After Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day has passed once again and hopefully most of us keep the vets and those who died at war in out thoughts. The Canadian effort in WWll was huge and gallant. If you have not read about that effort may I recommend a few books by Mark Zeulkie

Mark Zuehlke is the winner of the 2014 Pierre Berton Award: the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media. In 2006, his Canadian Battle Series book Holding Juno won the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.  He lives in Victoria, BC.

Here are some of his books.

You might also enjoy this book by George Blackburn


All of these books provide a real insight into the battles in Europe and the incredible conditions that our Canadian boys endured.

Just saying…


On Remembrance Day we are thinking about the thousands of Canadian boys who lost their lives in Europe during two Wars. Mostly we think of Dieppe, D-Day, the battle for Caen, the liberation of Belgium and Holland, Vimy. Many Canadians are unaware of the enormous role Canadian troops played in the liberation of Italy. Canadian forces fought in Sicily and mainland Italy in 1943/44 long before D-Day.

An outstanding book by Mark Zuehlke, ORTONA, chronicles the Canadian effort from their landing to through the famous Battle for the town of Ortona which took place in December 1943.


In Ortona today there is a small war museum which is loaded with all manner of Canadian Military memorabilia and well worth a visit. In October 2014 we sat in a lovely sidewalk cafe on Corso Victor Emanuele. It is a beautiful mall now with shops and restaurants. In December 1943 it was the scene of building to building fighting as the Canadians pushed the Germans out of town.

Just south of Ortona is the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery. We visited in 2014. You enter the Cemetery by driving through part of a church. Buried here are 1563 Canadian soldiers.

Further north near Rimini is the Gredara War Cemetery, where 1188 boys, mostly Canadian are buried. It’s on a hillside and looks across the valley to the historical Gredara Castle. My good friend Phil Clark’s older brother Bob is buried here. We visited his grave in 2012.

On the western side of Italy, the Allies landed at Anzio, south of Rome. The battle on the beach and later at Monte Cassino took a great toll. In the Beach Head Commonwealth Cemetery near Anzio there are over 2300 graves including 69 Canadians.


Not far from Anzio is The World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial where 7,860 of American military war dead are buried. The majority of these individuals died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943) and the heavy fighting northward; in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944); and in air and naval support in the regions.

In POMEZIA, between Anzio and Rome is the POMEZIA German Military Cemetery. Buried here are more than 27,000 German boys who found throughout Italy. Each headstone has six names, three on each side. Visiting here was an eyrie experience.


My thanks to our Roman friend, Carlo Giartosio, for taking us from Rome to Anzio to visit these historic sites

I encourage everyone travelling to Europe to visit some of these cemeteries. You will be glad you did.

Just saying…

Lest We Forget

On the days coming up to our Remembrance Day I always think about our visits to the War Cemetery’s in France, Belgium, Holland and Italy. We have visited many of them. Susan & I toured Normandy in 1998. Youngest son Jackson and I toured Normandy, Belgium, and a bit of Holland in 2005. Susan and I visited Italian sites in 2012 and 2014. Having read a lot of the history of World War ll, I have found the need to see these places where so many young Canadians are buried.

Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944 and fought heroically all the way to Germany. Canadian troops landed in Italy in 1943 and helped drive the Gorman army out if Italy.

Not far from Juno Beach where Canadians landed on D-Day is the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery where 2,044 Canadian boys are buried. It’s a beautifully solemn place that we have visited twice. As one walks through the cemetery it’s unnerving to see the ages of these soldiers. 18-30 mostly.


We stayed in 1998 at the Chateau Audrieu about 25 k south of Juno Beach. It’s a wonderful hotel now but in the summer of 1944 it was a German Army Headquarters. The enemy had captured a number of Canadians who were murdered while POWS by Lt. Kurt Meyer. 63 were murdered at the Chateau, most of them members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. The plaque in in the village of Audrieu .

IMG_8116.JPGChateau Audreiu


Further south is the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery where 2782 Canadian boys, who fought the battle for Caen, are lying. Son Jackson and I visited here


Further south past Falaise is the small village of St. Lambert Sur Dives close to the famous Coridor of Death where 250,000 German troops tried to escape from the Allies. 100,000 made it but 250,000 were killed or captured. They had tried to move their equipment, much of it pulled by horses through a narrow single lane road with high thick hedgerows on either side. Canadian and Polish artillery and tanks decimated them.


In St Lambert stands a monument to Major David Currie who led the Calgary Horse Regiment, a tank unit, in the battle. He was honoured by the French people of the area. Later he became Sergeant at Arms in the House of Commons for many years. It is quite a proud moment to come over a hill in France and see the large Canadian flag flying here.

Major David Currie VC memorial (2)

Also in Normandy, of course, is the large American Cemetery above Omaha Beach which is the resting place of over 9000 American fallen. If you are in Normandy it is a must see place. Quite overwhelming.


If you have not visited Normandy you might want to add it to your Bucket List. The beaches, the cemetery’s, the museums are wonderful to see.

Before a visit to Normandy you might want to read


Just saying…


A Find in Qualicum Bay

Well we finally made it to the West Coast Food House in Qualicum Bay thanks to our friends Dave & Sharon. They wanted to meet us to talk about their recent trip to Italy and we we ready to share stories. So the Food House was the meeting place.

Our friends had lunched there before and were enthusiastic about the place. It’s run by the same girls who dish out great tacos at the Taco Shack on the beach. Their Tacos are outstanding so we were keen to see what else they could do. The Food House is quite casual with a big bar area housing at least three big flat screens.


We sat in a second room beside a little but cosy fireplace. A very pleasant young lady brought menus, took our drink orders and by the time she delivered them we had all decided on the SEAFOOD HOT POT.


We were not disappointed with this very tasty dish. Sort of a cioppino with Scallops, Prawns, Clams and Mussels in a delicious broth. Two slices of toast were included. It was all really yummy and we would go back for another round anytime.

The menu is limited with a focus on seafood. Saturday’s special was a Prawn Burger which sounded inviting.

If you want to include lunch in a drive up 19A you will enjoy the West Coast Fish House.


Not sure what their hours are so call ahead at 778-424-4465.

Just saying…


BISQUE in Courtenay

Since today was such a beautiful fall day we decided a drive up 19A to Courtenay might be a plan. Good plan too. Almost no traffic and wonderful fall colours all along the way. Mostly bright yellow and amber with a bit of red from time to time. Good time to go since another good wind will take down most of the leaves.

Arriving in Courtenay at 1:30 and feeling a bit peckish we decided to try something new. Our good friend Mary had recommended a joint called BISQUE. It is in a nondescript strip on 14th and from the street looks about as inviting as an auto parts store. But inside it was quite charming. All expense had been spared on the decorating but there was some interesting art on the walls.

However, the menu has some good sounding offerings. Of course, my favourite girl ordered Crab Cakes that were very good served with home cut excellent fries. I was at Bisque so I ordered, what else, seafood bisque. Very good accompanied with garlic toast and two deep fried wontons stuffed with shrimp and ginger. They were the best. All in all a pretty good late lunch. They also had an array of daily specials and our server said their pastas are worth considering.


It’s worth a visit if you want a change from a pub lunch. Check this up their menu here:

Just saying…

TASTE CAFE, Parksville

Not long ago our coffee gang tried the Taste Cafe in the Beach Club retail complex at 173 Island Highway West. It is a great location with a view of the beach and ocean and the patio would be perfect in the summer months.


They have a good selection of Tea and Coffee along with pastries. However, I  don’t think it will satisfy an early morning caffeine fix since they don’t open till 9 on weekdays and 10 on Saturday. Also they are closed on Sunday and Monday and Holidays too. Definitely not Starbucks hours!

We sat inside and while I don’t like to sound negative the place is kind of cold. Not warm and inviting at all. The chairs are truly uncomfortable metal things. Don’t plan on parking here with your iPad or laptop. You won’t be comfortable.

Having said that, the coffee was good and the cake I had was delicious. If you are craving a coffee between 9 and 4, give it a try. But I’m not going back until the sun is shining in their patio in June.

Just saying…



The Black Goose

On Friday I met some pals for lunch at the BLACK GOOSE on Resort Drive in Parksville. It was not the first visit but the first lunch there in a long time. The former McClure house is a funky old building, quite charming with lots of classic wood paneling. It seems like a pub and acts like a pub but it’s not a pub. It’s a restaurant masquerading as a pub.

The menu is loaded with items that you would expect to find in an English Pub. Fish & Chips, meat pies, bangers and mash etc. They also feature a good range of beer. My choice for lunch was a Steak & Mushroom Pie, a small one, which was delicious. To wash it down I enjoyed an Erdinger no alcohol beer probably the best one yet. On other visits I have enjoyed the Fish & Chips and the Hamburger. All good. You can perouse the menu here:

In true English Pub style you place your order at the bar and the food is delivered to your table.
In the summer a large outdoor area is available too. Lots of parking in front.


The Black Goose is not my favourite pub but it is pretty darn good. If you have not been you really should try it out.

Just saying…


We commented on FRANJIEJO’S Bakery Cafe on their opening day in July but on a Costco run to Comox today we decided to revisit Steven & Carol and have lunch. Glad we did.

Who would think to put a slice of crispy pear in a sandwich? Carol, of course. Prosciutto, Brie, carmelized Onions, a slice of pear and some spinach in between two slices of her own Fig -Walnut Bread. Are you kidding me? This Sandwich was fabulous and only $8.75.  The bread was amazingly flavourful and worked so well with the other ingredients. If you wish, add a soup or salad or both

As expected, we engaged in lively repartee with Steven. When I suggested to him the wine list was somewhat wanting, ie., non existent, he said by the new year they may have a liquor licence. A chilled glass of Pinot Gris from a Vancouver Island winery would go well with many if their menu items. We look forward to it.

If you are in Courtenay/Comox and looking for an interesting lunch give Frankiejo’s a try. You will like this little joint. Here are today’s specials:


You can find them at 501 4th Street in downtown Courtenay. They are on Facebook too. Open Monday through Friday.


Just saying…

COW CAFE West Coast Grill

An old colleague visiting from Ontario invited us to join him for lunch in Cowichan Bay last week. So we met him at the COW CAFE WEST COAST GRILL located at the south end of the village in the Oceanside Suites Hotel.

We were pleasantly surprised with the place. The cafe overlooks Cowichan Bay through very large windows so you can see the marinas and the boats anchored in the bay as well as a bit of Saltspring Island.

The menu looked really good and all our choices were excellent. Our friend decided on Halibut & Chips.  I chose the Fish Tacos that were delicious while my favourite girl enjoyed some great looking Chicken Tenders. Their fries were hand cut in house and amongst the best I’ve had all summer.

The service was excellent too and our server was a charming young lady who grew up right on Cowichan Bay.

If you are in the area, the Cow Cafe is a good choice if you are looking for lunch.

Check out the menu here:


Just saying…