Fenton & White Welcome Winter

Winter is a time to bundle up and take in the cool fresh air, or snuggle into a blanket, enjoy the warmth of home and curl up with a good book or in our case … do some writing.  The leaves have fallen, the days are growing shorter and soon the holidays will be upon us.  Here’s a quick update on what has been keeping Fenton & White busy over the past month, and what the upcoming months hold as we get ready to welcome winter.

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Scott (far right) joins musician Davnet Doyle, author Christine Fisher Guy, and Moderator Kate Taylor of the Globe and Mail in a discussion on the impact of Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act on artists.

(Image courtesy of Amy Cormier)

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Scott started the month with some advocacy work on behalf of playwrights, participating on a panel discussing how recent changes to the copyright act have impacted royalty earnings of writers in Canada.  Access Copyright has put out an excellent short video that explains what is at stake for people who work in the creative sector.  To learn more take a moment and click on the link below to watch this short video.

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Full Cast

THE GIANT’S GARDEN HAS A GIANT CAST

(Photo by Troy Patterson)

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Near the end of November, Pete and I had the opportunity to travel a few hours north of Toronto to see the gala opening of the Kincardine Theatre Guild Production of our family musical The Giant’s Garden.  The show had an enormous cast (as you can see above).  The love and hard work put into the production made our hearts glow.

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Gala with Cast

DIRECTOR SHIRLEY DODDS-BIEMAN (LEFT) WITH CAST

FENTON & WHITE IN THE CENTRE

(Photo by Andy O. French)

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After the show finished, the performers changed into their party clothes and we got a chance to visit with the many children who played both lead and chorus parts, the adult actors, and their families and friends who were bursting at the seams with pride.  The theatre presented us with a poster signed by the entire cast.

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THE SUMMER CAKE FROM THE GIANT’S GARDEN GALA

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There were two cakes provided for the party after … one was themed for Summer …

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THE WINTER CAKE FOR THE GIANT’S GARDEN GALA

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And one was themed for Winter.  It was a tasty treat and a sweet way to finish out the evening.

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Food Bank

NOT EVERYONE HAS CAKE DURING THE DARK DAYS OF WINTER

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After we returned home, it was time to look at ways to help others who are less fortunate during this time of year.  Pete is once again running the annual Daily Bread Food Bank campaign at the Royal Ontario Museum.  We are grateful for the ability to feed ourselves each week, but many are not as lucky.  Pete has been running the ROM’s campaign for over 20 years, and it is always heart-warming to see how truly generous people can be.

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ARTISTS GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

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We also want to give a shout out to Chris Wilson who organizes an amazing annual event called Cocktails and Candy Canes.  This joyful evening brings together some of Toronto’s top musical theatre talent to present a night of stylized musical offerings with proceeds going to The Daily Bread Food Bank.  Pete and I look forward to attending this year … and if you are in Toronto … you should too.  Not only are you helping out a great cause, but you will get a great night of entertainment.

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SCOTT’S NEWEST MUSICAL WILL PREMIERE AT THE TORONTO FRINGE IN 2018

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And for the New Year?  Pete and I have a number of exciting projects that will include continuing writing on our comedy Some Kind Of Happy, a few cabaret performances, readings of our work at the Western Ontario Drama League conference in the spring and in the summer … the world premiere of Scott’s newest one act musical Compulsion.  This is a piece that has been on and off the shelf over many years.  It was recently the first runner-up for the Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts – Paul O’Sullivan Prize.  The show will get an 8 performance run in July.  For more information go to the website at Compulsion The Musical 

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And that’s it for 2017.  We sent out our annual newsletter out on December 1st, but if you didn’t receive one and wish to get a full summary of the year, let us know.  We look forward to sharing more of our adventures in 2018.  In the meantime, wishing you and yours a winter filled with wonder and creativity.

Warmest Regards,

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Fenton & White

 

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Fenton & White Prepare To Meet Another Giant

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SOMETHING BIG IS GOING ON IN KINCARDINE

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October is a month we use to promote and market our shows to both community and professional theatres across the country.   Theatre companies often make decisions about what goes on their stage months … and even years in advance.  We are thrilled with every chance we get for our words to go from the page to the stage, and that’s why we are so pleased about an upcoming production of The Giant’s Garden presented by the Kincardine Theatre Guild.

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WHIMSICAL IMAGES FOR THE GIANT’S GARDEN MAKE US SMILE

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The image above is by an artist named Andrew O. French who has been creating a series of fun graphics for our show, including a set of post-cards from the Giant while he is away.  Of course … the Giant is coming back very soon.  Our sources tell us he will arrive in Kincardine on November 16th and will be there until December 2nd.  It is fun watching from a distance as photos of the rehearsal process appear on the Kincardine Theatre Guild website courtesy of Andrew.  Here’s a few glimpses of the hard work going on to put up our EPIC show.

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THE  5 PIECE BAND WILL BE PLAYING NEW ORCHESTRATIONS

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A CAST OF OVER 40 ACTORS WILL PLAY ON THE STAGE INCLUDING A HUGE NUMBER OF YOUNG PERFORMERS FROM THE REGION

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For more information on the production at the Kincardine Theatre Guild and for information on tickets click here.

Pete doing his ROM Patrons Circle Talk

PALEO PETE PRESENTS TO THE ROYAL PATRONS CIRCLE

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Two short days after we arrived back in Toronto from our travels out west, Pete was back hard at work at the Royal Ontario Museum.  On Monday October 2nd, Pete did a special tour for members of The Royal Patrons Circle.  The Royal Patrons Circle is made up of donors whose giving level entitles them to special behind-the-scenes access to various parts of the collections at the museum.  Pete had a fantastic time sharing his passion for fossils.   To see more of this tour, click here.

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SCOTT ADVOCATES FOR COPYRIGHT REVENUES ON BEHALF OF CREATIVE ARTISTS

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On November 6th, Scott was invited to be a guest on a panel made up of creative artists discussing the challenges of earning a living in the arts.  This panel was part of a conference organized by the Canadian Copyright Institute and included an interview with Supreme Court Justice Marshall Rothstein (who has been influential in several rulings on copyright law in Canada), a presentation by Lui Simpson, the Executive Director for the International Copyright Enforcement and Trade Policy Association of American Publishers, and then a lively panel discussion with novelist/journalist Christine Fischer Guy, Singer/Songwriter Damhnait Doyle and Scott … representing playwrights and composers.  The panel was hosted by the Globe and Mail Film Critic and Arts Columnist Kate Taylor and was filled with honest reflections on how important it is for Canadian artists to ensure that there is payment for the use of their work as copyright laws change to adapt to new technologies.  It was an informative afternoon.  If you want to learn more about the Canadian Copyright Institute and the work they do … click here.

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THIS IS AN EVENT THAT PROMISES TO BE THOUGHT-PROVOKING

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And speaking of advocacy, it is time to advocate for a fantastic Canadian author who puts his time into global social justice causes and creates works of fiction that provoke thought and entertain at the same time.  For those who read this blog in Toronto, mark Thursday November 16th down on your calendar.  Author Stephen Law will be reading from his newest novel Under Her Skin.  The evening will also feature a performance by contemporary African Dancer Liliona Quarmyne.  For information on the plot of Stephen’s latest book click here.  We’ll be there.  Come and join us!

We hope that wherever you are reading this blog, that you are keeping warm as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler.  We are bundling up for a fun fall and send you  … truly … Warmest Regards

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Fenton & White

Fenton & White Wend Their Way Home

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THE JOURNEY HOME TOOK US THROUGH THE LAND OF TALL TREES ONCE MORE

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We were so glad to see the Tofino/Ucluelet area, and we hope to some day return to explore more of this magical landscape.  Sadly, all  trips eventually must come to an end and it was time to check out of our loft and point the car eastward.  We returned along highway 4 and stopped two hours into the drive to stretch our legs.

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THE CATHEDRAL GROVE TRAIL IS A WONDERFUL STAND OF DOUGLAS FIR TREES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL SMALL

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The Cathedral Grove Hiking Trail is a short level walk that allows you to stroll among the giants.

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BOARD FENCES GUIDE YOU ALONG THE INTERPRETIVE TRAIL

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It was a sunny day,  but in the shade of the trees there was a chill and  we put on sweaters and a light coat to keep the cold away.  This area is a bit more mountainous than the far west coast and the temperatures here are noticeably cooler.  The foliage is no longer dense rainforest, but thinner patches of fern and plants that grow in more acidic soil.

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THE SUN PEEKS THROUGH TO THE FOREST FLOOR

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THE TREES GO WAY UP

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So how tall are the trees in Cathedral Grove?  Well the biggest one is actually taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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NATURE MAKES MAN-MADE STRUCTURES LOOK LESS IMPRESSIVE

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LOOKING UP AT THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST CAN PUT A KINK IN YOUR NECK

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There are some unique features to this trail, including a tree that had a small, naturally occurring hollow where the base of the tree was starting to deteriorate.  Someone lit a fire near the base, which damaged the tree in an unusual way.  The flames got into the sap and burned out a section of the inside of the tree, but the top of the tree is still alive … and the bottom … the roots in the soil didn’t burn, so the tree still stands.

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PETE STANDS INSIDE THE HOLLOW TREE IN CATHEDRAL GROVE

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THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN WITH A FLASH INSIDE THE TREE.  YOU CAN SEE THE SCORCH MARKS FROM THE FIRE

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THE UPPER SECTION OF THE TREE IS ALIVE AND HEALTHY

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The interpretive signs explained that the two primary enemies of trees this size are fire and wind.  In fact during windy days, it is not advisable to walk on the trail as it is possible that a tree with shallow roots may come crashing down.  There were a few cedars among the Douglas Fir and we discovered that when a tree falls, that there is a natural preservative in the sap in the wood that can sustain the structure of the log for up to 1000 years before it starts to decay.  Bugs and birds slowly chip away at the surface and over many centuries, the wood begins to crumble providing a fertile environment for new trees to grow out of .  This fallen tree is known as a nurse log, as it nurtures younger trees.  Only one in a thousand trees that grow on a nurse log survive.

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FENTON AND WHITE BID FAREWELL TO THE FORESTS

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We drove another 90 minutes and checked into our hotel in Nanaimo.  Our plan was to relax for the evening.  We arrived early enough to go and see a movie at a local theatre and then picked up take-out Thai food and lounged about in our room, reflecting on our Vancouver Island adventure.

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OUR FINAL FULL DAY MADE FOR A GLOOMY CROSSING FROM NANAIMO TO VANCOUVER

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We rose early the next day and took a ferry from Nanaimo to North Vancouver.   This is a large ferry with multiple indoor passenger decks and outdoor viewing decks similar in size to the ferry we had crossed over to Victoria on.  The crossing takes 95 minutes and the ferries run every two and a half hours.  The fare was close to $90 for the car and two passengers.  The picture above shows the rainy weather and gloomy skies, but by accident we captured a young couple embracing on the edge of the car deck in the lower right corner of this shot.

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A FEW LAST VISITS TO FIT IN BEFORE DEPARTING

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After turning back the car in Vancouver and checking into our hotel, we fit in one additional afternoon and evening visit.  This is a photo of the afternoon visit with friends Brian and Cori at the Craft Beer Market where we drank beer and ate a lot of nachos … just like we used to do in my university days.

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WE ARE SO LUCKY TO LIVE IN A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY

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The following morning, we took the sky train to the airport and flew back to Toronto.  When we look back on this trip, we will think of friends, gorgeous gardens,  fine food and drink, tall trees, endless beaches, and sea lions and whales.  We are lucky to live in such a beautiful and varied country and it is humbling to see places that make us understand how small we are in a larger world.  We hope that you have enjoyed traveling with us through these blogs, and we encourage you to get out and explore the beauty of Canada.  It is truly an extraordinary place.

Gratefully yours …

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Fenton & White

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)

 

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.

Rennie and Guilly

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