CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, Drink and Love
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This house - a new series - Chapter 1 - welcome home · 3.08.14 by colin newell

This is the first in a series of many, many blogs to come on the joys of home ownership in Victoria B.C. Canada.

After a search of what feels like 20 years (yes, it can and often does take that long to find the right forever home on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island.) we are finally here. And it still feels somewhat (at times completely) surreal.

We have been living in a 2 BR / 2 BTH unit for the last 16 years or so – a large 1250 sq. ft place that made up for its flaws with a 270 degree water and mountain view – and I dare say that the view never got tired in all that time. That said, there was no real house pride because one could not really impart ones own sense of style on it. And now, with a house, it is a moderately blank palette.

One of many questions that comes up for me personally is: Why have a house and a backyard anyway? What about all the work and the stuff that needs to be maintained. Well living in a flat, apartment or condo requires maintenance – it is just that you pay someone else to do things that you can likely do yourself… cheaper and at times better… and learning new things at the same time – because learning keeps you sharp and fresh and prepared.

It also comes down to “you have to live somewhere…” and pay someone for the privilege – so you might as well pay yourself (and the bank…)

I will not spend too much time on the journey to get here because everyone knows how desirable it is to live in the city and country around Victoria and Vancouver Island… and how pricey it can be.

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Summer Food Fun and Drink 2009 Chapter 6 B.C. Transit to suspend Charter Rights for one day · 30.06.14 by colin newell

Ride the Bus - stay safe... unless you have booze!

Heading to a garden party across town on Canada Day? A blog reboot from 2009!

Arborbrook Pinot Noir Vintner’s Select 2006 at $67 a bottle (U.S.) is a remarkable grape. Any party host would welcome you with open arms.

This huge wine hits you harder than a jilted bride with bigger-than-Rita McNeil style – and flavors: fat, voluptuous with powerful fruit seasoned with ungodly quantities of exotically spicy new oak.

And if you are thinking about doing the right thing and leaving your car at home on Canada Day – I mean, doing the Legally right thing… by not drinking and driving – by taking the Bus (with this great Wine in your Man-Bag…) well think again Cowboys and Cowgirls!

B.C. Transit will have a ZERO alcohol policy on Canada Day – regardless of whether or not you are sober, wearing priestly garb or doing an emergency delivery to your favorite grape fan.

Even if you have this sealed Wine double paper bagged and sealed in your ruck sack, the folks at B.C. Transit will be taking it from you – after they illegally search you… violating your Charter Rights.

And sure, you can avoid the shake down by not taking the bus…

But that is not the point.

You have the right to ride the bus and you have the right not to be searched without probable cause.

So. Buy yourself a big fat bottle a grape and find an alternate form of transport… because you will not be riding the bus on Canada Day if you have any sober and peaceful plans to attend a civilized social somewhere!

Click here to read it from the B.C. Transit webpage.


This blog re-boot from 2009 is made available to you from the good people at the CoffeeCrew blog.

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Playing some acoustic guitar at a recent BBQ · 23.06.14 by colin newell

Here is yours truly noodling on some open Hawaiian tuning on my acoustic guitar during a recent BBQ.

Light duty stuff indeed.

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If you can read this, thank your teacher - chapter 1 · 18.06.14 by colin newell

Teachers at war with the government

Had coffee with some of my work buddies this AM – and so clueless about what the life of teachers is like…
Nothing like a totally one sided discussion to get ones java boiling in the mug!

Anyway, I felt like sending them back to Elementary school… maybe Grade 1 even.

During the various rants various myths emerged – with my factual responses attached…

MYTH a.) Teachers work 180 days a year and get paid for 365 days a year.
FACT: They get paid for the days worked and the time in – Yes, they get a pay cheque year around for days worked – and consequently, their pay packets are about equal to 10 months work or more.

MYTH b.) Teachers get every summer off.
FACT: Many teachers work part time through the summer getting ready for the coming year.

MYTH c.) Teachers DON’T need to work in the summer because they have one set of lesson plans that they can use for their entire career.
FACT: Lesson plans and curricula change year by year depending on the needs of the students and the evolution of education.

MYTH d.) Teachers are overpaid!
FACT: No, bankers are overpaid… and even that is a bit of a stretch. Bankers make investors money (like you and I) which we appreciate.

MYTH e.) You cannot fire incompetent teachers because of the Union.
FACT: Progressive discipline is in effect in most unions and professional organizations. Bad teachers that break the law or, at the other end of the extreme, don’t do their jobs simply don’t survive.

Hey, if you can read this post and understand it (you might not agree with it…) Thank your teachers.


Colin Newell is a writer, technical analyst and engineering technologist at a local University that often gets asked… “Hey. Colin. What do you do on your summers off from working at a University?

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Living in Victoria - Fernwood Bites · 4.06.14 by colin newell

Fernwood Bites - you have to eat here!

Fernwood’s tastiest event, Fernwood Bites, is back for the fifth year in a row. In partnership with Cook Culture & local restaurateurs, Fernwood NRG is offering food-&-drink-lovers a chance to sample Victoria’s finest fare at its annual tasting event and fundraiser.

Happening in Fernwood Square on Sunday, June 22nd, the event will feature an evening of food and drink sampling, live jazz, and a silent auction of items donated by local artists and businesses. Proceeds will help fund Fernwood’s sustainable food initiatives including the Good Food Box, Fernwood Neighborhood Orchard, and Kitchen Garden Pilot Project.

Participants in Fernwood Bites include 10 Acres Bistro + Bar + Farm, AJ’s Organic Cafe, Aubergine Specialty Foods, Be Love, Bon Macaron Patisserie, Bona Vini Wines Co., Cascadia Bakery, Charelli’s Cheese Shop and Delicatessen, Choux Choux Charcuterie, Cook Culture, Discovery Coffee, Fernwood Inn, The Hot & Cold Cafe, Hoyne Brewing Co., Lonetree Cider, Olive The Senses, Origin Bakery, Padella Italian Bistro, Phillips Brewing Co., Renaissance Wine Merchants, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, Silk Road Tea, Spinnakers, Stage Wine Bar, Stir It Up, Wildfire Bakery, Yates Street Taphouse, and Yonni’s Doughnuts.

Fernwood Bites 2014

Fernwood Bites will run from 5:30-8pm on Sunday, June 22nd in Fernwood Square (Gladstone at Fernwood). Tickets for this 19+ event are $50 and include all samples. Tickets are available online at fernwoodbites2014.eventbrite.ca.

About Fernwood NRG
Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group is a charitable organization that offers programs and services to the neighbourhood of Fernwood, including childcare, affordable housing, family support services, parenting groups, community recreation and celebration. Led by a membership of neighbourhood residents, Fernwood NRG sets as its highest goal social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Fernwood NRG believes that a neighbourhood society should be responsive, active, engaging and fun. For more information about Fernwood NRG, please visit www.fernwoodnrg.ca

For some more yummy looking photos of Fernwood Bites from last year – head over here


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and freelance food and drink writer – active in the Victoria area and Canada since 1995!

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Buying a house in Victoria B.C. Canada - the series · 27.05.14 by colin newell

House - found and bought... finally

Andrea and I, after over a decade of searching for the perfect place…

Have found a new home. And we will be taking possession and moving in later on in July.

This is a culmination of over a decades worth of effort. And I know what some of you are thinking…

“What took you so long? Ten years!? Your realtor must have died of shock or exhaustion. Think of all your lost time…”

And so on.

Picture – Standing in front of the house that Colin (and Andrea) bought!

Truth be told, we have been in a really nice suite in a great neighborhood with great water views and high above everything… but a kitchen the size of a large cardboard box – a galley kitchen… and this is what has been dragging us down for quite a few years. Lack of a decent kitchen and a guest ready 2nd bedroom has curtailed our life in ways that, yea, we will never get back… but now is a time for celebration and moving forward…

And a great opportunity to kick this blog back into gear and get some readers back.

So there it is – I will be talking about the joys of the search. The upside and downside of house hunting in some of the richest neighborhoods in North America (with a limited budget…) and
the necessity of buckling down and spending over 20 years saving for the house of our dreams…

Coming up. On the Coffeecrew blog.

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