Thursday, July 23, 2015

Garden Love


I'm in love with these beauties.

First blooms on our new hydrangea plants in the front garden make me stop and smile every day.
Tucked below her soft blue blooms are the orchid pink New Guinea impatiens.
They compliment each other so well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Refreshing Break

Yes, it's Wednesday and I'm finally getting around to posting about our weekend. I guess that means that the break away really was relaxing.
Last weekend was one of the hottest weekends we've had this summer, and we had already planned to grab a few days to relax near the lake. And - if you are a regular reader of the blog you will already know that means a drive down to Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's so close by and yet feels like I've escaped to somewhere far away.

Our last minute decision to go (at the height of the summer booking season) left us wondering if we'd be able to find a place to stay. Luck had it that there was a cancellation at a B & B and we scooped up the suite. The Georgian Residence is a B & B that I've wandered past many times, but had not visited. What a delight!

 click photo to link to their web
The Georgian Residence - 58 Johnson St. Niagara-on-the-Lake

I took very few pictures, so some of the the images are from the web. Sometimes enjoying the moment is more important to me than taking out the camera. Although I will admit that I was itching to take pictures of the incredible breakfast each morning (more on that in a minute).

The B & B is right in the heart of NOTL old town. We parked the car on Friday night and didn't get back in to it until we left on Sunday. Everything was in walking distance.

Owners of the inn, Kate and Bobby, are the most inviting and welcoming couple. They work hard at keeping things in order and fresh, that is evident in every corner of the property.
The residence is circa 1830, and the charming couple have owned and operated the inn for the past ten years. There are three guest suites - one on the main floor and two on the second floor. We snuggled down in the Eckersley Suite that also features it's own walkout to a deck area. Each suite features a King size four poster bed, full bath, wet bar with fridge, and a sitting room complete with a wood burning fireplace (what a great feature for fall and winter stays).

The Eckersley Suite Bedroom - via The Georgian Residence

Sitting room with fireplace - The Eckersley Suite

The word for the bed and bath is Luxurious. This couple does not skimp on quality and you feel it in everything you touch.
Beds are well finished with an abundance of luxurious linens and comfortable mattresses. The bathrooms are stocked with fluffy towels and generous amounts of full size toiletries (shampoo/conditioner/bath gel/toner/lotion/hairdryer - even a candle to light while soaking in the tub). I'm sure if you forgot your toothbrush they would have one for you - they seem to think of everything.

One of the guest baths. via Georgian Residence

Apple TV, a'la all the bells and whistles, is installed in each suite. There was a large plasma in the sitting area and a smaller one in the bedroom. ipod stations in the bedroom allow you to play your own tunes.  

After a long walk in the very humid temps, we ventured back to the inn to take a quick dip in the pool before heading out to the Shaw Festival.

Breakfast is served at a communal table in the front dinning room. The room, which includes a wood burning fireplace, is richly decorated and features comfortable high back chairs. We lingered and chatted with the other guests while we were all indulged by Kate's incredible culinary talents. If you visit this B & B (and I recommend you do), plan to savour the morning and enjoy the breakfast. This is the point that I itched to take photos, but thought it would be rude to the other guests.

This is an older picture I found on the net of the kitchen area. The dining is now a private seating room for the couple and the breakfast is served in the front dining room. Note the detailed plaster cornices - that is the handwork of owner Bobby. Kate's much prized AGA stove sits under the stain glass windows to the left.

The owners of the inn are a precision team. Kate is cooking and plating the breakfast while Bobby serves the guests in the dining room. Their timing is perfect.
Did I mention that the early morning meal is three courses. Kate cooks on an AGA - which is a skill in itself. It is evident that she loves to cook and compliments each serving with detailed plating techniques.

Eggs Benedict - one of the mains at The Georgian Residence

Bobby quietly slips in and out of the dining room serving each course and constantly filling your cup with delicious coffee. He stops periodically to chat with all of us and provides information about the area that they've come to call home since landing here from Scotland ten years ago.

Dining Room at the Georgian Residence

After breakfast we wandered into the kitchen to give a well deserved verbal applause to Kate and Bobby. They are a welcoming and happy couple who will make your stay memorable, and make you dream of returning.

If you are looking for something different to do among the regular vineyard tours, take in the Land Rover Safari Wine Tour - HERE. Ride to the back fields of three award winning wineries in an open side Land Rover Defender. No one else in NOTL has back lot access to the vineyards. You know it's going to be an adventure because Bobby is at the wheel. Guests of the inn receive a discount.

Richard and I decided a long walk was in order before taking in two Shaw plays. We were entertained by Pygmalion at the afternoon theatre and then enjoyed Light Up The Sky for the evening performance. I have too many things to say about the plays so my critics review is simple - see them. They were marvelous. We saw Sweet Charity last month - it was incredible. Shaw Festival has so much to offer - HERE. We've never been disappointed.

The highlight was having a weekend long date with Richard and sharing the fun together.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pan Am Games 2015

July is turning out to be a month of celebrations here. Canada Day got the party started and we have welcomed the Pan American Games to Toronto this week. The opening ceremonies took place Friday night at the Rogers Centre - for those who do not live here this is 'The Dome' that is nestled next to the CN Tower. Concerts of epic proportions are held at this venue and last night it was a performance to welcome the athletes that had the town rocking.

Fireworks explode from the CN Tower marking the start of the Pan Am Games.

The building, planning and preparations have been lengthy in Toronto and the surrounding area. The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) may be struggling tolerating the highway changes made to accommodate the games, but the opening ceremonies has brought excitement to the city this weekend.

The Gold Medal 4 x100 relay team at the 1996 Atalnta Olympics carried the Pan Am torch across the city. Canadian track and field athlete Bruny Surin worked with the Cirque du Soleil team to help him overcome his fear of heights. The gold medal winner (attached by a tether) sprinted around outer rim of the CN Tower to pass the torch to Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey, who was wearing a parachute. 

1,168 feet (116 storeys) above the ground, the torch is passed and then .......

The magic of film creates the illusion that Bailey jumped with the torch, while a stunt double takes the step off of the ledge and lands on the domed roof of the Rogers Centre.
(More about edge walks at the CN Tower - yes, you can walk the edge - HERE)

Inside the Rogers Centre athletes parade their flags and wave to the cheering crowds. Cirque du Soleil presented the 150 minute opening ceremonies that featured 625 performers.

Over 700 Canadian athletes arrive for the games.
Canada welcomes the athletes to the Pan Am Games. (image Rick Madonik)

And of course no party in Toronto would be complete without participation from the CN Tower. Fireworks exploded from various points and created a spectacular picture of the city line.

Canada is off to a good start with 8 medals already - 4 of them gold. Let's hope that the home town crowds will bring good luck as we cheer on our athletes.

Good luck to all of the athletes from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America. It's your time to shine and Toronto's turn to roll out the carpet that leads to the winners podium.

image: Marcus Mitanis