Monthly Archives: April 2015

Albert County

Well – my sister came to visit and suggested that I write about Albert County – where I grew up – where I learned so much from my mom and dad about how to be a good citizen and where I always feel at home.  Albert County is an amazing place to visit – pretty unique place in this crazy world we live in.  It is beautiful, a little redneck yet was where the 11th Prime Minister of Canada hailed from.  My family has deep roots in Albert County as does everyone who had the opportunity to grow up there.  There are so many things to see and be excited about there – you have to add it to your list of places to visit.

RB Bennett grew up in Albert County and although he studied law in Halifax and moved to Calgary in the then North-West Territories where he eventually became Prime-Minister of Canada from 1930 to 1935.  He retired to England and actually became the only Canadian Prime Minister to be elevated to Viscount and was actually called Viscount of Hopewell as one of his titles – Hopewell is in Albert County.

Albert County has “the Rocks”, underground lake, Hayward Pinnicle, the world’s highest tides (although Nova Scotia will argue this) in the Bay of Fundy, the world’s best lobster ( yes Gordon Ramsey does not know his lobster) and so much more.

I plan to write more about this amazing place.  Although there are many places like this in the world, it is the place where my 80 year-old mom goes to the nursing home to take care of “the seniors” – how can you not like a place like that!!

Valley of the Moon Winery and San Francisco

In June of 2013 we took our annual anniversary trip to San Francisco, CA and added in Sonoma wine country and a nice getaway to Bodega Bay.  It is hard to explain California to those who have not visited – there is just so much do see and do that it is like going to lots of different places – but all just a short (or longer) drive away.

The title of the post is Valley of the Moon Winery and I will get back to that shortly here, but first, I wanted to talk a bit about San Francisco.  Firstly, it is difficult to get good weather in SF but it really doesn’t matter – it is just a really cool place.  Just riding cable cars could keep me busy for a week; the food is amazing (just the Dungeness Crab is worth the trip), and the interesting history of the city all combine to make it one of our favourite places.  One thing you should do if you get a chance is to try a “speakeasy” bar.  We went to Bourbon and Branch a really cool speakeasy bar – you have to try it out. You will have to find the password to get in online before you go because you have to knock on the hidden door and give the password to get in – but worth the visit.

Just north of the city of SF, across the Golden Gate Bridge you start to see signs of wine country almost immediately.  Sonoma county is such a fun way to visit wine country.  We liked Sonoma much more than Napa.  We found Napa to be too commercial for us but Sonoma wa more quaint, small country roads in all directions with small interesting wineries to be found all over.  We visited a few wineries and tasted wines – a very relaxing day.  After a few wineries it becomes a little difficult to decide which of the wines you like best – which brings me to Valley of the Moon winery.  We visited Valley of the Moon later in the day and therefore didn’t expect to have a wine show itself like this one.  The 2009 Cuvée de la Luna Cabernet Sauvignon was the wine we tried and we ended up buying 6 bottles of the wine when we are only allowed to bring 4 back to Canada – it was just that good!   I have added the link to the Valley of the Moon Winery so that you can check the place out and hopefully get out there and try the wine.

Beyond Sonoma, explore a bit whether it is Santa Rosa, Bodega Bay or driving the Russian River Valley it all so interesting to see.  If you have a couple of days and you just want to relax, consider the Sonoma Coast Villa and Spa in (or almost in ) Bodega Bay.

I could go on and on about Northern California but don’t take my word for it – go and see it – and taste it!!!

 

Silver Streaming – interesting investment

When I first read about silver streaming companies, I thought it was a crazy idea – how could a company exist that was a mining company of sorts that actually did not mine anything.  Silver streaming companies enter into a contract with mining companies who are actually mining something else such as base metals or gold, etc. and silver is a by- product of the mining business.  The advantage of having a by-product like silver that is actually a precious metal is that the by-product is worth a lot of money.

The mining company can enter into a contract with a streaming company such as Silver Wheaton, the worlds largest silver streaming company to use the silver by-product to finance the mining operation.  The financing deal with a streaming company is great for both the streaming company and the mining company since the mining company get money up front from the streaming company to develop the mining operation and the streaming company gets a reliable stream of silver – their product down the road.

Streaming companies are big!  Silver Wheaton for example had 2014 sales of $620 M and a net income of $199 M.

If you are looking at the idea of investment in precious metals now because you might  be losing confidence in financial investments, silver streaming might be a choice you want to look at.  At the current time, silver is priced pretty low, in my opinion.  The price of silver on April 24th when I am writing this is $15.74 an ounce which I consider to be quite low.  Four years ago on the same date in 2011 it was $46 an ounce.  For those not used to precious metals prices – this might seem crazy but that is the market.  Is it worth more now – is it a good buy – could be!

Have a look at silver streaming as an investment and have a look at Silver Wheaton as an investment in that sector – do some research on Silver Wheaton – looks pretty good to me.

Silver Wheaton website is here.

A visit to California Wine Country – Paso Robles

I though I would leave a quick note to recommend a different approach to California Wine Country.  We have visited Sonoma and Napa and that of course is great, but last summer we decided to visit Paso Robles, south of San Francisco instead.  We were lucky enough to have this place recommended to us called the Canyon Villa in Paso Robles.  We went there for a 3 night stay in June of 2014 and it was delightful.  A beautiful place in excellent wine country!.

The Canyon Villa has been sold to new owners this year and I have just received an email from the new owners explaining how it would be great to go back and visit – I am sure it would be – so give it a try – it really is wonderful.

 

When a Budget is not a budget

There is a lot of things in this document!  It certainly can be argued that Canada has done many things right when it comes to managing financially – you can see this in the 528 page document that is the Canadian government budget for 2015-2016.  Or wait is it for one year or for the last 9 years and the next 10 years!

Reading this document makes you realize that it is not so much a budget (although it is in there somewhere) it is more a report of what the government has done in 9 years and what they hope to do over the next 10 years.

I would rather see what the government plans to do with the thousands of dollars of taxes that they take from me every year. You can see it here. Budget

Travel ideas – what do you think?

I love travelling, for many reasons.  Firstly, when you are travelling, you are on vacation normally, thus you have freedom of your time.  It might be like being independently wealthy or being retired – actually I don’t really know since I am neither but I like the freedom of deciding everyday what to do with the day.  I also like what you learn by “being” somewhere else – you can observe how others live – what life is like in other places – it is relaxing to do this analysis on vacation.  Thirdly, when I am away, long enough to get into a sense of the culture of where I am visiting, I can separate myself from my life at home and think about the way others live – it really opens up your view of life.

I live in Canada and that makes travelling to the US quite simple and travel in the US is easy to do and relaxing; there is not really any culture shock.  Don’t get me wrong; I like experiencing other cultures and we do that on our travels, but in the US, we can just visit, relax and enjoy life similar to at home.  US cities are close, short flights that are not expensive and the cost of living is similar to or less than at home.  Portland, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Washington, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego – there is so much to do and see in US cities – don’t discount them for going “down south”, meaning an all inclusive in a tropical place.

I love the Caribbean!  I have not visited as much as I would like, but enough to get a sense that I love it!  We visited Cuba at an all inclusive a few years back.  We are not all inclusive people because we like to visit, live like the locals, etc., so the all inclusive approach to a vacation doesn’t really work for us – but still, it is vacation, it is in a beautiful place and I am not arrogant enough to say I don’t like vacation.  In Cuba we visited Havana and it was amazing – such an old city but it was difficult to see how people had to live and how hard they had to work just to feed their children.  I am not an expert on politics but the Castro dream of having their own system and the US need to punish that has results in millions of amazing Cuban people living difficult lives – I found it hard to see and not be able to do anything about it.  Che Guevara was worse – just a career revolutionary who didn’t care about how people had to work 7 days a week 18 hours a day to eat, as long as he was overthrowing some form of government.  Ok, enough of a rant on that.  I was talking about the Caribbean.  Six years ago we went on a cruise – mistake for us – but we went on a cruise.   The cruise went to Caribbean islands, including St. Thomas,  and Sint Maarten.  The cruise didn’t give us much of a chance to see the islands, but gave us the idea that we wanted to go back.

So, two years ago we went back – we rented a villa with two other couples and it was amazing.  The island of Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island and St. Martin, the French side is such a cool place to visit.  Our villa overlooked Simpson Bay and the airport, had an infinity pool, lots of space, etc and was such a relaxing vacation.

That gave us the taste of of the Caribbean – good stuff.  That took us back to the Caribbean.  We found a deal of a time share deal in Barbados at The Crane and flights with Air Miles so we spent a week in luxury for $400 for two – amazing deal for the best trip ever!!!  Barbados was perfect for us – The Crane is an upscale timeshare resort – one of the nicest place we have ever seen.  We rented a car and visited nearly everywhere on the island.  It is hard to explain Barbados but mostly it is the people!  Friendliest people ever – and this comes from someone from Canada!!  We even went to Sandy Lane for dinner!  Sandy Lane is where the rich and famous vacation but you can go to dinner there and they treat you like royalty – it is the Bajan way!!!  $3,500 a night to stay but you can eat on the patio at the water’s edge for $2oo – amazing!!

There are so many other places we have been and so many places to go and I was thinking of putting together some idea to share on the blog.  I would like to get your thoughts on the idea – what to you think – should I write some ideas?