Sunday, May 26, 2013


Our SSAG group met again on Saturday for an event.  We were told to dress oddly - I think the group photo confirms that!  We didn't know what the event was other than it was going to involve eating.  The natural conclusion would be that you go to a restaurant that has a). a great view b). renowned Chef creating exotic mouth watering temptations c). music or some type of entertainment d). perhaps some type of ethnic dining not ever experienced.  But why should we dress so oddly - two different pairs of socks - I carried this a little further by wearing two different shoes, a Versace inspired scarf, a trench coat or a long coat, Sun glasses.  The SSAG organizer was Cathie Borrie, author of The Long Hello and Looking into your Voice - among other things about her experience with her mother who had Alzheimers.  All of us like a little craziness and thankfully, despite the stares from a few passerbys we managed to get to our location on time and a little early.  Once there we were blind folded and then lead to our dining location.

Cat and I helped march our little 'odd' group to the restaurant door where we had to wait for them to open - I'm so seldom early!  The menu was posted at the door and we had to pre-order our dinner - 4 of them still with blind folds on.  After a few minutes of waiting we were introduced to our waiter Dustin and he escorted us to our table at which point the 4 blindfoldees were told they could remove their blindfolds.  And guest what?  It was still pitch black!  The entire restaurant was completely in the dark.  No flashlights, no (annoying) cell phones.  No light except the occasional glow from an opening here or there.  We ate in the dark - we found the food, found our mouth.  It went from a to b and it was enjoyed.

The restaurant is called "Dark", about 70 per cent of the staff are blind or near blind - our waiter Dustin has no sight and yet he took very good care of us.  I'll quickly tell you the food was very good.  I had beef and it was brilliant - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, the Surprise courses were delish as well - the first course was a salad and the last our a lemon cake.  We drank two bottles of wine between the 6 of us, didn't spill anything, didn't drop anything.  After a few minutes, when we could understand the concept and the limitations and finding that some usual expectations were quite possible we quite enjoyed ourselves.

I'm sure everyone has a different experience when they go to Dark on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver.  For me - I LOVED IT and would definitely go again.  I loved that it was a surprise and I loved that the room was filled with people having their own joy in dining - and they were, everyone and I have no idea how many people there were in the restaurant, were laughing, talking and enjoying each others company.  And I have to say I have so much more respect for someone who is vision impaired.  But I don't feel sorry for them - Dustin was one in a million, we couldn't have had a nicer waiter. 

It's a popular place so if you want to go it is best to make a reservation.  Or let me do it for you if you are a guest with would be a big pleasure to do this for YOU and for THEM.

Here's our odd little group standing in front of "Dark Table". With these crazy clothes on we had no problem finding a photographer from the sidewalk.

This is Penny standing in front of the letter "P"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grouse Mountain

On Wednesday, May 22nd our staff - Alexis, Karen, Ron and I went to Grouse Mountain.  It is important to know "tourist" attractions but also important to have a little fun time together.  So we spent part of the afternoon on the mountain.  We drove there and parked, parking is pretty reasonable in case you think of going and have a vehicle.  When we got into the Guest Services building there were four people asking about how to get back to Vancouver.  Well right outside was a bus, all they needed to do was get on the bus, stay on until they reached Lonsdale Quay terminal and then take the SeaBus across to Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver.  Kind of a no brainer but they talked so long the bus left and they ordered a taxi.  Basically what I'm saying is that it isn't difficult to get to Grouse Mountain.

We went up the Gondola, it took 8 minutes and you go from just a few of the parking lot and mountain to breathtaking views of the city, the Capilano River resevoir which is one of our water sources, the side of the mountain and more mountains nearby and then the panarama shoots out to English Bay, Kitsilano, the UBC end of the city with the Museum of Anthropology on it.  You can see Richmond, where the airport is and all the way to Vancouver Island and into Washington State.  Yup, it's quite a view.  You go over the Wolf Habitat - the white object in one of the photos is a white wolf.  I couldn't get a pic of the other grey wolf. 

At the top of the gondola we asked the guide there for some ideas of what to do.  I must say there are loads and loads of guides to help you - not at all like shopping at Costco.  We went to the Birds of Prey Show - it started with a male Falcon, then a female Falcon - very much bigger.  Next was a Horned Owl with its 270 degree neck and bright yellow eyes.  And the finale was a huge Bald Eagle with its 6 foot wing span.  Picked up some important information while being entertained.

Next we thought we'd go to the LumberJack Show but we had the timing wrong so decided to go to the Eye of the Wind - windmill.  I've been seeing that structure on the top of the mountain from down in the city for 3 or 4 years now and have wanted to check it out.  On the way there we passed the Grizzly Bear habitat.  Two giant bears were just waking up - the mountain was still pretty much covered in snow.

The Eye of the Wind was pretty awe inspiring, however we completely socked with fog and with no wind so we couldn't see anything and the 1200 lb 122 ft blades weren't moving.  But we went up to the observation deck 20 storeys up in the air and marveled at the construction anyway.  The chair lift going from the lower side of Grouse to the top freaked out 2 my staff - I won't say who but it was fun watching them go through their contortions of fear.  I did manage to choreograph a kickline - one of the photos.

We were a little cold when we finished at the Eye of the Wind so decided to have a snack and then get back down the mountain because it would be Sherry time at the West End Guest House when we got back.   We'll have to see the LumberJack Show another time.  And on another trip up the mountain I'd like to go to their beautiful diningroom for dinner, aptly named - 'The Observatory'.

Male Falcon - his "wife" was pretty bossy and pretty big!

Karen and Evan dancing to Country Music at the Beaver Tails Pastry barn....yum

Eye of the Wind
Lumberjack Evan

Grizzly Bear in its habitat....behind a fence!

Year Old Bald Eagle

Sunday, May 19, 2013


It was a beautiful sunny day today, a little overcast this morning but it cleared up.  A little bit of wind which helped keep the air clean and slightly cool so walking was pleasant.  After breakfast - home made cinnamon buns, poached pears and yogurt with caramel sauce and eggs benedict - smoked salmon, Canadian Back Bacon or a spinach, sundried tomato and feta option - Ron and I headed down to go to the Museum of Vancouver.  Despite having a car the only way to go there is to take a False Creek Ferry from behind the Aquatic Centre at the base of Thurlow Street.  From this location you can go to Granville Island or the Maritime Museum and the St. Roche, Heritage Harbour with some interesting old boats, the Museum of Vancouver, the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre and the British Columbia Conservatory of Music, Bard on the Beach, Kitsilano Beach and also the lovely park that over looks English Bay - Vanier Park.

The Museum of Vancouver has a small photo exhibit by Joe Average - an artist first known for his paintings.  You might not know him because he is from Vancouver but Princess Dianna heard of him and bought some of his art.  Now he is doing photography of outdoor Vancouver during the early morning hours.  His work deserves purchase - I just need to find a wall to hang it on!  Also showing is a Sex Exhibit - one part of the exhibit I noticed tied into my Lost Souls of Gastown Tour the other day - look for the photo with Birdie Stewart written on it.  There was a Neon Exhibit showing the old signs that used to be displayed almost on every corner of commercial streets in Vancouver until 1974 when they got outlawed.  Now there is a bit of a resurgence but I remember the bright lights of Granville Street which reminded me to Reno Nevada when I was in my teens and living in Vancouver.

The last exhibit at MOV was of Vancouver - if you are new to Vancouver you should take this in.  It traces our history from our Indian/First Nations start to the heyday of 1900 to 1910.  It even has an old map of downtown and the West End dating to 1898 which doesn't show the West End Guest House - this house was built in 1906 - but does show another quite grand house.  It looks like our block around the turn of that century had maybe 3 or 4 houses on it and yet I'm sure I counted 14 houses by 1906- 1908.  I guess it is back to the Archives for some more research!

We stopped at Seigels Bagels at the corner of Cornwall and Cypress to buy some gluten free bagels made in their wood burning oven which operates 24/7.  Then it was back to False Creek Ferries for a short trip across the harbour and back to the house.  While we waited for the ferry to return we watched 3 people with kites doing ballet in the sky.

A beautiful Vancouver day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Forbidden Vancouver

Tonight I took another very interesting tour of Gastown.  Forbidden Vancouver runs three tours, I took the Prohibition Tour last year, the first year that Will Woods the founder of Forbidden Vancouver did a tour.  Tonights tour was called "The Lost Souls of Gastown".  It was a walking tour and lasted about and hour and 15 minutes, not too far to walk, interesting - even for a history buff from Vancouver and something I'd recommend before dinner in Gastown - you'll have so much more appreciation for our first town centre and the eatery you choose.

Tiffany - or would that be "Sarah" our tour guide from the late 1800s gave us a tour through Gastown which included Vancouver's longest operating hotel - the Victorian opened in 1898.  Told a story about Klondike Kate and her attachment to Vancouver, and our famous fire.  There was more but I shouldn't spoil it for you.  Go on the tour - I recommend it.  So if you are interested in Prohibition in Vancouver, Lost Souls of Gastown or Pimps, Prostitutes and Show Girls you should visit

I have my own Klondike Kate - the lovely and talented Gillian Campbell who stared for years in Dawson City and who continues to delight audiences on stage and off - talk about a loving lovely character.  I'm looking forward to her Live Goldrush Review show complete with feather boas, sparkling jewelry, long legs, tight corsets and dancing girls on June 15th, 2 pm at St. James Community Centre, 3214 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver.  For tickets go to

Gastown has many really superb restaurants creating great atmosphere and groovy food....I almost stayed for dinner after the tour but I came back to the house just in case a guest or two might need me.  And anyway, I know I'm not so bad in the kitchen either.  I've been working on a new breakfast, I think I'll call it the "Raj".  Picture of it is below beside Sarah and the original Klondike Kate!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Food Trucks

I like helping and I like house design, so a couple of days ago I was with my friend Penny looking at some fabric for one of her bedrooms.  We were at Chintz in downtown Vancouver and had selected a couple of different colours combinations for a bed in her house.  Loosely we were trying to figure out a way to making a nasty sofa bed bedroom into a comfortable and hip, cool place for grandchildren to hang out in and also have the occasional over night guest.  I suggested a psuedo day bed like I have in one of the rooms here - the Pair and the Spare has an antique day bed sitting beneath the window and can be a "sofa" or a bed depending on what we need.  So that is what we were looking for at Chintz.  When we had the swatches we decided we'd try the Food Trucks that Vancouver has become famous for - apparently Vancouver is in the top 3 in North America for street food!  I didn't know that.

We relocated from the south side of downtown to the main part of downtown and located several trucks.  We could find parking nearest a Salvadoran food truck.  The pictures are of the truck and the office buildings we were looking at as we waited for our lunch.  What can I say about the lunch????  It was okay, but it wasn't really very good.  It wasn't expensive and it probably wasn't very healthy as most of it was deep fried.  And although it was a sunny day it was a little chilly as it was a little windy.  It was fun to try something different and the folks at the food truck were really friendly.

There were all sorts of food trucks downtown and I think I'll try some more but at the end of the day I think Vancouver has some amazing restaurants so I'll probably reserve the food trucks for lunch in a hurry and go to the restaurants when I want to discuss bedroom design!