Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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.



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.


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.


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.


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



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.


Note the address of the Buddhist Temple

Note the address of the Buddhist Temple


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

2014-03-22 15.46.43

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.


by Darlene Foster


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:



Would you like to live that close to the edge?



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


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


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




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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Everyone seems to need a break around mid February. This year hubby and I didn’t take a sunny, warm, winter get-away so we decided to do something more local. We hadn’t been to the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island for a long time so chose to spend three days in Tofino. A great choice as we had a wonderful time.

To get there we took a relaxing two hour ferry ride across the Georgia Strait and then drove three hours to the other side of the island. It had snowed during the night causing the tall Douglas Fir trees to sparkle in the sun with  snow laden branches as they emerged out of the mist. We passed through Cathedral Grove, an old growth rain forest with 800 year-old giant firs. It was magical.

Cathedral Grove

Cathedral Grove

The minute we arrived at the Best Western Tin Wis Resort, I knew we had made a good choice. The resort is owned and operated by the Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nations and tastefully decorated with First Nations art and artefacts. The incredibly friendly staff made us feel at home immediately.

Entrance to Tin Wis Resort

Entrance to Tin Wis Resort

Amazing west coast First Nations art

Amazing west coast First Nations art

Our very comfortable room had a great view of Mackenzie Beach. This beach is one of the most protected beaches on the west coast, thus the name Tin Wis which means Calm Waters in the Tla-O-Qui-Aht language.

Room with a view

Room with a view

Mackenzie beach

Mackenzie beach at dusk

We went for nice, long, relaxing walks along the beach, discovering tidal pools with all sorts of  little creatures.

Colourful sea anemones and a bright orange starfish

Colourful sea anemones and a bright orange starfish


We spent a wonderful day in the charming town of Tofino, where we shopped, met some interesting artists and many wonderful people. It was so refreshing to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. With the slow, easy pace, it didn’t take us long to wind down.



Of course I found a bookstore

Of course I found a book store

Tofino is famous for its fantastic storms and many people visit in the winter just to storm watch. We were lucky to get one storm which we watched safely from inside while having a drink.

A typical west coast storm

A typical west coast storm

Enjoying the storm from inside

Enjoying the storm from inside

The following morning we awoke to sunshine. We had the perfect mix of weather. While enjoying one last walk on the beach, we watched a man teach his son to surf.




The restaurant at the resort, aptly called Calm Waters, served delicious meals with the same friendly service. The crab cakes melted in my mouth and I’m still dreaming of the coconut crème brulee.

Enjoying a relaxing breakfast with a view

Enjoying a relaxing breakfast with a view

Calm Waters Restaurant at Tin Wis Resort

Calm Waters Restaurant at Tin Wis Resort

We came home happy to have spent time at such an amiable place where the spirit of people who have dwelt there for many centuries, still lives.


Sometimes a short holiday is all you need.

I have loved visiting museums for as long as I can remember. As a young person, I would rather go to a museum than play sports or hang out with friends. My aunt and I would often spend entire days at the Medicine Hat Museum which  at that time was a log cabin filled with items from the past. We liked to pretend we were living in the pioneer days. The original museum has been moved a couple of times since then and is now housed in the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. Last summer, my grandson and I stopped in to view the displays. I was pleased he shared my excitement of museums. The displays were well put together with some of the original items  still showcased as well as many other artefacts. Here are a few samples.

Items from the original log cabin museum

Items from the original log cabin museum

Toys from the past

Toys from the past

The cowboy lifestyle

Representing the cowboy lifestyle

A dressmaker's dummy

A dressmaker’s dummy

A note left by a frustrated homesteader

A note left by a frustrated homesteader

We also visited The Pioneer Village located on the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede grounds. A collection of heritage buildings from the surrounding area which includes a general store, a church, a fire hall. a school and a blacksmith shop.

A typical prairie general store built in 1924

A typical prairie general store 

Items for sale in the general store. Look at those prices!

Items for sale in the general store. Look at those prices!

How many miles has this trunk travelled?

How many miles has this trunk travelled?



Grandson by a prairie church built in 1924

Grandson by a prairie church built in 1924

It was a fun visit exploring the past with a young person. I’m so pleased that communities realize the importance of preserving a way of life that is no longer.

Do you enjoy visiting museums and heritage buildings?









Today I’m the guest blogger over at The Global Bookshelf, a wonderful site for travel related books.

Turning Travel Memories Into Books For Kids

by Gillian on October 29, 2013 in Author Interview

Our Travel Books For Kids series was the most popular monthly feature so far here on The Global Bookshelf. So when Darlene Foster approached me to tell the story of how her Amanda In… children’s book series came to be I was excited to hear about it. Here she tells how she weaves her own travels into the stories told from a 12 year old perspective.

Turning Travel Memories into Books for Kids

Since I was a very young girl, I’ve wanted to do two things, travel and write. My first time on an airplane was 37 years ago when I flew to England to marry my British husband. I was so excited. I didn’t mind that London was fogged in and we had to land in Scotland first. Read the rest….


If you are looking for travel related books for any age reader check out Gillian’s website:


Float plane that took me to see my daughter

Float plane that took me to see my daughter

I spent a fabulous day with my daughter this Thanksgiving weekend. I caught a float plane from Vancouver and twenty minutes later landed on Gabriola Island. This is a trip that usually takes me over four hours by car and two ferries. My daughter picked me up and took me to visit some of the artists participating in the annual Gabriola Studio Tour. I was happy with the choices as each artist had something unique to show. Here is a sampling.

We were always made to feel welcome every place we visited.

We were always made to feel welcome every place we visited.

We stopped in to chat with Dianna Bonder, an award-winning children’s author and illustrator. Her whimsical paintings and myriad of published books were enjoyable to look at.  A couple of little people will be getting her books for Christmas.



A visit to Joy Olsen’s studio was another treat. Joy creates fun, nature inspired sculptural ceramics. Another perfect Christmas gift was purchased before we left.



A visit to Ted Johnson’s Delfin Designs studio brought out the child in us. HIs wonderful woodwork and trees with doors in them are delightful.


Knock. Knock. May I come in?

Knock. Knock. May I come in?

We visited many other talented artists as well, although it was impossible to visit all 41 studios on the tour. It  was so great to spend time with my potter daughter, Marcelle Glock, and her community of artist friends and acquaintances.  I was also treated to a wonderful lunch at Mad Rona’s coffee bar. It was hard to choose but eventually I decided on a Kiwi Panini which consisted of Albacore tuna, feta cheese and a roasted garlic/artichoke spread. So yummy!

Daughter and friend

Daughter and friend

It was a perfect day. The sun shone, the trees on the island were dressed in glorious fall colours, I met very interesting people and most of all I got to spend time with my sweetie. As I flew back home later that evening, I felt extremely thankful for the day, my family and my life.

I hope you had a thankful weekend as well.

I have blooged about my potter daughter here before:




Amanda in England-The Missing Novel was reviewed at Travel Novels today and given a four beach umbrella rating. I am delighted with the rating and the review. It made my day!!

Here is some of what was said:

This travel book is full of adventures and mystery that will be easy for any young mind to assess and evaluate. What I love about this book is the specific descriptions of the famous landmarks in England and how these are worked out in the story to help Amanda and Leah solve the mystery of the missing vintage novel.

This travel novel is indeed worth reading because it offers extraordinary descriptions of the famous landmarks in England coming from a young traveller’s point of view. I give this travel book a rating of four beach umbrellas for the innocent way the country was described and all the values that the author has imparted to her readers through Amanda. She really did a great job of bringing out the young traveler in me and, I’m sure, to all her readers as well.

To read the entire review with pictures and excerpts, please visit


Wishing everyone in Canada a Happy Thanksgiving!  We have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my family, friends, health, and for this awesome review.

I will be spending time with my wonderful daughter this weekend. There will be pictures. What are your plans?


Today I am featured on Travel Novels.

Author Interview – Darlene Foster 

 by • October 9, 2013             

What is your experience with the setting of the book? Have you visited or lived in the area? If ‘yes’, what about the area inspired you to use it as the setting?

My husband is English and I have been to visit England a number of times. The first time I ever travelled by airplane was 36 years ago when we flew to England to get married. I remember the excitement of arriving in a country I had read so much about. I was intrigued by the history, the old castles and cathedrals, the country villages and the intense green countryside. Coming from Canada, everything is so new by comparison. I also loved the old bookshops and the charming teashops. All these things inspired me to have my young character visit England.

Read the rest of the interview here:


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