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Myself and my good friends, Jayne and Shannon, were recently invited to spend a weekend with my daughter and her partner on Mudge Island.  It takes two ferries and a small boat to get to her island, but it’s worth it. I’ve written about my daughter and her island previously here. It was a wonderful weekend, with much visiting, eating and wine consumption in their cosy, comfortable home.  We feasted on fresh crab caught the day before by our host, salad made with fresh greens from the garden and steamed kale (also from the garden) . Everyone brought food and we took turns making meals and snacks. We balanced the eating with long walks and fresh air. The island, green with moss at this time of the year, is great for walks and has many picturesque spots to visit. The sea lions kept us company with their barking.

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Mudge Island in the spring

One walk took us to Dodd’s Narrows were we watched sea lions, all the way from California, swim past in the swirling waters, happy to fill up  on herring. Such a lovely spot to sit and take in nature.

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Dodd's Narrows

Dodd’s Narrows

Another trip took us to Link Island, a small island that can be reached at low tide, linked to Mudge.  We enjoyed collecting seashells, exploring  the island and catching some sun on the rocks. Not warm enough to sun tan yet.

Link Island

Link Island

Comet, their amiable yellow lab, loved every minute. She was happy to go for long walks and explore with us.

Comet exploring Link Island

Comet exploring Link Island

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View from Link Island to Mudge

Unique rock formations on Link Island

Unique rock formations on Link Island

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Enjoying the sun on Link Island

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he's not sleeping

Barnsworth, the 19 year old cat, enjoys looking at himself in the mirror when he’s not sleeping, which is most of the time

The outhouse, clean and comfortable

The outhouse that sits among the trees, is clean and comfortable

 

What is under the outhouse??

But what is under the outhouse??

Mudge buddies

Mudge buddies

Our gracious hosts

Our gracious hosts

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola before catching the ferry back to reality.

One last drink at the Skol pub on Gabriola Island before catching the ferry back to reality.

Yet another fabulous get-away. I’ve been having the best spring haven’t I? Soon I’m off to Taos, New Mexico to spend time with a special aunt. I’ll report back later.

The minute we arrived at the English Inn, we felt like we were in England, without spending 9 hours on a transatlantic flight. The splendid manor house, the spacious well kept grounds, including a replica of an Elizabethan street and the cosy, charming rooms made this place a perfect get-away.

The English Inn, Victoria, BC

The English Inn, Victoria, BC

Inviting front entrance

Inviting front entrance

Elizabethan street

The Elizabethan street takes you to another place and time

The manor house comes with an interesting history. It was built in 1906 for a Yorkshire-born realtor and developer who brought over artisans from England and Scotland to work on the project.  Walking around the building, we noticed many fine details. Imagine the amazing parties that were held here over the years. Oh the stories these walls could tell.

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The knowledgeable staff were very friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. After a restful sleep in a most comfortable bed, we woke up to the aroma of fresh baked croissants wafting through the building. The complimentary breakfast, served in a bright room overlooking the patio and gardens, included these melt-in-your-mouth croissants. 

View from our bedroom on the third floor early in the morning

View from our 3rd floor bedroom early in the morning

bathroom door

Unique bathroom door

Stairway to our room

Stairway to our room

We enjoyed a number of walks  around the tranquil 5 acre property, discovering something new and unique at every turn. We visited in March so the gardens were just waking up from winter but were still very lovely. I can only imagine how fabulous they are in the summer.

Charming gazebo, perfect for weddiings

Charming gazebo, perfect for weddings

Quaint birdbaths are scattered around the gardens

Quaint birdbaths scattered throughout the gardens

A fountain straight from an English  novel.

A fountain straight from an English novel.

An interesting sign found in the Elizabethan street

An interesting sign found in a shop window on the Elizabethan street

There is plenty of places to wander, sit and read (or write) a book, paint a picture or just day dream in this fairytale-like environment. Should you wish to visit down town Victoria or the inner harbour, both are just minutes away. The lobby is bright and cheerful with a pleasant lounge to enjoy a drink and a fireplace where we shared a pot of tea before retiring.

I highly recommend this place, especially if you need a break from the modern, busy lifestyle many of us lead. It was perfect for a girlfriend get-away and would  be an ideal location for a wedding, family reunion or special event.

A perfect girlfriend get-away

A perfect place for a girlfriend get-away

 

Visit the website http://www.englishinn.ca/

English Inn is located at 429 Lampson Street 
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V9A5Y9
Central Reservations: 1.866.388.4353
Direct Line or to reach a guest: 1.250.388.4353
Fax: 1.250.382.8311
Email: res@englishinn.ca

I tend to celebrate my birthday the entire month of March, and sometimes longer. I have a very good friend from Calgary who also has a March birthday and we often try to meet some place different to celebrate our birthdays. This year we chose Victoria, the capital city of BC. It was a perfect choice as the cherry blossoms were out and the spring flowers were beginning to bloom.  We did some fun and unique things over the three days we spent together. Here is a summary.

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We stayed at The English Inn, a unique historic site set on 5 acres with Tudor style buildings and amazing gardens. The main manor, which is the Inn, was built in 1906. It was the perfect setting for two women with active imaginations. I plan to write more about this wonderful establishment.

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We enjoyed sampling the various ciders at Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse. A young staff member  treated us to a tour, explaining the process of making apple cider and showing us the certified organic apple orchard overlooking the sea.

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Sampling ciders

Sampling various ciders

Apple orchard by the sea

Apple orchard by the sea

A thirty minute drive took us to the town of Sooke where we visited the Sooke Region Museum, had a refreshing walk down Wiffin Spit and stopped in at Sooke Harbour House, another historic building originally built in 1929 and filled with art and artefacts.

Triangle Island Lighthouse at Sooke Regional Museum

Triangle Island Lighthouse at Sooke Regional Museum

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A comfy bench at Wiffin Spit

A comfy bench at Wiffin Spit

Driftwood octopus

Driftwood squid outside Sooke Harbour House

We participated in a self guided walking tour of Chinatown which we found fascinating.  The highlight was a visit to a Buddhist Temple located in a tall, thin building. After climbing 59 stairs, we were invited to burn incense and received a blessing. A very moving experience. There is so much history in that part of the city. The visit would not have been complete without a delicious meal at an authentic  Chinese restaurant.

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Note the address of the Buddhist Temple

Note the address of the Buddhist Temple

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Another interesting stop was at the Ross Bay Villa, an 1865 Historic House Museum. This wonderful find was slatted for demolition in 1999 but was saved  and restored by hard working volunteers who have brought it back to its original life. We were given a tour by a well informed volunteer and felt we had stepped back in time.

Ross Bay Villa

Ross Bay Villa

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Imagine how lovely this will be in full bloom. The tiles are exact replicas of the original tiles

There is so much to see and do in Victoria. We tried to do things off the beaten path. We had amazing meals, great conversation and lots of time for relaxing. As you can see, we both enjoy historical sites and especially old houses. It was the perfect get-away for good friends with similar interests.

Do you enjoy getting away with a friend from time to time?

I have recently had a couple of fun weekends that I plan to write about here soon. In the meantime you might enjoy this article posted on Travel Thru History last week. A little known Spanish destination you may want to put on your must see list.

 

CUENCA AND THE CASA COLGADAS
Spain
by Darlene Foster

 


house
My first thought upon observing the houses of the Spanish city of Cuenca, was that I wouldn’t want to be a sleep walker if I lived in one of them. This unique city, tucked away in the mountains of Castilla-La Mancha, is famous for its casa colgadas, or hanging houses, perched on top of cliffs surrounding a deep gorge carved out by two rivers. Due to limited space, the former inhabitants of the old city built their houses close to the edge, on a rocky mountaintop. Over the centuries, the relentless wind eroded the lime stone cliffs leaving some houses clinging precariously to the edge. A few balconies actually jut out over the ravine, which would make sleepwalking indeed dangerous.

Read the rest of the article here:

http://www.travelthruhistory.com/html/historic127.html

 

Would you like to live that close to the edge?

 

 

I am a guest over at JLB Creatives today, being interviewed by the  lovely and talented Janet Beasley. She asks some unique questions that were fun to answer.

Meet Author Darlene Foster

Greetings! Glad you’re here. This week we are featuring author Darlene Foster with an author interview. We’re sure you’ll like what she has to offer the literary world. Her writing talent, creativity, and dedication to the craft shine through in every word.
Let’s say you’re thinking about going on once in a life time vacation…how exciting! What are some of the places you’d consider, and what would you do while you’re there?I love to travel and a once in a lifetime adventure for me would be a trip to Australia and New Zealand. I would so love to see Ayers Rock, the Sydney Opera House, koala bears, kangaroos and so many other amazing sites and animals only found down under. I think it would be a fabulous setting for my main character, Amanda Ross, to have an adventure.

Read more of the interview:
http://www.jlbcreatives.blogspot.ca/2014/03/meet-author-darlene-foster.html
If you could go on a once in a life time adventure, where would it be?

 

A wonderful blogging friend of mine, Debra Eve, has a great blog called Late Bloomer.  I met Debra when we were both guest authors on Gary Doi’s blog, A Hopeful Sign. Recently she posted a moving story about High River, Alberta; a town damaged by the terrible floods last summer.

Debra also has some stories in a recently published book complied by Gary Doi, Inspiring Hope One Story at a Time,  All net proceeds from Inspiring Hope will be donated to the Asturias Academy Library in Xela, Guatemala—a private, non-profit Pre K-12 school dedicated to helping the most vulnerable students in the community.

Inspiring Hope One Story at at Time at LaterBloomer.com

Please hop on over to her blog and read about the town, the book and an update on Momo the amazing cat.

http://www.laterbloomer.com/inspiring-hope

I love my copy of Inspiring Hope and everyone loves Momo!

 

You know how I love to encourage young writers. Today’s fun post is part of a Choose Your Own Story written and hosted by T. Isenhoff and M. Isenhoff on their Storyboys blog. T. is in 3rd grade, and M. is in 6th grade. This story was their winter home-school project. A number of us have agreed to feature part of the story on our blogs. Travel over to the boys’ blog to start at the beginning. Have fun!

Here’s the permalink to the boys’ first post http://wp.me/p2bspO-5A then follow the rest until you get to my post. Happy reading! 

Cursed Mansion

Both boys let out screams like little girls with spiders on their shoulders.

A shot rang out, silencing the noise. A trickle of plaster fell down on their heads from a bullet hole in the ceiling. “Shut it, or the next shot will find your hide.”

The boys clamped their mouths shut. Coach Theodore motioned them into the room with his gun. They went without objection.

“What are you going to do with us?” Ed asked.

The coach kept his gun trained on the boys. “What choice have you left me?” he answered. “You know too much.”

Tony gulped and clutched his football a little tighter. He’d best keep the man talking. “How’d you get away with the jewelry?” he asked.

Coach Theodore laughed. “The cops in this town are idiots. A little planning and I outwit them every time.”

“You’ve done this before?” Ed asked.

“Why should I tell you?” Coach asked.

“No reason,” Ed yelped.

“What are you going to do with all the loot?” Tony asked.

“I have buyers,” he answered. “The internet is a wonderful source for remaining anonymous. This jewelry will bring a fortune. Then I can resign from coaching football.”

The coach shifted his attention to the jewels for a split second. It was all the time Tony needed. He grasped his football and threw it directly at the gun. It hit its mark, knocking the weapon from the man’s hand and sending it skittering across the room and under a wardrobe.

“Run!” Tony screamed.

The boys rushed out of the room and barely touched the stairs on their way down to the door. They hopped on their bikes and pedaled like mad. When they were a few blocks away, Tony pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911.

“Hello? We’ve just been inside the old Cursed Mansion and found the hideout of the jewelry thief. Coach Theodore is the thief!”

“Who is this?” the voice on the other end replied.

“Tony Zamboni.”

“Tony the Phony? I remember you.” It was quiet for a moment on the line. “You know it’s illegal to prank call this emergency number, don’t you?”

“This isn’t a joke!” Tony cried. “Send someone to the mansion and you’ll see for yourself.”

The voice sighed. “We’ll send someone along shortly.”

“If you wait too long, Coach will be gone!” he screamed.

That evening, the boys heard on the news that police had found the hideout of the jewelry thief. They had a suspect in mind, but the crook had gotten away.

“Wouldn’t you know it?” Ed asked. “If the police had believed us a little sooner, we could be famous crime solvers.”

“I just wish my new coach could have seen that throw,” Tony mourned.

The End

 What a great project! Fabulous job boys. Keep writing more intriguing stories like this.

 

Darlene:

I’m featured over at Clara Bowman-Jahn’s blog. Pop over and say Hello! You may learn something new about me, you never know.

Originally posted on Clarbojahn's Blog:

Hi Friends!

Today we have a special treat of an interview with the AMANDA series by Darlene Foster, from our very own blogging community. And I should also say from our own kidlit community that we all love being part of. So it is with extreme pleasure that I present, Darlene Foster!

Hi Darlene!

The Current Amanda Series

The Current Amanda Series

Thanks so much for answering these questions for the interview. I never get tired of reading an authors journey from idea to publication. And you have so intrigued me with your AMANDA series. It is an awesome accomplishment. Congratulations to you.

CBJ: 1– What brought you to the land of writing, Darlene?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. English was my favorite subject in school. I’ve been creating stories for a long time.  I was raised on a ranch in southern Alberta, Canada, which was a great life but a bit lonely for a…

View original 1,323 more words

I don’t like the idea of getting older. In fact I fight it tooth and nail. On the other hand, I also realize it is a privilege denied to many and am thankful I am able to continue to enjoy this wonderful life. On Friday I turned a year older, like it or not.

I was greeted in the morning with a lovely card and a bouquet of tulips, my favourite flowers, from my DH

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At work, the participants in my workshop, after learning it was my birthday, made me a sweet card. I was touched.

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At the end of the day I was surprised with a delicious birthday cake from my co-workers.

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Photo by Jean François Filion

The next day, DH booked us into The River Rock Casino Resort for an over night stay. This luxury hotel is only a thirty minute drive from our house but it felt like we were in Las Vegas.

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The well designed lobby contains waterfalls, totem poles  and even a friendly bear. We don’t gamble but the casino on site created a lively and exciting atmosphere. A theatre featuring many interesting and well known musicians is also part of the resort. A great place for people watching while sipping a caramel rockachino and nibbling on a white chocolate and cranberry sconce. Sorry, but I was too busy relaxing to take pictures of the food.

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Our suite was spacious enough for a party and overlooked the marina. A package of yummy chocolate macaroons was delivered to the room in honour of my birthday. The overnight stay included a relaxation massage. While I enjoyed my much needed massage at the Absolute spa, DH made use of the fitness centre over looking the pool area.

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The number of restaurants to choose from for our dinner, made it hard to decide. I had a Mojito and a fabulous spiced pear salad with goat cheese and grilled prawns at The Curve which was perfect. DH was happy with his butter chicken and on tap beer. The best thing was a compliment on my hair cut by the young waiter!

After a fabulous sleep on the oh so comfy bed, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the buffet with many tasty choices before heading back home. We didn’t travel far but what a nice get-away to celebrate another year of living.

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Text messages from both of the kids, a phone call from Mom and another from my younger brother. Cards from all over the world and 140 messages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn; I was sure feeling the love.

I guess getting older is not so bad after all.

A good friend suggested we attend a demonstration on making Welsh tea cakes at a local book store. You know how much I love book stores and good food, so it didn’t take me long to decide it was a good idea. We had a marvellous time.  Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks is a store devoted to cookbooks as well as books related to cooking or food. The warm, inviting store has an amazing collection of books, many filled with mouth watering photographs of culinary delights. One could spend hours browsing and it is difficult to leave without a purchase.

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The shop has a full kitchen which is used to demonstrate recipes as well as for holding cooking classes. To celebrate St. David’s Day, staff member Mark Holmes, a transplanted Welshman, demonstrated the art of making Welsh cakes in the shop kitchen. He even wore the traditional daffodil in his button hole to honour the occasion.

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Grating the fresh nutmeg

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Rolling out the dough on a counter lightly dusted with icing sugar

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Cutting out the cakes after chilling the dough

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Cooking in a frying pan at low to moderate heat

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Ready to eat!

Mark recalled stories of his grandmother making tea cakes at home in Wales, while we sampled the mouth watering finished product along with a lovely cup of tea. We learned some great tips as well. For instance, grating the cold butter into the flour mixture is much easier than cutting it into the mixture and has the same desired results. I can’t think of a better way to spend a chilly March 1 afternoon.

Life is full of coincidences and they no longer surprise me. Two days ago, Barbara, a dear blogging friend from England, wrote on her blog, March House Books about a vintage cookbook called   250 Recipes by Elizabeth Craig . She included  recipes from the book such as the following  for Welsh Cream Tea Cakes. This one is a bit different as it calls for baking the cakes in an oven, instead of the traditional method of cooking them on a bake-stone or griddle, like a pancake. Either way, they are delicious.

Welsh Cream Tea Cakes from 250 Recipes by Elizabeth Craig
1 lb flour
1/2 teaspoonful salt
1/4 lb currants
Grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoonfuls Borwich’s Baking Powder
1/4 lb butter
2 oz sugar
cream to mix
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a basin. Rub in butter, then mix in washed and dried currants, sugar, and a grated nutmeg to taste. Mix to a stiff batter with fresh cream, and foll out on a floured pastry boards. Cut into squares. Bake on a greased tin in a quick oven. Sometimes I make mixture a little thinner, and cook it in buttered muffin tins. Again, I fork out pieces of dough, and arrange them on tin, like rock cakes, without rolling mixture.
To see more recipes from this quaint book with unique paintings, visit Barbara’s blog:
Do you enjoy looking through cookbooks, new or vintage?

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

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