Fenton & White Take In The Tide Pools On Salt Spring Island

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THE JOURNEY FROM SWARTZ BAY TO SALT SPRING ISLAND TAKES ONLY 35 MINUTES

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We had enjoyed our 2 days in Victoria, but now it was time to go someplace a little quieter.  We made an early breakfast, bid farewell to the Helm’s Inn and drove 30 minutes back to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to catch an early morning boat.  The Salt Spring Island ferry is considerably smaller but it has 8 voyages per day to serve the needs of people wanting to visit.

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THE SALT SPRING ISLAND FERRY IS AN OPEN DECK CAR FERRY

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We traveled to Salt Spring Island on a weekend and got onto the morning sailing we wanted by arriving early, but the ferry did fill up and cars behind us had to wait for the next boat.  Reservations aren’t available, so ensure you get to the ferry terminal at least an hour before the scheduled crossing and if you are taking the last sailing of the day …. give yourself extra time if you want to ensure you make the boat. The vessel has 5 rows which hold 10-15 cars each (depending on the length of the cars).  There are stairs to 2 outdoor viewing levels on each side of the boat and along the edges there are inside galleries with seating, small tables, and washrooms.  Since the ride is so short there are no food amenities provided. The cost for the crossing for 2 of us plus the car was around $60 which is a two-way fare as there are no toll booths as you leave Salt Spring Island.  For more information on prices and schedules click here.

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THE MORNING WAS DEDICATED TO A HIKE IN RUCKLE PROVINICIAL PARK

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We disembarked at Fulford Harbour at around 9:45 in the morning.  It was far too early to check into our accommodation and we were feeling energized by the sunny day and the crisp breeze on the crossing, so we decided to do a leisurely morning hike.  In fact the plan for the day was to do a few hikes in the area and simply get back to nature. Our first stop was a mere 15 minute drive from the ferry dock.  Ruckle Provincial Park has 48 walk-in tent sites with stunning views of Swanson Channel.  There are numerous hiking trails that take you around the perimeter of the park as well as past the historic buildings of the original farm owned by the Ruckle family (who still farm a section of the land).  For scuba divers … the area is rich in underwater coastal sea caves and for those who like to scramble along the shore … the tide pools are filled with natural wonders.

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THE SHORELINE TRAIL STARTS IN THE TREES AND HEADS UP A SHORT SET OF MOSSY STAIRS

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We decided to walk the shoreline trail which ran through the woods before it looped into the tent campground along the water.  The trail circled past the historic properties and wound up back on the road we had come in on, a 5 minute walk from where we had parked the car. The whole loop was about 6 kilometres, and at a leisurely pace took us around 90 minutes.  We were impressed with the size of the camp sites and also the decks for the tents to ensure that campers stayed level and relatively dry.

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CAMP SITES IN THE TREES HAVE WOODEN PLATFORMS TO KEEP YOUR TENT LEVEL (AND OFF THE GROUND WHEN IT RAINS)

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OTHER TENT SITES GO RIGHT TO THE WATER AND HAVE LARGE AMOUNTS OF SPACE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBOUR

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WEREWOLVES?

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The trail is clearly marked, and in some areas the trees have blazes on them (small sections of bark removed with a colour painted on the trunk to show the way). The above tree had an unusual pattern as the under-skin of the bark was drying and peeling. With our vivid imaginations, we thought it looked like something had been sharpening its claws on the tree. Of course that isn’t true, but if you camp at Ruckle Provincial Park and hear howling in the distance … well, maybe there are werewolves in the woods!

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TIDE POOLS CONTAIN WONDERS FROM THE SEA

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There are many sections along the trail where you can get out on rocks that have pockets that catch water when the tide is out.  These tide pools contain abundant life that includes sea anemones, crabs, snails, fish,  and small coloured corral.

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A CLOSER VIEW OF THE SEA ANEMONES IN ONE OF THE NUMEROUS TIDE POOLS

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There are also small paths along the route that lead off the main trail to scenic viewpoints such as “Grandma’s Beach”.

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WALKING THE SHORE OF GRANDMA’S BEACH

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This tiny half-moon bay has a stony beach with a stunning view out to the inlet.  Although we didn’t see any on the day we were there, it is not uncommon for seals to come in and play in the calm waters of the sheltered harbour.

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MORNING TRANQUILITY CAN BE FOUND LOOKING OUT FROM GRANDMA’S BEACH

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THIS TURKEY GAVE US THE EYE AS WE WANDERED PAST THE HISTORIC RUCKLE FARM BUILDINGS

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Our loop ended near the historic buildings that include the original farm house and buildings where tools were stored … and made.  Livestock still roam the grounds including sheep, cattle, chickens and wild turkeys.

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PETE EXPLORES THE GANGES/FULFORD WEEKEND MARKET

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It was getting near noon and we were getting hungry, so we made our way back to the car and headed into the central town of of Ganges/Fulford.  Salt Spring Island is only 182 square kilometres and most of the land is farmed or used for livestock.  It is home to many significant artists from famed folk musicians Raffi and Valdi, to CBC personality Arthur Black, to the internationally renowned visual artist Robert Batemen.   Local artisans have studios scattered all over the island and touring all of the pottery and painting studios would take days.   On the weekend you can see many artisans all in one place at the weekend market.  Literally hundreds of tents spring up near the harbour with pottery, fresh fruit and vegetables, local wines and other wonderful foods.  It was so busy it took us nearly 20 minutes to find a spot to park (several blocks away from the harbour).  We took a quick browse and decided it was too crowded for our liking.  Instead, we grabbed some sandwiches from a nearby shop with fresh baking and made our way back to a road that would take us to the highest point on the island.

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THE ROAD TO THE TOP OF MOUNT MAXWELL IS … INTERESTING

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With our sandwiches and sodas in hand, we returned to the car and turned back to the route which would take us to the top of Mount Maxwell via Cranberry Road.  At first, things were easy as we transitioned from the paved surface to a wide gravel road, but slowly … the road began to get narrower, bumpier and steeper.  After the fact, we were told that the road is passable in a normal car but that generally it is best for four wheel drive vehicles.  Local car rental agencies will void your insurance claim if you have a problem on this road.  Although it is only 12 kilometres from the turn-off to the viewpoint, we took a long time to get to the top. The grades can reach 16 to 18 percent, the narrow track often only allows for one-way traffic which means if you encounter another vehicle you may have to pull off (if you can), or back up to a wider section. And the pot-holes if it has rained recently … we averaged about 5 kilometres per hour over the last section of the road as we gently bounced from hollow to hollow.  So was it all worth it?  The answer is an unqualified YES.

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THE VIEWS ARE STUNNING FROM THE TOP OF MOUNT MAXWELL

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On a clear day you can view large sections of Salt Spring Island, see Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and even Mount Baker on the mainland.  There are steep cliffs near the viewpoint that have fences to prevent visitors from falling.  We enjoyed the amazing vista, had a relaxing lunch in the sun while sitting 580 metres above the sea below and then made our way slowly back down the road.  It was now around 3 PM, and time to check in to our accommodation at the Maple Ridge Cottages on St. Mary Lake.

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THIS SWEET LITTLE COTTAGE WAS A BARGAIN AND HAD A LOVELY VIEW

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Maple Ridge Cottages are a 20 minute drive north of the Ganges/Fulford township on a side road on St. Mary Lake.  The property only has 5 cottages and the owners Glenn and Elle are wonderful down-to-earth folks who have built a business that makes you feel like you are staying with family.  We were in the Cedar cottage at a price of $110 per night.

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EACH CABIN HAS A DECK, A BARBECUE AND A PICTURE WINDOW WITH VIEWS TO THE LAKE

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Vancouver Trip 2017 280THE BEDROOM IS COZY

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THE MAIN ROOM HAS A COUCH, FIREPLACE, FULL KITCHEN WITH DISHES AND A T.V.

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After a relaxing morning ferry ride, a gentle hike peering in tidal pools, a stroll through the market and a drive up Mount Maxwell, it was time for a nap.  We unpacked, took a snooze break and then got up to go for a late afternoon drive around the island.  We traveled roads that ran along the coastline and after a short time we saw a trail head for a path that was supposed to lead to a quiet bay.  The trail was only a little over a kilometre each way and it was too early for dinner so we decided to stretch our legs.

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 A SET OF STAIRS BROUGHT US OUT TO THIS STONY BEACH AT LOW TIDE

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At the end of the trail we came out to a stony beach with average views along an inlet, but upon closer inspection, the beach had a magical quality … for the shore was 50% stones and 50% shell fragments.

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COLOURFUL BROKEN SHELLS LITTER THE BEACH

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This was a wonderful way to finish off our day.  We slowly walked back to the car, headed to a local shop with a little pizza outlet … got a large Hawaiian thin crust  and a bottle of wine and settled in to watch the light fade over St. Mary Lake.  It was time to rest up to prepare for the next day’s wine tour!

In the next blog … wining and dining on Salt Spring Island.  Until next time here’s a set of silly smiles from …

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Fenton & White (and some guy in the background we don’t know)

or in this case

White & Fenton (and some guy in the background we don’t know)

 

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Fenton & White Browse The Butchart Gardens

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IF YOU LOVE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, THE BUTCHART GARDENS IS A MUST SEE

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We had one more day left in Victoria before heading off to Salt Spring Island. The agenda was fairly relaxed.  In the morning … breakfast in our room and a meeting at the Belfry Theatre.  In the afternoon, a short drive to Brentwood Bay to wander around the spectacular Butchart Gardens.  And in the evening, dinner with friends.

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THE BELFRY THEATRE CAN SEAT 279 IN ITS CHARMING AUDITORIUM

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Victoria is lucky to have a fantastic professional theatre in the centre of the city.  The Belfry Theatre puts up a season of six main stage shows and the “Spark Festival” of new plays.  The theatre’s artistic director, Michael Shamata, is passionate about works for the stage and we were delighted to spend some time visiting, talking about the arts in Canada and getting a tour of the performance space.  If you are in Victoria this fall, be sure to check out the production of the musical Onegin by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille.  The show runs from October 17th to November 12th.

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PETE PONDERS WHERE TO BEGIN AT THE BUTCHART GARDENS

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We finished our theatre visit late in the morning, picked up some sandwiches, and made our way 30 minutes north of Victoria to check out the amazing Butchart Gardens.  The site was originally owned by Robert Pim Butchart and his wife Jennie Butchart.  When the limestone in the quarry ran out, Jennie decided that it should be turned into a fantastical garden.  This property evolved in phases that took over a decade to complete utilizing the skills of several prominent landscape artists and garden designers.  The Sunken Garden was started in 1909 and evolved into its present shape in 1921.  Each year the garden changes as trees grow taller, and plants and flower banks are altered.

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A SMALL PORTION OF THE SUNKEN GARDEN

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The overall site is divided into 6 sections spread over 55 acres.  The sections include the Sunken Garden along the base of the quarry, the Concert Lawn, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden and the Mediterranean Garden.  A well designed map and system of pathways takes you through the site along an easy-to-follow route.  Most of the gardens are accessible thanks to alternate paths suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.  There are a few places with stairs, but whenever possible an effort has been made to ensure guests at all levels of mobility can enjoy the stunning scenery.

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THE ROSS FOUNTAIN SPRAYS WATER OVER 70 FEET IN THE AIR

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Fountains and statutes also play a prominent part in the experience of walking through this magical landscape.

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THE JETS OF THE  ROSS FOUNTAIN ARE ON OSCILLATING PIPES THAT CREATE CONSTANTLY CHANGING PATTERNS

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The Ross Fountain is named for Ian Ross, the Butchart’s grandson who was given the gardens in 1939 as a gift for his 21st birthday.  The fountain gyrates and sprays water in patterns in multiple directions thanks to oscillating pipes.  At night, the pathways and fountains are illuminated with colourful lights.

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AT EVERY TURN THERE ARE MAGICAL DISCOVERIES NESTLED AMONG THE FLOWERS

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THE ROSE CAROUSEL WAS ADDED IN 2009

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After touring the Sunken Garden we followed a path that took us to the indoor Rose Carousel.  This amazing piece of art features a menagerie of 30 animals.  It was designed by Don Horenberger and the animals and benches were realized by multiple carousel carvers who each put months of work into each creature including unique animals such as the Orca in the picture above.  The carousel opened in 2009.  There is an additional charge of $2 to take a ride, but it was well worth it.  The carousel goes at a good speed, the animals go up and down to a significant height and the whole experience made us feel like kids again.

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PETE TOOK A STANDARD HORSE FOR HIS RIDE

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SCOTT RODE A PANDA BEAR

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After our ride, it was time to walk towards the Rose Garden which was built in 1929 when the Butcharts decided to remove the vegetables and replace them with rose bushes and vines.   The flowers bloom throughout the year with peak periods in each season.  The blooms were too numerous to count, but the roses were lovely and once again, the fountains were show stoppers.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the photos tell their own story (well, okay, with a few informative words beneath).

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THIS STUNNING DRAGON FOUNTAIN IS ON THE PATH BETWEEN THE ROSE CAROUSEL AND THE ROSE GARDEN

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A REAR VIEW OF THE DRAGON FOUNTAIN

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BUNCHES OF ROSE BLOOMS BURST FORTH FROM BUSHES AND VINES ALL AROUND THE CIRCULAR GARDEN

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A PERFECT DELICATE HYBRID TEA ROSE WITH A LIGHT SCENT

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VISITORS ENJOY THE THOUSANDS OF ROSES IN BLOOM

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MORE THAN JUST ROSES BLOOM IN THE AREA SURROUNDING THE ROSE GARDEN

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THE CONCERT LAWN HOSTS MUSICAL EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER.  IN THE DISTANCE, THE FORMER BUTCHART HOME … NOW A RESTAURANT.

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THIS BEAUTIFUL STURGEON FOUNTAIN RESIDES ON THE CORNER OF THE ROSE GARDEN

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PETE EXPLORES A SECTION OF THE JAPANESE GARDEN … ONE OF THE FIRST GARDENS ON THE PROPERTY

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THE ITALIAN GARDEN FEATURES THIS STAR-SHAPED POND.  THIS WAS ORIGINALLY THE BUTCHART’S TENNIS COURTS, WHICH WERE REPLACED BY THE GARDEN IN 1926

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THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN AT THE ENTRANCE FEATURES THIS FANTASTIC STATUE OF A BOAR.  IT IS SAID THAT ONE SHOULD RUB THE NOSE OF THE BOAR FOR GOOD LUCK.  WE COULD TELL BY THE SHINY SNOUT THAT MANY VISITORS HAVE DONE SO.

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Touring the gardens at a leisurely pace will take 2 to 3 hours. The garden is open year-round and admission fees vary dependent on the time of year. In high season, adults pay around $32 per person.  After September 30th, rates drop to around $27 and in the winter when there are far fewer blooms, admission is $18.   There are also restaurants on site, special events including concerts and fireworks and evening viewings where the pathways are lit up. When you see the magnitude of the gardens, it is safe to say that this is a worthwhile addition to any trip to Victoria.  For more information click here.  Today, the gardens are still in the Butchart Family.  They are currently run by Robin Lee Clark, the great-granddaughter of the original owners.

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After our adventures in the gardens it was time to head back to Victoria, have a rest, and then go for dinner with friends.  We didn’t take pictures of the food but we can wholeheartedly endorse our dining location … Pagliacci’s.  The restaurant offers great Italian food with good size portions and friendly service.

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In our next blog … sailing to Salt Spring Island.

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Until then, we wish you a day filled with fun and frolic.

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Fenton & White

 

Fenton & White Peruse The Parks

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VICTORIA HAS HIDDEN TREASURES A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THE HARBOUR

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We were pretty full from our afternoon tea and it was now late in the afternoon so we decided to make our way to our accommodation.  The plan was to check in, have a quick nap and then explore the area away from the harbour.  We were truly delighted when we checked in for our stay at the Helm’s Inn.  For starters, the cost of the room was almost half of what we had paid in Vancouver.  The hotel is located a 15 minute walk from the tourist district near the water and has close proximity to the provincial museum, legislature buildings and Beacon Hill Park (more on that in a moment).

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LARGE AIRY ROOMS ARE A FEATURE OF THE HELM’S INN

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There is no doubt the hotel is older.  There is no elevator (the building is three stories high) and the patterns of the carpet are from an earlier time, but when we opened the door on our second story corner room we were thrilled with the amount of space.  It was like checking into a small apartment.  Everything was clean and tidy and welcoming.

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ROOMS AT THE HELM’S INN ARE SET UP FOR LONGER STAYS WITH PLENTY OF CLOSET SPACE

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The room had a large bathroom, two full size closets, a nice writing desk, chest of drawers and for later in the evening, a television to catch up on the news of the day.

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THE BATHROOMS ARE CLEAN AND MODERN

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The best part of all was that the room included a nice kitchen with stove, full size fridge, a table and chairs and a complete set of dishes and pots and pans.  During our time in Victoria we took advantage of this by shopping at the nearby grocery store and warming up meat pies for dinner and doing porridge in the morning for breakfast.  This not only saved us some money, but after eating in restaurants for the past few days, it was a nice change of pace.

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A KITCHEN IN YOUR SUITE ALLOWS YOU THE OPTION OF COOKING A FEW MEALS

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The desk staff were outstanding and the lobby features a fireplace with a bowl of fresh fruit for guests.  At 4 PM each day, guests can come down for a fresh pot of tea and cookies … we passed, as we were all full up.  We truly can’t speak highly enough about our experience here.  If you decided to go, book early.  We discovered that in the winter, many people come for a long-term stay and book the rooms for weeks at a time.   It is often sold out.

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AFTER TAKING A NAP, WE WENT TO BEACON HILL PARK

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Just across the street from the hotel is the entrance to Beacon Hill Park.  This stunning 200 acre sculpted landscape features walking paths, a children’s petting zoo and gorgeous gardens including wonderful surprises like the integrated sculpture, the “Moss Lady”.

 

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THE MOSS LADY FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE

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The whole place has a magical feel to it.  If you walk to the end of the park you can look out towards the ocean, or stay in the middle of the park and lose yourself among the tall trees, formal gardens and ponds and fountains scattered around the property.  There is no admission charge and lots of parking if you come by car.

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VAST CEDAR TREES REACH TO TO THE SKY AND MAKE YOU FEEL SMALL

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EVEN THE GRASSES SEEM TALLER ON THE EDGE OF THIS LAKE COVERED IN LILY PADS

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PEACOCKS STRUT FREELY AROUND THE PARK

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Aside from the lovely scenery there is a lot of opportunity to get up close and personal with some unusual animals.  Peacocks strut and preen and a few of them even roost in the branches of the trees above and occasionally flutter down to the ground spreading their wings.  We had never seen a peacock fly before.  We counted over 20 of them in one area walking freely around the gardens.  There is also a wonderful children’s petting zoo with some unique varieties of animals.  Entrance to the petting zoo is by voluntary donation with a suggested price of $4 per person.  We were curious and one experience in particular was worth the price of admission.

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THIS ZEBRA CHICKEN WAS ONE OF SEVERAL UNUSUAL BREEDS ON DISPLAY

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 THE LLAMA POSED POLITELY FOR OUR PICTURE

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There were pot-bellied pigs, llamas, miniature horses, guinea pigs and rabbits, but it was truly the goat enclosure that stole our hearts.  The pen has a double gate to try and discourage the goats from trying to make a run for it.  The enclosure holds about 30 goats.

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THESE GOATS LOVE ATTENTION

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Attendants ensure that there is plenty of food and water for the goats and that the wood chips are fresh and the abundant droppings are continuously cleaned.  After you enter the enclosure, you are free to wander around the animals as long as you don’t feed them.  They are curious and affectionate.

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THIS GOAT TOOK A SHINE TO PETE AND GOT RIGHT UP TO SAY HELLO AND GET A SCRUB ON THE HEAD

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While Pete’s strategy was to get in the middle of the herd and let the goats jump up and say hi, I was more interested in the baby goats.  I found a spot on a bench in a less congested are of the pen and within a few minutes a few of the baby goats came over to check me out.  Without any prompting, soon they were nestled in my lap looking for a nice rub behind the ear.

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WHILE THE WHITE GOAT DISTRACTS ME, THE OTHER GOAT TRIES TO EAT MY SWEATER

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We stayed in this pen for over 20 minutes.  One of the older goats managed to leap over the fence.  The attendants let him wander freely within the confines of the zoo near the pen, (keeping an eye on him) and eventually he jumped back in to be with the others.  It was a truly fun way to round out the afternoon.  The zoo has plenty of hand-washing stations and the animals seemed well-cared for and kindly treated by the staff.  In the winter, they go back to a local farm and then return to the park in the late spring.

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MACAULY POINT PARK HAS LOVELY VIEWS OF THE STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA AND FEW CROWDS

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It was nearing dinner time, but we were still full from the tea in the afternoon.  We decided to get back in the car and drive past the downtown and get to the other side of the harbour for a nice view. We discovered a former military installation at Macauly Point Park, a mere fifteen minute drive from the downtown.  It has level graveled walking trails, interesting remnants of buildings from the time when the base here guarded the port, and beautiful views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

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TRAILS TAKE YOU TO DECOMMISSIONED BUILDINGS THAT WERE ONCE STORAGE UNITS FOR MUNITIONS

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THE SITE DATES BACK TO 1895.  THIS ENTRANCE TAKES YOU THROUGH A TUNNEL TO ONE OF THE GUNNERY MOUNTS

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TRAILS TAKE YOU HIGHER ON THE HILL WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE SITE FROM ABOVE

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THE INLET NEAR THE ENTRANCE TO THE PARK AT FLEMING BEACH HAS LOVELY HOMES ON A SMALL HARBOUR

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THIS PAIR OF SWANS WAS SWIMMING NEAR THE SHORE

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We saw sea otters playing in the water near the shore, and to our surprise a pair of swans.  We didn’t realize swans would swim in salt water.  Research after our trip indicated that swans can indeed vary their diet and spend short times in salt water enjoying the bounty of the sea.

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We spent an hour strolling the trails before the sun began to dip below the horizon and we were ready to go back to the hotel and settle in for the night.  It had been a great day from the ferry crossing, to watching MPPs in action, then having high tea, going for a visit with the animals and a relaxed stroll along the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  We went back to the grocery store, picked up some fresh meat pies and a bottle of wine and had dinner in our room.

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In the next blog … Butchart Blooms and a stop at the Belfry.  Until next time, warmest regards …

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Fenton & White

 

Fenton & White ask the question … What do you value?

 

'Worth' highlighted, under 'Value'

WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST IN LIFE?

We just returned from a trip to the west coast of Canada including stops in Vancouver, Victoria, Salt Spring Island, Tofino and Ucluelet.  We both wanted to get away from work on projects, internet and social media, and simply get out and enjoy life. That is one of the things that is important to us … making the most of however long we have on this great big blue marble called Earth.

As the vacation went on,  we both had time to reflect on the things that we value … and also reflect on things that we might be willing to release once we got back from vacation.  So this blog is going to be about those observations … shared … for whatever they are worth.  One thing is for sure … just taking the time to think about what we value, and how we express that to others was an incredibly worthwhile process … so in no particular order here’s what we discovered.

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WE VALUE EACH OTHER

It is hard to fathom that we have been together for 16 years, but from the time we met, we knew we were soul mates.  Staying together for that long isn’t just by chance.  We truly value one another.  And to ensure we don’t take that for granted, each night before we go to bed, we say thank-yous.  We thank each other for a minimum of three things that were done earlier that day.  It doesn’t have to be something we did for each other, it can be a kindness extended to another person, taking time to call a friend, or simply taking out the garbage.  Doing this daily ritual, and saying it with meaning each night has helped us to communicate that we do truly value one another.

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FRIENDS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR LIVES

During our trip we tried to connect with our friends in the places we visited.  The picture above is Pete and I with Mitch, one of Pete’s longest friendships.  We had the opportunity to do three meals with Mitch and his partner Sean, and we valued every second.  We also caught up with acting friends Janet and Wendy, life-long friends, Brian and Cori, theatre contacts and even a former co-worker of Pete’s.  We wanted to ensure we made some time for them.  In our daily lives, we do a lot of outreach through email trying to wish people a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary, sending good wishes on theatre openings (even when we can’t be there) and simply making time to share laughter.  It is amazing how a few minutes a day can keep friendships intact, make our friends feel valued and add value to our own lives.

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THE BEAUTIFUL GAL ON THE RIGHT IS MY NIECE … WE TRULY VALUE FAMILY

Although it can often be hard to keep up with family, we wanted to ensure that our trip included a visit to Ucluelet where my niece works at a hostel.  We spent a full day walking beaches, doing lunch and going whale watching … but most importantly … reconnecting.  Although we can’t always do this in person, we ensure we are in touch on special occasions, find excuses for yearly gatherings with family in our area and truly try to reach out.  We do regularly schedule phone calls to my folks and maintain contact with siblings around busy schedules by phone or email.   As the fall dawns, a personal project is to reach out to Aunts and Uncles who I haven’t seen in some time.  I need to show them that they are a valuable part of our lives.

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WE VALUE NATURE AND THE MANY WONDERS OF THIS WORLD

It’s no secret that we love to travel, but you don’t have to go far to find nature.  There are lots of parks and ravines to explore in Toronto, Calgary or any town you live in.  We love when friends post pictures of their trips or daily walks through parks in their home town.    On the west coast, there was so much on offer at every turn.  The picture above was taken at 9:30 in the morning as the mists slowly cleared from the rain forest which came right up to Half Moon Bay … a 30 minute hike in from a road in Ucluelet.  We were the only ones on the beach.  As the mist lifted, the beams of sunlight streamed through the old-growth trees creating an effect that truly made us appreciate the wonders of mother nature.  How do we value nature back?  By staying on the path, picking up any trash along the way that we see, and by taking pictures and sharing them to show others that in a troubled world, there are still many places filled with awe and beauty and peace.

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WE VALUE GOOD FOOD

When we take a vacation, it means that we have both worked really hard, budgeted out how much our trip is going to cost and made an effort to put that money in the bank before we travel.  This includes budgeting for meals out.  On Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island, we stayed in many cottages and cabins with kitchen facilities (allowing us to cook instead of going out), which meant we could venture a few times to fancier places, such as this extraordinary breakfast at JAM in Vancouver.  There will be more on this meal in the upcoming travel blogs.  We also value moderation … so this fancy meal was balanced with less extravagant food.  And all of it was balanced by as much walking as we could possibly do each day.  And at the above restaurant … we tipped generously, and thanked the staff and let them know that their attention to detail with the meal was something that we valued.  Clearly others felt the same way.  By the time we left, there was a line-up around the block to get in.  The restaurant valued their customers, and in return they had built a booming business.

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WE VALUE UNIQUE EXPERIENCES SUCH AS THIS ZODIAC TOUR ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN

Be it hiking in the amazing old growth forests of Pacific Rim National Park, or taking an extraordinary zodiac adventure miles out into the ocean to visit seals, sea lions, otters and whales in their natural habitat, we challenge each other to try new things, seek out adventure, and learn from those experiences.  We value getting new perspectives that challenge our perception of our own limits.  Sometimes it is scary, but almost always … it is worthwhile.  We learned a new appreciation for the vastness of the ocean and the power of waves … even on calm seas.  We learned how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

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WE VALUE THE ARTS AND THE ARTISTS WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO WORK WITH

(Photo by Benjamin Laird Photography of Rennie Wilkinson and Guilly Urra in the Lunchbox Theatre production of Newfoundland Mary directed by Val Pearson with costumes by Marian Truscott, scenic design by Scott Reid and lighting design by Dave Smith)

We value the arts, the stories that are told through artistic mediums, and we truly try our very best to ensure that every artist that works on a project of ours is paid.  If we can’t pay them as much as we would wish, then we ensure they are valued through food, wine, flexible rehearsals and always … extending thanks and gratitude for bringing our work to life.  On our holiday we were able to reflect on the artistic highlights of the year, the above production being one of them.

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WE VALUE OUR FREEDOM TO MAKE CHOICES IN LIFE

This sculpture was embedded in a rock near the harbour in Victoria.  It shows a pair of hands holding onto a set of chains, rising out of the rock.  This sculpture stayed with me, but perhaps for reasons that might surprise you.  It made me think … what do I hold onto in my life that I believe I can’t let go of or I won’t survive? The answer that came back days later as I stared into the ocean surprised me.

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FINANCIAL SECURITY IS SOMETHING WE VALUE MORE AND MORE AS WE AGE

Pete will be retiring in four years.  He is fortunate to have a pension and I plan to continue working, but one thing that taking a big trip and budgeting forward makes clear … life is a series of choices when it comes to finances.  I have never been one to prioritize money over life experiences, but in the upcoming years the meditation on what I want brought about some revelations.  For the first time in some time I realized that I will really have to earn more money if we want to continue our present quality of life … and some of that will be achieved by simplifying or travelling a little less, but there were some revelations about my relationship to work and money and the arts.

The first revelation is that years of working as an artist have conditioned me to accept any and all work simply because when someone offers me work, it means they “like” me or approve of me. Seeking approval can be a slippery slope, because those who provide that approval sometimes inadvertently undervalue the work … because they know that you need it … at any cost.  Like those hands in that statue, one hangs on to whatever is available in order to financially survive.

 But upon reflection, some of those same employers have been paying me the same wage without an increase in over 10 years.  Unfortunately, costs in Toronto have continued to increase.  This year, looking back at my work, there were projects that I felt happy to do for less money … because I felt valued and I felt the work had value.  But there were other jobs that brought neither joy nor much income.  In fact … by taking many smaller jobs, I was less focused, my energies were scattered, and often the result was earning less money than I could have if I focused on marketing my own work, or taking on a more permanent job for a period of time with a stable income.  On this trip, it became clear that I have to let go of some of the things I have done simply because I am accustomed to doing them, and start prioritizing projects that value me through increased payment, or give me nourishment through the work itself. Which leads me to the last item.

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IT IS IMPORTANT TO VALUE YOURSELF

Every year, we try and assess where we can give the greatest value in life to others, and determine what we need in terms of financial value from those that employ us, but the most important thing to remember is simply that it is hard for us to be valued if we don’t value ourselves.  So this past holiday we took time to reflect on our goals, our dreams, and determine areas of our lives where we didn’t feel valued (either through our own inability to express that need, or simply because … we weren’t valued and were too scared to express our needs).

So this fall, I am making a list of areas where I feel valued, and areas where I feel undervalued.  In those areas where I feel valued, I will ensure that I express gratitude and let people know I feel valued.  In those areas where I feel undervalued, I will express that and determine if the cause of my devaluation is my own perception, if there is something that I want that I can get through communicating my need to feel more valued, or if it is simply time to let go.  There will be a transition into new work, retaining some work with previous clients, and possibly moving on from work that I have held on to for too many years.  I suppose one should do this every year, like a fall house cleaning.

So our challenge to you?

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Take a few hours sometime this month, and sit down and look at the things in life that you value.  Take some time to examine how you express your gratitude for the times where the things you value are present in your life.  But also take some time to identify where your life is filled with things that you don’t value or areas where you feel undervalued.  Are there things you can let go of?  If you feel undervalued, can you determine why and express that to those who don’t value you?  And if you still feel undervalued, do you have the strength to let go, value yourself and make a list of the things that you really WANT and start figuring out the steps to getting them in your life?  For us, the key to having the fullest life is knowing what we value, and taking action to ensure that we keep those things at the forefront of our lives.

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WE VALUE YOU!

  I have left one final thing of great value to the end of the blog.  We value YOU for taking time to read or skim these blogs.  Thanks for reading.  I love to write, and your interest gives me a great reason to continue blogging.  I hope that these blogs bring you joy, information, food for thought and a chance to go on our adventures with us.  We love to share in the things we have seen.

In the upcoming posts, we’ll be sharing our travel adventures in greater detail.  Be prepared for lots of food, friends, family, nature and adventure.

Until next time … warmest regards

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Fenton & White

 

Fenton & White Prepare For Fall Fun

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FALL IS IN THE AIR

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August was a busy month.  Scott finished off the Sunday Serenades series, completed work with Theatre Direct, did a week of filming on a training video for Ryerson University and worked on several small projects for the Standardized Patient Program at The University of Toronto. Pete continued work on the data base for the collections in his section at the Royal Ontario Museum, did more writing on our comedy Some Kind of Happy and when I wasn’t available, began work on a new story called Macaron about a cat who gets caught up in a kidnapping caper when his owner goes missing from a Parisian cafe.

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THE ARRIVAL OF THE CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION IS A SURE SIGN OF FALL

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All work and no play is … simply no fun at all.  To celebrate the end of summer, Fenton & White took a trip to the CNE taking in a number of amazing sights.  If you are in Toronto, the Ex runs until Monday and you can get all the details of programming here.  Here’s a few of the things we saw.

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THESE PERFORMERS ON THE TRAMPOWALL SEEMED TO DEFY GRAVITY

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BUTTER SCULPTURES ARE A TRADITION AT THE EX

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FENTON AND WHITE VISIT WITH MAX STUSSI (A FELLOW STANDARDIZED PATIENT) WHO IS ALSO FEATURED IN THE RUSH PARKOUR SHOW AT THE EX.

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If you have never seen parkour, check out this video posted on YouTube by Stephanie Emma.  These fellas are fearless.

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Ex Day August 2017 089 COOL LASER LIGHT SHOWS ARE PART OF THE ENTERTAINMENT ON THE MIDWAY

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AND NO VISIT TO THE EX IS COMPLETE WITHOUT A WAFFLE ICE CREAM SANDWICH

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AND MIDWAY FAVOURITE … TINY TOM DONUTS

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But life can’t all be about strolling the midway and eating carnival food.  As you well know, Fenton & White’s passion is the arts, and as the fall approaches we are excited to talk about the upcoming work of a few of our friends … starting with this book that was just released last week.

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Stan's Book

STAN ROGAL’S NEW BOOK THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD IS DARK AND FUNNY

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Pete and I had the opportunity to attend the book launch for a collection of short stories written by our friend Stan Rogal.  The book is published by Calgary publisher Frontenac House and we were looking forward to hear Stan read from this … his 21st book. He is an accomplished playwright, novelist and poet.  To read more about the book and find out where to pick up your copy, click here.

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Fenton & White do a book launch

PETE AND SCOTT GET THEIR COPY OF THE BOOK SIGNED BY STAN ROGAL

(Photo by Jacquie Jacobs)

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Stephen Law's book

STEPHEN LAW’S NEWEST NOVEL WILL BE RELEASED IN HALIFAX ON SEPTEMBER 14th

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Another book that we are very excited about is the latest novel by Stephen Law called Under Her Skin.  Stephen’s last book (Tailings Of Warren Peace) was an intriguing read and his latest work promises to be equally compelling.  The book will be officially launched at the Halifax North End Library at 7 PM on September 14th.  To read a description of this novel published by Fernwood Publishing, click here.  After the book is launched, you will be able to order it online and Stephen may be coming to a city near you.  He is truly a fantastic writer. What better way to enjoy fall then to curl up with a good book?

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FALL ALSO MEANS THAT IT IS TIME FOR THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

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The Toronto International Film Festival starts next week and Scott will be returning to the festival as part of the venues team.  If you attend the festival, you may encounter him prior to a screening at the Princess of Wales Theatre.  This year is chock full of celebrities and a few of the incredible names going through the doors of our theatre will include Ed Harris, Dame Judi Dench and even Lady Gaga is getting into the action with a new documentary at the festival. She will be doing a mini-concert as part of the screening.  Needless to say …. it is going to be an insanely busy time.  As staff, I won’t be taking pictures, but you can follow coverage of the festival in the daily news and if you love celebrity … here’s a full list of the celebrities represented at the festival in film, or in person.

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SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING FILMS FEATURE CANADIAN STARS SUCH AS SHEILA MCCARTHY

(Image from the TIFF Film Website)

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When we aren’t at work, Pete and I plan to take in a few of the amazing films being screened.  We always prioritize films that are unique, films that may get limited distribution, or films that are Canadian and have friends or colleagues in them.  One of the films that hit our must-see list included Cardinals starring Sheila McCarthy.  For a description of this compelling film click here.

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DON’T TALK TO IRENE … ANOTHER INTRIGUING CANADIAN FILM

(Image from the TIFF film website)

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Don’t Talk To Irene is also very much on our must-see list.  Here is a description written by Magali Simard in the TIFF program book.

When Irene gets suspended and is forced to do community service at a retirement home — run by discipline freak Barrett (Scott Thompson) — alongside her bullies and her new friend, Tesh (a gender non-conforming, glitzy dreamer), an opportunity arises. If she can’t be a high-school cheerleader, maybe she can turn her new-found circle of elderly friends into an unlikely dance troupe. This is an empowering comedy about acceptance on your own terms.

And why is this film a priority other than it’s quirky subject matter?  Well, because a fantastic fellow Standardized Patient, Linda Goranson, happens to be in the cast and will be at the first screening.  We love to see our friends succeed … and best of all … she plays a dancer.  We can’t wait to watch the film and cheer her on.  If you want to cheer on your favourite stars while seeing a movie, go to http://www.tiff.net/tickets/.  Individual tickets go on sale on September 4th.

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AFTER TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL … A BREAK.

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Pete and I traditionally take a break in the fall and we had looked at a variety of destinations.  This year … the west coast of Canada won out with a trip that will include visits with friends in Vancouver, time in Victoria, wine tours on Salt Spring Island and hiking in the Tofino/Ucluelet area  on the west coast of Vancouver Island (pictured above).  We promise to take lots of pictures and share our journey with you in the travel blogs after we get back.

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THE KINCARDINE THEATRE GUILD GETS READY TO REHEARSE THE GIANT’S GARDEN

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While we are taking a break … others will be working to put one of our shows up on the stage.  We want to wish the cast, crew and creative team of The Kincardine Theatre Guild all the best as they start rehearsals on September 5th for their production of our family musical The Giant’s Garden. The show opens Friday November 16th. We love the above postcard, one of several created by Andrew O. French on the Kincardine Theatre Guild Facebook page.  If you want to see the countdown to the upcoming production, click here.  For more information on the Kincardine production and purchasing tickets, click tickets.

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We hope that you have a fantastic fall and wherever you are, we hope that you find out what artists in your area are up to.  There are so many people creating so many wonderful things.  Until next time, we send our best regards.

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FENTON & WHITE (WELL, OKAY … WHITE AND FENTON)

Fenton & White Head East – Part 4

After a brief hiatus, the final installment of the train trip east is now ready.  As many of you know, the blogs are written after we return from our trips. Rehearsals in Calgary on  Newfoundland Mary have been filling the time day and night.  Read on to find out more about our adventures.  When we last left off, Pete and I had just finished dinner, and were heading back to the observation car before going to sleep.

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A SNOW STORM CLOSED IN AROUND THE TRAIN AND THE SIGNAL LIGHTS IN THE NIGHT BECAME FIERY BEACONS AS WE WHIZZED PAST AT HIGH SPEED

The further east we headed the stormier it got and there wasn’t a lot to see out of the windows at night so we made our way to our cabin to see what it looked like with the beds down.

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THE BEDS ARE COMFORTABLE AND EVEN WHEN THEY ARE DOWN THERE IS A FEW FEET OF WIDTH BESIDE THEM TO GET UP AND DOWN IN THE NIGHT

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A LADDER ALLOWS THE PERSON ON THE TOP BUNK EASY ACCESS UP AND DOWN

In general, the sleeping arrangements were quite comfortable.  One of the only challenges is that the light in the bathroom can not be shut off and so if someone gets up in the night and opens the door to the bathroom … the cabin is flooded with light.  The doors to the bathrooms also have stiff fasteners on them and to get them open you have to use quite a bit of force (they have a kick-plate on the bottom) so it is hard to open them quietly.  We traveled on through the night and as we slept the storm swept past us.  By morning, the skies were clear. We had an early breakfast and then decided to try our next adventure … showering in a moving train.

Montreal And Halifax March 2017 069  SHOWERING IN A MOVING TRAIN IS MADE EASIER BY THE FACT THAT THE BATHROOM IS SMALL, MAKING IT HARDER TO FALL OVER AS THE TRAIN ROCKS BACK AND FORTH.

In the above picture you can see the hose for the shower and the white dial that controls temperature.   When the door is closed (and it has a lip) the bathroom is well sealed and as you stand in the corner, the water drains out of the drain in the floor.  To shower you set your water temperature and press the button beside the white dial and it gives you 20 seconds of water and then shuts off.  The shower head is a small wand at the end of the hose that has a reasonable amount of water pressure, but the holes on the wand are small, so the volume of water isn’t huge.  So you shower in stages.  First you get wet (20 seconds).  Then you shampoo and soap up (as long as you like).  Then you rinse (20 seconds)  Then you press the button again to get more of the soap off (20 seconds).  Then you press the button a third time to continue rinsing (20 seconds).  Repeat appropriately depending on how much soap you used in the first place and how much patience you have.   Then you get out your towel and dry off.  Or I suppose you could use the provided hair dryer.  The shower actually worked out quite well. The water was hot and it provided an ample shower after a long day on the train.  I suppose for people who like long hot showers this would not be the best, but you can press the button as many times as you like and get your water in 20 second spurts.

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NEW BRUNSWICK WAS COVERED IN SNOW, BUT THE ICE WAS BEGINNING TO MELT

After our showers, we dressed and went back to the dome car.  It was a snowy sight.  We made our way through New Brunswick and spent some of our time in the observation car, some of our time in our cabin and of course our meal times (breakfast and lunch) were in the dining car.  The nice thing about train travel is that unlike a plane, there are different places you can spend time and you can get up and stretch your legs.

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WHILE WE MADE OUR WAY EAST, THE TRACKS STAYED BEHIND TO CARRY OTHER PASSENGERS ON FUTURE TRIPS

The scenery along the way was mostly tree and rock.  The train follows a direct path, sometimes along the highway, sometimes wandering in isolation, but generally encountering towns every 15 or 20 minutes.  We arrived in Halifax about 45 minutes later than scheduled on a sunny evening.  Arthur Smith was our host, and he picked up up and then we went for a delicious dinner and night time tour of Halifax.   The following day we toured other areas near the harbour of Halifax and then headed out to see Arthur’s River House and enjoy some quiet time away from the city.  We didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here is a sense of our time there.

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PETE PREPARES TO ENTER THE RIVER HOUSE, A BEAUTIFUL HOME ON THE TIDNISH RIVER THAT OUR FRIEND HAD BUILT

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PETE WARMS HIS HANDS AT THE FIRE. THE TEMPERATURES WERE COOL

We spent Saturday exploring the roads in the area and enjoying the countryside.  Our travels allowed us to explore more of the coastal areas on our return trip to the city.

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THE ATLANTIC OCEAN ON A CLEAR SUNNY DAY

On Sunday we visited with friends at brunch.  All too soon it was time to return to Toronto by plane.  We had a week to prepare for our next adventure … rehearsals on our show in Calgary

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CALGARY WAS CALLING … AS WERE THOSE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

But that is a story for another day.  In the meantime, we hope you have enjoyed our four part blog on train travels between Toronto and Halifax.  Until our next blog, we wish you joy and the opportunity to do what you love most.

Warmest Regards

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FENTON & WHITE

Fenton & White Head East On The Train … Part 3

The Ocean is the name of the Via route that runs from Montreal To Halifax three times per week. Here’s a few quick tidbits on the journey.  As with the previous blogs, blue text can be clicked on for links to further details.

Distance:  1346 kilometres

Duration of Trip:  23 hours (ish).  Leaving at 7 PM and arriving at 6:00 PM the next day.

Cost:  $275  for 2 people in economy (no meals and you sleep in your seat)

First Class:  $825 for 2 people including room with shower, beds and 3 meals

So the big question is … is it worth it?  Via had a sale on with the route 40% off, and I get an extra 10% off due to my Canadian Actor’s Equity membership.  So when you consider you are getting a train trip, a night of accommodation, 3 meals each and you wind up on the East Coast … well at the discount rate, it was worth doing for the cost of $425 after discounts for us both.  It was a much different experience than our Amtrak trip a few years back, which was 3 days and 2 nights from Chicago to San Francisco.  For details on that trip go to our blogs about the California Zephyr .  We liked the layout of our room better on the Via train, but the Amtrak route was less costly on a per day basis, and although the food was good on Via, the Amtrak food surprised us and was better (cooked by a chef instead of prepared like an airplane meal).

Read on to see what the Via experience on this route was like.

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PRIOR TO BOARDING,  SLEEPER PASSENGERS HAVE ACCESS TO THE VIA LOUNGE WITH FREE POP, JUICE, COFFEE, TEA AND NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES

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AT 5 PM WE CHECKED IN, GOT OUR WRIST BANDS THAT DESIGNATED US AS SLEEPER PASSENGERS, AND MADE OUR DINNER RESERVATION FOR THE LATE SEATING AT 8:30 PM.  WE ALSO CHECKED OUR LUGGAGE

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AT 6 PM IT WAS TIME TO GO TO THE PLATFORM AND BOARD THE TRAIN

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EACH SLEEPER CAR HAS 10 ROOMS ALONG ONE SIDE OF THE TRAIN WITH A NARROW HALLWAY THAT RUNS PAST THE DOORWAYS

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THE ROOM IS IN THE DAYTIME POSITION WHEN YOU ARRIVE AND THE CAR STEWARD GREETS YOU AND ASKS WHAT TIME YOU WANT YOUR BEDS MADE DOWN

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OUR COMPARTMENT HAD ITS OWN BATHROOM WITH A SHOWER. TOWELS AND TOILETRIES SUCH AS SOAP AND SHAMPOO ARE PROVIDED

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STORAGE SPACE IN EACH CABIN IS LIMITED SO IT IS WISE TO LEAVE MOST THINGS IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE AND JUST BRING THE ESSENTIALS IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE … LIKE A BOTTLE OF WINE AND SOME SNACKS FOR ALONG THE WAY.

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IT WAS TIME TO EXPLORE THE TRAIN.  EACH ROOM IS KEYED SO THAT YOU CAN LOCK YOUR DOOR WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR COMPARTMENT

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IN THE CENTRE OF THE TRAIN IS A SNACK BAR WHERE YOU CAN PURCHASE DRINKS AND SANDWICHES

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ONE CAR AHEAD OF THAT IS THE DINING CAR

Meals are served with linens and on china plates.   Our meals were tasteful and served hot.  Each meal comes with a choice of two appetizers, a choice of three entrees and a dessert with coffee, tea, pop or water.  Meals are included in your sleeper class ticket, but wine is extra.  We paid the extra $7 per glass for the wine pairings.  The food is prepared in advance and heated, but it tasted good.  On the first night I had a lovely chowder, a fish meal with turbot, steamed vegetables (which were crisp and properly warmed through) and rice.  The dessert was a mint chocolate cake.  Breakfast and lunch are also included in your ticket.  Breakfast doesn’t take reservations and lunch … well they are supposed to take reservations, but there was a communication mix-up on our train.  We wound up eating breakfast at 7:30 in the morning and lunch at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Fortunately, we had those wine and nibbles in our cabin to keep us going.  Economy passengers can dine in the dining car if they pay (there is an a la carte menu with prices that we didn’t get a look at) as long as there is room after the sleeping car reservations are dealt with.   Otherwise, they bring their own food, or purchase from a snack bar at the front of the train.

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THE SLEEPER CARS AND THE BULLET LOUNGE AT THE BACK OF THE TRAIN ARE RESTRICTED TO THOSE WHO HAVE A WRIST BAND

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THIS IS THE MURAL LOUNGE WHICH IS A PRIVATE LOUNGE FOR SLEEPER PASSENGERS.  IT OCCUPIES THE FRONT CORNER OF THE REAR CAR OF THE TRAIN.  IT HAS ITS OWN BARTENDER WHICH IS NICE BUT YOU STILL PAY FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES

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IF YOU CLIMB UP THE STAIRS, THERE IS A PRIVATE OBSERVATION CAR FOR SLEEPER PASSENGERS

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THE BULLET LOUNGE HAS 24 HOUR FREE COFFEE, TEA, JUICE AND FRUIT

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AFTER EXPLORING THE TRAIN, IT WAS TIME TO SETTLE IN FOR HAPPY HOUR IN OUR CABIN.  ON THE WALL IS AN EMERGENCY CALL BUTTON, HEATING AND COOLING CONTROLS AND LIGHT SWITCHES FOR VARIOUS MOODS.  THE BATHROOM LIGHT STAYS ON ALL NIGHT, WHICH MEANS IF SOMEONE IN YOUR CABIN USES THE RESTROOM IN THE NIGHT, IT FILLS THE CABIN WITH LIGHT

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WE BID FAREWELL TO MONTREAL

Tomorrow … how to sleep and shower on a train.   But first … dinner.

FENTON & WHITE