Russell Books Victoria

On Fort Street in Victoria, there’s a two-level large independent bookstore called Russell Books.  If you’re a book nut, this is a required stop in Victoria. Our annual preference is to visit when Russell Books’ calendar collection is on sale.  They have a ton of stuff and the 50% off the calendars is a great way to decorate your walls.  The variety is quite stunning.  The other aspect of the store is that they shelve their used, slightly used, and new with equality.  They also keep them all in their database.  My daughter tested this theory by looking up three […]

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The Five and Dime Diner Sidney

Travelling during a pandemic is tough, so when you have a good surprise, it’s wonderful. We were in Sidney, BC between Christmas and New Year’s when a new COVID-19 variant was wreaking havoc Canada-wide. We had done what we could to limit contacts (obviously without full cancellation of the trip). To make things better, a bitter cold snap with snowfall had occurred. The onsite restaurant at our hotel was under renovation. Beckoning across the snowy street was a sign with “all day breakfast” and I was in. It was also close. The restaurant has classic diner décor, but with the […]

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Secret Garden Tea Company Kerrisdale Vancouver

A couple of days before Christmas, my wife and I had the sheer pleasure of free time, together, at the same time.  A series of accidents led us to a date at the Secret Garden Tea Company. This is in the formerly very Anglo neighbourhood of Kerrisdale, which has what the English would call a high street (41st Ave) with shops, bakeries and restaurants.  A block north and right off West Boulevard, the other main street of the neighbourhood. They off a fixed price High Tea, but we opted for the lunch menu.  But tea was the first choice.  We, […]

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Butchart’s Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is likely one of the most famous Victoria, BC attractions, even though it’s down the highway in Brentwood Bay. The lesson from this trip is not to hesitate to go on an overcast day.  With cooler temperatures and a neutral grey colour all around, photos were easier due to the lack of harsh shadows.  This wasn’t my first time to the Gardens, but the first time during the pandemic.  The staff were super well organized and made sure our group of four were sorted out and on the right paths. We were provided with handouts that helped […]

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Errington Farmers’ Market

The Errington Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM.  It is about a 10-minute drive from downtown Parksville.  Errington is a spot in the woods away from the main Island Highway.  The market itself was a quiet affair due to the pandemic.  If you are wanting really fresh produce, and you are at the beginning of your self-catering trip, this would be a good place to start. The fair is held in a playing field, next to a walking trail.  I imagine parking is interesting at busier times, so keep your wits about you. There […]

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Giovanni’s Ristorante and Lounge Qualicum Beach

It you are planning on dining out in Parksville-Qualicum during a pandemic with its accompanying labour shortage, plan early.  We had a couple of failed attempts at Lefty’s in both Parksville and Qualicum Beach.  In Qualicum Beach we found Giovanni’s Ristorante and Lounge and lucked out with a table for our party of six.  They were working hard in hot temperatures and the demand of being one of the few sit-down restaurants open that hot Thursday nights.  At lot of these places close at 7 PM.  For example, in Coombs, we dined at Cuckoo’s and managed to arrive for 4:30 […]

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Robert Held Art Glass Parksville

When on vacation, I often like to look in on different shops and galleries because for a change I’m shopping for fun, not necessity. One place worth popping into is Robert Held Art Glass. It’s in Parksville on the main 19A highway and is near Rathtrevor Beach and the local bowling alley, Sunset Lanes. There are demos of the art of glass blowing and, as the images show, his capturing of flowers in glass is evocative of impressionism. It’s definitely a spot to go for unique gifts for friends and family. He was working in the back on the day […]

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Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Bowser BC

Vancouver Island University (VIU) has this site called Deep Bay Marine Field Station. It’s located in Bowser, BC, which is about 30 minutes down the road from Qualicum Beach. My family had been curious about it for years and had some bad luck. In 2014 we tried to visit the Field Station and last year (2020) we rebutted by COVID-19, but this year we struck it rich. Between 10 AM and 4 PM they were open. VIU has a research station where they are working on selective breeding of oysters and, more recently, scallops. It’s an industry initiative because they […]

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Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition, Vancouver

Located in Canada Place, if you are fond of Van Gogh’s work, you may well find it interesting. It runs until September 7, 2021. The presentation uses a copyrighted technique called Image Totale. We purchased tickets in advance. There was good signage and at 11:30 AM we were behind too other small groups. The COVID-19 protocols were in place and masks were required. The staff were all masked. The set up was that if you needed the bathroom, do it first. The first things you see are large screens that are suspended from the ceiling. Light shining around the screens […]

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PNE Winter Lights 2020

The PNE Winter Lights display in 2020 was an unexpected surprise for us as a friend suddenly had tickets she could not use. I had originally not considered this as an option because of the huge popularity and the idling of cars. (I really don’t like drive through anything.) However, it was after Christmas and my family bubble was happy to spend some time seeing some Christmas lights. Do we headed out to the Vancouver PNE grounds and drove through. As you can tell from the photos, the lights were wonderful. It was odd when I realized we were driving […]

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