79: Travel Turbulence for Tresses

This is how my hair looks immediately after styling. This look will last less than 10 minutes.

The life on the road looks so glamorous until you consider: How shall I pack my hairdresser.

You can’t pack your hairdresser, or her incredible wisdoms regarding your mane, so for the time that you are away from home, you are away from all that props up your personal appearance.

Before we left for Europe, my daughter-in-law, a fantastic professional make-up artist whose recent work appeared on Ryan Seacrest’s website, schooled me in the magic of make-up for the middle-aged. I swear, I did not force my son to marry her just for my benefit, but that would have been a smart move, had it been necessary. She is the reason I can walk the streets of Switzerland without terrifying the locals with my withering visage.

Sometimes a hat is the only answer to hairscare.

But I drift: I can be schooled in make-up, I can pack a box of MAC products that will see me through the year, but my hairdresser is not quite so portable. Last summer, all she could do as she gave my mop a last reshaping was advise pulling it back into a ponytail when it reached that inevitable point of unpresentable-in-public. I reached that point about six weeks after that. It’s been a serious year of ponytail-itis.

How bad can it get? When I showed up in a Sydney, Australia hair salon in 2000, the stylists were so horrified that they all stopped what they were doing to gather around. They quoted something like $400 to repair the damage, but I am morally opposed to spending that much money on my mane, so I passed, spending the rest of our time overseas in a state of shame.

This is how my hair normally looks 10 minutes after styling.

In Spain, I took a recommendation from a friend and had a hairstylist come to my home. The result was an orangey-Ringo-Starrish crown from which I am still in emotional recovery. I would post a photo, but mercifully there are none.

And so this time around, I swore off hairdressers until we get back to Canada. I’m getting by with microscopic self-trims plus Rusk haircare products recommended to me by a friend who is a theatre/film wardrobe pro (I only point this out to show that it takes more than the fashion-hobbyist to keep me presentable).

It seems extreme, but I am not alone. I know a Victoria-based editor who only gets her haircut when she’s visiting family in Italy, another woman in Victoria who only gets her hair trimmed in Vancouver and the list goes on. My own hairdresser says I am not her only overseas client who eschews salons until she hits Victoria.

A good hairdresser is hard to find, but a great hairdresser is worth the wait.

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Reporter’s Secret About Christmas Markets: Get Out of Town

We trolled through Zürich’s Christmas Market last weekend, taking in the heady aromas of gluhwein (mulled wine) and rotting cheese.

The Swiss don’t consider it rotting cheese, but whatever they call this bacterial mould thing, it reeks so badly that I have not been able to get near enough to learn its name.

Despite my aversion for puke-stinking cheese, this concoction must have something going for it, because people line up in large numbers wherever it is served. Dave has tried to convince me to take a bite, but the tidal gag reflex kicks in and I can not.

Christmas decorations at the Zürich market.

In my former life as a staff reporter, I was called upon to cover festivals, community art shows, markets and the like. This does not make me an expert on their qualities, but it does put me into “observer” status, and so here’s the scoop on street markets. You don’t have to go to the big city to get the best stuff.

It is true.

On British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, Victoria has a grand Christmas market, that I will not name here, that is posh, well-promoted and high-profile. On the other hand, the country-cousin markets in Metchosin, Sooke and Sydney are cobbled together in an earthy fashion with goods laid plainly out on tables, their actual makers (or a stand-in relative) posted behind the wares. The decor amps up a little sometimes, but mostly that is what it is.

They may not have as elaborate a set-up, but the goods have a genuine homegrown quality.

Life-size Christmas models top a children's carousel at Zürich's Christmas Market.

Take for example Sooke’s leading jam and preserve artist, Mary Holland*. Her goods are made from her own garden produce, and she comes up with flavor combinations that are so delicious, even I, the fussiest eater in the world, cannot resist them, slathering them not only on fresh bread, but on hamburgers, chicken, hotdogs, everything. Yum.

Nothing at the glorious urban market comes even close to Mary’s preserves. Just so everyone knows, I don’t use the term “jam and preserve” with the word “artist” all that often. My vernacular is not constructed to adopt passing fancies of language. A jam-maker is a jam-maker in my dialect, however, Mary has elevated the practice into artistry. There, I said it.

What does this have to do with the Zürich Christmas Market? Maybe nothing, but at this moment our town’s downtown streets are crammed with little sheds being decorated for its market. It will not have a glamorous Swarovski-crystal bejewelled Christmas tree towering over it, as does Zürich’s market, but maybe it will have homegrown goods that match the scale of Sooke’s, and possibly exceed that of Zürich’s market.

I don’t know yet whether it will, but I know from experience that it is possible.

And there’s nothing wrong with Zürich’s market. Just saying.

*She and her husband Steve run Little Farm – Mary’s Medleys in Sooke.