Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tea at the White House

A fancy tea makes one feel special. A close friend took me to The White House in Waterdown, Ontario for my birthday, an extravagant gift.

It was delightful to spend the afternoon enjoying this custom in a genteel atmosphere.

The tea shop held many interesting and unique tea related items not to mention a huge selection of premium loose leaf teas. They even had a series of tea house murder mysteries!

We ordered the high tea which included generous portions of delicate crustless cucumber and egg salad sandwiches on freshly baked whole wheat bread and salmon pate appetizers. The sweet portion consisted of English sweet scones served with Devon double cream and preserves, seasonal fruit (including strawberries from their own garden) and a selection of dainty but decadent sweets. I took home what we couldn’t finish.

The tea menu was extensive and included a huge selection of Black, Green, White, Oolong, Herbal, Rooibos and Tisanes. I chose a delicious Sticky Toffee Rooibos. I must admit to being tempted by the Bubblegum Tisane.

Our server was friendly and attentive.

This is the perfect location for an afternoon escape or a special treat to share with your family.

It is strongly suggested that you reserve ahead. The tea room is open Monday-Sunday from 11am-5pm. For prices, location and more information, check out The White House web site.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Writer's Holiday

I’m basking in the after glow of a fabulous week. No, I haven’t just returned from Paris, Hawaii or Prague. Instead, I’ve just completed a jam-packed week of seminars, critiques and classes with The Humber School for Writers.
This annual seven day program is described as “Jet fuel for the literary mind.” It didn’t disappoint. With prominent writers such as Elizabeth Abbott, David Bezmozgis, Wayson Choy, Anthony DeSa, Bruce Jay Friedman, Mary Gaitskill, Annabel Lyon, Alistair MacLeod, Richard Scrimger, Olive Senior, Marsha Skrypuch, Miriam Toews and M. G. Vassanji, an enlightening week was guaranteed. Sessions by successful agents and publishers were also extremely helpful. Pictured above is Anne Collins from Random House Canada and author Annabel Lyon.

It didn’t hurt that the included lunches were nutritional and delicious.

The combination of great teachers, a beautiful campus, fabulous food and kindred spirits, made this the perfect writers vacation. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bon Echo Provincial Park

This year we booked our Bon Echo campsite along with a large group of friends back in February. The camping trip is an annual group getaway which has a twenty year history, so it’s always important that we book our preferred campsites during the first few hours they are available. With Ontario Provincial Parks that’s five months in advance.

Bon Echo Provincial Park is located on Highway 41, 30km north of Kaladar. It’s the largest provincial park in eastern Ontario.

Located on Mazinaw Lake, Bon Echo has been a favourite of artists for well over a hundred years. It is also a big hit with rock climbers.

One of the park's highlights is the dramatic Mazinaw Rock which rises a hundred metres above the water and displays over 260 Aboriginal pictographs. Stunted trees, many over a hundred years old,vicariously grow out of the cliff side. Renting a canoe to check out the trees and rock paintings is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. You can even take a guided boat tour to learn more about these drawings. Nearby, a poem to Walt Whitman was carved into the rock decades ago by some of his friends and admirers.

There are many enjoyable hikes through the lush forests or cliff walks or you can relax on the beaches. If you’re lucky you may even see the five-lined skink which is Ontario’s only wild lizard.

Bon Echo has great facilities including boat launches, a shuttle ferry to the rock, showers, laundry facilities, a really interesting and often interactive visitor’s centre (I loved the match the poop to the animal activity), a well stocked store and most importantly, many flush toilets.

Whether you go for a day or stay a few nights, Bon Echo is truly an Ontario jewel.