Friday, December 31, 2010


Hi Everyone,

I have been very busy uploading photo's onto the Blog. I have got photos of my Vancouver trip right up to Christmas. I will be uploading more throughout tonight. Last night I went to the Butchart Gardens. I will be creating a new post on this memorable experience. Enjoy the photos. I have taken over 400 already.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Craig Darroch Castle

In Victoria British Columbia there are a lot of historic buildings. On Monday my cousins took me to Craig Darroch castle. It is a beautiful building inside and out. In the foyer areas there mountain goat heads and deer heads on the wall. The castle was built for Robert Dunsmuir who was Scottish and who work in the coal industry in Vancouver. The ceilings in the foyer areas were mahogany wood. The rest of the ceilings were painted. In one of the rooms there was a hand painted ceiling. This was only discovered when they were doing some restoration work on the castle. There were four flights of stairs that had to climb up. On most of the levels there were bedrooms that belonged to Dunsmuir family members. There were other rooms as well such as the Billiards room, Dining Rooms, breakfast dining room, the ball room, and the servants/maids head quarters. The maid's room had the bear essentials and they had their narrow little stair case to attend the Dunsmuir family needs.

At the top level of the castle there was music playing in keeping of the era of the castle. There was a harpsichord playing and I think there was a stringed instrument of some sort playing. I was most intrigued with the harpsichord as I had never seen one before.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas lights

The other nights my uncle took me around to see the Christmas lights on the houses. They were incredible with the amount of effort people put in to spread the Christmas round. There were blown up snow men with lights inside them, lighting displays in the shape of reindeer, sleighs, Santa's etc. It was quite magical. I have to say that celebrating in the Northern hemisphere is very special and I would totally recommend it. The houses that we saw with the lights were in specific areas. Due the recession and cost of power not everyone has lights on their houses. There has been a decrease over the years.
While we were out looking at the lights we saw three racoons. They are the size of a large cat. They have cute faces and lovely markings, but they can kill household pets such as cats and small dogs. Cats have to stay inside and are house bound. Cats in New Zealand just don't know how lucky they are. I tried taking a picture of these racoons but by the time I lined up my camera they had ran away.

Monday, December 27, 2010

High tea at the Empress Hotel

On Boxing Day I took my Aunty and my cousin to have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. It is one of those must do's when you visit Victoria. The Empress Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria and is a well known landmark in calendars, postcards, etc. It is beautiful inside kept down to the original colours and archecture. It was built in 1908. We started our journey looking at around 100 Christmas Trees all individually decorated and sponsored by organizations. These trees were themed very differently. An example was of a furniture company putting lounge suites decorations onto their tree or the building company dying screw drivers and concrete trucks onto their tree. It was simply amazing I had never seen anything like it before.
After this we had high tea. The High Tea consisted of three plates on a stand. The first stand consisted of sandwiches. The sandwiches were: a mini crossant with egg, a mushroom pate sandwich, a salmon pinwheel, mango chicken curry sandwhich, carrot and cream cheese sandwich. The second plate were three raisin scones (one for each of us). There was English strawberry jam and cream. The third plate consisted of cake. The cakes were mainly Christmas themed cakes: minced tart, Christmas cake, a mazipan cake, a sugar cookie, a very rich chocolate and a candy cane each. We all had one each of the food. It was delicious and for miniature sized portions you felt really full. In total it would have cost $182 Canadian but as my Aunty had a friends of the Empress we got 20 per cent discount which cut the bill down to $147. I didn't think it was too bad considering the food that we got and the environment. It's not something that I don't do it
every day. It will be a very fond memory for years to come. I took lots of photos as well. I'm hoping just before I go to Orlando I aim to get my photographs put onto Cd ROM. The looks a bit boring without photos. I also bought my Swiss watch that I saw the other night at the Bay Centre. I got 15 percent discount and paid $170 meaning I didn't have to pay any additional taxes. I also got a Swiss army knife thrown in as well. This will definitely be packed in the suitcase from now on.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Greetings from Victoria

Hi Everyone,
Today it is Boxing Day here in Canada. Yesterday I had Christmas Day with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Before breakfast my cousin Chris came round with his girl friend Terri. We opened our presents in our stockings before breakfast. It was very fun opening up cute little gifts. After this we had pancakes for breakfast. My uncle made them and they were light and fluffy. I put some canadian maple syrup on them. We also had breakfast sausages served up with the pancakes. It was great celebrating Christmas on the other side of world.

Yesterday afternoon my uncle took me round the Esquaimalt walk way from Hit St. We walked around the harbour of Victoria. It was about an 8-10km walk. The weather was about 10 degrees celcius. This was better than what I had expected. We walked past these flash apartments over looking the harbour. Million dollar properties. While we were out my Aunt and my cousin were getting everything organized with the Christmas Dinner. We had turkey, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, carrots, yam potatoes, gravy, home made cranberry sauce, plum pudding and banana cream pie. The food was divine. Nine friends and family members turned up. It was great and they loved listening to my kiwi accent. I had quite a few eggnog drinks.

After dinner we played a game called Up Jenkins where we had to pass a coin along underneath the table. People on the other side of the table had to guess who had the coin. Then after this we played Cranium a game that includes shirades, spelling, model making, acting, etc.
I did well playing this game and guessing who the characters were and general knowledge. Overall a fun Christmas night.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Greetings from Victoria

Hi Everyone,
It is Christmas Eve and we are getting ourselves prepared for the big day Christmas Day. There will be ten of us that will be having Christmas Dinner with us tomorrow. A bit different from home. Today I helped my Aunty Lois peel the potatoes, cut the carrots, onions and celery. I also diced up the bread for the stuffing. Mum you will be pleased!!! The kitchen was big enough and we had separate work areas. Today I got to try a raw cranberry. It tasted very tart and needed a lot of sugar. Tomorrow we are going to have a roast turkey with the trimmings. I'm looking forward to this. I'm also going to try out Banana Cream Pie which I think is a Northern Hemisphere dessert. My aunty has made the cranberry sauce and these delicious chocolate and walnut cookies. The kitchen smells really good at the moment. Shortbread is being made at the moment.
Yesterday we went to Nanaimo to see my second cousin Penny. It was great seeing her. I also met her niece Debbie (David's daughter) who would be a third cousin down the ranks. I'm not entirely sure how it works. She is a tutor in office management at the College / Polytechnic at Fort St James-along way from the Island.
On the way to Nanaimo we stopped at A & W a fifties diner that specialised in burgers. These burgers were very nice. Mum you might have remembered this: A & W as they had a lot of pictures of the 1950's and with the drive thru the staff would physically go out to your car and give you your food, rather than passing it through a window. It was quite unique during it's time, and the mascot was a bear-like the Hudson Cookie Bear. At the A & W I got to try Root Beer. I initially thought it was alcoholic and made a bit of a prat out of myself when I asked the girl whether it was alcoholic. I thought after the night before it was a little early to have alcohol at 11:00am. Also it would be a little weird if they promoted beer with their burger combo's at a family restaurant. It wasn't alcoholic but it had an interesting taste. It tasted like tooth paste / dental floss. A bit like a dental clinic had a smell of it's own but it was very frothy as if it was real beer. I got use to the flavour after a while. I'm not sure whether we have root beer down under.

Last night we played Trivial Pursuit. I wasn't very good at it, especially around answering questions on American presidents, athletes. I was ok at entertainment and leisure. It was great fun and it tested out the brain. We were in teams and so my Uncle was fantastic at answering questions on history, arts and literature and geography. Well that's all of the news I have at the moment.
Another thing that I did today was walk with my uncle along Willows Beach. The houses around the Oak Bay area are beautiful. We also drove up to Mt Tomie that looks out over Victoria. It is simply amazing to see mountains across that are part of the USA. We also drove past Government House, where the Queen stays when she is in Victoria. We also drove to where the Cruise Ships dock when they are in Victoria. I am having a fabulous time here in Victoria and the family have been very good to me. On Saturday Ann, Lois and myself are going to have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel-a landmark and must do in Victoria. I am also going to buy a Swiss watch at the Bay Centre, with the actual swiss logo. The company that makes the Swiss Army Knives. These watches are of very good quality and are meant to last a life time. It is $170.00 at the moment but I am going to wait until the Boxing Day sales, I may get it slightly cheaper. It has a leather strap and has the date built in. It is analogue and looks very hard weating, heavy duty. My watch that I've had since high school cause a blister at the end of my thumb when I tried getting the date changed upon my arrival to Vancouver. Winding the date forwards has died and so I have to physically wind the watch throughout a 31 day day calendar-bugger that. Time for a new one, excuse the pun :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Greetings from Victoria

Hi everyone, I am now in Victoria- my mother's birth place staying at her brother's place. I managed to get off the ferry in Swartz Bay ok. Last time I got off in down town Victoria. There was a lady who had been there before and she was able to show me. I sat with her and another lady on the ferry. They were very friendly and we talked and talked.
Last night I went out with my cousin Ann and we met her brother Chris and his girl friend Terri. We had dinner at the pub and then Chris took us to his naval base. We went inside a submarine that was in dock and he showed us the the beautiful Christmas lights on the ships. After this we went to the Penny Farthing pub in Oak Bay. I was sipping cocktails for the rest of the night. I had this cranberry and raspberry liquer cocktail and as I wasn't driving I made the most of my time. Need I say more, LOL. At the moment I'm not feeling too bad I probably won't do counted cross stitch until a couple of hours. Today I am off to Nanaimo to see my second cousin Penny. Looking forward to seeing her.

Today it is Thursday December 23rd 8:29am pacific standard time.
In New Zealand it is Friday December 24th 5:29am. My iPod touch is set in New Zealand time so I can do the comparing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thanks Everyone

Thanks everyone for your comments and emails.
Hi Jay, how are you? How's the fracture? Are you wearing the moon boot? The Ipod touch is great for travelling. It is a pocket sized computer that you can send emails to people while you are overseas. It's great. Vancouver is so switched on with technology especially wireless Internet in cafes for free. I am typing this while I am on the ferry to my mother's birth place. I'm not sure why I'm missing words out in my writing. I think it's because I've gotten out of bed first thing in the morning. Classic excuse will correct my sentences when I get to Victoria.

Thanks Jenny for leaving comments on the blog. Won't be long until you're in Hong Kong. Have a great time and get lots of R and R.

Hi Mum and Dad I'm on the ferry to Victoria. Thanks for your emails I have been reading them. I am loved my time in Vancouver. Last night I went posh with food and went the restaurant two doors up. I was starting to get a little tired of fried and heavy foods. So I made the decision to have some home style type meals. I had these tender lamb cutlets in a wine sauce with a potato gratin and some beans. It. Cost around $42 with the lemonade included. It was nice to have a change I wonder whether the lamb came from New Zealand, probably followed me here. I bought some cherries at the Granville Market for Ken and Lois for Christmas. Cell phone was cheap but probably need some help to unlock it when I get to the US but it can be done online or when I buy my. Sim card in the USA I can make inquiries.

Thanks Raewyn for your comment I'm having a wonderful time and I'm enjoying the Canadian hospitality and the Christmas spirit over here.

Look forward to seeing you soon Ann.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Greetings from Vancouver

Hi everyone, today I head to Vancouver Island to see my relatives. This is where I will be spending Christmas. I have to be be at the bus depot by 9:45am so I can get the bus to take me to Twassen and then the ferry to take me to Vancouver island. It takes one and a half hours to get to Schwartz Bay where will be meeting my aunt and uncle.

Yesterday was a real adventure. At Grouse mountain there was heaps of snow. I went on a snow mobile which some of chair with skis on it and a guide to push you up and then go down hill. It was really cool. They wrapped you up in blankets and then seat belted you in. I didn't have to do any work just to sit back and relax while the guide pushed me up hill. At the Capilano Suspension Bridge it was magical with all these Christmas lights. I've never seen anything like it before. I took lots of photos. It appears the light bulbs are much bigger here than at home. I got my new cellphone yesterday. It was $65 and I paid $30 for some credits. Local calls on it cost 15 cents a minute and long distance calls cost 30 cents a minute. When I get to the USA I have to get a new sim card and go onto the nokia website and unlock it. I think it is locked for Canada settings. Has anyone downunder done this before? Must go and check out of the hotel.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Greetings from Vancouver

Hi everyone, I'm at favourite wireless cafe Blenz in downtown Vancouver on Robson at. Today I thought I would buy a cell phone for when I'm and if it works in the USA even better. I looked in the Yellow pages last night and found some outlets that are on the same street as my hotel, which is very handy. At 11:00am I am off on my tour to Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. At the Capilano suspension Bridge I read there will be 300000 surrounding it. I'm looking forward to seeing it. On Grouse Mountain they will be offering sleigh rides with real reindeer. Last night when I went to dinner I couldn't help noticing how beautiful the street lights were on Robson St. I took some photos. Well I must finish got to finish my yoghurt parfeit of muesli and berries. Not into large portioned fried breakfasts here. One I've noticed is that there has been a decrease of the number of homeless people on Robson St they have mainly congregated around China Town and the back streets of Gas Town. Spotted this yesterday when I was on my tour. I've noticed a lot of tourists here in Vancouver it definitely a happening place.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Greetings from Vancouver

Hi everyone, I am just loving my time in Vancouver. Everyone is just so friendly. Today I did a city tour. It was a conducted tour and there were only two of us on the tour me and this Englishman who was about my age. We went to Stanley park, to the Granville Markets,to an indoor plant conservatory with beautiful Christmas lights. I've never seen anything like it. Mum and Dad you would like it, very nice poinsettas. Tomorrow I am doing a day tour to the capilano suspension bridge and to Grouse Mountain. I did this last time when I was here, but this time there are Christmas lights and it is Christmas themed. There's snow up on the mountain and they give you snow boots and they have an ice skating pad so you can skate-pretty cool. Central heating is an interesting experience when I got in from dinner last night I felt cold in my hotel room so I turned on the little element heater. There was a boiler heater at the wall and half of it was a little warm so I went down to the reception to inquire about the wall heater. The guy came up but seemed he didn't know what the problem was. So I went to bed in my thermals and it wasn't until a couple of hours I was boiling. All shops are beautifully warm and cost. There is a nice restaurant wine bar two doors up from where I'm staying.

Facts from my tour

1 bedroom apartments cost half a millions dollars in downtown Vancouver.
They have laws for couples with children who own apartments in downtown. A child must have their own room at the age of 12, no sharing allowed.
The movie Jumanji was filmed at Shaughnessy heights, I went past the brick house.
On Robson St alone there are 16 Star Bucks coffee places-very popular here.
Yaletown is where Michael Buble -singer lives. Went past his apartment.

Just by observation every taxi I see is a Hybrid.
Christmas is all around cafes, restaurants, shops play Christmas music.
Gets light between 7:30-8:00am and gets dark at 4:30-5:00pm.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hello from Vancouver

Hi Everyone, just to let you I have arrived to Vancouver safely. Enjoying a hot chocolate at cafe that wireless Internet. Plane was good didn't much sleep. Sat next to a lady who was Canadian and she was married to a kiwi bloke. I immediately thought of my mother. She also came from Vancouver Island. On the plane they had a consiege who was able to answer any questions we had on Vancouver. He gave pamphlets and I was able to find out what time it gets dark here. It gets dark around 4:30pm. The taxi ride from the airport was reasonable and we travelled some distance only $35. Plus I gave him a $5 tip. When I got to the hotel my room was ready. So far everyone has been very friendly. Today there are blue skies, no rain and about 7 degrees. More like Christchurch weather starting to get cold now 3pm polar. Fleece and polyprops will come in very handy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Test run using my iPod Touch

Hi all I am doing a test run using my Ipod Touch. I am leaving to go to the airport at 5pm. All seems to be working on here. Look forward to creating a new post in Vancouver.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The week before my holiday

Welcome to my holiday blog. This blog will be used to keep in touch with family and friends, and to let them know that I'm safe and well during my travels. It will also be used more for presenting new knowledge that I have gained on the places I visit. I love reading those did you know facts about places, foods, cultures, shops, etc. This blog will be like a virtual travel diary.

The song that comes into my head when I think about New Zealand holidays are from Cliff Richard's Lyrics: We're all going on a summer holiday, no more work to do for a week or two. Not quite this year. I am escaping from our New Zealand summer and will be having my first Northern Hemisphere Christmas in Canada with my relatives. I am so looking forward to it. I am in the count down mode. I have 5 more school days left. On Friday December 17th at 2:00pm we will be knocking off for the year at school. This weekend I have started to pack. It will be a wardrobe of summer and winter clothes. I think the USA and Canadian postal services will be well and truly utilized, for sending goods back to New Zealand.