Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Victoria’

Tea from Sea to Sea!

Dear Friends,

 

I hope you all enjoyed an incredible summer. Mine was a busy one preparing our garden that was part of a Mystery Garden Tour fundraiser in July in support of our community’s botanical garden (175 people visited our garden on a single weekend) as well as attending Pink Days In Bloom fundraising events at local garden centres throughout June and August in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Atlantic.  I feel a little sad that summer is winding down and fall is coming on (although fall is my favourite season), but I’m delighted to be back at my blog and glad you are here visiting with me today.  It’s so heartwarming to be able to share with you all about a special tea that happened earlier this season.  It took months of planning, but was well worth the result.

On June 8th, a group of fellow breast cancer survivors and supporters celebrated “Pink Tree Day in the Park”.  The day was chosen to mark the Centennial Anniversary of our city’s beloved Bowring Park.  It also kicked off the Pink Days In Bloom fundraising season, an initiative that has grown from our small community here in Newfoundland throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond.  I am very happy about that!  Much gratitude to Proven Winners for this beautiful idea and the Invincibelle Spirit Campaign that donates $1.00 from the sale of every pink Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea to the Breast Cancer Research (BRC) Foundation in the United States.  I had the pleasure of meeting some of the wonderful and caring people behind the campaign in June 2013 when I was invited to the amazing Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan to share with their major growers about Pink Days In Bloom in Newfoundland. 

“Pink Tree Day in the Park” began with the dedication of a special Pink Days In Bloom bench, together with a pink-blossoming tree, at a heartfelt ceremony to honour the lives of those touched by breast cancer. This everlasting gift has created a beautiful and serene rest area where park visitors, especially those whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer, can find an especially meaningful place for reflection and rejuvenation, and to feel embraced within the park’s tranquil surroundings.
allladiesonbench
A group of my fellow breast cancer survivors were the first persons to enjoy the new bench in Bowring Park! The Victorian-style bench was donated to the park in support of Pink Days In Bloom by a group of community-minded and kind-hearted business owners: New Victorian Homes, MacIntyre Homes and Renovations Inc., Ray Gushue Construction Ltd., Austin’s Contracting Inc., and J and P Contracting Inc.  A brass plaque inscribed with the names of the contributors is installed on the bench as a permanent “Thank You” to commemorate the occasion and to raise awareness. I will always be grateful for their kind gift.

NLdogtreeplanting

The occasion served also as a reminder of the importance of trees and gardens in our daily lives for healthy and beautiful living. I am thrilled that our city’s mayor, Dennis O’Keefe, and the founding chair of the Bowring Park Foundation, Bruce Templeton, were able to be there to help to cut the ribbon on the bench.  Olivia, the sweet Newfoundland, wore a pink flower in her ear. I think she instinctively knew that something very beautiful was going on!

ribboncutting

The Pink Days In Bloom signature garden fairies named ‘Pink’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’ joined the ceremony.  My friend, Joan, in the white hat helped the mayor to cut the ribbon.  Joan is also a survivor and has led a breast cancer support group, Sharing Our Strength (SOS), in our city for over a dozen years.  She is a beautiful spirit.  Thank you, Joanie, for all that you do every day!

Preview of “PDIB Postcard.pdf”

Aren’t the Pink Days In Bloom fairies lovely!  That’s Pink in the top photo, then Hope and Invincibelle. Their floral crowns were such fun to make, and I just love the way they turned out! I think the fairies love wearing them, too! Thank you to Erin (a.k.a. Pink), Jenn (a.k.a. Hope) and Kierstyn (a.k.a. Invincibelle) for volunteering with Pink Days In Bloom since the beginning in 2012! And, much gratitude to dear Apryl Stead of White Willow Photography for these gorgeous images.  It takes a very special talent to capture the image of a fairy. You must truly BELIEVE!

treeplantingwithpaulabrucedennishubby

My husband’s family donated a pink-flowering tree to the park in memory of my mom-in-law.  She passed away from breast cancer in November, 2009. She was a kindred spirit and I miss her every day. Helping us to do the planting was left to right: Bruce Templeton (founding Chair of the Bowring Park Foundation), Paula Tessier (Community Relations, CBCF-Atlantic), Dennis O’Keefe (Mayor of St. John’s), my husband and me. The maintenance team at the transit company where I work kindly painted our shovels pink!  It was a drizzly day, so tents were generously supplied by Bill Harris Tent Rentals who came through for us in a pinch last-minute and we were grateful to have some shelter from the cool wind.

cherryblossom

PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead

The pink-blossoming tree that we planted on that day is a variety of cherry tree and will bloom in springtime. Spring blossoms represent new life and hope for the future.  The tree came from Pat’s Plants and Gardens, a participant in “The Pink Tree Project” and the first garden nursery in our province to host Pink Days In Bloom.  Pat and I have since become dear friends and I love her dearly. Whenever I get a crazy idea, and I tend to get a lot of them, Pat is always the first to, ahem, ‘volunteer’ her garden centre! Thank you, Pat, for your continued blooming support!  Here’s a little about Pink Days’s In Bloom’s “The Pink Tree Project”.

0001Gp

Liz

PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead

My awesome new friend Liz Klose made her hat especially for “Pink Tree Day in the Park”! A delicate china teacup and saucer are perched at the very top of this beauty – I mean you, Liz! :-). Even the teacup is filled with flowers! She wore it the entire day and without even needing to see a chiropractor afterwards!  Now, that is stamina in my books! Liz is the Director of Memorial University’s Botanical Garden in St. John’s.  This year, the Botanical Garden joined Pink Days In Bloom and celebrated Canada Garden Days by planting a pink-flowering plant in support. Friends of The Garden (affectionately known as FOG) held a summer-long plant sale at The Garden in support of Pink Days In Bloom and CBCF-Atlantic.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of plants with pink-ribbon twists inserted in their pots is being donated for innovative breast cancer research and programs. FOG will host their annual two-hour plant sale at The Garden on Saturday, September 6th between 10 am and Noon and will also have a vendor table at our local Some Good Market on September 13th in support! FOG volunteers have been working hard all season long!  Thank you!

julieredoak

My co-worker Joan watched the tree-planting ceremony from the warmth of the tea deck. My young neighbour Julie, on the left, later served us tea!  Her summer job was working with Red Oak Catering who catered our delicious tea.

Nflddoghug

PHOTO:  Apryl Stead

Olivia, the Newfoundland, is certainly loved! She gets a hug at the end of the ceremony for being such a good girl. Newfoundlands are such gentle beings. They’re easy to love.

The bench and tree dedication was immediately followed by a celebratory Pink Days in Bloom “Sea-to-Sea Champagne Tea” FUNdraiser complete with magnificent musical performances by very talented vocalist Adam Hunt and pianist David Chafe of Newman Sound Men’s Choir. Harpist Vanessa Goodyear soothed our souls with her lyrical harp notes during the meal.  The sound equipment was generously provided by Canadian AV Inc.  It was so nice of them all!

The elegant décor was a gift from the beautiful Sue Sharpe (By Sharpe Design).  Our delightful and humorous guest speaker was Bruce Templeton (Author of “The Man in the Red Suit and soon to be launched “The Man with the White Beard). Both of Bruce’s books are published by Creative Book Publishing and are an inspiring, heart-touching read with an important message:  It’s not your presents that count; it’s your presence.  A portion of the proceeds from Bruce’s Christmas book sales help vaccinate children in various parts of the world against the dreaded polio disease. For every book sold, three children are vaccinated against polio. I’ve already bought no less than 14 copies of his book “The Man in the Red Suit” and have given them to friends, neighbours, co-workers and family on my ‘good list’ for Christmas. Let’s see, 14 books = 42 children who have been vaccinated! It feels good to know that.

During the Pink Days In Bloom tea, there were pretty park views all around, prizes and surprises, too!  We enjoyed a delectable menu prepared especially for us by Red Oak Catering that included steaming pots of tasty teas, fresh fruit salad, a selection of satisfying savouries, tiers of luscious house-made pastries and sweets, scrumptious fresh-baked scones with jam and cream, and delectable English trifle. What a fancy feast! YUM!

tealadies

And, here’s the really special part:  At the very same hour that we were dedicating the bench and pink tree, and celebrating over tea and champagne here in Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast, the incredible staff and friends at the beautiful Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, on the country’s west coast, planted a pink ‘sister’ tree in their hotel garden and hosted a Pink Days in Bloom Tea of their own in their world-famous Tea Lobby in support of CBCF – BC/Yukon.  Monies raised in support of CBCF in each region stay in the respective regions, which is a good thing. The fundraisers help support community programs where we live.

Empress Rebecca

Thank you Rebecca and team at The Empress for all your hard work!  And, thank you to Helijet for partnering with The Empress in The Pink Tree Project. Breast cancer survivor Karen Sabourin and her daughter Laurel helped plant the “Tree of Hope” in the Empress Garden! Aren’t these ladies adorable!

Empress pink tree daughter tagging tree

This photo just makes me smile! 🙂

Empress pink tree tag

Everyone who made a donation in someone’s honour got to write the name of the person on a tag and hang it on The Empress’ new Tree of Hope.  Photos of The Empress’ world-famous tea lobby are below.  You can see more photos here at my blog post “The Elegant Empress”.  I have always LOVED “The Elegant Empress” and now I love ‘her’ more than ever for being part of this initiative.

IMG_2693

IMG_2692

 

Empress PDIB Tea Tray

The Empress’ culinary team outdid themselves!  WoW! Look at all those luscious pink desserts!

Empress strawberries and cream tea (1)

Empress message of hope

Guests were invited to sign The Empress’ Book of Hope and write an encouraging message.  This is truly a beautiful idea.

Those unable to join us in person for the Pink Days In Bloom tea on June 8th, in either Bowring Park or at The Empress, could still share in the event through a virtual tea.  Whether at the office, the kitchen table or by the pool, one could simply pick up their cup in support and pledge online to help fund breast cancer research and community programs.  For Twitter lovers, tweets about their tea experience at hashtag (#PinkDaysInBloom) could be seen displayed on a screen outside the Tea Lobby at The Empress.  I really liked that idea, too.  It helped to bring everyone closer together.

I hope you enjoy the following photos of our Pink Days In Bloom’s “Pink Tree Day in the Park ” Tea. Some of the photos were taken on The Bungalow’s tea deck.  It was a cold, damp day in June but we hardly noticed!  The tenting and heaters on the deck made it cozy for guests who sat outside. And, the deck looked dreamy, too, thanks to Sue and her team!

Seatingchart

PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead

Isn’t this a superb way to do a seating chart!  Many thanks to the lovely Sue Sharpe, By Sharpe Design, who contributed her design services for the tea.  Many of the photos were taken by the talented Apryl Stead, White Willow Photography. Thank you, Apryl, for sharing the day with us and helping us to remember every moment through your glorious images!

Seating

PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead

Jessica Smith, the amazing floral designer at By Sharpe Design, artfully arranged numerous delightful bouquets like this one!  Jessica’s wedding bouquets are simply divine and make me want to get married all over again just so I can carry one of her out-of-this-world bouquets. I do love flowers!

appleblossomchina

PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead

I love my old Apple Blossom china. It is one of my favourite vintage china patterns. I used what I’ve managed to collect over the years on the tea tables, along with nearly all my pink transferware plus my teapot collection (about 30 pots in all gathered from antique shops, flea markets, garage sales – you name it) and dozens of vintage teacups (about 70 in total, I think). I can’t think of a more inspiring occasion to use pretty delicate china!  I never knew I had so many pieces until I started to dig them out of the nooks and crannies of the cupboards. It seems they were just begging to be used!  I borrowed the tiered sweet trays from my darling friend Marie who once operated the most elegant tea room.  We all miss your teas, Marie, my dear!

Tea Table

This is one of my favourite teapots.Bungalowroom

A survivor friend captured the room’s interior just before everyone was seated. Do you see the Victoria Magazine placed on the seat of each chair? My neighbour Joanne did an exceptionally kind deed for me several years ago when I was undergoing chemotherapy treatments.  She organized a team of her gardening gal pals who cared for my garden when I could not. From June through September that year, they would unlatch the garden gate and let themselves in like little sprites flitting about weeding and watering to their heart’s content.  I wrote a story about my kindly garden fairies and their thoughtful deed. It appeared in Victoria’s Special Spring Gardening Issue in March. “Victoria” sent a copy of the issue for each tea guest at our fundraiser and I read an excerpt from the story during my little tea talk. You just never know sometimes what can grow from a seed of kindness…My real-life garden fairies inspired more than they, or even I, could have ever imagined!
teadeck2
A survivor friend captured photographer extraordinaire Apryl working her magic behind the camera lense.
Victoria Magazines on chairs at Sea-to-Sea Tea
The tea deck looked very inviting. I have loved “Victoria” since the very beginning and have every copy of the magazine since it was first published in the 1980’s.  Doesn’t the spring cover complement the pink decor beautifully!
Fireplace and Victoria on chairs
Inside the Grand Hall of Bowring Park’s Bungalow was equally welcoming!
niceteadeck
I also used my set of 18 pink heart-shaped teacups for this day! I plan on using them again soon.

Heart Teacup

  I purchased the teacups several years ago online from Roses and Teacups. I wonder if they still stock them.
teanevertastedsopretty
 I like how the brew looks inside the heart-shaped cup, don’t you?
teapots
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead

Pots of tea filled with the tasty ‘Empress Blend’ were served at the tea tables compliments of The Empress!

BuckinghamPalace
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
We also drank Buckingham Palace tea, a blend that I learned from the tea vendor, Britannia Teas, is served at the Queen of England’s annual garden party.
Birdcage
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
These dainty twin teapots belong to my friend Marie.  I love their petite size.  Would you prefer regular or decaffeinated tea?
birdcagecloseup
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Sue and Jessica filled romantic moss-lined birdcages and mason jars wrapped in lace and twine with bouquets of fresh blossom that looked as though they came straight from the garden!
flowerteapotcenterpiece
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Vintage teapots make lovely vases!  A confetti of pink rose petals sprinkled over the tables was a tender touch.
dessert
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
The English trifle was delicious and a big hit.  It looked decadent in a wine glass and topped off with a fresh mint leaf. It was gobbled up in no time!
Auction
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
The prizes were colourful and useful!  I hand picked most of them myself. Many thanks to all who contributed to the auction table. Can you see the glass flower peeking out of the watering can from behind the cushions?  Liz made it from glass bobs n’ bits – again, Pinterest inspired!  She makes tons of them and they are for sale as part of fundraising at MUN Botanical Garden.
Patswin
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
My friend Pat won this delightful grouping.  She was thrilled to win it and I was thrilled for her.  Maybe I’ll get to sip some tea from a pretty pink-striped mug soon. Hint. Hint.
swancookie
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
The table favours were custom made by my friend Maria who owns and operates a catering company called Petite Sweet. There are swans in Bowring Park, so I thought it would be fitting to have swan cookies on the tables as take-aways.  Of course some pink-tree cookies had to be included!  Honestly, Maria can create anything from cookie dough! She never ceases to amaze me.  I am very lucky and blessed to have so many supportive and talenteded friends.
P1070151
 PHOTO CREDIT: Linda Ryan, “Beautiful Ideas” Blog
Flowerfilledteapot
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Jessica and Sue’s floral arrangements in vintage teapots were oh-so-sweet, a perfect complement to the tea tables.
Lizhat
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Liz brought greetings on behalf of Memorial University’s Botanical Garden and personally invited everyone to their first Pink Days In Bloom during Canada’s Garden Days at The Garden. She shared with us a hilarious story about the trials of making that incredible hat – but stories told at the tea, stay at the tea! Lol  And, there were many funny stories!
Gina
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Meet Gina, one of my real-life garden fairies who tended my garden along with my neighbour Joanne and two more of their gal pals.  Gina’s talented sister, Vanessa, played her harp for us while we sipped our tea. What a magical time! I love this picture! Can you tell how much fun we all had!
GailBruce
 PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
Gail Pearcey and her husband Bruce are shown here having a laugh during the meal. Gail is the dedicated President of Friends of the Garden.  The group is affectionately known as FOG. They are hard-working and knowledgeable volunteers who help out at Memorial University’s Botanical Garden.  There are all sorts of things to be done at The Garden, so if you’re willing to volunteer some time, they have a job for you!
Teadeck
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
Everyone got in the pink spirit and wore the prettiest tea hats and fascinators.  Many of them gathered together on the Friday evening before the tea at Joanie’s house and made their headpieces themselves!  They thought they would surprise me. Mission accomplished!  🙂 There is nothing so pretty as a sea of tea hats, especially for a Pink Days In Bloom Sea-to-Sea Champagne Tea!  Well done, ladies.
JaneKelli
PHOTO CREDIT: Apryl Stead
This is one of my favourite photos from that day.  This group of breast cancer survivors really know how to have fun! They always make me laugh.  Laughter really IS infectious, isn’t it!  And, I think it’s true what ‘they’ say, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
Jane
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Jane wins a prize!  Don’t you just love that fuschia hat on her!
DebbieBeaucagewave
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
YES! Debbie wins a prize! Just look at those stunning hats!
DebbieB
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Debbie was excited to take home these sunny indoor/outdoor cushions, perfect for relaxing on the summer patio.
SondriaYAY
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Kelli-Rae high-fives Sondria (seated).  Sondria actually won the prize! Can you imagine Kelli-Rae’s reaction if she had won! Lol  Priceless!
BarbSherry
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
I adore Sherry’s hat! The colour is gorgeous on her.  And, Barb’s fascinator is a beauty!  We had so many laughs! The entire day was a collection of beautiful moments.
sharonandsherry
Sherry and Sharon are best friends. These beautiful women together lead a local support group, S.H.E. (Sharing. Hoping. Empowering), for women in our area with metastatic breast cancer.
Sondria
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Sondria was enjoying a lucky streak and won twice!  What’s a girl to do! I think I will ask her to buy me a lottery ticket. Sondria spearheaded the One out of Nine Project, a series of photographs depicting brave local women and their individual journeys through breast cancer.
Movies
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Lenora’s going to enjoy some ‘me time’ watching great movies!  That’s ‘Invincibelle’ the Pink Days In Bloom garden fairy flitting out the door from the tea deck into the Grand Hall! You have to be fast to catch a fairy’s image on camera!
greenmannequin
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
I cart this dress form around to all the Pink Days In Bloom fundraisers throughout the year.  I bought the frame at Winners and the colourful bra at Wal-mart.  I added some silk flowers, pretty beaded leaves, faux ferns and a combination of velvet and sparkly sheer ribbons…Voila! Some Pinterest inspired beauty!
 greenmannequincloseup
 PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Dress Form
And, another… I use them often as props for fundraising events. This won has lots of tulle and even butterflies.
cherryblossomcake
PHOTO CREDIT:  Apryl Stead
Maria made this gorgeous tiered cake adorned with cherry blossoms.  My mom-in-law, Ethel’s, photo was perched at the top of the cake in her honour. After she passed away from breast cancer in 2009, I was diagnosed just four months later. I have carried her in my heart every step along the Pink Days In Bloom path. I think she would have loved Pink Days In Bloom!
JoanandLindacakecutting
I asked Joanie to help me cut the cake that was served as the final dessert course at the close of the celebration tea!
BeautifulPinkHat
“Pink Tree Day in the Park” was an enchanting afternoon of cake, champagne, cherry blossoms and hope. It was truly a joyous celebration of life!
Cheers to survivors
Cheers to breast cancer survivors everywhere and to those who love and support them!
Empress PDIB tea friends
Empress pink wig
It was a uniquely beautiful and touching ‘sea-to-sea sipper’, bringing people across the country even closer together in making a difference and working towards a common goal – a future without breast cancer. Pink Days In Bloom is flourishing throughout Atlantic Canada.  The dream is that it, along with “The Pink Tree Project”, will continue to branch out across Canada and together we will grow a future without breast cancer.
Join a growing movement
As many of you have come to know, Pink Days In Bloom is not JUST about FUNdraising, it’s about celebrating being together and helping one another get through the challenges. Having  breast cancer, or any life-threatening disease, is a time when we need that more than ever. Just to know someone cares means the world some days. I have met such an incredible circle of outstanding, brave women throughout this journey.
Thank You to everyone everywhere for being part of “Pink Tree Day in the Park” and “Sea-to-Sea Tea”, for reaching out, embracing others, sharing your hearts and demonstrating your support in so many ways.  It was a perfect day! We are already looking forward to next time…I hope you can join us!
National Tree Day is September 24th.  Planting a pink tree? Why not make it pink! There are lots of good reasons.

0001DA

Want to know what’s coming up next? Like Pink Days In Bloom on Facebook and follow along onTwitter.

If you’re in the area on November 2nd, I’d love for you to join us at “The Little Christmas Fair”.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for coming by! I hope you have a lovely weekend. See you soon!

Linda

 

I’m excited to be joining Pink SaturdaySaturday Show OffMosaic Monday, Busy Monday, Amaze Me Monday, Mod Mix MondayInspiration Monday, Tuesday Cuppa Tea, Tuesdays at Our Home, Inspire Me Tuesday, Teacup Tuesday, The Scoop, A Return To Loveliness,  Tea Time Tuesday, Tweak it Tuesday and Tea Time, Wordless Wednesday, WoW Us Wednesday, Wake Up WednesdayCottage Style Party, A Return to Loveliness, What’s It WednesdayThe Homemaking Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Thursday Favourite Things, Tablescape ThursdayFeathered Nest Friday Simple and Sweet Fridays, Show and Tell Friday, Home Sweet Home and What To Do Weekends, and am thankful for all these wonderful blogs and kindred spirits!

The Elegant Empress

P1140578IMG_3209

Welcome, Dear Friends!

I am thankful you are here on this wintry day and I hope that your week went well.  Isn’t it hard to believe that February is here! What a hectic month January was.  I am relieved to finally be able to make time to cocoon a little with some of my most favourite magazines.

P1140398 P1140399 P1140439 P1140440 P1140441 P1140442 P1140445

Isn’t “Victoria” absolutely stunning? It is an all-time favourite  of mine published by Hoffman Media.  I have every issue since it was first published in the eighties and am thrilled to my toes that a humble little story of mine will be featured in the Chimes section of their March/April issue!!! Can you believe that?!!!  It is beyond a dream come true for me!!! Thank you, “Victoria!” I can’t wait…

I just read Tea Time Magazine , another favourite and also published by Hoffman Media.  Tea Time will be hosting “An Occasion for Tea” at The Empress in Victoria, B.C. next weekend!  Don’t you wish you could join in the fun!

While the kettle is on, would you like to join me in a little armchair travel?  For those of you who follow my blog, you might recall I mentioned in an earlier post (Majestic Hatley Park) that my husband and I had travelled across the country from Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast to beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia on the west coast a couple of years ago where  I attended a work conference at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel. For years, I had been reading about Afternoon Tea at The Empress and was excited to finally have the opportunity to experience it for myself!

Located in downtown Victoria, “The Empress”, as she is affectionately called, overlooks picturesque Victoria Inner Harbour.  The Empress is the best known landmark in the capital city and has hosted kings and queens, dignitaries and famous persons.  The likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Katherine Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Barbara Streisand, to name a few, have all stayed at ‘The Elegant Empress’.

IMG_3191

Just steps outside the hotel lobby you’ll find whale watching, gardens, castles and sight-seeing tours, shops, boutiques and restaurants, the Royal  BC Museum, provincial legislative buildings and National Geographic IMAX Theatre.  Within a short walk, you’ll discover Chinatown and Antique Row. The BC Ferries terminal is a 45-minute drive from downtown and a 35-minute ferry ride will take you to glorious Salt Spring Island. Go there on a Saturday for the artisan markets.

IMG_3189On the afternoon of our arrival in Victoria, there were crowds of people milling about under huge white tents on the hotel’s front lawn.  We were zealously informed by our cab driver that it was rumoured that composer/star-maker David Foster was hosting a benefit dinner at $10,000 a place. Pittance!  Lol

IMG_2425

PHOTO:  Looking  from the harbour side toward The Empress, there are vendor tables, ferry tours, foods for every taste, buskers, recreational activities – it’s all here, mere steps from the hotel in downtown Victoria.

After a 14-hour plane-haul from the opposite side of the country to finally arrive at our destination, I felt terribly dishevelled.  As we walked into the hotel lobby with our luggage in tow, we were met by a sea of women in the most glamourous ball gowns and eye-catching jewels that I had ever seen! Dolls in diamonds, curls and heels.  Suffering from lack of sleep,  jet lag and feeling a little dizzy from dehydration, for one fleeting moment I thought that they could have been mermaids straight from the harbour outside!  A mirage of sheer glamour. In the following hours and days during our stay, we heard the names of many stars who were reportedly staying at the hotel.  A few of my colleagues who were also attending the conference at the hotel, caught glimpses of famous stars here and there (I could tell a story or two).  But the biggest star in my mind was ‘The Elegant Empress’ herself! She Em-pressed me most. 🙂

IMG_2467

IMG_3212

IMG_2424

Photo:  Victoria Inner Harbour is just steps across the street from The Empress.

DID YOU KNOW?  The ceremony of Afternoon Tea at The Empress is over a century-old tradition and her Tea lobby is world famous.  Reportedly, in summer at the height of the tourist season, The Empress serves Afternoon Tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England! Can you imagine! That is Em-pressive, don’t you think! 🙂

IMG_2690

DID YOU KNOW?  The Empress had been owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway long before it was sold to Fairmont.  Back in ‘the day’, CPR was building hotels for customers who travelled its railway and ships. Through the years, during and following two world wars, there were business booms and slumps.  In the mid-1960’s, The Empress was being considered for demolition. After much public outcry, the decision was made not to tear down the deteriorating old hotel but to give it a cosmetic facelift. Later in 1989, it was “done right” and the iconic building was restored in a major way to its original splendour. Thankfully, for The Empress = Victoria as surely as Big Ben = London, the Eiffel Tower = Paris, or the Statue of Liberty = New York City. The big refurbishment was dubbed “Operation Teacup!”  Let’s go into the Tea Lobby and see how ‘they’ did, shall we?

IMG_2692

Royalty and ordinary folk alike have enjoyed the time-honoured tradition of Afternoon Tea in the famous Tea Lobby. Art and architecture.  Deep and comfy chairs and luxe upholstery fabrics.  Fancy-carved tables and vintage tea carts. Antique tapestries and patterned wool rugs. Breathtaking views, exquisite tea and silver tea sets.  Live piano music. Good company and lively conversation… All combine to create a memorable tea experience one soon won’t forget.

IMG_2687

IMG_2689On the tea menu are signature Empress scones, pastries, sweets and savouries expertly and freshly prepared in-house each day.  I wish I had gotten a photo of the carts and delectable desserts piled high on hundreds of multi-tiered trays but I was sheepish about snapping pictures of the food… Lol

IMG_2686

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea”
― Henry James

IMG_2688PHOTO:  Waiting for tea to be served in a silver service and regal blue-and-red-and-gold William Edwards fine china…  William Edwards has been commissioned to create patterns for His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and The Royal Household.  If it’s good enough for the Royals, then it’s good enough for moi!  Click here for an extensive Afternoon Tea Menu

DID YOU KNOW? The Empress has her own delicious blend of tea, touted as one of the world’s finest and I surely believe it! What an absolutely gorgeous, tasty, subtle cuppa!  After having umpteen delicious cups, I had to ask one of our servers what that blend was!  I was thrilled to learn that it was specially created for Afternoon Tea at The Empress and that it could be purchased at the hotel’s gift shop, where following Tea, I went straight away!  In the hotel’s signature Tea Shoppe, I loaded up on the pretty canisters of tea along with some teaware stamped with ‘The Empress’ to tuck into my suitcase for the trip home and so I could ‘relive’ the experience whenever I wanted .

Here are the blend ingredients as written on the tea canister:  Top seasonal quality tea from Kenya, South India, Assam, Sri Lanka and China.  Here’s what it looks like in the cup. YUM!  No cream or sugar needed…

P1140445

The bottom of the canister reads:  “Since its opening on January 20, 1908, The Empress has respected one of Victoria’s greatest traditions by serving Afternoon Tea in the magnificent lobby of the hotel. Sitting under a portrait of Queen Mary in front of the Tea Lobby’s two fireplaces, one can view Victoria’s Inner Harbour where the “Thermopylae”, fastest of all the Tea Clipper Ships, once anchored.”

P1140578

I am down to my last canister (apart from one that I am saving for a dear friend). Sigh. I am excited to know, though, that it can be ordered from the hotel shop or at http://www.fairmontstore.com.IMG_2493

PHOTO:  During  ‘Operation Teacup’, the Tiffany-style stained glass ceiling of the Palm Court was uncovered behind wood.  The beauty of the roof was thankfully restored and guests now can enjoy its sparkling light on the marble foyer at weddings and special functions.

IMG_3196

PHOTO:  Victoria’s Parliament buildings look beautiful at night from Fisherman’s Wharf. Their silhouette outlined in white lights creates a magical effect as the evening ‘blue hour’ approaches…

IMG_3205

PHOTO:  Captain James Cook (1728-1779) stands forever bronzed in confidence along Government Street as he looks upon The Empress with his back to Victoria Inner Harbour.

IMG_3207

The inscription at the base of the statue reads:

“After two historic voyages to the South Pacific, Cook was cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest on his third and final voyage with his two ships, Resolution and Discovery. He was searching for the Western exit to the legendary Northwest Passage. In March 1778, they put into Nootka Sound for repairs and to trade with the native people. With him on the voyage were Mr. William Bligh as Master of the Resolution and Midshipman George Vancouver.”

The Empress is synonymous with Victoria.  Many say “she” is the city’s heartbeat and speculate that The Empress is what brings people to the Island.  One thing is for certain, residents have an emotional attachment to The Empress.  For many, she holds special memories of their most celebrated occasions in life. Vancouver Island with its resplendent beauty and relaxed pace, yet vibrant energy, is an ideal place to escape. We loved it!

The photos below were taken of some of the “Bling” displayed in the windows of the gift shops at The Empress.

IMG_3227 IMG_3226 IMG_3225

The well-kept grounds of The Elegant Empress are captured below:

IMG_2721 IMG_2720 IMG_2719

IMG_2707

To complement its special tea blend, The Empress serves its own blend of wildflower honey harvested from the Chef’s own apiaries on the grounds.

IMG_2710

Jewel-tone irises abound in well-maintained flower beds. These photos can’t do them justice.

IMG_2716

Azaelas and rhododendrum trees abound.

IMG_2696

The Empress’ resident marmot likes to hang about on the grounds and entertain visitors!

IMG_2709 IMG_2708

EMPRESS TEA TRIVIA:
– Cream actually masks the flavor of tea, so milk is used instead.
– Amber Sugar crystals are also used, as they help to enhance the flavour of the tea, since it is an unprocessed form of sugar.
– All teas are loose, as the loose teas are the most flavorful.

It was fun ‘digging out’ these old photos and reminiscing…I hope you enjoyed your visit! Before you go, I’ll pour you up another tea in one of my prized cups – this one was given to me by my cousin Eva. It was shipped all the way from Virgina Beach in the United States to Newfoundland, Canada!  It is a souvenir cup of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Thank you, Eva!

P1140400

My friend Eric gifted me the glorious white china teapot with creamer and sugar bowl and half a dozen matching teacups!  I just adore it.  It sits on my kitchen counter and I use it every chance I get! My friend Maria created these beautiful and delicious snowflake cookies, perfect for snowy days! Thank you all! 🙂

Wishing you a beautiful new week ahead,

Linda

P1140478

P1140529P1140442P1140443

I am happy to be joining the party at Inspirational Monday, Make it Pretty Monday, Tea Time at Rose Chintz CottageTea Time Tuesday and Friends Sharing Tea, Teacup TuesdayThe ScoopInspire Me Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday, WoW Us WednesdayWholehearted Wednesday, What’s It Wednesday, Blissful Whites Wednesday, Cottage Style Party, Time Travel Thursday, Thursday Favourite ThingsHome and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup ThursdayThe Homemaking PartySimple and Sweet Fridays, Fridays UnfoldedShow and Tell FridayFeathered Nest Friday, Anything Blue Friday,  The Charm of HomeFabulously Creative Friday, Frugal FridayShabbylicious Friday, Be Inspired, Tickled PinkWhat To Do WeekendsPink Saturday, Bouquet of TalentShow Off Saturday, One More Time SundaySeasonal Sundays and Oh The Places I’ve Been.

Majestic Hatley Park

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.  ~Hanna Rion

IMG_3003

Dear Friends,

Welcome! The teapot’s on!  I’m thrilled you’re visiting with me today.  It has been awhile.  I haven’t had much time for blogging lately. I find that for me, it does seem to take a lot of time, and there are so many other demands of life at the moment, but that’s for another day.  For now, I am glad to be here in the present, slowing a little and enjoying spending time with you.

Can it be that Spring is really just around the corner? We still have much snow, although it is beginning to warm here. To see sunshine and hear birdsong will make things alright. 

Since everyone is sharing garden dreams these days, I assembled a  photo collage to share with you of beautiful Hatley Park, a National Historic Site nestled on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island in Colford, a mere 25 minutes from downtown Victoria, British Columbia.  I was at The Empress Hotel in Victoria for a work conference last May and stayed an extra week to enjoy some touring. Living on Canada’s East Coast, on the island of Newfoundland in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I could not imagine flying clear across the country for 7 hours, plus 4 hours of stopovers each way, from the East Coast to the West Coast, without seeing some of the glorious B.C. gardens that I had been reading about in my favourite magazines for so many years.

IMG_2467

PHOTO: The celebrated Empress Hotel in Victoria on Vancouver Island is famous for its turn-of-the century architecture and supreme harbour location. Built between 1904 and 1908, The Empress is an icon in its own right and has been designated a National Historic Site.  Perhaps one of its most captivating features is the veil of ivy that covers the face of this old hotel.

My hubby joined me on the trip and we set out on the renowned Garden Trail to see as many gardens as possible in the brief time we were there.  Hatley Park was one of those magnificent gardens.  The gardens surround B.C.’s Royal Roads University.  The park grounds are open daily to the public for a modest fee but students of the University enjoy free access to the gardens.  Can you imagine a more inspiring setting in which to study?

It’s time for another walk in the park!  Won’t you come along?

IMG_2901

A footbridge within the quiet beauty of the Japanese garden leads us into a magical setting of perfect quietude.  I could have just stayed here for hours and not have ventured any further along the trail…(If you’d prefer a winter’s walk, take a side trip here in my home city).

IMG_2902

IMG_2931

The 565 acres of gardens of Royal Roads University include a Japanese Garden (photos above), Rose Garden and Italian Garden (photos below).  The Italian garden is my favourite with frothy wisteria dripping over the garden’s ornate structures and entryways.

IMG_2820

IMG_2857

IMG_2852

I love the pretty statuary of the Italian garden and the glorious pink roses that scramble wildly upwards over the castle walls.  I do love pink!

IMG_2842

IMG_2826

IMG_2827

The castle is named Hatley Castle built by The Honourable James Dunsmuir who was a coal baron and prominent businessman in British Columbia in the late 1800’s.  He was elected Premier  in 1900. After just two short years, he realized that he had no desire for public life and resigned in 1902. In later years, he served as Lieutenant Governor of the province. In 1908, Dunsmuir built impressive Hatley Castle set amidst spectacular formal landscapes and embraced by B.C. forest and expansive Pacific Ocean views.

IMG_2769

IMG_3031

IMG_2850

Hatley Castle is now a classified Federal Heritage Building and is a popular site for weddings,  special events, conferences, even motion picture filming and the buzz of late – experiential travel.  Have you heard of it?  Experiential travel is based more on real-life experiences than star-rated amenities and popular tourist attractions.  Volunteering, immersing in cultural activities, trying new or exotic foods, even harvesting and cooking your own food – connecting with people where they live and experiencing everyday life – are what makes experiential travel so compelling and unique.

IMG_3585

What struck me most about Hatley Park is the abundance, diversity and significance of the trees, including 250-year old Douglas firs that are said to be among the largest in the area. We had never seen anything like them and were awestruck by their lush beauty and colossal size. I stood under the enormous cedars letting their branches sweep over my face!  I felt like a wee girl enchanted in a fairytale wonderland, dwarfed by their sheer  majesty.   

IMG_2973

IMG_2891

IMG_2895

IMG_2796

A picture is worth a thousand words. An entire photo album follows; you can do the math! 🙂  I hope you will get a feel for the grandeur, tranquil  and reverent spirit of these winsome gardens.  And, won’t you have some Japanese Cherry tea while you’re browsing?  As you probably already know, it’s my favourite.  My niece Janell gave me these sweet china cups many years ago.  I love to sip from them while I dream of faraway places and their masterpiece gardens…

IMG_9071

Online tea source:  The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Thank you for taking time to stop by and for leaving such lovely comments.  I always look forward to hearing from you and am like a kid at Christmastime when I see your notes in my Inbox! Lol  You just make my day. I hope to see you again soon. EnJOY your garden dreams! And, since there is so much green in this post, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

 

%d bloggers like this: