My house is a collection of pottery from special places around the world. It’s not worth millions, but each piece is a treasure, and I’ve loved unpacking them after every move! In fact, just a few weeks ago, I stuffed two pieces in my large purse (thanks to Hides in Hand specializing in washable, beautiful Canadian-made bags and slippers) when frequenting the famous “Tour de Clay” outside of Tampa, Florida.

Back in May, I brought home the most amazing Scott Beardsley casserole casserolewhile on the Denman Island Pottery Studio Tour with a friend. I loved that experience as much as the purchase, as I drove down the picturesque private drive for a mile or so. When I got there, the studio was open, and the sign read— more or less —”Enjoy. If you purchase something, leave a check!” (Rumour has it that, sadly, after decades of no incidents, security cameras now had to be installed.)

Our island and surrounding ones are home to hundreds of potters. In fact, here in the Comox Valley, we are super proud or ours. If you love pottery and art, but you’re visiting in the winter and don’t have the time to explore the backroads to the studios, you might want to check out the Potters Place right here in Courtenay. It is the largest ALL CLAY gallery on Vancouver Island featuring functional, decorative and sculptural pieces each month. The artist whose works are available at the Potters Place all live in and around the Comox Valley — or what many locals here call it —“The Pottery Mecca of Vancouver Island.”

potterplace-header-1080x280ishThe Potters Place Gallery and Shop is just a short walk from The Old House and is nestled in the Potters Courtyard on the corner of 5th and Cliffe Streets. I am certain you’ll be thrilled with the selection of dinnerware, teapots, casseroles, vases, drinking vessels and so much more, all fired by a variety of techniques: Salt and Soda, Pit Firing, Raku, Wood firing and Crystalline.

Maybe a nice mug for hot chocolate or a Spanish coffee to enjoy in your Old House suite is the thing. Or maybe a soap dish for one of the great locally made soaps you might have purchased would be fun. A vase for the flowers your partner got you? I know I’ll be heading there soon; our gravy boat just bit the dust… it’s a perfect excuse to go back to one of my favourite places. Have a look, you wont’ be sorry. You can find them on Facebook or www.thepottersplace.ca.

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Outside The Old House Front Door:  A Comox Valley Explorer Blog

ohfrontdoorOutside the Old House Front Door… A Comox Valley Explorer Blog

It figures that if you’re looking for cool gifts, best to go to where the selection is huge right? Well, actually not always. In fact, one of my favourite places to find gifts for friends and family (and myself) and great healthy groceries, is a goldmine of a shop … not far from the Old House. Do not be deceived, it offers way more than delicious food choices and supplies.

Weinberg’s Good Food is located next to the Denman Island Ferry Terminal, just 15 or 20 minutes south of the Old House, on the Old Island Highway. But you have to look for it. If you drive around the back of PetroCanada, there you’ll find what appears to be a tiny produce shop from the outside. But once inside, it’s like entering the wardrobe in the story Narnia: there’s a whole new world of delights.

I suggest ordering an Americano or one of their amazing coffees to sip while browsing. It will take several trips around the store to take it all in — handmade lotions and creams, locally sewn tunics, candles, oils, hats, deli items and lots more. Two of my favourites: scrubbing pads and Abeego beeswax bowl covers (to replace plastic, pictured right). img_2451Recently I took friends from the States there before heading to Denman Island, and they loaded up on these items to take back home for presents. Never have I left this store without an armful of items and delicious treats to fill my refrigerator. Old House guests will love choosing delectable treats to add to their kitchenette supplies. Just in time for the holidays, Weinberg’s is featuring a variety of six beautiful new teas blended in collaboration with the Native Friendship Center. All are made with local ingredients and stored in gorgeous tins almost as wonderful as the tea.  Such excellent gifts!

I am often amazed how retailers such as Weiberg’s Good Food can find just the right combination of items that make shopping a true experience.  Check them out on your next Comox Valley visit.For directions, new items and hours, follow Weinberg’s Good Food on Facebook.

kite-sky

“It’s just you and the wind.”

I wish I could spend more time doing the sports I love, but even more so, trying the ones still on the “to-do” list. Lately kite boarding or “kiting” is piquing my interest. Why? Because a few months ago, new business associate, Todd MacSween, walked in the Old House front door and put his laptop in front of me, suggesting I check out his latest kite boarding video. This sport is just completely amazing to watch. The pure beauty of kite boarders sailing on water and air, strung to kites of purely awesome designs, is mesmerizing. As Todd puts it, “It’s just you and the wind. If you love flying, this sport is for you.”

To my surprise, I found out I could see a world-class kiting show at Comox’s Goose Spit on most days when the winds reach 20 knots or more. In a matter of minutes, kite boarders come out of the woodwork, parkitersk their cars on the beach and greet each other. It’s such a close community they don’t even have to share phone numbers or emails… they just show up (and share Gladstone beers later). Up to 10 kiters can be on the water while twice that number might be hanging out on the beach awaiting his or her turn (and there are a lot of “hers” out there too!).

I’m told not everyone — or really anyone — should learn the way Todd did. He confesses, “As a young guy in my 20’s, I carved a piece of plywood and added some leather straps to secure my feet and took on ‘The Spit’ with my handcrafted, and slightly laughable, board.” He survived learning at this spot  known for its flat waters, (which are hard to come by) and also for the offshore wind which isn’t ideal for beginners (translated: if you get into trouble, you could be in for a long swim).

Todd, a competitive kite boarder who has taken his sport all over the world advises that anyone wanting to learn has many options, “If you want to learn in the summer, this island is a great place.” The summer winds at Nitinat Lake (west of Cowichan Lake, on the west coast) are much more consistent with at least 80% of summer days suitable for kite boarding. In the winter, the options are fewer, so many head to warmer water and gentler winds.

kiter2If you’re a kiter from Vancouver and beyond, you can visit Goose Spit without dragging your equipment! It’s possible to test fantastic boards and kites from manufacturer, Ocean Rodeo Sports, based in Victoria, BC — they’ll ship new gear up to the Old House. The local kiting community has a webcam that can be found at www.bigwavedave.ca under “webcams,” though trying to predict wind too far in advance can be a futile effort.

I like watching this sport from my screens and also am heading out to Goose Spit next time I get a “thumbs up” from Todd,  that boarders are flying. In my dreams, I am grabbing my kite and board to sail with the pack. Next time you’re at the Old House, and the wind is right, check it out.

All photos and videos were created and contributed by Todd MacSween Photography.

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OUTSIDE OUR OLD HOUSE FRONT DOOR BLOG

 

 

 

 

Thank you Comox Valley for naming us the best place to get a facial and a finalist for the best pedicure! The entire team here at Ohspa could not be more thrilled!