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 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.
During the last couple of years the topic of visiting Quebec was coming up several times in our discussions. Finally in May 2017 we booked a hotel and planned out the itinerary that would include some of the places that we thought would be interesting for everyone in the family.
The main destination was Quebec City and its beautiful downtown was so well preserved and such a distinct French heritage. We spent most of our time just strolling the streets, window shopping and watching the street performers who really amazed us with their skills – fire jugglers, drama characters and musicians…
One of the destinations that excited our kids most was the Granby Zoo, which is about 3 hours drive from the downtown Quebec, and about an hour from Montreal. We were welcomed in the nice reception hall, got our tickets and went to explore the animal world.
Right as we entered there was a gigantic size dinosaur’s head and a line up of kids willing to climb inside of it! No matter how big or small – they were very about the opportunity to see the real size dinosaurs! And there 21 of them right in front of you, so be very careful – but don’t try to feed or pat these creatures!
Enough of the dinosaurs – the kids forgot about dinosaurs right at the sight of the farm animals. And there were lots of them – pigs, sheep, and goats – so friendly and ready to make friends!
After some hugs exchange with farm inhabitants we decided to go see some of the exotic creatures on display.
Oceania seemed to be a good place to start – first the stingrays and the variety of tropical fish and then all way around the Australian continent to see black swans, parrots, emus, and kangaroos. Stingrays seem to be attracted to the hand emerged in the water – some of them will come and allow us to gently touch their backs…
The Kangaroos were too busy to discuss any matters of their life, so the visit to the Oceania Garden was quite interesting as it is extremely rare you get to see kangaroos that close and with no fence!.
We entered the aviary and right away we were surrounded by many colorful parrots! For $1 you can buy a special nectar – just hold the cup tight and they will sit on your hand and drink it!
We spend some good time there – the parrots are so colorful and it is such a great experience to see them so close.
But there was a lot see and the time was limited.
Our next destination was Africa! Who doesn’t like to observe the grace of big cats, see elephants shower using trunks, slowly moving zebras and giraffes, and the hilarious monkeys?
One of our major observations about Granby Zoo was the design of the areas, nice fences that imitate greenery and well maintained grounds. We later learned that Granby Zoo received an Award for the Energy Consumption Reduction Efforts project that was implemented during the renovation of 2005-2010.
The Zoo is well mapped and organized – it was no problem to find any continent or animal of interest. And yes, the zookeepers definitely speak many languages, no worries if you don’t speak French!
After Africa we had just a bit of time to make a short tour of South America. We stopped by llamas who stretched out their necks asking for treat…
it was a lot of fun to feed them some green leafs that we found on the trees around; we were impressed by the spread of the wings of the Andean Condor and spent some time waiting for the alligators to wake up from the afternoon nap; finally one of them yawned and slowly moved towards the water… at the end of the South American trail we saw a powerful jaguar, at the moment it was quite relaxed and not interested in any aggression.
On our way to South American continent we made a snack stop at “Le Marcher”. The restaurant offers a variety of foods and drinks and nice dining area; there is also a large area outside with tables under umbrellas.
Next to the Restaurant there is an Amusement Park – where kids found some free rides while we were resting our feet; there is also an Amazoo Water park that offers quite the variety of water rides, not now however… we may visit it some other time when the day will be hot enough for water fun…so long for now, the Zoo is closing and we are tired enough to get to our hotel and have some dinner.
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!
ONE OCEAN EXPEDITIONS’ 2018 SEASON INTRODUCES AN EXCLUSIVE “TRIP OF A LIFETIME” CRUISE SERIES
Vancouver, March 15th 2017: The spotlight shines on Canada’s North this year as the world is invited to discover epic locations in Canada celebrating 150 years of confederation. This event has inspired Canadian cruise specialist, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) to introduce more in-depth Canadian Arctic exploration…
The intimate and immersive nature of OOE’s small ship expedition cruises impacts travellers’ lives, while enhancing their appreciation for the Arctic and other Canadian destinations. Exploration of the Arctic is slowly becoming a journey of choice and a “Trip of a Lifetime” for Canadians and global travellers. OOE has been developing sustainable Arctic tourism for over a decade and are consistently innovative in creating itineraries taking visitors to some of the most unspoiled places on earth with programs that focus on education, science, history, arts & culture and exploration. OOE’s small ship adventures take travellers further afield providing access to archeological sites, remote Inuit communities and wildlife viewing opportunities few often experience.
OOE’s 2018 cruise season continues to inspire, with the introduction of a ‘Circumpolar Art in the Arctic’ program that bridges the Norwegian High Arctic and the Canadian High Arctic through visual art. Internationally acclaimed visual artists include Cory Trepanier, David McEown, Bruce Pearson, Christopher Cran, wildlife documentary producer Karen Bass, internationally award winning photographer Daisy Gilardini, as well as polar scientists, historians and ambassadors of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
A new and exceptional voyage for 2018 is the inaugural ‘Canada’s East Coast Golf Expedition.’ The seven-night expedition cruise invites guests to experience some of the best golf courses along Canada’s East Coast. Passengers enjoy the luxury of waking up every morning to a new course and the ease of boarding an expedition zodiac to take them ashore for their next round of golf. With additional expedition stops to Sable Island and Iles de Madeleine, this program offers unbeatable golf and cruising memories for golfers and non-golfing partners alike.
From early July to the end of September, OOE operates several 12-night ‘Classic Northwest Passage’ voyages emphasizing early Arctic exploration. Along with an historical focus, guests travel to some of the last remaining great wilderness regions on the planet with sightings of polar bears, whales, and myriad bird species.
The 11-night ‘Baffin Island – Jewel of the Arctic’ trip that was introduced in 2016 has already become one of the top selling voyages. The stunning nine-night ‘High Arctic Explorer’ voyage commences in Resolute, Nunavut, one of the most northern outposts in the Canadian Arctic. This trip offers the perfect blend of wildlife, history, culture and scenery.
The 10-night ‘Labrador and Torngat Explorer’ cruise departs from the historic town of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and explores two iconic National Parks, Gros Morne and Torngat Mountains. Exploring the rugged Newfoundland & Labrador coast provides an abundance of wildlife experiences that can be seen all the way up to Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit. This itinerary is special and a gem of new offerings launched for the 2017 summer travel season.
A number of early booking offers are in place for 2018 summer travel. On Canada’s East Coast Fins and Fiddles and Golf Expedition a complimentary pre-voyage hotel and US$100 shipboard bar credit is provided. For all other Arctic and Labrador voyages, early bookings benefit with a flight credit ranging from US$500 to US$1000. All offers expire May 31, 2017. ONE CLUB Loyalty Program members (past travellers with OOE) can apply their 10% loyalty savings to any current booking offers.
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…