Best of Both Worlds, now at Fan Tan Alley

“When we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives.” — Yo-Yo Ma

Linda and I visited Best of Both Worlds at the Quadra Street location in the fall of 2015.
However, this new location in popular Fan Tan Alley is proving to be a good move, due to the enhanced foot traffic.


The first thing that caught my eye upon

entering the store was this silk lamp

from Thailand.  Striking!



Then there was the collection of  small

lidded boxes — a weakness of mine! —

made of mango wood.

Of course, there were Thai silk scarves……………

………………….beautiful hand crafted paper parasols………..

………………..picnic baskets from China………….an elephant table from Thailand……..

……………..Thai silk cushions……………….

……………..carved statues and figures………….

……………wall carvings…………………bamboo ladders for climbing or for displaying throws, etc.

And then there was the furniture, such as this 12-drawer teak cabinet from Thailand,
or this 30″ saddle stool from China,
or this reclaimed teak cabinet from Thailand,
or this substantial warrior chair made of monkey wood from Thailand, or this armoire from China.

There were several styles of carts from India.

There were unique shelf units or bar storage units from India made of reclaimed wood and iron.

Reclaimed wood items from India seemed to be particularly popular.

Perhaps because I’m a newly minted grandma, I was drawn to this child’s rocker from Thailand,

and this, my favourite piece, a unique chest from India made of reclaimed wood.

Do visit this charming store in Fan Tan Alley or the warehouse on Quadra St and let your senses experience some of the unique products from the Far Eastern world.  Your sense of smell will let you know when you’ve crossed the threshold!


Best of Both Worlds

19 Fan Tan Alley

2713 Quadra Street 

Mon – Sat 10 – 5,  Sun Noon – 5

VENUS SOPHIA – Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery

“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

On a rainy, blustery Saturday, I met with a university friend for a long walk on Dallas Road. As we neared the end of our walk my friend suggested that we sup at the Venus Sophia. “The Venus Sophia?” I queried, “what is that?” “It is a quaint restaurant that serves afternoon tea and lunches located in Chinatown,” was her reply. As soon as I heard afternoon tea I was in. Really, what is more civilized and more soothing than sitting down to a plate of savouries and sweets with a steaming pot of tea placed in front of you.

Venus Sophia is a vegetarian tea room and cafe. There are cosy nooks and upholstered chairs to lounge in as your meal is served. The restaurant has the ambience of an English sitting room with cushions, lamps and pictures scattered throughout.


The Sweetheart Afternoon Tea was in honour of Valentines Day. The Signature Tea is served daily.


The finger sandwiches were tasty (all with vegetarian fillings) and the cranberry scones were delicious. The sweets were not too sweet. On the second tier there are chocolate covered strawberries.


Ah!! I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my friend and her hubby enjoying their tea.


Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery
540 Fisgard St,
Victoria, BC

(250) 590-3953

Wed-Sun 11:00-6:00

Pure Lovin’ Chocolate

“I have a very big sweet tooth and I love treating myself to something that I wouldn’t necessarily eat during the tournament such as a nice-sized cake.”
— Maria Sharapova
But what could the tennis star possibly have if she wanted

chocolates and vegan and soy-free treats and was gluten intolerant?

Faster than your favourite search engine, here’s the answer:

Chocolates from Pure Lovin’ Chocolates!

The owners of Pure Lovin’ Chocolates are a mother/daughter team, Cyndy and Leah Blackburn.

Started through digestive necessity and desiring fine chocolates,

the Red Seal certified daughter, Leah, and her mother

developed these fine morsels of wholesome delicacies

based on Fair Trade and organic ingredients, such as chocolate and coconut cream.


Check out the various confections, such as (clockwise from the top) Hazelnut Hearts, Hot Chili Truffles, and Lemon Ginger Truffles………………… clockwise-from-top-hazelnut-hearts-hot-chili-truffles-lemon-ginger-truffles


……………………Pecan Caramel Cups  (top),   Coconut Almond Cups  (front)……..pecan-caramel-cup-rear-coconut-almond-cup-front

…………..Raspberry Truffles  (L),  Peppermint Cremes  (R),…………………….


…………..and my personal faves:  Maple Cremes and Peanut Butter Cups.
As the notice on the door under “Owner Operated”  proudly advises, “The person who built this business works here.”           That says a lot!sign-on-door

Pure Lovin’ Chocolates also offers packaged delicacies:


and also on offer is their organic Chocolate Caramel Sauce.

Check it out, either in Fan Tan Alley south of Fisgard or off Pandora Avenue entering Fan Tan Alley.

Pure Lovin’ Chocolate
#102, 3 Fan Tan Alley 

Open 11 – 6 Mon- Sat,  11 – 5 Sun.

Fan Tan Gallery

“I like to look for gifts throughout the year.  If I find the perfect item for someone, I put it in my “gift closet” and keep it for the next holiday.  But I often get too excited and just give it to them before!”  — Christina Hendricks

Sooo……..I’m not the only one with a “gift closet”!

Linda appreciates beautiful things, and she’s also practical.   When we casually browsed through Fan Tan Gallery and Linda spotted the Linnea display, she gave that an approving nod.
For each month the calendar features a beautiful 11″ X 14″ art print suitable for framing or mounting to any flat surface. Beautiful and practical!

I bought one to keep for her as a Christmas gift. But you know that it didn’t make it to December!
Fortunately, her birthday came up before December so the Linnea calendar was out!
The calendar is not by any means the sole draw at the Fan Tan Gallery, also known as Fan Tan Home & Style.

The shop, with its double storefront presence on downtown Fisgard offers a wide variety of wares made locally in BC, in Canada, and carefully sourced internationally by the owner, Janet, ranging from the USA and Europe to India and Afghanistan.
There are the Cedar Mountain marble coasters and art blocks from Salt Spring Island,   fan-tan-gallery-13
artisanal small batch foods and dishes also made on Saltspring Island and elsewhere in Canada,
fan-tan-gallery-5      fan-tan-gallery-4

candles and room atomizers made in the USA,
socks hand-knitted in Afghanistan from wool and lined with a thin, soft fleece,

personal bath and toiletry products sourced in Italy, in France,
fan-tan-gallery-30   fan-tan-gallery-34

more from France,
            and more from France,

quilts from India made in the Kantha style,fan-tan-gallery-24

more quilts with their exuberant colours,
fan-tan-gallery-23     fan-tan-gallery-21

wooden blocks from India which are used for printing their fabric,

fabric printed using various wooden blocks,
more samples of block-printed fabric, scarves,
fan-tan-gallery-25      fan-tan-gallery-20

.              and

Of course, right now there are displays of seasonal items…………..some rustic,

some glitzier.
fan-tan-gallery-31     fan-tan-gallery-2


For gift-giving anytime — or for myself! — there’s a good selection of Blue Q socks,

games and puzzles,
          tin cups,

pretty ring holders,

and tidy, tiny plants.

Sure, come to the Fan Tan Gallery  for the beautiful Linnea calendar, but you’ll surely leave with
at least one other unique item — I promise!

Fan Tan Gallery
541 Fisgard St
250- 382-4424

Mon – Sat 9:30 – 5:30, Sun 11:30 – 5

Cumberland Museum & Archives

Museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions. If you want to put it in negative terms, they are propaganda machines. Hans Haacke

The village of Cumberland is nestled between ocean and mountains in the Comox Valley. With a population of 3400  it is the little town that does. Does what you ask? Does it have a viable bike shop? consignment store?, chocolate shop?,yes, yes, and yes and also a bookstore, unique coffee shops and a museum that has sensitively recorded the community’s history…. the good and the bad.


We spent a morning in the Cumberland Museum & Archives building, reading and exploring the different displays. There was the hospital and general store display,



the iron lung machine for TB patients,


well written reports on Chinatown and Japantown that had been established in the area in the late 19C, and early 20C,




posters on Wanted Men….note on why Joseph Naylor was wanted.


and most impressive was  the descent into the basement and entering a replica coal mine.





Cumberland Museum is well worth a visit when you explore up Island.

Cumberland Museum and Archives

2680 Dunsmuir Ave,
Cumberland, BC
(250) 336-2445
Sun-Sat: 10:00 am -5:00pm


In the 1890’s Victoria’s Chinatown was known for its maze of alleyways and court yards, containing everything from theatres and restaurants to gambling dens. (Royal BC Museum)

Now it is a popular area that includes historic buildings, an array of unique shops and eateries and a number of businesses devoted to Chinese kitchenware and household goods. I was thrilled to see all the blue and white kitchen ware (my fave colour) in various patterns and designs. There really is too much to list…we hope the pictures will help.









ChinatownWe literally stumbled into Fan Tan Alley: the narrowest street in Canada. At 3-6 feet wide and 240 feet long, the Alley runs from Fisgard Street to Pandora Avenue….if you are facing South. Now if you should be standing with your back to Pandora Street…then you would be heading North, up the Alley. Either direction be sure to check out the collection of foodie shops and boutiques that are connected to this wonderful street!

Fan Tan Alley

Fan Pan AlleyWe encourage to explore Victoria’s Chinatown; the oldest in Canada and the 2nd oldest in North America, after San Francisco. From the Gates of Harmonious Interest…..


… the shops and businesses of Chinatown.