A Day of Scottish Celebration

150th Annual Victoria Highland
Games & Celtic Festival 

May 18 & 19, 2013 
Topaz Park 
Victoria, B.C.

J: After years of inopportune moments, Ed and I have finally managed to visit the Victoria Highland Games and Celtic Festival at the same time. It’s a place where asking for a loonie in change will either get you a giggle (a loonie in Scotland means a small boy) but hopefully not a Glasgow smile (a cut across the face).

After finally obtaining time off through my boss, I found I was left to wander Topaz Park for a time on my own as Mr. Ed Sum decided it was within his best interest to sleep in. I’d hoped I would be able to spot H.R.H. Prince Andrew, the Duke of York during my rounds, but in all honesty a chance to spot his royal highness wasn’t my main reason for attending the games that day.

E: When I was out chasing ghosts the night before, I had good reason to sleep in. Now if there was a banshee screaming at me at the stroke of dawn, maybe I could’ve gotten up to join James for his bit of meeting royalty. But here, it was to partake in watching some of the games and wondering what vendors would appear this year. Try as I might, James was an unmoving piece of timber when I tried to get him to toss his haggis—or as I finally noticed, a shot put ball?

J: Yes, real haggis isn’t thrown here, that would be a waste of good food. But I’m agreeing with Ed, the vendors had much to sell and if I had the money I would’ve had much to buy. I decided to get myself measured for a kilt. I don’t think anyone in my family has worn a kilt in at least two generations (perhaps my great grandfather) but it feels good to show my Scottish pride.

I was going to order from the UK but instead I found Sadie Livingston and her husband John of Scottish Design. Sadie has been dealing in kilts since the young age of 21 and now she finds herself serving four generations of families not only locally but internationally.

E: With a good half or more of our time wandering the stalls, the one that immediately grabbed my attention was that of Sooke Sea Salts. I got an education in what the difference is between table salt and natural salt, and James was chasing down pie.

J: The pie was a peach raspberry from Bake My Day. I had discovered them over a year ago at the Goldstream Station Market. They had potential and it appeared they were doing brisk business at the games. I thought I would try a slice of their pie for a cheaper price than that of a ice cream bar (and healthier too). The peaches tasted as though they came from a tin but the pie was still very much edible. I finished it off happily under a shady tree.

But the food I didn’t try and will soon is that which comes from the UK and is sold at British Imports in the Sooke River Store and Grill. One can travel to Sooke to buy their wares or they offer deliviries if you place your order online.

E: Another vendor I discovered was Cattle Point Spice Company. They make a pretty mean pork’s butt rub that goes well with popcorn and siu yuk (燒肉).

J: Ah yes, Cattle Point makes a mean Pork’s Carolina Style BBQ Sauce too. And with one taste my eyes went big. I quickly paid the $8 price for the bottle. My only complaint is that the sauce is too runny. It should be made thicker. John Turner’s slogan of “We get your mouth off!” is certainly true. With years of experience in the restaurant business both as employee and owner (his family owned the famous Jubliee Cafe), my money is betting on this horse. My money was also betting on what was sold from the Island Highlander Co. tent but Ed was fast like a ninja.

E: James was still aching for that last piece of tart that I grabbed from under his nose. When I know that a particular pie is good, I’ll grab it in no time. The Bakewell Tart is just wonderful with its light almond taste and I’ll have to order more when I get a chance. I couldn’t help but tease my buddy by buying the last piece of the day.

J: It was a good day (Regardless of Ed’s gleeful victory) not only for watching the sports, the drummers and the bagpipers but for the five hours I spent conversing with small business owners.

I had a look around British Allsorts of Chemainus, I promised myself to purchase real UK manufactured caps from the Scottish Shoppe in Alberta and I browsed the wares of reversible coats for dogs at Party Animal I even found time to buy a couple of back issues of Scottish Field and Scotland’s Magazine. I must admit I’m a big reader of UK mags and the titles of This England, Best of British Past & Present and The Countryman are among my favourites.

But with this year’s 150th Annual Highland Games I was hoping to make contact with social organizations and thereby widen my social circle. And It appears I may have have found a handful that interested me. I was more than happy to converse with the Monarchist League – Victoria Chapter, Sons of Scotland and the St. Andrew’s and Caledonian Society.

They are organizations close to my heart and I may apply to join one or if I can’t choose just one, perhaps all three of them.

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