A Very British Tea

This afternoon I attended a surprise (de)parting party for a friend who is relocating continents. The invitation will give you a sense of the festivities.

The table was set for the quintessential English tea with all the requisite savories and sweets, a number of which had not yet been placed on the table when these photos were taken.

And because the invitation said "Mad Hatter" I had no recourse but to wear this lovely pink hat that was my Mom's, and for which I have long been wondering if I would ever have an occasion to don! Tickled to have this hat in a photo to include in the Style Crone's July Hat Attack.

Thanks to Jamie for the pictures on our front steps, and for admonishing me to "don't just stand there, move!" Apparently I do not mind hamming it up for the camera. ;-) (For a history of the magnificent floral dress check out this post.)


RENEW. Multiple possible meanings and interpretations. Friends (picture posted with their permission) and I renewed our friendship last Saturday, catching up since we last saw each other several weeks ago. Eileen Fisher Renew welcomes the return of items no longer being worn and donates them or turns them into reusable clothing, an ecologically sound and interesting business approach, about which you can read more here. What else to do but renew at Renew!

I was determined to look nice for the outing, switching out of my typical shorts and tee shirt for a nicer looking Land's End Art T-shirt, a Gap polka-dot sweater (I love this sweater because of the polka-dots and the background being a neutral gray, which means I can pair it with patterns or solids, a fun styling approach I learned from Sheila), and new-to-me *hand-me-down incredibly comfortable and soft pants by Ann Taylor Signature. (*A colleague at school gave to another colleague two bags of clothing that she and her daughter were no longer wearing. That colleague kept what she liked and then passed the rest on to me and another colleague.)

The website showed the store opening at 10:00 a.m. though the hours on the storefront stated 11:00 a.m. Off we went around the corner to enjoy a mid-morning snack at red barn bakery, a small gem down the hill from Renew and up the hill from the Irvington Metro North train station. Besides the entry area viewed in the photo below, there is a comfortable seating area up a few steps in the direction from which this photo was taken. We each indulged in a different delight (mine was hot cocoa) and whiled away almost an hour talking about life and family.

With our appetites renewed, we spent about two hours browsing and trying on clothing, and I wound up purchasing three sweaters (one for my daughter-in-law) and two dresses. The green sweater appears to be never worn but with a small snag on the outer side of one sleeve. The label states it is made of Italian yarn. Judging by the state of the other label, the linen rust sweater looks to be gently worn.

Both dresses are mostly rayon with a little lycra. The black dress replaces a longer one I had years ago that was a go-to and perfect for travel. This one is above the knee and can double as a tunic. What makes it interesting is the pleating on the front. 

The orange dress was chosen by my friend (on the right in the photo); she insisted it would be perfect for me. While I liked the color, upper shading effect and back peephole, I was dubious about the length but once it was tried on I loved the look and figured it could be cut down and hemmed to tunic length. The fun twist to that idea was my husband loved it on me, as is! I have a smashing pair of shoes to wear with this dress. Both dresses will wind up back on the blog when they are styled and worn.

There was a particular reason we chose to spend our shopping outing at Renew, as it kept our wallets not exactly renewed but definitely not depleted! Samples were $5 and everything else was $10. This isn't always the pricing; periodically the store offers special pricing events and this was one of them. (This is where it pays to be on their email list, which is how our friend found out about the event.) In addition, there were gently used items as well as never-worn items. Dressing rooms are communal and I enjoyed meeting other women and hearing their stories.

One lovely woman was bemoaning the fact that it is very difficult and frustrating to find stylish, colorful clothing in her size. Another woman was telling us that she stopped wearing a bra years ago and we all agreed with her none-too-positive assessment of the bra industry. I was intrigued that she doesn't wear a bra to work; as a teacher I cannot imagine going braless, though I have spent the bulk of this summer doing just that (and it is SOOOOOO comfortable, especially on hot days!)

Afterwards the friend in the left in the photo, who is quite knowledgable about the area, was eager for us to see the revitalized Irvington waterfront. She led us on a park stroll where, on such a glorious weathered-day as we had, the view of the new Tappan Zee Bridge (renamed the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge after a much loved NY Governor and father of our current Governor) was super! You can see video of the bridge removal process and read about the new bridge here.

The Flavour of Shopping Well

While in Victoria we were treated to a shopping experience at Flavour Upstairs, one of the second-hand clothing shops frequented by Sheila. (More about our wonderful time with Sheila here.) I had asked if she might be able to include a shopping stop along the way, as there is no better second-hand shopping experience than to visit second-hand stores with a pro!

I found this swirly, lined Club Monaco pleated skirt with a wide waist band for (to the best of my recollection) $12 Canadien (about $9 U.S.) The lining has some wear and tear but nothing to prevent a comfortable wearing of the skirt. It is exactly the style I had hoped to find, and in a color that I quite like wearing – a perfect souvenir of our visit with Sheila and our time in Victoria.

While I don't have any particular reason to wear the skirt at the moment, it being smack dab in the middle of the summer when I tend to spend most of my time in shorts and tee shirts, I could not resist attempting a style just for the fun of it this afternoon. The process caused me to return to the front hall closet and retrieve my last few summer tops, mostly saved for the warm fall and the return to school. I found the perfect patterned top and added a pair of green sandals. A little gold jewelry is all that would be needed to dress this up for an outing, along with a gold bag of my Mom's, and a sweater or shawl, but I'll save those accents for another post.

Behind me, in the second photo, is a mass of tomatoes planted by Fred, who also kindly took the pictures!

And so the adventure winds down

Almost three weeks ago we began the last part of our Pacific Northwest adventure. Starting in Vancouver, BC, we drove south towards Seattle, WA. Our initial plan was to spend the day in Seattle, then drive our son back to his home in Olympia before returning north to SeaTac for our overnight flight home. However, our son remarked that it would be a lot of sitting for us and therefore insisted he see if a friend could meet him at the airport. (Thank you to the wonderful roommate who did just that!)

Realizing that we had all been to Seattle, we opted for another adventure to explore areas we had never been. Our Canadien trip began with the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, and concluded with our drive south towards Whidbey Island, complete with an hour's plus wait (!) to drive through customs at the border. None of us had been to the San Juan Islands and our drive south would quench our curiosity. 

No pictures to share, though we did stop for lunch at the Bastion Brewing Company in Anacortes, WA. The meal was okay but the highlight was dining in the taproom where the beer is brewed.

Eventually, after a short ferry ride from Clinton to Mukilteo, we found ourselves back at SeaTac. The return of our Enterprise car rental went as efficiently and speedily as the initial rental process, and we settled in for a final set of fun photos, some of which are below. Yup, we look quite jubilant. Yup, we look well fed. Yup, we look tired. We were all of those plus a bit sad to be parting.

And so this adventure has wound down, but there will be more adventures to come! Our son doesn't know it yet (but he will when he reads this!), we are already contemplating renting a house on Vancouver Island…

Meanwhile, the map Fred first drafted many months ago in the dark of winter when we were starting to dream about this trip, and the cover of Fred's journal, which he drew at the start.


The big red pin marks the start of our day; the red arrows show our multiple destinations…

Our son had numerous places in Vancouver that he wanted to share with us, as this was his second visit to the city. Heading out in the morning for one conservatory we wound up first at VanDusen Botanical Garden where the welcoming message on the entry doors echoed the Museum of Anthropology message of "Everything depends on everything else." that we viewed the day before.

Our destination was the Bloedel Conservatory, located amid the colorful gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park, the "city of Vancouver's highest point." We walked one of the many paths leading uphill to the Conservatory, a domed paradise of flowers, fauna and colorful birds, some the likes of which we had never seen before.

On our way to the next location we stopped at Granville Island, a place Fred had discovered while doing research about Vancouver. This is a vibrant area of activity, blending outdoor entertainment with stores of indigenous arts, the Granville Public Market where vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, desserts, and locally made products such as hats, soaps and jewelry. We lunched in the Market, then sat ourselves outdoors to enjoy a folk singer before wandering through the many shops.

For a taste of what was to come at our final location we drove around Stanley Park and then headed to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for an astonishing bit of walking! First it was the suspension bridge, a 450 foot long bridge that moves and grooves with the people who walk across it, sometimes swaying sideways and sometimes seeming still. I do not remember much of the scenery below us but the scenery around us was striking and we would soon find ourselves up in the magnificent trees!

Traversing the suspension bridge brings its own satisfaction which is enhanced by what comes next: walking the Treetops. Ahh, to be up high among the trees, the air pure, the knees just a tad wobbly! We had no recourse but to cap off our walk with a snack before returning over the suspension bridge to begin our third and final walk.

The Cliffwalk is a marvel of engineering "stretching its way 700 feet along Capilano Canyon." It's also billed as "not for the faint of heart." Both descriptions are one-hundred percent accurate! The photo below barely does it any justice so I highly recommend you view the site's pictures to get some sense of the walk's majesty. Thankfully our son and Fred were both able to enjoy the view in all directions; I was more focused on looking straight ahead (most of the time)!

Our day's outing was capped off by a return to Stanley Park and dinner at The Teahouse in Stanley Park where we savored a salmon dinner as fine as the one we enjoyed at Anthony's Hearthfire Grill in Olympia, WA on the second evening of our Pacific Northwest adventure. Arriving a bit early we took advantage of the waterside paths to stroll the shore and enjoy the scenery. Equally striking, for different reasons, were the oil tankers waiting in the harbor and the open access to a beach, ample and wide cycling and walking paths, and proximity to the coast. The flowers were our table's centerpiece and a fitting statement to a most colorful, exhilarating, enjoyable day!

University of British Columbia - it's own mini-city!

Our adventure's last lodging was the Carey Centre, a retreat house on the extensive University of British Columbia campus. Circled on the map are a few of the places on campus where we walked during our two-night stay at the Carey Centre (the yellow circle).

After arriving and checking-in we strolled the area to find a location for lunch, then continued our walk to visit the Museum of Anthropology, a repository of "world arts and cultures with a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples and other cultural communities of British Columbia, Canada."

Entering the great hall filled me with a sense of awe and a wave of spirituality. The wooden carvings framed by floor to ceiling windows against an outdoor backdrop conjured a place of calm, respect and contemplation. Throughout the museum are extensive galleries of physical and digital collections, a researcher's paradise!

Our day was filled was much walking and exploring, which necessitated some resting before heading off again for dinner on campus followed by more walking and exploring. We spent a bit of time scoping out the many soccer games taking place on the fields, and of course our son brought his soccer ball along just in case we found a spot for a family scrimmage! I was smitten by the labyrinth near our lodging; walking it had a similar impact as when entering the great hall of the museum. 

Enroute to Vancouver

Our final morning on Vancouver Island began with a scrumptious breakfast at the Hawley Place Bed & Breakfast followed by a relatively quick drive to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. From there we took the ferry across to Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver. Yet another glorious day, another exhilarating ferry ride, another adventure awaiting! When not relaxing in a chair, we had bundles of laughter at the bow of the ferry, taking in the scene thru wind-blown hair before arriving almost two and a half hours later in Horseshoe Bay. The ferry ride seemed to fly by, perhaps because we were relaxed and having fun!

When we were in Victoria, Sheila pointed out the oft-photographed start of the Trans-Canada Highway. It's easy to tell the start because of the large sign stating just that. To be non-touristy, I did not take a photo, but should have because we actually drove more of the highway, which included the ferry across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver. After our arrival we had a long, semi-winding scenic drive to our destination, the Carey Centre on the University of British Columbia campus. 

Kayaking off Vancouver Island

Living on a tidal creek that winds its way into a small harbor on Long Island Sound has made it easy for us to become avid kayakers. At up to an hour before high tide we are able to slide our kayaks into Otter Creek and have been known to spend upwards of three to four hours kayaking the waters around Mamaroneck, Larchmont or Rye. No surprise, then, that high on our list was kayaking in the Pacific Northwest! First we said goodbye to Victoria and the B&B where we stayed.

Ninety minutes later, north of Victoria on the Island's east coast, we arrived at Cedar-by-the-Sea just south of Nanaimo. Not being familiar with these waters and wanting to make the experience as simple as possible for renting kayaks, we booked the Day Tripper with Wildheart Adventures. As luck would have it, our entire party consisted of Fred, our son and me along with Kim, our guide and owner of Wildheart. Kim provided two two-person kayaks, and at first we were disappointed to each not have our own. Once we got moving, though, the two-person kayaks turned out to be perfect for easy conversation and ease of hearing Kim's descriptions of the area.

WOW. The kayak was therapeutic, calm, eye opening, refreshing, relaxing….  We kayaked between De Courcy and Mudge Islands, pausing between islands on a small beach accessible at low tide to enjoy a delicious lunch meal prepared by Penny, Kim's wife and co-owner of Wildheart. Swimming seals greeted us along the way and on our return they were sunning on the rocks. Kim told us a story of life – there had been about 20 seals in this island group, frolicking, feeding and making the most of their time. Recently, a pod of orcas came by and all but decimated the seal population. Kim witnessed the event from the shore, and surmised that the few we saw were all that remained. [UPDATE This New York Times July 9, 2018 article, Orcas of the Pacific Northwest Are Starving and Disappearing, provides more background about the orcas.] 

In recounting tales of the area, Kim noted that only one island in this area is accessible by ferry, which left us wondering how a truck or two came to be on a non-ferry island. He also said there was a house on one of the islands of which the owner never made use. This got our son thinking about how nice it might be to have access to living on the island unimpeded by the modern world.

Hawley Place Bed & Breakfast in Ladysmith was our respite for the evening; super comfortable lodging after a day of activity. Fred did some research for dinner and discovered a gem of a restaurant, Odika in Chemainus, about a 10 minute drive south of where we were staying. Flavorful, tasteful decor, pleasant and perfectly timed service, portion sizes that were just right and artfully arranged, all conspired to bring a perfect finish to our day. Upon our return to New York I discovered this piece in the Chemainus local paper that mentioned Odika. Chemainus is known for its murals, which are every bit as striking in person as they appear online.

Victoria - part 2

Thanks to Sheila (scroll to the "Reader Meet-Her Visit" portion of her post), we had an excellent sense of the walker-friendly city of Victoria. Our B&B was located in the St James area of the city, a peninsula off the inner harbor and in easy walking distance of the entire city. The map below was provided by Vanessa, proprietor of the Gingerbread Cottage B&B where we spent two nights. (And yes, the breakfasts are as filling as she states in the video on her website!)

Monday morning we walked the same route as the day before with Sheila, beginning with a short walk to Dallas Road along the water then up a grassy incline to Beacon Hill Park. We were impressed at the vast and free access to the water particularly since Fred and I live in an area where most water access requires membership in a club or paid admission to a town owned park. Victoria is definitely a welcoming city for pedestrians!

Beacon Hill Park is a colorful, large park that spans the edge of the city all the way to the water. We made three separate visits there to enjoy the soothing surroundings, including for a game of Level 8 (card game gifted to us by Dutch friends who visited in May), a dinner of sandwiches, and multiple viewings of the peacocks.


From the Park we continued into town. Our son, who has long played pick-up soccer and organized soccer games while in college, had an urge for a soccer ball so he could stretch his legs in the park down the road from the B&B. (His interest may have been fueled by the World Cup taking place in Russia; each evening of our trip we hovered around Fred's iPad to watch highlights of recent games, and several downtown pubs had large screen tvs with games playing.) 

On our quest for a soccer ball we discovered MEC (our son is now a member :-)), the Canadien equivalent of REI. While they did not stock soccer balls, they did carry super light weight sneakers (after deliberation he wound up with the white ones.) And, with apologies to Sheila, who was adamant that we avoid Victoria Bay Centre – the dreaded mall (we actually feel the same way about malls in our area) – we wound up at SportCheck since it seemed our last hope of finding a soccer ball. (And I wound up with my own pair of super light weight sneakers.)

Whilst on the subject of footwear, we did return to Fluevog just so I could have the pleasure of trying on a pair of shoes that caught my eye. Besides the fact that the price was out of my budget (even with the advantageous exchange rate), the rounded area below the toes cut into my foot and the shoe was too heavy for me to wear all day. Still, it was fun to flaunt my foot in the colorful art. [Serendipitous July 5, 2018 post by the New York Times – John Fluevog is Cool Again. Maybe He Always Was.]

On one walk, heading along Dallas Road towards the cruise ship docks, we took in the view across James Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and were struck by the majesty of the Olympic Range. Sheila told us that as a child she gallavanted along the broadwalk of Fisherman's Harbour, only there weren't any side rails at the time! At the far end of the boardwalk is a lighthouse where we paused to watch stand up paddle boarders. Another outing, this time by car and a bit further along the water, we stopped to watch a kite surfer navigate strong waves and rocks. Water play along James Bay is for the stout hearted!
Our morning concluded with two final downtown stops, both recommended by Sheila. In Munro's Books we purchased some Canadian-authored books for our grandchildren, including two books by Robert Munsch. We have The Paper Bag Princess at home and it is a big hit with our grandchildren. We tried to find more of his books in our library system but none were to be had, so it was delightful to discover that he is a Canadian author and that Munro's had just about all of his books!

Before beginning the walk back to our B&B we rested our feet while enjoying a bit of tea at Murchie's. Then it was back to the B&B for a brief rest while scoping out times for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Turns out there were about 90 minutes remaining till closing  so off we went, as Fred was particularly interested in seeing their exhibit of Emily Carr's paintings and we were leaving Victoria early the next morning. (The umbrellas are an artistically colorful way for the Art Gallery to attempt to lesson the sun's impact.)

Victoria on Vancouver Island - part 1

This was a first trip to Victoria for all three of us, and the gorgeous Sunday morning provided a hint of the delight to come! Victoria, located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, is the provincial capital of British Columbia.

The ferry ride from Port Angeles, WA was smooth and refreshing, and provided striking views of the Olympic Mountains. Am pleased to say I had zero issues with sea sickness!

We were all looking forward to visiting Victoria but I had an extra special interest. Several years ago I began following a blogger from Victoria (the backstory is here) and when our trip was planned I contacted her to see if we could meet in person. Sheila was tremendously gracious and offered to not only meet us at our lodging, the Gingerbread Cottage B&B, when we arrived, but also spend the afternoon touring us around Victoria from her third generation islander's perspective. She wrote a blog post chock full of details and photos here (our portion of her weekend wrap-up begins with her smashing "lah-MAY" outfit!) 

Gracious, even more stunning in person than her blog photos, articulate, funny, a bonafide walker (she and her husband sold their car awhile ago), we were hugely appreciative of Sheila's time and greatly enjoyed the conversation. Our treat for lunch at a favorite of Sheila's, Garrick's Head Pub, where we sat outdoors under an umbrella, learned more about Victoria, and shared conversation about music.

As for some of our stops along the way…

Why the Empress Hotel? Besides the fact that it is a wonderful pass thru as a respite from the heat, we *had* to get a shot of Fred at high tea (no, we didn't have tea here!) to appease his next older brother, who said this was a "must do" on our trip. Sheila said (and we agree) it is a perfect spot for tourists and a bit on the high end of expense. 

Victoria celebrates the arts in open spaces and I was smitten with this "poet-tree." You who     lift a penny     from the gutter     & with the same hand     point out stars,     find me.

As a reader of Sheila's blog for the past three years, I have seen innumerable references to Fluevog shoes, so OF COURSE we asked to see Fluevog Victoria. Fluevog shoes are quite colorful, artistic (and expensive!)

Our time with Sheila ended in Chinatown, but not before she took us down Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in British Columbia and the home of an ice cream shop that beckoned.