Sunday, September 27, 2020

Bigass Weekend Wrap-Up: Rainbow Brunch; Book Club Castle Adventure

Hello, my friends! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Ready to share some fun?
That's just a teaser for our visit to Craigdarroch Castle! Grab yourself a cup of tea, and settle in, 'cause we have lots of pictures.

Let's start with Saturday - L and I strolled down to Pluto's Diner to meet up with Casey and Nick for brunch.
It poured rain, and generally felt very autumnal. Time to wear one of my summer-y sweaters! 

  • Sweater - Rodier, vintage 50s, vintage fair; last worn here in January with black and blue
  • Skirt - Vanessa Virginia, thrifted; first seen here in July with these very shoes
  • Shoes - Prepare Guide, Fluevog; last worn here with this same skirt in July, and Flashback-ed there too
  • Leather coat (below) - Danier Leather; last seen here in May

This lovely sweater is one that I keep out all year round - it's just a useful shape and colour. 
The colours in the skirt just don't photograph well - please trust me, I'm the Queen of Matchy-Town! 
They match!
Masked up - one of my new ones from Mom, it is teal snakeskin print. 
Outerwear - more colour! 
If it's going to rain, I'll provide the rainbow!

I'm fully ready to go now, walkin' out the door. 
L and I ran a couple of errands in town afterwards. This was all fine in the rain, including my leather coat - the weather ranged from a heavy mist to tropical downpour. This is what we get for living in a temperate rainforest climate. 

The stuff: 
One last - 51st! - wearing of these awesome shoes before I pack them away for winter. Yes, I wore them in the rain - I expect my shoes to perform! I also walked about 3 kilometers in them total. 

Gold bling: 
I love that necklace - L has such good taste. It was a Christmas present, I believe. 

  • Necklace - Robert Larin, vintage 60s, vintage mall, gift from L
  • Earrings - consignment
  • Silver/gold/turquoise ring - Karen's
  • Fulvia Ring - Wendy Brandes
  • Silver/turquoise ring - local

After an awesome evening of board games and music, I was up early to get ready for our Book Club Castle Adventure! 
Still sneaking in not-yet-worn items - this sequined skirt makes its first appearance of the season. Going to the Castle deserved sequins. 

  • Blouse - Rock & Republic, thrifted; last worn here in April with a sunny tweed
  • Skirt - Banana Republic, consignment; last seen here in December 2019 with green velvet and gold sparkles
  • Boots - Matisse, consignment; last worn here in June with leopard

Another wearing of this neon green blouse. I have a nude cami under it for coverage. 
The sequin skirt is so fun - several times, the sun hit me, and I sparkled. 
I left the back untucked. 

Masked up - I chose this autumn scene mask from Mom. 
It was so lovely out, I didn't need a coat. 
I've got my keys, got my purse, I've got our tickets, and I'm really to go! 

The stuff: 
I was tempted to do a Flashback on these boots, but this is a big enough post! They stay out all year 'round, so I'll do it another time. 

Snaky bling: 
I liked how well my neon leather purse went with everything. 

  • Purse - Club Monaco, thrifted
  • Snake bracelet - Whiting & Davis, vintage 70s, vintage fair
  • Snake necklace - vintage 70s, vintage expo
  • Snake earrings - Betsey Johnson, gift from L
  • Glass bangle - thrifted
  • Hinged enamel bangles - thrifted
  • Jade/brass ring - vintage 70s, Mom's
  • Silver poison ring - Karen's

Karen was with us!

Carolyn had other commitments, and Janaki's son unfortunately was ill, so she wasn't able to make it at the last minute. Sending good vibes to wee Vishi! 
I quickly gobbled a light breakfast and dashed up to the Castle. Main site link here - all links because I love. 

If you're interested in digging into more history of any of the rooms, there's a Virtual Tour (here), and I'll identify where we are in the tour via pop-up links (there are also points-of-interest links within those to explore). 
Our group outside the Garden Entrance (using my camera timer to get us all): me, Mindy, Cat and Yvonne. 

Cat and Mindy arrived first. Mindy, love the snakeskin printed leather jacket! That's a gorgeous pleated skirt too!
Cat is looking sweet in her blue florals, including a funky pair of Fluevog boots. She made the matching mask, of course.

Yvonne joins us, also wearing her Fluevogs. We're all so spiffy! 
We were surprised at how busy it was - there were multiple tour groups going through while we were in the Castle, both facilitated (with a tour guide) and just walking through. 

The Castle was built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir who died before he could live in it - it was inhabited by his wife Joan, and their children. We started in the Porte-Cochere entrance, where you must use the brush cleaner on your shoes. 
Yvonne is giving her 'Vogs a brush - it's automated and mandatory. That's our tour guide on the left, in the striped sweater. She was awesome. 

Yvonne in the Main Hall beside the central staircase, which goes all the way up to the Tower Room. 
Opposite where she's standing is the Main Hall fireplace (click here). 
There were lots of staff and volunteers (like this young lady), keeping an eye on us "tourists". 

Mindy in the Library (link here). 
The stained glass was beautiful, and much of it is original to the Castle. 

The Castle was completed in 1890, and was wired for electric lighting, had full radiators (including this round one below), hot and cold running water, speaking tubes, a system of bells for the servants, and a dumbwaiter and a laundry chute. 
Isn't that lampshade a beauty? 

This is the Drawing Room (link here). I first remember coming to the Castle when I was in my early teens, as some girls in my Humanities took the rest of the class on a field trip tour here. 
None of the Castle was restored like this then - restoration has been ongoing for decades. It took 12 years alone for the painted ceilings in this room to be recovered, under five layers of house paint! 

Looking the other direction in the Drawing Room - you can see more of that amazing ceiling here. 
The last time I visited the Castle was in December 1997 - L and I, with Nick and Karen. It was a private party, (we got the tickets through Karen's brother and didn't know anyone there), and the group had rented out the entire Castle, complete with catering, dancing (old-timey folk dancing), and a bagpiper, and everything was decked out for Christmas. 

Still on the main floor, we entered into the massive Dining Room (link here). 
The fireplace. 

And the huge room! 
We had 8 people in our tour, and we all kept our distance and wore masks (mandatory).

They filmed the 1994 version of Little Women (the one with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon) here (link here to a fun oral history from the cast), and this scorch mark is from a candle on the set. 
Gorgeous parquet floors, but I love that they preserved this part of the Castle's history. 

Looking straight up from inside the Main Hall again. 
Up we go to the second floor! 

The Castle was used as a military hospital post-WW I (kicking off Canada's government-supported medical system). 
I'm just off the second floor Main Hall (link here), and you can see the old linoleum, and where a support wall used to be. Some of the non-original parts are being left to acknowledge all the roles that the Castle has played in the last 100+ years. 

There are a couple of rooms you can check out that I didn't photograph (link here to the Sitting Room; link here to Maud's Bedroom). I took pictures of things that interested me, like...
...this amazing wreath made from hair. Oh, you crazy Victorians, crafting from human hair! 

This is Jessie's Bedroom, one of the Dunsmuir's daughters. 
There were many rooms - even though it's a small building, it seemed very big inside. 

A view looking out the window on the 2nd floor, to the northwest. 
Neighbourhood houses butt right up to the Castle grounds. 

After the Castle was a hospital, it became Victoria College (before we had the University of Victoria). My grandfather attended there, so I was hoping to find his initials somewhere. 
The tour guide pointed out all the places where students had carved their names - these are also being preserved. No sign of Grandad, but I see Chig Bostock was here in 41-42. I also see Ross, D.O.V. Oliver and Sandy Thomson. 

After it was Victoria College, the Castle housed the Victoria Conservatory of Music. 
A lovely fireplace, and a plaque showing students from the Conservatory practicing in front of it. Imagine the acoustics! 

This is the women's washroom from that era, formerly the ensuite for the Master Bedroom. 
These basins date from 1919, from the hospital era, and there's a hidden bank of urinals in the wall.

Time to go to the 3rd floor - I can't get enough of this amazing staircase. 

Check out the creepy serpent sneaking up the finial, as we go around the landing on our way up. 
More carved names in the Billiards Room (link here). 
I see Karen, DAN, Don Johnston, and there's our guy Chig again. He really liked carving his name. 

Mindy looking into the billiards area. 
This telescope is in the alcove off the Billiards Room. 
This is Effie's Bedroom (link here). I love the bed inset into that alcove.
The pink paint is also a remnant from Little Women's film production. 
I was quite taken with this room. If I lived in the Castle, this would be my room. 

My pictures were dark of Robert Harvey's bedroom (link here).

Looking down from the 3rd floor towards the edge of town.
I see the local junior high - my mom and dad went to school there. 

Time to go to the 4th floor! Looking down from the third floor. 
Woo, that makes me dizzy! 

A view of the back lawn
On the fourth floor is the Dance Hall (link here). This is where we danced in 1997.

A display of dance cards from some of the balls that were held here. 
Those fans are so pretty! 

I'm going up to the Tower now! This is technically the 5th floor (at one time, Craidarroch Castle was the tallest point in all of Victoria).
Looking back down - I see Yvonne looking at the fan display. On the right is open area with displays about the history. 

Looking up the steps leading to the Tower (link here). 
That stained glass window is the symbol used for the Castle everywhere. 

The floor tiles are by Minton, imported from England. 
Looking up also made me dizzy. 
But the view is what I was interested in. 

I see my house! 
That's my stair picture spot! 

Cat came in while I was looking out the window. 

More views from the Tower. That dark thing is the window latch.
Hey, Cat, I can see your house too! 
Looking north. That's a fly on the window.

Looking southwest, towards town. 
The blue hills in the distance are Sooke. 

The roof is slate and terra cotta. 
Looking east, over Fairfield.
That tall white building is the Rockland Water Tower - it used to have a neon candle on top for Victoria's Centennial (picture here and here, from the Archives, and the story of it here). I remember the Candle from when I was a kid! 
Looking down to the entryway. 

And looking down...all the way...
You can see one of the taped arrows - we went up one side of the Castle, then came down the other side, to see the servants' area and the kitchen. 

Going down the stairs, which were added to update the Castle to modern safety codes. 
There's a tiny room at the bottom, under the stairs, that they call the New Staircase Room. 
Click to embiggen

This room was called Ward 9 in the Victoria College days - the last paragraph refers to Ward 2, "mostly composed of - I guess you'd call them nerds today - the people who played chess and did a lot of reading and stuff." I think that my grandad probably hung out there - he was not one of the "bunch of yahoos. Mostly Rugby players and such...they were all was the thing to do at that time..."

The restored bathroom, with the tub and toilet done based on historical trends of the time. 
I'm dying over that robe!

The other side of the snazzy bathroom. 
Granite counters, very classy. 

This room is formerly Lizzie's Bedroom, but now contains history of the military years. 
I really like that they are leaving some parts without fully restoring them. 

Another glimpse down at the lawn.
You can almost see the ocean from here, looking south. The hazy blue mountains in the distance are in Washington State, in the USA.

This is one of the Servant's Bedrooms (link here)
Check out this awesome sewing machine. 
I love the little bear thimble-holder and the figures on top of the thread-holders. 

Looking down to the main entry. 
Mindy and the tour guide and  the dumbwaiter in between. 
Mindy has a dumbwaiter in her house, so you know, things in common. 

Back down to the 2nd floor, this is Maud's Bedroom (link here). 
I love the colour of this room. 

And I approve of Maud's big bookcase. 
Not to mention her excellent jewelry box.

One of the servant's rooms, now containing more history about Victoria College - I checked all the pictures for Grandad, but Mom has told me he skipped photo day. 
I love that wooden model. 

I didn't see this board of carved names, but there's a famous signature in this picture of it. 
Pierre Berton (link here)! I loved his kids' book The Secret World of Og

I laughed at this article from 1975 for "It's Dreadful, You're Invited" from when the Castle housed the Victoria Conservatory of Music (which I remember being here).
I think we need to have more "awful, tasteless" evenings! 

This year's event will be "shorter and, if possible, even badder and worser."
Click to embiggen

I love the idea of a Bad Music Concert. 

Back down the hall to the main floor again. 
A peek into the Smoking Room (link here). The stained glass depicts Sir Walter Raleigh, who popularized tobacco in England. 
The guide pointed out that there are two little drawers built into the fireplace, so that you could warm your brandy. 

And this is the Breakfast Room (link here). 
We exited here, which used to be the Gift Shop before it got its own outbuilding. 
This room will eventually be restored to look similar to other manor house kitchens of the era (link here). 

Did someone say "gift shop"? Of course, we had to go in! 
In addition to a couple of early Christmas gifts (woo! go, me!), I also bought myself some "Victoria Fog" tea, all locally grown. 
And a keychain with a collapsible straw and cleaner. Very cool. 

And here we are, all showing off our purchases. 
Ladies, that was so much fun! 

Thank you all for doing this - Carolyn and Janaki, we missed you both, but we'll see you soon. 
And readers, I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did! I would definitely recommend a visit to the Castle, whether you're a tourist or a tourist in your own town. 

And now, my friends, I am off to enjoy what's left of my weekend! Thank you for coming by! 


  1. What a trip down memory lane! I went there when I was 13... a mere 42 years ago. Thanks for helping to jog some great memories. Aloha from Kona!

    1. Hello! You're not too far away, my Kona friend! Aw, that's so cool that you've been there! Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I recall seeing the outside, maybe when docked. The castle is really something.

    1. It's visible from the cruise ship docks - it's a really cool place to visit.

  3. Hi Sheila,
    What fun to go on the tour with you and your Book Club friends! Thanks to one of your earlier posts, I did the preview with you and thoroughly enjoyed watching video and reading stories of the family. The castle site is rich with information and then, of course, it’s easy to go down the rabbit research hole looking for more info!
    Delighted when you pointed out your house from the Tower! Now when you show the Castle view from your house, I will imagine the Tower room and - who knows - maybe someone smiling back at you. :)
    I used to belong to one and then another book club, but the reading tastes did not mesh with mine so I became a reading club of one (me 😉) and compare books with two friends on Goodreads. You might already have this list on your blog, (I need to troll around some more!) but have you ever considered a link at the top for books your Book Club reads?
    Cheers, Laurie

    1. Thanks, Laurie, I'm so glad you enjoyed the "tour" and the preview from last week. It's very easy to get lost in the history! There were some great books in the gift shop too.

      I wasn't too sure about showing exactly where I live, but I think I'll be safe. :) I doubt there is anyone in the tower when I'm taking my pics at 7:30am, though.

      I sent you our Book Club list (via email).

  4. Okay, I just explored your Stuff About Me link and learned I could search your blog and find all your New Year posts with a list of books read. Sheepishly yours, Laurie

    1. Oh gosh, glad you found that! I will update that page to add my other "read this year" links - good idea. :)

  5. I love being there in spirit Sweetie! Thank you for the wonderful photo tour! The hair wreath is nothing like I expected. The kitchen didn’t make the tour....? Love the shout out to your Photo stair pic<3

    1. We missed you, honey! I'm glad you're able to "tour" with us here - isn't that wreath bizarre? There is no kitchen (yet) - if you follow the link on the last interior picture, there's a sketch of what it will look like when it's restored eventually.

      Hee, I thought folks would like to see it from the other side.

  6. Oh what a grand castle. It has all the grandeur of Downton Abbey (do you know this British series?). The stained glass is the most exquisite I have ever seen. So, so beautiful. And the wooden floors with all the inlays!
    The servants were better housed in this castle than in the old days when they had drafty little rooms in the attic with no window.
    Thanks for all the photos. I enjoyed this post very much.

    1. Yes, I know of Downton Abbey, but have not seen it. It's incredible stained glass, and the detail of restoration is amazing. The servants didn't have huge rooms, but having a room in the castle would have been so cool.

      Glad you enjoyed it, Greetje! If you ever come out here, I'll take you there.

  7. What a fascinating house. I love Victorian buildings and architecture. I was very interested to hear about the multiple uses the house has seen in its time and what a variety. I must try and watch that version of 'Little Women' and to see the interiors of the castle...

    What a bunch of stylish ladies!!

    Take care

    1. Isn't it cool, Vronni? I love the Castle, and love that it's in my 'hood. That version of Little Women is pretty good - the scenes of Jo at the party were all shot here, and the interior of one of the (pink) bedrooms.

      We are! Thank you!

  8. What a wonderful post, Sheila, and thank you for taking me along to visit Craigdarroch Castle. What an absolutely amazing place to have virtually on your doorstep! That stained glass is exquisite and I love all the incredible wood panelling and those staircases. This is exactly the sort of place I love visiting when we're in the UK, offering not only a look a the reception rooms, but a glimpse into bedrooms, bathrooms and servants quarters too. How creepy is that hair wreath though. Only the Victorians!
    As for your outfits, Saturday's outfit is absolute gorgeous. I'm loving the skirt's print and I'm swooning over the colour of your jumper. The necklace is stunning. L. certainly has great taste. And you do look amazing in that sequinned skirt worn with the tall boots! xxx

    1. Thanks, Ann, glad you enjoyed it! It was so fun, and I'm so happy I booked the tour for all of us! The detail is so incredible. Lol, yes, only the Victorians!

      Thank you! I'm annoyed that the colours in the skirt don't photograph properly, though. L is really good at finding me amazing jewelry (wait till you see what I'm getting for my birthday!).

  9. Wow! I remember my parents taking me there back in 1972, when I was 13. LOVED that place.

    1. Oh, that's so cool, Ellen! It has changed a lot! You'll have to come back and visit again!

  10. This was such an interesting look at the castle Sheila, thanks for sharing! What a fun day! I really like your bright and sparkly outfit and it's interesting seeing so much history in one building - we don't have a lot of that here in Brisbane as it's such a new city, I really need to travel further out and see our original aboriginal history :)

    1. Thanks so much, Mica, I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Victoria is also a fairly new city (~200 years old), but I love that much of it is still not that long ago.

  11. Great post. Now I want a dumb-waiter. Love seeing you gals in masks: a decade from now we'll all look back at photos like these and say, "Yup, that was 2020."

    1. I know, right? I also require speaking tubes!

      Oh yes, we were required to wear them, and we're all very careful around each other. I think we will be wearing them well into 2021, if not longer. :(

  12. Shiela, I love your turtleneck and Mindy's snakeskin jacket -WOW!

    How fun that you got to visit a castle with your friends. I would have been soaking in every gorgeous detail too. X

    1. Thanks so much, Jess! Isn't Mindy's coat amazing? She pulled it out at Book Club (at her house recently) and I gasped! I'm so glad she hauled it out to wear.

      The Castle was amazing! I'm really happy I went.

  13. wow, what a fabulous weekend you had! I love your outfits. Love your matchy outfit. The mini skirt outfit is hot!!!!

    1. It was wonderful! Thanks so much, Ivana! Ha ha! I'm still hot at nearly 53, woo!

  14. Thank you for taking us on a trip through the castle - all that stained glass was so beautiful, and the house looks like it's full of all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies. It definitely warranted a bit of sparkle.

  15. Thank you for this wonderful tour of the castle - My God, the woodwork is breathtaking! You and your gal pals certainly dressed for the occasion.

    1. Isn't it incredible, Shelley? I love that everyone stepped up and dressed for the occasion!

  16. I love that you are the Queen of Matchy-Town, and love that you wear your own rainbow!, so lovely yellow jacket and fab shoes!.
    I also expect my shoes to perform, totally agree!.
    And looking so fabulous in your shiny skirt and those neon shades, and the fabulously matchy bijouterie!, love your snaky bling!. And your friends look fabulous too!, ready for a fab tour!.
    Thanks for these lovely post, lots of interesting photos and details!, totally in love with the Castle (woww, the staircase is Stunning!, and stained glass!)

    1. Thanks, Monica - I know you love those shoes! Ha! Thanks very much, we had fun dressing up - glad you enjoyed the tour of the Castle with me.

  17. While I've only had the pleasure of visiting the Castle twice (that I can recall) thus far in my life, and both took place during my childhood, I have the fondest affection and spot in my heart for this true treasure of BC's past. Spending time there again the next time we're able to get to BC is at the top of my Van Island to do list. I have no doubt that it will all but take a team of wild horses to pull this history adoring gal away. :D

    Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life

    1. You must come back and visit it, Autumn! I would love to do that with you, if you wanted.


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