Friday, December 4, 2009

Victoria bed and breakfast summary

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Gardens in Victoria

Gardens in Victoria are popular attractions for our bed and breakfast guests and are a significant element of life here in Victoria BC. One can account partly for this by the climate whose mild winters, warm and damp spring and autumn, and pleasantly hot summers makes for ideal growing conditions.

Several gardens in Victoria are open for viewing. You can find them on the Gardens page of our website including the Butchart Gardens and Glendale Gardens. Do look at the gardens webpages to see the different displays you might expect according to the season of your visit.

Further, when driving around the Saanich Peninsula (the part of southern Vancouver Island on which our B&B and the city of Victoria are situated) you soon become aware that gardening is a popular and natural way of life for many. The higher percentage of retirees here also accounts for this.

Our own bed and breakfast gardens are typical of these, featuring native and suitable imported trees, shrubs, plants and flowers to create a lovely year-round setting. You can see some in this collage of images taken within our acre. The gardens were first established nearly 40 years ago so there is a good mix of mature and new growth. We hope you will be able to enjoy them and the other gardens in Victoria when you next visit Vancouver Island.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Victoria tourism 2009

Victoria tourism in 2009 not surprisingly suffered from the recession, new USA passport requirements and the dollar exchange rate. Our spring was good but then July and August were significantly down.

Since this theoretically afforded us some spare time I took four partial days off to enjoy some aspects of tourism in Victoria. The highlight was three hours sailing in Victoria with two family members - do read about it. Here you see us on the bowsprit of the tall ship Thane. It was wonderful and something to do again next year.

The other days deserve a post apiece but should be mentioned briefly as further recommendations for your planning of a visit here.

A) Flying through the upper canopy of a forest may not appeal to everyone but ziplining is fabulous. Ten of us from Victoria hotels and bed and breakfasts went west towards Sooke for an exhilarating afternoon.

B) Down to earth, the other two trips were to local regional parks to enjoy superb hiking. Gowlland Tod and East Sooke parks both offer a variety of terrain with paths for a casual stroll through to a stiff climb. The hiking part of our website has to be developped so more will follow in the future. When here do ask for recommendations and we will suggest routes meeting your requirements.

Clearly we hope that Victoria tourism will bounce back in 2010. We will take a break for some of the winter and re-open before the Winter Olympics. We hope to see you next year!

Martin and Linda.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

The Gazebo

The Gazebo Bed and Breakfast was an obvious name for our B and B in Victoria when we opened way back in the last century (it seems like that, as indeed it was). The house had been used as a tearoom for the previous 19 years, named The Gazebo Tearoom. We remember bringing friends here for lunch naturally not realising its future role in our lives. At that time there was an octagonal wooden gazebo in the gardens housing a large bird cage.

This gazebo was probably built no later than 1979 so after 30 years exposure to the elements it was well past its prime. With some reluctance, we tore it down this spring though not until we had purchased a satisfactory replacement which fitted the concrete foundation very nicely. We wanted something open and welcoming. Two chairs and a small table are inside along with plant containers giving a splash of colour. Its metal frame is still a little stark but two clematis are climbing up it and a new flower bed next to the gazebo will soon mature. It will be a nice spot to enjoy an evening glass of wine or a good book.
After all, the Gazebo Bed and Breakfast could not exist without a gazebo!

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Monday, July 6, 2009

The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens are clearly the leading attraction to visitors to Victoria, British Columbia. We are fortunate in being located so near the Gardens so nearly all our guests visit them during their stay.

To help visitors plan their time their we have recently added new Butchart Gardens pages to our website. These include three pages devoted solely to certain areas:

There is the famed Sunken Garden whose carefully staged entrance always creates oohs and aaahs with its dramatic view over the former limestone quarry.

Our favourite is the Japanese Garden, especially in the late summer evenings when it is illuminated. After over one hundred years it is both mature and fresh. If you enjoy Japanese Gardens then also visit the very different Takata Garden at nearby Glendale Gardens.

Then there is a page combining two areas, the Rose Garden and the Italian Garden with the nearby Star Pond.

You will see why a lengthy visit is necessary, especially if you plan to enjoy afternoon tea there - the Butchart Gardens is one of the best two venues for a Victoria high tea in our view (along with the White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay).

During the summer months you really should see the gardens lit at night after listening to the concert on the lawns. (Fireworks are only on summer Saturday nights). So there's much to do there.

Incidentally, and we think this is very important, please do not visit Victoria for just one night in order to only visit the Butchart Gardens. There is SO much more to do: see itineraries suggestions.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bed and breakfast gardens

Our bed and breakfast gardens have been getting a lot of attention recently. After a chilly Spring the air suddenly warmed in mid-May. Plants were about three weeks behind their usual state of growth but they've been catching up fast.

With the help of Linda's sister Pam and her husband George much has been accomplished. Guests' comments have been just part of the reward.

The pavers laid two years ago have been cleaned and sealed in the main areas. That sentence does not do justice to the task since we laid 15,00 - 18,000 of them. Container pots have new annuals so that the bed and breakfast gardens have lovely little displays. Moss has been cleaned off four roofs and weeds are in the constant process of being removed in that constant battle.

Another big project was to take up all of a moss-grown lawn which never received enough sun for the grass, dig up the sprinkler system (you wouldn't believe the directions the pipes took underground: a baffling invisible maze) and replace it with an environmental drip system. Then 12 yards of soil was moved into place before planting could begin for what promises to be a charming garden through which a bark mulch path winds. Ah, yes, and then there were the other paths which needed bark mulch, 12 yards of it. Finally, a leaning retaining wall was taken up and re-built vertically.

Phew, that's exhausting just to write about! Come and see our Victoria gardens if you can. Everything is bursting into bloom. The photo above shows the pristine path under the wisteria looking towards the front entrance.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Royal BC Museum exhibit

The Royal BC Museum exhibit "Treasures: The World's Cultures from the British Museum" has just opened in Victoria. It runs until 30th September 2009. Accompanying it is an IMAX film "Journey to Mecca". We have had the opportunity to preview both and heartily recommend them to you.
The exhibit is one of the best at the RBCM for several years. Its 300 artifacts present over a million years of history. Like all exhibits at the museum it is very well presented. You can buy tickets online or at the museum.
The IMAX cinema always has several films being played over the summer with one having top billing: "Journey to Mecca". Ibn Battuta has been described as "the traveller not of an age but of Islam", having travelled 75,00 miles! He began these in 1325 with the journey to Mecca shown in the film and then kept going, on and on.
Do visit them both. (By the way, the mammoth above is part of one of the Royal BC Museum's permanent exhibits which range from the Ice Age to pioneer days in Victoria).

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