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November 20, 2011

Salt Spring's Newest B&B: Thistle Dew Guest Cottage

IT'S A GIVEN. When you live in a beautiful place, people like to come and visit. And, that's a good thing. It's especially good if you happen to own a palatial mansion to put them up in. Or, come to think of it, that could actually be a bad thing because then the hoards would descend and keep on descending throughout the entire Spring, Summer and Fall. I recall meeting one islander who specifically created a guest cottage so tiny and minimalist, not to mention separate from the main house, that only two people at a time could be accommodated. Sorry, love, we're full!
When, however, you live in a small space with no extra bed, then you need to have some really reliable recommendations about where all those visitors might consider staying, unless that is, they don't mind roughing it. Got a tent?
I mentioned a lovely step back in time a couple of blog posts ago called The Cottage Resort. There's also the Wisteria Guest House. which is super comfortable with unparalleled breakfasts and lovely hosts. And,here's another: Thistle Dew Guest Cottage owned by Pauline MacDonald. If cottages could write, this one would be in the running for the Stephen Leacock Humour Award full of contentious stories to tell about what it took for it to get built. But, it's done, finally, and it's brand spanking new. Maybe when Pauline named it, she was actually thinking of the work ethic of too many pseudo carpenters on the island as in "Ack, Blimey, Sweet Jesus, This'll do!"  The name is a double entendre that I really like. Thistle Dew or This'll do?
The week I was packing up to leave the island, Pauline was generous enough to let me spend 4 nights acting as if I owned the place. It was such a wonderful thing for her to do. Pure relief descended as the chaos in my own tiny space ramped up. So, let me just say, having stayed there, I do have some "cred" when it comes to describing the experience, although, it wasn't the full on guest treatment scenario since, can you believe it, she neglected to serve me a home-baked organic breakfast, deliver a glass of Port on a tray at the end of the day, or draw my bubble bath. (I'm kidding, of course!) Just so you know, she won't draw your bubble bath either. 
As the web site says, the location is really perfect. If you like to golf, you can race the deer across the street to the fairway. It's about a 4 minute drive to a liquor store (an important criteria) and the grocery store is right in the same location although drive a bit farther and visit the liquor store on island with the best BC Wine selection and staff/owners who actually know what they're talking about at The Local.  A beach is about a 5 minute drive down Baker Road, totally walkable. The iconic and charming Fritz theater named after a now deceased cat, (just ignore the no personality owner who isn't even friendly when you buy a ticket)  is about a 10 minute walk. Heck, if someone, God forbid, should die there's even a cemetary out back.

Attention to detail is what sets Thistle Dew, and let's face it, every other quality establishment, apart.Thick duvet covers. Soft, smooth sheets. Velvety sumptuous robes and socks to match. Wood furniture with a history. Stained glass windows with leaded glass snug above the doorways between rooms. Dainty, romantic bejeweled handmade curtains. A heated floor in the bathroom and a chandelier above.  A washer/dryer. Ornamental birds perches decoratively on a window sill or a ledge. And, these interesting stairs up to the loft which are awaiting installation of a handmade  iron banister.
Pauline's soothing colour palette brings an instant sigh of relief as soon as you set foot in the little getaway which can accommodate up to six people. Yes, it can do romance. Can you? But, it's also really perfect for a girls' getaway  in the winter where even  a full-on downpour  won't prevent the ability to order in a massage, attend a yoga class, take in a concert at Art Spring or while away the day doing studio tours.If only there was a Limo on island to do the touring with the bubbles in your champagne glass being your main concern.
Above the french doors is a Georgia O'Keeffe styled skull.  
If you've been out all day, maybe you've stopped in at Bruces Kitchen to pick up a casual dinner or spent the afternoon compiling ingredients for your evening meal from the island's three wineries. Add cheese, bread, farm fresh veggies and perhaps some island lamb to take back to the small kitchen if you're keen to showcase your gourmet creativity. That last sentence is directed at a man or whichever partner doesn't normally cook. It's a getaway. She ain't going to want to cook you dinner, silly! Like she hasn't done THAT before. So be discriminating. If you've never cooked in your life, do the smart thing, if you're interested in getting what you want later in the evening, and take her (depending on budget) to Hastings House or Harbour House.
A cute and functional kitchen
I just love this chair and the mirror tucked into a corner of the downstairs bedroom
So, there. When you've packed more into a single day than you normally would in three, it's time to collapse into this bed (photo by Pauline) and have yourself a few sweet, sweet Thistle Dew Dreams. There is this queen bed in private room, a window seat that sleeps one and a pullout trundle under the window seat that sleeps one, two foam chairs that make into two single beds in the loft - and one rollaway bed in the closet that would fit - tightly - in the living room.

PS: On the off season (Oct. 15 - March 15), the nightly rate is up for some negotiation but typically runs around $115.  And, I got it all for nothin! Lucky me. 

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