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Posts tagged ‘winter’

Rural Living In Sooke – Protect Your Well From Freezing

Snow in the Otter Point area of Sooke

All this snowy weather got me to thinking – just because we live in one of the mildest climates in Canada, doesn’t make us immune from freezing temperatures every now and again. Where I live in the Otter Point area of Sooke, we have a well. We’re also several hundred metres above sea level and the temperature tends to be a few degrees cooler than in the village of Sooke. When I bought the house, the former owner told me that the well head had frozen and that she had installed a very simple system to prevent it in the future. Read more

Butchart Gardens Christmas Lights Display

The Sunken Garden at Butchart

The Sunken Garden at Butchart

Last night, my wife and I got out and enjoyed the crisp December evening and headed out to world-famous Butchart Gardens on the Saanich Peninsula. Every year they decorate the gardens in thousands of lights, creating a truly magical Christmas experience. Despite the sub-zero temperatures, it was a gorgeous, starlit evening, and the lights were amazing. The gardens are decked out in a Twelve Days of Christmas theme, so along the garden paths there are little vignettes displaying the different parts of the famous song. It was fun to hear everyone reciting or singing “fiiiiiive golden rings” and so on as they approached the various displays along the route.

I brought along my camera, tripod and shutter release to get some long exposure shots of the lights. Lights at night are one of my favourite things to photograph, and I think the results turned out quite well.

A large cedar with lots of presents

A large cedar with lots of presents

There was a brass quartet playing Christmas carols, a carousel, and a skating rink set up for all to enjoy. The admission might seem a little steep at $23.50 for adults (lots less for kids, price list here) but if you buy a yearly pass and go more than twice it pays for itself (many will go once a season, or more if you have guests in from out of town).

I hadn’t been out to Butchart Gardens in about 5 years or more, and I had forgotten how lucky we are to have such a world-class attraction in our back yard. It truly is a top-notch operation and it’s no surprise how popular it remains, after over 100 years in existence.

Enjoy these photos – you can view the rest on my Flickr page.

Ponds are frozen over at the Gardens

Ponds are frozen over at the Gardens

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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The Wind Arrives In Sooke

Last night, as I was lying in bed, the wind came up and buffeted the coast all night. It’s a sure sign that fall is upon us and winter is on the way. Having always lived in coastal areas, I thought I knew what wind storms were all about.

I was wrong.

Photo Credit: Zero-X on Flickr

Photo Credit: Zero-X on Flickr

Since moving to Sooke 3 and a half years ago from the mainland, I’ve come to realize how much the mainland is protected from the Pacific storms that rock the Island, and particularly, its west coast.

That’s not to say that Vancouver and area don’t get their share of wind off the Strait of Georgia; look what happened in late 2006 and early 2007 in Stanley Park – they’re still cleaning it up.

But I remember that night in December 2006 in Sooke. I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, especially after the power went out and the only sound I could hear was the wild wind (which topped 140 km/h in some areas of Sooke) blowing down trees and ripping shingles off my roof. I was lucky, I lost a few shingles. Others weren’t so fortunate; at least 3 families lost their homes after huge fir trees blew on top of them. The Glenidle By The Sea condo complex lost part of its roof. I awoke to what looked like a disaster zone. Trees down everywhere. Power, phone, cable, you name it – if it came to Sooke via wire, it was down.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a windy winter in Sooke or other coastal areas:

– Get a generator. You will probably lose your power at some point this winter. Usually it’s not long, but some areas of Sooke were without power (and for many on wells with an electric pump, water) for over a week in that storm. I have several clients that have an integrated natural gas-fired generator that will power the whole house. Expensive? yes, but a simple gas generator that will enable you to see at night won’t break the bank.

– Along the same lines: Have a non-electric source of cooking. One thing that sticks in my mind about the morning after that storm is the lack of caffeinated glory that comes from my morning coffee. Without power I was unable to feed the addiction. I could have boiled water on the barbeque, I guess, but what good would that be when my coffee is in bean form and my grinder is electric? I’m not proud to admit it, but I was considering grinding beans by hand hammer and/or eating them. Nowhere in Sooke was open for coffee and the road was blocked by many trees. I now keep a small container of ground coffee in the freezer for emergencies.

– Most homes in Sooke have some sort of fireplace – be it gas or wood-burning, but it will come in handy in the storms. I spent much of the day huddled close to the gas fireplace (it works better with electricity to power the blower) with my freezing dog. Stock up on wood or fill the propane tank if you’re not on natural gas.

– Have basic repair supplies and equipment on hand. I mentioned I lost some shingles. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any replacements and our otherwise extremely well-stocked Home Hardware didn’t carry the type of shingles I needed. Tarps, rope, plywood, plastic sheeting would all be handy for emergency repairs. A chainsaw would been useful too.

– Pitch in and help your neighbours. This is key; We’re all in this together. The strength of a community truly comes out in times of trouble. Got a chainsaw? Go clear the roads and driveways (bonus: free firewood!). Spare room or two? Help somebody whose home has been damaged. Or give a cup of coffee to a caffeine-starved REALTOR/blogger. You get the idea – can’t watch TV or blog, so you might as well get out there and pitch in.

What about you? What are your tips for fellow readers to survive the winter windstorms?

Tim Ayres – Sooke Real Estate Professional

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What Does a Winter Hike Look Like in Victoria, BC?

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Mount Finlayson, near Victoria, BC. Note the lack of snow and ice.

This past Sunday, some friends and I got together for a hike up Mount Finlayson, in Goldstream Provincial Park. In what seemed like the first sunny day in months, all were anxious to get outside and enjoy one of the best reasons to live in this part of the country. The temperature was a mild 10°C – I was in a short-sleeved T-shirt, the sun was shining, andKaia, my German Shorthaired Pointer everyone we met along the path seemed to have a big smile on his or her face.

At last check, it was -13 in Toronto, and -28 in Winnipeg. [Warning: Obligatory smug British Columbian remark to follow:] But not to worry Manitobans, it’s predicted to “warm up” to -3 in the next couple of days.

Having grown up on the coast, I can’t fathom how cold a “real” Canadian winter is. I feel lucky to live in this wonderful part of the country where it’s never too cold in the winter or hot in the summer. Two of the members of our group on Sunday came from Winnipeg a few years ago, and are likely to be posted to another military base this year. Understandably, they’d rather not.

Tim Ayres


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