the pictures tell the story as there is too much to put into words all that we have seen and done in such a short time. The next blog will feature our trip to The Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site of Canada which has been in bloom for over 100 years as well as our travels north to the towns of Duncan the City of Totems, The City of Murals and Nanaimo the Harbour City.

The first group of photos are of Mayne Island where we are staying in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast right on the Bay with views to the mountains.

Our view from back patio

Our view from
back patio


British Columbia Ferry

British Columbia
Ferry


sunset on mountains from our Cottage

sunset on mountains
from our Cottage


Mayne Island lighthouse

Mayne Island
lighthouse


Exploring Mayne Island

Exploring Mayne Island


Sea lions

Sea lions


This next group of photos are from our visit to Vancouver Island.
Royal BC Museum

Royal BC Museum


First Nation People's Exhibit

First Nation People’s Exhibit


Parliament Buildings

Parliament Buildings


Decorative Ceiling Parliament Building

Decorative Ceiling
Parliament Building


Parliamentary Chambers

Parliamentary Chambers

Craigdarruch Castle

Craigdarruch Castle


Castle Dining Room

Castle Dining Room


Castle staircase 4 floors up

Castle staircase
4 floors up


We've come a long way since this

We’ve come a long way since this


British Columbia's Coat of Arms

British Columbia’s
Coat of Arms


Victoria Inner Harbour

Victoria Inner Harbour


Brisbane - an awfully long way away

Brisbane – an awfully long way away


Chinatown Duncan and friend

Chinatown
Duncan and friend

Thanks to our hosts for making all this possible. Please keep in touch and let us have your comments.
The Silvernomads.

Hi all.  Snowed in, doing it tough BBQ west coast, sock eyed salmon and vegies by candlelight for dinner. It is Sunday evening here on Mayne Island, British Columbia, has been snowing all day, we have a power outage so dinner by candlelight with our wonderful hosts.  As I write I am sitting looking out the windows at the Ocean barely visible through the snow falling, some would say a depressing sight but I love it, so different to home.  The temperature is 0 deg. 

After a long tiring flight via Auckland we arrived at Vancouver Airport, were taken by shuttle bus to our hotel where we slept overnight before taking the train into Vancouver Waterfront.  And yes, my family, it wouldn’t be me without some sort of mishap.  This time I bit into an apple and the front tooth on  my plate came off.  I couldn’t believe it, my holiday had hardly started and I had visions of meeting our hosts with a “gummy” smile.  Off to the City looking for a dentist.  We found a Post Office as Duncan wanted to get a local sim card and there right opposite was a dental surgery.  They took me in almost straight away, took impressions top and bottom and asked me to come back about 4pm to pick the plate up.  They were so helpful and the cost $254.  If this sounds familiar, yes it happened to me in Florida as well so when I return to Australia time to get a replacement plate and tooth.

We wandered around Vancouver waterfront taking in the sights and sounds.  Photos do not do this City and its surrounds justice.  It is so magnificent and we have only touched the surface.  The next day we caught the ferry across to Mayne Island, a large Ferry which takes passengers to and from Vancouver to Victoria, Vancouver Island.  We were met by our host Evan who drove us around past the small village and to their beautiful B& B Sage Cottage.  Here we met Jan and Missy.  These people have made us so welcome we feel we are friends already.  They have spoilt us with food.  For lunch home made tomato soup and blueberry slice; for dinner artichoke chicken (tasty as) and peach and raspberry pie (heavenly).  Our room is spacious and the bed so comfy.  I havn’t been able to take photos of the views from our bedroom and lounge windows as it is snowing but believe me it is amazing.

As the saying goes, “a picture paints a thousand words”, so this blog will be short on words and filled with pictures. 

 

Vancouver Airport

Vancouver Airport


View to Alps from Vancouver

View to Alps from Vancouver


Vancouver Waterfront

Vancouver Waterfront


Sea plane Vancouver

Sea plane Vancouver


Canadian Flag

Canadian Flag


Olympic Torch

Olympic Torch


Hockey anyone

Hockey anyone


Mountains from Vancouver

Mountains from Vancouver


Canada Place Exploration Centre

Canada Place Exploration Centre

We hope you have enjoyed this, our first blog of our adventures in Canada and can’t wait to share many more with you.
Our love to all and please make comments and/or let us know how things are back in OZ.

MELBOURNE HIGHLIGHTS

Happy 1st Birthday Hugo

Happy 1st Birthday Hugo

Yum Muma's birthday cake

Yum Muma’s birthday cake

FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF OUR SON TROY AND HIS BEAUTIFUL WIFE REBECCA SHARED A WONDERFUL DAY’S OUTING ON SATURDAY 1 FEBRUARY CELEBRATING OUR GRANDSON HUGO’S FIRST BIRTHDAY. A DELICIOUS LUNCH OF BAKED PORK, LAMB, POTATOES AND SALADS WAS ENJOYED AND THE LITTLE ONES MUNCHED ON FAIRY BREAD, SANDWICHES, FRUIT SALAD, JUICE AND BIRTHDAY CAKE. ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT WAS AN OUTING FOR GRANDDAD, FATHER AND SON FOR BREAKFAST WHILE THE TWO GRANDMAS, AUNTY AND MUM WENT OFF FOR A DELICIOUS LUNCH AT BEASLEY’S NURSERY AND TEA HOUSE. THE TEAHOUSE IS DIRECTLY ACROSS THE ROAD FROM CHRYSTAL BROOK CARAVAN PARK WHERE WE SPENT 3 WEEKS RELAXING, DRIVING AROUND SIGHTSEEING STOPPING FOR COFFEE/LUNCH, CATCHING A BUS TO SHOPPING CENTRES AND SEEING A MOVIE. SADLY THREE HOMES WERE LOST IN THE NEARBY SMALL TOWN OF WARRANDYTE IN THE RECENT BUSHFIRES.

Hugo's Granma, Aunty and Mum

Hugo’s Granma, Aunty and Mum

Hugo's Granma, Aunty and Grandma

Hugo’s Granma, Aunty and Grandma

Beasley's Nursery, Gifts and Tea House

Beasley’s Nursery, Gifts and Tea House

AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR WE HAD HOUSESAT FOR A LOVELY COUPLE WHO ARE DUCATI MOTORBIKE ENTHUSIASTS AND MEMBERS OF A DUCATI CLUB. THEY OWN A BEAUTIFUL BLACK LABRADOR, TORO, AND A DALMATION, TINKA, WHO IS ALMOST TWO. THEY APPROACHED US ABOUT LOOKING AFTER THEIR HOME AND PETS ONCE AGAIN AND WE WERE ONLY TOO HAPPY TO AGREE. THEIR APARTMENT IS NOT TOO FAR FROM THE BEAUTIFUL ST KILDA BEACH AND THE PORT OF MELBOURNE. LAST YEAR TINKA WAS INTO SO MUCH MISCHIEF WE NICKNAMED HER “DALMONSTER”. THIS YEAR SHE HAS SETTLED DOWN A LITTLE BUT SHE IS NOT THE CLUIEST OF DOGS BUT SO LOVING. I’M AFRAID SHE CAN TWIST ME AROUND HER LITTLE FINGER BUT WHEN IT COMES TO DUNCAN SHE KNOWS WHO’S BOSS!
THE PET OWNERS ARE IN TASMANIA WITH MANY OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CLUB FOR 9 DAYS. THEIR ITINERARY COVERS MOST PARTS OF THE STATE AND I’M SURE THEY WILL HAVE A FABULOUS TIME KNOWING THEIR BELOVED PETS ARE WELL TAKEN CARE OF. THESE PHOTOS WE TOOK ON THEIR DEPARTURE TO CATCH THE FERRY. UNFORTUNATELY SINCE I TYPED UP THE DRAFT FOR THIS POST THEY ARE BACK FROM TASMANIA AS ONE OF THE BIKES BROKE DOWN SO WE ARE SPENDING A COUPLE OF DAYS WITH THEM.

Fun at the Park

Fun at the Park

Adventure seekers

Adventure seekers

Tassie here we come

Tassie here we come

WE SPENT SEVERAL HOURS AT ST KILDA BEACH AND THE PORT OF MELBOURNE, PORT PHILLIP BAY, WHERE THE SPIRIT OF TASMANIA AND THE CRUISE SHIP VOYAGER SEAS WERE BERTHED. THE SPIRIT LEAVES AND RETURNS TWICE A DAY AND TAKES ABOUT 12 HOURS. IT CAN BE QUITE ROUGH DEPENDING ON HOW THE WEATHER IS ACROSS BASS STRAIT. THERE ARE LOTS OF PARKS, RESTAURANTS/CAFES RIGHT ALONG THE BEACH WHICH MAKES THE AREA IDEAL FOR FAMILIES, CYCLISTS, JOGGERS AND WALKERS.

Voyager Seas Cruise Liner Spirit of Tasmania Ferry

Voyager Seas Cruise Liner
Spirit of Tasmania Ferry

St Kilda beach, Melbourne

St Kilda beach, Melbourne

Winnie sightseeing St Kilda

Winnie sightseeing
St Kilda

WE NOW HAVE ONLY 7 DAYS UNTIL WE FLY TO VANCOUVER VIA AUCKLAND. AFTER TWO NIGHTS IN VANCOUVER WE WILL CATCH THE FERRY TO MAYNE ISLAND TO MEET THE HOME OWNERS AND SPEND A COUPLE OF DAYS WITH THEM BEFORE THEY DEPART ON THEIR HOLIDAY.

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MY NEXT BLOG. IT WILL INCLUDE SOME STORIES AND PHOTOS OF OUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE WEST COAST OF CANADA. DON’T FORGET TO CLICK “FOLLOW” ON OUR BLOG SITE TO GET REMINDERS FOR THE NEXT UPDATE.

INTRODUCTION TO NEW BLOG


Lunch Sirromet Winery Brisbane

Lunch Sirromet Winery Brisbane

Father, son and grandson

Father, son and grandson

North Island New Zealand

North Island New Zealand

Waterfall New Zealand

Waterfall New Zealand

After a busy 2013 where we housesat in Australia and New Zealand We are really looking forward to 2014 firstly as we celebrate our grandson Hugo’s first birthday on 31 January in Melbourne and then our trip to Mayne Island in the Gulf Islands Canada. We leave on 20 February, fly to Vancouver where we will spend two nights before getting the ferry across to the Island which is between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. We are looking after a home and B&B and a small dog for homeowners for 5 weeks. The highlight of our trip to Canada will be the “Spirit of the Rockies” Rocky Mountaineer train trip and couch tour, 12 days 11 nights through the Alps. This will be another one to cross off our bucket list.

We have several other housesits lined up in Australia, in Melbourne, Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast Qld and Young NSW.
We are still very much enjoying our lifestyle, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. While we have our health we will continue to do so. The only drawback is that we need to have clones of ourselves as we are so much in demand. I almost need a Personal Assistant to keep up, lol.

I do hope you enjoy my blogs as much as I know I will enjoy sharing our adventures.

Hugo and his proud Mum and Dad

Hugo and his proud
Mum and Dad

water wheel Warburton Information Centre

water wheel Warburton
Information Centre

Duncan Tribute to Gold Miners Bendigo

Duncan Tribute to Gold Miners
Bendigo

Truffles at Ballarat

Truffles at
Ballarat

St Kilda sunset

St Kilda sunset

St Kilda beachfront Duncan & Maria

St Kilda beachfront
Duncan & Maria

Passing Clouds Winery Musk village

Passing Clouds Winery
Musk village

Gerbera Farm Healesville

Gerbera Farm
Healesville

Mum and baby alpaca

Mum and baby alpaca

Alpacas Healesville

Alpacas Healesville

Yummo at Handorf chocolates

Yummo at
Handorf chocolates


As you read this you will see the photos are all at the top of the post. This is because WordPress seem to have changed around the way the photos are placed in the post. I did find out how to move them around but for this one I have left them as they came onto the page. Hopefully next time I will be able to do better, lol.
On our way to Melbourne some 3 half months ago we called in to see some very good friends we had met many years ago “on the road” who were nomads like us. They have now sold their home in Sydney and are living in a lovely home in Young, NSW. Chris made us some of his award winning scones, and Colleen gave us some lovely gifts she and a friend had made for our grandson. It would have been nice to spend more time but we were very aware of the imminent arrival of our grandson in Melbourne.
We arrived in time to be at the hospital when our grandson, Hugo George Braban was born on 31 January, weighing 2.6kg. While Troy was in the delivery suite with Bec, Bec’s Mum Glenda, Duncan and I waited drinking endless cups of coffee and getting updates from Troy via text (oh the miracle of modern technology).
Hugo was so tiny and we have all been besotted with him as he has grown, learned to smile, poke out his tongue and even giggle. This has been an extra special blessing as his Mum and Dad went through so much (IVF procedures) to have a family. He is now 3 half months old and we are very happy we have been able to spend such quality time with him and his parents. We also have six other grand-children and three great-grandchildren who are all very special to us.

We housesat for a young couple looking after a dalmation Tinka, the “dalmonster” (their name for her not ours, although we soon saw why, lol) and Toro a labrador, at the seaside suburb of Elwood, near St Kilda beach. This was a lovely stay in spite of the antics of Tinka who is just like a two year old toddler, into everything. We also looked after another older labrador and a three legged cat north-west of Melbourne at a small village called Trentham. Again we enjoyed this and were able to visit the towns of Ballarat and Bendigo, historical gold mining towns.

We are currently at a small town called Cockatoo looking after a beautiful home and a cashmere goat called Bubsy! She is quite funny – loves carrots, apple, any greens and we feed her a biscuit of hay once a week. So now I have another animal to add to our profile – oh and a worm farm, ha ha. We are east of Melbourne, in the Dandenong Ranges. It is such a beautiful area with rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cattle and vineyards. The autumn leaves are spectacular in varying hues of red, yellow, and orange. There are lots of little towns spread throughout the hills with such a variety of shops, antiques, gift shops, tea houses, arts and craft, and of course cafes and restaurants. We indulge regularly in our favourite devonshire teas – usually two huge scones each with home made raspberry jam and double cream. We visited a lavender farm and had delectable lavender scones, not much good for the figure but great for the taste buds.

On one of our days out we visited an Alpaca and Gerbera Farm, a strange combination. Here they have a huge indoors, heated area dedicated to double long stemmed gerberas in every colour imaginable. I bought a dozen mixed colours for $11 and they lasted for two weeks. The alpacas are bred here for their wool and for sale. They are brown, white, grey and black and there were young still suckling. I bought a beautiful alpaca scarf, would have liked more but the garments are really expensive.

There is so much to see in and around Melbourne. We stayed a couple of weeks on the Mornington Peninsula each evening watching the Tasmanian Ferry making her way from Melbourne. A great site with all the lights twinkling on the ocean; explored the Melbourne markets which sell everything from fruit and vegies, huge fish and crabs to clothing, jewellery and souveneirs and much more in between. We visited the museum where there is an Exhibition displaying Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, Afghanistan. This features more than 230 priceless treasures, some thousands of years old dating back to 300BC. Many have been rescued after the original museum was bombed some years ago whilst other artifacts have been lost for ever. Others have been found in ancient tombs. I particularly loved a caption which said that “A Nation is known by its culture”. Fortunatley this culture is being preserved.

When we were in Paris we visited the Louvre. It is so big it would take a couple of days to really look around properly. I discovered that the well-renowned impressionist artist, Claude Monet’s Exhibition “Monet’s Garden”, is on at the National Gallery of Victoria. He is most famous for his paintings of waterlillies grown in his own garden in France. The Exhibition of Paintings dates from 1840 to 1926. The paintings are amazing and I enjoyed the Exhibition immensely. I would have loved to buy a silk scarf featuring the colours and themes of the paintings but starting at $129 thought better of it and settled for postcards.

We have enjoyed the company of our son, his wife and our grandson at their home and out to brunch and dinner. We were really chuffed to be able to look after him while they went out for a couple of hours. Nothing to do though as he slept the whole time. Here for about another month, we will then be heading back to Queensland where we have a housesit next to the beach at Hervey Bay. I am sure it will be a great deal warmer there than here. We also have a housesit in New Zealand later in the year which we are really looking forward to. We are still enjoying our lifestyle and are hoping to secure more overseas housesits either later this year or early next year.

Please let me know if you would like to receive these blogs and I would really like you to make comments or reply. Another post coming up soon with more photos including our trips into Melbourne City.