Parksville Sandsculpting Competition 2017 #Mondayblogs #Canada150

2017 Theme – Canada 150

 29 sculptors from around the world 

July 14- August 20

 sponsored by local business – powered by volunteers

On Saturday we visited the 35th annual Canadian Open Sandsculpting Competition and Exhibition in Parksville on Vancouver Island.

1st Place Doubles – David Ducharme (Winlaw, BC) & Dmitry Klimenko (Russia) for “Canadian Mosaic”, photo by PJ

My Favourite – The Canadian Mosaic

Neil Young (right), Buffy St Marie (center) David Suzuki and Terry Fox on the other sides.

photo by Jo-Ann Carson
photo by Jo-Ann Carson
photo by Jo-Ann Carson

5 Fun Facts

  • the artists don’t use beach sand because it’s got too many pebbles and shells in it.
  • solo competitors get 10 yards of sand on a 12 by 15 foot plot, doubles get 15 yards for a 20 by 20 foot plot
  • they compress the sand in wooden forms and when the sculpture is complete they spray it with a 20 to 80 mixture of wood glue and water
  • they have 30 hours to complete their sculptures
  • local sponsors pay for the competitors travel, meals and accommodation. They also receive $1,000. In addition, winners receive cash prizes (top 3 doubles and top 5 soloists all get awards. Top double gets $5,000. and top solo gets $2,500).

Hey Jacques – photo by PJ
The Cup – photo by PJ
The Last Spike – by Peter Vogelaar; Winlaw, B.C. #3 Solo, photo by PJ
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for Tree by Jacinthe Trudel and Jonathan Bouchard, Quebec, #2 doubles, Photo by PJ
Canadance du Soleil by Guy Beauregard, Asbestos, QC, #4 solo, photo by PJ
by , #2 in Solo Competition, Wilfred Stijger, Netherlands, Photo by PJ

I hope this gives you a taste of how amazing the sculptures are. There were many more than are shown here.

Cost – by donation (suggested $3./person)

Value – beyond words

Now I’m hooked. I can’t wait until the next one. I  apologize for not having more info on each picture. What can I say? It was a hot and smoky (because of the forest fires) day.

For more information go to the event website.

An Awesome Video from the Parksville Qualicum Beach News

The Blue Grouse Estate Winery #Cowichan #vineyard

“Old Island Wines. New Classic Wines.”

(Blue Grouse website)

My jaw dropped as we drove up to the Blue Grouse Estate Winery, built on the site of the second oldest vineyard on Vancouver Island. Rolling hills of grape vines bathed in sunlight tend to have that affect on me, but what first got my attention was the Blue Grouse building.

The architecture is truly exquisite. The shape of the building flows into the side of the hill. Sculpted wood and enormous windows give it a west-coast-regal presence. They say the design was inspired by the blue grouse, which is plentiful in the area.

It was too sunny to get good pictures on the day we visited so I used one of theirs to show it to you.

“As soon as you arrive in front of the new Blue Grouse winery and tasting room, you become aware that you have arrived somewhere special; a special facility that embraces the elements of air, land and sea. The entrance itself welcomes you with graceful dogwoods, gorgeous maples and bright evergreen trees that circle a  an-made pond, which provides water for irrigation, acts as storm water collection and is a water source for geothermal heating and cooling for the building. The pond is teeming with wildlife – birds, insect and tadpoles have established
homes surrounding the pond, adding to the biodiversity of the property.” (website)

My dh, the boat builder who we fondly call Dr. Epoxy, fell in love with the woodwork and took pictures of it. In this shot we are upstairs above the wine tasting area. Yes, that’s me sitting and taking in the view.

They welcome you with that quintessential, warm, island hospitality that makes you feel at home.

And their wine. Omigosh! Where to do I start. I’ve never tasted so many flavours in wine. I’ll definitely go back.

“Wine is sunlight held together by water.” ~ Gallileo Gallelei

Their Wine

We tasted four wines and I loved them all. Our nephew purchased a white and I purchased, their Pinot Noir, which is amazing: complex, rich, earthy, and seductive. 

Their description:

“Our Pinot Noir exhibits aromas of cherry, nutmeg and allspice. The oak is well integrated with a hint of earthiness and eucalyptus followed up by flavours of plum and black licorice. This complex wine shows elements of minerality and flint. Fine tannins and firm acidity round out the finish.”

I say, “Wowsers!”

This is the view from the balcony at Blue Grouse overlooking the vineyard. Truly breathtaking.

Their Story

“Once the preferred habitat of Blue Grouse, the 45 acres of Blue Grouse Estate are tucked away on a sunny slope of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, which is believed to take its name from a First Nation’s word meaning “the warm land”. A fitting name, as the valley enjoys Canada’s warmest mean temperature. The terroir encompasses wind protection by evergreen trees, an all-Southern exposure, a combination of clay and gravelly soil, and the nurturing of pure air and spring water. Thanks to this exceptional site, the vines require little fertilization and irrigation… 

Blue Grouse sources estate grapes … exclusively from its 45 acre
property … selected in 1977 as an ideal site for growing vitis vinifera grapes. Pioneering Island viticulturist John Harper planted an experimental vineyard on the Blue Grouse site in 1977 trialing upwards of 150 different types of grape vines, some of which are still in production. In 1988, the vineyard was purchased by the Kiltz Family, who released the first wines under the Blue Grouse label in 1990. Most of these wines were from rejuvenated vines from the original plantings. There are currently six-and-a-half acres planted to vine, with another two acres currently in development, set to be harvested for wine production in 2017 …” (website)

My Final Words

The Blue Grouse Winery is truly amazing, a must-see if you’re travelling around Vancouver Island. Check out their website for more information.

Warning: Be prepared to be awestruck by the beauty of the landscape and the architecture of the winery built into it. Be prepared to fall in love with their wines.

What Now?

If you enjoyed this post you might like my other post(s) about Cowichan Island wineries:

Averill Creek Winery

Or, other day trips on Vancouver Island:

Finding Lost Lake


Averill Creek Vineyard #vineyards #cowichan #wine

The view from the Averill Creek vineyard is breathtaking.

Grape vines in the foreground; ocean in the background. Does life get any better?

“New World. Cool Climate. Uncompromising wines from Vancouver Island.”

(from the Averill Creek Vineyard website)

While I enjoyed the wine I have to say I got stuck on the view, and the beautiful garden outside the tasting room. They encourage you to bring a picnic lunch to their patio to enjoy with their wine. Wisteria hung from a wooden trellis beside our picnic table. Flowers grew all around. It felt a wee bit like heaven.








We tasted three wines and a blueberry dessert port. I tipped, swirled, smelled and chewed the wines the official way, which I learned in Florence. It’s easy to do and really helps me discern the intricate flavors. I’ll put a YouTube clip on the bottom to help you “taste like a pro,” or a snob or whatever, in case you are interested in learning about that.

I enjoyed the wines and chose to take home their Pinot Noir . This is what they say about it:” OUR RAISON D’ ÊTRE | Delicate but intense. Elegant yet earthy. Our Pinot Noir opens with an alluring bouquet of dark berries & violets, leather & butterscotch. The silky, medium-bodied palate features rich black cherry & ripe plum flavours, finished with a touch of spice & soft, supple tannins. Delightful alongside grilled salmon, beef bourguignon, roasted fowl or sautéed mushrooms.”

To me it tasted rich, full bodied and darn good. I look forward to sipping it with my honey.

The Story Behind the Winery

In 2001 the 150-ton capacity winery was built on the side of Mt. Prevost in the Cowichan Valey on Vancouver Island.  It has an original concept:

“we built an adaptable state-of-the-art facility that incorporates three buildings structured together, allowing wine to flow down from one stage to the next without the need for pumps. This gravity flow method allows for gentle handling of delicate varietals – helping to retain their subtle characteristics.

Our collection of hand crafted fine wines, including perennial sell-out Pinot Grigio, Prosecco style wine Charme De L’ile, and limited edition reserve wines, have helped raise the profile of Vancouver Island terroir and its winemaking in Canada and internationally.” (website)

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Averill Creek Vineyard and recommend it. I’m torn with  how to rate the vineyards I visit because I don’t want to misguide you with my subjective view.

When I was planning my day excursion I asked around to find out which vineyards were the favorites. I thought people would agree on two or three, but that wasn’t the case. Not at all.

Clearly, everyone has a different opinion. What I gathered from their stories is that their impression of a place relied heavily on how they were treated when they were there as well as how much they liked the wines.

So, I am going to either recommend a place or not write about it. That seems fair.

I recommend visiting the Averill Creek Vineyard. Take a camera and a picnic lunch and enjoy the view as well as the cutting edge wines.

They probably don’t call wines cutting edge. Revolutionary? You know what I mean. It’s all about the gravity.


What Now?

If you enjoyed this post you might like my other post(s) about Cowichan Island wineries:

Blue Grouse Estate Winery

Or, other day trips on Vancouver Island:

Finding Lost Lake

We Found Lost Lake, Nanaimo #Mondayblogs

On a scorching hot day we walked together along a secluded, rain forest trail, dappled in sunlight steaming through the forest canopy. The smell of pine trees, the sound of a large frog croaking among the lilies and the fresh, cool air off the lake gentled life’s stresses. For a few minutes we were alone in the lap of nature. Heaven on earth.

Today I’m posting only pictures, of a day trip we went on this past weekend. It’s only 1 km around the lake, the path is clear and easy to walk and there is little elevation, all of which were particularly important because it was our first day of real heat (30 degrees C).