Mini escape from reality

I’m slowly crawling back to reality after enjoying an extra long weekend.  We just celebrated Canada Day; falling on a Monday makes the holiday a convenient long weekend, and taking the Friday before off meant is was extra long.

I hit a moment earlier in June where I just needed to unplug and get away, so I managed to book one of the only reservable Provincial Park camping sites in southern Ontario. We take our holiday weekends seriously. It was nice for me that the campgrounds was only an hour and a half north of home, so it wasn’t too much of a trek.

img_3526

One thing about me and camping – it rains EVERY TIME I go. This isn’t an exaggeration.  I’ve camped every summer in the last four years, and it has rained Every. Time. When it does, it makes me question why I go. It’s wet, it’s inconvenient, but then the sun comes out and I remember why I go.

img_3531
Knitting inside my tent while outside it rained. Note the rubber boots! So glad those were in my car!

While camping, it really struck me what an unusual activity it is. You pack up the comforts from home and do the same things (cook, eat, sleep, shower, etc), but the difficulty level just shot up from ‘beginner’ to ‘advanced.’ Wanna make coffee? Here’s your propane stove, walk to the water pump, boil it, then pour it into your french press. Sleeping? Here’s your mat on the ground and sleeping bag. And it really strikes me how campgrounds really do become mini makeshift villages. Everyone has got their own set up, their own way the site should look, there are the trailers, the palatial tents, the food shelters, or their tiny tents which do the job.

As I said, Friday was raining and grey and mosquito-infested (my poor ankles surely provided enough sustenance to support the local mosquito population), but on Saturday, the sun came out, and sitting around my site and the beach was exactly what I wanted. I read three books over my mini getaway, got a whole lot of knitting done, and I discovered a new use for that cup holder in camp chairs. That was totally intended to hold yarn, right?

img_3537

Advertisements

Un Bon Moment A Montreal

I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. I saw museums, a climbed a mountain, saw more museums, walked a lot, ate good food, and shopped, so I basically achieved everything I wanted to in my whirlwind getaway.

Montreal is a city on an island, bordered by the St. Lawrence River and Rivière des Prairies, and at the centre of the city is Mont Royal, the namesake for Montreal. Climbing the mountain was day 1, after exploring Rue Ste. Catherine before checking into my hostel.  Basically, after that, I was utterly exhausted, having woken up around 5am that morning.

img_2394
On top of Mont Royal

Day 2 brought exploring via the Montreal subway system, bringing me to the old city. I loved it. It felt very much like Quebec City, with winding roads, cobblestone, and buildings that have stood for centuries. Norte Dame Basilica – my goodness, it was spectacular. There is a minimal entry fee, and it is completely worth it. It is grandeous, opulent, and simply stunning. While in Vieux Montreal, I visited the Château Ramezay and Pointe-a-Calliere Montreal archaeology and History Complex. Both told the history of Montreal, but using two completely different interpretation perspectives. Chateau Ramezay had its first floor dedicated almost entirely to a timeline of Montreal, and the bottom floor was set up with rooms representative of a New France home.  The first floor was also where a special exhibit was installed, War Flowers, an interesting sensory experience, telling the stories of WWI soldiers. Pointe-A-Calliere, however, told the Montreal story though archaeology and artefacts recovered. The museum was essentially built on top of an archaeological site, a which created very interesting gallery space. That afternoon, I found Espace Tricot, a lovely yarn shop a short walk away from a subway stop. Three skeins later, my bank account was a little lighter.

I started Day three at the Jean Talon Market, a large farmer’s market near the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Afterwards, I wandered around the Notre Dame Des Neiges Cemetery, Canada’s largest cemetery and one of the largest in North America. There are a number of notable internment, but I was apprehensive about asking at the office how to find some of them.  At the front gates, there was a large sign, and from what French I understood, it basically enforced that the cemetery was a sacred place for remembering, and I just didn’t want to be *that* tourist walking in asking where to find notable burials.  Working for a museum and having an interest in history means I’ve spent more than my fair share of time researching and wandering cemeteries. I was concerned my interest may not have translated, so regardless, I wandered about before a quick lunch break and a tour through Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood. It is known for being a trendy ‘hipster’ locale, and this is where I sampled a Montreal bagel. It holds up to the hype. A quick visit to the McCord Museum capped off the day.

img_2471

My final day brought me to Montreal’s municipal museum – can you spot a theme? I also found the Maison Tricot, another fantastic yarn shop. I happily bought a skein of Biscotte yarn, notable for being super soft and delightfully self-striping. I tried to take it easy by the last day, having walked far too much in shoes that really shouldn’t have seen that much walking.

Long story short, I really enjoyed Montreal, I was very happy staying at HI Montreal, a hostel run by Hostel International Canada, and at a five hour train ride away, it was a great escape from every day life.

 

img_2565
My yarn purchases
img_2560
One last picture – trying to detangle yarn on board the train home. Good thing I had patience!

Where did you go, Autumn?

Okay Mother Nature, make up your mind.

Last weekend was glorious in southern Ontario. We seemingly saw the arrival of autumn, which was a welcome change after a few unbearable days of heat and humidity.  We basically went from heat advisories to wind chills. Through all the hot days, I bore down, knowing that these days wouldn’t be lasting much longer for 2018. Last weekend, I happily broke out my cardigans and shawls, wrapping myself up in their warmth. I was wearing gloves! Gloves!

And then this weekend came along. More heat. More humidity. Less wonderful woollen wears. My lovely cardigans have taken their place back in my closet, waiting for the Mercury to fall again. Part of me is stubborn, and all I want to do is start wearing my cowls again, heat be damned! But the reasonable part of me realizes I don’t have A/C, and she laughed and laughed at the stubborn fool.  Needless to say, my favourite accessory stayed put.

This is Canada. The heat warnings will eventually come to an end. Until they do, I’ll be by my fan, knitting away, waiting to wear knits once again.

Good Things Grow

I could spend an entire post listing the variety of reasons why I love the summer months, warmer days (although a titch too warm this summer here in southern Ontario), open windows, enjoying evenings outside, vacation days, sitting by the lake first thing in the morning; I really could go on.  Another summer perk is fresh produce in season, growing on local farms on right in one’s own backyard.

I’ve been taking advantage of this fresh, and affordable, produce.  I hate waste, something that can inevitably happen when you’re a single gal living on your own. I’ve become pro at halving recipes and knowing what will freeze and what won’t. Cheap berries at the grocery store? Buy them, freeze ’em, and they’re perfect for morning oatmeal. An abundance of tomatoes growing in the backyard? Pick ’em, chop ’em, and throw them into a slow cooker with other lovely veggies; you’ve got stewed tomatoes ready for sauces or soups.

To that end, I cannot tell you how many  stalks of celery have ended up in my compost bin because they aren’t exactly my favourite snacking veg and I can’t get through it fast enough.  Did you know celery can freeze, and if it’s pre-chopped and stored in portioned containers, they’re ready for the next sauce or stock you’re making? Carrots also freeze nicely, or so I’ve discovered. Every day, I’m thankful for my chest freezer, something I’ve had since my university days, and I keep it well stocked with frozen veggies, soups, mac and cheeses, and so much more.

Longer days, warmer nights, spectacular storms, peaceful mornings, and the food. Oh goodness, the food.

Enjoy what’s left of this season, for sooner than we’d like, winter is coming.