Dear Friends: Here we are soaking up the ocean breezes at our bungalow in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, which I named Palm Tree Cottage. We bought this place mainly because I fell in love with the palm tree in the back yard. Yes, we do have palm trees growing in Canada!
Cottage Has Mid-Century Vibe
After buying our two-bedroom bungalow eight years ago, we furnished it almost entirely (except for the couches) from second-hand stores and garage sales. The house was built in 1983, but its cedar-panelled ceilings lend an earlier vibe. I decided to stretch “mid-century” and stock it with items from the 1960s and 1970s.
Teak furniture just screams “mid-century modern” and there is no shortage of teak on the island. Here’s the living room with my teak wall unit, purchased from a lady who was moving from her lovely home into a condo.
The black leather armchairs came from Germany in the 1960s and we bought them from a friend. They were in pretty bad shape but we had a carpenter rebuild the legs, and I spent hours cleaning and conditioning the leather.
Do you remember these little brass coffee tables from Morocco, so popular in the 1970s?
In the dining room, more teak — I bought the dining room table and eight chairs from yet ANOTHER lady who was moving into a condo.
That’s a familiar pattern here in Qualicum Beach, where the average age is 68 years — retired couples move here, buy a house, bring all their furniture, and after some time they sell the house and move into a condo. And their children usually don’t want any of their stuff, so it’s sold for pennies on the dollar!
(Heaven knows what will happen to all of MY things, but I prefer not to think about that yet!)
I had fun finding vintage plates and vases in my favourite thrift store called SOS, located just down the road in Parksville, B.C.
The family room has a definite mid-century feel.
Both the vintage lamp shown here and the orange vinyl chairs came from thrift stores. The orange colour just lights up the room.
I finally found a place to hang these 1970s batiks, which my husband brought home from Asia in his hippie backpacking days. They never really fit into our permanent home. And our kids hated the image of the two devils!
The kitchen isn’t fancy, but it is plenty big enough for two people. I bought the retro clock new at Homesense.
We even eat from these thrift store dishes, which were so popular in the 1970s.
The house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a small office. Even better, it’s just a few blocks from a fantastic sandy beach.
I hope you enjoyed my peek into Palm Tree Cottage.
(Note: We do rent the house when we are not here, very carefully and judiciously, so drop me an email if you’re interested).
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In My Digital Mailbox
Last month I described the gorgeous Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. After reading it, Tom Lymbery, whose family has been running the general store in Gray Creek, B.C. on Kootenay Lake for the past 106 years, sent me this email:
“When I was young in the 1930s and 40s I remember people coming into our Gray Creek Store after returning from Spokane where they had stayed at the Davenport. The coins they had were all shiny and looked brand new as the Davenport ran all the silver through a cleaner before using it as change.”
I was so taken with this idea that I wrote to the Davenport and asked if it was true. I received this response from Matt Jensen:
“The historic Davenport hotel did have a silver washing department where they cleaned all of our silver dining platters, utensils, and of course, the coins. I’ve attached a photo of what that looked like, as well as a mention of the silver washing department from the book Spokane‘s Legendary Davenport Hotel, by Tony and Suzanne Bamonte. Thank you for your wonderful blog about your stay at the historic Davenport Hotel.”
This really takes money laundering to a new level!
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In My Physical Mailbox
A few months ago, I read this novel and reviewed it on the big online group called Goodreads. Titled The Wrong Envelope, it’s a first novel self-published by a woman named Liz Treacher. The story is a romantic romp based on the case of a letter written to a Miss Evie Brunton that fell into the wrong hands. In my five-star review, I called it “a delightful toasted, buttered crumpet of a novel.”
To my surprise I received a message on Goodreads from the author herself, asking me if she could use my quote on the cover of her novel, which had just gone into its second printing. Naturally I said yes.
Recently I received a copy of the novel in my physical mailbox with my quote displayed on the front cover.
Even more delightful, Liz Treacher included a copy of the fictional letter in the book, the one that caused all the trouble!
Based on her return address, I learned that Liz lives way up north in the highlands of Scotland, which coincidentally is where we are planning a trip next June! She has invited me to visit and I hope I shall be able to accept.
You can order her book online as a paperback or an e-book by clicking here: The Wrong Envelope. There’s also a sequel to the book, called The Wrong Direction.
I really enjoyed both books!
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Wartime Wednesdays Flashback
Three summers ago, we attended a family wedding in Newfoundland and were privileged to attend the best Canadian parade I have ever seen. (Since 1917, Newfoundland has celebrated Memorial Day on July 1. Since it joined Canada in 1949, it continues to celebrate its Memorial Day concurrently with Canada Day.) Hundreds of people marched, many in wartime garb. And the Newfoundlanders wore tiny blue forget-me-nots on their lapels, their symbol of remembrance. You can see them here in the hatbands of these Mounties.
We even saw Princess Anne, who was there to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel, a terrible battle in World War One in which 700 young men — the flower of Newfoundland’s manhood — was wiped out.
Here’s just one group dressed in First World War uniforms.
This memorial parade also represented an essential component of all wars, the military nurses who tended to the wounded.
And that reminded me of one of our own heroines, military nurse Margaret Brooke from Saskatchewan, who was travelling on the ferry named SS Caribou from Canada to Newfoundland in October 1942 when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. I’ll bet you didn’t know that the enemy attacked Canadians in their own waters during the Second World War!
Margaret tried and failed to save the life of her fellow nurse, and for her efforts she was cited for bravery. I wrote about the sinking of the SS Caribou back in 2016, and you can read it by clicking here: Ship Named for Heroic Canadian Nurse.
I love writing and sharing my passions with others, so please refer Letters From Windermere to anyone who would like to join my mailing list.
Friends, we’ll be back at our lovely lakeview home in September. Until then, enjoy the long, lazy days of summer.