Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Kinsol Trestle

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day so we went to play outside. We decided to drive to the Kinsol Trestle. Located just north of Shawnigan Lake, the trestle is the largest in the Commonwealth measuring 44 meters high and 187 meters long. The trestle was part of the railway built in 1911 by the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, and was used to transport timber from Vancouver Island. When the lumber industry took a beating in the 1970s the railway line was abandoned and the trestle was left to rot. The last train crossed the trestle in 1979.

In 2007 a campaign was started to save the trestle. Money was donated by many generous people and the Provincial Government also kicked in a few bucks. The trestle re-opened in 2011 and is now, once again, in use by many people on a daily basis. The structure is amazing and well worth a visit. It is open to hikers, bikers and equestrians.

The Kinsol Trestle is part of the Cowichan Valley Trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail. The Trans Canada Trail will be the world's longest when completed. It will cross the entire country from east to west to north, at this time some 24000 kilometres have been completed...

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The house is getting homier

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas we got into a bit of a slow down. There had been so much on the go in the last three months that we suddenly felt like some time to recuperate. We slowed down and got onto "Island Time". There is no rush to get things done in the next few days. So we got a bit lazy and relaxed, but in the meantime we were discussing where some of our wall decorations could find a new home. We also had a wonderful visit with our friends Victor and Shirley who were visiting family in the valley for Christmas. We lived just 20 minutes apart on the mainland and never got together much, but here we are on the island and we meet up. Let's hope this will be a new trend.

The view from the great room.

New Year's Eve was quiet and easy. We went into town to walk around and see the lights. Some had already been taken down. Next year we'll do a better job of showing them off as well as the show in Ladysmith, which is amazing. Back home to the comfort of a warm house to count off the last hours of the year. We weren't even sure if we would make it 'till midnight, but we managed it by pouring one more glass of wine. That'll do the trick because we can't spill wine down the sink, we'd rather see blood spilled! Once into January we got serious and started bringing art upstairs from the spare bedroom.

Down town Duncan on New Years Eve.

The master bedroom took on a Venetian look, and the hallway bath room became Parisian. And the great room is taking on a complete character of its own. The wait now is for the furniture we bought in Langford last week. A new sofa and love seat for the living room and a small couch for the den. The current leather sofa and love seat will go down stairs to the media room where it was supposed to go. Delivery is anywhere from three to five weeks from the purchase date, so that is still in the works.

Some furniture choices.

Our new kitchen is working out great. I have had a few days in there cooking up a storm and the freezer is now well stocked with many meals. The turkey carcass yielded an excellent stock that I used for a big pot of pea soup. We have also taken up making our own pizza again, delicious! The new stove does an excellent job with the pizza stone in place and the convection roast setting at 500°F. A pizza cooks in nine minutes! We also made a large batch of wontons and Char Siu pork for our Wor Wonton Soup, along with a batch of Korean spiced meatballs.

Home made pizza, wontons, Wor Wonton Soup and Spicey Korean meatballs with a stirfry on rice.

Last Friday we were in Victoria for a while. Shelagh had an appointment with a specialist so we made a day of it. Found the Dutch store and stocked up on Senseo Coffee and Indonesian spices and had a lovely lunch at Milestones on the harbour front. Delicious food and generous portions. After all that we forgot to use our Milestones gift card that we got a year ago for Christmas. So we will just have to go back sometime.

Honestly, I was smiling here.

A fun day in Victoria and a delicious lunch at Milestones.

We have had a few requests for pictures of the house, but we're not ready to share any yet, patience is a virtue, I will post pictures when the house is all done...

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Our first Island Christmas

December 23rd dawned bright, sunny and cold at -7°C. It is Saturday so we went to the market to get some more snacks and things for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Chris will be here tonight and we want to be ready. We bought a Dutch almond cake, but struck out on the other things on our list. This can happen at the Saturday Market where the same products are not always available. So we went on to the Old Farmers Market on the Trans Canada Highway for some veggies and to the super market for some more snack food.

Then Shelagh helped me find her a Christmas present. I tend to buy her things that don't work out, so she gets to pick, then I buy and wrap, then on Christmas morning she opens her presents and acts surprised! Everybody wins...

The new kitchen, ready for its first workout...

We got home and settled in to a couple of episodes of "Suits" on Netflix. A great series that we started watching a couple of weeks ago at our air B&B. We had just finished the second show when the phone rang. It was Chris, he was in Duncan quite a bit earlier than expected. He managed to re-schedule his ferry reservation. He was at the local Jysk store where he bought an air mattress, as ordered, and wanted an escort to the house from the store because his "smart" phone would not boot up google maps! All too happy to oblige we headed out to the store to learn that his car would not start! As it turned out the car ran out of gas just as he turned off the ignition... At 35 years old one would expect a person not to run out of gas... But as I recall I married ex wife number two at that age, so no harm done!!! We went to the local gas station and got a jerry can full, juiced up his car and the whole thing became history pretty quickly. We had a wonderful evening with Chilli con Carne for dinner and some wine and beer. Chris was tired from a heavy Christmas dinner party with the Seaforth Highlanders Armoury the night before, so after dinner and a beer he called it a night and became our first house guest. On Sunday we took him on a tour of the surrounding area.

Sunday dawned overcast but not snowing. Shelagh prepared a delicious breakfast of ham and eggs baked in a muffin tin with some cheese, parsley and Hollandaise sauce. For someone who hates to cook, she did great. After some coffee and tea we headed out the door to show Chris the coastline of the Cowichan Valley. Starting in Mill Bay then northbound through Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay, Crofton, Chemainus and Ladysmith. He understood right away why we chose this valley as our new home. It being Christmas eve day most of the towns were quiet and most shops closed, but it was still wonderful to see the towns. We came home and I made some ham and cheese buns for lunch, the rest of the day we spent relaxing before the mayhem of Christmas day was upon us.

These were delicious!

Even on a cold grey day Maple Bay is amazing.

Christmas morning came lazily, we slept in 'till 08:00 and we waited with coffee for Chris to get his butt out of bed, he came upstairs at about 09:30 saying that he had been up for ages playing his online game "Destiny 2". Well, bacon and eggs were made, showers were taken and we got into the business of Christmas morning. We relaxed and chatted the morning away. Nobody seemed interested in opening presents, that did not happen 'til the afternoon. After a lunch of snacks and junk food we got into the spirit and ripped the wrapping. We were all properly spoiled.

For Chris five Vimy Ridge commemorative coins and a camping stove, for Shelagh new slippers and for me a solid maple carving board.

Then I got onto the business of cooking dinner. It's not easy for me to cook turkey, I don't like turkey, I find it totally tasteless and boring, but it got done in our new oven which has a probe system to make sure the bird is cooked properly. The instructions for the oven said to insert the probe in the thickest part of the breast, but reality suggests that the thigh would be a better place for temperature monitoring. This is the problem with turkey, when the white meat is perfect the dark meat is under cooked. Next time, if there is one, I will cut the turkey into parts and cook the dark meat longer than the white. Still, dinner was great and there were lots of leftovers.

Boxing day, who came up with that name? We were all a bit done with extravagant breakfasts so Shelagh just cut up some apples and bananas for us to munch on. I got the turkey all cut up for sandwiches and the dark meat went back into the oven to cook some more. Then all the bones went into a large pot to make stock. Eventually that will become a hearty pea soup. We spent the day being lazy. I made turkey sandwiches for lunch. And, then just like that, it was time for Chris to go home. He had a good time here, next time he'll find the house more done up, with pictures on the walls. A job that we will now start in earnest. We had left over turkey dinner, and I must admit that we're both quite turkeyed out. There is still more but it will go into the freezer for another day...

Chris texted at 21:30 "Home now", good boy!

That wrapped up Christmas, not our best or prettiest, but despite the moving chaos it turned out not bad at all. We hope yours was awesome!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

A week without internet

This post is a bit of a tome so pour yourself a glass of wine...

On Tuesday December 12th we met at the house with our builder and our realtor for a final inspection and to create a list of deficiencies. It was so nice to see the house all finished, even bug screens had been installed. Mr. Parhar, the land developer and builder, gave us an organized tour of the house pointing out all the features included in the construction. The house looks wonderful, and only a couple of things needed some adjustment. After we walked through we were told that over time we will find that certain things can do with some tweaking and we were to let him know right away so things would be to our complete satisfaction. Everybody at the Parhar Group has been very helpful with our questions and concerns over the last two months finalizing this construction.

The Somenos Marsh is a great place to take some time out and look at the wild life...

We went back to our B&B feeling completely content in the knowledge that this would be our best home ever! Our notary public informed us that all the paperwork was in place and there was no need to do any more checking around and the final monies could be paid out to the builder. We gave the go ahead and the next day we were informed by David, our realtor, that possession had been granted a day early. We went to the house and were given the keys. This came as a great surprise, and it was so much appreciated because we had quite a few balls to juggle. We took over a car load of artwork from the B&B and started shifting things over bit by bit. We bought a vacuum cleaner and started a deep clean of the carpets and floors, also the walls and window frames were given a good going over. There is always a lot of dust with new construction, this will continue for a while and is to be expected. Besides, the house isn't clean until Shelagh says it is!

Our Cube-It was delivered on time and we found it in perfect condition.

With the help of Sherri, the customer service representative at the Parhar group, we were able to hire a plumber and a gas fitter to hook up our kitchen. We were also provided with a phone number to a company that supplies labourers by the hour. We needed somebody to help us unload our container. Trevor came over on Saturday at 10:00 for four hours to help us unload and disperse our belongings throughout the house as we saw fit. He has worked as a professional mover for 13 years and can maneuver a piece of furniture through the house with great precision. His help was paramount in getting our furniture moved in efficiently. Within two hours the cube was empty and we were ready to shuffle some stuff into place. After that he helped me with the assembly of some of my IKEA Sten shelving in the garage so that I could get this space organized. By 13:15 I said so long to Trevor and we gave him a generous tip for his efforts. I could now concentrate on getting the garage in shape so the car can be out of the elements.

Meanwhile Shelagh went off to the Saturday market and stocked up on some of the things we have become quite fond of, sausages and meat pies etc. She also got our cell phone topped up. Once that was accomplished she got busy emptying boxes of kitchen stuff and got the cupboards and drawers organized. The kitchen will go through a few changes over time while she fine tunes the location of everything. So far it all looks very good with all my cooking stuff in places that make perfect sense. Bedtime was upon us and sleep came easy...

Sunday morning dawned with a slight nasal congestion and the fear of a cold setting in... Too much stress, we must take more breaks and slow down a bit, we are not young puppies anymore. After coffee and breakfast we got started unpacking some boxes. Soon I felt that Shelagh was more in control of this part, so I went to the basement to get the wine room sorted. I built the IKEA "Sten" shelves (bought these some 25 years ago) and got the room organized. The new wine room, or the cave as I like to call it, is much bigger than the previous one and I now have room for a large work surface to do my thing. Sadly I do not have a sink, or the possibility of installing one, so that will take a little getting used to. The downstairs bathroom will suffice. In the afternoon I got three wines started without any problem. So life is good. We went to the market and stocked up on veggies, then put our feet up and relaxed...

On Monday the unpacking continued. At times it became a bit overwhelming, so much stuff! We had sold off and donated a lot of things, but still the knick knacks and travel souvenirs kept coming. We have a very large closet in the basement where some of these things will have to be stored for the time being. Then, after six months or so, we will take a look at what has not yet found a new home and get rid of that. Late morning the Cube-it truck showed up and loaded the empty container and drove off. There was nothing to sign or do...

We made a trip to the municipal hall of North Cowichan to get some answers to questions like garbage and recycling pick up dates, property tax payment options and the like. A very helpful lady gave us printed copies of all the info we needed. We can now get rid of a pile of styrofoam packaging that surrounded our appliances. And a lot of cardboard, newsprint and plastic.

On Tuesday morning Shelagh was out of bed first, went to the window and said, "Oh my goodness! Peter take a look at this!" I got up and looked out to see five inches of snow on the ground and more coming down. We'll have a "Snow Day" and stay at home. Lots to do here... At about noon the snow turned to rain it became a typical west coast slush fest. When the rain became serious we went out to run some errands, the fridge was empty and that's not good. We also stopped at the Thunderbird Motel to check our e-mails etc. Our iPads still know their wifi password so that worked out well. This is when we noticed that our old Telus ISP was still billing us for service to the old house, so off we went to the local Telus store to have that problem solved. Nothing but excitement. Shelagh has been on the phone at length with Telus, mostly on hold, to close the old account, they are incredibly unorganized, the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing... Then to the store for a small grocery shop, some chicken, broccoli and mayo... (A life lived without mayo is a life half lived). And to the liquor store to buy some wine. I made a nice chicken curry with broccoli and rice and we have left overs for another dinner.

Wednesday started at 07:15. We had to be ready for a carpenter to install the mirror for the downstairs bathroom, two weeks earlier he had broken the original one. He was done in no time and as he was preparing to leave I asked him if he knew an electrician. He did, and he called his friend who would be able to hook up our dishwasher late afternoon the same day, we now have a dishwasher before Christmas! We will have him come back some day to install some dimmer switches etc.

We had a day of running errands and got some bills paid, then out for a nice lunch at our favourite pizza place, "Pizza Prima Strada" in Cobble Hill. We had some meatballs from the antipasti menu and ordered a spicy pizza, delicious, Shelagh has left overs… When we got back home I got busy downstairs to assemble our home theatre system. We bought new speaker cables, a slightly heavier gauge, to carry the sound better. Our old speakers still pack a punch! Shelagh got her closet reorganized with some new portable storage units. Slowly but surely the place is taking shape... 

Thursday up at the unChristian hour of 06:15 to be ready for Adrian, the Telus wifi installer. We showed him where I had set-up the televisions and after some chin scratching he went to work. We heard some sawing noises and goings on, but left him alone to do his thing. Not even two hours later he was done and ready to show us the set-up. Everything was in place. He set us up with new components and we are now on the latest and greatest fibre optic system available. The internet connection is blazing fast. We are happy campers. I made a simple lunch of tomato soup and crackers with cheese, and now we're off to do a major grocery shop.