The Penny Farthing Public House (Victoria)

The Penny Farthing has been an Oak Bay institution since as long as I can remember. When I lived in Victoria, children were not permitted in pubs so I’d never been here before but I’m really glad I had the chance to visit and I’d like to return. It’s charming, and is very much modelled in the style of an old English pub.


Things of Note:

  • There is no dedicated parking and street parking can be difficult to come by, especially during peak meal hours on Oak Bay Ave. We were lucky to find a spot just around the corner on a side street.
  • There are a few steps to get up into the place. However, when we were leaving, a few women came out the side of the building (I didn’t even realize there was a side entrance) down a ramp pathway so maybe the restaurant is accessible that way?
  • Again, it’s possible there is some washroom that I don’t know about, but the washrooms were down a flight of about 15 stairs (I would have investigated the wide entrance and washroom situation more thoroughly but I had an important appointment that I had to get to and couldn’t stay longer).
  • There are two seating levels in the building, with most of the seating being on the main floor.
  • There is just aboute very type of seating you can think up. Booth, tables that move, chairs with arms, chairs without arms, chairs of *regular* height, those extra tall chairs…they’ve got it all! The sign at the entrance asks you to seat yourself and I appreciated that because I wandered all through the first floor before making a decision. I chose a semi-circle booth that has pull out chairs on the opppsite side. The seating was very comfortable for me and it also allowed me to take a couple of pictures of the restaurant. Additionally, my husband has significant hearing difficulties and he was able to sit next to me in such a way that his “good” ear was facing me.
  • The service was great. Attentive without hovering, water glasses were kept full, and just the right amount of chatty.

Now, if all of that will work for you, get yourself down to the pub!

Let’s start with a drink! I don’t usually “day” drink and, in fact, I’m not a big consumer of alcohol in general. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy a drink or two now and then, but in recent years it really wreaks havoc on my body in terms of inflammation. Two drinks in the evening can lead to me feeling like I’m suffering the worst hangover of my life the next day. Wine (sob!) seems to be one of the alcohols that my body responds most negatively to. Anyway, I chanced it and ordered a gin drink that is described on the menu as follows:

Les Belles Filles “Lime Rose”

From Hotel Carlton in Lyon, the Lime Rose makes its way to our westerly island. Sheringham Seaside Gin, Rose Syrup, Spiced Syrup du Maison, Lime, Tonic and Cucumber

I am sooo glad I tried this because it gave me so much pleasure to sit in this lovely pub and savour this drink. It was tarte and refreshing and I would most certainly order it again. Plus, with lime and cucumber it must certainly count for 1 of my 5-10 a day, right? Heh.

Onto the food…

I was really undecided because so many things on the menu looked good. I’d really like to go back and try their chorizo scotch eggs because I confess that I’ve never had a scotch egg and I love having the opportunity to try something new.

What I did have was a cup of crab bisque and the avocado shrimp salad. It was really a perfect lunch. The bisque was rich and creamy with lovely bites of real crab and a wee hint of spice that hit you right at the end of each bite. It was divine. The salad was creamy but mostly from the avocado because, while it had dressing, it was not at all overdressed. It was fresh and satisfying.

I don’t have a picture but my husband had bangers and mash and he enjoyed every last bite of it (and he’s picky)!

I’m going to have to make a number of trips to Victoria over the next year and I definitely hope to return to The Penny Farthing Public House! If you get the chance, I hope you’ll spend a bit of time there, too.



Penny Farthing Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Emily Carr House (Victoria)

Emily Carr is someone I’ve admired for years. I read her omnibus when I was in college and I was enthralled by her story telling. I could envision so many of the places she wrote about because I grew up in Victoria, as did she. She is most well-known for her art but it’s the way she lived her life that makes her so special, to me. Her bold, brazen courage has certainly allowed me to be brave during times when I had to tackle a new challenge.  It was a joy to visit the home that had once belonged to her and her family.


Things of note:

  • There is very limited parking with only half a dozen spots available on-site. Street parking in the neighbourhood is for residents only and you risk a ticket if you park there. We made sure to be there just before 11am, when the house opens, so we were able to get one of the few parking spots available.
  • The entrance is around the back of the house, down a packed gravel pathway. In order to get into the house there is one step.
  • Once you are inside, everything is on one floor as the second floor is sectioned off and not for visitors.
  • You will be given a laminated document that gives information about each room on the lower floor.
  • There is a large, single bathroom.
  • Coffee, tea, and biscuits (cookies) are available in the sun room, at no extra cost.
  • There are many chairs throughout the house if you need to sit down. Some have arms and some do not. They come in all shapes and sizes and I’m sure you can find one that is comfortable to you.
  • If you wish, you can sit in the room just off the breakfast room and watch a 30 minute video about Emily Carr, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Frida Kahlo. I enjoyed the video; it’s a bit different but I was happy to spend time in the space and enjoyed the almost dream-like quality of the video.
  • Visitors are welcome to spend time in the house by relaxing and enjoying reading some of the books and other reading material throughout the house.
  • Visitors are welcome to take photographs!
  • The fellow who is the caretaker was very friendly and  helpful and he even suggested that if we knew how to play the piano (we don’t) that we should have a go at the lovely old piano.

The pathway to the entrance and some lovely flowers:


Markers like this one can be found all around the gardens outside the house:


A little sitting room just off the breakfast room. The rug is gorgeous and vibrant!

The dining room:


A most lovely typewriter (and a close up of the paper in it)!


Emily cared deeply about the rights of Indigenous People in Canada, as do I. I have had the privilege of working in many remote First Nations communities, and have even visited some of the communities that Emily visited and painted! I came to understand the respect she had for First Nations Peoples—their resiliency, their culture, their art, their spirit. You can find evidence of her time spent in various First Nations communities in her art, some of which can be seen around the house.

There is much more to see,  and read, and I suspect that in multiple visits you could find new things to explore each time. It’s true that I’m baised by the fact that Emily is one of my personal heroes, but if you live in Victoria or you find yourself visiting the city, the Emily Carr House is a perfectly darling way to spend some time. Step back in history, learn about what made Emily so important and special, and enjoy a cup of tea in the space that Emily once called her own.

Do you  have a favourite Emily Carr painting? If you’ve read her books, do you have a favourite and, if so, which one? If you’re an Emily fan, leave a message in the comments and let me know what makes her near and dear to your heart!


Ross Bay Cemetery

I’m going to start by telling you that I’ve been telling my husband for years how much I’d like to visit this cemetery again. He didn’t understand (more to the point, he probably thought I was a bit daft) until he went there with me. It’s a special place and it’s a nice place to go for a walk and enjoy nature in a very park-like setting. I don’t have any real desire to be buried but, if I could, I would want to be buried here.

Things of note:

  • There is parking along the some of the streets that surround the cemetery as well as a decent (about 15 spaces?) row of parking right across the street at the breakwater on Dallas Road.
  • There are paved, maintained walkways through cemetery. When we were there some of the paths were a bit cluttered with fallen leaves, but there was ground staff there that were working on keeping things clear.
  • There are park benches around the grounds where you can sit and rest if you need to (or if you just want to enjoy the beautiful scenery).
  • There are some Canadians who are important to history buried here. If you wish to find the grave of a specific person, you can visit the website here:
  • To visit many of the graves you have to get off the path and walk over the lawn. Some of it is very uneven and narrow in a way that would not be suitable for wheelchairs, walkers, or some other mobility devices.

I love this place because it holds childhood memories of living in Victoria, but mostly because it’s a serene, gorgeous spot to walk or rest. There are many different kinds of headstones and monuments, a variety of trees that are quite gorgeous and, if you’re lucky, you might see some deer. We saw 7 deer in the space of about 45 minutes. Of course, docile as they may seem, deer are still wild animals so we always respect their space and give them a wide berth.

I like the idea of a lovely deer with big velvety antlers sunbathing on my grave.

Here is a very important memorial. We should not forget the mistakes we have made, lest we make them again.

One of the people that I greatly admire is Emily Carr.  Her books came to me at a time in my life when I needed them and, since then, I keep bumping into experiences that remind me of her in ways that make me feel connected to her. Clearly, I’m not the only one. Emily has influenced people with her brazen ability to simply be herself. She was a wonder and I’m glad to have been able to know her through her works.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to exist for a little while, Ross Bay Cemetery is a wonderful choice to do just that.




Cottage Bakery & Cafe (Victoria)

I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time on Vancouver Island this week, in Victoria. On this particular morning, it was cool and drizzly but the weather soon cleared up as you’ll see from some of the pictures in the other places I’ve posted about it.

I did a google search to find a place that  made nice pastries and coffee/tea as we were hoping for something light that we could take down to the breakwater on Dallas Road and enjoy. Let me tell you that this place delivered! First, I will get the practical bits out of the way.

Things of note:

  • This cafe is a bit hidden and there is limited street parking. We were lucky to grab a spot very close, but I imagine that it may be difficult to find parking nearby at busy times of day.
  • It is located in a sort of sunken location from the sidewalk, with 8 stairs leading down to it. There is a metal railing but the railing was very wobbly and needs to be properly secured.
  • That being said, there is a sign next to the stairs indicating that you can circle around the back and use a ramp to get to the cafe if you require that.
  • There is one step up into the cafe so even if you used the ramp for wheelchair access, I imagine it would be difficult to enter the cafe itself. The ramp would certainly allow you to access their outdoor seating area, though.
  • There is a single bathroom.
  • The outdoor seating area has tables and chairs that can be moved around. The chairs do have arms that I’m entirely certain would have pinched my hips quite a lot (I didn’t sit in them because it was raining and they were all wet).
  • There are a few spots to sit inside and those  chairs don’t have arms but the space is very small and I wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting there because I would be blocking the flow of people as they were ordering and leaving with their goodies.

Here are some pictures of the inside, including some of the delicious offerings:

I realize that the bullet points aren’t painting a great picture in terms of accessiblity and comfort. What I do want to emphasize is that even if you aren’t able to access the place on your own, I suggest that you enlist everyone you know to bring you the delights that this place has to offer, or bring a friend who can go inside and order for you while you enjoy your treats in the outdoor seating area.They have mad baking skills! Here is a picture of the outdoor sitting area:

I ordered a London Fog made with skim milk and an almond croissant and I cannot stress to you enough how good the croissant was. I’m still drooling over it. I practically want to make the 12-hour (return) trip right this minute just to get another one. BEST ALMOND CROISSANT EVER! It was so flaky on the outside and loaded with rich almond paste inside. The almonds on top were toasted and crunchy. It was perfection. This is a terrible picture in that I’d already torn a big piece of and eaten it, the perspective makes it look as though the croissant was small when, in fact, it was quite large, and it does not do any kind of justice to the glory of this pastry. Eat all the things from this place!

The London Fog was not really sweet, so if you’re fan of the sweeter latte drinks you might want to add some type of sweetener. I enjoyed it as it was very much. I was also pleased to see that they use compostable lids on their to-go drinks!

Here is a rainy picture from inside the car as we enjoyed our breakfast:

I have some trips to Victoria coming up in the future and I certainly plan to go back to the Cottage Bakery & Cafe. Maybe next time I’ll try the chocolate croissant…if I can resist the siren call of the almond one, that is.

If anyone has recommendations for great places to eat in Victoria, please let me know in the comments so that I can check them out!