Tag Archives: Georgian Bay

Pinch me . . .

I suppose it is a bit like the early stages of a love affair.  Even after 21 months in Canada, I seem still to experience so many ‘pinch me’ moments!

In the city, often they come in response to the rich cultural mix . . .

A recent evening with friends Luc and Yuri at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario); Abstract Expressionist New York (much familiar, smattered with new discoveries, curated inspirationally); modern Inuit art (how I wanted to be able to run my hands over the carvings!); and the sung response of a First Nations open throat singer to Henry Moore (truly awesome and deeply moving) as part of the Juno Tour of Canadian Art; Luc and Paul chasing each other round the angular display cases, taking strangely distorted portraits refracted by the prismatic points of connection; then Dim Sum in China Town – truly a feast for heart, body and soul!

Our second Beaches Jazz Festival – I’m still blown away by the accessibility of so much wonderful and varied music freely available; by teenagers having a ball jumping around to the music that may date back more than half a century and by those who have lived more than half a century soaking up the new musical permutations offered up by young musicians; by small children utterly confident and safe amid the crowd; by a magical rock violinist, Dr Draw, who, I swear, channels the passion of Paganini; by this sensational street party that sums up summer in the city Toronto style; by dancing to a stomping version of Dancing in the Street on Queen Street.

When we can tear ourselves away from the revelry, there are quieter moments of awe. . .

Brilliant March sunshine belying the icy chill as we climb sand dunes in Prince Edward County – the curious juxtaposition of sun, sand and the ice sculptures that jewel the shore.
        Ice Alligator?
Clambering from our kayaks as the sun sinks past the horizon on Georgian Bay, having been dive bombed by Terns (anticipated, not scary) on a protrusion of the Canadian Shield that serves as a nesting colony for terns and a swimming stop for paddlers. On this occasion, these included a dog kitted out in his own PFD (Personal Flotation Device) who decided to join Paul in his kayak whilst his mistress swam in deep water.

        

A few days ago, at the start of a much needed break; the glassy calm of the sunny evening that follows a storm, out on the Rideau just above Kingston; jewelled fairies filling the air around our canoe (palest to midnight blue, rich red, fluorescent green) and swallowtails – and still, still water reflecting a light show up onto the green canopy above; returning to the dock, we are welcomed by a fat, furry water rat (but not a beaver!)

Now we are holed up in a rustic cottage in Quebec; 30 minutes or so north of Ottawa, yet, once you are off the major roads, very ‘backwoods’. There is nothing to do but sit and read on the dock and soak up the sunshine, rocked by the wake of passing boats and lulled by the occasional eerie call of the Loon or the honk of Canada geese as they rise.  Once in a while we venture off the end of the dock into the deep, clear (and surprisingly warm) water of Lac St Pierre or onto it in kayak or rowboat. The Canadian Cottage experience definitely has much the same capacity as the less developed Greek islands for recharging the body and soothing the soul!
        

I feel so very privileged to have been given this opportunity to re-connect with life through a lens of newness and immediacy. I hope I continue to say ‘pinch me’ for many years to come!

 

(Written when in Quebec, 1st week of August 2011)

Keppel Croft – a garden to feed the soul

Keppel Croft is an amazing, inspirational garden between Owen Sound and Wiarton on the shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario. It is filled with wonderful planting, art installations and, most of all, spirit.( Below is a slide show created from our photos.)

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Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsular

I am truly awed by the Canadian National and Provincial Park system! Boardwalks, steep wooden staircases or rock hewn steps traverse the wilderness, not only making it more accessible but protecting the natural environment. There are ‘facilities’ in utterly remote spots and such delightfully polite notices requesting that you stay on paths so as not to destroy rare species.

On Flowerpot Island On Flowerpot Island. Steep wooden staircase in the woods at the heart of the island On Flowerpot Island On Flowerpot Island - the Flowerpots On Flowerpot Island On Flowerpot Island. Azure waters . . .

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Avalon Clearview B&B

Although it looks out over Devil’s Glen, Avalon Clearview is not presumptuous in its allusion to the isle of the blessed. This is a magical place in an enchanted setting!

Arriving at the back of the house, there is not much to see and it is easy to overshoot. But looking out across the Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve, my spirit soared.  Later, I wandered the grounds and woods beyond with a child’s delight, utterly present.

Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay - In the woods Avalon Clearview, Georgian Bay

It isn’t hard to see how this glorious environment nourishes Steve’s work – once again, our host is a stained glass artist! Huge panelled internal doors re-dress the summer trees through which we stroll in their autumn raiment. Vibrant colours and natural forms spill throughout this lovely and very comfortable home.

Avalon Clearview, Georgian BayKnowing we would arrive late afternoon, we had taken up the option of a home-cooked dinner. Elaine is an enthusiastic and excellent cook and were honoured to share our meal with both our hosts – once again, we immediately felt as if we were visiting friends and took great pleasure in their company. Breakfasts lived up to our by now high expectations, with particularly amazing fruit starters including Watermelon Benedict, (a base of home-made granola, watermelon, kiwi fruit & berries topped off with lemon yoghurt).

(You can see more photos in our Sightseeing Gallery!)

Blue Mountain

I must first admit to a prejudice; I never think that I am going to like purpose built resorts.

Blue Mountain Ski Resort proved a pleasant surprise – I began to ‘get’ how and why places like this work and what they have to offer.  My sense was that there will be times when I want the personal touches of an idyllic B&B but others when a well-designed playground for all ages will be very appealing and a lot of fun!

Blue Mountain Blue Mountain Blue Mountain Blue Mountain

An Englishman working in the ski shop told us that Blue Mountain is actually the third busiest ski resort in Canada, though it is not one you are likely to find in UK brochures.  It was developed by the same company as the much better known Whistler in BC.

During the summer, the ski slopes give way to mountain biking and hiking trails, though there are many other activities on offer. These range from an Aqua Park to spa treatments and free yoga classes, from Hummer Adventures to fishing.  Most weekends there is live music in the square and the shops, restaurants and bars have been attractively designed and laid out.