It always feels a little bit strange when my wife Sara and I travel anywhere together without our kids. We don't do much without them and we genuinely love every minute we spend with them. So as we pulled out of the yard and watched them in the rear view mirror waving good bye to us, it took a minute for it to settle in. "We're really doing this...we're really going away all by ourselves!"
It was our 10th year wedding anniversary so we wanted to do something special to celebrate. We had booked Grandma and Grandpa for their childcare services and started looking for a romantic getaway. It didn't take long before we decided on The Cottages at Cambra Sands in Malagash. We had been eying Cambra Sands for quite some time but just hadn't had the opportunity until now to check it out. We decided on their romance package which included a two-night stay, a bottle of Jost wine, some soaps and chocolates upon arrival and dinner for two at Jubilee Cottage Inn's dining room - Qi Sera.
We were on our way! The sun was shining and it was a beautiful drive as we passed through the Wentworth Valley. The fall colours weren't quite at their prime yet, but you could tell that within another few days it was going to be phenomenal there. Wentworth hosts a Fall Colours Festival every Thanksgiving weekend at the ski hill where visitors can ride the chair lift to the top of the mountain for a magnificent view.
We were heading to Jost Vineyards and trying to get there before closing time to pick up a bottle of wine to take to supper with us that evening. Qi Sera is a "BYO" (bring your own) wine establishment, so we were pretty excited about this. We got to Jost with 30 minutes to spare which was plenty of time to sample the Ortega Chardonnay, and make our selection. We grabbed a bottle of Prost Sparkling wine for back at the cottage afterwards too - just to be sure we were supporting our local wine industry sufficiently.
We arrived at Cambra Sands and everything was ideal. We were in the one-bedroom cottage called Castine, which was closest to the beach. The cottage was gorgeous and the view was absolutely amazing. We had about an hour to rest up before heading out for supper, so we just lounged around and enjoyed our new peaceful surroundings. The absence of the kids was especially apparent at this point - we weren't used to having uninterrupted time to ourselves especially at that point in the day. It didn't take long before we embraced the quiet and were anxiously getting ready for our romantic dinner- for-two at Qi Sera in Wallace.
We were greeted at the door by chef and restaurant owner Carole Dee. Sara and I were the only two scheduled to dine that evening so we had the whole place to ourselves. It was like having our own personal chef as Carol both cooked and served us each course. Qi Sera has themed dining and Friday night was Asian Night (featuring cuisine from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand). I'll be honest I was a little bit nervous by the menu because my tastes are pretty conservative. I'm the type of guy that doesn't stray too far beyond the clubhouse and fries or the fish in chips when dining out so I knew going in that this was going to be a culinary adventure!
It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary meals that I have ever eaten. It was like poetry on a plate with the unique combinations of flavours. We had gorgeous salad and shrimp appetizers, fantastic Asian style soup, and the main entrée was so beautifully presented on the plate that it was almost a shame to disturb it. It featured pork tenderloin, salmon, and scallops and scrumptiously prepared veggies. For dessert I had a delicious chocolate lava cake...mmm....and Sara raved about her pavlova. Even the coffee was amazing (it turned out to be a fair trade coffee roasted locally). The bonus was that our entire menu was gluten free (with the exception of my lava cake) which suited Sara's wheat allergy perfectly!
The next morning I decided to let Sara sleep-in while I drove to pick up some breakfast supplies from Foodland in nearby Tatamagouche (including some more of that great coffee we enjoyed at supper). It was a beautiful morning and on the way I even saw deer in a couple of roadside fields. The weather was abnormally warm for this time of year and we were looking forward to temperatures reaching 23 Celsius.
After we lingered around the cottage for a bit we decided to take a trip back to Tatamagouche to catch the Saturday Farmers Market at the Creamery Square and the artisan shops at the neighboring Grain Elevator. I guess we did a little too much lingering that morning, as the Farmers Market was pretty much packed up by the time we arrived, but we did get a chance to peruse the gift store on-site called the Chutney Creek Boutique. It had a lot of nice stuff, so I had to shuffle Sara out quickly.
After strolling around for a bit we decided to pop into a nice little spot called the Chowder House for lunch. You'll never guess what I ordered...the clubhouse and fries! They were great too.
Earlier that morning while we were deciding on what to do for the day we saw that Sara Bonnyman Pottery was holding an open house. She has a cool video on her website that shows her at work. It was neat to watch before visiting her studio because we gained such an appreciation for her work and how it is made.
Cars were lined up all along the street for the occasion and the ladies auxiliary were selling a variety of goodies and refreshments outside. Inside there was even a young woman in costume making balloon animals for the kids, while Sara Bonnyman entertained guests by demonstrating how her clay creations are made. We were in the market for a sugar bowl and creamer, but just couldn't decide on the wild blueberry pattern or the really cool starfish motif so we concluded that we would have to return again when we settled our decorative dilemma.
The great thing about our cottage at Cambra Sands was that we had facilities to prepare our own meals. So following our stop at the pottery studio we grabbed a few items for the barbecue before returning to relax for the rest of the afternoon. We enjoyed a nice walk on the beach and we even ventured for a dip in the outdoor seaside hot tub.
That evening we saw a mother and her three young children on the beach. Her kids were loving being able to run around so freely and we knew our own kids would have loved it here too. We saw two of the children wade into the water up to their knees and despite it being October they didn't seem shocked by the water temperature at all.
- Now I realize that the Northumberland shore is known to have the warmest salt waters north of the Carolinas but this was October! Could the waters still be warm at this time of year or were these kids freakishly insensitive? Sara saw the look in my eye and could tell that the curiosity was getting to me, so she dared me to go for an evening swim. Reluctantly I waited until we had the beach to ourselves - no one needed to hear me scream like a little girl if it turned out to be a bit chilly. I could tell as I waded in that it was warmer than I expected, but still not the inviting swim that I was hoping for. After all was said and done, it was best described as "refreshing". But what could one expect for the second week of October?
The next morning was wonderfully warm and sunny again (we were really getting spoiled). I snuck out early for a walk on the beach. Cambra Sands has an incredible private beach. I couldn't get over the variety of birds that we saw during our stay (sandpipers, gulls, herons, bald eagle, hawk, cormorants). During my walk I tried to get a photo of 5 great blue herons that were standing together on the shoreline, though my desire to get a close-up ruined my opportunity. Who knew that birds that size would be so easily spooked?
It was finally time to pack up and head home. It was the perfect place for romance and relaxation and we look forward to returning again some day with the kids. They're going to love that beach!