…after the shock of losing my Dad and having to deal with the immediate paperwork we decided we needed a break
We were surprised that some of our favourite places outside the city were booked in the middle of the week, even during COVID. Toronto and the Greater Toronto area has more restrictions in place because of higher positive test cases so I guess people were looking for places, like us, to get away to.
We finally found a great old mill that was converted into an inn in the outskirts of St. Catharines. It was very close to all the places we wanted to visit and it had a fantastic restaurant on the premises. The Stone Mill Inn was located in a once very industrial area and my husband immediately recognized it because one of his father’s favourite drinking establishments was just around the corner. That’s a story for another time.
We had dinner at the Italian restaurant in the Inn that evening and were pleased and relieved that the place was not busy. All the safety protocols were in place and the servers all wore masks. The food was fantastic.
We decided to forgo the outlet mall on our first full day of exploring. We headed straight for Niagara-on-the Lake and made our first stop at the Wayne Gretzky Winery. A lot of wineries are now expanding their inventory to include beer and spirits and interestingly enough it was the whiskey here that we preferred. I’m not much of a whisky drinker but I loved the salted caramel whiskey. I guess some people would argue that salted caramel is an abomination to that classic spirit but it was flying off the shelf.
Our next stop was the old town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We walked down the main street and browsed through some of the stores and of course we had to stop in the local bakery and pick up my husband’s favourite pastry, eccles cakes.
Back to the Inn for another amazing meal and more adventures the next day……..
Is anyone else as obsessed with food as I am during COVID-19? I suspect that most of us are if all the posts and Tweets and Facebook entries are any indication. We all started with a fetish for baking bread and then buying yeast and flour became a challenge. When we discovered that we could still buy bread and our waistlines were beginning to expand we backed off the bread baking craze for awhile (fresh baked bread is so much more tempting than store bought).
Many people were more concerned with having enough alcohol in the house. We’re not huge drinkers but I have to admit that I bought into the need for wine at the beginning and braved going out to buy several bottles. I wasn’t comfortable going into such a busy place even though the distancing rules were being followed. I wiped down all the bottles as soon as I got home.
Now that the those bottles are long gone I decided to try and order wine on line from two of our local wineries and my husband ordered beer from a local craft brewery. Both arrived within days and much faster than our grocery orders.
One way to combat boredom is to try and make our meals more interesting. My husband is the cook and I’m the baker. I haven’t done a lot of baking but I’m itching to do more. On the other hand my husband has made some fabulous meals during all of this. Here are just a few.
….our presence brought them closer than I expected
Normally the geese and ducks at the pond swim away when I try to get closer to them for a good photo but today they came right up to the water’s edge and reached over as if they were expecting us to feed them. Judging by the number of empty plastic bread bags that were lying around I suspect that’s exactly what they were looking for.
Despite signs posted in the park not to feed the water foul bread the public does it anyway. Bread is not a natural food source for ducks, geese and swans and I’m sure that a diet with too much gluten is harmful for these beautiful birds.
On day 23 my husband and I were inspired by Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals and together we made a wonderful meal for the two of us. It consisted of a Wacky Summer Pasta, Arugula and Watercress Salad with Warm Pancetta and a Pear Meringue Tart.
Last weekend my husband and I drove to Hamilton to our daughter’s house where I picked up her family and we drove about 15 minutes north of the city to a Christmas tree farm. It was most definitely a farm with ducks, goats, cows, rabbits and a donkey.
We came fully prepared to cut down our own tree but as we explored the grounds we couldn’t find anything small enough to fit into our homes. My son-on-law always gets the biggest tree because their home has high ceilings but I was instructed to come back with a very small tree that would fit on a table. All the trees were over 10 feet tall and we could see that people had been cutting trees from the top. The only tree that we all liked had signs around it telling people NOT to cut it down.
We enjoyed the walk through the property so not all was lost but we were disappointed in the selection. We got back in our cars and headed up north for a few more kilometres, back to the tree farm we went to last year. We weren’t sure that it would still be open because the owners are into their eighties and told us last year that that would be their last year selling trees. Luckily for us they decided to open for at least one more year. The pickings were great and we all found our perfect tree.
We drove back to Hamilton with our treasures inside and on top of the cars. Back at Gaelan’s house we were treated to a wonderful lunch and afterwards Winnie and I decorated Christmas cookies.
On Monday my father turned 93. He’s quite amazing. He lives with us but in his own apartment where he does all his own cleaning, laundry and cooks all his meals. He recently acquired a motorized scooter that he uses to get around and do his shopping.
Twice a week he goes to the senior’s centre where he plays cards and he enjoys walking to the lake where he feeds the birds and sits and takes in his surroundings. He speaks to everyone and loves to engage in conversation.
This year our daughter-in-law picked the restaurant because that’s what she wanted for her birthday which was in July. It happened to be a seafood restaurant and my father loves his shrimp so we decided to celebrate both birthdays on the same day. It turned out to be a perfect evening. The food was amazing, the scenery over the marina was serene and the service was delightful. Both the birthday boy and girl were treated to a special dessert on the house.
I love this last photo of my father and me. Just as my daughter was about to take the shot I noticed that my Dad had spilled some food on his sweater and I grabbed his serviette and held it over the spill. In that split second we both burst out laughing over the irony of the situation.