Exploring Our Surroundings and a Visit From Friends


Hello again! Still trying to catch up on September stuff! I had a bit of a computer glitch and lost a lot of photos in these posts. So I’ve been spending a lot of time putting them all back again. Thankfully, I have then saved in a safe place.

September continues … Continue reading Exploring Our Surroundings and a Visit From Friends


September Stuff

Sunset at Sunshine Coast

Hello everyone. The above photo is the sunset at my new home! I’ve been trying to post in here for at least 3 weeks now, but something always gets in the way!

September was an exciting month. First of all, it was Neil’s 2nd birthday on the 12th. He had a party on the 16th, but we couldn’t be there, so we visited on the actual day. We gave him some little wooden trains from Ikea to add to the set he already has, and he just loved them.

Neil's 2nd birthday

He played with them for the rest of the evening. Alex and Namee made us a delicious dinner of Shepherd’s Pie and Corn. Corn is Neil’s favourite food.

On the 14th we moved to the Sunshine Coast. We loaded the moving truck the night before and left for the ferry first thing in the morning.



And then the fun began.  We moved approximately 1,100 sq. ft. of stuff into a 650 sq. ft. Yikes!

Cottage at Halfmoon Bay

moving boxes - new cottage

Looks a bit overwhelming, yes? Well, it was, and I remember saying things like “I hate this house” and “I’m too tired to do any more”, but that first day we set up a working kitchen

and the couch

cottage couch

and called it a day. I think there was vodka involved.

That evening after supper, we sat on the beach and watched the sun go down. That, alone, made it all worth it.

Halfmoon bay sunset

Over the next week or two we slowly got organized – the entryway

Cottage entry way

Living room

dining area

and bedroom

Cottage Bedroom

cottage bedroom2

 Finding little spaces for the things that used to live on the mantle in our old house

There was also Tori’s ‘man cave’, but it’s a work in progress 🙂

The cats settled in quite well after exploring everywhere

We finished off by tidying up the patio/deck – placing the little birdbath, angels and frog surrounded by the grasses we bought a couple of months ago

And moved the sun-loving plants to a sunny spot

and hung some other stuff

And then sat back and admired our handywork (this involved more vodka)

Once we were, er, refreshed, we took our dogs to Cooper’s Green – the beach across the road

Until next time ….

But First, Tequila










A New Adventure, A Girl’s Night Out & a Birthday Party


Hello! It’s been very hot a muggy here in Vancouver – too hot to do anything constructive after about 11 am. It’s even too hot to sit outside on our shady patio – no breeze at all. Still, I’m not complaining because we had nothing but rain, rain and more rain this past winter and I’m not missing it at all.

I have some exciting news! I got a job on BC’s beautiful Sunshine Coast! In my opinion, it’s paradise and I can’t believe we’re going to live there. Whilst it is, technically, part of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, because of it’s mountainous/watery terrain, it can only be reached by ferry. It does seem to get more than it’s fair share of great weather, and then of course there’s the beaches and little coastal villages to explore. The drive from one end to the other is 180 km (110 miles). LOVE.

It was a bit of a shock when it finally sunk in that we have to move from our beloved townhouse to a place where, technically, we had never been before. Tori was a little upset, but, after much discussion, we decided that we could definitely make this work. He would stay on the Lower Mainland during the week and then come home on the weekends. But, as he’s on WCB at the moment and his work future isn’t really clear, it’s a matter of ‘wait and see’ for the next month or so.

So, last Monday, we took the ferry across to the Sunshine Coast to look at a couple of houses. The scenery was breathtaking from the ferry.

and 40 minutes later saw us landing in Langdale and on our way to our first viewing. We had about an hour or so to kill, so we stopped at Gibsons for lunch.

And dined at the famous Molly’s Reach where the series The Beachcomber’s was filmed. I used to love that show when I was younger (much younger!). The food was amazing – and reasonably priced.

After lunch, we drove up the only highway to our first viewing. The wooded cabin-type house looked good from the photos, but in actual reality was awful and not what we were looking for at all – so we passed on that and drove to Halfmoon Bay

where we found this cottage … and fell in love

It’s quite a bit smaller than what we’re used to – 2 bedrooms instead of 3, and whoever designed the kitchen didn’t have food prep in mind, but it’s nothing that a kitchen island won’t solve and I love it.  All our friends want to visit.

And so, we begin packing for our move on September 14th.

The day after we got back from Fort Vermilion, Tori left for a motorbike ride for 4 days with 18 other bikers

and the wives/girlfriends had a girl’s night out. We all met at the RV park where one of the girls lives, and she gave us a ride in her golf cart to her house

where we all got into the limousine that she hired to drive us around for a couple of hours.

Before long, the party was in full swing with champagne and, er, other beverages

Loud music, singing and generally having fun, as you can see by the blurred photos! 🙂

Why risk spilling your wine by pouring it into a glass when you can drink straight from the bottle? 😀

And then onto the pub for some supper and dancing. This was the only clear-ish photo I managed to salvage of that night.

Not long after that night, I got a FaceBook message from some friends I had not seen in about 35 years! I spent most of my teenage years at Kay’s house. She and her husband Paul, were high school sweethearts. They had traveled from South Africa to visit a friend in America and were now in Vancouver!! I couldn’t believe my luck. We dropped everything and drove an hour to North Vancouver for a reunion – drinks and supper – it was an amazing evening and wonderful to see them again. We chatted (and drank) like no time had passed at all. Kay and Paul are on either side of me.

And then a couple of weeks after that – a birthday party. Champagne was replaced by shooters – home made Apple Pie Moonshine

And love was in the air

The birthday girl

A lot of fun with old friends and new

Whew! That’s enough partying for a while, I think!


But First, Tequila







Road Trip to Fort Vermilion, Alberta (Where?)

Fort Vermilion Heritage Houses

Growing up in Africa, all our our holidays were in the form of a road trip. My Dad would hook our trailer up to the car and off we went. We traveled all over Zimbabwe, we went to Beira in Mocambique quite frequently

Beira, Mocambique

and once a year we would visit my many aunts, uncles and cousins in Johannesburg, South Africa or holiday at the South African South Coast.

Scottsburgh, South Africa

These trips are part of my fondest childhood memories, so when a trip to Hubby’s home town, Fort Vermilion, Alberta, came up, I jumped at the chance.

Where? I hear you say. Fort Vermilion is not exactly a tourist destination, but it is Hubby’s home town and where some of his family still live.

Fort Vermilion

It was to be a family reunion of sorts – a memorial for hubby’s parents who both passed away earlier this year – 3 months apart. His other Aunts, Uncles and cousins were making a similar road trip from Swift Current, SK, Kelowna, BC and Kamloops, BC.

Fort Vermilion is approximately 1,653 kms from Vancouver. We wanted to make our overnight stop in Whitecourt by supper time (around 6:30 – 7:00 pm), so we decided to leave at around 7 am on Saturday morning, and to make that happen, we packed everything the night before.

Road trip to Fort Vermilion

To save some money, and quite possibly our waistlines, we made some food to take with us

And, believe it or not, we were in the car and on our way by about 7 am the next day!

Road trip to Fort Vermilion

It was a perfect summer’s day. Clear blue skies and not too hot. Soon we were out of the suburbs and passing the farms in Chilliwack

Road trip to Fort Vermilion

And then farmland gave way to the Coast Mountains and we started climbing.
Road trip to Fort Vermilion

When we got to Hope, we fueled up and made ourselves some egg salad sandwiches – my favourite!

Road trip to Fort Vermilion

Next stop, Kamloops at about 11-ish


Road trip to Fort Vermilion

Bypassing Merritt along the way

Road trip to Fort Vermilion

And a much needed bathroom break after all the coffee I had consumed!

Road trip to Fort Vermilion

On the road again, the river kept me occupied for a while. So peaceful and pretty.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Just before Clearwater, the water changed to a blue/green colour – an indication of glacier water

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

and then we were passing through Clearwater. The first thing I saw was this beautiful, picturesque barn

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Just outside Blue River we came across this truck, and we were pretty sure that he didn’t park here on purpose!

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

That’s going to take a bit of explaining.

Halfway to our first overnight stop! A little bit down the road, we decided to stop for lunch. Hubby pulled into a very picturesque rest stop on the Thompson River

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Rested and fed, we set off again, although I would have like to have set up camp here and stayed for a week!

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Just under 2 hours to Jasper National Park

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Hello Rocky Mountains!  The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from the northernmost part of British Columbia in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States. Yikes!

Before long, we came to Mount Robson National Park

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

where we encountered a couple of Elk just standing on the side of the road. I couldn’t get my camera to work fast enough, and so the result is this blurred photo. Hubby reckoned that we would probably see quite a few more along the way, but, as Murphy’s Law would have it, we never did 😦

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

A little further down the road, this mountain loomed up in the distance. It was quite eerie-looking – like a ghost mountain

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

We passed the coveted Via Rail – this luxury passenger train runs throughout Canada and would be the perfect holiday, in my opinion. A couple of times, my family and I took the train from Harare to Johannesburg and I have very fond memories of those trips. I think everyone should go on at least one train journey.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Before long, we were at the BC/Alberta border

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

and entering beautiful Jasper National Park

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

The scenery here is breathtaking. We bypassed Jasper Village in favour of visiting it on the way back.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Hubby said there are usually quite a few mountain goats in this area in the next photo, but, alas, none today (a bit like the Elk).

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

There are many lovely places to stay in Jasper National Park to fit every budget. These cabins are just of one of the choices

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Just over an hour to go!

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Mountains and lakes turn into farmland

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And, right on time – we’re in Whitecourt! A drink, dinner and bed

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Up early again the next morning and on the road after coffee and a quick breakfast.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

The scenery along this stretch was swampland

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And Beaver dams

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

A deer or two

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And the ever-present evidence that we were in oil country

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

The road was looooong

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

We bypassed Swan Hills. The name Swan Hills was first given to the area by the First Nations, who believed that giant swans nested on the estuary of the Assiniboine river. During the summer prairie thunderstorms, it was said the thundering wing beats of these great birds filled the air as they fled for shelter.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And pushed on to Slave Lake where we stopped for a cold drink at Tim Hortons. When we got to the window to pay, we were told that the car in front of us had paid for our drinks! Cool huh! We paid it forward and paid for the car behind us.

The town and the lake were named after the First Nations people who lived there. The people are Athabaskan. The name “Slave”, which is more usually spelt “Slavey”,  was the word the Cree used for them. It’s actually an English translation of the Cree “awahka-n” which, apparently, means “captive” or “slave”, because the Cree often caught and enslaved Slavey people.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Four more hours to our destination!

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

We stop in Red Earth for a last bathroom break between there and Fort Vermilion. If you need the washroom after that, the side of the road is your only option! 🙂

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And here it is! Fort Vermilion!

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

We spent the rest of the afternoon meeting the family and with hubby getting re-acquainted. I felt instantly welcome and we talked as if we’d known each other much longer.

That night we all gathered at hubby’s youngest  Uncle and Aunt’s house (there are 5 aunts and uncles)  for a corn boil. Beautiful Chilliwack corn (quite famous in BC). We spent a few happy hours eating the delicious corn and drinking wine before falling into bed.

The next day, hubby gave me the grand tour of his home town. This would have taken all of 30 minutes, but he slowed down and/or stopped so I could take photos, so it took a little longer. 🙂

The first stop was the farm where he grew up. Paved roads turned into dirt roads as we left town – don’t you love the large crack in our windshield?

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

We couldn’t go in as someone else was living there, but hubby told me that he and his mom had planted the trees that screen the house – how big they are now.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And then onto the school that he went to.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

The mosaic that he helped to make was still there on the wall – 30 or so years later

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

The Community Centre

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

and Heritage Houses.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

And the Old Bay House along the Peace River. Built over a two year period, 1906-1908, the “Old Bay House” is the only Hudson’s Bay Company factor’s house on its original site in Alberta. To read more about the history of this house, click here

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Across the road, was the mighty Peace River

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

We sat on these beautifully carved benches and watched the water for a while

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion


Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Outside of the Memorial, the next couple of days were filled with family gatherings, usually around food, wine and beer. I felt very blessed to have met and become a part of this family.

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

Road Trip to Fort Vermilion

The days flew by, it seemed, and soon it was time to go. We stopped in for some Mennonite sausage in Blumenort on the way out (delicious!). It turns out that the owner of the farm and sausage factory was a distant cousin! They chatted for a few minutes about it.

We encountered quite a few logging trucks on the way back

That night we pulled into Valemount (pronounced Valemont)

Hubby wanted to stay in a motel to avoid having to lug some of his parents’ things inside. He found one that he’d stayed at many years ago, but it turned out to be a bit of a hole of the wall, if you know what I mean. It was where all the men who work on the oil rigs stay and they don’t call them “rig pigs” for nothing. As luck would have it, the room next door to us seemed to be the place for them all to gather for a few beers. As a result we had to keep our window closed to muffle the loud drunken talking and laughing. It was a very hot night, but when we went to turn on the air conditioning, we found that it didn’t work! I must admit that I had a bit of a melt down at that point because our earlier supper had turned out to be horrible and the sandwich that I had bought for lunch, even worse. 🙂

Thankfully, our breakfast the next morning was a lot better and I started feeling human again after a cool shower and coffee.

We decided to stop in the picturesque Jasper Village on the way home and hubby drove around the block a few times so I could take some photos.

Driving into BC, the beautiful clear blue skies of Alberta turned into smoked-filled ones from the many wild fires burning all over the Province. By the time we got into Chilliwack, visibility was very bad

But we made it home, tired, but safe and sound, that evening. Glad to be home, but grateful for the experience.


The Jane Effect























Fairy Garden, A Street Party, Fun With Friends & a New Venture

The Beach

HellOooo everyone. Time is just flying by – I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post!

I’ve been very busy with my other blog, The Jane Effect, working on my wine pairing series which I’m really enjoying – and other posts.

I also have a new venture which I’m pretty excited about – painted mugs/cups – which should be ready for sale on The Jane Effect in the next few days or so. Here’s an example of what will be on offer

MugsThe cat is my favourite! It reminds me of myself first thing in the morning 🙂

The fairy garden seemed to like it’s new home in the back yard, so I brought the other pieces from the front and spent a happy couple of hours puttering around with it.

love it! That stalk of grass you see next to the angel, was supposed to have lush leaves on it by now, but my cat and dog seem to think I planted it there just for them to eat! As a result, it’s looking a little, er, scraggly. 😦

Neil spends every Thursday at our house and we try to go to the beach, but it just seemed that the weather wasn’t so great this time – very windy – so we stayed at home and played on the patio with a tub of water. The water was meant for his boats, but it looks like he had other plans.

I think we need a toddler pool! LOL

On Friday evening, Tori took me to New Westminster where they were holding a street party of sorts. They blocked off the section of the road, set up booths, a beer & wine stand, chairs & tables, food trucks and a band and …

People brought their friends and family, their dogs and their kids

And we ate, drank, listened to some live music and chatted happily with complete strangers! It was fun!

Of course, no outing is complete without a selfie

The next day, we went for a bike ride with our usual gang. First stop Campbell Valley

It’s so peaceful here and a great place for a picnic. They also have camp grounds.

Next stop, Deroche – pronounced Da-roshe. Come on, say it with me … Da-roshe. LOL :). Deroche is a tiny little village which has one thing going for it – Deroche General Store.

This little store, in the middle of nowhere, sells the best chicken and jerky in the entire lower mainland. In fact, it could quite possibly be the best in BC or even in Canada!  I don’t get any chicken because we’re about to stop for lunch, but $5.00 buys me half a bag of jerky and I eat half of it before our lunch stop – 10 minutes down the road.

Lunch is at the Sasquatch Inn where we share a table with a few other people we know who are already there.

The first round of drinks takes forever, and you can see we’re getting a little grumpy

But we cheer up when the waitress brings all the drinks and a round of tequila shots also

After the second meal of grilled cheese in two days, I give up on my diet and resolve to start again on Monday. The men were in good spirits making us laugh with their silly jokes

And once, again, no outing is complete without a selfie. Note my hair do by Helmet!

And we were lucky enough to come across this lovely lady, which we admired until it was time to go.

All in all, a really good day filled with sunshine, good friends and laughter.

Until next time …

But First, Tequila





Small Home Improvements & Gelato at the Beach

Fairy Garden

Helloooo! I hope everyone is well. After our brief week of sunshine, it was back to rain again. My plants are not happy at all. Buuut, things are looking up for this week, so hopefully they’ll dry out and perk up. We had planned to buy three little fir trees to put against our back fence, but Alex had some palm trees languishing in the warehouse where he works that the customer didn’t want, so we took three. When he told me that there were quite a few more that hadn’t seen water or sunshine for a few weeks, I felt so sorry for them, we took those as well! About eight in total! LOL. At this point, the patio was starting to look more like a jungle!

Palm Trees

But, we gave them some love and they soon perked up. We kept the original three and gave the rest away to good homes. 🙂

Palm Trees

It really fills up that area and lends a tropical feel to the space. I can pretend I’m languishing on a Caribbean beach sipping something with an umbrella in it!

The fairy garden that I started in the front bed didn’t really look as good as I had imaged it, no matter what I did. It seems that nothing likes to grow in that area, which is why I thought that a fairy village would be perfect for that space, but, alas, it was not to be!

Fairy Garden Phase 1

Even when I bought some little glass stones to look like a river, some fake moss and little white stones to make pathways (or roads), it just didn’t look right and the plants started dying 🙁

Fairy Garden Loot

Sooo, I moved a couple of items to the back garden. There’s a bed there that looks more … woodland fairy-like

And I’ll add to it as time goes on.

As for the fairy village in the front. I’ll be re-working it – just need to get some inspiration!!

It looked like it was going to be a nice day last Tuesday and so we gathered our picnic supplies and headed off to the beach. But it was also the day a local school picked for their yearly outing because the beach was crawling with children – everywhere! It wouldn’t have been so bad if they all didn’t insist on screaming continuously over absolutely nothing at all.  So we let Neil paddle about for a bit because he seemed to be enjoying himself, but after about an hour, I couldn’t stand the screaming any longer and we decided to go for ice cream instead.

Neil & Tori

Tori & Neil

The weather warmed up just enough on Saturday for us to go on a bike ride with good friends, and then a barbecue and a few drinks afterwards.

Well … maybe more than a few drinks. 🙂

But First, Tequila

Sunshine, More Toddler Fun and a Bike Ride With Friends

patio lights

Hello everyone. Time is flying by so quicky, I can’t believe we’re already halfway through the year!

Had a bit of a quiet week the week before last. We had Neil on the Wednesday and planned on a picnic at Garry Point in Steveston, but it was so windy we got straight back in the car and drove home again :(. In the picture below, the guy flying the kite is actually on wheels and was being ‘towed’ around by the wind.

Garry Point

So, we just hung around at home. It wasn’t so windy in our area.

The next day, Tori gave Chewy a hair cut

As you can see, she’s not very impressed!

Neil was back with us on Saturday night for the night while his parents had a date night

Not sure what’s going on there, but it looks like a serious conversation! :). Maybe they’re planning their gaming strategy.

And then we got some sad news on Tuesday. Tori’s Dad passed away. Only 3 months after his Mom. We’ll be travelling up to Northern Alberta in August for a memorial with the family.

Mid-week saw Neil back with us again and we went shopping

and then played at the park for a little bit

On the weekend I started two new series on my blog, The Jane Effect. The first one is on the top 12 beaches in BC (I love beaches). You can read about the first two here. There really are some beautiful beaches in BC that rival anything you’ll find in Mexico or the like. The second is a more permanent fixture – wine pairing. You can read the first in the series here. I know absolutely nothing about wine pairing, but would love to learn. Follow along if you would too.

We ended off the week with a bike ride with about, oh, 200 other riders

There’s me in the red.

And a barbecue and party at the end of it, complete with live band

Yes, that’s me in the red 🙂

Cheers for now.

But First, Tequila






Fairy garden loot


Saturday, June 3

Poker Run