Stopping at my favourite garden centre

It’s the ideal time, here on the West Coast, to plant garlic in the garden, and so I popped over to Southlands, one of my most favourite garden centres, to get a few bulbs.

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There’s nothing quite like fresh, homegrown garlic. Anyone growing it? This year I harvested a few bulbs, (it was a trial year and I only planted a very small amount), but the flavour of my homegrown garlic has been amazing. This year I went to three different kinds, including a Mexican variety which promises to be potent.

I guess I just have to make sure everyone eats it along with me, or there’ll be no talking to me face to face…lol.

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I got my garlic bulbs and had a stroll around the nursery.

Look at these amazing vintage pink flamingos! I’d say they’re right past kitsch and out the other side into the chic area of garden decoration. :D I love them.

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One trend I’ve been noticing lately here in the North West is a huge import of all sorts of semi tropical succulents. They’re becoming the easy, must have of the garden.

I love them.

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I’ve always loved them, even before they were “fashionable”.

I tend to do really naughty things, like import a little leaf or piece of branch or tiny rosette from San Francisco, my friend Catherine’s plant in Oxfordshire, a random front garden in Mexico. No succulent is safe…lol.

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But can you blame me? They really are so very lovely.

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Clove thinks they look like land-bound sea anemones.

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I was absolutely stopped in my tracks by this one reaching its flower up to the sun. How spectacular is the geen pinkness of it?

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It’s part of this spectacular arrangement.

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But it’s normal for the wonderfully artistic team at Southlands, and what would you expect from a nursery who find and bring in land-bound sea anemones.

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I aten’t dead yet!

That line is one of my favourite lines in fiction.
For anyone who doesn’t read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, this line is attributed to Granny Weatherwax, a witch, who lives outside the small village of Bad Ass, which incidentally is what my children figure that the scar on my neck will look like. :D

Well, it’s been a few days, hasn’t it? I guess you could say that people post traumatic operations should probably take it easy, and I guess I’ve over-done it round here and now I’m in bed feeling not so hot, but over-all everything is going to be fine and ‘I aten’t dead yet.’

This lovely, fragrant posy ended up by my front door yesterday. It came with some lovely pages about planting an all white garden, an interesting art exhibit and indoor plants, with a little note: “From Rosemarie from the Art in the Garden tour, I read your blog.” Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

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Thank you so much Rosemarie, thank you for thinking of me. :D Please say hello so I can get to know you.

I know I should have been resting post op, but after two months away form them, Kerstie brought all three of our little girls over and we got to play with some of the toys I brought for them from England and also to start putting together the loveliest, but also complicated, wooden puzzle made after my friend Jackie Morris‘ drawing of dragon hatchlings.

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And while Ziggy was having a nap, Binky and Bunny redecorated the doll’s house.

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Now at this point I think I should have kissed my little and big ones goodnight and went to bed, but a supper came up with all of my children and I just couldn’t say no!

Jonathan made reservations at a downtown restaurant called Gyu-Kaku Japanese Barbecue.

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Most fun ever! A central grill and loads of dishes equals cook your own supper.

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And so we did.

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Chef Adam and Chef Jonathan hard at work.

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And what do you have for desert when there’s a grill right in front of you? Smores! And lychee ice cream.

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We had such a lovely time…except maybe a bit too much sake and wine.

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And got home way too late!

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Today we had monster truck races…

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…and monster chocolate chip cookie faces…

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Nourishing soup, fresh squeezed orange juice and tea, and I do believe we all felt better afterwards.

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And this evening, in the warm quiet of my studio, Clover and I finished the dragon hatchling puzzle, put it back in its box, and finally I decided I needed rest.

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And so I went to bed early with Terry Pratchett’s Feet of Clay, and my lovely pages from Rosemarie. For all of you who have never read any of Pratchett’s Discworld novels, I’m so jealous!!! I reread them quite often and I love them to pieces, and to think, you have this whole world to discover and delight in…you lucky ducks you.

Thank you everyone for thinking of me, and big hugs form me, (the bride of Frankenstein), to you. I’ll be back soon. :D

A river runs

Apparently it’s been a dry and lovely summer here on the West Coast and, while we can still believe that it’s the height of summer, there are undeniable signs of autumn all around.

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But what do we care about that on a golden Saturday as this Saturday it turning out to be?

We pick our way thru the boreal forest, around the giant cedars and firs, thru the curtain of vine maple…

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…to the aspens and the river.

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And we stick out feet right in and and balance on the slippery rocks with our toes.

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And then, when the cold, mountain water isn’t taking our breath away, we gently ease our bodies right into the river…

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…and watch as the aspens drop their leaves and float them by.

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And hours go by and the shadows lengthen and we reluctantly dry off and head out of the boreal forest for home.

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And as we walk out of the forest, the summer river seems like a memory because the signs of autumn whisper to us from all around. They are as ephemeral as a spider’s web and as real as next year’s wildflowers seeds caught within.

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But even as our thoughts turn to autumn, we will hold on to our summer river as long as we can.

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Beach love

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Days in Vancouver have taken on that golden Indian Summer warmth. It’s nearly impossible to stay in the studio in the afternoon when any number of lovely beaches is just minuted away. So I grabbed a certain flaxen haired girl and off we went to a little crescent shaped pebbly beach to beach comb, splash around and have some fun.

A little drama and peace restored.

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Quiet day at home. Not sure what I was doing just at that time, but I heard a soft thud and Chloe called, “Morgan, NO, Mom, emergency!”

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A little yellow warbler had hit the window and landed panting on the patio. Morgan was up like a shot.

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While Chloe blocked Morgan away from the bird, I picked him up and took him to the garage and put him on a soft blanket into the cat carrier to recover in the cool and dark.

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And got on with a bit of gardening.

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Twenty minutes later, the little guy was recovered enough to fly to a garden tree and he sat there for a very long time, and finally flew away.

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Morgan was suitably unimpressed by this, and, especially since she…or Milo…got a small rat in the night…

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…but came to terms with it and cuddled up on the little table in the living room and went to sleep.

Peace restored.

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Sharing with the WordPress bunch for the photo challenge Adventure!

Home, missing home

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The last few days at home in West Cottage were so very busy for both of us. It’s always that way when we try to get as many projects completed as we can together. There are things we have to do, like replacing a weak piece of wood at the bottom of one of the large bedroom windows, which is just nearly impossible to do on one’s own.

The good thing is that we managed to get all the jobs done. The bad thing is that now we have to be apart for a couple of months.

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But there’s no denying that the crops in Oxfordshire have all been harvested, the fruit is ripe on the trees, summer is ending, autumn is fast approaching, and I have to return to Vancouver. The ideal would have been for R to come to Vancouver with me, but his work and projects won’t allow that right now, and my work and projects won’t let me stay longer in OXON, so there you are.

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So Robbie drove me to Heathrow, we had a lot of hugs and kisses and tears, and off I went.

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All bleary eyed and jet-lagged at home, our sweet Chloe had garden flowers waiting for me.

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She took great care of the house here, both the cats and all the plants.

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I dug up some potatoes and garlic from the garden, we stopped at a little organic market for some more veggies…

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…and made a hearty roasted veggie supper.

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In one way it’s good to be home with C and the Vancouver cats, but in another way it sucks…know what I mean?

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Summer at home tour

EDIT: Winner of the chickadee/bluetit painting is number 3 Patricia
and Winner of the towhee painting is number 37 Marion

It’s been an exciting few days of trying to figure out exactly what where home for the summer is.

I sat in my studio and started to paint and came up with this image: The impossibility of my West Coast chickadee on the same bird feeder as my British blue titmouse. Both the same species of birds, both hundreds of miles apart. And that best describes my life, my friends, because Canada may be my country, but Europe is my home town.

Most of you know that I was born in Prague and now live between Vancouver Canada and Oxfordshire UK, so this probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

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As far as I can remember life has always been like that…an adventure, and this site is a way for me to communicate that adventure with you.

This is where I live for 7 or so months of the year: a 1920 Craftsman cottage nine streets away from the Pacific ocean. Where I have a studio in the loft, with a rather large green and oak trunk, which holds C’s summer journals.

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Chloe has been keeping summer journals practically since she could write. I looked at the journals yesterday. I flipped thru the pages and remembered us in Geneva, in Vienna, in Prague, in Venice, in Paris and in England. Every summer, ever spring, every school holiday and sometimes when there was no holiday but we said, “Stuff that for a game of soldiers, let’s get out of here!” And we lived there. Really lived there. Rented an apartment, spoke the language, cooked the groceries we bought, entertained the friends we made, hiked the country, rented a car and ended up in Lichtenstein, got on the fast train to Prague and spent the night in Berlin (oops)…really lived.

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I’m so glad we glued C’s photo to the front of each journal as a reference to that year. These journals are put away now, safely, for her future, but each one is a treasure of summer memories.

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Right now I’m about five days away from switching city for country, pavement for meadow.

The quirky 1920’s cottage in Vancouver for an equally quirky 1950’s cottage in Oxfordshire with a name rather than an address, West Cottage, five fields away from the Thames, where my love is at the moment.

Switching my beautiful blue/green ocean…

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for my beautiful blue/green river.

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Where I always stop for tea and dream up new art, new techniques, new media…

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Like enamelled copper, pottery, stone carving and lino cuts.

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Where my vintage mini and land rover wait for me to join Robert’s one-of-a-kind cars and our friends at races and car shows.

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Where I hound car boot sales and come back with way too many treasures to cart back to Vancouver at once.

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But this summer is a special summer. I’ll be going to Prague first. Back to the heart of my home, my spirit, my wandering Bohemian nature. I’m going where the light is pink and my grandparents sleep in the warm earth. Going to visit family and friends, to speak the language, to walk the streets, to touch the city and connect with my home.

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And then, then I’ll fly back to London, and Robert will pick me up and we’ll drive thru Oxford…

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and we’ll go home.

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And we’ll stay at home till the weather turns and the early autumn fogs start rolling over the meadows and all the wildflowers turn to seed…

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…and the wind will change direction and we’ll feel it and see it in the willows, and I will leave my river…

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…and return to my ocean.

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Do you remember a couple of posts back I said I would give away this image (below)? Well, I decided to give away both the chickadee/titmouse and the beginning of this post and this towhee image below, plus a few of my greeting cards, and any other silly and wonderful goodies I can think of, to two random generator numbers, so, if you like, please leave me a comment and I’ll draw the name on Monday morning and post it off PDQ before I leave on Tuesday, (so please leave me a way to get in touch to get your addy). Also, I’m off to visit with my daughter Kerstie and my three granddaughters for the weekend (and this requires hours of driving), so might not have a chance for replies till a bit later, but, since we’re probably all bloggers and you all feel the same thrill, am every so grateful for each and every comment and connection. :D

Also, sending out a great, big, THANK YOU to Kelly who invited me to take part in this lovely blog tour. Please pop over to her site. You’ll love her warm and gentle nature as much as I do.

Here is the updated blog tour list for everyone to visit these lovely gals.

Wednesday,  June 18th

 On Sutton Place

Stone Gable

My Soulful Home

Thursday,  June 19th

 Country Design Style

Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Lilacs & Longhorns

Friday,  June 20th

 Thistlewood Farms

At The Picket Fence

Jennifer Rizzo 

 

Saturday,  June 21st

Our Southern Home

Southern Hospitality

Debbie Doos

Veronica Roth

Finding Home

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A downtown community garden

Vancouver is a small city for a major city…as far as cities go. As a matter of fact, it really has nowhere to grow geographically but up. The whole Lower Mainland is a bit stuck in a triangle between the Pacific, some pretty uninhabitable mountains and the US border, and is so arteried with water, either ocean or river delta, that land is at a premium.

The other day, I had an appointment downtown. Now getting downtown is sometimes a bit of a “take a chance” game to get over bridges and thru traffic, and I found myself with an extra half hour to spare to walk around a little.

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I love this temperate, ocean-front climate, and it sure allows for easy green spaces. Most downtown streets have boulevard trees. Most courtyards and corners have lawns and flowers. There are plenty of rooftop gardens, and apiary installations and even a wild meadow roof, so no surprise that against this beautiful skyline I walked thru a community garden.

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The big surprise is that it is on a very valuable street corner and completely open and inviting to the public.

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No fences, no gates, no signs which say, “these fruits and vegetables are for the gardeners only”. Completely open and inviting, with benches and paths and beds full of loveliness.

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And this could be because Vancouverites, (as a general rule), are a friendly bunch, or because gardeners really do want to share, but here, on this street corner next to a major hospital, next to alleyway homelessness, within a hub of a transient community, it could be because these gardeners recognise the need for giving, for fresh fruit and vegetables, clean water and the smell of roses. Because gardeners sometimes just garden for happiness, not for profit, and, because some big corporation hasn’t got its permission/funding/fingers into this valuable little street corner yet, there’s time for gardeners to share.

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I like that :D

hello from Sunday night

It’s been a lovely weekend round here.

Our weekend actually started late Friday afternoon, when, after a seriously long day of appointments, C and I found ourselves out at the river delta in the late afternoon and decided to take a look around.

It wasn’t long before we found a beautiful little vintage shop in a little community.

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Where I found these incredible handmade Steampunk robots, and this ray gun!

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While C found a vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket in great shape.

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We didn’t get out of the shop empty handed…lol. I immediately bought the blanket for our collection and I also scooped three vintage Bowie records, (you know, true love lasts forever :D )

Then I remembered a little agricultural island with an organic farm nearby and so we found the rickety old turquoise bridge which led to it crossed over one arm of the Fraser River. (PS, I live way in that distance, just at the foot of those mountains!)

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We found the farm.

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An organic nursery, with a little general store selling local handicrafts.

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Homemade jams, jellies and honey.

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And they had freshly picked strawberries and this year’s first crop of new potatoes for sale. I was really excited about the potatoes and strawberries because I had invited 15 people for supper Saturday night.

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Saturday morning C gave me a hand cleaning the house and we ran a few things to the Salvation Army. I had it in mind to make a fabulous Eton Mess for desert but only had six vintage, crystal finger bowls to serve it in and so we looked around for some similar pressed glass bowls to have enough for all our guests.

We found loads! At $.69 each!

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With so many people, I decided on a BBQ featuring pulled pork, baked ham, those lovely new potatoes with butter and parsley, and a huge green salad from my garden.

By the afternoon, the kitchen was clean and two heads of garden butter lettuce, some red lettuce and some herbs waiting…

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Bedrooms were clean and decorated with the new blanket…

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The James Bond bathroom…clean, with fragrant hand soaps at the ready, the stairs to my studio cleaned of papers, books and other detritus that naturally collects on stairs…

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Wine glasses ready, wine bottles open…

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Dining room table prepared…

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Everything shiny and bright…but where are our guests?

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Here they are!

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the Eton Mess was absolutely delicious, and the youngins went to hang out in my studio and catch up.

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We all had such a lovely time and talked and laughed into the evening.

Sunday I put away the cleaned silverware and my new glass bowls, figured out how to photo transfer onto glass, and spent some time in the silversmithing studio. (Evidence of creativity on Instagram)

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And big bonus for me: lovely memories, vases of fresh flowers and a clean house. :D

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My kind of Eton Mess:

One cut up angel food cake
About ten small macaroons (crushed into big chunks)
A ton of fresh berries
About 200 ml of whipping cream, whipped but not too stiffly
About 150 ml of crème fraîche

Put the cut up angel food cake on the bottom of a platter,
pour most of the berries on top, reserving a hand full for the very top
mix the whipped cream plus the crème fraîche together and pour over the cake/berries on the platter,
sprinkle the remaining berries and the crushed macaroons as a final layer.
Serve immediately so the macaroons stay crisp.

Yum city!

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Vinci’s Gallery and Caffé , a discovery

The wonderful thing about being in the arts and having a flexible schedule is that I can drive C to her morning internship appointment, hang out at Sbux for an hour, pick her up and drive to my afternoon appointment and we get to spend the day together.

How fun is that?

Well, C’s appointment ran a bit longer, (she’s been sent to a publishing company to learn the Helix computer software), and that left us in an unfamiliar part of town with about 30 minutes to grab some lunch.

I told C that I remembered a small, quaint cafe which used to be in the area millions of years ago and so we decided to try to find it. We didn’t, but happily we found this lovely little gem of warm lights and soft pillows and beautiful, bold paintings.

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Everything about the Vinci’s Caffé is fresh and thoughtfully presented. We especially appreciated the lemony water and Bon Maman jars upcycled as glasses.

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We ordered ham and cheese croissants and decided on a nice table at the back of the restaurant away from the glare of the day.

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And faced this lovely painting which slid sideways to reveal an office! How cool is that? :D I asked the most likely culprit, Sandra, who just happens to be the owner and resident artist, if I could take some photos and share.

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I passed Sandra’s easel on my way to the washroom. I can’t tell you how much I love the idea of painting in one’s own cafe/gallery. (sigh) Someday?

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The back hallway leading to the washrooms and back exit had more beautiful paintings as well as giant canvases yet to be painted.

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We enjoyed our lunch so much here. Not only were the croissants fluffy and warm and buttery, but eating them surrounded by huge oils and a warm glow was exactly what we wanted. We’ll be back.

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