A Food & Travel Blog

Fairmont Empress High Tea

28/04/2017 | By

The Bloke and I share a special afternoon as we partake of a time honoured Victoria tradition – the fabulous Fairmont Empress high tea.

fairmont empress high tea

Those who know me will be aware of my total addiction to tea.

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The Agrigento Valley of the Temples in Sicily

10/04/2017 | By

A childhood dream comes true as I wander through the ancient archaeological area of the Agrigento Valley of the Temples, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

agrigento valley of the temples

Perched up on a hilltop in the southwest shore of Sicily is the magnificent Agrigento Valley of the Temples. 

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The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island – A Beautiful Example of a Quarry Re-Purposed

03/04/2017 | By

Quarries are not generally noted for their elegance, but the glorious Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island show a makeover at it’s very best.

Having successfully avoided them all of my life, in the last two months I have surprisingly found myself in quarries – and loving the experience.

 Just recently The Bloke and I attended the acclaimed play adaptation of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, as part of this year’s Adelaide Festival. The play was staged on a quarry floor, in the foothills of Adelaide, and the audience was seated facing in to the quarry wall. It was an inspired choice of venue, evoking the agelessness of this ancient land. The last light of the summer evening bathed the yellow stone walls of the quarry in golden light, as we watched the tragic story of two Australian families unfold.

 

butchart gardens on vancouver island, the sunken garden

The Sunken Garden

And just a few weeks earlier, in the chilly northern winter, we were invited to visit the glorious Butchart Gardens, on Vancouver Island.

Fountains in the sunken garden butchart gardens on vancouver island

butchar gardens on vancouver island, winter treescape

butchart gardens on vancouver island snail fountain 

These gardens also speak of the history of the region, having been developed on the site of an exhausted quarry owned by Robert Butchart. He and his wife Jenny lived near the quarry. In 1909, when the limestone extraction was completed, Jenny set about turning the quarry pit into a sunken garden.

 Japanese garden, butchart gardens on vancouver island

butchart gardens on vancouver island, trickling stream

butchart gardens on vancouver island, red bridge

Clearly on a roll, she also commissioned Japanese garden designer Isaburo Kishida to design an oriental tea garden for their estate. Throughout the 1920’s she then turned her very artistic eye to the tennis courts and kitchen gardens, transforming them into an Italian garden and extensive rose gardens.

 butchart gardens on vancouver island, Japanese glen

butchart gardens on vancouver island, Italian garden

butchart gardens on vancouver island, view to house

A view from the Italian garden, back towards the house.

The Butcharts eventually handed the house and gardens over to their grandson, Ian Ross, who continued their legacy, developing the house and grounds into what is now one of the top tourist destinations in the region and a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island are world renowned for their floral displays, and each year over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties bloom from March through to October.

Statues and pond Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Happily, this special spot is still family-owned, with the current owner proudly continuing the family legacy, hosting a continuing program of concerts, fireworks displays and community events.

spring cafeteria, Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

A quiet corner, featuring succulents, in what is the cafeteria in summer months.

Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island - orchids

Orchids in the spring display.

Spring, Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

The cafeteria, transformed.

While it was the dead of winter when I visited, there is still plenty to be enchanted by in these gardens. Thoughtfully, in the winter months the Butchart cafeteria is cleared and transformed into a glorious riot of spring colour. Parts of the house are open for visitors to explore and, no matter the season, there is much to give joy in the rest of the gardens.

Tod inlet view, Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

A Perfectly positioned window cut into a large hedge in the gardens gives the curious visitor a glimpse on to boats at Tod Inlet.

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Don’t Ski? Check Out Other Snowy Outdoor Activities at Sun Peaks Resort

20/03/2017 | By

There’s absolutely no reason for non-skiers to miss out on snowy fun with the generous selection of outdoor activities at Sun Peaks Resort.

outdoor activities at sun peaks resort

As I mentioned in my post introducing you to the second largest ski area in all of Canada, there’s a huge selection of outdoor activities at Sun Peaks Resort for those who don’t, or can’t ski. 

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An Evening Visit to the Vancouver Aquarium

27/02/2017 | By

The Vancouver Aquarium is an important marine research and education facility – and a tourist experience that simply must not be missed!

Vancouver Aquarium jellyfish

Safety in numbers?

Situated in Vancouver’s densely forested Stanley Park is the city’s most popular visitor attraction – the Vancouver Aquarium

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Frying Pan Adventures Dubai Food Tour

13/02/2017 | By

A short overnight stop-over to break up a long-haul flight means that I get to add a tick to my bucket list – a Dubai food tour.

dubai food tour

When we fly home from Europe we usually stop over in Hong Kong or Singapore, but on our last trip we came back via Dubai. Now I know that this city is popular for shopping, but for me the thought of a Dubai food tour was far more attractive. 

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