I love a road trip but lengthy ones are not on for me these days. A day trip is almost as good and there are plenty of beautiful places on Vancouver Island. I decided to take a day trip to Qualicum Beach and when I found out that my friend and neighbour, Vera, could use a bit of cheering up and a change of scene, I invited her along.
We had a lovely time and I was a very efficient shopper, cheerfully supporting the Qualicum independent merchants as I scooped up summer dresses on sale and assorted tie-dyed items. I even bought some locally crafted rings which I fell madly in love with. Qualicum, a pretty seaside down of a little over 8,500 people, many seniors, is filled with little shops carrying the types of clothing I love most and of which there is next to none in my own town. Qualicum is not afflicted with Big Box stores, due to its very close proximity to the city of Nanaimo which serves the Big Box shoppers quite thoroughly and is a significant shopping destination for much of Vancouver Island's population living mid and north island. At forty-five minutes down the highway from Comox, where I live, I could definitely manage a trip there each season for wardrobe rejuvenation. It is a significant tourist desination so it tends to be feast or famine for these downtown shops, with business being abundant in summer and only a small trickle in winter.
We also had a lovely lunch and visited two markets, the farmer's market which sets up downtown on Saturdays and the ever present and popular Coombs Country Market, known for its goats on the roof.
The day was also remarkable for the heat! Thirty-one degrees is a bit much for me, but at least the car has A/C. My friend is originally from South Africa so she is a little more used to heat than I am, though she did live in London for ten years. She wore a beautiful dress and looked as fresh as a daisy all day. The dress I had on before leaving this morning was making a nuisance of itself with the straps constantly falling down my shoulders. I hastily pulled it off and could not decide what to wear in place of it so finally settled on some loose cotton shorts and a blouse. I spent the day feeling rather damp, wilted and sticky with sunscreen.
I also had a very severe attack of allergies. Nothing life threatening, just the most extreme case of streaming eyes and running nose I've ever had. This lead to a throbbing headache. Even after I arrived home it took three more hours for the symptoms to taper off and they in fact got worse before getting better. I tell you this to emphasise that it was actually a lovely trip and thus I was willing to suffer this horrendousness. We had taken my car but we shared the driving and Vera drove home as by that point I was quite exhausted and visually impaired. I had brought my camera, water and a large bunch of grapes with me but the only supplies I put to good use were the tissues and painkillers I'd brought. I know myself well enough to always travel with those.
By now you have a good idea of just how ravishingly attractive I looked and how absolutely fantastic I felt in my own body. Oops I hear the sarcasm alarm going off. My physical misery was completely trumped however, by the joys of my purchases, the pleasure of Vera's company and all the pleasant conversations I had with shopkeepers and strangers on the sidewalk. Vera and I are quite compatible shoppers and she is an easy companion always. I did have to ignore all the bookshops I passed, which was not a small task for me, but the day was just not long enough to do markets, boutiques and antiques as well as books. There will be another time.
Here are my non-clothing treasures of the day. I haven't quite decided where to put the bells permanently so they hang here for now.
I increased my supply of gouache paint and found a couple of rings I could not pass up, as well as the seastar earrings which are quite representative of my local environment. Purple or orange seastars abound here.
The whole week is to be has hot as Saturday was, and I don't know what to expect beyond that but I hope it cools down a little.
Yes, that is a heart-shaped rock my little shiny treasures are sitting on. It's a battered heart, my favourite of all the heart shaped rocks my ex used to collect and bring home. It was the only one I felt the need to take with me when I left the marriage and at the time I was only very vaguely aware of the symbolism of that. I just always felt that I needed to protect that battered heart.