After the four and a half hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Blue Hen Farm. Right at the turn we saw an old cupboard filled with jars of homemade preserves and a sign “Honk for Service”… And we saw the farmhouse in the opening between trees.
Farmers Jeff and Leslie greeted us and as we entered the house we were amazed by the old fashioned setting of the rooms – furniture, chandelier and even the old upright piano that produced some wonderful melodies after our evening meals…
Leslie and Jeff used to live in Ottawa and have jobs as many of us do… The idea of farming came up after some changes in jobs and also as a result of research of the food industry, commercial farming and agriculture.
Later, after getting settled in our rooms we headed down for dinner made by Chef Kostas who came out to tell us about the ingredients he used in his cooking, the dinner was amazing and filling.
As farmers do every day after dinner, we went into the barnyard to help with evening chores.
We found all the work surprisingly entertaining; we unloaded some 20 stacks of straw that will be used as bedding for the animals, fed the calves and pigs, brought the sheep and goats back to the barn and herded the chickens into their coop.
There was a special place where hens lay eggs, so we picked our breakfast! The eggs were dark and light brown, white and even light blue…
Once the chores were done, tired we went to our bedrooms; may be the mattresses were so comfortable or the day was long – falling asleep was no problem at all.
In the morning we woke up around half past six to the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs…
And after breakfast we went to the yard to do morning chores which repeats the evening in the back order – letting the sheep and chickens out, showering and feeding pigs… and saying hello to all of the farm animals.
The goats are very young and new to the farm and don’t know the barn yard, so they we carried to the pasture like babies!
Although all of the chores seem like quite a lot to do, they were our favourite part of the day. We also found that doing chores and waking up that early in the morning was very refreshing which was useful since we had a long day ahead of us. We found all of the animals so cute… and especially the three kittens that roam around the barnyard. There are also two dogs that help farmers by guarding the barn yard from foxes and other invaders.
Leslie and Jeff ask that visitors do not bring or wear any fragrances on the farm including mosquito spray, however they do supply their own free of charge so that you do not get bitten by pesky flies. Leslie makes her own natural soap – I found it very smooth and took a little piece home as a souvenir. Around the house we also found natural fragrances, bug spray and soap – all handmade from natural ingredients that smell like summer fields…
Their mission statement is free range thinking, meaning all of the animals are free to roam the field and raised with no antibiotics or chemical supplements at all. “Being a novice in such a tedious business as farming should be challenging for city folks” – I asked… yes, and they learn every day.
We also had a chance to learn – about how to feed pigs and chickens and how to take care of sheep and goats; we would join Leslie to let the animals out of the barn with the first rays of sun and get them all back in the evening…
For us it was just two days – but these days were filled with smiles and laughter, delicious homemade meals and that feeling of love and happiness…
We took a lot of pictures that will remind us about this wonderful place and people that are so enthusiastic about what they do. Thank you Jeff and Leslie for teaching us some very basic skills that we miss in our city life!
So, time to leave The Blue Hen Farm… I think I saw tears in some eyes…, we hope to come again.
After spending the day in Almonte, we arrived at the Blue Hen farm for a felting workshop presented by Peg Learn ( Learn Creations). She greeted us with a big smile, hand holding a large red dragon made from felt pieces … Surprisingly felting is much easier than it may look; everyone was given a felting needle, a foam pad and of course some colourful wool. Since we are the beginners Peg suggested that each of us make a simple Halloween pumpkin. The process is started by taking wool strands and using the needle to compress the wool together by poking it and combining into a ball. The pad is used to rest the material while using the needle. It was quite entertaining and after we got the pumpkin form down we started customizing our pumpkins in different ways. I put a French mustache on my pumpkin while others placed eyes, and/or smiles..
It was very fun and informative and we highly recommend it as something to do while in the area. Peg also told us about her experiences in felting competitions where the winner receives many pounds of felt, which means a LOT of felting fun! And according to Peg ” It is the most fun when you can have stabbing something repeatedly and legally” … It was a great eye opening experience that made something that appeared hard quite easy to learn.
If you wish to learn felting and have really fun workshop with Peg, her contact is: www.facebook.com/learncreations.
After the 1 hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Cranberry Village. We first arrived to the rooftop patio, which has the best view in all of Collingwood.
From the roof you can see the lake Huron, the 19 hole golf course as well as the newly refurbished marina.
Following a quick resort tour and lunch on the roof top patio we went to do paddle board yoga (SUP Yoga).
At first we thought that there was no way we could balance on a paddle board, let alone do handstands, bridges and other meditation poses.
It turned out however that meditating on a paddle board while being gently rocked by the lake was very relaxing as well as a slightly challenging workout, after about an hour we returned back to the village to take on the iron chef challenge.
The iron chef challenge works like this; two teams of equal size are given 10 minutes to plan a dish using unknown ingredients
They can also “ purchase” products such as a lemon or herbs using the team’s points, which are then deducted from the final score.
Once they have used up their 10 minutes of planning time, they are given 20 minutes to cook and arrange their chosen dish. The team at the end with the most points wins. However its not that simple as the chefs who organize the competition/exercise will throw in some really odd ingredients to challenge the contestants even more. For example in our list of products that we must use was included local fresh perch and oddly enough, a small box of cereal, again, all of the given items must be included.
After completing the challenge, we went to the lakeside grill to enjoy their specialty steak, we heard that it was delicious because they had recently invested quite a lot of money into a brand new grill that cooks the whole steak perfectly and evenly and it was delicious, so delicious in fact that we all wanted another plate of steak even though we were full.
And like that the day was finished, we said our goodbyes and got in the car for the 1 hour drive back home.
MOSAÏCANADA 150 / GATINEAU 2017
From June 30 to October 15, 2017, discover MOSAÏCANADA 150 / Gatineau 2017, a major international horticultural exhibition that combines various art forms with horticulture. The theme of the exhibit will reflect 150 years of history, values, arts and culture in Canada, represented by some 100 different arrangements. The free exhibit will be in the form of a route extending over almost one kilometre. Each visit will last approximately 90 minutes.
THE CANADIAN HISTORY HALL
On July 1, explore the Canadian Museum of History’s brand new 40,000-square-foot gallery, the Canadian History Hall! This signature gallery will trace Canada’s history from the dawn of human habitation to the present day. It is the largest and most ambitious exhibition project ever undertaken by the Museum. Authentic artifacts and stories are explored through various lenses, as visitors encounter the events, movements and personalities that have shaped our nation, and whose influence on our lives can still be felt today.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL – VOLTA
From August 3 to 27, experience Cirque du Soleil’s new show, VOLTA. It tells a spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves the adrenaline rush of acrobatics into a visually striking world driven by a stirring musical score. VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and the power of the group to make that possible.
AS FAR AS EYES CAN SEE (EXHIBITION)
From June 28 to August 30, view the exhibition À perte de vue, a major exhibition of large-scale works by 10 Canadian visual artists. The historic La Fonderie building, a remnant of Gatineau’s industrial heritage measuring nearly 58,000 square feet, will be the site of this unique exhibition organized by AXENÉO7 in partnership with the Centre de production DAÏMÔN and Galerie UQO, as part of the National Arts Centre’s Canada Scene festival. Admission is free!
Jean-Yves Cavin – Co-director of the Cully Jazz Festival
The Cully Jazz Festival, which will be celebrating its 35th edition this year, has become an illustrious event thanks to a clever blend of specific ingredients. The recipe isn’t that easy, but it’s a resounding success each year. Co-director and artistic director Jean-Yves Cavin has been able to maintain and improve its preparation. He tells us all about it in this new episode of the video series “Encounters in Vaud” which is produced by the Lake Geneva Region Tourism Office. Internationally reputed artists, a stunning setting, a goodly pinch of art de vivre, passionate winegrowers, charming wine cellars, a welcoming village and a strong sense of hospitality: the Cully Jazz Festival is all that. Be tempted…
Villars – Bretaye / 17.03.17 – 19.03.17
Afterseason Villars Electro FestivalCome and join the best of Electro clubbing at the Maison de Montagne in Bretaye. Swiss and international DJs will perform set after set in a heated tent with an incredible view, perched at an altitude of 1700m overlooking the Dents du Midi.
Leysin / 20.03.17 – 26.03.17
The biggest “British” electronic musical event of the Vaud Alps is held every year in March in the Leysin resort and ski area. Presented by the star of British radio, Gilles Peterson, famous DJs perform for 5 days of musical madness!
Diablerets – Glacier 3000 / 25.03.17 – 26.03.17
Enjoy the incredible ski region of Glacier 3000, offering powder snow and the motto “freeride for all”. Follow in the footsteps of some of Europe’s best proriders and experienced mountain guides.
Morges / 05.04.17 – 10.04.17
Divinum Wine Fair
Divinum opens its doors to the discovery of some exceptional vineyards as well as tasting of wines from all horizons. Let you guide by the wine-grower artisans whose mission is to satisfy your taste buds and to share with you their passion. Divinum is more than a wine fair, this is an experiment.
Leysin – Les Mosses – La Lécherette
Offer available from 13th March to 18th April 2017
The perfect hotel break !
7 days and 7 nights in the snowy mountains for CHF 710.- For the Easter holiday, from 13th March to 17th April, Leysin – Les Mosses – La Lécherette offer accommodation in a hotel with half-board, plus a daily ski pass (100 km of slopes), entry to the swimming pool as well as price reductions on ski equipment or ski/snowboard classes.
Villars-Gryon – Les Diablerets
Offer available from 1st April 2017 to 17th April 2017
Ski & Snow Fiesta
To celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring, Villars-Gryon – Les Diablerets offer a rich programme of music and crazy events from 1 April to 17 April. All that comes with special SkiSnowFiesta offers in some of the hotels, apartments, ski schools and sport shops. A wonderful way to spend the Easter holidays.
FAIRMONT CHATEAU LAKE LOUISE LAUNCHES POWERFUL TRANSFORMATIVE WELLNESS PROGRAM
– Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise adds holistic wellness experiences
to the magical setting of the hotel –
LAKE LOUISE, March, 2017
Guests come to Lake Louise to enjoy endless outdoor activities, including world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, guided hikes, horseback riding and canoeing. There is also a luxurious day spa, exceptional dining experiences and upscale accommodations with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Louise.
A few years ago, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise began offering wellness retreats throughout the year that complemented the guests’ stay in a truly breathtaking and spectacular setting. The wellness retreats struck a chord with the hotel’s international guest base, which, like more and more people around the globe, are looking for transformative travel experiences that leave them inspired, invigorated and renewed physically, mentally and spiritually.
In Spring 2017, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise will launch an extended wellness program with a new series of centering, holistic wellness experiences that will bring a deepened sense of Zen and mindfulness to the magical setting of the hotel.
The transformative wellness retreats are based on the pillars of mindfulness, meditation, creativity, authentic happiness, resilience and optimum wellbeing, that help guests find their true center and live in a more balanced and authentic way.
The retreats will be presented by renowned health and wellness experts including:
Tracy Delfs, passionate yoga & mindfulness instructor and long-time student of world-renowned Zen and mindfulness master Thich Nhat Hanh
Dr. Eva Selhub, internationally known medical doctor, author, stress management and resiliency coach
Shannon Kaiser, author and life coach, named “Top 100 Women to Watch in Wellness” and “Top 25 most influential wellness writers” by MindBodyGreen
Sean Murphy, author, Zen meditation teacher, creative writing coach
Kim Roberts, yoga instructor, psychotherapist and author
Wellness retreats are all-inclusive, two to four night packages with deluxe accommodation, healthy, delicious cuisine, daily yoga sessions, morning and afternoon wellness programs and plenty of time in between for guests to explore Lake Louise at their own pace.
To view the full wellness retreat calendar visit: fairmont.com/wellness
Adventures during our Perth-Ottawa Road Trip. Summer 2016
We left Toronto early in morning and after about an hour on 401 as usually stopped over at Big Apple. The place is well known for cute cafeteria, large giftshop, children`s outdoor pet zoo, and clean washrooms.
After arriving to Perth, we first stopped over at the Fairgrounds where the place was already prepared for the 200th years celebrations. One could see the rib grillers’ stands from all over Lanark county and the vendors offering foods and drinks to all tastes. There was a mini amusement park for young children with bouncy castles and a climbing tower. The stage was ready for musicians and singers; close by the stone carvers were competing in their art – the winners’ sculptures will become part of the new stone bridge being constructed in Perth and funded mainly by donations.
Late afternoon we headed to the McReary’s beach resort. The resort has beautiful and spacious cottages and we stayed in one of them for the next 3 days. The resort is located on the beach and at the same time not far from the main road; that made it convenient for our local day trips exploring the area. Our cottage had fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms, living room and the deck with BBQ. The environment is really family friendly and kids were allowed to go around by themselves.
Once settled we all headed for a boat tour that was so much fun!
We swam in warm lake water, did spectacular jumps from the boat and raced each other. On the way back to the cottage we saw two eagles high up on a pine tree.
Next to the beach there one can find a boat house with many canoes and kayaks to borrow, but we were too tempted to relax in the indoor pool; under same roof there is a sauna and hot tub. After dinner we played for a while and later enjoyed a beautiful sunset and the marshmallows roasted on the campfire right behind the cottage.
The next morning we went to Perth to see the 200th year anniversary parade, which was very well organized and included a lot of various performances. After the parade we stopped by the ice-cream shop before heading to the park.
Not far from the park there was a farmers market where we bought local maple syrup and some homemade jams; the stands were also filled with crafts and flowers. It was a fine place to browse…
In the park the speeches were already underway and we could see the Mayor and other city officials on the stage. At the end of the ceremony the Mayor handed the special capsule with the money collected for the construction of the new stone bridge to the builders.
After the official part everyone headed across the park to the spacious lawn where the dressed up musicians and dancers were getting ready to perform. The Scottish kilts in different colours, traditional musical instruments and actors were all mixed with the arriving public.
For the next hour we all could watch the scenes from the past brought by the musicians and actors to show the history of Perth from 19th century. The show ended by the guns’ salute and marching of the bands.
On the way back to the cottage we stopped again at Fairgrounds to have some ribs, check out the stone carving competition and listen to some music.
The day was almost done, we only had enough time to get back to the cottage for some swim in a pool and dinner.
The next morning we left early for the Blue Heron Golf club. The club house was already busy with the arriving golfers, so we quickly got ready and headed out to the course.
The course has nine holes which makes it suitable for those new to the game or seasoned golfers. The beautiful landscaping adds to the natural surroundings creating pleasant environment – mix of water, forest and green lawns… after golf we all were ready to have good lunch, and decided to go towards Perth.
On the way we stopped by the General store to buy sandwiches. Forget the sandwiches – in the middle of the store there was a small table where a lady was painting the large egg… The painting reminded us some fine antique porcelains, Easter eggs and may be Christmas… the paintings were filled with very fine details such as flowers, birds, butterflies, little bunnies and colourful ornaments. Hard to resist – we bought two beautifully painted eggs and then turned to sandwiches – we were hungry!
After Perth our destination was Ottawa. Instead of staying in the city hotel we stopped at the Generations Inn., which is about thirty minutes away. Even before we open our bags right away kids went to swim in a lake… The Inn has three rooms with private bathrooms located in the old estate. The place is quite well known for the fact that the chief for the Ottawa Senators sometimes cooks his famous dishes for the guests, but you have to call in advance to find out when; we didn’t and so had to visit nearby restaurants.
Next morning we were in Ottawa. First we visited The Museum of History, Children’s Museum and Parliament Hill, later the Airspace Museum and we finished the day watching the amazing Light Show that is projected right on the Parliament building.
In the Museum of History “Napoleon” and “Gold Rush” special exhibits were well worth to visit. Going back in times of Napoleon and learning about his personality and various projects was really like visiting France and Europe of that time. In the halls of “Gold Rush” we were able to wash some golden nuggets and learn about gold mining history. At the exit the special scale displayed the value of your weight as gold equivivalent in $$ – so we all got on! Worth millions!!
Children’s Museum is always full of kids and their parents. It’s a wonderful world of real things scaled to toy size. One can be a banker, another a salesman of Turkish rugs or spices, be a sailor or mechanic or dress up and go on stage!
After lunch on the French side in a small lovely café and some rest we headed to the Airspace museum. And that is where we spent a lot of time learning about airplanes, history of aviation and space exploration.
A bit tired we went back to the city to have dinner. And again we went to the Airspace Museum this time for the conference to meet the real astronauts Jeremy Hansen and Robert Thirsk.
They were presenting the launch of the new recruitment campaign and there were various officials and a lot of fans. We even got a chance to chat with them and get autographs.
After such an exciting evening we were back to the Parliament Hill for the Light Show that presented the history of Canada in projected images accompanied by narration and music.
Tired after such a long day full of events we were ready to go back to Generations Inn for a good night sleep…
Next morning we were on our way back home. We decided to stop over in Peterborough and visit the unique lift locks. Dated back to 1900 the locks operate based on the natural powers created by the weight of the water in the tubs – this is the largest hydraulic lift lock in the world that raises boats up to about 65 feet high! It was a lot of fun to watch the boats go up and down – they looked so small compare to locks’ structure!
Before getting back on the road we stopped over for pizza lunch and then drove all the way home talking about places we liked most…
Last year our family stayed in villa on French side in Concordia district in Marigot.
It was good immersion into local life, and good practice of French for kids. We hiked on Fort Louis in Marigot, Tree Top Trekked at Loterie Farm, took windsurfing lessons on Galleon Beach (nearby is Butterfly Farm), fine dined in Grand Case, snorkelled and sun bathed on Friars Bay. The shopping we did in “U” supermarket, and fresh bread in local boulangeries. Few times we visited Grand Case for a nice evening stroll, beach comb and fancy dinner combination.
From nearby Marigot Sea Port we took day trips to Anguilla and St.Barth. One day we spent in LoterieFarm. It’s a place to spend a whole day, first to go on Fly Zone (like Tree Top trek), and then soak and rest in the pool. We noticed many local families spent time on weekends here. I think our favourite beach in St.Martin is still on Happy Bay, and the runner up will be Friars Bay Beach.
The choice and variety of hotels is also great in Dutch St.Maartten, from casino hotels, down to small boutique inns. We chose Joshua Rose guest house this time, cause of the good balance, price , location, and facilities.
Guest house located in the heart of Philipsburg, with easy access to transportation, beaches grocery stores and good restaurants. For dinner our favorite was “Green House” restaurant, with it’s great service, good variety and price combination. One evening we visited acclaimed “L’Escargot” with classy service and beautiful ambiance. Yes, it’s pricey, but you pay what you get, once for the trip is great. For lunch there are good places to eat like “GUSTO”, and few Chinese restaurants nearby.
I should mention the trip to “The Carousel” ice cream shop it’s well worth after lunch, and explore sophistication in ice cream variety. (Actually I tried once “Heineken Ice Cream”. It tasted good!). There are lots of photographs on display with famous people eating ice cream. Our kids, 8 and11, are too big for the Carousel to sit on, but they still enjoy the rides.
On the property of DIVI Resort, there are ruins of Fort Amsterdam, from there is a nice view of Philipsburg and Point Blanche Cruise Ship Terminal,. We spent hours there watching pelicans catch fish in blue waters down the cliff.
Yes, we have to mention famous “Maho Beach”. The best time is after 1pm, when KLM / Airfrance jumbo jet is landing. It is really spectacular moment, quick and scary. Expect to see lots of tourists with cameras there.
Our son, after receiveing PADI E-learning Diving Certificate wanted to get an Open Water Diver Licence.
We planned to visit St.Lucia in November, and found it will be a good option to combine vacation with 3 day practice diving course with DIVE SAINT LUCIA. We booked Bay Gardens Inn. It’s in walking distance to Dive St.Lucia facilities, where our son for three days was training to pass Deep Water Diver Licence. This state-of-the-art facilities with modern pool, and own moorings, offered good price for licencing. Actually it’s also fun for the day trip with divers..
On the last day of practicing, we booked a diving trip for the whole family. This was a good treat for all. We enjoyed the speedboat trip down to Soufriere, snorkelled and suntanned while our son was diving. Actually I did one dive with my son and instructor at the foot of Petite Piton. Lots of coral reefs and fish. The other dive was at Anse Chastanet, and my son had a chance to encounter with two turtles. The views of Pitons from the boat as much spectacular as from nearby expensive resorts.
For the second half of our vacation we moved to South East, Praslin Area, where Mamiku Gardens and Piece-of-Paradise , to our family favourite Fox Grove Inn, our home-from-home. This time we got two bedroom apartment ( for the price of one room in Bay Gardens Inn). It was our special treat… We spent time in the pool (which is double size than in Bay Gardens Inn ) ,or playing ping pong, billiards, chess and puzzles , or hiked the road to beautiful vistas.
The owners, Esther and Franz as usual were sweet and helpful at any our request. If traveling as a couple , or alone, the best option will be to have a room with breakfast, and have optional lunch and dinners, but if traveling with children, especially for longer period, we prefer to book two-bedroom apartment, and have full independence, having equipped kitchen.
At Fox Grove Inn we usually enjoy hiking into tropical forest, while birdwatching, find and photograph some exotic flora.