Wander and Sip at These Craft Cider and Beer Tasting Rooms on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

Continuing on with our #friendsinbeerplaces road trip, the Brit and I visited two tasting rooms while on the Sunshine Coast (a.k.a. Brewer’s Coast) leg of the trip that are unique in location and purpose: The Bricker Cider Company and Persephone Brewing. They have the fields of dreams. (Don’t worry I won’t use the quote!)

Continue reading “Wander and Sip at These Craft Cider and Beer Tasting Rooms on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast”

5 Craft Breweries to Visit on Vancouver Island (Where Everyone Knows Your Name)

If you don’t know the TV show whose theme song title I’ve shamelessly used in my post title,  you probably weren’t born when it was on the air. Google it. Watch it. It’s fabulous. And the theme song is classic.

But to get to my point, the song represents the sense of community that I feel craft breweries and their tasting rooms have brought a back into our social culture. (Even with social media taking over our lives!) It’s something we especially felt when we were on our recent road trip along Vancouver Island’s portion of the Circle Route on the BC Ale Trail. More on that in a second.

Continue reading “5 Craft Breweries to Visit on Vancouver Island (Where Everyone Knows Your Name)”

#12 Days of Hygge – Day 7: Date Night In

The Brit recently sent me a link to a Time Magazine clip that was on their Facebook page about hygge. It sums up hygge really nicely as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” A great example of this is when I go to cook and eat with my friend Karen. It’s also how I feel when the Brit and are at home or off on an adventure.

When we went to the Sunshine Coast in October, we stayed in Gibsons for a night on our way back home from Powell River. We had a cute Airbnb booked and had plans go into ‘downtown’ Gibsons for a date night of dinner and a #pintandaflight at one of the craft breweries the town is known for.

But then we got to our Airbnb and the view was PHENOMENAL. Our Airbnb host must have thought we were simpletons with how dumbstruck we were by the property, the hot tub, and the kick-ass view. I remember looking at the Brit and saying “Let’s just order takeout and stay here.” and he said “I was just going to say the same thing!”

We had just come from Powell River and visiting Townsite Brewing, so we were all set for refreshments. So we had a date night ‘in’ instead of a date night ‘out’ and it was wonderful. We ordered a pizza and sat on the swinging chair, watching a sunny evening turn into a stunning sunset over the water. (Who doesn’t love a fiery coloured sunset??) You couldn’t not take take a hundred pictures, so we did and then we settled with our Townsite brews.

I’m so glad we took the opportunity to appreciate our surroundings and just be together and present. It was a very hygge evening and the perfect date night.

Thank you to our hosts for having such a lovely place for us to have stayed! It was beautiful.

What’s your favourite date night in? Have your plans ever changed and become the best evening, ever?

“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.”

~ Pamela Hansford Johnson

Last hike of the summer – Dog Mountain

Hello and happy autumn! Along with Mother Nature’s changing colour palette, the weather in Vancouver has become a bit cooler and the rain we are known for has been making a few appearances. So it’s a good thing the Brit and I got one last summer hike in this past Saturday; this time at Dog Mountain at Mount Seymour Provincial Park. The weather was beautiful and as much as I am not a morning person (especially not on the weekends), the scenery was absolutely worth getting up early for. If it’s a clear day, make sure you stop to take a photo of Mount Baker!

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Mount Baker through the Brit’s fancy DSLR lens

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Here’s the thing about hiking in the summer: the earlier you get your step on, the less crowded it is, and the temperature in the morning is much more pleasant (if a bit brisk!) for a hike. You also get to spend the rest of your day on the amazing endorphin high of your accomplishment. We weren’t the earliest on the trail by any means, but there were maybe 10-12 people at the top when we got there at 10:30. And when we got to the bottom, we still had the entire day ahead of us, including the all-important refuel brunch. We went to Tour de Feast, this cute little French Bistro on Mountain Highway. Highly recommend!


Dog Mountain is a pretty hike that is generally done June through October. At one hour each way, it’s a great option if you don’t have all day. It’s rated easy by VancouverTrails.com, but don’t go in thinking you’re going to sprint up. They rightly highlight it as on the more challenging end of the easy scale due to the trail path being heavily peppered with tree roots that can present a tripping or slipping hazard. So watch your step!

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You will trek by First Lake at about the halfway point and it’s absolutely worth stopping to take a couple photos.

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First Lake

And then you’ll get to the top and see this:

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I’m a bit biased, but I’m pretty sure I live in the most beautiful place in the world. I mean really.

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You’ll also see many furry friends on the trail; most of the dog variety as, very appropriately, dogs are welcome (on-leash). There were also some adorable little squirrels along the trail and at the top, but as the Brit was reminded by his photos (below), they are FAST! They also make this surprisingly loud and high-pitched rebel yell sound. (Think “Aye, aye, aye, aye, aye!) It’s quite funny.

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Dog Mountain trail is located in Mount Seymour Provincial Park in North Vancouver. The entrance to the park is located on Mount Seymour Road just north of Mount Seymour Parkway in North Vancouver. As with all hikes, wear appropriate clothes and footwear, make sure you bring water and snacks, and if it’s sunny, wear a hat and sunscreen!

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Did you get your last hike of the summer in the books? Where did you go?

(A big shout out to my guy, the Brit, for taking some pictures of me for this post and for lending me his Mount Baker and squirrel photos. Mwah! Check out his Flickr account; he takes a pretty picture, does my guy.)

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

~ Aristotle ~

Island Road Trip – My Top 8 Things to Do in Victoria

It’s been a busy few weeks, but I’ve finally had a chance to go through photos and do a road trip download from my notes.

The Island is a perfect place for a road trip, and the Brit and I celebrated his birthday with four-and-a-half days of exploring. (As my calling him “The Brit” would suggest, he isn’t from here, so I love visiting places with him that I haven’t been to in a long time. It gives me a fresh lens.)

We started in Victoria and, from there, focused our attention on the eastern side of the Island. (The west side and the crazy all-season surfing people will have to be for another time!) Though we were only in Victoria for about 36 hours, we got a lot in. Here is my Victoria Top 8:

My Top 8 Things to Do in Victoria

1. Fuel-Up 
There is a wonderful place called Roost Farm Centre; about 10 minutes drive from Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. It is in North Saanich, not in Victoria proper, but it was my favourite place that we ate at while we were on the Island. Farm, winery, bakery, bistro. Everything is made on-site from food grown and raised on their acreage. So good. Check out my post on Roost Farm Centre, here. For other restaurant suggestions in Victoria, click here.

2. B&B It
I’m a huge fan of bed and breakfasts. Particularly if they are run by nice people in lovely, heritage homes that have been well maintained (and serve a tasty breakfast). a) You get breakfast (win!); b) You’re not staying in a cut and dry hotel; and c) Good price point and warm customer service. We stayed at Fisher House Bed and Breakfast in the James Bay neighbourhood, and would absolutely stay again. Check out some of the best Victoria B&Bs here.

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The Deluxe Florence Suite at Fisher House Bed and Breakfast.

Get Thrifty: Travel websites like Expedia and Red Tag will often have the best rates available for accommodations. Trip Advisor is a great site for price comparisons and reviews. 

3. Get Political
Victoria is British Columbia’s capital city and home to our BEAUTIFUL Legislative Assembly building. They offer free (yes!) public tours on non-sitting days, but we didn’t have time to catch one. I remember walking through during a school field trip, and recognising, even when I was 12, that the architecture is amazing. The building still had white Christmas lights up (which I believe is a year-round thing?), which made for a nice evening walk and some pretty pictures.

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The Legislative Assembly, by night.

4. Get Your Step On
Everywhere. Victoria is a great place to give your Fitbit a workout. They have a good transit system, but you don’t need it downtown. Particularly on a nice day. Our B&B was a ten-minute walk away from the Legislature and the walk along Inner Harbour is a treat. Google Maps is your friend. Figure out what you want to do and map it out with sustenance pit stops.IMG_2795

5. Hop Along
Victoria has a thriving craft beer scene and is the home of Driftwood and Spinnaker’s, to name a couple. The city also recently had their annual beer week. We were a couple weeks early for that, so we did our own little tour, but you can also do a set tour. The spots we visited were:

  • Canoe Brewpub – Located on the edge of Chinatown, Canoe has a spectacular waterfront view from a fabulous patio that I can only imagine is always full up in the summer. Enjoy the canoes and chandeliers hung from the high wood beam ceiling over a flight of beer – the best way to try a mix of their core and seasonal brews. Our waiter also gave us a behind the scenes tour when he found out The Brit has been homebrewing his own IPA.
  • Phillips Brewing and Malting Co. – Get your growler on at this place. They do brisk refill business and have a very large selection of beers. They are well known for their Blue Buck Ale and name all their beers in a rather quirky fashion. (Electric Unicorn, anyone?) Their Ginger Beer and Longboat Chocolate Porter were my favourites to taste.
  • Moon Brewery and Pub – This was a recommendation from our waiter at Canoe. It’s a bit of a walk, but definitely worth it. The Dark Side of the Moon Oatmeal Stout is tasty, and Fridays apparently involve Music Bingo, so two solid reasons to go back.
  • The Churchill – Not a brewery, but this Government Street gem was a Google Map search find and I recommend it as a place to visit if you don’t have time to hit any breweries. The chalkboard beer menu has about 35, mostly local, selections and the beer tap setup is pretty neat. Sit at the bar if you can.
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The Churchill does not lack in selection.

Get Thrifty: A flight is the best, most cost-effective way to taste several beers (and makes for less of a fuzzy walk home!) 

6. Museum It Up
Victoria is home to the Maritime and Aviation museums, as well as Emily Carr House and others that you can find listed here, but if you’re staying in the downtown core, or are pressed for time, my picks are:

  • Royal BC Museum – Learn about BC’s history, our First Nations culture in the First Peoples Gallery, and whatever special exhibit is up for the season. The woolly mammoth is pretty spectacular, and the IMAX theatre has a variety of short documentaries throughout the day. They also show Hollywood features in the evening. The yearly pass is a wicked deal!
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Royal BC Museum First Peoples Gallery
  • The Miniatures Museum – I was just as delighted as when I was a kid when I walked back into this place. The craftsmanship of the miniatures is amazing and very clever; particularly the little puffs of smoke coming from the tiny guns. The wording of the voiceovers for the different exhibits is a bit dated, but this is a great museum to visit. Be sure to check out the King Arthur and the Canada railway exhibits.
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This was my favourite miniatures scene. Romance with grandpa in the background with his shotgun. Just in case.

Get Thrifty: Museums will sometimes do Groupon type offer. If you have a student card, use it. Every penny counts! Also, see my wildcard #9, below.

7. Lift Your Pinky Finger 
THE most touristy (and let’s face it, the most fun) thing to do in Victoria is to have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. Having already had this experience a couple times, I didn’t subject the Brit to a tradition of his own land – to his great relief. But it’s a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and a nice splurge. Most definitely make a reservation.

8. Stop and Smell the Roses 
Victoria is known as “The Garden City”. There is no shortage of foliage and colour, no matter the season. And then there’s the big mama of them all, Butchart Gardens. While we didn’t have the opportunity this go-round for a stroll through their beautiful grounds, it’s on the list for next time. You can also have afternoon or high tea in their fabulous dining room, and when you randomly stumble upon it, like I did a few years ago, pose on the pretty carousel horse statue. Because, why not?

And a wild card #9:

9. Be a Victoria VIP 
Though Victoria doesn’t have a year-round city pass like some bigger cities do, Attractions Victoria puts on an annual Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown weekend in February. You can buy a very reasonably priced VIP pass and get free(!) or discounted access to most of the major attractions in the Victoria area for the weekend. We were, of course, a weekend too early for this, but I love the concept of encouraging locals to rediscover their city alongside the tourists. It’s the perfect way to get thrifty.

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

~ Hans Christian Andersen