Ontario visit: the in between stuff!

I have been fortunate to spend quality time with my daughter and grandson over the last few weeks as well as finding activities I can do on my own when they are working or having their own fun. Visiting family for extended stays is all about balance.

What did I find to do in Kingston when I have already seen and done so much during past visits? A surprising lot! As always, Music In the Park (Confederation Park – not Centennial Park as I constantly call it! The latter is in Victoria) is always a great place to sit back and relax, have s picnic, enjoy some great music and, when it comes, a cooling breeze off Lake Ontario. During the summer Thursdays are a perfect time for the afternoon hour of music then an hour of Downtown Country before heading to the far side of City Hall for a an outdoor movie at Springer Market Square! On the evening I was in the area I saw Mama Mia: Here We Go Again after some pretty mean country picking earlier.

The United Steelpickers
I went prepared! Book for when I had to wait for the movie; lots of water, a hat, dinner in snack form, my fan – I did use it – even a snazzy seat built into a backpack that my grandson loaned to me!

Of course I sang! Very quietly. Cute movie, not what I expected.

There was finally a day when my daughter did not have to work 12 hours followed by sleeping. We had an impromptu afternoon – 3:00pm movie? Of course! Lion King was great!

I managed to snag my grandson for another Monday outing! We took advantage of the two National Parks for one price from our outing the previous week, choosing to visit the much closer Fort Henry. The original Fort was built and garrisoned during the war of 1812 but saw no military action. (Must have been pretty boring times stuck in readiness every day)

Despite having been on a tour a couple of years ago I learned more about the military and civil daily life for the inhabitants from an engaging guide. In addition to that there were some changes made since my last visit. Although I like fresh baked cookies and bread I was unsure about grilled cheese sandwiches being served at the Bonnycastle Bakery that is now within the Lower Fort – although they were far less expensive than the Battery Bistro where we eventually had lunch. However, the chocolate chip cookie I did buy, and shared with my grandson and pandas, was quite yummy. My issue is that sandwiches, like the cookies, are not authentic fare. Not that anything at the bistro, in the Upper Fort, serves anything authentic either. Their outdoor patio has a million dollar view of Lake Ontario. If given a choice another time I would go for the bakery.

A visit to Fort Henry where my friends were very near in trouble for wanting to eat the cookies before they cooled down.
I am quite sure cookies were not part of the daily rations back in the day. However, still the same ovens!
Those poor drummers were practising under the severe sun and in high humidity – I hope they are paid well to entertain we tourists!

Precision stepping and measured piping.

It might be expected that I was becoming quite worn out with so much to do! Fortunately I did have days I could just relax, go for a walk – most days it was too hot so I went to Cataraqui Mall, open late Monday through Friday, to get in my much needed steps. A visit to Picton, one of many small towns in Ontario’s wine country, to the local, exceptionally well attended and large, arts & crafts fair did nearly do me in despite having my hat, sunscreen, plenty of water from the refill station, and a few delicious choices to snack on. My daughter and I shared a giant pretzel, a variety of spreads (most of which I could not eat) before deciding we would not get dinner at the nifty, mobile fire truck pizza.

Firewood in a fire tuck!

We rocked out to Moist at Stringer Market downtown.

Attended a backyard bridal shower the following day.

Then a barbecue, complete with roasting marshmallows, the next evening!

I will be heading to Kitchener soon to spend three days before heading home on the train. The decision to return to Kitchener makes the most sense financially as well as a way to visit my family there again. I will avoid the expense of staying in Toronto overnight if I had left from Kingston by taking GO Transit from Kitchener very early the morning.

Expenses: after my trip to Ottawa I slipped in keeping careful track of everything – no real reason beyond laziness. However, despite yet another expensive day with my grandson, despite not having to pay an entry fee, I do seem to still be on track. (Speaking of which, my train trip to Kitchener was booked on Discount Tuesday by my daughter who will take my e-vouchers in payment = $60.00)

Bonnycastle Bakery: $1.60 cookie; Battery Bistro: $32.00 lunch for two

Ontario Trip: Kingston in July

I seem to harp on about the intolerable heat on one forum and Facebook while neglecting to include some of the highlights of my days so far. I have been posting a couple of photographs on Instagram when I think they be interesting – big lean on the ‘I’ as I have little idea what might spark anyone to look. One hashtag I try to include is #brightspots, sort of a steal from the blogger of Today’s Perfect Moment (todaysperfectmoment.com), which are pictures I find uplifting. Sadly, it appears my attempts at finding interesting shots have been thwarted by the exceedingly high humidity and my still poor iPhone photography skills.

Case in point, I saved none of my fireworks shots. Kingston puts on a stellar show for Canada Day. I was certain that this year would not be as grand as the 150th celebration. I was happily wrong. Not only were we treated to a fabulous light display high in the air, there were smaller acts from areas around the city. This year we headed to the grassy hills of Fort Henry – as did everyone else who did not stay downtown! It was a wonderful vantage point. My only complaint was the bugs – particularly mosquitoes. Fortunately, the friends we were had a teeny bit of insect spray left that I put on my face and hands. I then wrapped a towel around my legs and wore a jacket. I seemed to have come out unscathed.

One of the local parade ‘floats’ on the country road where my daughter lives.

I also visited Gananoque with my daughter and son in-law the previous day for Ribfest, of which only a few hazy photos turned out. The town is lake country, under 6000 population, and probably swells two fold during the summer. I did not partake of any ribs, and for my daughter and her husband they had a giant deep fried onion plus three strips of candy bacon as their celebratory first anniversary lunch. (Shared with me) Also a beer tasting at a local brewery on the main drag. I tried barely a touch of stout to my tongue, my face told the tale – I do not drink, and if I did it would not be beer! We walked to the nearby Sculpture Park, Canada’s largest outdoor sculpture gallery, built on what was once a shovel factory.

Gears we think were used for the shovel company dam; now an interesting piece of industrial history.

Iron sunflower.

Summer in Kingston and the surrounding are is packed with activities. Upon the heel of Canada Day is the Buskers Rendezvous, in its 31st year, the second largest buskers event in the world! Yes, the heat can be a problem, more so for the entertainers as the audience can stand in the shade on Princess Street during the daytime shows where sections are cordoned off. Down by Lake Ontario, on Ontario Street events happen in the evening – still sweltering the first night. We had front row seats on the patio, having decided to eat dinner at Tir Nan Og, I chose the butterr chicken as the least unhealthy choice, I ate the naan but not the rice. Half an undressed Beaver Tail much later in the evening rather defeated that purpose! The shows will go on for three days and is a delightful way to spend time with family and friends without breaking the bank account. Of course the performers highly appreciate receiving donations (in days past they would have asked for your spare coin) for their craft, usually deservedly so. I discovered it is exceedingly difficult to catch a photo of a man circling about in a giant hula hoop. https://www.pancholibreperformer.com/ out of Mexico. The following day, having seen his show once, I finally caught a shot of the hilarious https://kiltedcolin.com/ from the USA. Shows end at 3:00 with more at 6:00. Some excellent planning as this encourages audiences to stay downtown to eat out – which we did again! This time it was Woodenheads, also on a patio, where we shared scrumptious Coco Shrimp, and I had their Insalata Verde (rather bland balsamic dressing until I added lemon to it). Once again I was feeling holier than thou until my daughter brought us each (I thought we were going to share one) a gelato later in the evening. We took in one more full shows, then a pleasant surprise as we were leaving, at Market Square once the heat had finally cooled down to a tolerable 25c, Lisa Lottie, hula hoop artist was in the last 15 minutes of her show. https://lisalottie.com/ Despite not seeing the whole performance she is my favourite so far.

The hilarity of this went up a few notches when this piper found himself unwittingly competing with a didgeridoo from a nearby band also performing. These things cannot be planned.
Let us loose and we get into all sorts of mischief! Hennas, tattoos pending? I seem to go for sunflowers whenever I do this. Paw prints in the petals & outside the stem.
She has some wicked hula hoop tricks!

I also, finally, made it to Crave, (grabbing a shot of coffee and a photo) my favourite coffee shop where, after watching an afternoon performance, I hid out from the heat and had a lovely chat with a couple from Kingston. The plan is to return on the weekend with teenage grandson in tow if he is not called in to work. I hope there will be some exciting shows to hold his interest. Not even a week into July yet so much already packed in!

Expenses: I know I am staying fairly close to my daily budget; however, it is rather startling when I realize I have spent a chunk of money in a couple of days! $20.00 two snazzy hennas; $5.00 gelato; $4.00 – $5.00 Buskers (I did consider more each time until I realized I left all my cash behind the first day & did not get small change the second); $3.15 coffee at Crave (gasp! I think it might have been less but did not check my change right away. Besides, I did sit there, with the AC, for probably 2 hours with that one coffee!) $10.00 (approx) sunscreen.

Note on expenses: I do use my bank account and try to keep my withdrawals, of any sort, to a maximum of 12 per month so as to avoid any charges. It came as a shock to discover I had been charged $10.15, some of which were on top of e-transfer charges that I had been repaid for. Fortunately, my bank reversed the $10.15, and I now know to be aware of how sneaky they can be!

Ontario Visit: shaping up to a stellar weekend

Canada Day is fast approaching, July 1st for anyone not living in the Great White North, and people in Kingston are certainly proud to be Canadians. Possibly having a Canadian Forces Base, originally slated to be the capital city all those years ago when the country was in its infancy, and just the fact we do have an awesome, relatively inclusive yet diverse population. (In other words we still have to work to do, but hey, we are still a young country). I digress, a great weekend leading up to a celebration.

This time last year we were doing last minute preparations for a wedding. First anniversary upcoming, nothing grand planned – after all, they have been together for nearly 27 years! This means I can spend time with my daughter, SIL and grandson without any of us feeling rushed or having to fit everything in. It also meant I had another day to explore on my own.

Queen’s University Theology Hall where one of my daughter’s received her MA in religious studies.

Once again I opted to go into town in the wee hours, this time arriving around 6:30am. I think the staff at the Princess Street Starbucks might have cringed when I walked in – no errors, friendly service and I was recognized. I have to expand my horizon. This day I took my book and a lunch. Two coffees later, plus breakfast that I did put on my card and points (5:30am was too early to do much beyond shower, dress, climb into the truck) and probably four chapters later, I was ready to wend my way to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University https://agnes.queensu.ca/ where there are five new exhibits and a newly acquired Rembrandt. Once more, I am not an artist nor an expert of any media. I just enjoy what others have created. It also helps that entry is free.

Flooded path along Lake Ontario – the ducks were loving it!

Although intriguing, and one of the exhibits I wanted to check out, I had to walk away from much of Let’s Talk About Sex because of the media used. I simply cannot watch screens with jiggling shots, they make me feel ill. Having to wear headphones and watch a small screen just about did me in. My favourite

exhibits were the Stepping Out https://agnes.queensu.ca/exhibition/stepping-out-clothes-for-a-gallery-goer/ and Puvirnituq https://agnes.queensu.ca/exhibition/puvirnituq-graphic-arts-in-the-60s/. Although a couple of the exhibits will close in August 2019 others are open to the end of the year and beyond. Best of all, there will be new ones. I urge anyone visiting Kingston to visit this gallery.

I imagined swirling around in this gorgeous skirt doing the Jive. I am not old enough to have learned it when the craze – in my teens my then boyfriend’s parents taught several of us.

And then there is the upcoming Kingston Artfest https://www.artfestontario.com/kingston at City Park, an Annual 200+ artists/craftspeople/bakers plus, showcasing and selling their works, happening through to Canada Day, a lush, green space about a slow 15 minute walk from town, for all to enjoy; and the ongoing Music In the Park at Confederation Park across from City Hall, a fabulous setting and an hour of great music to dance, reminisce, or just listen to. A quick count of the summer line up shows at least 23 more one hour concerts! (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) Also the main stage for Canada Day celebrations taking over for July 1st.

It is events like this that I wish I had more than just my iPhone! The fountain let off a very slight spray for those of sitting on the shady side. Such a lovely setting.

By the time I was picked up I was exhausted but my day was not yet over! My daughter decided she needed to go out for dinner so, although I had already eaten, I went along to be company. What do nurses do when they have a couple of days off? They dance! (A few of the other women at the pub that night are also in the health field) Creekside Bar & Grill is a country favourite.

Our nod to Canada Day!

Not even Saturday and I had already filled my plate, a mani/pedi spa day, gift from my daughter, the movie Aladdin, with Will Smith, and dinner out rounded out my Friday. Hats off to Ester at Landmark Cinemas for dealing with our wrong day tickets! We stayed up past midnight, had lots of laughs and planned for more weekend activities. A reminder to anyone at home or travelling the world, look for the little things, they might even be free and far more interesting!

Expenses: Dinner x 2, nail spa and the movie were a lovely treat from my daughter. I had loaned money to my youngest daughter, she returned it plus an extra $5.00 to cover any fees. Still well within budget! It was also the end of the month which meant checking in with finances for those boring bills that must be paid regardless of travels. Happy to discover I could add $200.00 to my budget! Technically this means I could spend an average of $10.00 per day for the month of July. (I still have $100.00 from June)

Ontario Visit: “Take Me Home, Country Roads

During my time in Kingston I am staying out in the country. There is not a lot to do when one does not have a vehicle. Rather than always catch a ride in the early morning rain it sometimes makes more sense to check the weather forecast, catch an early breeze, and follow the tweets and twitters of the birds as I went wandering up the road. The key is to go for a walk early enough to avoid the heat and humidity and again after dinner.

There were sheep lowing, birds twittering, squirrels skittering, frisky chipmunks, leaves rustling and grass flowing. I was also on the lookout for monarch butterflies – my son in-law me had heard this is supposed be a big year for their return. None sighted today. This is what I discovered. I even had time to make muffins and dinner once the heat was less intense.

Every year I expect to see this place tumbled down.

The neighbours up the road.
How much more country can one get! Our very own country road Canada Day Parade is coming up.
To be honest I have no idea what is in these silos. Perhaps hay or grain for the sheep lowing lowly in the next barn.
Only a short cut to school if you have a scythe and the key.
I have no idea what these small, yet robust, flowers are that grow along the roadside. Once they blossom the flowers are laid back in a many pointed star.
Original water pump? Country style only? Who knows, just there.
Reminder to self: never take over someone’s baking when they. Annoy recall at which step they stopped! Banana/applesauce muffins – needed more applesauce.

Ontario Visit: looking up & smelling the roses

First, the only rose bush I came across is in my daughter’s front garden which has yet to bloom from its tightly fold bud. Anticipation. There is, however, an abundance of lovely, sometimes fragrant blossoms in the country outside of Kingston as well as in the city. These in addition to the now familiar streets, lakefront and architectural pleasures that abound in the downtown core. There is also quite decent internet to be found.

After three days of ease in the relative quiet of the countryside it was high time I caught a ride to town. The farthest I had gone since arriving was to a small general store that is a five minute drive away where I bought coffee cream and, wickedly decadent, two small cinnamon rolls. I had no choice, they were packaged together. Not that there was much to choose from by mid-afternoon. Although I do not know if the store owners do their own baking the selection has the look and flavour of being local. Other than that foray into the world I had been catching up on my reading – finished yet another book, am now down to three, one of which I have started, walks every day, feeding the animals, enjoying the weather before it becomes sweltering, and just taking it easy.

My daughter’s peonies had been tightly closed the day I arrived only to suddenly pop into full bloom nearly overnight.

By my fourth day I needed internet that would not constantly shut down at the slightest twitch of a finger or the swaying of a single leaf. The property is surrounded by tall, densely leaved maples that block out the signal. There is something about the configuration of the land and house because the neighbours next door and across the street seem to have no problems. My plan was to edit a paper (I tend to ignore my own errors), while I had a coffee and muffin at SB, then go for a walk before calling (or texting) for a ride. There are not any buses, taxis would eat my paltry budget in two days and walking or riding a bike are nearly impossible.

As mentioned, I am now quite familiar with downtown Kingston. Once I was on a walk it felt rather like coming home. I then wondered what could draw my attention in an area I had thoroughly explored over the past few years. I walked along Confederation Way along Lake Ontario before being enticed by a patio adorned with lush foliage and flowers. After admiring this patio surround I realized many of the small patios had similar arrangements to entice would be customers. I tend to think this is two fold: primarily a way to encourage patrons, as well as throwing off the heavy mantle of winter. What better way than to sit in a comfortable patio chair, umbrella overhead, flowers, and bees buzzing, sipping a cold drink, a perfectly brewed coffee or enjoying a meal without a care in the world.

I then did what I always do, and recommend to anyone when visiting new places – I looked up. I had seen some of the cupolas and bell towers that adorn many of the older buildings and of course churches on previous visits yet never really took cognizance of them. Despite passing by Hotel Dieu Hospital many times, including going there to have my arm casted I had never noticed the rather large, if somewhat dilapidated, cupola with the cross atop it. Perhaps it was how the sun slanted across it. This occurred just as I was to step inside the Kingston Public Library, that had been closed for two years for renovations; across the street is the Greek Orthodox Church, a simple enough structure enhanced by a beam of sun streaming down.

Hotel Dieu Hospital was once run by the Catholic Church.

A two hour stop at the cavernous library, yet full of light (they need more stacks to dull the echoes) to get away from the encroaching heat – the sun and I do not always get along – and to work on that edit, I was more than ready to find lunch and go for another walk. To save money, using the App my daughter has, I went back to SB, where I know they have a small variety of protein boxes that I can eat. I would have brought my lunch if I had not left the house at 6:30AM! I did have a granola bar that I ignored until my blood sugar plummeted when still at the library. (I do try to avoid such events) Sated I continued my meandering.

I want to steal that book title!

I would cross paths with my all time favourite Kingston coffee shop a couple of times, managing to resist temptation, a church with its bell tower appearing to be readied to have its bell removed or possibly returned, another church with all the doors flung wide open – I went inside to escape the heat and humidity that had snuck up, enjoying the hushed tones, cool depths and sweeping ceilings. There are probably ten churches within walking distance of City Hall. I may map out visiting any that are open to visitors. I made a point to walk by St. George’s Cathedral, they still hold weekly summer, lunch time concerts every Thursday. No lunch though.

This is on my extravagant spending list.

It was soon time to text for a ride. I even took a short break at the nearby Tim Horton’s -it has a dreadful reputation for having drug dealers and street people hanging about, the latter were across the street and I guess all the dealers were having a break elsewhere. I was to meet my ride across the street. A long day, arriving at the house after 4:00, yet productive with plans in my head for upcoming ventures into town.

Expenses: $16.94 medicine (I found out later my daughter has what I needed, oh well); $2.05 Tim Horton’s coffee & 2 Timbits. Starbucks card $7.65 (this will not be included in my budget)