Bears on the Go in Sidney…

Hello.

Inspector C. Robin here: Teddy Bear Squad.

Teddy Bear Squad

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Photo of the Month – October

Hi Folks:

It’s raining heavily as this post is being written; many locals complain about our wet time of the year but we look forward to knowing that the aquifer (and us and everything else) will appreciate the water next summer during our dry period. Apparently we had 26 days of rain in October this year… too much of a good thing, perhaps? 🙂

Collectively we made a good number of images over the past month; as usual selecting just two was a challenge but here’s what we have to offer.

Marcia’s image first.

Stepping into Fogtober

Stepping into Fogtober

This image was made in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park, showcasing a copper beech tree and morning fog. In addition to the rain we get, October is also a month where we get a lot of fog…to the point that our 10th month is often referred to as ‘Fogtober’.

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

While Vancouver Island doesn’t have as many large deciduous forests as there are in eastern North America, there are some places around Victoria to view autumn colours. Beacon Hill Park is one, Ross Bay Cemetery is another. But there’s another kind of colour here, and that comes from chalk art playfully rendered into form. In our opinion this piece is worth submitting to the National Gallery in Ottawa, but we’re quite happy to leave it where it is. Our appreciations to the artist!

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!! (and don’t forget the brollie…)

Hugs,
M&M

My Favourite Image of the Year

Hi Folks:

Every year that we can we head to Government House on New Year’s Day for the Lieutenant Governor’s levée. It’s an opportunity for us to meet the present Lieutenant Governor and his/her spouse, listen to the opening speech, the bagpipe music, toast the piper, and partake in some coffee and good food. We also stroll the grounds and make photographs of the flowers already in bloom – that we dutifully send east to family – just as a reminder of what’s yet to come for the rest of the country. 🙂 Before heading out to wander the grounds, however, at some point we head to the balcony at the back of the house, look out over the grounds and the Juan de Fuca Strait beyond. It’s also my opportunity to make some images of Marcia, and without hesitation it’s my favourite image of the year.

Marcia on New Year's Day, 2016

Marcia on New Year’s Day, 2016

I know she looks beautiful here, but the image doesn’t really do her justice. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

From Marcia and me, we wish you a new year filled with as much happiness, health, prosperity, excitement, love, peace and adventure as you can handle!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. Santa Claus brought us both new cell phone (cameras) this year.  Who knows where that may lead!

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Hi Folks:

While we may not always be very vocal about it (typically Canadian), us up here in the Great White North are proud to be Canadian, and that’s never more evident than it is today – Canada Day.

When we were downtown yesterday there was someone from the local news channel who was asking people whether (as with this year) Canada Day should be celebrated on July 1, or whether it should be celebrated on say the Monday of that week (like Easter Monday, for example) to allow for a long weekend. While there are some celebrations that are based on a certain day of the week (for example, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox), July 1, 1867 marked the signing of the British North America Act that made Canada into a country. We’ll keep our date, thanks – quietly, but proudly! Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Tofino… Again!

Hi Folks:

Back at the end of March we decided to indulge our fascination for beach walking and combine it with a little winter storm watching by heading across the island to Tofino. We’ve stayed in Tofino three times now; as it happens each time was at a different location. We wanted to wait until after the Whale Festival to avoid the crowds, but we weren’t aware that many B&Bs and the like don’t generally open before April. We ended up staying at the African Beach Cabin, and were very glad we did! Continue Reading →

Photo of the Month: February Flowers

Hi Folks:

Well, one of the (many) benefits of living on our Pacific island paradise is that spring comes earlier here than it does to the rest of Canada. As a promise of something yet to come for friends and relatives back east, in February we went out one day with cell phones in hand and captured images of the various flowers we found in bloom in and around our neighbourhood. We then put them into a photo-mosaic using Lightroom’s Print module. We offer it here for you to share in as well!

February Flowers

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!

Hugs,
M&M

My Favourite Image of the Year

Hi Folks:

At the end of every year it’s become more and more common for photographers to go back through the images they made over that year and choose what they feel is their best work.  This can be an immensely challenging and yet creative project, because what one feels is one’s best work is often not the work most popular with others.  Marcia and I do something similar, choosing one image from each month to use in our annual photo calendar.

However, I know without hesitation what will be my favourite image of the year, and I don’t have to wait to find it – it’s made on New Year’s Day.  Every New Year we head to Government House to participate in the Lieutenant Governor’s levée … we have the opportunity to meet the Lieutenant Governor in office (and his or her spouse), share in some coffee and treats, listen to the speech and the bagpipes, and at some point we wander out to the balcony at the back.  There’s a great view of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains in Washington from there, and I use my cell phone to capture an image (okay, several) of Marcia at the rail.  Being New Year’s Day it gives me an opportunity to marvel at all that this amazing woman gives to me every day, and an opportunity to look forward to another year of adventure with her.  Without a doubt, it’s my favourite image of the year.

Marcia on New Year's Day, 2014

Marcia on New Year’s Day, 2014

From Marcia and me, we wish you a new year filled with as much happiness, health, prosperity, excitement, love, peace and adventure as you can handle!

Okay, that’s it.  Now go out and make some photographs!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. Santa Claus brought us both new cell phone (cameras) this year.  Who knows where that may lead!

Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays!!

Hi Folks:

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Festivus, Solstice or Saturnalia, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or something entirely personal, we wish you and those close to you a safe and happy Holiday Season, and a New Year with as much joy, love, adventure, peace and excitement as you can handle!!

The blog has been a little quiet of late, but we’ll be back with much more in 2014, so our continued thanks to you for stopping by!!

With Hugs,
Marcia and Mike.

P.S. The photograph is a composite made from 75 images, shot on the corner of the Legislative Grounds. If you’re not familiar with Victoria, the Inner Harbour is on the far left, then there’s the Empress Hotel, the Royal BC Museum and then the lights of the Legislative bldg.

Eating Our Way Through… Tofino!

Hi Folks:

Well, in a manner not unlike running away to join the circus, last weekend Marcia and Mike decided to escape for the weekend.  Knowing that summer is the height of tourist season and that it was a long shot at best, we began contacting a few B&Bs with the question, “Is there any chance you’re not completely booked this weekend?”  We were lucky, both in that we found an opening for Friday and Saturday nights, and more so in that we had the opportunity to meet (head chef) Duncan and (sous chef) Robin and stay at Gull Cottage.  Located on Lynn Road, almost directly across from an access trail to Chesterman Beach, Gull Cottage was perfect for us.  We stayed in the Spruce Room, with a wonderful bay window looking toward the ocean and a private bathroom next door.  Next time we’ll look into booking the Rainforest Room, probably with a little more than three days’ notice!

Gull Cottage

Gull Cottage

We left Victoria at 4:30 hoping to beat some of the weekend traffic, but even so it was six hours later that we finally pulled in their driveway.  The last time we were in Tofino was in 2007 for our son’s wedding, and were pleased to see that the road has undergone some upgrades since then.  Still, it’s a long and winding road and driving at night, in the rain is not something to be undertaken lightly – even if you do have over a million km of driving experience.   There is Tofino Air charter and a private, walk-on ferry that will take you from Port Alberni to Ucluelet, but if traveling by car there’s only one way in/out.  By the time we arrived everyone else in the house was already in bed but Duncan had kindly waited up for us, gave us a quick tour and took us to our room.  We slept like the dead and awoke early the next morning.

After a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, orange juice, coffee and curried eggs we headed across the road and down to Chesterman Beach.  The tide was slowly coming in, but it didn’t matter.  We walked, watched, played in the sand and made photographs; some of those will eventually make it to our Flickr site.

After we returned to the B&B and cleaned up a bit we headed into Tofino proper to take in the Saturday Market.  We stopped at the Tofitian Internet Café on the way so Marcia could get her Americano fix (strictly Earl Grey for Mike), and she pronounced it very good!  Held in the Village Green, the Saturday market is a ‘bake it or make it’ market, so everything for sale is created by the vendors themselves.  While we were there we picked up a loaf of bread from the 600 Degrees Bakery; it was hard to choose just one!  There were also plenty of games and exercises for kids (and adults) to play, and a couple of local elders were teaching kids how to weave cedar baskets.  While we were downtown we also perused several of the galleries, had ice cream at the local candy store (next time, Chocolate Tofino!), and stopped for lunch at Breakers Deli.  Mike had a pork roast and cheddar sandwich and Marcia had a great salad of mixed greens and seeds with added avocado to give her some protein.  Very tasty!  While we were downtown we also stopped at Schooner Restaurant (NB: clicking on their website link automatically plays not one but two videos… :-P) to see about a dinner reservation.  We were told that their tables were pretty much all booked for the evening but that if we came by we could wait.  We opted to do that, and returned to Chesterman Beach for the remainder of the afternoon!

The Schooner Restaurant is on Campbell St. in downtown Tofino – casual enough to accept the entire family, and yet upscale enough to celebrate the eve of your 225th Monthaversary (or whatever else you might have to celebrate).  We timed our arrival for about 7:00 and as luck would have it we were shown directly to a table overlooking the patio.  We began with a virgin Caesar for Marcia and iced tea (unsweetened – yay!) for Mike, and by sharing the warm ‘Goat’s Nut Salad’, which is a combination of chèvre cheese and toasted hazelnuts, served on top of a bed of mixed greens, with a pear fan for accent and a balsamic vinaigrette.  As we had discovered at both breakfast and lunch, eating fresh and local has hit Tofino in a big way, and we were very pleased to see it!

For the main course, Marcia opted for the ‘Long Boarding Salmon’ – locally caught salmon baked on a cedar plank, drizzled with a raspberry ginger coulis and served with local prawns, garden vegetables and rice.  Mike went for the ‘Naked Steak’ – an 8-oz. New York steak, covered only with sea salt and black pepper and grilled (rare, in this case).  It was served with mashed potatoes and a selection of vegetables as well.  Both were well prepared.

For dessert Marcia opted for the fresh ‘Blueberry Crumble’, served with handmade Chocolate Tofino ice cream.  Mike’s initial request – the ‘Three Generation Chocolate Cake’ was sold out, so a tasty goat cheese cheesecake made up the difference.  All in all, very enjoyable!

Sunday morning, after another excellent breakfast of fresh fruit with homemade muesli, bacon, egg and toast we gathered our things, checked out of our room and said a temporary good-bye to Robin and Duncan.  We had a few thoughts on what to do for the day but decided to head to Tonquin Park and Beach.  We arrived early enough that there were a few people but no crowds, which suited us perfectly.  After several hours of walking and making photographs (and with great reluctance) we left the quiet of the beach and the trees behind and began our journey back to Victoria, with one last stop along the way.  Okay, there were two as Marcia had to pick up some earrings she’d been enchanted by the day before.  The second stop was at Shelter Restaurant for lunch before heading out.  Shelter Restaurant is also on Campbell St., a little bit south of downtown.  As we’d discovered elsewhere, Shelter places great emphasis on local, organic and sustainable.  In their case they augment this with their own herb and vegetable garden, a two-tier composting system and a rainwater catchment system.  Within Shelter’s walls are a bar side and a restaurant side, and we chose a table by the window within view of the fireplace.  Being lunchtime and with a long drive ahead of us, we opted for slightly simpler fare.  Starting with water served in an reused wine bottle, Marcia had the ‘Shelter Salad’ – a combination of greens, peppers, cucumber, seeds, dates, feta cheese and chicken breast and Mike had a Club sandwich with a side green salad.  Both were delicious!

With that we turned our noses into the wind and headed for home, arriving in Victoria 4½ hours later.  Our return trip was much faster, but it was daylight, it wasn’t raining, and Marcia did more of the driving! 😉

We’re already looking forward to our next visit!!

Hugs,
M&M

International Free Hugs Day, 2013

Hi Folks:

As you’re surely all well aware, Saturday, July 6 (the first Saturday in July) was International Free Hugs Day!!  Marcia and I dutifully marched down to our spot at the Homecoming Statue at Ship’s Point and unrolled our ‘Free Hugs’ posters, then eagerly awaited the onslaught.  We didn’t have long to wait.  We both commented on how terrified we were the first time we did this down at the inner harbour, and how much we look forward to these outings now!  We meet some amazing people from around the world (and around the corner), shared some great stories and some great hugs!

Thanks to everyone who came by for sharing your hugs, smiles, waves, air hugs (from across the street), and best of all, yourselves.  We appreciate every one!

International Free Hugs Day, 2013

International Free Hugs Day, 2013

So go out and hug someone today, and be sure to check out our other ‘Free Hugs‘ posts!

M&M

P.S.  We recently came across a FB page for a woman named Rita who is also a hugger.  You can check her out here: 10,000 Hugs in 100 Cities.  Rita is also based in Victoria; we may not have all of the world’s best huggers, but we’re certainly on the map… 😉  We haven’t (yet) met Rita in person, but the hugging will be epic!