Thursday, January 14, 2010

Applewood Cottage, the Macarena and Pete the Pet

Sometimes you strike out when staying away from home (see my other blog for an example of a hotel stay FAIL). And sometimes you find the greatest little place ever. Last weekend we were in Courtenay to attend a party and needed somewhere to stay. You can read about my ridiculous anxiety at the prospect of Jacob babysitting, over at my blog at Kids in Victoria but here I would just like to go on for a bit about how lovely  Applewood Cottage, is.

Kent had lured us there with the promise of a ski trip on Saturday and a party Saturday night. Sounded pretty good to me but unfortunately, the ski trip was a no-go as the warm wet weather was not working in Mt. Washington’s favour. Kent went up the mountain on Friday and then promptly came right back down so we didn’t even bother. But the party was great although Kent may disagree as I took the opportunity to drag him onto the dance floor to perform the Macarena, which he did not know how to do and, I might add, still does not know how to do despite my attempts to coach him through the whole thing. It must have been hilarious to watch me yelling out commands to him like “HEAD”, and “CROSS TO HIPS” and “SHIMMY JUMP, AND TURN”. He made a valiant attempt  and received a prize from the DJ for his efforts. I think he will thank me the next time we are at an event where participation in the Macarena is encouraged. In fact, perhaps the next time we are at your house, you could play the song and announce that everyone must now stop what they are doing and do the Macarena a Kent needs to practice.

Back to the cottage. So the kids and I drove up on Friday night (which took 4 yes FOUR hours from Victoria due to the traffic and rain) and promptly fell in love with this place. It was a goat barn at one point but happily, retains no sensory evidence of this fact.

The owners have managed to restore this old barn to a beautiful little cottage. The attention to detail is awesome: reclaimed windows, windy stairs, lights in all the right places, comfy beds, and the best part, the kitchen was stocked with fresh bread, fruit, cream in a cute little bottle, fresh apple juice, homemade jam, butter, yogurt, tea and coffee. There was a cupboard full of games, puzzles and movies. I would like to report that I actually completed a 300 piece puzzle over the course of two days with only Zoe to help me as both Jacob and Kent declared puzzles to be ‘boring’ and a ‘waste of time’. Well, maybe they are a little boring but once I start, I must finish. The puzzle was of a painting of a bunch of pets. When I looked at the title of the puzzle, I read ‘Pete’s Party’ and then spent the entire time wondering which of the pets was named Pete. Was it the Gerbil? No, that seemed unlikely. Maybe the Rabbit? Pete the Rabbit? Nope. Perhaps it was Pete the Ferret? Hmmm…maybe not. And so it went. I seriously spent time on this question. I even wondered why they were having a party. Perhaps it was Pete the Hamster’s birthday. Or maybe he had just bought a new cage and was having all the other pets round to celebrate. The mind wanders when involved in inane activities…or mine does anyway. It wasn’t until it was time to go and I was putting the puzzle back in the box (‘See’ said Jacob ‘It’s pointless’) that I noticed it actually said “Pets Party’ not ‘Pete’s Party).  I was both mildly relieved and disappointed to realize that none of the pets was called Pete. What can I say other than I do think Pete is a good name for a pet and I will encourage that name next time I am asked for my opinion on this subject (you’ve been warned).

Part of our relaxing weekend included a trip to the awesome town of Cumberland. This place is so cool. It used to be the home of the many employees of the nearby Coal Mine which was active until 1966. The town has lots of great little shops and places to eat, and you can also see the remains of what was once the fifth largest Chinatown in BC. If you go, make sure you drive the entire length of the main road down to the part at the end which is referred to simply as ‘Camp’ by the locals. Not ‘The Camp’ or ‘Camp Street’, just ‘Camp’. The road here is lined with old coal-miner’s cottages that have been restored (sort-of) and are now home to some of Cumberland’s 3000 residents. We hung around for while although it was raining, no, it was freaking POURING, and anyway I wanted to get back to the world’s cutest cottage and finish my puzzle.

It was with sadness that we packed our bags the next morning and drove back to Victoria. I can’t wait to go back and actually would like to live there I think, with someone stocking my fridge for me and leaving fresh towels everyday…sigh.

So if you are looking for somewhere different to stay other than the No-Rest Hotel, check this place out. And, no, the owners don’t have a clue who I am.DSC05574

Our breakfast. Note the wedge of Cambazola.


The window seat…note the thick soft bathrobe…







And finally…the silver jar of violet bath salts…sigh…

Until next time-thanks for reading,


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Top 10 list for 2009

I’m going to try and remember my top 10 events from 2009 but as it is often difficult to remember what happened yesterday, please forgive me if I leave out a few key happenings…

10. Sitting on the Chunnel train and hearing 13yr old Jacob say that, when he gets older, he could maybe take a train and visit a few countries in Europe. He figures he will only need a week or so. And he could invite a friend. I suggest that he could take a couple of months instead. The best part: it’s like he’s the first person to have ever thought of doing this most excellent of rites of passage.


Jacob in Paris

9. The Portland Farmers Market. See Portland, I think I love you for more details. Must. Return. To. Portland. Farmers. Market.


Fruit stand at Portland Farmers Market

8. Watching Jacob in the SMUS Middle School production of The King of Elfland’s Daughter. He was at various times a villager, a farmer, and a troll. I had the good luck to be on duty in the Troll’s Lair backstage, otherwise known as dressing room # 4 or something like that. It was an unassuming little room quite unprepared to play host to 10 smelly 12 and 13yr old boys in various stages of undress and confusion. Despite my frequent imploring to put down their ipods and laptops (no books insight) and maybe think about getting dressed into their next costume, it always seemed to come as a surprise to them that time had passed and they needed to be on stage in like 7 seconds or whatever and that they may want to be in costume. A mad rush would ensue during which wigs, prosthetic ears and noses, tails, and these ridiculous troll feet, would fly around the small little space. Miraculously, they managed to get dressed and at least on stage in time. I would take the final 15 seconds before the curtain went up to sprint around the stage pinning crooked wigs in place and stuffing gloves onto stray hands. The effect of this troupe of trolls was brilliant and they were a highlight of the production. Actually, the whole thing was remarkable and I am still in awe of how it all came together.

7. Realizing one day that Zoe’s hair had finally started to grow. If you know Zoe, then you know what I’m talking about. The poor thing has had about 1/2 teaspoon of hair since she was born. My toothbrush was bushier than her hair. Actually, I’ve seen peaches with more hair than Zoe. And due to a rather unique growth pattern, any hair that did make an appearance seemed to prefer the top, sides and back of her head and gave the front a complete miss. That’s right, no bangs. At all.

Conversations would go like this:

Stranger: “Oh how cute!! Your daughter cut her own bangs!”

Me: “Well, no, actually she didn’t she just doesn’t have any bangs…”

Stranger: “Oh, everyone has bangs. I bet you just weren’t looking when she did it.  Ha Ha Ha!”

Me: “No, I’m pretty sure I would notice and that’s just the way her hair has grown. Or not grown as the case may be. Heh, Heh (nervous laugh)”

Stranger: “I don’t know…Sure looks like she found herself a pair of scissors… (Enter 2nd stranger ‘Carly’) Hey Carly, look at this little girl’s hair. Wouldn’t you say she chopped off her own hair there in the front? Her Mom is in denial about the whole thing but I say she should just accept it and isn’t she cute anyway look at those red curls. Ohhh my yes she’s a doll”

Me: “But she didn’t c….”

Carly: “All 15 of my kids cut their own hair at some stage or another. I wouldn’t be ashamed of it if I was you. It’s normal. Like throwing a fork at your little sister or cutting up the leather couch. Just go with it”.

At which point I would fail once more to convince them that she had not cut her own hair until Stranger and her friend Carly would look at me with a combination of pity and suspicion, and move off to the other side of the park.

However I am happy to say that all that is behind me now and Zoe no longer looks like Queen Elizabeth 1st. Still acts like her but that’s another blog.


Zoe and Izzy at the SMUS Christmas Celebration. See.

6. Swimming in the ocean at Whaling Station Bay beach on Hornby Island. So warm, so clear, I felt like I could go for miles.

5.Accomplishing  the first of two ‘Why Plan When you Can Wait Until The Last Second and then Just Go” trips. This one was to Hawaii last January. We had been toying with the idea of taking a trip somewhere warm but never quite got ourselves organized. Then, on January 2nd, we found a cheap flight to Honolulu. The only catch was that it left from Seattle the next morning. At 8am. And it was now 1:30pm. We did a mad search for flights and found nothing. I was just about to give up on the whole thing when Kent said, I’ve booked us on the Coho. We’re going to have to leave in 1hr”.

I will spare you the details but suffice to say, when one is motivated, one can pack up a family of 4 for a week’s trip to Hawaii, with a night in Seattle on either side, in 48 minutes if one really tries hard. I ran around the house like a mad woman barking out instructions left and right:


Jacob: “What should I bri…”


Zoe: “Mum where’s my pi…”


Kent: “Have you seen my fli…”


Kent: “Kids I think you should just try and find your own stuff…”

We did make it to Hawaii and it was awesome. The highlight has to be me wandering around the Other’s Camp from Lost and being within spitting distance of Hurley’s van.


Hurley’s Van!

4. Packing up Kent and our friend Pepi for a 3.5 week trip to Vietnam and China. Booked flights on Monday night, flights left on Friday morning. Oh and that includes an overnighter in Vancouver for Kent so that he could be at the Chinese embassy at 5am on Wednesday or something like that so that he could get visas so that they could go to China on Friday. Oh and also that includes a rush rush job on a Vietnamese visa that arrived on Thursday. So they could leave on, did I mention, FRIDAY. It was worth it though – both declared it to be a trip of a lifetime.


3. My Lovely Neighbours. I’m soo lucky to live on this street! Fall Fairs, potluck dinners on the street, Christmas Craft Fairs, impromptu gatherings, carol singing…it’s all good!




2. Cementing Friendships with such a wonderful bunch of people. You all know who you are. Thanks for a great year of communal meal preparation, laughs, tears, more laughs, hikes, ski trips, Hornby Island, more laughs, more food, Donny-Tipping, more hikes, house concerts, Christmas Dinners, and the promise of more to come. Love you all so much.






Po’ Girl Roadies



We see you, Lisa :)

1. My lovely family. Jacob who has grown 64ft in the past year and makes me laugh hourly with his wicked sense of humour. Zoe who now loves to stick her nose in a book and not come out for hours, and Kent who perseveres with the house reno, apparently all by himself, (not my strong suite) with lovely results.




Here’s to 2010!