Almost time for sitting out on the deck!

Almost time for sitting out on the deck!

Thank you for visiting our Cobble House website!  We’re excited to launch the “new and improved” version which has a cleaner look, is hopefully more intuitive for searching all the information you’re looking for, AND is now a responsive site so that you’ll be able to find us easily on your desktop, your tablet, and your smart phone, and not lose any of the access to information.  As everyone probably knows, doing a website is a lot of work, and I spent a lot of time educating myself on the best practices.  Boy there is a lot to learn, and no sooner do you have the hang of things a bit and things change again!  I had a lot of help from my web designer who knows so much more about all the technical details!  I’m continuing to try and learn as much as possible about the whole online world.  Who knew when we opened the doors at Cobble House almost 21 years ago what we’d all have to learn!  As an innkeeper you’re supposed to know enough about a whole lot of things so that even if you don’t do everything yourself, you still have to know enough to hire the right people and ask the right questions!

We welcome your visits, to both the website and our Bed & Breakfast in the beautiful Cowichan Valley, and let us know what you think!  Spring has arrived and we’re putting together some new specials and packages, so stay tuned and hope to see you here soon!

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We’ve lived and done business in the Cowichan Valley now for almost 20 years and during that time the Valley and the region have developed quite the reputation not only for its wines and cider, but also for the great food scene.  Many specialty products are available at the local Farmers Markets, some in local and other grocery stores or online, and many can be bought right at the farm.

Here are a couple of great products to check out:

Cowichan Pasta Company

Raviolis and other pasta made from 100% Island ingredients, starting with locally grown wheat milled at True Grain in Cowichan Bay.  How about Stinging Nettle Rotini, Dungeness Crab Squash Ravioli, Smoked Corn & Chanterelle Ravioli?  Different and interesting flavors made from locally grown and fished ingredients.  You can find the Cowichan Pasta Company at Victoria’s Moss Street Market on Saturday and the Cedar Farmers Market on Sunday, or buy their pasta at Country Grocer stores, Cowichan Bay Seafood and Cowichan Valley Meat Market, as well at the Markets on Yates & Goldstream.  Chef/owner Matt Horn was recently recognized as part of Western Living magazine’s “40 Foodies under 40” , an annual listing of young chefs/creators of new and unique food products and businesses.

Vancouver Island Salt Company

Established just a few years ago by Andrew Shephard, the Vancouver Island Salt Company offers hand-crafted artisan salts.  The Cowichan Pasta company uses Vancouver Islands salts in their pasta, as do numerous other chefs in the region and beyond.   Infused sea salts with such flavors as roasted garlic, mustard, banana pepper, blue cheese and orange & lime are just a few of the salts that are produced.  You can purchase them online through their website or buy them at all Thrifty Foods and Country Grocer stores around BC, some specialty food stores across Canada and locally at Hilary’s Cheese, Omas Bakery and the Community Farm Store.  The Vancouver Island Salt Company was invited as one of only 20 food artisans from across Canada to attend the Ace Artisan Incubator in Toronto last week.

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Tea Farm 3We finally made it out to the Cowichan Valley’s Tea Farm a couple of weekends ago on a rather dark Sunday afternoon.  Our friend and I had talked about checking it out last year, but we never did make it, so recently we made a point of setting a date so we would actually go.

The Tea Farm is on Richards Trail, which runs between Herd Road and Westholme Road, a very pretty, scenic drive in itself.  Before we bought our property on Cameron-Taggart Road we actually almost bought one on Richards Trail, so I enjoyed the drive there very much.  We spent a lovely couple of hours at the farm, enjoying a pot of tea of our choice and some delicious cake and chocolate truffles, locally hand made by Pearl Chocolate.

Owner Margit Nellemann, who was our hostess, took lots of time to tell us about their product.  The Tea Farm is an organic farm and is the only place in Canada where tea is being grown.  Two hundred tea plants were planted and are now in their 4th year.  So far so good, only one plant has been lost, although when we visited the deer had just gotten into the tea!  Deer are a fact of life in the Cowichan Valley, and regular visitors around our property too, so tea plants are obviously not on the “deer proof” list either!  While the tea plants are maturing to a first harvest, Margit and partner Victor bring in organic teas from around the world and make their own blends with herbs, plants and flowers grown on their property.  The tea of the day was Pig Tea, and we had a sample of that, and I then tried horse tea, a herbal tea from their Zodiac tea line, while our friend had an earl grey tea blended with lavender.

What was also really appealing is that the tea cups and pastry plates and some of the teapots are all made by Margit, who is also a potter.  A little rectangular container made by Margit with branches and flowers from the gardens was the table centre arrangement, very simple but effective, and added a lovely touch.  It all went together really well with the rustic west coast style building.

Tea Farm 1The wood stove was going, a little music was playing, while outside the tea room the skies were clearing and all the different fresh greens of spring were opening up.  People were relaxing and taking their time.  What a great way to spend an afternoon!  You are able to smell the teas from sample tins displayed, so while I liked the horse tea and took some home, I also brought home a tin of the rooster tea, which I’m really enjoying.  It’s a more spicy tea, but still herbal, and has a lovely aroma.  I’m sure I’ll be back to pick up some more!

There are so many unique specialty food and drink products being grown and created in the Valley, it’s a pleasure to find out about them.  I’ll definitely be telling our guests at Cobble House Bed & Breakfast about the Tea Farm, another great Cowichan Valley attraction.    They are open from Wednesday through Sunday 10 am – 5 pm and check their website for special monthly events.

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The Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island is increasingly becoming known not only for its wines and cider, but also for the local foods grown and produced here.  Some of the best places to find many of the great local, fresh foods of the Valley are at various Farmers Markets in the region.

On Saturday a couple of weeks ago (remember that gorgeous Easter weekend we had?) I made a trip out to the Duncan Farmers Market.   This market is open all year round on Saturdays, from 9 am or 10 am until 2 pm.  Not only will you find local food producers here, but crafts people and artisans as well.  There was everything from locally made baked goods to seafood and smoked meats, pasta, clothing, beautiful wood crafts, local author Sandie Bergen with a fantasy series of books, tea from the Tea Farm, local honey and more! As spring and summer advance, there will be even more fresh and locally grown produce available.  I took home some fresh bread and some stinging nettle pesto which I really enjoyed from Fat Chili Farm, a local Cobble Hill grower and producer.

The Duncan Farmers Market is probably the biggest of the Cowichan Valley Farmers Markets, but there are several others in operation during the late spring, summer and early fall, so lots of opportunities to buy local, or, if you’re a visitor to the Cowichan Valley, take home some great fresh products as a reminder of your visit here.



The new (this year) Mill Bay Farmers Market will start at the Mill Bay Shopping Centre on Thursday May 2nd, from 2 – 7 pm.  The South Cowichan Farmers Market, which starte

ays.d up last year, will open for the season on Sunday May 5.  Hours are 10 – 3 pm.  Great tips for shopping at Farmers Markets on their website!  The Chemainus 

Farmers Market will start up on May 29, and runs every Wednesday 10 – 4 until the end of September.  In our own village, the Cobble Hill Farmers Market takes place on Thursd

So, there are numerous places to find great local products, meet the growers , vendors and people in the community, and experience one of the big reasons to visit the Cowichan Valley.   Let me know if there are any other Farmers Markets in the Cowichan Valley that I’ve missed.  Book your Cowichan Valley Bed & Breakfast stay, explore the area, and go home with some great food!


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We had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of the film “Once upon a day…Cowichan” on March 7th at the Cowichan Theatre. This film, produced and directed by Nick Versteeg, fellow Dutchman and internationally known videographer, and citizen of the Cowichan Valley, was created to promote this great place that we call home.

“Once upon a day…Cowichan” features a community effort by musicians, artists, fresh food producers, wineries, restaurants, and community leaders all coming together to share their love of the Cowichan Valley and the reason why it is such a great place to live and work. The mild climate allows you to grow just about anything here, the ocean offers a bounty of seafood, the scenery is beautiful and stimulates creative minds, and the community of people thrives on what the area has to offer. This film is a celebration of the charm, diversity and bounty that is the Cowichan Valley.

The “Once upon a day…Cowichan” presentation was followed by “Once upon a year…Cowichan” a full journey through the four seasons of life in the Cowichan Valley. You’ll meet some of the fresh food providers, the award winning wineries, the world class chefs and restauranteurs, the adventure seekers, the community leaders, and take a journey through the entire Cowichan region from historic Ladysmith, the world famous murals in Chemainus, the exhiliration of wind surfing at Nitinat Lake or tackling the West Coast Trail, the totems in Duncan, the beauty and rural ambiance of Cobble Hill and Shawnigan Lake, and the funkyness of Cowichan Bay.

As citizens of the Cowichan Valley of almost 20 years, we too love this place. We fell in love with it when we first came on a visit. The film made us very proud to be Valley citizens. As Cowichan Bed & Breakfast innkeepers, we are already ambassadors for our region, and this film only inspired us more to share the richness of our home with visitors from far and wide. We hope you are planning a trip to our Cowichan Valley soon. Here is a taste of what we have to offer!

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In a little over two weeks we will say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012. It seems time goes faster and faster and the years just fly by. Does it have something to do with age do you think?

We had the great pleasure of hosting wonderful guests again at our Cobble Hill Bed & Breakfast this past year from many parts of the world including most parts of Canada, a number of US states, Australia and New Zealand, Singapore, The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, Scotland and England and South Africa. Being a Bed & Breakfast innkeeper is such an interesting job as you hear guests talk about their travels and experiences and then get the opportunity to share with them the great things to see and do in your part of the world. It is a real “feel good” profession to be in and after 18 years in the business I still love that aspect of it the most.

Highlights this year included the long awaited opening of the Kinsol Trestle, a heritage attaction that completes another stretch of the Cowichan Valley trail portion of the Trans Canada


Trail. The new Unsworth Vineyard opened up just down the road from our Bed & Breakfast and will be joined by one of our finest restaurants, Amuse Bistro, this winter. At the civic elections in November, the proposed

Eco Recycling Depot planned by the CVRD just a kilometer down our road was voted down 2 to 1 which is a big relief as we had major concerns in seeing that built in this

particular location.

We would like to thank all the guests who stayed with us in 2011. It was our pleasure to host you during your vacation, your get-away, your family or friend’s weddings, your visits to family or friends. We hope you enjoyed your stay with us, and especially thank those of you who took the time to write us a review. Have a wonderful Christmas, a safe and happy holiday, and we hope to see you with us again in the future. 2012 here we come

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Bed & Breakfast innkeepers not only provide accommodation and serve delicious breakfasts, they also often serve as ambassadors for their community and assist their guests with all kinds of information to enhance their stay. The question we are probably asked more often than anything else is “where to go for dinner”.

Fortunately the Cowichan Valley is home to a number of very fine restaurants so it is very easy to recommend these to our guests. We always ask them afterwards “how was dinner” and almost always the recommendation has led them to a great dining experience, often featuring locally grown or harvested foods.

MerridaleAt the top of the list of Cowichan Valley restaurants is Amuse Bistro. Currently located in Shawnigan Lake village, Amuse will relocate to Unsworth Vineyard just down the road from our Cobble Hill Bed & Breakfast this winter. Owner/chef Bradford Boisvert and wife Leah have built an enviable reputation for great food using fresh local ingredients. On Saturdays this month, you can book a mushroom hunt with one of their chefs and a Benedictine monk. There is great mushroom hunting to be had in the Cowichan Valley.

In Cowichan Bay, just a 15 minute drive away, you will find The Masthead Restaurant, another favorite with our guests. They specialize in seafood, but have something for everyone’s taste. All their entrees are served with “pot au feu” fresh vegetables and duck spuds, and they have a great wine list.

Back in Shawnigan Lake Village is another of our recommended restaurants, Steeples Bar & Grill, an “adventure in casual dining”. Located in a converted church, Steeples is a big part of the community as well. They have just launched their new fall promotion “Mediterranean Nights” and had a very successful Asian fusion promotion this spring.

While the bistro at Merridale Cidery is mostly open just for lunch, they offer hugely popular pizza nights on Sundays during the summer. Currently they are open on Saturday nights until mid December for Field to Table 3-course dinners. We met some of our guests at Merridale at one of the last pizza nights of the season and they really enjoyed the food and the ciders there! La Pommeraie Bistro is another popular choice with our guests, and it too, is just around the corner from Cobble House B&B.

While in a very rural location, Cowichan Valley restaurants are among some of the best restaurants on Vancouver Island. We’ll happily book a table for you when you come to stay, so you too can enjoy really fine dining in the Cowichan Valley.

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Fall has arrived. It’s my favorite time of year, especially if we get some of that lovely “indian summer” weather; clear warm days, cool crisp nights. So far this fall of 2011 has been rather wet, but the sunny days have been there. The rain has greened up the grass everywhere and has taken the forest fire hazard level right down to normal, which is a relief when you live surrounded by forests as we do at our Cobble Hill Bed & Breakfast.


fall 2013People are harvesting the last of their produce from the many farms and private gardens around the Cowichan Valley. Lots of signs around the Valley selling everything from apples to herbs. There are still some flowers in the garden, and a few trees are starting to put on a colorful display among the west coast evergreens. The Cowichan Valley wineries are leaving the grapes on as long as they can to get every bit of sunshine possible to ripen the grapes, as the summer heat didn’t quite last long enough this year. Canadian Thanksgiving is just a week away, when we celebrate the rewards of long summer days of work and growth and the harvest that has resulted from our efforts. Time to clean up the flower pots and hanging baskets for another year, put away the patio furniture, and bring up a load of firewood to the house, so we can light the Russian fireplace at Cobble House.

October is time for mushroom picking! Sign up for a guided tour, cooking lesson and lunch at Amuse Bistro, and stay at our nearby Cobble Hill Bed & Breakfast. After your 3-course lunch at Amuse you probably won’t need a full dinner, so stop by Hilary’s cheese and one of the wonderful bakeries in the Valley, and pick up a bottle of local wine for a light dinner. Our Bed & Breakfast rooms come equipped with some basic dishes and cutlery, and a small fridge to chill that bottle of white wine.


We are open throughout the year, so come and enjoy fall in the Cowichan Valley. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Vancouver Island British Columbia is blessed with a mild climate and many golf courses, so you can enjoy the game of golf for a large part of the year. Cobble House Bed & Breakfast is centrally located in Cobble Hill, in the Cowichan Valley about halfway between Victoria and Nanaimo, and the Valley has a number of golf courses for every level of golfer to experience.

Just 10 minutes away from our Cobble Hill Bed & Breakfast you can book a tee time at Arbutus Ridge Golf Club, 18 holes, par 71. The Club has a four star Golf Digest Rating and has a 10 stall driving range and practice putting green. Daytime green fees are in the $45-$64 range.

arbutus ridge pond

The newest course in the Cowichan region is Duncan Meadows on the northwest side of Duncan, along Highway 18. It has a reputation as a player’s course, with many lakes and ponds. Green fees are in the range of $40-$55 for this par 72 course. This past July, Duncan Meadows host

ed the 2011 Royale Cup Canadian Women’s Amateur Championships.The Cowichan Golf & Country Club on the south side of Duncan is the oldest golf course in the Valley. It has been in its present location just off the Trans Canada Highway since 1947, and is an 18 hole, par 70 course. Green fees generally range from $42 – $52. The Mount Brenton Golf Course in the mural town of Chemainus, which calls itself the Island’s “friendliest golf course”, is almost as old, having been around since 1948. This is a par 71 course with green fees ranging from $25-$45.

If you continue west on Highway 18 around the south side of Cowichan Lake, you will reach the 9 hole March Meadows Golf Course in Honeymoon Bay. This is the home course of LPGA professional Dawn Coe Jones who still sponsors the junior golf tournament held at the club each year. Green fees for 18 holes are in the $33-$42 range.

Whichever Cowichan golf course, or courses, you chose to experience, you’ll find unique and different challenges on each one. Another thing you’ll find is beautiful scenic views of the Cowichan landscape, be it ocean or rolling hills and mountains. Come and play the game of golf in the Cowichan Valley, and find your choice of Cowichan Valley Bed & Breakfasts nearby to complete your stay.

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July 28th was a day many people on Vancouver Island had looked forward to over the last several years. It was the official opening, or actually the re-opening, of the historic Kinsol Trestle near Shawnigan Lake in the Cowichan Valley. There was a great crowd in attendance at a well organized event.Kinsol new 6

Almost a year ago I blogged about the trestle when the rehabilitation work had just started and I took a trip to have a look. A construction cam was installed and allowed you to see the progress over the past year, and it was great to see things coming together. Funds for the rehabilitation were supplied by many individual donors as well as both the federal and provincial governments, the Island Coastal Economic Trust, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Trans Canada Trail Foundation. A major missing link in the Vancouver Island portion of the Trans Canada Trail is now complete. The trail now runs continuously from the south end of Shawnigan Lake up to Lake Cowichan and from Duncan to Ladysmith. The section from Duncan to Ladysmith was opened just a few weeks before the opening of the Kinsol Trestle.
kinsol opening july 2011
There is still work to be completed around the trestle, including a pavilion listing all the donors to the project. A completed walkway takes you down all the way to the river on the north end of the trestle. Looking up at the 44 meters high trestle from the river is pretty awe inspiring, especially if you consider how the trestle was built back in 1920, without any of the huge cranes or other equipment now used for the rehabilitation. The rehabilitation created local jobs, used Vancouver Island lumber and the project was led by a local Cobble Hill company.

We have hosted numerous cyclists at our Cobble Hill Bed & Breakfast over the years, as they cycle and visit the wineries, or pass through on their way up-Island. The completion of the Kinsol Trestle on the Trans Canada Trail will definitely be an added attraction in the Cowichan Valley for both cyclists and hikers as well as visitors who are interested in seeing this piece of Vancouver Island history for themselves.

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