Friday, 1 August 2014

I Left My Heart...

Just how cool is Kelowna? Cool enough for Tony Bennett! And how cool is Tony Bennett? Why not ask John Mayer, Queen Latifah and Lady Gaga, or any of the names on the cover list above... In other words, pretty darn cool.

But why am I banging on about Tony Bennett? Because tonight and tomorrow night he is playing at Mission Hill Winery as part of their summer concert series. Performing in the estate's natual amphitheatre overlooking Okanagan Lake, Bennett will no dount be belting out - or should I say crooning - the hits that have made him famous, and keep him as (argueably) relevant and (definitely) beloved now as he was back in the day.

Mission Hill offers different wine and dine/meet and greet packages for their concerts, and apparently some last minute tickets have been released. For more information on these, head to:

'Maybe This Time'... you'll be lucky enough to score some tix. (<Sorry, absolutely couldn't resist the opportunity for a good 'greatest hits' inspired pun.
PostScript: Oh blast. I have just gone online to check ticket availability, and they are now all gone. Maybe next time? 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Look to the Sky...

Some people are keen on syncronised swimming, others on syncronised skating... but ask any Canadian and you will probably discover they prefer their syncronisation involving either horses or airplanes.  The former of these is via the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride, which I think every Canadian child has seen at least once in their lives, and the latter is via The Snowbirds - ditto - who have been dazzling crowds with their aerial displays for decades.

Driving home from work this evening, I was able to catch glimpses of the Snowbirds over Okanagan Lake where the Canadian Forces aeronauts were putting on a show for crowds of Kelownians. It's been two years since The Snowbirds visited the city, and today was one of only three performances booked in BC this year. Organised by The Rotary Club, the event also included a VIP banquet and fundraiser for a variety of local projects.

There's nothing quite as exhilarating as watching powerful jets performing intricate patterns in the sky. Somehow, one cannot help but be blown away at the training and skill that must go in to being able to accomplish such manoeuvres. Great fun. Distinctly Canadian.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Dîner en Blanc... Kelowna

Driving out to the airport a week or so ago to collect my husband, I drove by the Pandosy Mission, passing a school bus and a long line of white-clad individuals.  Returning from said airport with said husband an hour later, the grounds of the Mission had turned into a sea of white. These two observations added together in my head, and I reached the obvious conclusion – it was that ‘Dîner en Blanc’ time of year.

Dîner en Blanc is described as a ‘secret supper club picnic’ where all of the guests - and table accoutrements - must be in, well any colour as long as it is W.H.I.T.E. You need to sign up in advance to buy tickets to the event (and these are so in demand it is really helpful if you are ‘sponsored’ or ‘invited’ by someone who has attended previously), and the location is a secret until the last minute, with attendees joining buses at various assigned locations to take them to the event.  In some respects, it is kind of like a rave, only with picnic baskets.

According to various internet blogs, Dîner en  Blanc was started in 1988 in Paris by a man named François Pasquier, who invited a few friends to the Bois de Boulogne one day in June. To find each other in the park, they all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided the next year, each person would invite some other friends. The result?  The event grew organically into the 10000+ dinner it is today, occupying some of Paris’ most beautiful heritage sites.

Not to be outdone, other cities joined in and soon Dîner en Blanc became a global phenomenon, with the event taking place in cities as diverse as Kigali, Singapore, Montreal and Mexico City. How cool is it, that it also takes place in Kelowna? I think next year, I am going to have to try and get in on the secret.

In the meantime, I will leave you with words from two Kelownians who were in on this year's event...
"We had a wonderful time... much more fun than one should have on a Thursday night! Who would have thought attending an event with so many rules would be so much fun?!" - Laura Draycott, Owner, Wink i Wear

Top 'Dîner en Blanc' Tip: "You have to do a bit of walking and often on grass so choose your shoes wisely." - Constance Bachmann, Artist.  (Sounds like stilettos are best left at home!)


Saturday, 19 July 2014


One of the great things about living in London was being able to spend an afternoon snooping around its many fabulous (and famous) markets. One of my favourites was The Stables Market in Camden, which was chock full of the greatest antique and retro home furnishing and collectibles. I loved the fact that you could find the greatest deals on the greatest stuff, allowing you to fashionably kit out your flat without succumbing to exorbitant designer prices. Plus you were also guaranteed to find something completely original, rather than the same-old same-old cookie cutter merchandise.

ReMix Gallery and Warehouse, in West Kelowna, very much fits in with this ethos. It is chock-a-block full of interesting furniture from many decades, and includes some real treasures. In their own words: "At Remix we bring together a fun, curated, and interesting mix of furniture, accessories and art -- a mix that is dynamic and ever-changing… always mixing styles, eras and price-points. What unifies every item is the purpose and passion it was selected with, and the style and personality each item brings to a space.” 

My Sunday afternoon snoop turned up everything from the gorgeous leather sectional, pictured above, to the perfect 70's hanging basket chair,  to a LeCorbusier-style leather loveseat and chair combo, pictured below.  A current trawl on their facebook site today has also turned up a vintage Persian rug and a Norwalk ottamon/bench covered in ostrich leather, the latter which would look perfect in my front hall. 

The other thing I love about this place is how they display their finds.  Each room is a beautifully designed little vignette, so you feel more like you are mooching about in someone's beautifully designed home rather than a shop. If you are willing to do some work, there are also some great fixer-upper pieces to be had.  I picked up a cutest 50's-modern bookcase, which as soon as it is repainted - black, white or Schiaparelli pink, I haven't quite decided yet - is going to add the greatest eclectic touch to our spare bedroom.

Remix Warehouse Gallery:
2049 Louie Drive, West Kelowna
Tel: 778-754-3390
Open to the public Sundays from 11am to 4pm.
Open BY APPOINTMENT Mondays to Fridays
(Call 250-870-4280 to book your appointment).
Closed Saturdays.

A Lounging Hound By Any Other Name...

One of the things my husband and I dreamed about, when living in our 460-square-foot-ridiculously-expensive flat in Central London, was moving to Canada where we would be able to afford a house
with a back yard - specifically so we could get a dog. Fast forward two years. Live in Canada? Check. Have a house? Check. Have a yard? Check. Have a dog? You better believe it.

I love my puppy, and like every other working fur-mom, I get terribly guilty at the thought of leaving my little fur-monster at home by himself – even if only for a few hours – while I am out earning money to buy kibble. That is why I was so happy – no, let’s be honest, ECSTATIC – to discover Watson’s Hound Lounge, a doggy daycare where the emphasis is definitely on ‘care’.

Located in the Stewart Centre on Kirschner Road, Watson’s will look after your pet from 7:30am to 5:30pm (late pickups can be arranged with prior notice) and give them a day packed with furry fun.  The facility is a kennel-free 7200 square feet, with separate indoor exercise arenas for large and small dogs, plus a chill out zone complete with comfy sofa.  Pack sizes are limited, and there is a strict people-to-pup ratio, so you never have to worry about Fido getting lonesome. There is also a lovely outside enclosure where dogs can take in the sunshine and fresh air on nice summer days.

Watson’s (named after owner Laura Vigor’s gorgeous rescue Weinmaraner) also stocks quality dog food (Acana) and accessories, and you can even get a gorgeous custom sweater knitted for your best friend’s birthday. There is also a grooming service on site, which can turn a visit into a fully-fledged spa day for your pet; and spa is the key word here, because with its wood floors, white walls, wing back chairs, chandeliers and contemporary doggy wall art, you just might want to hang out in reception yourself while your dog is getting pampered.

Rates are a reasonable $17 for up to 5 hours and $27 for a full day, and you can arrange a short stay of less than 2 hours for $10 – perfect for a quick trip to the hairdressers for yourself. You can also block buy 4 days at t time for additional savings. Oh and did I mention the webcams? The Hound Lounge is kitted out with ten webcams, so owners can log on anytime, anywhere and see how their pooch is getting on. Genius.

Watson’s Hound Lounge: 
#185 – 1855 Kirschner Road
Kelowna, V1Y 4N7
Tel: 778 484 4479
Photos by Victor Poirier

Friday, 18 July 2014

Festivals A Go Go...

Festivals, ya gotta love em. And apparently people in the Okanagan do. Every summer there are a plethora of ones to choose from, stretching from Osoyoos in the south to Salmon Arm in the north.

How about the Annual Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival in Penticton in June (How mad is that? And this was its 13th year!). Or Kelowha Arts and Music Festival in Waterfront Park, Kelowna last weekend.  Or the upcoming Centre of Gravity festival (all things sports and music) coming up next weekend (July 25-27) in City Park Kelowna. And then there is the 22nd Annual Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, Aug 15- 17th. Not to mention Peachfest in Pentiction, Aug 6-10th.  I could go on, but I think you get what I am driving at.

If you really want to get an idea of the breadth of what’s going on this summer, keep an eye out for the 2014 Ultimate Festival Guide published by BC Musician.  The new summer issue of ICON Okanagan also has some listings for what is going on over the next three months.  But the bottom line is, whatever your interest – be it dragon boats or bluegrass – there is something to tickle your fancy.

 So... what makes festivals so enduringly popular? And Kelowna such a popular location for them? "Festivals are so much fun," enthuses Anita McFarlane. "There are all kinds of vendors, and activities, different types of food. There's just so much to do and experience. The weather in the Okanagan Valley really lends itself to festivals as well. Generally, it is always quite gorgeous."

Sadly, I have to admit that for all my years in the UK, I never once made it to Glastonbury; not even the year my husband’s best friend’s band was playing and we had backstage invites. Why we passed on that I have no recollection, but we obviously must had had a better [?] offer that weekend. So… maybe this summer is the perfect opportunity to start making up for lost time?

Image from

How I (Sometimes) Spend my Saturday Afternoons…

If there one thing I have learned in my professional life, it's that photo shoots never quite follow the nine-to-five routine.  Try as you might to steer them in a particular direction, they seem to have a mind of their own, and that mind frequently runs to having themselves happening on weekends, or running to 3:00 am. (Which is OK, because the creative mind doesn’t really work its best 9 to 5 anyway.)

That’s how, one lovely sunny Saturday afternoon last month, I found myself at Downtown Marina with a crew (no pun intended) of fabulous fashion professionals (including photographer Caitlyn Chapman, above) shooting swimwear for the summer edition of ICON Okanagan, using quite possibly the most beautiful boat I have ever seen – a 1939 vintage teak Chris Craft. (Thanks Peter Middleton and Absolute Classics Marine!)

We had the loveliest selection of clothes and accessories too: swimwear from Celladora and Esteem Lingerie, sunglasses from Wink i Wear and vintage hats and bags from Georgie Girl. I seriously covet the Rash guard top and retro short bottoms we shot from Vitamin A, although I think I will have to hit the gym with a vengeance if they are ever to look a fraction as good on me as they did on our lovely DEJAVU model Holly.
Of course, in typical shoot fashion, the minute we were ready to go the wind whipped up to semi-hurricane proportions, making our makeshift changing tent of two beach towels and a sheet a little bit tricky for the model, and those who were holding it.  But we persevered and the results are really quite lovely, as you can see for yourself in the new edition of ICON – out now.