Thursday, May 02, 2013

Swashbuckling Suzie and the Pender Pirates

After 3 months of eating right and exercising (and when I say exercising, I mean ninja training) it is my week of "active rest."  Every now and then, I indulge in what I like to call "inactive rest,"  so when Michelle (my birth-mom) invited me to Poet's Cove Resort & Spa on Pender Island for a relaxing weekend...I envisioned myself lounging on a lily pad drinking sparkling wine and enjoying the view of the ocean in the sunshine.  I was half right.

Big city girl, island bound.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Southern Gulf Islands, Pender is located in the Gulf of Georgia nestled in between Saltspring and Saturna...if you've taken the ferry to Vancouver from Victoria or vice versa, you've passed it.  It is approximately 34 square kilometres, and has a population of around 2500 full-time islanders.  Before this starts sounding like a 5th grade geography project, Pender Island to me is about getting away from the city and chilling out in one of the best backyards in the world.  And acting, and sometimes dressing like a pirate.
Queen of Cumberland - Otter Bay

Resort, sounds good.  Spa, fine with me.  Gourmet food and drink, ACK!  I was very much looking forward to spending time with Michelle and enjoying the many amenities that Poet's Cove offers, especially the spa treatments that she sprung for, but the food became an issue simply because it's, well, food...and I'm a fat girl trying to get healthy.  What I have yet to learn from my 3 months of health and fitness is to let go of the anxiety that I feel when I know that I will have to give up some control.  I just need to make good choices, and maybe not indulge in the bread and butter that will be put on the table, right?  Wine, well...I know there will be wine, I have accounted for that already.  In fact, I brought a bottle of prosecco and a granacha...just in case.  Ha!

Recycle or die!
In the past, I would celebrate a good loss with meal out or a bag of baked chips, but my mindset has present, I celebrate fewer pounds by buying some new exercise pants or a novelty t-shirt.  I now know that a weekend in the lap of luxury means: hold fast to your new ways.  Stay the course, don't let go.  Avast! (See, I told you that Pender = Pirate to me).

So off I set on the tide to a not-so-distant land, where the sirens of temptation would sing softly to me.  Hold to the code.  

Michelle met me at Otter Bay and we took land transportation from there, just as I had gotten my sea-legs.  Pender Island is the keeper of many secrets, one
Should have bought this for Vicky Voodoo!
such place is the Recycle Depot which is a treasure trove of vintage junk.  Odds and ends that may not be interesting to the average landlubber, but this pirate often picks through the "Free Store" for ancient mason jars and various medicine bottles.  Then there's the Nu-to-Yu where all your dreams and nightmares can come true.  Usually, second hand stores are slim pickings...but not this one.  There are always things that have been overlooked by islanders, for example, I couldn't resist a Benihana Geisha mug for 50 cents.  And, in true pirate fashion, I practiced a little stealth photography and snapped some pictures of the more impressive scary dollies.  Then home to Schooner Cottage to pick up supplies before our journey to Poet's Cove on the south island.

Our trek through the countryside didn't take very long, in fact, I think it took roughly 20 minutes to
Poet's Cove Resort & Spa
get from Razor Point to the resort.  The scenery was impressive as it al
ways is in British Columbia, we saw ravens, eagles, and deer along the way - Pender Island wilderness safari complete.  Our room wasn't ready, so we headed to the spa directly.  As a big girl, I have only ever had 1 massage in my life (and that was only a month ago when Del was in town), this time I knew what to expect.  Michelle and I got a tour of the facility before we were shown into the change room - there's even a steam cave in there!  Susurrus Spa didn't disappoint, I even fit into the robe that was provided for me...added bonus!  My masseause was a tiny woman, but could she ever dig deep.  Shelley gave me the best massage - I felt every knot that she worked out disappear.  I had told her about my workout regimen, but I was not expecting the release that came with deep tissue massage.  Blissed out beyond belief, Michelle and I met up again in the cloakroom to redress...and on to our pedicures.
The view from our room...note the hot tub!

The pedicure area was slightly less ethereal and more pragmatic, though there were leather chairs and jacuzzi jetted tubs for our tootsies.  Before we got started, Michi and I picked out our colours...I chose a bright 'n' shiny turquoise because that's how I roll, she chose a colour called "Laughing in Pink" which was actually pretty much rose gold glitter.  "Just as long as it isn't called 'Laughing Stock,'" said Michelle.  Ha!  Why is it that I cannot control my laughter when I'm mid-toe painting?

"Oh, here's a good colour for you, Michelle."
"Excellent, what's it called..."
"Hang on...the printing is tiny.  It's called...'You're an idiot!'  Bahahaha..."
Suzie and Michi @ Aurora
Don't ask my why that was so funny, but it made us laugh and even the aestheticians let out a chortle or two.  I'm sure Beth got an even bigger laugh at us leaving the spa in our flip-flops slipping all over the place.  Patent leather is always a good choice, unless your feet have recently been moisturised in which case it becomes a detriment to verticality and grace.  Somehow we managed to get upstairs to our room, and what a room it was...holy view, Batman.  A perfect place to have a glass of champers and get ready for the evening's festivities.

All gussied up in our finest, including some very special flip-flops on me (as the last time I had a pedicure, I had a training session directly after and ninja and pedi do not mix), we headed to Aurora.  After 13 weeks of being totally in control of my eating, this trip to a fancy restaurant was a little daunting...and I was fortified with wine.  We were seated at a table in front of some French doors through which there was a view of Bedwell raw oysters were an obvious choice to start.  Michi and I followed those gorgeous bivalve molluscs
with very possibly the best halibut I have ever eaten.  If you're going to stay at a swanky place like Poet's Cove, order's a no-brainer.  Sebastian, our fabulous German waiter, even dressed our table with some of the vermillion tulips that Michelle left at the front desk.  We went from swashbuckling pirates pillaging the Recycle and Nu-to-Yu to ladies dining at the Governor's table.  Yum.  Now, where's my corset?  That halibut was far too delish to not have a whole bunch of butter slathered all over it.

There's a lesson in all this, but I'm not sure what it is yet. 

How am I going to survive in the full fat, extra carb, huge portion world?  I pretty much cut out all other calories on Saturday to prepare for the lavish dinner and drink that I knew I'd be having at the resort...and that is just wrong.  Why can't I figure this food thing out?  Why can't I just let go and eat healthy meals and have the occasional meal out and account for everything?  Well, actually, I know.  Being a binge eater is a bit like being an can't just have one drink...or one double cheeseburger.  It opens the floodgates for further self-destructive behaviour.

After navigating the tricky waters of dinner and drinks at a five star resort, I was looking forward to smooth sailing for the rest of the weekend.  And then I was broadsided by Sunday brunch.  Who's at the helm here?  Me.  So snap out of it, Suzie...and keep making good food choices.  Oysters and halibut were relatively healthy last night, and you can figure out what to have for breakfast.  I was confronted by pancakes, French toast, quiche, bacon, sausage, omlettes to order, deep-fried hashbrown potatoes, smoked salmon, various cheeses, toast, bagels, soba noodle salad, beet salad, potato salad, and then there were the desserts....I'm not a sweets person, so all I noticed were the chocolate mousse tarts as they were pointed out to me.  What to eat?  Well, I wanted some eggs...and I opted for an omlette without ham or cheese.  Then I opted for 2 pieces of crispy could I not?  It's BACON.  I took a bit of the smoked salmon too, and a spoonful of the soba noodle salad, the rest of my plate I filled with fruit.  Mission accomplished.  Dangerous currents avoided.
And the moral of this story?  I will survive.  It's not as hard as I thought it would be in the real world...I just have to learn to trust myself and make good choices.  And also, everyone needs to get a deep tissue massage at least once in their life.

Back to the big island after a weekend of incredible views, amazing hospitality, heartfelt conversation, intense relaxation, gourmet food, and quality wine...I'm ready to axe the "active rest" and hit the gym hard...which is good, because Monday means elliptical, aerobics, indoor cycling, and that's all before lunch.


  1. Anonymous5/16/2013

    When are we going?
    -The petite québécoise