We returned home from a three day camping trip this evening and I can honestly say everyone in the family likes playing with fire. It isn’t just the warmth, the dancing flames or the toasting of marshmallows, it is the poking and burning things, the smoking sticks, the methyl hydrate, and the challenge of keeping it going when it wants to die.
We have not camped as a family since before Ben was born so we had buy a few items before we headed off to Bon Echo Provincial Park. As we chose our site over the internet we were pleased to find that it was in an attractive location. Finding a large flat area big enough to put our huge tent was a little tricky. We had to settle with a gentle slope that caused B6 and A11 to slide down their camping mattresses during the night. A few minutes ago as I tucked B6 into bed he agreed that he was happy to be back in his bed but he missed having everyone sleeping in the same “room”.
Bon Echo is a beautiful park with lakes to swim, boat or paddle in, hiking trails of varying length and difficulty, historical buildings and landmarks. The park contains various different types or forest and we were camped in among large maples. There was the constant sound of leaves rustling except when it was replaced by rain pouring or dripping. ( This only happened on one day lasting from late afternoon well into the night.)
Tomorrow I will post a few photos and describe some of the highlights, other than playing with fire, that is.
Seven years ago today we landed in Canada. We left Melbourne in the morning and arrived 24 hours later, but still on the same day, in Ottawa. I was seven and a half months pregnant and so tired that I sat on the floor of the airport in order to be beside the suitcases that we could find while Andrew looked for the one that we couldn’t find. L6 and A4 played around near me.
In the weeks that followed landing day we started a new job, bought a house, bought a car, learned to drive on the other side of the road, moved into the house, welcomed our first guest and had a baby!
Seven years later we are living in the same house and the baby is nearly seven. While there are many similarities between Australia and Canada, there are also distinct differences. Our house here has a basement, which is just as well as we have multiple pairs of skates and skis to store. In winter we try to use the skis on a weekly basis. Summer no longer includes trips to the beach, but we have discovered the joys of cottage life. Our diet includes a little more maple syrup, the occasional poutine, peaches & cream corn, blueberries and pumpkin pie. It is lacking in vegemite, meat pies, timtams and passionfruit.
Our appreciation of the seasons has grown as we long for spring after an endless winter, or watch for the first snow flakes after the leaves have fallen. We compare the colours each fall and count the bags of leaves we rake up. We make the most of our summers, but we love the beauty and sports of winter too. If you haven’t been here and you’d like to experience it for yourself, just let us know.
Yesterday we participated in a lego workshop at the Museum of Civilization . Another family of lego devotees joined us. We were expecting to that the children would have the opportunity to work with some lego experts and create some imaginative structures with a range of lego pieces. The reality was a little different and when we walked into the room and saw what was provided for the building session we were not sure the children would want to stay.
On display was an impressive Mediterranean villa, a tropical resort and a copy of a converted water tower. Two experts from the Parlugment were on hand to talk to the children about making lego creations. There was, however, no lego for the children, instead huge bins full of red duplo sized blocks were provided. The children did express their initial disappointment but there was no talk of leaving.
L13 and I left to wander around the Treasures of China exhibit and when we came back we were impressed with what we saw. A11 had constucted the main parliament building, M9 had built the golden gate bridge, J7 a pyramid and B6 was still working on a tour that was to be taller than him. The children did not have a variety of shapes or colours but they did have imagination and ambition.
We are heading out to visit country friends today, actually that’s what we did yesterday and, wait, that’s what the girls are doing tomorrow too. All these friends lived in town not that long ago, but they have done what so many of our friends have done: sold up and moved to the country. Some have just moved to a satellite town on the outskirts, where there is way more space and a lot less noise and traffic. Others have bought farms and lease their fields to local farmers while making the most of their abundant space and abundant supply of manure!
That’s right, manure, the reason I mention it is that last time we headed out to this farm I was sitting on the porch chatting with three country girls about vegetable gardens and the conversation took on great intensity as they discussed the various merits of cow, horse and chicken manure. I just stopped and laughed as I realised how passionate they were about the topic.
When we visit one of our “country” friends I like the way you can look out in some, or occasionally all directions and not see another house. I appreciate the lack of traffic noise which means you can often hear the busy traffic of birds and insects instead. I am not complaining about my own house, I hear plenty of birds and insects here too, in spite of the traffic sounds in the background. We have the privilege of living only 20 minutes from down town but 1 minute from the river. Our place backs on to a main road but also onto a large stretch of green space. At times I think I’d like to live in the country, but it’s unlikely to happen so I’ll just get a little dose and be back tonight.
We had a 2:1 parent – child ratio this past weekend. The girls were invited back to the cottage for the weekend, in order to give P and H a surprise visit actually. So at home it has been a little quieter for B6, Andrew and me. B6 was a little disappointed when he heard where they were off to, but we have kept him busy and had a good time doing it.
On Saturday the poor lad was subjected to a morning of shopping, but it was in a variety of locations including Sugar Mountain! It wasn’t my idea, but Andrew’s choice of candy shows that it was strictly for research purposes. They came out with cinnamon balls, aniseed balls, cola balls, sour apple (B’s choice) and Turkish delight (to please me!). After the shopping we decided to make use of our new family membership for Ottawa’s public pools and went to an outdoor one close by. I did laps, B and A went off the diving boards.
On Sunday mornings during the summer several roads are closed off to cars so that bike riders and in-line skaters can use them. We haven’t made use of this privilege before so the three of us set off yesterday morning. Bear in mind that Andrew has been riding to work for a few weeks now, I have been averaging one bike ride a year. We had an initial hitch when Andrew promoted B6 from his cool red bike up to the next in line. It is the perfect size for him, but it is not so cool and it is purple! Convincing him that a bigger bike would make the ride much easier was not helped by the fact that across the road there was a boy riding his big, cool, black bike.
Once we were down the street, through the park and over the bridge, the tears had dried and we were all enjoying riding on the road beside the canal. There were all sorts of people out, those taking it easy, those training for the next triathlon and everyone in between. We made it down to the market and decided to wander around downtown for a while. The ride home was a little tougher; it was up hill in places and into the wind but we all made it and agreed it was manageable and fun.
The weekend is over but we still have only one child here. The girls are having a few more days away. B6 and I got out the bikes again, and rode to the pool for my laps, his jumps off the boards! The ride was nowhere near as long as yesterday so we handled it with ease.
I believe this will be my last cottage chronicle for now. You have heard the highlights and, I imagine, grasped the idea that we had a wonderful time. Each year when we have visited our good friends at the cottage the violins have come with us. The first year after a great amount of pleading and cajoling the four girls put on a “dock concert”. It was held on the dock next door as it is quite spacious. The next door neighbours on both sides attended and it was a very enjoyable event.
Last year we had to do the same type of pleading but the concert came off once more quite beautifully, with probably a few more guests. This year it was a “given” that there would be a concert and after a few grumbles about practice, N and I were told not to interfere; it was all under control! Arrangements were made, once again, to use the dock next door, a few more neighbours were invited and, at 8:30 the girls were ready and B6 was handing out programs. Yes, programs, which the girls had made themselves. All the musicians were listed along with the music being performed. There were solo pieces as well as trios( we had 3 violins between 4 girls) and a story was told with musical backing. A new performer joined the girls this year, P and H’s 3 year old cousin with her toy violin and she didn’t miss a beat.
Thus ends the cottage chronicles, but before I post this one I must say that the highlight of going to our friends’ cottage is not the lake, the activities, the food or the restful setting. It is the friends themselves, a wonderful family who willingly share so much with us. We love spending time with them and thank them for opening their home and cottage to us on numerous occasions, and making us feel part of the family.
As I mentioned a few days ago the club holds many programs and special events for the members. We were able to enjoy several of them while we were there. One night we all boated over for craft night, an event designed for the children. The craft was felt making and although it took quite a while each child ended up with a piece of felt with a coloured design embedded in it. Everyone started with a piece of white wool fleece and laid smaller, coloured pieces of wool fleece over the top making a design. When that was done each design was laid on a bamboo blind and sprinkled with water. Then the muscles had to kick in as the blind with all the individual designs inside was rolled up and pressure was applied by rolling the rolled blind back and forth over and over again. The end result were artistic pieces of felt, some with pictures, some with random colourful designs.
Another day N and I set off in the boat for the Ladies Luncheon, also held at the club house. The theme for this year’s lunch was “Wear what you dare” , find something in your cottage closet! I had grabbed a dress from home, but N had other plans for me: she found, in the closet, something which had belonged to Aunt Doie. We were not quite sure what it was; our guess was a gym suit, so I put my hair in two little pony tails. Once we arrived at the luncheon, Aunt Doie’s friend informed us that it was a “romper” and she could remember Aunt Doie wearing it. (As you can imagine I was the only one at the luncheon in a romper!)
N wore a beautiful Lace covered dress (70s is my guess) picked up at Value Village. I know it wasn’t from cottage closet, but it’s true role was to set off the vintage parasol which was indeed from the cottage and was no doubt used by one of N’s ancestors. It was beautiful, the fabric did contain some little holes but the lace was in perfect condition. N and parasol were in demand for photos once we arrived. The luncheon, by the way, was delicious.
After the exertion of the swim regatta and the requisite drying out afterwards, the girls managed to practise a skit for the annual Skit night at the club. Being the centenary, several families created songs or skits which looked back over the years or forward to the future. The “Lake Band” a group of teen musicians played and screened a video they had made of themselves playing two years earlier. Our four girls prepared a scene from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” for which they have perfected the English accents. It was a very entertaining night. After it was all over one of the “lakers” came up to me and informed me that as my family had all competed in the regatta and then performed at the skit night we really should be given “laker” status! Now all I need is the cottage!?!