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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vancouver Island: Tea time at the Empress

I have always been a little bit fascinated with royalty. As a small fairy, I would slip into their gardens and sitting rooms to determine how they dressed, what they were talking about, and especially what they ate and drank. It is therefore no surprise that when I discovered the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada, served high tea to anyone who was appropriately dressed and could afford the experience, I couldn’t wait to get there.

The Empress has served Afternoon Tea for over 105 years but with the massive fire in downtown Victoria in 1910 and the start of the Great War in 1914, we of the Nether World decided to stay away from the Earth Realm for a time.  And then I just got busy.  You know how it is; life happens.

This August, I finally got to go and I was not disappointed. The hotel is filled with beautiful furnishings and d├ęcor from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Table cloths and napkins are crisp and white. The china is produced exclusively for the Empress Hotel and was first used in 1939 on the occasion of a visit from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England.  Silver teapots, trays, cream pitchers, and sugar bowls are used to pour tea. A piano player tickles the ivories in the background.  I do not see this kind of elegance very often today and it was like I had actually walked into the past.

My companions and I were taken to our table and seated. Our server provided us with the carte du jour listing the delicacies we would be served. We had a choice of teas and my companions opted for the Empress Blend. I chose the Madame Butterfly Jasmine loose leaf tea. Tea was brewed at the table and poured by the server. My tea was a blend of jasmine and green tea from Fuijan province in China. The tea’s aroma reminded me of being in an oriental temple surrounded by trees, little streams, and mountains. How heavenly and serene!

To start, we were served a dish of fresh blueberries with Empress Cream. Empress Cream seems to be a cross between whipped cream and Devonshire cream. I made myself take the time to savor each spoonful. Next came a tiered tray with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. My companions are not vegetarians and their sandwiches included smoked salmon with dill cream cheese, honey ham with Dijon mustard, egg salad, Moroccan spiced chicken, cucumber and ginger. Where their sandwiches included meat, the chef replaced the selections to accommodate me.  I got a carrot sandwich, an eggplant with curry, and a tomato. Each sandwich was made with a different kind of bread: croissant, butter brioche, marble rye, and more.  Next came scones with Empress Cream and strawberry preserves. And last, but not least the pastries: chocolate cup with berry mousse, pistachio cream tart, rose petal shortbread and at least two other offerings. We had more food than we could eat. Our server graciously boxed up the extras and also presented us with a souvenir package of Empress Blend tea. What a lovely surprise.

The Afternoon Tea is rather costly but it is a wondrous and unique experience. I recommend you allow a lot of time to fully enjoy the tea and to tour the flower gardens outside. Extraordinary! Don’t you deserve to be an Emperor or Empress for at least one afternoon?


Friday, August 21, 2015

The Oracle's Adventures on Vancouver Island; Supper at the Shipyard

My favorite spots in this world are a beautiful cool forest where I can listen to the music of a waterfall or a warm meadow filled with the scent of wild flowers. Both remind me of the Nether World and I seek them out when I get homesick. Another thing that helps is to seek out someone actually from the Nether World to spend time with.

Do you remember my mermaid friend Odessa? I first met her 10 years ago when I was vacationing in Cuba. She was on the beach collecting sea shells as I was swimming in the ocean.  Something drew me to her but when I got near I accidentally splashed some water on her leg. She immediately became anxious because scales began to appear where the water had touched her skin.  I offered her my beach towel and reassured her by advising that I too was a mystic. She was the first actual mystic I met when I crossed over to this realm. We have been in contact ever since but do not get to see each other as much as we would like.

Odessa is extremely talented. She not only collects sea shells but makes jewellery from these shells and other natural objects she collects on her journeys. She is quite the traveller and never stays put in one place very long.

During my recent holiday on Vancouver Island, we were able to get together because Odessa has moved to Tofino and she made a special effort to come see me.  “The Shipyard” is a little place in the Maple Bay Marina and Odessa suggested we meet there. The restaurant is right on the water and surrounded by ships and boats of all sizes and descriptions.  The menu is a true pescatarian’s dream. Sounds like a good mermaid’s hangout right? It is Odessa’s favorite restaurant and she comes often.

I do want to warn my fellow vegetarians that our choices are limited. I did manage to score a nice pasta with a mixture of herbs and rose sauce that was fresh, rich, and satisfying. Odessa ordered the oysters, shrimp skewers, and double coleslaw. I could tell that she loved it as she ate the whole dinner in about five minutes without stopping to talk or even take breath. We ordered a bottle of white wine that had a fresh crisp citrus flavor and complemented both our meals. The wine was appropriately named “The Beach House”. Good food, good wine, and good friends eventually leads to good conversation.

We caught up on what each of us has been doing. I told Odessa about this blog. Odessa says hello. She told me about the challenges of operating her business. I suggested she consider starting her own website to increase sales and leave more time for the actual production. She was hesitant and thought it would be too much trouble and difficult to manage. I know what you are thinking. All she needs is a picture of herself, a laptop, and an internet connection. But I know Odessa well enough to know that it really isn’t about the amount of work involved. Odessa hates getting her picture taken.  She thinks she has “no good side”. But the truth is she is a little bit afraid of items that cannot get wet. This includes cell phones and lap tops. Odessa is of the siren persuasion and her life revolves around water. It is her favorite place to be and if she can’t make a splash, she is going to dash. I guess we all have our quirks and it is best that we respect all our differences.

I need to be near a forest or a meadow to feel at home. Odessa needs the water. We need each other. What makes you feel at home? Who makes you feel at home?


Friday, August 14, 2015

The Oracle's Adventures on Vancouver Island: The Adventures

My First Bungee Jump
Vancouver Island is a very memorable place but what I am going to remember the most is the adventures.  There are many adventurous things to do on the island but this time I decided to indulge in three things.  Hiking, Bungee Jumping and Ziplining Two out of these three activities are for fun but one is essential

First, I will start with the bungee jumping that I did at Wildplay in Nanaimo.  The cost for this is $136.49 for your first jump and I thought it was worth that price especially since there is nothing like it in our world unless you are a spider demon.  So out of curiosity, I decided to try it and I loved it!  First is the anticipation, then comes the nervousness, then the fear and finally as you jump, the release.  You're as free as a flying fairy on a clear sunny day.  It feels nice to have the feeling of my wings again.  I'm not allowed my wings when I'm in this realm.  Exposure can be deadly to Mystics, so be very careful.  Now back to the bungee jumping.  What happens is they tie a cord around your ankles.  Then you have to waddle (Yes waddle because this cord is tight) to the platform and wait for a moment or two as the instructors tell you what to do.  Then you jump and enjoy the ride.  You will feel like you are flying again.

View from a Zip-line
Zip lining is a lot like flying as well. You are attached by a harness onto a  long cord that goes from one platform to another.  As you soar from one platform to another you will notice that the views are breath-taking.  We are not allowed to bring cameras or cell phones for good reason but I snuck mine out to take the picture that you see to the right.  I'll never forget the sight of the misty mountains that I saw when I was 1000 feet in the air.  The place where I did the Ziplining was called Adrenaline which is near Victoria.  You go on Eleven Ziplines for $88.  That is a pretty fair price in this world when you want to fly through the trees in the mountains.

Now I'm sure you all have figured out what is the most essential of all these activities is hiking. Some of the most beautiful of all sights of this island are captured when you are walking in nature.  Vancouver Island is rich with trees, wildflowers and mountains.  It's hard to miss these things when you go searching for them.  Like the bridge you see in the picture below.  It leads to a forest full of different trees, wildflowers, little animals (squirrels, hummingbirds, etc) and a small spring that some people swim in on hot days.  This particular place did not have a name but it's popular there and you don't have to pay for it. Let's face it; free is the best price for an activity.

Hiking Across A Bridge To A Forest
I sense there is a great deal of magic on this island. I say this because it's crackling with energy, the land is rich with natural beauty, and everything here is so bright that it glows.  Not to mention that this place allows a mystic to feel the joy of flight again when we can't fly in this realm.   I guess the real question is, how can this island not be magical? 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Elemental Lanterns

I can't believe that I found some elemental lanterns!  They are very hard to come by in this realm yet here they are.  I find them by chance as I visit Vancouver Island.  Isn't that funny?

We all know that elementals are very special creatures that need some very special attention.  They need these beautiful lanterns in order to recharge their energy and rest for at least twenty-four hours.  These lanterns are a marvelous piece to have in your home.  To watch your favorite elemental light up inside these lanterns is like watching magic come to life.  The elemental will glow in a particular color depending on what kind of element that this spirit is associated with. 

It is important to remember that there are eight elementals altogether.  The common misconception is that there are only four. The basic four elements which everyone knows are earth, wind, fire and water but the secret elements (or not-so-secret to enchanters) are light, dark, wood, and moon/metal.  The next thing you have to remember is what element is affiliated with what elemental.  Here is a list of the elements, the elemental that is in charge of it and the color it glows to help you remember:

Fire = Salamanders
Water = Undines
Wind = Slyphs 
Earth = Gnomes
Light = Wisps
Dark = Shades
Wood = Dryads
Metal/Moons = Lunas

Now how do you get a particular elemental to come into your lantern?  To do that you have to put the elemental's symbol on the bottom of the lantern.  I can not show you these symbols because it is against the law in the Nether Realm to post, show off or otherwise describe these sacred emblems.  You will have to ask someone from the mage clan or find a grimoire that specializes in such things.

When you have the symbol in the right spot, be patient and elemental will come.  When it does, enjoy what you see.  It is brief but beautiful to watch the luminous glow of an elemental recharging itself.  After it has run it's course, the elemental will leave and take it's symbol with it.  Make sure you keep it clean so an elemental can return.  Has anyone else found one of these lanterns?  Please comment and let me know. 

WARNING:  You may look at it but don't otherwise disturb the elemental.  When frightened they can be very fierce and cause a horrific disaster that can lead to severe injury or death to yourself and others in close proximity. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Brownie's Best Breakfast Idea...Ever!!!

Don't you all just love the brownies?  How these wonderful little creatures come, in the middle of the night and make you the greatest breakfast you could ask for?  Well that happened to me a couple of days ago when I was staying in Vancouver Island. 
Now what are brownies?  I can hear you all ask.  Brownies are apart of the fey clan that love the home and hearth.  They only work at night but they take a lot of pride in caring for the house and look to make it a happy place to live.  In other words, they are our best house cleaners and caterers.  They are short, often stocky with spindly arms and legs.  They often have childlike faces that have a spark of mischief in their eyes.  Don't worry, they are very friendly and benevolent. Here is my story of the good deed that they did for me. 
Early in the morning, I woke up smelling the glorious scent of fresh baked bread filling the air.  I thought I was dreaming because I was smelling this in my bedroom.  It was also early in the morning and just like the T-shirt says, I do not do early mornings.  In fact, I have a lot of trouble getting out of bed but this morning was different.  I got out of bed and walk into the kitchen where I find the a nice surprise.  At the table there was the most beautiful looking breakfast.  It was a miracle to see this colorful array of fresh fruit, a newly baked croissant and a warm slice of brie cheese just waiting to be eaten.  
This doesn't usually happen for me, especially in the Earth Realm but here it is.  At first I wondered who would do this for me.  Then it hit me.  I left some of my black forest cake and ice cream out on a plate on this very table before I went to bed.  There was no trace of either the cake or ice cream around until I saw the plate was washed and sitting up in the cabinet.  This is kind of thing that only a brownie would do.  And knowing that this particular kind of fairy loves dairy foods along with sweets was just a dead give away.  
Those kind and caring magical creatures snuck in and did a nice thing for me.  Thank you very much to you wonderful souls for it.  They can help many others at any given time.  Have any of you had an encounter with these helpful hobgoblins?  Please share your story.  I'd love to hear it. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Advice on Saving Money When Travelling

When it comes to traveling it seems like all you do is spend, spend and spend some more.  Well fear not, there is a way you can save your money and still get the most out of a vacation.  The answer is to go to the food markets instead of going to restaurants.  Don't get me wrong, you will want to go out and eat sometimes especially when you want to sample the cuisine of another place (or if you write about it for a living).  Just don't do it all the time.  Believe me this will save you from breaking the bank. 

Here on Vancouver Island, it's easy.  There are some markets that give you fresh organic food that can last for a little while.  I'm lucky because I have a refrigerator to put it in but many of you may not have that luxury.  And that's okay, you can still have fresh food without an icebox.  What you want to do is buy one of those cooler bags, fill it with ice and keep all of your most perishable foods in there.  You'll have to dump the water out everyday but that is a small price to pay.  Once you are finished with this bag, you can always pack it up in your suitcase, take it home with you and save it for next time.   

If you are on a road trip, it would be a good idea to invest in a cooler which is more of a box than a bag.   You can't take it on an airplane but on the upside,  it keeps the ice (and therefore your food) for longer, it's easy to store and lasts a long time.  The bags you may have to replace sooner.

So whether you are a were-creature who wants to keep a steak, a vampire who needs to store blood or a fairy who needs to keep your produce in tact, make sure you have an ice-bag, ice cooler and/or ice box to handle all your food storage needs.  Believe me you will need it because there is not enough magic in the world that will save your food or your money.  Luckily, practicality will.