We find out there’s some wineries where Ren has to pick up the car this morning and Gilbert suggests we go with her. I’m torn because the thought of touring wineries is frankly appealing, but one of my main reasons for coming to Vancouver Island is to visit Butchart gardens. Over a hundred years in the making and still privately owned by the Butchart family it is fifty five acres of manicured gardens tended by fifty gardeners. I’m pretty sure this will be impressive. Ren checks if the wineries are open and kind of fortunately they are not, so that’s that decided.
Ren wants to get her shellac nails off before she buses to the rental company to pick the car up, and having never seen, let alone ever had this done, I’m intrigued. First her nails are ground back, before some acetate is put on a cotton ball and wrapped in tinfoil to soak in for a couple of minutes. Then it’s opened up and the shellac is scrapped off and then the remainder ground off. Its like car paint she tells me. It’s pretty horrible, takes about 20 minutes and costs $10. I gotta say Ren, it’s crazy.
…but a girl never lets nail work get in the way of a phone call.
I come back to the apartment we have, and Gilbert and I head to catch the bus to Butchart gardens. It’s $2.50 for a bus ride, no matter how far you go, and we grab a bite to eat as we have half an hour to spare. The pies at the ‘Dutch Bakery’ are disappointing, and I wouldn’t have known what kind’ve meat it was if she didn’t tell us. The cakes however were amazing. While I would’ve gone to the wineries, I’m actually really excited about visiting the gardens now. The bus out is about an hour and I chat to the Nana who has three year old twins on her seat. They visit Butchart gardens regularly as there is a carousel to ride that the girls love. We chat about twins and she tells me she had a single baby before twins and she was a twin. Her Mother was a twin and her great grandMother in the 1880s had a single baby and then three sets of twins in fairly quick succession. She was a family legend, and stories are told of how amazing she was, and I have to agree she must have been amazing. Then I tell her I know of a girl in NZ who is due her fourth set of twins in quick succession. We both can’t imagine how crazy hard that must have been.
The gardens are over run with tourists, loads going in while we sit and check out the map and plan the best way to go. The path is just wide enough for one line going one way and one going the other. A few bus loads have gone through before us and some of them are so excited they are photographing every damn begonia and fuchsia and every other flower they see. The second group of annoying people are stopping and posing. Leaning in to be ‘in shot’, while pic is taken. Grrrr. It’s hard to get anywhere and we’re having to weave in and out the lines. Fortunately the group starts to thin out but a couple of times I’m jostled as someone URGENTLY needs to get in front of me to snap a pic or whatever. Then there’s their sticks on their phone holders or whatever they are. Poking back behind them so they can get just the right angle. I was starting to get a bit pissed off.
The gardens are pretty big and manicured. Not a blade of grass or a twig out of place. Many annuals beds and it reminded me of the botanical garden. The rose garden is huge too and everything is in full bloom.
The original property owners had dug out the quarries for their cement making business and his wife had seen a way to develop the old quarry into gardens and so tree planting began. A tremendous amount of vision, but also money.
This kind of work is not done on a shoestring, but it’s nice it’s stayed in her family and is shared with concerts and firework displays. We jump back on the bus and head home. Looking at the window we could easily have been returning from Auckland to Pukekohe. Similar homes and gardens and roads.
It’s funny how Josie and Warwick who are with us, tell us they prefer to not eat too big a meals when traveling like this and in fact are just happy with two meals a day. “Oh yes”, we agree, “we are the same. We often skip dinner or even just have crackers and cheese and wine.” Ren was listening and shaking her head. “That’s not gunna happen”, she assures us and it didn’t. We manage to chew our way through plenty and I’m feeling a bit chocka to be honest tonight after eating at the Cactus Club. A double Bellini to start the night, Ren and I ordered two salads, shrimps and ravioli to share. We cleaned up the rest of Gilbert’s chips also and then shared desserts. OMG I could hardly move out of my seat, pig that I was. It felt like I’m fattening MYSELF up for a spit!
Anyway, early start for the long drive to Port Hardy tomorrow, so better get some sleep.