As you all know, if you’ve been following along, my sister and
her fiance husband recently moved back to Canada, and due to the placement my brother-in-law received with his residency – they now live in small-town Grimsby, Ontario (population 25,000). S, being a bonafide city-girl her whole life, took the move quite hard, so last month, on our sister-moon to Oxford County (which on a whole, isn’t that small-town-county at all actually with a population of 105,000) my aim was to show her some hidden benefits to not living in a city of 2.6 million. I love smaller towns, hence my obsession with Balm Beach many moons ago, so I was really excited – but I’m generally really excited about anything.
Small town rule #1: You need a car to go anywhere. Admittedly, a pickup truck is better suited for the roads but I stand by my choice with the Fiat 500 from #myAutoshare because it’s cute, it gave me a break from driving stick, and I LOVE it. It reminded me of the first car S and I shared: our little Betsy, a Suzuki Swift.
Below, is a continuation of the favourites for summer series (last week’s edition was about food, yum) and a fabulous theme:
HIDDEN TREASURES: Oxford County Edition
1 – Elemental Nature Facial
Okay, so my facial at the Elmhurst Inn + Spa isn’t that “hidden” per say – I mean, the word SPA is in the name of the Inn, but regardless I love going to get a spa treatment in a small town – somehow I just feel there always a little bit more care that goes into your service. So of course, when I step into the treatment room and my facial-lady starts chatting away with me (which I loved) my mind inevitably went to the time and being worried that this would take away from my 60-minute service (generally what happens with spa treatments in large cities) but it didn’t, I was assured (and I totally checked after, too).
The service started with me filling out a form that I indicated my moods of the day (um, mostly relaxed and calm as I’d just woken up from a night sleeping on a queen-sized bed at the Inn which was delightful) and when I asked why, she told me she would be using scents in my treatment that would be suited to what I was feeling, and make my service that much more relaxing. They use the AVEDA brand in all their treatments and when you walk outside (above) is your view. Hidden. Treasure. Complete.
2 – The Wooden Pearl
I have not been able to stop talking about this place since we got back from this trip. I’ve been telling everyone I meet. It was amazing in there. It’s a shop owned by three women: two sisters and their sister-in-law and it’s been open since this January. In it, a shop filled with handmade, homemade items by artisans around Oxford County. Their story is so inspiring it actually has prompted the next edition in the favourites series (you’ll see next week).
S purchased the two-piece “outside coffee table” with a built-in succulent garden for my parents to say a small thank you for all the wedding planning. It now sits in the backyard at my mum’s and everyone comments about how beautiful it is and we get to tell the story of how we found it!
This wooden candle holder now sits on my headboard in my bedroom. I. Love. It. You can buy soaps at this place (Wild Comfort is pictured above), take “how-to” workshops and meet the creators of all the stuff you can buy here. They don’t have a website, but do have a Facebook page and a lovely Instagram account @thewoodenpearl As a fellow small-business woman entrepreneur – show some love! 🙂
3 – Lily and the Fox
While we were waiting for our cheese tour at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheeses, S and I looked around the storefront – which was a nice surprise – it was like we were in a deli shop (that sold just cheese at the deli counter) and then a country store that housed items that were basically curated from people who live and own businesses around the county. I read this book (above) called Everyone Knows and it detailed the adventures of Lily and the Fox and due to my penchant for books (I’ll always be an employee of Indigo at heart) I just sat and read the whole thing.
I love finding these hidden treasures in these random spots. And Gunn’s Hill was full of them (it’s also where I caught the strategically placed information cards from The Wooden Pearl that were conveniently customized to tell the reader how to get there from Gunn’s Hill. It was organic marketing at its best.
I kind of cut off the cutting board in my photo, but there were so many, and I wish I bought one in addition to my cheese and maple syrup that day. Again, these guys don’t have website’s but I found this amazing hashtag for Otter Creek Woodworks: #ottercreekwoodworks and I found their Facebook Page, too!
4 – The Fountain from France
One of my favourite things about the Elmhurst Inn + Spa is that it’s so close to the highway (I know, not usually used as a pro) but it’s literally about a two minute drive (so you cannot get lost trying to find it) and then BAM – you’re in forest-heaven. Where I’m standing taking this photo – the 401 is actually to my left – but I couldn’t tell just by looking. You can’t hear the highway, you can barely see it – you just see this lovely fountain. This fountain which was imported from France, was added to the landscape at Elmhurst in order to elevate the serenity of the space. The plan worked.
I loved every turn presented a new opportunity to look at some form of nature. No wonder this place is packed for weddings. Seriously, I was wedding
scoping – I mean, hoping.
5 – The Hops Forest
When we made our last stop on the tour de Oxford, to Ramblin’ Road Brewery, we thought we’d just be eating kettle chips and doing some taste tests (which we definitely did) but we also had the pleasure of dipping our toes in the neatly planted hops in the field outside the brewery. These are the same hops that will be harvested and used in the next season’s batch of beer from the Brewery. But first, it’s used as an adult (responsible) playground that you can walk through and hide from the neighbouring highway.
If you walk to the other side of the building, you get a fresh take on the Canadian Flag, and an excellent photo op! It was a few days before Canada Day so finding this gem was awesome!
It wasn’t so much all the material items, or the photo opportunities that I felt were hidden treasures (there are so many more photos – you can see them on my Instagram account @emiliafarrace) but these were some of my favourites. Here is what made the day so much different than “the big city” – all these places we visited, were a workday. It was a Thursday and everyone we met was at work, busy, and doing other things (unless it was retail – yes, it’s there job in retail to help during the weekday) but what I mean is everyone was at their jobs and no one acted like they were at their jobs. They were all just doing their hobbies that turned into something more for them, turning them into these treasures for people to find.
I was so happy to receive this image from my sister the other day – she wrote on how she loves that this exists in this world. It does! So many hidden things do! We just need to go find them!! 🙂 I encourage you to go find them, here, in Oxford County or nearby.