Have chariot – will travel

Anyone who has read my posts may have realized I like the quirky, but not dangerous, side of adventure. Having barely settled back home with a good book it is time to pull out my notebook & pencil, power up my iPad, erase all traces of wedding plans from my whiteboard and start some research for an adventure that is definitely outside my comfort zone. Time to call a friend with more experience than my usual travel companions. (Pandas tend to appreciate the softer side of travel)

With my daughter seriously considering a move to Toronto to further her studies and two of her sisters already in Ontario it is extremely likely I join her, or take up temporary residence with each of the three on a rotating basis. Or permanently live in my golden chariot. This is where my lumberjack friend enters. A rugged individual with attitude and lots of hugs he should be able to help me figure out how to get from Point A to Point B (approx 4500km depending on where B will be) on a very thin budget. Driving.

I swear he is smirking.

I really do not intend to ride across the country on a dogsled although it might be handy if I end up being caught in a snowstorm. My chariot is a 2002 Hyundai Elantra 4 door hatchback. I also intend to turn the car into a camper. Probably the most challenging adventure I will undertake. I think the first venture will be a weekend somewhere on the island before the end of September – Tofino perhaps. Keeping this short for now, looking for any words of wisdom besides suggestions to stop now.

What do I have so far? Chariot, nerves of steel (questionable), sleeping bags, various backpacking camp items, tiny BBQ (hey, its only a list so far), navigator. My daughter does not drive – yet.

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Wedding Wednesday: the final countdown

The final countdown! The bride returned from a holiday in Florida a week or so ago, I hope she is well rested. We set a day to discuss everything that still needs to be dealt with, changed, confirmed, cancelled. Since then we have had at least three lengthy conversations!

While she was away her sister and I struggled with the wedding budget. It is not that we have to pull off some magic to make the dollars stretch – that is for the bride to deal with – we were working on a spreadsheet. I still do not understand how it works. The one we settled on has four columns for money. Estimated cost, actual cost, monies paid, balance owing. Simple, right? Except it was not and we still had to pull out pencil and paper. All I know is that the bride will go over budget. She already knew that. Like I said, not anything I need to deal with. When I was growing up we used to say count your buttons – no recollection where it came from, perhaps Paddington?

I share a place with a daughter which means when shopping needs to be done we usually go together. I was clever and bought my dress in January. She however ordered some items online, nixed some, then discovered a flaw in one, before deciding to start all over. We took a few trips to town to search for something different. Which basically means thinking beyond her usual go to colour – black. This time she looked at shoes first with a plan to build from there. It worked! What colour did she choose to go with the shoes? Black. Thank goodness the shoes have colour. I will keep that a secret for now. Too bad they are two sizes too big for me. I found them and one of the other items she chose. It is always nice when your 32 year old still takes your choices into consideration. Even more so when they are perfect. (a rarity)

Lately I have been dreaming about the wedding. I thought the bride did that. I have visions of orchids, hydrangeas, canapés, or are they H’ordeuvres, high heels and country music swimming through my head, fitting I suppose – the venue is a paddle boat after all and, apparently, the band is more on the country spectrum than rock. The most recent dream had the venue in the far reaches of Mongolia! Perhaps I am subconsciously thinking about escaping to parts unknown….to me. I would love to have one of my daughters wear one of these traditional wedding outfits. Only two more left.

Look up some of the fabulous traditional outfits for Mongolia – the headdresses are amazing!

I was quite happy to erase March, April, and May from my calendar as well as wiping off nearly everything from my whiteboard. I like seeing lists vanquished. Of course a master list is still necessary – I take no chances, on paper and my iPad. My daughter keeps wondering how it is that the lists are not getting smaller. Of course they are, items are just being moved from TTD (things to do) to things done.

Some notes on the frustrating bits or organizing a wedding. Organizers in different provinces – in Canada that is 4620km, a three hour time difference, minimum 5 hour flight non-stop. Factor in a job that has 12 hour shifts, my daughter is an RN, there is not a lot of useable time. I will arrive nine days before the big day. Jumping right into the fray with a meeting to go over everything for the venue the day I arrive. We might also be checking in with the seamstress one last time if the bride has any concerns. I do sew and did make some suggestions, I just was not willing to do any of the alterations.

Food. The wedding is in the evening, so no need for a full course meal. The main problem is trying to not order too much but also to ensure no running out. (Planning way ahead I did some footwork when in Kingston last summer to wuss out where we could take leftovers – seems nowhere on a Saturday and certainly not a holiday) A bit of a balancing act when trying to figure out three passes – in normal terms that means servers offering various delights on two levels but not at the same time. Speaking of which, there will be poutine and pizza after midnight!

As for the cake I am all for the continued trend of cupcakes! There will also be a small cake, purely for show though. My sister is the keeper of the now 89 year old sugar dove that was on my paternal grandparents cake whose wedding was on June 30th, 1929! (My father was born six years later on June 30th) We have no idea if there were two doves although assume there must have been. Perhaps I should ask my aunt if she knows of any photos from that long ago day. I will place it on the cake, let photos be taken then quickly remove it again for safekeeping. Perhaps it will last long enough for when my grandson gets married. I would have said ‘if’ if he had not told his mother several years he plans to marry and still live at home – the innocence of children.

slowly, slowly shrinking my lists despite adding to them. Today my daughter asked why I keep adding to it.

Wedding Wednesday: 45 Days

I have not written about the ups and downs about the planning for some time now. Not that the event has ground to a halt, just me having a bit of writer’s block. Which is rather silly when writing an update.

A week ago my daughter told me how excited my grandson is about the wedding. I thought that was very sweet. He even asked if his girlfriend can go. There will be a few of his friends with their dates. Rather an upside down wedding. Also rather fitting. His mother was not quite one when her father and I married ; of course she was included in the wedding party. Come to think of it I probably have some photos of her that I can give her. We are anything but conventional.

My grandson hanging out on a country road fence

Another interesting development is rings. Her dear fiancé does not want a ring – I wonder if it is more accepted for younger grooms to wear them. The bride had the brilliant idea to use the ring her father gave to me when we married. As she so perfectly said it was important to us at the time. Over the years she wore it as wedding band, often when her fiancé was away at sea. Being the kind person she is she asked how I felt about it – I had given the ring to her when she was a teenager. I said of course! That settled she went search of it while we discussed various items to cross off or add to our lists over the phone. That was a couple of days ago. Sad to say she has not found the ring yet. The groom may have to do some quick planning as a ring is one convention my daughter does want.

We recently had a very long phone conversation to go over everything! High on our list was the budget. It is always sobering when the numbers are crunched and do not fit into an allotted amount. The question of where to shave a few loonies and twoonies can become overwhelming. This week the largest deposit for venue will be paid. Perhaps my daughter should take a paper bag with her.

In addition to the deposit she is going to have a dress fitting the same day. The lace has been raised, now it is all the other work. I forgot to ask if raising the lace means the dress has been shortened. I assume it does. At first the fitting was not supposed to be until the beginning of June which means some trepidation on the part of the bride. She has a positive outlook, at least it will be done. Now all she needs to know is how much for the alterations so far. She thought maybe I should call if an estimate is not ready. I do know how to ask in Chinese, or could have her sister call. Not that either of us can ask too much about dressmaking in Mandarin.

多少钱?

Everything is falling into place – nearly. The band still has to call back to set up a time to meet again to discuss the music, playlist and anything else. Lengthy lapses to return calls (or these days texts and emails) tend to make brides nervous. It is also difficult to maintain control when questions go unanswered. In my opinion no more than three business days should go by if a client has questions when a contract has been signed and money handed over. Even if just to acknowledge the message has been received.

Of course there are vendors who have to remind customers payments are due. We had to go over our paid out list to check if the cake lady was already paid a second deposit. She was not. It may have been around this time my daughter asked if it was too late to elope. Or move everything to their front yard. I can see it now, a little sign on the dock informing guests they are to head to the country instead. Hm, I wonder if it is too late to rent an event tent.

Wedding Wednesday: 66 Days

Earlier this week my daughter and her Matron of Honour (MOH) – such archaic terminology – drove to Ottawa for a one hour appointment at David’s Bridal. Seemed simple enough, would most likely take less time than expected giving a chance to visit family who had recently moved there – including the young niece my daughter was thinking of inviting to be in the bridal party. I have no idea if that happened, they were at the one store for about five hours! I cannot imagine how long it takes when in search of a wedding dress!

Why they were there for so long made me laugh. Despite having made the solid decision to be happy with the dresses the other women in the party would wear they ended up checking out option. It was made easier when the MOH had taken her current dress with her to determine if another choice would complement the original in the event of two styles walking down the aisle. The consultant had the bride also try the favoured, now in the running, dress on as she is about 2″ than her 4’11″sister. The last I heard another Ottawa trip is planned – except it must be a quick turnaround to fit in the bachelorette that was finally carved out to fit everyone’s extremely busy schedules. Big sigh, despite checking for fares on various sites I simply cannot afford to go. Even if I were to stay for a week or so to tie up some of the various planning for the BIG DAY.

We are still doing distance planning. Sometimes I hear a bit of a sigh behind my daughter’s voice when we do discuss the various items that still need crossing off lists. I am never sure it is because it would be easier if I could be there or if I am too detailed oriented. Perhaps a bit of both. I need a cash windfall. I would love to just show up.

Speaking of money, the budget was also recently discussed. With the possibility of a change in dress my daughter feels obligated to pay for them, or partially. As with most events costs fluctuate. Money is moved about on paper to cover all expenses. The bride made a strong suggestion that transportation may have to be reconsidered.

The plan was for the Kingston Trolley to pick guests up at their various hotels, and Queen’s University where many of us will be staying, as well as taking the bride and her party to the boat. My financial brain is still attempting to figure out how she can still keep that. It is so much a part of Kingston, and most likely less expensive than a carriage. Also a nice touch for out of town visitors who might not know where to park. On a long weekend. Where everyone congregates.

On a brighter note, chair sashes and table runners were ordered, paid outright, rather than trying to match the fabric and colour choices provided by the venue. Yes, more money but less than renting and they can most likely be sold after the wedding. Perhaps after the BBQ planned for the following day – not that chair sashes will be necessary. Cupcakes were taste tested at a local bakery I discovered during one of my visits – then promptly forgot about. Flowers have been chosen and ordered. I even managed to provide a mock up of the table settings using what I have on hand. If I forget to pack the orchids I will be in trouble!

Finally, not directly connected to the wedding, I was very happy to discover that Via Rail renewed my Preference Privilege status for another year despite my not having used their services much since last summer. I realize this is a sales push but it fits my needs.

I have one coupon for a 50% discount off a sleeper berth – the train home being what is planned. As mentioned, I need a cash infusion so this will help a lot! I might even have enough e-coupons to cut 1/3 for another sleeper for one of my daughters returning with me.

Mini Adventure: Wentworth Villa

In an effort to keep my mini-adventures interesting I often search for upcoming, preferably free, activities that could be interesting and provide some exercise. The Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum seemed like a perfect match. Two free tours were being offered on each weekend day over two weeks – maximum ten people per tour. I checked with my weekend adventurers who were definitely interested before registering the three of us through Eventbrite. Which nearly found me dropping the whole thing due to the ridiculous process for a free event. Too much information was requested, all three names, addresses, emails and phone numbers were requested (blood type optional) if we wanted confirmation and to print the tickets. Only after all this had been provided did we discover we did not have to print anything, nor were we asked our names on the day we attended.

To ensure a good walk I drove to my sister’s house to put in what we thought would a pleasant 45 minutes. A miscalculation meant we had time to spare to walk further down Fort St. then back up. Fort Street has been known as Antique Road since at least the 1970s. Sadly, most of the quirky stores have since closed their doors as interest in all things old started to wane some years ago. There are now only 2-3 stores left. Wentworth Villa, further up Fort Street, had been one of those quirky shops. I had even visited it once many years ago.

The pink paint was not the original colour; it was chosen to showcase the exterior workmanship.

Central hall. Visitors rarely went beyond the door to the private areas of the home. However, aesthetically pleasing stained glass does give a glimpse of the lovely banister on the stairs beyond. (There are only two stained glass windows, the other is in the attic! No easy access had the renovators think it was there purely for looks.

Only two families ever owned and lived in the Villa. Built in 1863 for Captain Ella, his wife Martha, who would eventually have seven children, and Martha’s aunt. Despite the grandeur quarters would have been quite cramped! Some of the family lived in the house until the 1930s. By the 1940s the home was a bit run down, back taxes were owed and Wentworth Villa was purchased by Faith Grant and her husband – paying 25 years of back taxes. Renovated, with plenty of living space, the antique store next door, and the Grant family were soon relocated to Wentworth Villa. Over time the only changes to house were an extension and paint. It was an antique store until 2012. Sold in 2011 to developers it seemed likely the once grand home where Fort St. met Cadboro Bay Rd. (Over time Fort St. was extended and Cadboro Rd. starts at the border of what is now Oak Bay) was slated to be converted into high end suites. Yet another piece of Victoria’s history lost to the almighty dollar.

The door from the other side.

Note the wood floor in the next room is covered – these are floorboards that are laid across the foundation before the walls go up. Floors were often left unstained in the centre of the room as rugs were used to cover that area.

Fortune must shine on the home as it was sold in 2012 with the purpose of renovating it to become a jewel of the Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum. We were taken through the house by Stefan, one of the extremely knowledgeable members. Although he did not say, I was under the impression he is one of the main people involved in ensuring all the work is completed as closely to the original structure as possible. This meant sifting through family photos from the Ella family, one of whom serves on the board, newspaper articles, and of course the fantastic B.C. Archives. After threes years the house has been fully restored and available for visitors.

As soon as I saw this I asked which cemetery it was stolen from. (I had learned of what happened to many missing stones) Ross Bay, the oldest cemetery in Victoria. Our guide said their renovators were quite surprised to discover tombstones used as paving stones. There are others, none as intact as this one. With names and dates in hand, researchers discovered the story of this, and other, individuals whose stones were found. Their stories are included in the history information boards.

Although we have many heritage designated homes in Victoria only four are open to the public. Emily Carr House, and Ross Bay Villa, and Ellice Point House have all been carefully restored, two with the furnishings of the original owners, one refurbished to appear as it would have been when first built. The plan for Wentworth Villa is to refurbish one room in the style of the Ella family. As their mandate is to show as a Museum of Architecture many of the renovated rooms have, or will have, models and information of various homes of architectural interest. In addition to these there is extensive information mounted on the walls about the process to renovate, the families and history of Wentworth Villa.

Royal Doulton sewer pipes. Ships from England used these pipes as ballast then sold them upon arrival to Victoria as no longer needed.

The architects and renovators could not find any blueprints or reason for why there is an arch from this room to the next. Nor did the very small space in between appear to have any functional use.

One of the finials removes while the roof was being repaired; when the initials carved on it were discovered the decision to make a replica to replace it was made and put the original on display.

Of course, all of this work is expensive, visitors will soon be charged to, and the extension put in by the Grants has been renovated as an intimate, acoustically sound, concert space. I checked out the seats – comfortable! The intention is to invite a variety of musical artists from Vancouver Island to perform. Concert goers will get quite a hit to the wallet though, $40.00 seemed to be the main ticket rate. Not terribly expensive if one considers the cost of movies these days. Our one hour tour stretched to nearly two – the passion of our guide was infectious as well as extensive! His mention of a few other familiar homes was interesting – one of which my daughter had lived in. Check out their growing website, http://www.wentworthvilla.com

bottom of one of the posts holding the house up.

Right hand side of the photo is where these posts were in the ground.

After our walk and two hours at the Villa we were all very hungry. With the house on the outskirts of Fairfield we headed down to Cook St. Village, to me the heart of Fairfield,where there are many choices of eateries, a few I have been fortunate to have already tried. Knowing there would be choices my daughter could have we headed to Bubby’s Kitchen. This place seems to be always busy. We were quickly seated at the end of the communal table (I think these are a great idea) and handed breakfast and lunch menus. My sister was disappointed to be told her choice of smoked salmon croissant had run out of croissants and found her half order Westcoast Benny on a tea biscuit expensive and not as tasty as she had hoped. I had the Falafel Naan Wrap. With French fries at the insistence of my sister – she wanted to share them. I was very pleased with the choice, after our server made the suggestion when I could not decide between that and another dish. Only ate half – carried the rest in a recyclable box for my dinner later. (No recollection of what my daughter had, just that she also took home leftovers)

Those boxes became a nuisance at times. I proposed we head to the ocean at the end of the street before veering off to Moss St. in the hope of seeing the cheery blossoms in full bloom. Moss Street is the best place for visitors in Victoria during cherry blossom season. They were still not in full show mode. Then to Rockland Ave where there are many grand old homes as well as the Lt. Governor’s House. We took a short stroll through the public park inside before wending our way back to the street. We had planned to find one house mentioned during our tour, too bad we recalled the street incorrectly. No matter, we were in very familiar territory, the weather was only slightly chilly and windy, and we were feeling hearty.

Keeping a watchful eye on everything.

On the way I discovered a little wonderland on the edges of one home. Such a delightful sight.

By the time we returned to my car we had walked nearly 14km! (I faithfully wore my knee brace until back at the car – it only helps a very little) No wonder I was tired. My daughter and I put in another 2km shopping before heading home. Another stress free, very little driving, adventure.