No one does recycling like bald eagles. On my way home to the outermost rural area of Colwood, right on the Metchosin border, I noticed a couple of cars pulled on to the side of the road. I did a quick U-turn and upon parking saw a very large immature bald eagle. When you see the pictures check how big the eagle is in relation to the carcass body of the deer the eagle was tearing apart. This is raw nature. At this moment, all I had was my point and shoot camera. I took a bunch of shots with it on zoom and then a bit of video.
After watching it for about 30 minutes I decided to head home and get a better camera. When I arrived back there was even a larger bald eagle feasting on the carcass. Nature decries that the bigger and stronger ones rule the roost. The two immature ones were in the trees overhead crying for their chance. This one was huge and looked beautiful. It was demonstrating its power with every piece of meet that it ripped off the bones. A few more people stopped to observe and the large eagle seemed undeterred!
I got lots of close up shots with my telephoto and some pretty good video of the largest eagle. The video of the immature one is a bit blurred but good enough you can see it in action. I hope you enjoy the video and pictures as much as I did seeing it unfold at the side of the road.
A Delightful Restaurant in Greater Victoria in Rural Metchosin
My Chosen Cafe
We were off to Glenrosa Farm to celebrate our wedding anniversary and when we got there we found the restaurant closed. So as we headed home we were passing My Chosen Café in guess where, the community of Metchosin. The restaurant is located at 4492 Happy Valley Road where it intersects with Metchosin Road. When we arrived we got the last spot in the parking lot. The Café was packed so we had to wait a short bit before getting seated.
While we were waiting I paid a visit to Critter Corner which I noticed when a man and his young child grabbed an ice cream cone from the Sugar Shack and headed out there. Critter Corner is a local attraction that is out behind the café. Check out critters like Little Black, Trooper, Snow Drop, Peep, Fonzy and the hens and roosters roaming around the compound. This small attraction highlights part of the farming community critters that you would find in Metchosin. It is entertaining for everyone. Check it out!
On the way back into the café you will see the sign over the Pizza shop! What else would you call it….My Chosen Pizza! The have quite a large pizza menu and also serve up Pasta and chicken wings. Looks good!
My Chosen Pizza
While waiting in the lobby for our table I also checked out the Sugar Shack which is a bakery and ice cream shop. The baked goods look delicious and the cinnamon bun had my name on it, but that will be for another time. It was covered in gooey caramel. The serve up cone, floats, sundaes, old fashion milk shakes and jumbo banana splits! Ooooh… I can feel the cardiac arrest coming on!
If you are have a craving for a simple homemade meal made with fresh local ingredients, then head for My Chosen Café. You get to drive through scenic farmland and enjoy the countryside on your way there. There are lots of places to explore on your way out or back. Tower Point Park, Whitty’s Lagoon, Taylor Beach and Albert Head Lagoon are just few places to check out. There are lots of crafters and artisans throughout Metchosin that would love to have you drop in.
The café is decorated in a rustic manner with lots of local memorabilia hanging from the walls. All of it is very interesting so take time to look around. There is lots of room in the main café and more in the covered and heated patio. There are several warm fireplaces on the indoor patio.
The staff was friendly, helpful and attentive and seems to care about their work, which is always a nice touch. The menu is extensive (6 pages) and certainly has something for everyone. At a previous visit, I had their baby back ribs which were about as good as you can get. This time I opted for the 5 oz beef burger with cheese and bacon. I ordered half salad and half fries. They use Kennebec potatoes for their fries but I was sure they were hand cut as they did not look like the frozen ones which are all the same size and shape. The fries were very good and the burger was delicious. The salad had a delicious homemade dill dressing on the side. I chose the 5 oz burger because I did not think I could eat a half pound burger for lunch. I had trouble downing all the food I was served. The portions were more than adequate.
My Chosen Menu
Linda had the chicken burger without the bun as she has a wheat allergy. She has become quite adept at using lettuce for the bun. She enjoyed her meal as well. She had the salad and fries as well.
They have a desert display at the front desk that was filled with amazing deserts but there was no way that we had room for desert. For that matter, any of the trips I have had to My Chosen Café, I have been fully satiated by the time the main course was done!
So, this is a great rural restaurant that we would be happy to recommend for lots of reasons.
They have a senior’s night once a week where deals are offered. The restaurant was filled with locals and it is obvious why. Good food, good people and great service.
Sorry, they do not take reservations. Open Monday to Friday 10 am to 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 9 pm. Phone 250-474-2333. Email
Today I had reason to be in Sooke. When I first started going out to Sooke In the 1970’s I discovered a restaurant called Mom’s. As Sooke grew other restaurants opened and closed. Mom’s is still operating but under new owners. I had not been in Mom’s for quite a few years, so I decided today was the day.
I spent a lot of time with the menu before deciding on one of my favourite West Coast meals, fish and chips. I have had this meal an incredible number of times and believe me, there is a tremendous range of what people try to pass off as fish and chips.
Inside Mom’s Diner
There were two choices on the menu, beer battered or crispy corn meal battered. I stuck with the traditional beer batter. I also asked if my chips could come crispy. I hear the waitress ask the cook to make them well done. I absolutely hate undercooked, white, anaemic looking fries and have had lots of trouble getting chefs to cook them so they are crispy. My order came perfectly cooked for me.
The servings were more than ample for me with a lot of fries, a good sized piece of fresh halibut and a large portion of cold slaw served on lettuce. I truly could not eat all my lunch. It was delicious. When I first started going to Mom’s the pie was to die for and when I was there just before the change of owners, one waitress told me that they were worried that their pie cook was going to retire.
Right now, they serve what they call mile high pie. The centre of the pie raises up a good 8 inches from the bottom of the plate so when you order pie, you will get quite a chunk. I wish that I had room for pie but since I could not eat my fish and chips, I didn’t even try.
First the start and then the end of my meal. There was a lot left over as you can see.
The restaurant is decorated like an old fashion diner and the food is typical of the kind of food you would expect in a diner. Every meal that came out while I was there looked very good. They seem to provide free fills for coffee and soft drinks. I was asked several times if I wanted to get a refill. This is a nice touch that has disappeared from many restaurants. The staff wase very polite, friendly, helpful and attentive.
It was not hard to ascertain that “coke” won the soft drink warm and that the “pepsi generation” will have to look elsewhere, as coke advertising appears throughout the diner. Cool, I like coke and never bought in to the Pepsi Generation.
When I arrived there were not very many people in the restaurant but when I left the place was full. That was good to see as I am sure the tradition and good food will continue for a long time.
Spend some time in Sooke. There is lots to see and do. Sooke Basin can be viewed from East Sooke on the east side or from Whiffen Spit in front of Sooke Harbour House on the west side or from many points in between. The scenery and photo ops are amazing. Watch the sun set in the west, throw you crab traps in a Whiffen Spit, or drop in for lunch or dinner at Sooke Harbour House. Better yet, book yourself into Sooke Harbour house for a night or two and find out how to relax and be spoiled at the same time. Or hook up (no pun intended) with one of Sooke’s fishing guides and sneak out of the Basin into Juan de Fuca Strait for some of the best fishing on the West Coast. The salmon and halibut are waiting out there just for you.
Sooke Basin looking towards the Olympic Mountains, then views around the basin.
One of the most popular spots around Sooke is the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. People love to swim in the river or splash around in the potholes (natural pools created where the river moves through narrow passages). Check out this park on their Web Site. The Galloping Goose Trail crosses the highway to Sooke and the trail north to the potholes crosses over two old train trestles. This is a really nice part of the trail and great for cycling. Check out the Sooke Museum, stop by the seafood store for some fresh fish etc., visit Ed MacGregor Park in Sooke on the Sooke Basin shoreline, visit Sandcut Beach just west of Sooke or any one of the other great rugged beaches of the coast line from Sooke to Port Renfrew (you will be amazed). So get out there and enjoy Sooke!
Sook Potholes, Sooke River, Sooke museum, Fish Store, Ed McGregor Park, Sandcut Beach, and Ron Fishing…top then to right
Last night in an effort to avoid the mania of any restaurant on Valentines Day, we and good friends George and Mary booked ourselves into the Med Grill in Royal Oak. This is one of the restaurants in Greater Victoria that we have been to on many occassions. The food is great, the service very good and the ambiance excellent and very welcoming!
The Med Grill is located in the heart of Royal Oak, just 10-15 minutes from Downtown Victoria. The ambiance is warm and casual with classy Mediterranean-inspired decor.
The menu has something for everyone and their ‘Tuscan Table’ four course dining experience is one of the best deals in town! Everything on the menu is made in house. The menu contains more than 50 items cerrtainly offering something for everyone. The restaurant is very accommodating when it comes to substitutions and accommodations for allergies and food sensitivities.
We particularly like dining on their wrap-around patio which is a perfect place for a special summer meal. As the temperature drops the heat lamps bring on additional warmth if needed. We certainly recommend the Med Grill as on of Victoria’s better dining experiences. Thanks to the great staff that made our evening special. The restaurant is popular so we recommend that you call ahead to make a reservation.
The Med Grll sits on the designated Heritage Site of Saanich’s Old Municipal Hall and has been operating in that location since 1997. The 100-year-old building holds a century of memories and history that are proudly showcased in the hallways of the restaurant so take time to check that out!
If you want to treat your children to a good bit of fun head to Victoria’s West Shore. Your first stop should be the All Fun Recreation Park on Millstream Road. Before you go however, follow thelink to Groupon and get the $12 coupon that gives you $22 of value at the park and entrance to all three attractions at the Park (go karts, batting cages, and mini golf). This is quite a deal and worth the effort! Guaranteed that your kids will enjoy this park.
For the next stop we recommend City Centre Park in Langford. Here you will find a number of facilities, activities and services where you can play some more!
The Eagle Ridge Community centre is currently Vancouver Island’s only year round dry-floor arena. It is used mostly for indoor soccer, ball hock, lacrosse, inline hockey and other dry-floor activities. There are several free community events yearly. Go to the main reception to get times for drop-in activities, other information, wifi and bicycle rentals.
Langford Lanes and City Centre Grille provides opportunities for ten-pin bowling and has an on site sports bar which features pub fare and has a great atmosphere. Both facilities are fully licensed.
Westhills Arena is a brand new state-of-the-art NHL-sized ice arena featuring an ice river leading to an outdoor skating pond in the winter season! Our new arena is ultra efficient and designed with a 100% heat-capture system for self-use and sharing amongst neighbouring homes. Home to JDF Minor Hockey, who enrol more than 800 youths, this facility is used by all ages. Ask for facility schedules and availability.
City Centre Park is the home oftwo state of the art artificial turf fields. The first is Westhills Stadium, a 3000-seat stadium featuring 10 luxury boxes and a concession. It is the home of Rugby Canada‘s Nations Program, as well as the Westshore Rebels of the CJFL. The field is visited by close to 4,000 visitors every month. The Stadium is built to FIFA 2 Star Rated and IRB specifications. Ask about games schedules open to spectators.
Goudy Field has a field house and is lined for soccer, football, rugby, and two baseball diamonds. It is the home of JDF Soccer, who enrol teams ranging from U-6 to U-18 age groups.
For more fun for the whole family check try playing Mini-Golf through an 18-hole course of pirates, Aztec ruins, and buried treasure. Little kids can then climb and crawl through the Gold Rush-themed PlayZone, the biggest and brightest indoor playground on southern Vancouver Island. For adults, there are leather couches, coffee and magazines to relax with while the kids race through the “mines” of PlayZone. Have your child’s birthday party at City Centre Park!
The Splash Park is open from May long weekend until Labour Day offering FREE activities for Langford families to enjoy the sun with their children. With refrigeration below, this facility converts to an outdoor skating pond in December with an ice river into the ice arena to skate along! Once again check with park administration to find out what is available before you go.
Opening in the spring of 2016, the $25-30 million Westhills YMCA/YWCA Langford Aquatic Centre, being built on Langford Parkway.
The aquatic centre will include a lap pool, lazy river, warm water therapy pool and two watersides. There will also be a wave machine and beach entry, and the floor of the therapy pool can be adjusted to different heights for specific groups.
The facility will also include a gymnasium, health and fitness facilities, youth centre, a number of multipurpose spaces, child care for those using the facilities and a licensed child care program with space for 36 children, which already has a waiting list.
The children’s play area will feature a nature playground filled with trees and grass for the children to play on. Edgecombe said this natural environment is great for children to develop their skills in.
For more information on these Langford Facilities contact:
Here are some other things you might do on the West Shore:
Feed the birds at Esquimalt Lagoon or picnic on the long sandy beach! Go to Willow Wind Feed and Pet Suppliesand purchase a small bag of “chicken scratch” to use for bird feed.Bread is not good for the birds.
Go to Tower Point Park in Metchosin and watch the seals play and sun tan just off shore.
Go to Witty’s Lagoon for some serious skim boarding or playing in the shallow waters.
Fisgard Lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill
Go to Lone Tree Hill Park and hike up the mountain for some awesome views. Check out other CRD Regional Parks that are located on the West Shore (Mill Bay, Albert Head Lagoon, Devonian, Francis King, East Sooke, Matheson Lake, Mount Wells, and some of the best parts of the Galloping Goose trail located on the west shore.
See pictures below:
Birds at Esquimalt Lagoon
Cycling the West Shore Portion of the Galloping Goose Trail as it passes Sooke Harbour
View of Juan de Fuca Strait from Mill Hill Regional Park
Devonian Park on the West Shore in Metchosin
If you are capable of running a small power boat in the ocean, consider renting a boat from Pedder Bay Marina and either go fishing or check out the Race Rocks ecological reserve (lighthouse, sea lions, seals, otters, and more).
There is lots more to discover, so check out the West Shore. These are the municipalities of Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, and Highlands.
Victoria’s Number One Attraction Dazzles Thousands at Christmas Time!
From the moment you drive into Butchart Gardensyou will begin to see just how organized they are. The check in handles hundreds each evening and the parking is well organized and well marked so you can find you car when you are done. Everything has lights on it, even the trees in the parking lot! We met our friends at the incredible gift shop as it is easy to find and right at the entrance. There is something for everyone in the well stocked gift shop, so if your are looking for something unusual for a gift for Christmas or any other time of the year, spend some time in the gift shop.
The gardens are abound with color. The light displays are absolutely stunning. If you are lucky to be there just after an inch or two of snow, you got really lucky. It is so beautiful with a light dusting of snow. It just doesn’t snow here very often, so you need to get lucky. Bring along your skates for an enjoyable time in the outdoor skating rinkand then saunter across the Waterwheel Square for hot chocolate and treats and warm yourself by the cozy fireplace when you are done. There are hundreds of thousands of lights which take the staff a full two months to prepare the Gardens for Christmas.
Every year there is a festive brass band or carol singers on the grounds to entertain you. As you enter the gardens be sure to watch for the “partridge in a pear tree” as this is the beginning of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” display that is hidden throughout the gardens. Be sure you don’t miss any of them, They are so well done! Let the little kid in you out for the night and experience the ride in the Rose Carousel. It is so much fun! If you have children, have them make a hand crafted snowflake which they can trade in for a free hot chocolate in the coffee shop.
From Tuesday, December 1st until Twelfth Night on Wednesday, January 6th, hundreds of thousands of lights twinkle and glow throughout The Gardens. Started in 1987, the display is so large that our lighting crew is busy for a full two months installing it, and the accompanying festive decorations.
Twelve Days of Christmas at Butchart Gardens
Remember this is Victoria’s number one attraction and the Christmas experience demonstrates this more than any other time of the year. The display is exceptional and should not be missed. It is worth a trip to Victoria during our winter (well sort of winter) months. Cheers everyone! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Vanisle Tourism! For more pictures check out our Facebook Page
This is Unbelievable, But We Are So Glad it’s True!….Another Calf Born!
Yes folks, in case you weren’t already a-buzz with the 7 calf’s born in the past year, our very own J-pod has a new arrival (J-54) making it 8! On December 1st there had been a few sightings of this new calf, but it couldn’t be confirmed without a clear picture indicating it’s markings differentiating it from the other calf’s in the pod (since other mom’s “babysit” from time to time). Lucky for us, on December 16th a clear picture was taken and confirmed that 22 year-old J-28 had a sibling for her first born J-46 (2009). The sex is unknown, but it has already stolen our hearts like the rest of the new calf’s this year. These 3 pods are expected to have up to 9 calf’s in a year, but due to some struggles that face newborns they have averaged 3. Every new addition brings hope that natural and unnatural threats to this species might be able to be overcome. To read more about this year’s calf’s, visit: http://www.whaleresearch.com/ Thanks to Anastasia from Orca Spirit for this update. Wow 8 babies. The regular average is about three!
Our Granddaughter Madison turned 13 and officially became a teenager, although she was mentally there several years ago. So we decided we would treat her to dinner. We tend to like seafood and out go-to restaurant for this is Nautical Nellies. We find it a good choice because not everyone likes seafood and their menu is so extensive there is always something for everyone. Madison and her mom Rebecca did not choose seafood and their choices look yummy.
The service we got was exceptional. She said her name was Sheila. Now we know that the chef is Australian so when the name Sheila is called out, all the females in the restaurant come running! Sheila had a great sense of humour. She was congenial and attentive and made sure that our subtle menu changes were accommodated. This is the way it is supposed to be and we have always had great service at Nellies.
The birthday girl chose a petite New York steak with fries and local vegetables. I think I might have convinced her to go for the fries because they are so good at Nellies. It looked absolutely yummy!
Her mother started with the pyramid of deviled eggs but was side-swiped by the rest of the party and only got about half of her order. Everyone agreed that the devilled eggs were sensational! They came with capers, prosciutto, and tobiko with a Wasabi dipping sauce. These are highly recommended. She followed that with lobster bisque and a kale and bacon Caesar salad.
Nautical Nellies Steak and Seafood Restaurant
Linda order one of her favourites, the pan seared Bay Scallops served with roasted corn, asparagus, a mix of wild jasmine rice and served with local vegetables.
Being the traditionalist, I chose the 2 piece halibut and fries served with creamy coleslaw. My conquest is to find the best fish and chip haunts in the world. English style fish and chips are my favourite and Nellies do a fantastic job. There was more than enough halibut and it was crisp and not greasy. It is one of the best you will find in Victoria and always consistent.
Naturally since it was a birthday, desert was in order. Madison chose the Flourless Chocolate Espresso Torte with whip cream. Rebecca and I chose the Triple Chocolate Mousse Parfait layered with chocolate espresso torte and whipped sugar cream topped with raspberry coulis. My goodness it was good! A way to good!
We all left satiated. Thanks again to Nautical Nellies and all the staff that made our evening special. We recommend that if you are looking for a great meal in a great location, this is it!
Craigdarroch Castle is a National Historic Site – Well Worth the Visit!
Craigdarroch Castle at Christmas
Craigdarroch Castle was built by wealthy coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir. Dunsmuir was the richest person in Western Canada at that time and could easily afford the $900,000 for construction of the stunning Victorian-style granite mansion which included exquisite stained-glass windows, rich woodwork and period antiques. The centre piece of the mansion is a beautiful 87 step oak staircase which takes you up the 4.5 stories to the Tower which has great views of Victoria! This modest home of over 25,000 square feet (2300 m2) was built for Robert and his wife Joan, however Robert died in April 1889, just 17 months before completion of the mansion. Robert’s sons Alexander and James took over ensured completion of the castle. Son James later commissioned the building of another castle (Hatley Castle), which is located in the City of Colwood, part of greater Victoria. The initial architect of the castle, Warren Heywood Williams, also died before completion of the castle. His work was taken over by his associate, Arthur L. Smith, in 1890. The Castle was built on 28 acres of land which is now the Rockland neighbourhood. The property was covered with formal gardens.
When Robert’s wife Joan died the estate and castle was sold to a land speculator Griffith Hughes for a mere $38,000. The reason: no one would step forward to buy it. Griffith subdivided the estate into building lots which were bought up and filled with slight more modest housing. It is now called Rockland and is one of the more beautiful communities in the City of Victoria. The land still was difficult to sell, so Griffiths announced that the castle would be the prize of a raffle to be won by one of the purchasers of the residential parcels up for sale. The winner, Solomon Cameron, mortgaged the castle to finance other speculative ventures which failed. The ownership was transferred to his main creditor, the Bank of Montreal.
From here, the castle saw several different lives. After being a Dunsmuir home (1890-1908) it then became a Military Hospital Era (1919-1921). Next it was operated as the Victoria College (1921-1946) and after that the Victoria School Board Office (1946-1968). The next tenant was the Victoria Conservatory of Music (1969-1979). These years were not kind to the castle as it was renovated, painted over, etc. Then in 1979 it became a Museum dedicated to restoring and maintaining this grand old lady! The Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society operates as a private nonprofit charity, with proceeds from admission, donations and grants funding the ongoing restoration of the Castle.
One of Victoria’s Best Attractions
This great venue is open to the public and is great for families and visitors of all ages. Whether you are local or are from somewhere else on the planet, you will enjoy this beautiful castle. Ask any of the over 150,000 visitors who annually enjoy this Victoria attraction! The Institute for stained glass in Canada has documented the stained glass at Craigdarroch Castle. Christmas is a good time to come because the castle is decorated to the hilt. It takes over six weeks to prepare the castle for the holiday season. What are you doing this Christmas?
Self-guided tour translations available in: Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Turkish.
For more pictures of Craigdarroch Castle please visit our Facebook Page
ONETREE A Community Exhibit at the Robert Bateman Centre
One Tree Exhibit at the Robert Bateman Centre
So, I have this giant maple tree and it is dying and rotting and is danger of falling on my house. What will I do? The tree is 100 years old. It would be a pity and an insult to this grand old tree to turn it into fire wood. Certainly there is a better end for this stately old tree!
How about gathering up a whole lot of wood artists and see what they can do! Are you kidding? No.
One Tree Exhibit at the Robert Bateman Centre
The One Tree Exhibit is now on at the Robert Bateman Centre. The One Tree Project is a collaborative offer of Live Edge Design, the Robert Bateman Centre and 42 wood artisans from Vancouver Island and across Canada. The creativity and talents of these artists is on display in the Robert Bateman Centre until January 15, 2016. The legacy of the magnificent tree will live on through the art created. What they did is truly amazing and well worth a visit.
You also get to see more than 100 amazing works of Robert Bateman spanning seven decades of his work. He is truly one of Canada’s premier artists. If you have not been there before, please check it out.
So, during your Christmas holidays, try something different. You will not be disappointed! If you have guests, they will love the centre. If you are looking for a unique gift, check out their gift shop or buy one of the art pieces. You can have a magnificent dining table that will be the envy of all your friends for just $30,000. If you are a tourist visiting Victoria, this is a must see attraction conveniently situated in the Inner Harbour at 470 Bellville Street.
You can have lunch or dinner downstairs from the Robert Bateman Centre at the Steamship Grill and bar which has a great patio right on the harbour edge. So you can make a day of the event.
For more pictures see our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StayAndPlayVancouverIsland?sk=wall