Web Copy:  Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Real Estate Magazine Copy: Backup of Welcome to Ambleside
Nuance Garden Solutions: Nuance Garden Solutions


Fine Fare at Sticky Wicket…if you dig deep enough.   Sample Restaurant Review. Click to enlarge.


Herbal Healing Pathways.

Autumn: “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…” Keats




(October 20/21, 2012)

 Celebrate the glory of the fall equinox with like-minded companions of all ages. Surrender to the wonders of nature and experience the thrill of discovery. Follow the Ancient Herbal Pathway to Health and Vitality. Wander through our local misty forests and along berry-laden trails, guided and mentored by your knowledgeable host:

Internationally Recognized Herbal Master and Author


  • Are you a Health Care Worker, Helper or Healing Professional?
  • Gardener or Horticulturist?
  • Chef?
  • Are you seeking a career in the Herbal Health food industry?
  • Would you like a career as a Health Care Practitioner?
  • Are you a lover of nature who is interested in an ecologically sound and self-sufficient lifestyle?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, this course is designed especially for you.  Start your herbal learning journey today:

 Register Now


Don Ollsin is proud to introduce — online — for the first time, his exciting:


As the days grow shorter and the leaves begin to fall, the cold and flu season approaches. It’s time to protect your health the natural way.

“Learn the practical application of the knowledge of herbs and nature in your daily life”

  1. Learn how to identify, cultivate and process health-giving herbs.
  2. Make your own herbal medicines and preparations.
  3. Unearth the secrets of herbal healing.
  4. Discover the mysteries of the ancient art of holistic remedies handed down from generation to generations.

Experience life-changing self-discovery through the ancient art of Herbal Healing.


Guided and mentored by your knowledgeable host:

Internationally Recognized Herbal Master and Author





What’s Cooking by Alastair Barnett                        Featuring this week: The Royal Palace  Address: 4C-100 Aldersmith Pl.,Victoria, B.C. Canada. Royal treatment at the Royal Palace… Amidst a sea of Asian restaurants in Victoria, the new Royal Palace, adjacent to Admiral’s Walk in View Royal, must not to be overlooked. It’s obvious the young entrepreneurs who opened the restaurant last August, want you to keep coming back. One of the owners heads up the kitchen while his enthusiastic colleagues provide cheerful, professional service in the dining room. I arrived with a friend at 5:30 PM on a Saturday night. Fortunately we had reservations because by 7:00 PM every table was taken. From the Cantonese menu, we chose the Imperial Dinner which proved to be an outstanding combination of savoury wontons in a flavourful broth, light crunchy panfried prawns, lean pork in a tangy sweet and sour sauce, breaded almond chicken breast, and tender flavourful beef with crisp snow peas. ($14.95 pp). The colourful steaming platters would have easily fed three. A half-liter of Merlot complimented the delicious meal. On an earlier visit I mentioned to our waiter that my favourite dessert is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a splash of Creme de Menthe. He readily accommodated and on this visit — even before I ordered dessert — he remembered, and it appeared. Now that’s service. They will also happily prepare your favourite dish without MSG. Whether you stop in for the twenty-four item lunch buffet which features a mouth-watering array of beef, seafood and veggies, sushi, soft drinks and dessert ($10.95) or the extensive selection of fresh seafood, chicken, beef and pork entrees from the dinner menu (from $8.95), this restaurant is sure to please. (The huge spicy salt and pepper prawns are exceptional). Soft music, sparkling decor and dinner tables set with fresh crisp linens add a welcoming touch. I asked chef Raymond why they chose the name, The Royal Palace. “That was easy,” he said. “We’re in View Royal and we want our customers to feel like royal guests”. Note: The Royal Palace has created a gourmet feast for your Mother’s special day. ($18.95) She deserves the royal treatment. For reservations: 250-381-6668 Alastair Barnett is a professional food writer and freelance copywriter. www.thewritingbutler.com

WELCOME TO PARADISE  ~ or as we prefer to say: Welcome to:

“The Magic of Miramar Living.”

Experience the magic that is Miramar Resort. Escape to a quiet place where the sun scatters its gold coins over the dancing turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean – year round. Relax in your charming private condo and inhale the sweet scents of tropical flowers and mango and banana trees laden with ripening fruit. Languish in the Infinity pool. Close your eyes and hear the murmur of gentle waves on the shore below. Adventurous?  A short drive brings you to Puerto Escondido, the world renowned surfers paradise, with all its amenities, restaurants, markets and traditional Mexican festivities. For honeymooners and lovers of all ages come ~ experience the romance of the tropics ~ indulge yourself in the excitement and mystery of love. We’re waiting to welcome you. Ask about our exceptional off-season rates and monthly rentals. “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined —  to strengthen each other  — to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” George Eliot. Live Like The  Stars Live – really live – and relax in your very own charming luxury condo, secure within the gated tropical community of Miramar Resorts. Phase 1 consists of a two-story building with a total of six units. Three units are located on the first floor and three on the second floor, ranging in size from 1300 -1400 Sq.ft.For as little as $130,000 is it possible to relax in your own charming private condo surrounded by lush green slopes, tropical flowers and mango and banana trees laden with ripening fruit? Is it really possible to languish in the Infinity pool located in front of the building overlooking the ocean while exotic birds serenade you from the sun-warmed garden, year round?  Whether it’s a family retreat or a romantic hideaway you have in mind… Believe it! Philosophy Share the reality of participating in a cherished lifestyle which exemplifies the best of what life has to offer: quiet time, sea, sun, white sand beaches and if the mood strikes, adventure! A safe peaceful haven where palm trees sway to the rhythm of the evening breeze and the cares of tomorrow fade into the soft golden rays of twilight.With panoramic views of turquoise waves, sugar-white sandy beaches, sunsets  over the majestic Pacific Ocean, and evenings reclining in the garden with your favorite cooler — feasting on local seafood and succulent roasted meats — living or vacationing in one of our beautifully designed condos, offers you the lifestyle you crave.  Nestled in the lush green sloping foothills of the legendary Sierra Madre mountain range, only five minutes from the beach, Miramar Resort now offers you the affordable (*Hyperlink to Residences page) lifestyle that you’ve dreamed of. Whatever your mood, Miramar is sure to please and generate memories that will last a lifetime:

      • Fish for tuna, dorado and sailfish in crystalline local waters.Explore jungle hiking trails.
      • Navigate the shoreline in a kayak.
      • Enjoy the thrill of world class surfing, (with nearby gentler waters for novice surfers)
      • Five – minutes away, at Puerto Escondido, (pop 50,000), visit lively street markets. Shop for exciting bargains and local delicacies. Indulge yourself with a body massage or yoga class.
      • Horseback ride on the beach, swim, snorkel, surf. Visit one of many ecological sites.

Escape the cold winter weather of North America. Enjoy 30° C degree weather (82° F). Occasional refreshing light showers in summer.Crime rate here is low, but in keeping with our philosophy, for your assurance, the entire property is fenced and gated with security personnel on duty. Your family’s relaxation and peace of mind is our number one priority.We have 40 luxury condos and 70 Villa style building lots.A centrally located clubhouse is in the planning stages where family activities and amenities may be enjoyed by all.



Gerry Laing – “Look Mum, no tray…”


 Seattle 1962:  The Space Needle is completed and Elvis is filming, It Happened in Seattle. In outer space John Glenn rockets around the globe, and in Victoria, the Strathcona Hotel opens Big Bad John’s. It’s the year of the Seattle World’s Fair and, as an experiment to cash in on the outflow from the anticipated five million visitors, the Strathcona Room – the first bar location to obtain a lounge license in BC., on July 1, 1954 – is converted to Big Bad John’s Hillbilly Bar. It was a novel idea dreamed up by the Olson brothers to capitalize on Canada’s humorous lumberjack image. Designed to last on year, with tree stumps for tables and discarded farm implements dangling from the ceiling, nobody anticipated it would take on a life of its own.  After 44 years however, this madcap saloon continues to perpetuate the notion that, even if you don’t dress  up like Pa Kettle, spending an evening as a “country bumpkin” in downtown Victoria is not only great fun, but according to one group of  youthful revelers, “cool.” The numerous lounges within the old hostelry successfully reinvented themselves over the years, presenting popular entertainers to the Victoria nightclub scene.  In the late ‘60’s, local musician – Grammy award-winning superstar – Davis Foster stated his career in the Old Forge, where he played the piano for $120 a week.  But BBJ’s remains constant and has become a Victoria landmark. From the moment you pass the sign at the entrance those reads:  “Sorry, we’re OPEN,” and wade through the peanut shells scattered on the floor, you’re in another time and place.  Above the voluminous vibrations of Johnny Horton’s foot stomping country music, sporadic shrieks emanate from the darkened corners as a tarantula strikes another victim.  It’s plastic, of course, and dropped with accuracy on the unsuspecting customer’s head by way of a transparent fishing line concealed behind the bar. <<<Story clipped for preview>>>

Revelers set the mood at BBJ’s

The bar holds fond memories for the nostalgia buffs and every week without fail, customers from 20 or 30 years ago return to recapture happy moments and cajole Laing into playing a medley on the liquor bottles with his spoons. “Tourists from long ago drip in and tell me they remember the bar but not the location,” he says. “Often they spend days searching for us. As I depart through the narrow doorway onto Douglas Street – clutching one T-shirt – I hear:  “Y’all come back now!” Why not. It’s a comfort knowing some traditions prevail; and come to think of it, foot stomping to Johnny Horton’s music and throwing peanut shells on the wood floor – I discovered – is strangely liberating.


___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NOTICE: Please be advised Alastair Barnett is not associated to Luxury Homes and Estates Magazine.He was employed on a one time basis t write editorial copy for the inaugural edition of the publication. The reproduction belowis published as a sample of his copywriting work only.  LINK TO VIEW .PDF OF LUXURY HOMES AND ESTATES MAG.

REAL ESTATE SALES COPY by Alastair Barnett (The Writing Butler)

Unlock the Fantasy, 1515 Ottawa Street.

If it’s true that the best homes are a reflection of the people who live in them, there is no doubt  the future occupants of 1515 Ottawa Street, personify the profile of graceful living and epitomize an extraordinary and unique lifestyle. Located in one of the most prestigious areas of West Vancouver, against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks and breathtaking panoramic ocean views, this exquisitely designed brand-new mansion — the largest available in Ambleside — exudes an unambiguous opulence and magnificent style from every one of its luxurious 7,200 square feet of living area; spread over three levels. This elegant spacious mansion rests on 1/3 acre of prime property and features 8 bedrooms, 7½ bathrooms, large exquisite wok kitchen leading to a private nook and BBQ area, both of which boast spectacular ocean views to the south. The self-contained basement suite consists of two bedrooms with closet and storage area; a full bathroom tub and shower, washer, clothes dryer and a kitchen complete with dishwasher and microwave oven. On entering the mansion, the gleaming marble foyer beckons you toward the formal dining room leading off to the left and the large family room to the right. The main floor office features its own private closet and bathroom complete with custom made stand shower with body jets and a tropical rain shower adorned with elegant Brizo faucets. The master bedroom, located on the upper floor overlooks the ocean and is beautifully appointed with gas fireplace, full spa bathroom with Jacuzzi, stand shower with steam, body spray and luxurious rain shower. Two south facing bedrooms have full bathroom facilities and also include heated balconies. <<<story clipped for preview>>> Prestigious elementary schools and high schools, and one of the worlds’ unsurpassed recreation centers —West Vancouver Recreation Center — are all conveniently located two minutes from the residence.  Downtown Vancouver is within a ten-minute drive. For the energetic fitness enthusiasts of Ambleside, limitless outdoor activity and recreational options abound in the vicinity including the nearby West Vancouver seawall, which has become popular year round for walking, and jogging with spectacular southern views over English Bay. Whether you yearn for the fresh crisp air and the thrills that await you on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains; exciting nights in a vibrant picture-perfect city with world class theater and internationally acclaimed restaurants, or your fancy turns to long adventurous summer days boating on sparkling blue waters, or a leisurely cycle through the lush Oceanside parks, 1515 Ottawa Street in Ambleside, West Vancouver, British Columbia, holds the keys to your fantasy. Welcome!   -30-

Family of Artists.  The Legacy of Samuel Maclure

Disguised as an old lady in bonnet and shawl, with wrinkles penciled on her face, the young girl headed to the Victoria dock.  Mingling with the other passengers waiting to board the SS Charmer, she spotted her stepbrother feverishly scanning the crowd, hoping to intercept her.  Affecting a limp, Daisy Simpson shuffled past him onto the boat and sailed off to Vancouver to rendezvous with her beloved Samuel Maclure. Margaret and Samuel Maclure first set eyes on each other in 1888, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, where Simpson’s stepfather, the Reverend Patrick Macleod, was assistant pastor.  It was said that the pair fell in love almost immediately. Discovering that Simpson had a natural talent for painting, Maclure offered to give her lessons, enabling the pair to meet regularly.  In time, Maclure sought the Macleod’s permission to marry their daughter.  They refused: Maclure was 10 years older than Daisy; he had no apparent means of support other than the odd telegraph-operating job. Devastated, Maclure and Simpson decided to elope — a difficult decision for a minister’s daughter — brought up to model appropriate behavior. Maclure left for Vancouver: Simpson was to join him there. Because the strong willed Simpson had continually affirmed her intention to marry Maclure one day, suspicions were raised when, two days after he had left, she was absent from the dinner table.  Her stepbrother was hastily dispatched to search for her at the boat dock.  When he arrived, the passengers were already boarding. He took no notice of the wrinkled old lady dressed in black who hobbled past him, leaning on a cane.  From the corner of her eye, Simpson saw him frantically searching the crowd and stifled a laugh. Maclure and Simpson were married in Vancouver in 1890, at the home of his sister, Sara.  They honeymooned at the Maclure family home Hazel Brae, at Matsqui Prairie, spending many happy days canoeing on the Fraser River in the Chilliwack area. And thus began their life together. From an early age, Maclure had showed exceptional artistic inclinations.  In 1884, at age 24, he had headed for the Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia to study drawing.  It was there, and while visiting New York, that he found his life’s work: He was so impacted by the eastern cities’ structures that he proceeded to teach himself the rudiments of architecture.  He’d continued his studies when he returned to B.C., supporting himself as a telegraph operator at the E&N Railroad.  Now, with the responsibility of a wife and the need to prove to her parents that he could support their daughter, Maclure had an important career decision to make: continue as a telegraph operator, or follow the more difficult path toward his dream of becoming an architect. He chose the latter, and in 1890 an advertisement appeared in the New Westminster newspaper announcing the firm of Clow & Maclure. <<<Story clipped for preview>>> I contact Kim, now known as Sister Michaela, in Jerusalem to ask how her family’s artistic ability influenced her art work.  ” I was much more sensitive to a love of music, and sang in choirs throughout my childhood,” she says.  ”Perhaps I felt somewhat overawed by the talents of my great-grandparents, and so backed off from any effort in the same direction myself at the time.” But Kim did find her niche in the art world.  ”The first real inkling I had that I might be able to express myself with a pencil and paintbrush came when I was a nurse in a pediatric ICU in Montreal,”  she says.

”It was Christmas, and we didn’t have any decorations.  I was asked to create something with a roll of paper from the examining tables, a box of poster paints and a children’s Bible, so I set to work and designed Winnie the Pooh, Donald Duck and company, bringing gifts to the Christ Child; the roll went right around the room over the children’s beds.” It was only after she’d arrived at the Benedictine monastery and was well into her 30′s that she heard of an iconography course in Jerusalem.  ”Though the course was apparently designed for those with quite a bit of experience,” she says, “I dared to show up and was accepted.” These days, Kim says her time at the monastery is taken up almost entirely with filling orders, as her icons become better known.Long-time resident of Victoria, Alastair Reid Barnett has retired from the restaurant business, and has since pursued his passion for writing.  He writes for North American and UK. publications and has recently undertaken to write promotional material for the BC Arts & Cultural Highway Accord.


****************************************************Advertisement sample submitted to: Courier – Connex

Are your empty freight vehicles idling on the lot while the “Big Boys” leave you in the dust? It’s been said: “Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job.” We’ve got the tools you need.Test drive our free Ordering Processing Service package today and find out how our tools level the playing field. Our system is designed specifically for the innovative small to mid-sized Courier, Messenger and Delivery Service companies who are centered in the fast lane.Streamline your business while lowering your labor costs Courier Connex Ordering Processing Service puts you in the driver’s seat and allows your customers to complete the paperwork with the built-in flexibility to:

  • Enter pick-up order details
  • Download price quotes
  • Track waybills online
  • Search and download waybill records
  • Pay your invoices online
With one click, all of these, and many more, convenient labor-saving devices are available to your customers 24/7 — whether you are in the office or not. Imagine the freedom and cost effective efficiency this offers you:
  • Helps eliminate order-taking errors
  • Diminishes phone calls
  • Pod’s are automatically sent to you by email when delivery is confirmed
  • Eliminates collecting and organizing waybills for invoicing and driver pay by preparing the printed invoices online
Why dim the lights on your business when you leave your office at the end of the day? Let Courier Connex’s automated online service direct a stream of prepared orders to your web site, day and night. Wake up with a head start on your day – and on the competition.Isn’t courier service all about fast and efficient delivery? To find out how we deliver, click on our Free Trial offer now and take advantage of our 35% discount offer over the next six months, and our money-back unconditionally guaranteed, Courier Connex direct connect system.
Check out our Testimonials Page and read what dozens of delighted real life customers have to say about our service. Unsolicited.Pay nothing to test-drive our full version, fully automated direct connect ordering service Free Trial for 30 days. Click on our Free Trial offer now. Remember you have nothing to lose – except perhaps FedEx. UPS and DHL.When it comes to your customer care – let us be your only choice.
******************************************Man of the Arts.
Karl Schutz enjoys the view from his cliff-top home

This  is not a story about murals or revitalizing a town on the skids.It is a story about a courageous, dynamic man who dared to dream bold dreams, and had the passion and the tenacity to bring them to reality. Although Chemainus’s Karl Schutz is not one to blow his own trumpet, his name is well known not only on Vancouver Island but in many centers around the world, and will be forever linked with the Murals Project in Chemainus, and the prosperity it brought to the once dilapidated saw-mill town.For two decades, this “romantic with a dream,” has been described as a visionary and a futurist. What then of the man behind the dream?When you first meet Karl Schutz  his exuberance envelops you and draws you into his creative world.  Sitting in his rustic woodland chalet, perched on a precipice 240 feet above the Chemainus River, the walls of his office festooned with awards, paintings, and pegged documents dangling  in rows like clothes on a line, Schutz is incredulous at the notion of retiring and taking up a hobby.“My hobby is what I’m doing.” he says.   I don’t fish or golf. I expend  all my energies on the project I’m working on — 110 per cent.   For years now I’ve been planning a new project.   “Already people are saying: ‘This time, you have bitten off more than you can handle”.<<< story clipped for preview>>> I interviewed acclaimed wild life painter and member of the Arts & Cultural Accord, Robert Bateman. He says:  “We have a long way to go here in the appreciation of the arts at the local level.  My heart is very, very heavy these days with what the provincial government is doing. Every aspect of our society is being chain-sawed by thoughtless people.Bateman spent some time in Germany in the ‘eighties and was charmed by the string quartets and Bach choral groups which played in towns and villages throughout the country.  “There were constant cultural events and concerts going on in every town and village, which were government supported,  or they would never have happened.  It immeasurably helped the economy and raised the quality of life of the people there.“I always judge the people involved by their hearts — is their heart in the right place?That is why I strongly support Karl Schutz and his Arts & Cultural Accord, because his heart is definitely in the right place — and he has the right philosophy.”


Curriculum Vitae

Alastair Barnett has written hundreds of CV’s and Resumes. He has completed professional resumes for graduating class of Dental Hygienists at Camosun College. His portfolio includes Curriculum Vitea for doctors, and numerous trades and professions. 
The Fort Victoria Buzz Newsletter.Fort Victoria “Buzz” Christmas Edition Newsletter: designed, edited and published by Alastair Barnett ©

Spirit of the Lady Rose by Alastair Barnett © 2008The Lady Rose: I strongly recommend this day trip from Port Alberni to Bamfield, BC.
Tearing northward along the Island Highway at four-thirty in the morning is not what I’d consider the ideal way to start a day; but on this particular occasion I had a rendezvous with a lady which required my arrival in Port Alberni at eight o’clock sharp.
Driving through Ladysmith, I caught a glimpse of the sunrise over the eastern horizon.  Only then did my body forgive me for dragging it from beneath the covers at such an hour.  From that moment, my world  ─  spread before me in the bright early morning sunshine ─ was magnificent.
A day trip to Bamfield aboard the Packet Steamer, The Lady Rose is a ‘must do’ adventure on visit to Vancouver Island.Arriving in Port Alberni at seven-thirty, I parked my car and hurriedly walked one block along Argyle street.  I turned sharply onto the Argyle Pier, and there she was ─ waiting ─  the M.V. Lady Rose.A group of about forty passengers had gathered, and soon we were welcomed aboard by our recently married young skipper, Captain Raif Moss.  With a resounding blast of the whistle, we cast off and he deftly manoeuvred the sturdy little ship from the harbour out toward the Pacific Ocean.
She was launched as the Lady Sylvia at A & J. Inglis’s Pointhouse Shipyard on March 17, 1937, and set off on her trans-Atlantic voyage on May 7th. 1937.  On her arrival in Canada, after a harrowing Atlantic crossing, Captain William E. Smales of Leeds, who affectionately became known as “Old make it or bust,” wrote in the ship’s log.  “Sunday, 11th. July, 5:30 a.m. Vancouver  thank God!”It was discovered that a Lady Sylvia already plied the local waters, so the valiant, battered little Scottish ship was renamed the Lady Rose.  (For a comprehensive history, see Rob Morris’s book, Coasters). <<< story clipped for preview>>>
After an absence of ten years, Holtkamp returned from Southern Ontario, to the Lady Rose this year.  He and wife Karey enjoy canoeing, skiing and living on the West Coast. The only change I might consider on my next trip on “the Rose,” would be to try the Timberwood Package Tour which allows one night’s stay in Port Alberni on the eve of the voyage and another immediately after.  Thus eliminating the 5-6 hour driving time from and to Victoria, all in one day.As I navigated the Malahat on the final leg of my journey home, the first breath of autumn chilled the evening air: to the west, the Sooke Hills lay silhouetted blue against a lemon-yellow sky, and I reflected on the day.  The words of SPB Mais in his book, The Happiest Days of My Life, echoed:”This was perfection ─ and it tore at my heart.”Bon Voyage… ************************************************************************************** 

Classic Chemainus Christmas. © Alastair Barnett 2008
Left: Cheaminus Christmas (Sponsored by Chemainus Chamber of Commerce:It’s Christmas. Long lines of frantic shoppers at the supermarket check-out counters;  jammed parking lots, harassed families scrambling for that last minute gift.  With stress levels soaring,  many wish it was all over for another year.But not me — not this year. It’s been a year of uncertainty for us all and after all, isn’t Christmas about peace and goodwill?I set out on a quest to find some. Heading north on the Island Highway from Victoria,  I turned right onto the coast road just beyond Duncan toward Chemainus. I’ve enjoyed exploring Chemainus over several summers but this would be my first winter visit.Sheltered on the East Coast of Vancouver Island,  Chemainus is a one hour drive from Victoria by car or bus,  or alternatively, a spectacular train-ride on the E&N “Railiner,”  which passes over high trestles through some of the most magnificent scenery in Canada.It was late afternoon when I  pulled up to the Castlebury Inn, in the old town’s, Maple Street.In 1981 with the demise of its local forest industry,  Chemainus,  known strictly as a “mill town,” was becoming dilapidated and little hope was held out for its economic future.  But a local businessman,  Karl Schutz, a visionary but mostly a romantic, had a dream for his hometown. He traveled extensively throughout Europe, searching,  and returned with a plan. Soon the plan was implemented and with the support of local council, and the assistance of a grant from the Province Wide Redevelopment Fund, he  attracted well-known artists to the area, who went to work literally, painting the town. With views of Mainland Mountains, and surrounded by forest trails,  this thriving seaside village boasts a world renowned collection of thirty-five outdoor murals, depicting it’s colorful history and has become home to  artists, poets, sculptors, potters and writers who have found it’s lush, serene surroundings conducive to their artistic creativity.Today,  “The Little Town That Did” is a tourist Mecca attracting in excess of 450, 000  tourists annually. At the local tourist office, I met Heather McLeod who has headed up the Chamber of Commerce for the past six months.  Enthusiastically, Heather has pulled out all the stops for this year’s Christmas festivities.  Several events have been planned, kicking off with the  “Classic Christmas in Chemainus,”  on November 28th. The idea here is,  you shop in Chemainus anytime from November 25th, to December 28th., and you could be the winner of a very classy 1988 Jaguar automobile.  The “key turning,” takes place on January 4th., and although the venue has not yet been established, it’s a reasonable bet that the gala event will take place outside the  theater, hopefully with the beautiful people from the cast in attendance. No visit to Chemainus would be complete without a visit to the theater, so although pressed for time,  I attended the matinee performance,  “It’s a Wonderful Life, ”   This musical adaptation of ….a holiday classic,  was presented with panache and the whimsical melody,  “Four Walls and a Ceiling,” sung by several members of the cast was particularly appealing.Had it not been for the substantial breakfast I’d enjoyed earlier, I would have partaken of the sumptuous buffet lunch served prior to the show.  Theater Manager, Kathleen De Rosa emphasizes that unlike a “dinner-theater,” where the meal is served during the performance,  the buffet at the Chemainus Theater, both lunch and dinner,  is served in the elegant dining room prior to show time. <<<story clipped for preview>>>
Packed with quaint shops, antique malls, restaurants,  a professional theater, delightful accommodations  and a “haunted” pub, ( all within walking distance), and rush hour is unheard of, no traffic lights and free parking, I’d say Chemainus qualifies as a shoppers paradise.Whatever preconceived notion I had that the phrase “romantic hideaway,” was nothing more than a hackneyed cliche, dissipated as I entered the portals of my very own — at least for one night — self contained replica Mediaeval castle, Castlebury Inn.  A castle with every modern amenity including a canopy bed, VCR, huge onyx tub, and fireplaces.After a satisfying and reasonably priced dinner of piping hot chicken gumbo and chicken with shrimps, at nearby Skallywag’s restaurant, a brisk walk brought me back to the castle where from  the warmth of a deep bath I watched firelight flickering on the walls and listened to the muted sounds of the harp and flute and Christmas carols heralding the festive season. This was he peace I craved.Promptly at 8:15 AM. breakfast arrived at the castle door. Not your standard mediaeval bacon and eggs on toast served for breakfast in this castle, but a basket brimming with ginger-spiced baked pears stuffed  with cream cheese and crushed raspberries followed by an amazing “Breakfast Wrap,” which envelopes a sensational concoction of herbed eggs, asparagus and smoked lox salmon, all glazed with Gruyere, and sprinkled with edible flowers and sprigs of herb.   Add to this, warm croissants topped with lavender jelly and a dollop of lemon creme fraiche,  and you know you’re having breakfast in Camelot.Not only was this an irresistible feast for the palate,  but a unique photo opportunity;  never before have I been inspired to photograph my breakfast. I spent some time with Virginia Blatchford who with her husband Larry, runs the Castlebury Inn along with the adjacent, Bird Song B&B.I left with the feeling that Virginia doesn’t run a business so much as she shares her cherished lifestyle friends.   A visit to her remarkable Bird Song B&B is a must when visiting the town.  Her husband plays the piano at breakfast and, if you’re really lucky — and she has the time — you might hear Virginia play the harp after dinner.                                      **************************