I’m a Fan of Walking

…thanks to Jez for hosting I’m a fan of…..

Even though Jez is ‘taking a break’ from hosting for awhile I thought I would share my love of walking. Whenever I get a chance to go for a walk or hike with my kids I jump at it, especially now. Up till now we’ve socially distanced ourselves, even on visits to our homes.

On the weekend, after our Father’s Day gathering with the family (in the backyard) my oldest daughter and I got in the car and drove to Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. It’s about a 1 1/2 hour drive north of the city. Andrea had to pick up some race materials from a store in Orangeville so we decided to make the most of the outing and go for a hike.

Everything took longer than we thought. The drive took longer, the hike took longer and getting the race materials was the last thing on our list of things to do. Andrea was hoping to be back in the city by 1:30 but we didn’t even leave Orangeville till 1:30.

None of it mattered though because we had a great walk, we managed to pick up the race materials and the plans in Toronto were somewhat delayed anyway so no one was put out.

Mono Cliffs is an area that I have visited many times, mostly with my students. I think I’ve been up at the Outdoor Education Centre at least ten times. The Provincial Park is right next door and we would often take the kids to the Lookout and the ponds that are situated there. Going in from the other side was new for me. At the end of the hike we walked at least 5K. What a great morning!

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A Photo a Week Challenge – Anything

…thanks to Nancy Merrill  for this very open ended challenge

Sometimes these open ended challenges are more ‘challenging’ than ones with a specific theme. I have, however, created a theme of my own…..Fallen Trees. All these trees were photographed today on my morning walk through Mono Cliffs Provincial Park.

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Nature Art at Camp Kawartha

….environmental messages from our grade 5s

Last week I spent 3 days in the Kawarthas with 59 grade 5 students.  The days were filled with great learning opportunities about the environment, survival practices from the past, games played by indigenous peoples and songs sung around the campfire. Most of the activities were outdoors and involved scavenger hunts, archery, night hikes, fire making and a game of survivor amongst herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. During free time the students could continue playing outside or pick up one of many games that were available to them in the lounge.

Every meal, students took turns setting the tables, serving the food and cleaning up, including washing the dishes using the large industrial dish washer. There was lots of food (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack) and no one needed to go hungry. The kitchen was impressed with how much salad this group ate.

After supper two of us were responsible for organizing hour long activities for the students to participate in before the evening program began. I took on the role of planning an art lesson. During the day I had students pick up things from the ground to use in a nature collage. Days before the trip I cut up about 80 pieces of cardboard to use as our background material and I brought bags of magazines and pieces of assorted papers.

I instructed the students to come up with a piece of art that gave some kind of message about protecting our environment from global warming or saving wildlife from poaching and/or loss of habitat. They were free to use any of the materials that I brought and the things that they found in the forest. The students were completely engaged and came up with some very interesting  works of art. Here is a sampling of their creativity.

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Westport Day 2

…..in search of the Atlantic Ocean

When we woke up this morning we discovered that our ham had been stolen from our window ledge. Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained. I hope that whoever or whatever took our meat at least enjoyed it.

We knew that breakfast was waiting for us downstairs so we quickly got dressed and made our way to the breakfast room. As with most B & Bs, the counter was stocked with croissants, bread for toasting, jams, butter, cereals, milk, fruit salad and juices. What we weren’t expecting was to be handed a menu with more breakfast options, such as the full Irish breakfast, smoked salmon, eggs and bacon and oatmeal.

We placed our orders and were brought a carafe of freshly brewed coffee. While K enjoyed his full Irish breakfast and I my smoked salmon we discussed what we wanted to do for the rest of the day. We had pretty much decided that a hike was in order and I really wanted to see the Atlantic Ocean. One of the things that caught my eye as we perused the travel brochures was a boat tour of Clews Bay.IMG_0206

Overlooking the town along the Greenway.

Overlooking the town along the Greenway.

After our hearty and delicious breakfast we went back to the room to get ready for the hike along the Westport Greenway. This is a popular walking and cycling path that used to be the Old Railway Line. It goes from the city centre down to the The Quays, a distance of 2.5 k one way.

Before we left we bought some water and a couple of sandwiches from the local grocery store and we still had the salad from the night before. The walk was relatively easy and the scenery was magnificent. The mountain in the background is Croagh Patrick.

Croagh Patrick (pronounced Croke Patrick) stands at 764m (2,507ft) and is the third highest peak in Mayo. Best known for its association with Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, who is said to have fasted for 40 days at the summit in 441AD, Croagh Patrick has been a pilgrimage destination since pre-Christian times.IMG_0209 P1020775 P1020776 P1020773

When we reached the Quays I was disappointed to see that the tide was out and there were only beds of mud and rock to be seen. We rested for a bit, ate our salad and drank our water before we continued on our way. We walked along the Quay and followed the signs to Westport House, the home of the infamous pirate, Grace O’Malley.

The trail and road towards Westport House took us through some beautiful woodland areas. At one point we had a lovely view of the house from the far end of the pond. My only regret is that I didn’t take a photo here because once we got into the park we no longer had a view of the house. The only way to see the gardens, the remnants of the original castle and the house was to buy a pass. Once again my husband wasn’t interested in paying to see a few rooms. After checking out the website, here, I wish we had taken the  time and spent the money to see it. The video is quite interesting.

We continued to walk around the park and eventually found ourselves back in town. We stopped to eat our sandwiches and then headed back to the Elephant House. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see the boat tour and I wasn’t sure what we were going to do for the rest of the day.

When we got to the B & B, our host met us at the door and asked what our plans were for the rest of the day. I told him that I had wanted to go on the boat tour of Clews Bay but I knew that we would never be able to walk back in time to catch the boat. To our amazement, Dez, our host offered to drive us back to the pier. We hopped into his SUV and in a few minutes we were back at The Quays.

The tour was 15 Euro, each, for the 1 1/2 hour boat cruise through the bay. This was something I really wanted to do so I paid for both of us. I was really glad to be wearing my hat and having sun screen with me. Not only did we use it but the two passengers next to us also used it on their fair Irish skin. It was a perfect day to be out on the water. It was calm and the tour guide was informative and witty. Did you know that John Lennon actually bought one of the islands there and stayed there for an extended period of time? I can’t really imagine why anyone would want to live on these treeless islands. No power, no water, nothing. IMG_0212 IMG_0216 IMG_0219 IMG_0222 IMG_0223

John Lennon's Island. I wasn't kidding when I said there was nothing on it.

John Lennon’s Island. I wasn’t kidding when I said there was nothing on it.

At the end of the tour our host was waiting for us. He asked us if we would like to go for a pint at his favourite local pub outside of town. Well you don’t have to ask my husband twice. When we got to the Sheebin, K had to insist that we pay

for the round. It was very relaxing sitting outside overlooking the water. It was great talking to our host, learning about the town, how the B & B came to be, and how the town became so famous. As is often the case the success of the Westport can be attributed to the vision of one person.

Dez bought the second round for the guys; I was still nursing my first drink. One of the other things that we talked about was how we missed our vegetables with our meals. He had some great suggestions of where we could eat and probably find what we were looking for. One of the suggestions was the Wyatt Hotel where they had a dinner special for 60 Euro for two.

We checked out all the places that our host recommended but in the end we decided to try the Wyatt Hotel. We weren’t disappointed. We opted for the dinner special that included three courses and a complimentary bottle of wine. The atmosphere and decor were relaxed chic and the food was amazing. Even the wine was good but the best part was the large platter of vegetables that appeared on the table as part of our meal. We were in heaven. P1020788 P1020786

All in all our two day stay in Westport were outstanding, partially due to our wonderful hosts at the Elephant House. We would definitely recommend visiting Westport when you’re in Ireland. Next time we would stay a couple of days longer and check out some of the other activities that the town offers, such as sea kayaking and the 42 k cycling path along the Great Western Greenway.P1020790

Time to leave Westport. We'll be back.

Time to leave Westport. We’ll be back.