Berryfest at Oldfield Orchard

New this year is the Berryfest at Oldfield Orchard at one of the fruit stands a few minutes away. This is noteworthy to our bed and breakfast guests since Oldfield Orchard and Bakery provide many items for their breakfast delight. Their wonderful berries are especially memorable. Some find their way into our fruit fools, a starter for our multi-course breakfasts. Others make the breakfast table colourful on individual fruit plates, each with five or six seasonal fruits.

Oldfield Orchard and BakeryWe have been purchasing fruit, vegetables and more from Oldfield Orchard for many years – our favourite of many Saanich Peninsula fruit stands.  Although Linda bakes muffins and scones their ooey-gooey cinnamon buns are the best.

Oldfield Orchard are typical of many rural businesses here on the Saanich Peninsula: family run with artisan care to provide the very best quality. Many of our guests include a tour of peninsula fruit stands and wineries, enjoying local produce – we provide them with Victoria area maps.

After over 50 years operation, the Orchard passed into new hands a couple of years ago. Raphael and Kelsie Guite are throwing youthful energy into new activities. The highly popular Octoberfest continues but this year is the first annual Berryfest. I’ve always tended towards sceptism when I see the words “1st Annual …” wondering if there will be a 2nd one but I have no doubt this will be a success, followed by many more. So if you are visiting Victoria on 21st and 22nd July 2012 do drop by. There are many special events included, especially for the younger generation. And be sure to take away a punnet or two of their wonderful fruit.

 

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Should we have a QR Code on our sign?

For some time we have wondered if we should have a QR Code on our B&B roadside sign linking to our Victoria B&B website. Being in a nice quiet spot we do not have much passing tourist traffic so we still ponder this. What do you think?

A QR Code is a “Quick Response Code” having similarities in use to a bar code. It is more complex in design, a two dimensional code in a square shape. It most commonly links to a webpage.  The idea is to place a decal of maybe 6″x6″ on either side of our Victoria B&B sign. When people drive by our sign they simply point their smart phone at the code, see the website page and can bookmark it.

qrcodeAbove is a QR Code I have just generated with a link to Gazebo B&B homepage. (Well, I hope it does – I am one of the rapidly decreasing number of people in our society without a smart phone.)

Only last week I mentioned to Linda that it seemed odd that I had not seen a QR Code in use in Victoria. Maybe this is because the extent of my travels is to the grocery store. Then, last Sunday, we had our first sighting, on a real estate sign.

So maybe we should get a QR Code printed for our sign making it easier for people to see the beauty of our Victoria B&B without even entering our gates.

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Victoria will have a sesquicentennial!

You may wish to plan to be in Victoria for its sesquicentennial. Its what?, you may ask. I enjoy discovering new words and endured seven years of Latin at school (yes, seven) but this eluded me.

It is Victoria’s 150th birthday. On 2nd August the city of Victoria will be 150 years old. That’s not much, but we are on the West coast and it took a long time for causasians (that’s politically correct “white man”) to reach the coast.

Fort Victoria in about 1860Captain James Cook arrived on British Columbia’s coast in 1778 but a fort was not established here until 1843 by the Hudson’s Bay Company and its Chief Factor, James Douglas. Not surprisingly, it was named Fort Victoria after Queen Victoria. The significance of 2nd August 1862 as the birthdate of the city is that this was when it was incorporated as a City. By then the original community, numbering 230 in 1854, was growing fast to serve the goldrush in the Fraser Valley. Tales were told of city lots valued at $25 being sold for $3,000 a week later to meet demand. Hindsight is everything. The photo shows Fort Victoria in about 1860, from the City of Victoria archives.

57 arts and cultural groups have received grants for Victoria 150 productions and the city is planning central events so this may be a good period to plan to visit Victoria. Oh … please bring some candles; we need to find 150.

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Spring in Victoria – lots to do

It’s a lovely sunny Spring morning. Flowers and shrubs are coming to life but there’s much, much more springing to life in Victoria.

Researching this article has produced a remarkable diverse range of things to see and do in the next three months, and these are just some highlights. Let’s start with a cheery image from our own B&B garden:

Spring in our Victoria B&B gardens

Spring is the perfect time to visit Victoria gardens. My favourites at this time of year are the Butchart Gardens for their massed displays of tulips in April and little-known Playfair Park with its glorious rhododendrons in May and early June.

The great outdoors of southern Vancouver Island offers so much but let’s focus on special events and festivals. You can run a 10km race, the Oak Bay half marathon or, for the ultra-fit, there’s the Elk Lake triathlon whose bike portion passes our gates. Cycling events include the Tour de Victoria, the Victoria International Cycling Festival and even Jumpship in the Inner Harbour where crazy mountain bikers “perform” (my italics) on a floating barge!

The 148th (yes) Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival or the Luxton Rodeo offer feats of strength and precision, or for a nautical touch there’s the Swiftsure International Yacht Race or the Victoria Harbour Boat Show.  If mingling is your style then wander through the 50th Oak Bay Tea Party and be in the crowds for the annual Victoria Day Parade.

Lovers of culture and the arts will enjoy many theatrical plays and concerts (classical, jazz, blues and more), a chess tournament and the Victoria International Jazz Fest.

Lastly, there are some significant interesting exhibits at the impressive Royal BC Museum. They have a major dinosaurs exhibition this year and two photographic displays: Wildlife Photographer of the Year and about 100 portraits celebrating the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

You can also view a full Victoria events calendar 2012.

It promises to be a great spring in Victoria and we hope to welcome you here to enjoy it.

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What do you really want for breakfast?

Let’s suppose that the average person, whoever he or she may be, has breakfast on 365 days a year for 70 years. Maybe 10 days each year are special for vacations. But that still leaves 355 x 70 = 24,850 which are routine rushed affairs squeezed between sleep and the days activities. We all know what these are like for about 95% of our lives.

Then we go away to relax on vacation: no rush, no schedule, no demands on our time. Starting the day at leisure sets us up for the way we want the day to continue. So breakfast should be taken in this luxuriating manner.

Here, tongue in cheek, is a brief video presenting us with our breakfast options:

At Gazebo Bed and Breakfast we make breakfast that special, relaxing and tasty affair it should be. None of that hit-and-miss hotel breakfast buffet gamble. It is elegant, even candlelit, at a beautifully presented table in the dining room with fine china, silver service and linen napkins.

You have a choice of breakfast formats from a continental breakfast, to a lighter meal, to the full (overfull?) option. If you are unable to enjoy these due to an early start we will provide a packed breakfast to get your travels under way.

As for the food, well, it is fresh and tasty, nutritious and healthy. Here is a full description of these breakfasts – we use local ingredients from a farmers market and fruit stands. See some breakfast reviews from past guests. We look forward to serving you.

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How to make an online bed and breakfast reservation

How to make an online bed and breakfast reservation – this step by step guide may help you. It is simpler than the explanation may appear, starting on our website and then moving to Webervations, a separate encrypted secure site.

Check B&B availability You can click on the Book Now button on the left of every page on our bed and breakfast website.

Let’s say you wanted you wish to stay here in Victoria on 18th and 19th June 2012:

Check B&B AvailabilityYou next see the below chart showing available units for a two week period after your planned arrival. Click on the small circle under your arrival date.

Available bed and breakfast rooms Then this summary below appears. Choose your room or cottage on the button “Click to make a Reservation Request” and you reach the final form where you enter all your information. This includes Visa or Mastercard details which are securely encrypted. You can opt for one of our packages at this point if you wish.

Select your choice of B&B rooms

We receive an email notification that you have made your reservation request. We log in to the Webervations site for your information and then email you to confirm your reservation. This confirmation email will contain lots of useful information and links to help you plan your visit to Victoria.

It really is easier than it appears!

Then we look forward to welcoming you to this lovely Victoria and southern Vancouver Island.
Linda and Martin.

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Victoria Attractions 2012

The greeting “Happy New Year” is still being uttered and our Christmas tree still stands, though for only another 24 hours, but we really must look ahead at what 2012 has to offer to our visitors this year.

There is so much to see and do here, all in a beautiful setting with a pleasant climate. We can select from both long-term attractions like the Butchart Gardens, whale-watching and the Royal BC Museum and from short-term / temporary events and festivals.

I was reminded of our wealth of choice a few days ago. A nephew emailed that he would be returning from South America with an 18 hour stopover in a North American city much larger than Victoria. I suggested he take a bus to some local attractions so went online to locate some good choices for him. They were sadly short in quantity and quality. We are fortunate indeed here and so are our visitors to Victoria and southern Vancouver Island.

Welcome to Victoria BC 2012For many years our website has contained comprehensive local tourist information to help our guests make the most of their time here. Two pages are particularly useful. Firstly, the Itineraries page describes and illustrates suggested tours and attractions to fill a week or so. It responds to what we hear so often: “We never realised that there was so much to do in Victoria. We should have stayed longer“. Secondly, our Victoria events calendar for 2012 lists events and festivals of a temporary or short-term nature. Catch them if you can!

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Happy Christmas from Victoria BC

It may not be politically correct but we want to wish all our past (and future) guests a very Happy Christmas.

December is a month when we rest each year, taking a deep breath after the busyness of the past B&B season and preparing for the next one. Most of the leaves have tumbled down and have been placed in several leaf mulch wire bins to slowly decompose for the future benefit of the garden. This seems to be an analogy for our life here now: we have tumbled down, so it feels, and are placed at ease in preparation for the future (hopefully not to decompose yet!).

Saint NicholasWe held a Christmas tree decoration party for 20+ friends so the house is festive. Martin was disguised as Saint Nicholas for a neighbouring childrens party, hoping they do not recognise him and that he does not forget those onerous lines “Ho ho ho” (photo above at our tree just before the visitation). Parties, gift-giving and relaxation amidst good company with good food seem deserved after a long summer. We hope your Christmas, or whatever holiday season you celebrate, will be relaxed and happy. Further, we wish you a happy and healthy 2012.
Linda and Martin.

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Take a hike at Sooke

The west coast of Vancouver Island has many places to hike, seriously or casually, including parks and beaches in the Sooke area.  A couple of quiet days at the bed and breakfast gave us the opportunities to re-visit some of these places.

Just east of Sooke is Metchosin, a pleasant and quiet area of farms and scattered houses near the coast. Our goal was Witty’s Lagoon.
Witty's Lagoon, Metchosin beach

We recommend checking the tide tables first since low tide opens up an expanse of sand, rare to this area, great for a sandy walk. We had no choice and arrived as the tide reached its high point. Being a rare (such is 2011) sunny Sunday afternoon the strip of stony sand was fairly crowded but this need not be so most days. Watch for the rich birdlife and locate the Sitting Lady Falls.

Closer to Sooke is Sooke Potholes reached along Sooke River Road. Drive about 4km and use parking lot 1. To your left is a ravine with deep sinkholes all carved by the river. It’s a popular swimming spot but I can’t help thinking that a sheltered river must be chilly. We saw an adventurous boy, maybe 12 years old, jumping from a promontory of some 50′ height.

You can not really hike along Sooke Potholes but to the right of the road is the Galloping Goose Trail. An old railway track, it runs for 55km from Victoria to north of Sooke and is now popular for hiking and biking (four of our guests are there this afternoon). I must do a separate post of this one day.
Sooke Potholes

South of here is the distinctively separated area of East Sooke: farms, waterview houses and a great park, East Sooke Regional Park. We have maps for our guests and suggest the Aylands Farm access point for great hikes along the shore and inland. To me it’s everything a west coast trail should be and in easy access of Victoria.

Our last recent visit for taking a hike at Sooke, though merely, a stroll, was Whiffen Spit, just west of the centre of Sooke (a town which warrants just two sets of traffic lights). Within 30 minutes you can saunter to a lighthouse with the Sooke Basin on your left and the Juan de Fuca Strait on your right. I do not rate it as highly as the places mentioned above but each have their own character and you can “do” Whiffen Spit within an hour but can takes hours hiking at East Sooke Regional Park.

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