Monday, November 28, 2011

In Which the Gift Shop gets on my Vegas Nerve and We Lose Sandy (Hangover Remake Part 2)

As is typical in Las Vegas, you can often find exactly what you need by only walking a few steps forward or backwards. Stores and restaurants abound in any direction and they all seem to carry everything. On our last night, we found ourselves wandering the hotel looking for nothing in particular and finding all sorts of weird thing instead. Like Easy Cheese! Seriously the gift shop at the Bellagio carries Easy Cheese! Why! I’m not actually sure what you do with it. I guess it can be spread on your wonder bread or smeared on your Doritos or whatever. You could probably do a nice acid peel on your face with it too. Or patch the rust spots on your vehicle with it. It buffs up nicely I bet. 


And someone should tell Dean and Deluca that spicy and chocolate are pretty good together, and mint and chocolate are awesome, but that the three together are gross. What next? Olive and Caramel wafers? Wasabi Banana truffles?


And guess what I don’t want to eat your little chub no thank you very much no I don’t!


And for your next wine tasting party, here is an assortment of cookies to go along with the wine. Cuz when you have a really nice glass of wine, naturally, you want a cookie to go with it. Probably the peanut butter chocolate cookie. And maybe some Easy Cheese too. Yeah, that’s it, I’ll have a Wine and Easy Cheese party with some cookies on the side.


But perhaps you want more than just wine and easy cheese. Maybe you need a balanced meal featuring a turkey snack stick, some BBQ chips, fruit gummies, trail mix and some more cookies. Yep that’s right.


And how about some gum for dessert. Apple Pie Gum. Why not squirt some Easy Cheese into your mouth at the same time! They like cheese with their apple pie in the states. Probably not this though. yuck.




I don’t know if any of you watch Breaking Bad but ever since the scene in the RV where Jesse and Walt are stranded in the desert with no battery, and no food except for a few bags of Funyuns, I’ve been curious. What were Funyuns? What did one do with Funyuns? Were they perhaps a type of treatment to be placed in your shoe to make the experience of having bunions better?  You mock me but here in the US of A anything is possible.


While I was shopping, one of the British tourists was wondering out loud what ‘Hello Panda’ might be. I told her it was the lesser known cousin of ‘Hello Kitty’. She didn’t know what that was either. She also looked at me like I had three heads.


Speaking of Hello, say HELLO to these un-smarties courtesy of the  black market and foisted upon an unsuspecting buyer for the Bellagio. Actually I made that up. I have no idea how these non-smarties made it on to the shelf but there they were.

Trust me there was a lot more but I will spare you the details and move on to our last morning. Which came all too soon as it meant we had to leave.

We reluctantly packed up and piled in our limo to the airport. Limos are cheap in Las Vegas! Things went smoothly at the airport and we killed some time on the penny slots that can be found in each gate area. We had about 20 minutes until loading and Joanne, Heather and I were sitting at our gate waiting. Sandy remarked that she was going to go ‘walk around’ for awhile. What this actually meant, we learned later, was that she was going to go walk around, come back, sit down somewhere else, and then get on the plane when general boarding was announced and wait for us. In retrospect, it would have been great to know this, as we wouldn’t have then spent several anxious minutes scouring the airport, having her paged, and generally worrying about where she might be and did this mean we didn’t have to leave Las Vegas after all. Finally, the flight attendant told us this was final call and we had to get on the plane as it would leave without us otherwise. It was at this point that Joanne thought to ask if Sandy had actually already gotten on the plane. Lists were consulted and Yes! She had already boarded and we were the final three to get on the plane. We grabbed our stuff and headed down to the plane full of feelings of relief, albeit tainted slightly with  a sprinkling of annoyance and some, I will admit here, disappointment that we did not have a reason to stay in Las Vegas. I was the last to board and as I came on to the plane, I looked down the aisle. Poor Sandy – there she was smiling and waving to us and instead of a relieved smile and refrains of “oh thank God she’s safe!” or “I see her it’s Ok!”, she got me mouthing WHAT THE FUCK! to her. Nice. Sorry about that, Sandy! As we moved down the aisle, various passengers were quick to reassure us that our friend was already on the plane. Good to know that everyone was looking out for us! Sandy good-naturedly endured the comments of what seemed like most of the plane as they agreed with my slightly shrill insistence that, no, I had not considered the fact that she was a grown woman and could get on a plane all by herself.

Things got even funnier when we got off the plane in Victoria and one of the flight attendants made a comment as we passed by to ‘keep an eye on our friend’ or something like that. As we moved toward the baggage claim area, Sandy remarked that she felt like everyone on the plane knew about her getting ‘lost’. Not 5 seconds later a fellow passenger from the front of the plane turned around and said “Oh! I see you’ve found your friend!”

At least we didn’t leave her on the hotel rooftop.

After a short grilling from the customs officer on why it was that I had claimed exactly $400  and that next time I should just claim everything, we were back in Victoria.

It’s amazing how quickly we all had to adjust to the grind again. I had a bit of a hard landing and couldn’t quite get used to the idea that I had to make meals and do laundry so if I snapped at you in the two or three days following my return, please accept my apologies here.

I will definitely go back to Vegas again and indulge in some full-on people-watching. And perhaps a bit of shopping. And maybe a show. Oh and some pool time with the girls. And a few rounds at the gun store, maybe brunch with Mike again. Ahhh. Vegas. You are hope at its worst, and unexpected randomness at its very best. Maybe it’s best not to plan too much next time I think. Just take it as it comes.


Thanks for reading-



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Which we Laze by the Pool, and then I Blow-Off a Zombie’s Head with my Glock


Monday mornings at home are typically spent running around the house  like a mad woman trying to get everyone up and fed and clothed and out the door before I stick forks in my eyes.

Monday mornings in Vegas are spent by the pool, drink in hand, laughing at the waitress as she scurries by clothed in a hoodie and heavy jacket, looking for a fork so I can eat my fresh fruit and granola and yogourt. I think this is a much better approach to Mondays. Everyone is generally happier by the pool, except for the waitress who claimed she was ‘freezing’. It was probably 20degrees out by 10am which is definitely sunbathing weather if you are from the frozen North, like we Canadians.

The pool was lovely, if overrun with tourists from the UK (several 747s worth had arrived the day before, it seemed, including these two, who really cracked me up with their crosswords and copies of Wuthering Heights.


The hotel has cabanas poolside that you can rent out for the day for a small fortune. Or, if you are us, you can just occupy one and ask for forgiveness, not permission. This is what we did and enjoyed a couple of lovely hours in the sun before heading out for some shopping.



View from the cabana.

It was tough to get up and go shopping but someone had to do it and so it may as well be us.

The hotel had given us $200 worth of gift certificates to be spent at a certain shopping mall just down the strip. Wow! we thought, How generous! we gushed.  However, when we got to said mall, we found it was the highest of high end and consisted entirely of stores like Tiffany's, Fendi, Versace etc. Turns out we couldn’t even blow our noses in these stores without having to go into a back room to have your arm or leg or, if it was really fancy, both, removed before being allowed to purchase anything. Hell, we couldn’t even buy a keychain for $200 bucks and I kid you not. After about 45 minutes of wandering in and out past be-suited salespersons who looked like they would really prefer it if I would just take my flip-flopped feet and slap on out of there before I made them look any worse in front of the Asian and European tourists who were blowing their noses on $100 bills before dropping several thou on a matching tam and kilt-blanket set or whatever it was, I tried to put on my best ‘secretly I have lots of money face’ and casually meandered past the $8000 dresses, holding them out in front of me for just a little too long as if to say “really, I’m considering whether or not I could stand this shoddy piece of work or if I’m used to much better than this…”. The salesman was a piece of work too.

Salesman (looking like he really hoped I would find the back door and quickly): “Can I put that in a dressing suite for you?”

Me (holding on to a garment with a curious type of dyed wool stuck randomly all over it): “I’m not really sure what it is'…”

Salesman: “It’s a new piece featuring batwing sleeves with an empire waist, peplum detailing, and a system of hidden darts. The fabric is detailed with alpaca tail and sheep’s wool puffs. I think you’ll find it to be extremely comfortable the fabric really drapes you know.” (At least it was something like that. I lost interest at ‘Batwing sleeves’)

Me: “so it’s a pair of pyjamas”

Salesman: “Yes it is”

Me: “No thanks”

Salesman (with an audible sigh): “Let me know if I can be of assistance in any other way”

I think what he really meant was could you please fuck off now.

And so I did.

It was much better outside and we set off back to the hotel. On the way we encountered this lovely musician who was a breath of fresh air after the Mall from Hell. He made my day:

One of the things I had most wanted to do in Vegas was shoot a gun. I never have, and really what better place is there than in the good old US of A where everyone is god-fearing and gun-toting or god toting and gun-fearing or gone-fearing and gut-toting or whatever it is. There is a place on the strip where unsuspecting tourists go to shoot a machine gun but I had heard that they hold the gun for you and charge you your first-born and it’s all over in 30 seconds. So we didn't go there but instead took the recommendation of our friend Mark who told us to visit Discount Firearms. ‘It’s a little off the strip” he said, “but it’s worth it”.

So we hopped in a cab and, after some convincing of the driver, got him to take us there. I admit to becoming a little concerned when he actually said “it’s on the other side of the tracks”, and when we turned sharply away from the strip and headed off into an industrial wasteland replete with ‘Gentleman’s Clubs’ I did feel a bit wary.


When we finally pulled into a dark parking lot with a warehouse-like building and a dude sitting on the front steps drinking a beer, I think I said something like “I’m gonna kill him” (Mark. not the dude on the steps).

But there was light inside and I ran up and opened the door to find a whole slew of friendly looking types and a respectable looking gun store and so we stayed.

There ensued much laughing and excitedness, and choosing of weapons, and a bit of hesitation, and lots of listening to our dear ‘guide’ John without whom we would never have been able to do any of it. Finally, we all had our weapons of choice: Heather had a Beretta .22, Sandy a Smith and Wesson revolver .22, Joanne an Walther .22 and I had my Glock 9mil. We picked our targets, (mine was a zombie!) put on our ear and eye protection, and went in to the shooting range.


The fabulous John who at one point, rested his head against the wall and said “I’m just trying to keep everyone safe”.


This guy doubles as an Elvis impersonator and sang me a few bars of Love me Tender. Awesome!


My target.


Joanne with her shirt on backwards to avoid burning shrapnel down the cleavage…


Sandy taking aim.


Heather and her Beretta



Me and my Glock, Baby. I’m happy to report that I finished off my box of bullets and that that Zombie won’t be bothering anyone again. I am now ready for a real zombie apocalypse.

We were all on a high when we came out an hour and a half later into the cool night air. We were starving and went for some dinner, before spending the rest of our last evening roaming the hotel and casino. It was a it hard to face the fact that this was our last day and so we dragged it out as long as possible before finally returning to our rooms and reluctantly packing up for our morning departure.

But not before spending some time in the hotel gift shops which was way more entertaining than I had anticipated. Stay tuned!


Thanks for reading



Monday, November 21, 2011

In Which I Meet Mike Tyson and see Drew Carey, and go Clubbing: Hangover Remake Part 1

I’d always heard about the Vegas Buffet but had never actually been in one before until this trip. I had planned for us to visit the Sunday morning breakfast buffet where one can eat all one wants, plus, for an additional $5, as much champagne as possible as well. I assumed that one could also eat as many pancakes, or have as much bacon, or fruit, or toast as one wanted as well at the buffet. Well, I was right about that. It’s just that I hadn’t considered the fact that I could also enjoy an entire turkey dinner (or 3) or a complete roast beef dinner (or 4 or 5) as well as choose from a wide range of Chinese food, Japanese food, salads, soup, dessert, pizza, whatever I wanted (but not necessarily what I needed).  The breakfast pizza was perhaps the most disconcerting. Why would you want breakfast pizza? It seems to me that the only time pizza is good for breakfast is when  you ordered it for dinner the night before and it’s been sitting in the box overnight. ‘Assorted Breakfast Pizzas’ just grossed me out.


This one had scrambled eggs and spinach on it. Another one had bacon and I swear to god what looked like bits of pancake torn up and stuck on it. Yuck. It did however, go with the general feel of the place which I can only describe as a combination of Denny’s and that place your parents used to take you to for brunch when you were a kid where they brought you free Shirley Temples and you ate too much bread. It’s a 5 star hotel that feeds several thousand people every day. Go figure.


And, there’s no spoons on the tables either….

However, despite its shortcomings, we still enjoyed a lengthy meal and chat in the restaurant and had been there for nearly 2 hours when I decided to grab some dessert. I made my way through the throngs and had to pass by the bar where a knot of people were standing in my way. I shouldered through them and as I did so, noticed a women having her photo taken with a dude in a wool hat. “I’m having breakfast with Mike” she twanged in my ear. I turned again and observed that she was, indeed, having her photo taken with Mike Tyson. The next few minutes consisted of the following thoughts and actions:

  1. Holy shit it IS Mike Tyson!
  2. Must not be a spaz
  3. Wow he’s really short
  4. Plan to slowly approach dessert table and calmly select dessert
  5. Holy shit why is it taking me soo long to get back to our table
  6. Charge the dessert table and grab random dessert
  7. Sprint back to table while trying not to
  8. Wonder what he had on his face
  9. Alert entire restaurant to presence of Mike Tyson by banging hands on the table and whisper-yelling “Celebrity Alert!! MIKE TYSON AT THE BAR”
  10. Scramble around wildly at the table looking for paper and pen while my boxer friend Sandy does same.
  11. Spazz our way back to the bar where Mike’s handler is fielding off start struck tourists.
  12. Try to get into position to take picture of Sandy with Mike when Handler intervenes and tells me to “GET IN THE PICTURE TOO”
  13. Hand camera to Handler while following conversation occurs:

Sandy, to Mike Tyson: ‘I’m a boxer’

Me, to Mike Tyson, about my friend Sandy: ‘She’s a Boxer!”

Mike Tyson, to me (with a smile): “I heard dat”

Sandy, to Mike Tyson: ‘But I’m not as good as you’

Mike Tyson: ‘I’m not that good anymore’


You can’t see it in this picture but I’m actually trying to get my hand up between me and Mike to cover my ear…

At this point, the handler moves us on and we calmly and quietly walk back to the table. Not.

The next little while is a black out as I don’t remember much except that we kept freaking out that we had just had our picture with Mike Tyson, looking at the picture, being horrified with myself for looking so star struck, and then wondering who else I can tell that I had just met Mike Tyson. Man if you haven’t seen The Hangover yet, I recommend it as it takes place in Las Vegas and Mike Tyson is in it. It just makes the whole story funnier.

We even accosted a nice man on the pool deck after he took our picture and made him look at the picture of us and Mike. ‘Well, I’ll be darned” he drawled. “You damn well did get your pickchure tak’n with Mike!”


Here we are in our post-Mike euphoria. You will notice we are all wearing celebratory white. No, we were not part of a bridal party, it just seemed like a fun thing to all wear white to Brunch. It was made even more fun by the revelation that Sandy and Joanne both thought that my suggestion to wear white meant that EVERYONE in the buffet would be wearing white, not just us. The story then gets even funnier still when you throw in the Mike factor as that meant that he too would have been wearing white. Then we really would have looked like a bridal party. And that is where it starts to get weird if you think about it too much so lets just leave it there. Alright.

We spent the rest of the day by the pool until it was time to get ready to go for dinner at the MGM Grand before the Drew Carey show. Joanne had made us reservations at Emeril's and we had heard great things about it. We were not disappointed, although it is a bit odd to be able to buy an $10000 bottle of champagne in a place that has a Starbucks beside it and a McDonalds just down the hall. But this is Vegas, Baby! Expect the banal right beside the outrageous and you’ll be fine.

After dinner we navigated the casino labyrinth to the theatre. I had only vaguely heard of Drew Carey but everyone else seemed excited. I was not disappointed. The show was 100% improv and the team he had assembled was absolutely brilliant. They picked on audience members for ideas, then turned those ideas in to games, skits and songs. We laughed and cried from laughing so hard, and then laughed some more. It was a great choice of show, and especially nice to see something so unscripted, and so un-Cirque. I’m pretty sure that Cirque du Soleil is actually taking over LAs Vegas and that there are a bunch of people in a theatre in Dubai or somewhere, all watching a version of the Truman Show in which unsuspecting tourists such as myself are manipulated into entertaining sequences of events in Las Vegas. Like meeting Mike Tyson in the Buffet. Hmmm…

Anyway. I digress.

We left in high spirits and headed back to the Bellagio where we had more tickets to The Bank, a club located in the casino.

Let me just say right here that I have not been to a club in a loooong while. I can't actually remember the last time, although I know it has to have been later than the times when I was 17 and 6’5” Erik Kidd stuck me under his arm and told the bouncer at Luv Affair “she’s with me and we are coming in now”. At least, that’s the last club I remember with any clarity. Having children has deleted any memories since then I guess…

Apparently, however, we did not need Erik Kidd as I am now over 40 and, as such, was placed in the appropriate line at the entrance to the club. I was slightly disconcerted by this but then noticed that everyone was being placed in a line according to demographics so I just went with it.

We also noticed this sign:


Like as in The Industry. Like as in The Entertainment Industry. Yes this meant escorts and dancers and waitresses etc. This was their night! Great! Not only was in the over 40 line, I was going to share the club with a bunch of booty-shaking 20yr olds clad in a couple of ribbons and some saran wrap, by the looks of it.


I briefly considered bolting out the door and back to the room where I would have a cup of tea and do a crossword or maybe some knitting, but it was too late as we were being ushered up the escalator (why walk, this is the USA) and then blam! we were in the thick of it.

The techno was blasting, the place was thick with cleavage, bottles of Grey Goose were everywhere, and the go-go dancers were givin’er up on their platforms.

I couldn't stop watching this one. She was amazing.


But the strange thing was that I was just about the only one who was watching her. There she was, in all her glory, and not much else, dancing up a storm and NOONE was even looking her way! And then I started looking around and noticed that, actually, no one was looking at ANYONE else at all. The entire club was somehow managing to both search intensely through the sea of faces, and completely ignore each other. It was remarkable. In the whole place, I could see only toe or three actual connections where two people were engaging each other. Everyone else had perfected the art of looking right through or past everyone else. Talk about not being able to find what you are looking for. I found it disheartening and alarming and after a while, couldn’t wait to get out.

I will miss the dancer though. She was awesome.


We lost some more money on the way back to our rooms, but it’s worth it for the laughs and occasional shriek of delight.

Another awesome day with the girls in Vegas. Oh and did I mention I met Mike Tyson?

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for my next story in which I blow away a zombie with my Glock 9mil. Yeah BABY!





Sunday, November 20, 2011

In Which We Haven’t the Vegas Idea What to do Next.


Our first full day in Vegas was typical in that we all wanted to do everything and couldn’t really decide what when or where. This wasn’t actually a bad thing and it all worked out in the end.

You may or may not know or care, but while we were there, a major fight, or ‘the fights’ (which is how you say it if you are in the know, like we were, having a boxer in our midst) was happening on the Saturday night between Pacquiao and Marquez just down the road at the MGM Grand. Sandy was keen to go if the price was right (which is wasn’t) but the rest of us were in a wandering frame of mind and spent most of the day cruising the hotel or the strip.  We ventured into the casinos, stared at the slot machines until we figured them out (put in your money, press a button, lose all your money, lather, rinse, repeat), ate, walked, shopped, ate, lost more money, and stared at all the crazy people. I swear I could spend days just watching the endless stream of crazy characters that populate this place.


The last time we were all here, you put quarters in them and pulled a handle…


Benefits to travelling with an Opera Star

Because Vegas isn’t weird enough, there is a talking tree in the hotel lobby. Really it’s only the first 20 seconds that are worth watching but I’m no good with the video editing…



We ran into a teacher from our kids’ school (who shall remain nameless. The teacher. Not the school). It was her last day and this was her breakfast. Nutella and Bacon! I love it! This is possible only in Vegas and maybe France, which is ironic as we were having breakfast at the Paris hotel across the street from the Bellagio. This hotel has a half-size model of the Eiffel Tower right in the middle of the hotel. Who does that!




Another couple of Elvises shaking their Pelvises. And I just noticed Barney in the background…


A random Batman. In Las Vegas, if you have nothing else to do, you put on a cartoon or superhero costume and wait for some sucker to come along and pay for the opportunity to have their picture taken with you.



We ended another great day in Vegas by watching the fountains do their fountainy watery thing. Quite lovely although I still think there should also be dolphins.

These guys also had a good day, it looks like. Note the bottle of Malibu…


And this picture, my friends, pretty much sums up Las Vegas. WTF will I see next. (Hint: Mike Tyson).

Thanks for reading!



Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Which we Arrive in Vegas, and I refuse the Oath

Back in October, a group of us girls were sitting around a fountain taking a break outside from a cocktail lounge party when one of us, fuelled by wine and, possibly, joy, announced that we should “all go to Vegas”. A chorus of ‘Yeah Baby’ and ‘Woohoo’s ensued, a bazillion emails, much inviting of other people, and finally, the handing over of the credit card, and we were on our way.

And so it was that we found ourselves at the Airport in Las Vegas, on the auspicious date of 11-11-11, standing under the banner, right hand raised, agreeing that what goes in Vegas, stays in Vegas.



Well most of us anyway. Those of you who know me will notice that I am not in this picture. That’s right. So for me, what goes in Vegas, goes on the blog.

Sorry girls.

Anyway. We did have transfers with our package but we were all quite sure that they would definitely not stop the bus at a liquor store so we opted for a limo instead. Needless to say we finished the entire bottle in the 15minutes between the airport and the hotel.014

I tried to get Heather to stick her head out the window and yell something like “VEGAS BABY VEGAAAAAAS”.


She opted for the queen wave instead.

We were staying at the Bellagio, which meant nothing to me until I arrived and was instantly blown away by the outrageousness of it all. I’ll get to the talking tree later but for now we were hoping for an upgrade to our room situation which was a triple and a single. Brandy tried her best to sort us out and I was amused to note that while we were in line, every single person around us in the other lines was also asking for an upgrade. If you visit the website they will advise you to include a sandwich with your credit card. By this, they mean you must bribe the front desk staff with a $20 or $50 or whatever between your credit card and ID. This will ensure an upgrade to a beautiful suite complete with resident pool boy and a video of someone back home doing all the laundry, cleaning your house top to bottom, and preparing a week’s worth of healthy meals for your family so you don’t have to think about it upon your return.

I will just say here that it is not advisable to discuss the sandwich plan with the hotel in advance. And don’t drop any smart comments about paninis or subs. I’m pretty sure that is actually run by the staff at the Bellagio who use it as comedic relief to dull the monotony of having to deal with everyone and their dog asking for an upgrade all the time. I can just see it now:

Brenda, reception manager at the Bellagio: Hey can someone update the website today and change it from ‘sandwich’ to ‘donut’. That was soo funny last time when people were trying to give us $20 bucks and a honey crueller.

Randy, website manager at the Bellagio: OK or maybe we should tell them to stuff it in a Ding Dong. Remember that one old guy last time we did that who stuck $20 bucks inside a bell and just sat there ringing it and winking? Yeah lets do that!

Brenda: OK sure. Hey come check out the webcam. There’s 2 chicks who look like they have a panini or something. They’re trying to give it to Brandy. Man look at that stash of sandwiches Brandy’s got under the desk. God I love this job.

So we didn’t get the suite with the video and pool boy, but we did get two lovely adjoining rooms which we then referred to as our 2bedroom, 2bathroom suite. We just kept the doors open between the two rooms, and it was all good.

And the view was good too.


But the real bonus of the day was the knock on the door shortly after we got to our rooms. We all looked worriedly at each other as if it might be Brandy come to tell us we had to move to the  basement, but to our delight it was a lovely lady with a lovely cart with a lovely bottle of bubbly from our lovely friend Lisa who was sad that she couldn’t be with us. And San Pellegrino for me too! Such a great thing to do. Love you, Lisa!


By this time is was getting late and we were in a daze. We wandered back to the lobby looking for who knows what, stumbled into a restaurant, ordered food, and then stared at it, then got lost in the casino looking for the guest elevators, and finally fell into bed.



What we found when looking for who knows what…Seriously people walk around in these. Can you imagine ANYONE in Victoria wearing these shorts? An Ad Hoc organization would be formed, sub committees struck, a special session of council would be called and The Friends of Beacon Hill Park would issue a press release.  Hmm…

More tomorrow!



Thursday, September 29, 2011

In which I visit the Saltspring Island Farmer’s Market, encounter the Cheese Twins, and chat with Raffi.


DSC08574 We really are so blessed to live in such close proximity to the Gulf Islands. Why I don’t visit these beauties more often, or indeed why I don’t live there, is sometimes beyond me. It seems like Island life would somehow be smaller and more manageable, more relaxing, less frenetic than city life, with time for an extra cup of tea in the morning. And idyllic, too. This felt especially true as we drove off the ferry at Fulford Harbour last weekend. It was a perfect September day all golden with trees full of ripe apples and a slight nip in the air. As we drove the Fulford-Ganges road I found myself paying close attention to the For Sale signs out front of the old farmhouses and country properties in this beautiful valley. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking though. It’s not like I’m really the farming type, with my city sensibilities. But for a few brief moments I pictured myself out collecting eggs or wearing dungarees and riding a tractor, or helping the local vet with a difficult delivery. Fortunately, my All Creatures Great and Small moment passed and I was back to enjoying the moment.

We pulled into Ganges, along with everyone else in the world, it seemed, and spent the better part of 15 minutes trying to find somewhere to park. I must admit the shear number of vehicles in Ganges did briefly interfere with my preconceived notions of bucolic bliss, but this, too, passed as I happily reminded myself that we were on island time now and it didn’t really matter anyway.


It didn’t matter to this person either, who couldn’t think straight anyway.

The Saltspring Farmer’s Market is one of the great all-time markets, possibly in the world. And those of you who know me will remember that I do love my markets. I am happy to say that this visit did not disappoint and in fact only served to further deepen my respect for this awesome island and the people who live on it. Ok that’s enough of that.

First up was a delicious little rice ball ensemble filled with roast Burdock Root. It came with strict instructions on how to open it, which Kent ignored and for which he received an admonishing, and a demonstration.


Just beside the Rice Balls was this awesome bowl of felted fruit and veggies, and these super cute owls.  See, this is what you have time for when you live on a Gulf Island. When was the last time you felted a piece of fruit? I thought so.


The great thing about Markets is that usually you just have to think of something you desperately need, and there it is! Case in point, these baby watermelons. I was just thinking to myself that a baby watermelon would really hit the spot when Hey Presto! there was a basket of them! When, I ask you, does this sort of thing happen? Never. At least is doesn’t for me when I have a sudden urgent need for, say, $62000.00, or a night out with Daniel Craig. But I digress.


Anyway I’m sorry they aren’t baby watermelons after all, but no less than the fabled Mexican Sour Gherkin. I kid you not. Let’s just say I don’t think Jolly Rancher will feature Mexican Sour Gherkin as a new flavour any time soon.

By this time I was working up a thirst and happily downed some of this delicious fresh-pressed apple juice from Laughing Apple Farm.


Saltspring is Apple Heaven. There are many folks here who devote their entire lives to growing apples and I was sorry to have been a week early for the Saltspring Island Apple Festival, although this Apple Pie Fudge helped me get over my disappointment.


The produce stalls were at their prime and could barely hold the bounty. I sampled delicious little orange cherry tomatoes, fresh cantaloupe and juicy yellow watermelon and my bag was soon full off tiny little purple runner beans, ground cherries that grow in their own little papery bag, and sweet red strawberries picked that morning.

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While the produce and goods on offer are usually the main reason for a visit to the market, often the farmers and vendors behind the stall are just as enticing. They run the gamut from opinionated to passionate about their product, bored or grumpy, funny, chatty, engaging, or sometimes, as in the case of the Saltspring Island Cheese Co, all of the above! With one of the more popular (if not the most popular) stalls at the market, I guess the two twin brothers who work the counter can afford to be any way they want. My first impression of them was that they looked remarkably similar to the chefs in Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen and I kept expecting them to start demanding things. However, this was clearly not going to happen as they were much too busy slicing samples, chopping off chunks for demanding customers, and explaining the various cheeses on offer. The fact that they both had quite strong lisps and spoke in a quiet singsong voice only added to the fascination. I loved them!


The Cheese Twins…


The samples. They went fast and they had to replace several of them while I was waiting my turn. I appreciate this about these guys. They weren’t cheap with their samples and there were two types of crackers as well. These things are important.


We tried the one on the left – Montana, I believe, and it was delish. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese – mild and hard but sweet. So good.DSC08559 

These Romelias, a surface ripened soft goat cheese, were flying off the shelves. I am partial to the Juliette, similar to Camembert, and also the Blue Juliette. I would post a picture but the combination of delicious cheese and crusty bread on a sunny September day has precluded the possibility of there being anything of which to take a picture…

Never one to neglect dessert, I finished buying up the cheese counter and moved on to the sweets. I meant to buy one of these brownies,


but got distracted by these instead

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We went a bit crazy at this stall, home to many yummy French pastries baked by a bona fide Frenchman. Pear and Almond tart (if i must) and Raspberry Vanilla Somethings (oh alright) went down just fine.

By now our friends Mel and Pepi and Silas along with Mel’s parents were arriving at the harbour to take part in the Working Boats Rendezvous. This required us to spend time on their beautiful converted fishing boat lolling around in the harbour, drinking tea and lying in the hammock, while boats came and went, stories were told, and beers drunk. It’s tough life for these boaters. I feel for them. :) Actually, it is a tough life and the number of days of bliss seems usually to be greatly outnumbered by the days spent sweating over a whining engine, or mopping up hydraulic fluid, or writing out yet another cheque. That’s why these rendezvous are so great. Boaters really help each other out and the camaraderie is in the air. I think it makes it all worthwhile. Mel and Pepi may feel differently but that’s how it seems to those of us on the ground.



You can just see Silas to the right. He offered to ‘push’ me on the hammock and climbed up, got into position, and then said ‘oh you’re heavy’ and got down again. Hilarious.

We al headed back to the market where I encountered Raffi, well known children’s singer, sitting at a table promoting his latest gift to children everywhere, a non-profit society that he has set up devoted to honouring children and childhood around the world. I’ve always loved Raffi even when I had heard Baby Beluga or I Think I must Be Growing (Hey! I can reach the tap now!) so many times I wanted to stick forks in my ears, and this just proved that the guy really is amazing. Like I said, people on Islands have time for the stuff that matters in life.


We wandered the market a bit longer, then headed into the village to check out the shops where there were many great finds, and many not so great finds that would probably be Ok if they didn’t have a bird on them. As Pepi pointed out, it’s hip to “Put a Bird on it”. There is even a skit on Portlandia dedicated to this fact that I have yet to watch, but which sounds hilarious.


Case in point.

One of my first visits to Saltspring Market was about 20 years ago (when I was 5, that’s right). One of the things I remember was this dude with a didgeridoo, and some sort of spinning tube with holes drilled through it. The guy would wander the crowd asking if anyone wanted a psychedelic experience without the drugs. Unsuspecting types such as myself would say yes whereupon the dude would wind up the spinning tube, hold it before your eyes, and have you look toward the sun with your eyes closed while this kaleidoscope-like tube would spin, allowing the sunlight to assail your eyelids in a crazy pattern. All the while, he would play his didgeridoo in your ears. The effect was interesting, if not psychedelic, although that is three minutes I’ll never get back and could well have been spent on, say, world peace, or learning how to silkscreen birds.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when I saw the same dude, with the same didgeridoo, and the same little spinny tube, still hitting people up 20 years later. My point that people here have more time is again substantiated! DSC08607

Looks like he has finally discovered a way to control Zombies.

Before dinner we decided to take a drive round the island which was uneventful in itself other than finding a nice little bit of yarn-bombing on a sign at the side of the road. So thoughtful.


We took the last ferry home laden down with cheese and bread, pies and produce. I could happily have stayed for longer.

If I find some time, I’m going to figure out how I can spend more time on Saltspring Island. Perhaps the Cheese Twins need an assistant…

Thanks for reading-