The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

17 June, 2015

Vancouver Island

Our next adventure began with a bus ride to Vancouver Island where we were met by Helen's cousin Janthea and her husband Garth and taken back to their home in Oak Bay a suburb of Victoria.  The bus ride from Vancouver took about 2 1/2 hrs, and included a Ferry ride taking approx 1 1/2 hrs.  By the time we arrived in Victoria, Helen had come down with a cold so we called into a Chemist and bought some drugs then it was straight to bed for her however after dinner Garth took me to a Hot Tub Night at Rogers house - thank you Roger as he felt sorry and gave me a beanie (their summer time is a bit chilly for me!!)  After a couple of days rest Helen was good to go again and we had a fantastic time seeing the sights around this beautiful Island with Janthea and Garth .

Went for lovely walks to the beach (only approx 1km from their home) - Oak Bay and Willow Beach. Garth and I would sometimes go to the marina on the morning walk and have a coffee. We were chauffeured around downtown Victoria, introduced to 'pickleball' (a fun sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, ping-pong and is played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.  It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball - very interesting to watch). Visited Fisherman's Wharf where we had lunch and were fascinated in the colourful "float homes" where people live.

Oak Bay looking towards the Marina, on my morning walk

Willow Beach

Walking through the suburbs not the animals we're use to seeing!!

Oak Bay Marina resident Otter

Harbour Taxi

Truly a "house" boat

Float homes at Fisherman's Wharf

Also visited the famous Butchart Gardens - in 1904 Robin Butchart developed a quarry and built a cement plant at Tod inlet on Vancouver Island.  Jennie Butchart became the company's chemist and they established the family home close to the quarry complete with sweet peas and rose bushes.  As the limestone was extracted Jennie Butchart made plans to create something of beauty in the giant exhausted pit.  She had tonnes of top soil brought in by horse and cart from farmland nearby and little by little the quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden. Between 1906 and 1929 they created a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court and a Rose Garden.  Grandson Ian Ross was given The Gardens on his 21st birthday and after service in WW11 he worked hard to make his grandmother's garden self sustaining, transforming the mostly neglected home and gardens into an internationally famous destination.

Our wonderful hosts Janthea & Garth

Helen and I caught the local bus into downtown Victoria and walked around for most of the day taking in many sights.   Our first stop was Chinatown followed by Market Square.  I saw a Tilley Hat Store which seemed to beckon me inside and then all of a sudden I was the proud owner of one!  The Tilley Hat is a well known Canadian made hat which insures against loss and guaranteed for life (replaced free if ever wears out) - with that sort of guarantee I thought it would suit me down to the ground!!

Chinatown in Victoria

Now that's a bicycle built for 27

My new Tilley hat - you think I would look happier! **Hels comment: perhaps he just realised how much he spent!!
After lunching at "The Local" on Wharf Street we walked around Victoria Inner Harbour passing The Fairmont Empress Hotel, British Columbia Legislature before walking up to Beacon Hill Park where we saw quite a few horse drawn carriages for hire.
British Columbia Legislature - note the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia Tree) planted in the late 1800 and over 30 meters tall

The Fairmont Empress Hotel (1908)

Old Spagetti Factory Restaurant - note hanging baskets in full bloom

Beacon Hill Park - always ducks to feed in a park
Now that's a big watering can - in Beacon Hill Park
Helen's cousin and her husband are volunteers at Government House so we went with Janthea for a visit and walked around the gardens (unfortunately weren't allowed in the house!).  Government House is the office and official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians.  Since 1865 there have been 3 Government Houses on this site - the first official residence known as Cary Castle was built in 1859 and 6 years later it was purchased as the residence of the Governor of Vancouver Island.  When British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871 Cary Castle become Government House however in May 1899 it was destroyed by fire.  Renowned architects Francis Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure were hired to design a new house on the same site and was officially opened in 1903.  In April 1957 it once again succumbed to fire and construction on the new Government House began in December 1957 and closely matched the design of the previous building and was officially opened on May 1959.

Government House
The Cary Castle Mews is a cluster of 19th century wooden service buildings consisting of stables, a carriage house, a gaol, a root cellar, a wash house and a poultry house (part of which was later used as a gardener's cottage).  The onsite buildings have been used as support buildings to Government House since their construction in the 1870s and some of the buildings have been restored and are now opened for the public to enjoy.  The Costume Museum is located in the Carriage House and showcases a large variety of period pieces including former Lieutenant Governors' uniforms and Chatelaines' dresses.  If anyone has the opportunity this is well worth a visit.

Costume Museum located in the renovated Carriage House

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