Sunday, November 10, 2013

Remembrance Day

Each year in November I remember a remarkable person in my life and how lucky I was to know him.  James Bracegirdle was born in Eccles, then outside of Manchester, UK in 1890.  All his life he had adventures that I used to hear as a child usually from my mother.  My grandfather - Pappa - was of the moment.  He loved whatever was happening right now and he put his whole heart into it whatever it was.  And so it was that in 1915 he went to war.  He served in Northern France - I have a piece of shrapnel with each place he was at and I have his WWI Canadian Infantry helmet.  He never complained about whatever he went through in the war and he loved life, probably because he knew how precious it was.

He was in his 100th year when he died.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brisas and Fog

I promised in my last Blog to mention an event on October 26th - it is the last time you will be able to see a Cuban music group called El Grupo Cubano Brisas Del Palmar.  I went with a small group a couple of weeks ago to hear them and dance to them.  They performed at the Billy Bishop Legion in Kits Point - just across the water from the West End.  The place itself is a little bit of a dive - well, it reminds one of a completely different time.  They have photos of flying squadrons and memorabilia from the world wars.  And of course the patrons have been going there for years, that is why the "stage" was pretty informal - a cleared space with stacked chairs on one side of the "stage" and chairs in facing.  There was a little bit of room between the chairs for seating and the 6 gentlemen performing....this was the dance floor.  Mostly it was Salsa and the audience produced some hardchore dancers as well as some just out for a bit of dancing fun.  The music was terrific, the guys authentico and the evening memorable.  If you want to see them perform for the last time tickets are $20 and they perform at 7 pm on October 26th at the Peretz Centre, 6184 Ash Street, Vancouver - Pay at the door.

October weather has been odd this year.  For the past few days the weather has been very foggy and for our Korean and Louisianana guests it was cold.  For Vancouverites and folks from the Pacific Northwest it wasn't particularly chilly...but it was a little spooky.  The photos I took yesterday were from Stanley Park near Lost Lagoon.  The racoon family I took photos of were very interested in the crunching of the paper bag in my pocket - I was more nervous than they.  Fortunately they went back to hunting for worms and grubs.  I also took a photo of a Gunera plant.  I couldn't get a pic of me and the plant but I can tell you it was about 7 feet tall - they are huge, obviously something the dinosaurs used to eat!  As it said yesterday was foggy - fog horns all night but today it was very warm and sunny...the sun is still shining on my office at 4:40 pm!  I am sure the sunset will be amazing tonight.

I am working on some packages for guest to buy over the winter and the summer.  It isn't ready yet but they will be on the Specials page or when you make a reservation so keep checking.

There were 4 in this family but they wouldn't get into a group shot.

There is something so enchanting about water foul on a pond - this photo was taken by the stone bridge on Lost Lagoon.

Gunnera over 7 feet high on the left and a Princess tree with huge trees on the right of the path.

Masked Bandits...but too lazy to do any thieving for this photo op!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Outings

It has been a whacky autumn this year.  In September the rains came down and it really felt like we would be into winter in a very short time.  Then October came along and the weather began to change - as much as it does on the West Coast.  We'll have really warm and sunny weather one day and then can be cool the next but still sunny.  It hasn't been horrible is what I am trying to say, so I thought I'd be a tourist at home.  I'm doing this post about a couple of activities I've done in the past week or so.

Last Saturday was one of those really wonderful west coast days.  It was warm, I kept having to take my layers of clothes off, that's what happens when you live in the basement - it is cold down there so you think it must be cold outside as well.  Anyway, dressed in a shirt and taking a sweater along just in case Ron and I went with our two dogs - Persia and Friday - to a part near the Vancouver International Airport.  I've never been there before - never, it seems incredible that I'm this old and experiencing something new like this.  If you check out the pictures you will see that it is very scenic - I wish I would have made a picnic lunch and stopped for a bite to eat and a nap while I lay in the sun.  BUT I didn't, we walked the dogs along the Eco trail...probably has another name but it was a trail where dogs needed to be on-leash (ours were but no one elses was), where there might be some foul in the bushes and other things like a snake I saw slither away as we approached along the path.  After a wander up the path we found a place to get down to the Fraser River.  There was a little beach area - so cute, I felt like Robinson Crusoe.  After a short rest we headed back to the designated dog park so that Persia could fetch the ball for 20 minutes or so.

The next park was 3.5 kms away and there we bumped into a group of people doing a wedding shot.  It was very picturesque there and if we hadn't spent so much time at the first park we would have wondered along the shore.  At this point there isn't much more land.  It sand and scrub with River on one side, the Airport sort of beside and behind and the Gulf of Georgia ahead.

We were no more than 25 minutes from the Guest House.  Vancouver is big but nature is nearby.

My next post will be about Billy Bishop's Legion and the Cuban band we went to see and hear....and dance to.

Pond, part of the Fraser River.

Hmm, a little dark in the foreground, but this is our little Robinson Crusoe Beach beside the Fraser River.

North Shore Mountains, Reeds and a long wooden path.

Say Cheese! What a great location for a wedding shoot. Looked like a happy day!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Travel Mugs

Travel is an obvious influence here at the West End Guest House.  I mean all my guests have had to travel to get here but what about the innkeepers?  I get that question very often - "When do you get to travel?"  We do travel, we try to slip out of town once or maybe twice a year to experience some of the world.  We have favourite places to go but also try to see new places and countries as well.  And when we travel we collect Coffee Mugs to remind us where we have been and what that experience meant to us.  These mugs have been hung on coat hooks in the kitchen for 4 years now but we've decided to share them.

The Guest Pantry has fascilities for making tea, or hot chocolate and this is where guests can find a pot of coffee first thing in the morning.  We have always had a collection of mugs for guest to use and they are all different.  (It is fun to see which mugs appeal to which guest....sort of a way to express yourself.)  We cleared out all the old mugs and replaced them with mugs from our travels.

Recent countries visited are:  Ireland, England, Scotland, France - but I missed picking up a mug in Rouen - so mad about that one.  Cities include Amsterdam, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and attractions include the Hearst Castle, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and states including Alaska, Hawaii and Peurto Rico.  We've been to more places but the mugs from St. Petersburg, Russia and Buenos Aires, Riga are not displayed.  We couldn't fit a mug for each city we visited briefly last fall when we took a Baltic Cruise.  So countries/cities we missed were;  Brugge, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallin, Stockholm....I guess we'll have to go back!

I hope if you visit you'll enjoy using these mugs from our personal collection.


. More Mugs

. I seem to collect Tea Pots as well.

And more Tea Pots and wine glasses for guests to fill. We can't sell you the wine, but there are wine stores nearby.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Canada Place

I had a couple of hours off to explore a little more of Vancouver.  Yesterday I walked down to Coal Harbour and sat for a little while on a bench looking at the harbour, the SeaPlanes, the Paddle Wheeler and other harbour cruise ships, the private yachts and loads of people strolling the SeaWall.  It was all great but I didn't have a phone/camera to take a few pics.  So today I did.

Specifically I wanted to see the Fly Over Canada presentation at the far end of Canada Place.  There were two cruise ships in and loads of people.  The Canada Place Pier with the convention centre and hotel above it is a really good place to get a sense of what it is like to be Canadian.  There are small displays of history - nothing too in your face except perhaps a mural about the War of 1812 - I was quite young at the time and don't remember it well, so I'm happy they've got it documented...something for us Canadians to be proud of!  Actually the story isn't about the massive win for Canada as it was about establishing a border between the United States and what became Canada...kind of an important thing.  The Fly Over Canada presentation is in the old I-Max theatre and it is pretty cool.  And if you go then you'll know it is misty as well and scented and worth the $20 to get in.  I would have liked it to have more content that it did.  I didn't feel that they represented the East Coast of Canada too well but they did show some mountains that were pretty awesome.

We had had rain this morning but by the time we left the theatre it was sunny and warm and a pretty perfect day in Vancouver.  We had a leisurely walk back to the house - it is so close 20 minutes is all you need.  So if you are booking a room to attend a convention think about walking along the SeaWall before getting into the conference zone!

.. .. Coal Harbour is busy all the time - from Paddle Wheelers to Freighter, Sea Gulls to Sea Planes

.. .. Good vantage spot to see Vancouver is along the Canada Place Pier

.. .. You can practically touch the cruise ships. I didn't take photos of people on their cabin's decks but they were already occupied at 2:30 in the afternoon. Sail time is usually 5 to 6 pm.

.. .. Coal Harbour as taken from the promenade at Canada Place. That is the Stattendam and then the new Convention Centre with the living room, Harbour Air Port and the tall building at the end on the right is the Bayshore Hotel - Westin Hotel. The Guest House is about half way between the SeaPlanes and the Westin. I clock an 11 minute walk from the House to Harbour Air.

.. .. Couldn't resist taking this photo - freighter in the background and paddlewheeler in the foreground doing a harbour tour.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pride and Fresh Fruit

This morning could have been like any other.  We had two guests leave early so didn't join us for breakfast, we had a family of three and guests from Holland, New Zealand, Belgium and  a gay couple from Miami, Alexis and I were cooking and serving.  The menu was standard:  A blueberry, Carrot and Spinach Smoothie, fresh berries and yogurt and chopped mint from our mini herb garden.  The main course were crepes Alexis made with a stuffing mixture of mushrooms, spinach, onion and thyme, oregano and pineapple sage also from our herb garden.  The option was with or without ham.  And Cinnamon buns with vanilla icing which Alexis made yesterday and baked today.

Several of our guests were leaving the city, the family of three were going on a cruise to Alaska, the Dutch couples are using our bikes today.  After the dishes were done I ventured out to get some yogurt.  Today is Pride and Vancouver hosts a very big and fun Pride Parade.  One block from the house is where it starts at I write this it is 11:45....I could hear some of the music and noise from those assembling for the parade.  I'm sure there will be several hundred thousand people watching.  When I got to the market for the yogurt I couldn't help myself.  It is August and the fruit selection is wonderful.  I couldn't buy everything I saw but I did stock with a few choice items that will make their way into tomorrow's breakfast.

Coming back I decided to walk Robson Street, the route of the parade where people were already camped out with umbrellas, cushions, chairs, and festive clothing galore.  It promises to be a pretty awesome day.  I'll take some photos and post them.  If YOU decide to come for Pride it is held on the BC Weekend and the Parade is on Sunday, rather than the holiday Monday.  It is a day after the last evening of the Honda Celebration of Light - fireworks competition which started on July 27 this year.  Three countries - UK, Canada and Thailand all competed for the coveted award of BEST Fireworks.  Everyone was impressed but particularly the Dutch Couples who told me there fireworks at home were not so they are projected from two huge barges in the middle of English Bay, about a 10 minute walk from the house.  The end of July and the beginning of August are prime times in Vancouver.  If you want to be a guest book early.

The lower mainland produces bountiful crops of blueberries this year. We had a wet start to summer and then lots of sun, so this year's crop is one of the best I've ever seen.

Mika our housekeeper, Ron and Me watching the Parade with the crowd.

Seems to be more about inclusion and so many different facets of society involved.

I took a pic of this bus because this is how the transit buses were when I was in highschool in the 1970s....times have changed.

Times have changed but there is still appreciation for a little buff and tan!

Who could resist putting this outfit on?

Something like 600,000 people came out for the parade...this is only some of them.

The barges for the Honda Celebration of Light.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lawn Bowling and Currywurst

I have owned and operated 4 bed and breakfasts.  Each one had it's own theme, one was about world travel and exotic places, the other was olde worlde (picked that term up in England many years ago), the West End Guest House is about the Edwards family and early Vancouver.  Somewhere along the way I picked up a set of bowls - not cereal bowls but bowling bowls - yup that's what they are called.  Bowls not Balls.  Anyway, today was the first time I've ever Lawn Bowled...I didn't think to bring my bowls, so I used the bowls at the Granville Lawn Club on Fir and 15th Avenue.  I've known it for years but it took my SSAG group to properly introduce me.  We were met by Shirley a retired insurance broker - 40 years!  Makes my 23 years with the West End Guest House seem a little insignificant.  She went over the basics of the game and then introduced us to Pat who tutored us further, coached us further and applauded our efforts and improvements.  It was quite fun, I would definitely do it again and I know their members range from young to old so it isn't a game for old codgers like so many think.

It was a hot afternoon and the beer they had available went down well.  Only one beer and then back to two more Ends - it didn't necessarily improve things but we went from being behind at 5 to 7 to winning at 8 to 7.  Yay PECs.  Too Bad RRRs.  It is an inexpensive way to spend sometime with friends or colleagues - I noticed all the businesses that have their own tournaments.  I'm sure it would be good for morale.

What is also good for morale is good EATS.  After the Lawn Bowling we were pretty hungry but fortunately our SSAG captain arranged for us to go to Bestie in Chinatown.  Last October we were in Berlin on a tour being told at every turn about the Currywurst which Berlin is known for.  That was an expensive get all the way to Berlin but if you are in Vancouver and want to experience great - yummy - delish Berlin current cuisine go to Bestie at 105 W Pender Street.  My duck sausage with red cabbage pickle, potato and fennel salad for $12 was excellent.  I was driving so I had a lemonade which went down well since we were still pretty warm from having been outside in the sun all afternoon.  I finished off with a Gingerbread Cookie!  The two owners, Clinton and Dane have only been open a few months but are definitely a hit on the culinary scene.  They are open every day but Sunday and open for lunch, afternoon, dinner, afternoon dinner till 10 and 12 on weekends.  They even convert the table we were sitting at to a take out window!  That is clever.  I wonder how I could do something like that at the Guest House?  Probably not but that's okay.

The day was good all around AND on the way up the street in downtown Chinatown I found some bamboo blinds I have been looking for.  ACE!

Our group on the steps, just getting ready to have some fun....despite our talent!

It is a bit tricky....and we hadn't even started.

Bestie - 105 West Pender....tres cool chairs

Inside Bestie with Clinton in the stripped shirt.

Dane with my Duck Sausage...pretty yummy...I didn't have a thing to say till I was finished licking the plate!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Yaletown Tour

 I am a supporter of Heritage Vancouver!  There, I've said it...I've come out of the closet.  Heritage Vancouver is actually an old pal of mine, we once almost got me involved in a heritage house in Mole Hill - that's part of the West End, a site saved by resident activists.  If it had taken I would be operating a B&B Museum and Tea Room!  Wouldn't that be fun?

I was invited by my friend Arlene - I call her Arlenela and she calls me Evanala, which pretty much means we are special people.  And you'd have to be special to be invited to a walking tour of Yaletown.  The tour started out in the old Round House, part of the Canadian Pacific Railyards in Yaletown, named after Yale, British Columbia - you know there is more to tell, but I'm not going to.  If you are interested contact Heritage Vancouver‎, they will have all the answers.  The Round House was where the locomotives were repaired - look for the photo of the three garage doors, the locomotives would be driven onto a piece of railway that would spin around and then the loco. would be off loaded and driven into the garage - repaired and then back to work.

Yaletown is a busy section of Vancouver and I didn't realize how much planning went into it.  I just thought it grew organically from warehouse and streets with rail lines to a community of over 10,000 people.  When I was a teenager my Mother used to drive through this area as a short cut to get to our apartment on Beach Avenue.  I remember a couple of saw mills, bumpy roads, closed roads and fierce looking workers not appreciating the invasion of the lime green Toyota Corolla stationwagen - with a hatch back!  Then a decade and a half later there were some clubs down in this area and then a few years later than that we had Expo 86 and the whole area seemed to come alive but as soon as it did it died again and was kind of sad place for about 8 or 10 years and then in the early 1990s the community we know as Yaletown popped up.

If you are interested in some pretty good eats like Cioppinos - famous Italian Seafood, or BlueWater Cafe, Minami - according to Arlene, the best Japanese restaurant in Vancouver, Opus Bar - stylin' drinks, Rodney's Oyster Bar - fun and noisy and fun....did I mention that?, Yaletown Brewing Company - we make beer in Vancouver!  Oh, there are more and more.  And there is nice shopping - check out for lots more information - anything from clothes to Minis.

The tour was about 90 long and was $12.  They do tours of the West End, Gastown/Japan Town and various other places but mainly Heritage Vancouver is the force behind preserving the earlier years of Vancouver.  I'm proud to to be a supporter. And I'm so glad Arlene asked me out!

This is a safe in an old warehouse building now used for offices.

These groovy houses would have been built after the great fire in 1886 and before my house was built in 1906. Very Victorian wouldn't you say?

Not the best photo of either the boxy building below which has been around for 100 years or the highrise which is considerably newer, but this marks the Western border of Yaletown. The street is Hamilton.

Stopped by Chintz & Co to look at some fabric for a new room I am going to do in the fall. And there was a stack of cook books by Sylvia Main, the host and chef at Fairholme Manor in Victoria...planning a trip to Victoria and want great lodgings and perfection on a plate...check out

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ziplining on Grouse Mountain

I get asked many questions in the course of a day and need to have many answers.  Often, but not always, they are tourist questions and I'm not very good making it up.  For instance Grouse Mountain, if you have been reading my posts I wrote about my experience a couple of weeks ago there but I didn't do everything and I wouldn't either because I don't sky or snow...anything.  It is cold in winter usually and I'm okay not getting cold.  So I haven't done Zip-Lining and needed to tick that off.  Grouse Mountain, looking to attract as many guests as possible want the tourism front line folks, such as myself, to experience what they do and that is why I got another invitation to visit the mountain.

Our weather this "summer" has been more like spring or a wet fall, it has been cool and rainy, our day on Grouse was no different except that on Grouse Mountain you might be in the clouds...and we were.  We drove up from the house in about 20 minutes, it is really close if you are driving but if you aren't there is a shuttle that goes, so it isn't difficult to get to.  Up the Gondola - lots of people talking so I didn't hear the stats they give (I always forget how high the mountain is).  Once on top we went to the orientation and then had some lunch in "Altitudes  Bistro"  I had Halibut and chips which were very nice and Ron had a burger which was as big as the mountain!  Both meant for a physical appetite.  We were squirming in our seats anticipating our 4 pm Zip Line experience.

at 3:35 we left the restaurant and walked the short distance to the Zip building - the cloud cover was pretty thick and we weren't sure we'd find it but we did, things are well signed/marked on Grouse.  We had to put on a body harness and helmet, sign a waiver and get a short orientation.  It was a team of 3 who took out 4 guests, not a big group.  And then the fun started.  There are 5 runs, the first is a short one, to get you comfortable with flying through the air.  We worked our way over the mountain on 2 more rides and then took the gondola up to the Eye of the Wind area where there was an incredibly high line.  So far I hadn't been afraid of the height but standing on the platform I was getting a little nervous.  It is all safe, so intellectually I am remembering that when I got harnessed up but standing there was a moment of trepidation.  Off I went - the cloud was so thick I couldn't see the end of the line, I couldn't see the mountain below me.  All I could see were some tree tops and maybe 50 feet of cable.  And it was doing what clouds do - it was raining in my face, I almost had to close my eyes but I wouldn't because I didn't want to miss anything.

That was line 4 and we had one more to go.  A very scenic climb up the mountain - on a clear day I am sure I would have posed for pictures - and then up a huge tower for the last platform.  I asked how high up the last line was.  About 300 feet I believe was the wonder I couldn't see the bottom.  But #5 is even higher..."how high?" I ask foolishly just prior to zipping.  Oh about 450 ft!  So equivalent to a 45 or 50 storey building!  Whoosh off I went.  There are various positions one can take to either accellerate or go slowly.  I chose to go slowly so I could enjoy the view - it was pretty amazing.  And I'd definitely do that again.  I had that feeling of adrenalin and good feeling one should get from being outdoors.  Thanks Grouse Mountain for sharing something pretty amazing..........I'll be back!

This was our group - 4 guests and 3 crew. EVOLUTION It starts with Egon from Estonia as the worm. I'm almost evolved at the end.....

Some construction involved with ZipLine Construction. The path to No Where... but FUN and EXCITEMENT and EXHILARATION

So Scenic along the paths

Me on the first Zip. Can you tell I am a novice....hands tight on the bar.

That's the spring at the end of one of the Ziplines. It is your best friend because it stops you at pretty high speeds. I think one of the lines you could go 50 km and hour!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Strawberry - Strawberry Tea - Strawberry Jam

It is Open Season on Strawberries!  Although with the rain we've had lately - okay not as bad as Calgary - but still unseasonably wet and cool - strawberries are liable to drown before they get picked.  But I found some to buy from a farmers market in Richmond.  When I told her they were for jam I got a discount because they were yesterday's pick - it pays to be honest I guess.  This year I didn't want to do a usual box of Pectin type jam so I scoured the internet and came up with my own recipe.

Jam preparation started on Friday afternoon and evening - you wonder what us exciting innkeepers do?  Now you know about friday night's anyway.  On Saturday after breakfast we started making jams.  I have always made all the jams for the house.  When I first bought the house in 1991 the former innkeepers used to buy jam in a jar.  I never felt that was the type of gift I wanted to extend to a guest so we somehow in that busy summer of 1991 managed to make jam.  Again I was in Richmond buying fruit and I had 100 lbs of blueberries that were going home to be frozen.  I was driving my sporty Celica - I loved that car but I realized on that shopping trip that it wasn't practical.  I became a Mini Van owner within a few weeks.  Sporty car gone but homemade jam every summer!

After making the jam we headed over to Barclay Heritage Square - we have our extra parking in their parking lot and I donated the parking to their cause - their annual Strawberry Tea.  It was quite fun - live music, a bizaar type set up with tents and local vendors - belts, scarves, hats, garage sale items, used books, paintings.  One of the booths was operated by the West End Hookers - the Strawberry Tea is put on by the West End Seniors Network and the West End Hookers apparently reside there!  Scandalous until I realized they sold crochetted and knitted items - tea cozies and such!  Gosh!  There was an old BC Electric trolley bus showing a movie of a train ride called the Interurban that used to go all the way from Vancouver to Chilliwack.  And according to my 87 year old Mom it used to pass within a 1/4 mile of where I grew up.....the service stopped before I was born though.  But I have heard about it from my Grandparents, Mother and others for years.  It was quite a treat to watch.  The House museum - Roedde House - was open to the public.  I had been there a few months ago for an event but this was the first time I have been upstairs in the house.  For its day this was a pretty interesting house with an 8 sided turret reaching 3 floors.  Worth a visit if you are staying at the West End Guest House as it is only around the corner and we have their brochure in our Guest Pantry.

It turned out to be a very busy day because in the evening I had purchased tickets for Bard on the Beach.  The production of Hamlet is in previews but the theatre was packed.  I won't say I know much about Shakespeare plays but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed this production.  It was set in modern day Denmark complete with hi tech gadgets.  It got a standing-O at the end, so I know I wasn't the only one pleased.  Visit them at

That's Ron stirring it up double! Right hand is rhubarb strawberry jam while the left hand is stirring regular strawberry. Good thing he has some dance training!

My berries sat overnight in the sugar. And in the morning became confiture!

From Pot to Jar. This jams a star. Okay, don't shoot me...I'm not a poet.

Barclay Heritage House Strawberry Tea

That Ron and Me and our local Member of Legislative Assembly Spencer Chandra Herbert and my Mom - Pat always has a hat! Gosh, I'm good....more rhymes.