Monday, 8 September 2014

A Weekend in Victoria, British Columbia

This past weekend, Jo and I headed down to Victoria for a little break. It was also an adventure for Bonnie and Clyde, our miniature schnauzers, as this was their first overnight stay at Poochies, our local dog trainer/ boarder. They had spent a couple of afternoons there and one whole day to get used to the idea of boarding and also used to the place and other dogs. We left them with some trepidation, but we also hadn't been away since we picked up Clyde last July so were in need of a couple of days away. All in all, from what we were told, the puppies were OK and once they settled in, were even involved in doggie games and such. They were still pretty excited to see us when we got back, especially Clyde, our needie fella. They were treated to nice baths upon their return home, to get some of the accumulated dust out.. lol.. And they were tired last night, so much excitement.

Home sweet home!!!
Anyway back to the weekend. On the way to Victoria we had a brief stop in Coombs to have lunch at their excellent Italian restaurant, Cuckoo. Lovely setting, tasty food. Then it was on to Victoria. We decided to check out a new hotel for us, the Harbour Towers on Quebec Street just off Victoria Harbour. It was great. We had a suite on the 11th floor which overlooked the harbour and the view was beautiful and the room was more than satisfactory. As well, the breakfast buffet was yummy. So there we were, ensconced in our room, relaxing and had our annual takeaway from Da Tandoor, an Indian restaurant that we'd grown to love when I was stationed in Victoria a few years back. Whenever we go down to Victoria we always ensure we have at least one supper from them. Cindy always remembers our order, no matter how long it's been that we've been away. So we were set for Friday night and as always enjoyed it immensely. What did we have? A lamb curry and chicken tikka in a butter chicken sauce.. mmmm, lovely.

On Saturday, I had an early breakfast while Jo relaxed and then headed off for my annual visit to Russell Books on Fort St. There are a number of stores that I could visit, but this trip I limited myself pretty much to Russell Books. I was smart this time and actually had a list of books that I was interested in and was pretty satisfied to find most of them available. (I'll provide a list after) When I got back to the hotel, Jo was having her brekkie. We relaxed for awhile then headed out for an afternoon tour; went to an open house to check out a $1.3 million home to see what that actually entails. Interesting, but nothing we could ever afford unless Mr. Lotto comes through.. ;).. Then we went to Cadboro Bay, a pretty little area, back to Oak Bay to wander around a bit in the shops, check out where they might have filmed the new TV series starring David Tennant, Gracepoint, and picked up fixings for our dinner and then drove back along the sea front to our hotel for the evening in. (Oh, I also checked out Ivy Books and managed to find one new book that struck my fancy. What a surprise, eh? We had a quite evening in, enjoyed our dinner and relaxed, me reading, Jo catching up on the Internet.

Sunday, after brekkie, we headed downtown to wander through Chintz and Co, one of the most unique stores you'll ever see. It's got a bit of everything, some oddball items, but if you want to outfit a house and can afford it, it's the place to check out. I also took a side trip to Legends Comics and Books and found a couple of graphic novels while Jo was enjoying Chintz. After that, we headed back up island, picked up the dogs and spent a nice evening in our home. Always nice to get away for a couple of days, but it's even better coming home. So there you have the details of our trip, now that we've tried the kennel for the puppies, next time we might take an extra day, more to see that way.

So that was the trip, let's see what books I managed to find -

Ivy Books

The Absent One by Jussi Adler - Olsen - This is the second in the Department Q mysteries set in Copenhagen. I enjoyed the first very much.  Here is a brief synopsis "Morck is back. He's settled into Department Q and is ready to take on another cold case. This time, it's the brutal double murder of a brother and sister two decades earlier. one of the suspects confessed and is serving time, but it's clear to Morck that all is not what it seems. Kimmie, a homeless woman with secrets involving certain powerful individuals, could hold the key - if Morck can track her down before they do."

Russell Books

1. The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan (1974) - I'm already reading this one and enjoying very much. I chanced to see it in the display window of the store and decided to take a chance on it. Glad I did now. "The time is 1902. The setting, eastern Oregon. A fifteen-year-old Indian girl of surprising sophistication and accomplishment, wanders into the wrong whorehouse looking for the right men - the men who will kill the monster that lives in the ice caves under the basement of Miss Hawkline's cold yellow house.." Interesting so far.

2. Two Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters, The Pilgrim of Hate and The Virgin in the Ice. The Virgin is the 6th mystery and The Pilgrim is 10th. I think I'm missing only one in the series so far, all excellent.

3. A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer (1938) - One of my goodreads friends recommended British writer Georgette Heyer and I was pleased to find one of her thrillers. She was a prolific writer, not limiting herself to mysteries, but I'm primarily interested in those books. "Ernest Fletcher was found dead in his study, his head severely battered. At first it seemed a complete mystery, for Fletcher was universally liked. But soon Superintendent Hannasyde discovered that the dead man was not what he had appeared. In fact there was a host of likely candidates for the role of villain. And then the killer struck again..."

4. Gently Through the Mill by Alan Hunter (1958) - I've mentioned Alan Hunter's books in previous Blogs. He is the author of the Inspector George Gently series. I was introduced to it via the TV series starring Martin Shaw as the erstwhile Inspector. Excellent series and I've been pleased with the first book I've read in the series. This one is the fifth book, which will slide in with the others I have.

5. The Dark Side of the Earth by Alfred Bester (1964) - I was introduced to Alfred Bester, an American SciFi writer, at the back of another book I had read and was looking for another book, The Demolished Man, which is supposed to be his favourite novel. I saw this one, a collection of short stories and decided it was worth trying it out. We'll see.

6. The Lotus Caves by John Christopher (1969) - John Christopher was born SamYoud and was a British writer who wrote under many different pseudonyms, one of them being John Christopher. I was, once again, looking for a different book, The Death of Grass but this one also sounded interesting.

7. Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock (1969) - Moorcock is an English writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy and other genres. I've read some of his previous books and enjoyed. This is one that was also listed in the back of another book I was reading. "Karl was one of those awkward and intense boys who could never quite fit in. As he grew up, his adolescence took him through a succession of clumsy love affairs, fads and fetishes, each one a little more esoteric than the last.. culminating in obsessions with living psychology and dead languages. His quest for Truth turns distinctively messianic when he takes the opportunity to travel back to the days of Christ in an uncomfortable time machine. Here in Palestine, this amateur mystic-cum-problem-boy gets irrevocably caught up in momentous events that will affect Judeo - Christian civilisation for two millenniums.

8. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris (2009) - The final book in an excellent series by Charlaine Harris. Harris wrote only four books in this series, about Harper Connelly, a young woman who can commune with the dead to ascertain how they died and her step brother Tolliver, as they travel around the South working on mysteries. The first three books were all excellent. I'm looking forward to reading this with trepidation as it will be my last opportunity to share in their stories.

9. Two Fu Manchu thrillers by Sax Rohmer; The Return of Fu Manchu (2nd book, 1916) and Daughter of Fu Manchu (4th book, 1931). This was a thriller series recommended to me by another goodreads friend. Unfortunately, Russell Books did not have the first book, but I thought it worth trying out these two to see if I like the series.

Of course, I didn't buy all SciFi and mysteries. I did get a couple of classics too...

10. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925) - "The reader is shown Clarissa Dalloway, the fashionable wife of Member of Parliament largely through the impressions and memories within her mind and the minds of others characters. Moreover the action is contained within the limits of a single day - the day on which she is to hold an important party."

11. After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie by Jean Rhys (1930) - Six months after leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Julia Martin's weekly cheques from her ex-lover stop. So she abandons her seedy Paris hotel for a dingy bedroom in Bloomsbury; vaguely planning to use her fading sexual charms to extract money from lovers old and new... Julia's London visit coincides with the death of her mother, long nursed by Julia's bitter, self-sacrificing sister Norah."

Looking at these two books and knowing I have a number of other Penguin books to read, I'm thinking that for 2015, one of my Individual challenges may be to work through some of these excellent Penguins. I do love the simplicity of their covers.

Legends Comics and Books

I purchased three graphic novels in my short sojourn there. These are the covers...

1. Warren Ellis' Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island -


2. Alan Moore and Nemo; Heart of Ice -

3. Greg Rucka and Lazarus -

So there you have it. Sorry for rambling on. All in all, Jo and I had a wonderful, relaxing weekend. We definitely won't be waiting a year for our next trip..

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