Well, it’s been a while since I last posted. As a newly engaged woman, my head has been all over the place (I know what you are thinking…hardly surprising for a blonde, cough, cough…). For not only did I think I was on the shelf in my mid-forties, but also in the back of the metaphorical, dusty, kitchen cupboard behind the out-of-date bottle of Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce (yes, I’m sure you have one of those too). Poor Brett, he doesn’t really realise yet what he has let himself in for…but he will soon!
Stranger things have happened at sea, as my Dad used to say…(and they probably will when Brett and I finally get around to sailing off to circumnavigate the world in Theros, in the not too distant future). Anyway, I digress, forgive me. I wanted to share with you some of my reflections on the magical microcosm that manifests as Salt Spring Island, which is the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia. I had the privilege of staying there with Brett for three weeks in April and it was my first foray into Canada, a country I have wanted to visit for a long while.
From the minute I stepped off the sea plane onto the boardwalk of Kanaka wharf in Ganges, the familiar smell of Jet A1 pulled me back in time to my aid worker days when I took many a Cessna Caravan flight across South Sudan. Here, though, the aroma mingled with the tangy, salty sea air. My senses, slightly confused, served to thrust me once more into the present moment. I had arrived! The evening sunlight, bathed the harbour in a warm, orange-golden glow. The bright colours of the sailboats and fishing vessels stood out against the mirror-smooth water, which reflected the hues back to me in a perfect kaleidoscope. And so I began my sensual journey on Salt Spring Island….
Let’s think about that for just a moment. When you travel, how often do you closely pay attention to the images, sounds, scents, tastes and textures that bombard your senses? I mean really notice, embrace and inhabit them? My guess is that, all too often we spend so much time up in our heads fretting about the finer details of our journey and the ‘next step’, we miss so much of the information and experiences coming to us from our surroundings.
Here are some of my reflections on the variety of sensual pleasures you might find when you visit Salt Spring yourself.
Salt Spring Island is stunningly beautiful and there are picturesque views pretty much everywhere you look. The inlets, coves and colourful harbour at Ganges draw the eye upwards from the sea towards the fir and arbutus clad hill and mountain slopes. The promise of amazing vistas from the top of mountains, such as Mount Maxwell don’t disappoint!
There’s a quirky collection of shops, cafes and buildings that make up the main town of Gange, which ooze character and have a laid, back sense of loveliness. Further inland lush, green pastures and working, organic farms nestle into the landscape and remind me of home. The island brings out the individual creative expression of the people, who live there, not least in the unique styles of clothing, somewhat reminiscent of the hippy movement but also in their arts and crafts and music.
Salt Spring sunrises and sunsets are truly spectacular and for some reason the skies seem bigger here!
Talking of music, the island boasts a thriving musical culture from a marimba band to famous folk rock stars and even hosts some unusual events like the up and coming Music and Garlic Festival in August. (Music and garlic? Yes, you read that right! Vampires not welcome I gather…) I wonder if the festival will catch on like Glastonbury? Certainly the venue, Paradise within Farm sounds enticing!
I have heard that the Tree House Cafe, overlooking Kanaka wharf, is a great live music venue, especially during the summer months. I have yet to try this out for myself but I am certainly looking forward to it on my next visit
Ravens cawing, an array of sea birds calling, combined with the ‘put put’ of boats and ‘whooosh’ and ‘splut splut’ of sea planes provide a somniferous soundtrack as one walks around the harbour. Crack, crack, crackles of dried out twigs underfoot along the woodland trails to the sound of silence in the deepest forest all add to the island’s atmospheric wonder.
Douglas Fir and arbutus trees provide the shaded forest floors, with their earthy, comforting scent. Salt sea air tingles the nose and the familiar, diesel, boaty smell lingers in the marinas. For sweeter aromas, the diverse selection of local producers concocting hand made soaps, other toiletries and room fragrances from essential oils are delightful, such as O My Goddess herbal products (their Rose Love Lotions is great!).
Salt Spring Island is a healthy eating paradise and will surely get your tastebuds tingling. There’s plenty of organic produce for sale. You can sample some of the artisan fayre at the Saturday market in Ganges. Here are seven of my picks for places to eat and drink:
- Salt Spring Inn – try their excellent salmon and halibut dishes and soak up the laid back, convivial atmosphere. They also do a wonderful ‘death by chocolate’ – style of dessert (trust me, I know about these things…);
- TJ Beans – the folk here will give you a warm welcome. Try the heart warming coffee, chai tea latte and yummy morning glory muffins;
- Barb’s Bakery and Bistro– if you want to be super healthy, pop in here to try out their wonderful, tasty soul food in the form of artisan bakes and delicious, vitality-giving juices and smoothies. There are plenty of veggie and gluten free options. I love their hot fresh apple juice and ginger concoction!;
- Moby’s -a chilled vibe awaits you at this harbour side pub with beautiful views. This is a great place to hang out with friends and watch the world go by. Enjoy the ribs and local cider or ales;
- Embe Bakery – pick up steaming cups of coffee and tasty pastries on the go, particularly if you have that early morning ferry to catch;
- El Loco Taco – you can’t miss this brightly, coloured van parked up by the harbour. They do some mean fish tacos and hot sauce. Go on try them, you know you want to!;
- Rock Salt Cafe and Restaurant – this quirky, characterful cafe at Fulford harbour beckons you for breakfast treats and there are gluten free options. Try the Rock Salt breakfast, it’s yum!
I am sure I will expand this list as I get to know Salt Spring better, so do watch this space!
Feel the different textures of the hand crafted clothes on offer in the local shops or at the Saturday market. I bet you wondered what I was going to write about here didn’t you? If you want to get a bit more physical and feel the burn, check out North End fitness, the local, friendly gym and facilities next to T J Beans.
By the way, here’s a top tip for all you boaters out there planning to visit Salt Spring for a while, did you know you can get a reasonably priced ‘shower’ membership pass at the gym? It worked for me and you can pamper yourself with the eco-friendly, zingy or soothing shower gels, what’s not to like?
For more touchy-feely type of stuff, if you feel in need of some tlc for your mind ,body and spirit, there are loads of holistic practitioners or alternative therapies, classes and retreats around and you won’t need to go far to find them!
You thought I was just going to stick to the usual five senses didn’t you? But no. Everyone has a sixth sense, or Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), or intuition. It’s a natural human ability and nothing to be afraid of. One thing that struck me about Salt Spring Island straight away was its, gentle, calm, soothing energy. I could tangibly sense that Island residents do their best to live in harmony with nature.
When we surround ourselves with nature, we can detox from the stresses and strains of every day living. We become connected to all other living beings. When we quieten ourselves and permit ourselves to journey within our intuition becomes heightened and this can enhance our overall wellbeing as well as improve mental clarity and decision making. (See my Intuitive Healing page or Intuitive Healing with Sarah community page on Facebook if you’d like to know more).
As mentioned above, you will find many holistic health practitioners, who naturally tap into their intuition, while providing wellbeing services to residents and visitors. Alternatively, you might wish to wander along some secret forest trail to find that quiet place within. Well maybe, the trail is not so secret – you could stumble upon some frisbee golf enthusiasts! But then again, playfulness is wonderful way to tap into your intuition too!
Planning a visit?
Have I whetted your appetite for a visit yet? If you are thinking of heading out to Salt Spring here are some useful links to plan your journey:
Flights – Check out Skyscanner for flights to Vancouver or Victoria. Kayak is another useful aggregate site. There is scheduled air service by float plane with several air carriers, including Salt Spring Air, Seair Seaplanes, Harbour Air Seaplanes, and Kenmore Air. Most have scheduled service to Vancouver airport.
Ferries – BC Ferries has scheduled service from Tsawwassen on the mainland to Long Harbour on Salt Spring Island. There are also two ferry routes from Vancouver Island. Check out the timetables on the BC Ferries website.
Water taxi – Gulf Islands Water Taxi provides scheduled sailings and charter tours around the islands.
Accommodation – There are a few websites where you can search for accommodation on the island including the Salt Spring Accommodation Group , Salt Spring Market and the Salt Spring Tourism webpage and don’t forget TripAdvisor!
…And lastly do keep in touch, if Brett and I are around we’d love to meet you!
Peace, love and light,