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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Northern Ontario Ablaze!

Northern Ontario Ablaze!
September 24th, 2014

I had originally planned to immigrate to Vancouver, but there were no openings for teachers there in 1989. So I came to Ontario with the idea of staying for one year and then tranferring to B.C. 

What Ontario had in store for me was nothing but astounding!  Apart from the wonderful people who embraced me with friendship in those first few weeks, and apart from being ridiculously happy with the students with whom I had been gifted, it fell to Mother Nature to seduce me into staying here with the splendour of her display that very first Fall - and I've been hooked ever since. 

It's not that we didn't have colour back in the U.K. - there were yellows and browns, and the occasional reddish leaf. But I had never seen such a vibrant array of reds, oranges, golds, and maroons against the vivid green background when Fall hits Ontario. 

Knowing that it signals farewell to the summer - and takes us closer to the transition to winter (which has its own charm), the Fall has to be my favourite season. Pleasant hikes along trails studded with fallen leaves that look like a mosaic, the gentle breeze kissing the trees, and no bugs with which we have to share the experience! What could be better? 

There are many reasons we love living in Elliot Lake. It's a given that people, here, are an amazing example of resilience - friendly and welcoming - and quick to lend a helping hand or share information about hiking trails and hidden lakes known only to the locals. 

But it is at this time of year that we find our hearts full of appreciation fir the abundance of foliage just outside our door - and even to be enjoyed from looking out of our window or from our balcony. 

Northern Ontario has to be experienced - and to live here is, indeed, a dream come true for us. 


Please enjoy the slide show we have put together so that you can experience it with us. All pictures were taken within 20 minutes drive from where we live. 

Here's the link for the slideshow:       Northern Ontario on Fire!                                      

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Walk Off The Earth - A Trip to Heaven!!!

Walk Off The Earth - A Trip to Heaven!!!

September 12th - up early and excited!! because we were traveling to Huntsville to attend the first Muskoka Sound Music Festival. More to the point, one of our favourite bands were going to be top of the bill that night! 

We had watched the leap into stardom of WOTE (Walk Off The Earth) after their brilliant 5-people-playing-one-guitar interpretation of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" exploded on YouTube garnering well over 35 million views in under 2 weeks. Following an appearance on 'Ellen', the group have been on a global tour playing to packed out audiences that have been thrilled by the experience. 

Now, we are biased - Marshall (Ryan) happens to be the nephew of Mark's sister-in-law - but we also happen to think that this is one of the most innovative bands that have emerged of late. At last, we were going to see them live, and the performance on Friday night far exceeded our already-high expectations.

Being top of the bill, they were going to be the fourth band performing that evening, starting at 9:30 p.m. Mark had us firmly in place, front row - centre about 5 hours prior to that. In fact, we were the only ones who had planted our lawn chairs in place. 

We were determined to get the best seats in the open-air venue. We were rewarded for our early arrival because we bumped into the "bearded guy" and Mark got his pic taken with him. Yes - he does talk and has a great smile. We watched as he thrilled a little girl with whom he spoke after the pic was taken. Kids just love him! 

The preceding bands were really good, though the heavy metal group, Monster Truck, was a little crazy loud and we couldn't hear any of the lyrics. Nevertheless, the instrumental genius of the lead guitarist was totally awesome. 

Watching the staging being prepared was fascinating - there must have been nearly 100 different instruments - some conventional, some not! When we saw two wine glasses being filled, and some powdered substance being poured onto the cymbals, our curiosity fed our excitement. Our lawn chairs were now folded and nestled closely against the fence to which we were firmly pressed, standing in anticipation of what was to come. Front row, centre - and we were not giving up that space! Talk about a couple of 'groupies'! 

With bated breath, we awaited the entrance of the band we had traveled 6 hours to see. From the moment they came on stage, it was an action packed experience! From the amazing songs to the incredible timing and co-ordination, we were treated to 90 minutes of pure joyful, fun-filled entertainment at its best. 

As this was the last performance of their tour, they announced that they were going to create an opening for their Christmas Video - and we were there at the front - so we're looking forward to seeing if we are going to be 'stars'! 

We particularly liked the way that they involved their crew in some of the numbers, as well as in the finale. Such talent, fun, and comraderie.... and the mutual respect between band and crew was obvious. 

We also appreciated that they performed 'Somebody That I Used To Know' which rocketed them to stardom on YouTube. It was good that they had not forgotten their roots and the crowd went absolutely wild. 

Seeing them live was well-worth the long trip and the long wait - and we didn't even mind the field of near-mud that had developed by the end of the evening. So much fun!  

Thank you, WOTE!!  You are awesome!

See our slide show of the event. Some of the pics are blurry, but you'll capture the pure energy!

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Little Piece of Heaven

A Little Piece of Heaven

At least twice every year, Mark and I trip down to the little township of Wilberforce, Ontario where our dear friend, Pat (affectionately known as Patsy Watsy), has a cottage on a Lake. 

This year, we missed out on the annual July weekend gathering of a dozen people or more because I had strained my back the day before we were due to travel. Bummer! - It was the first time in 17 years that we had not been present and it has been calling to us all summer. 

This Labour Day Weekend, we were able to take in a flying visit to this 'little piece of heaven' that Pat has carved out for herself, and which she generously shares with those in her circle of friends and beyond. 

Nestled on the edge of a beautiful lake, the cottage boasts of 300' water frontage.  (See slideshow for more pics).

Built in the 1930's, the log home is accompanied by three other buildings - a wash-house, a bunkie, and a boathouse, along with the customary woodshed. 

We were occupied in the woodshed for a couple of hours stacking wood that we had collected from a supplier just 15 minutes away from the cottage - making this a true 'labour' day! It was so much fun, working as a team, and accomplishing a task that brought back memories of our years living on the Holland Marsh.

The time went quickly as the bawdy remarks, jokes, and hilarious conversation among the participant 'workers' were shared with gusto. During that time, we also solved all of the world's problems!

After working up an honest sweat, the lake was supremely welcome and, at 19 degrees Celsius, it was a good 3 degrees warmer than our local beach in Elliot Lake. What a difference a degree or two makes! 

Good food, beautiful surroundings, great memories, and wonderful company made this brief weekend rendezvous special. Pat is the first friend I made when I arrived in Canada, back in 1989, and we have been fast friends ever since. If you can visualize loyalty, fun, joie-de-vivre, and variety - you have captured an image of Pat, who is an awesome representation of these wonderful traits!

Pat and Mark enjoying a 'mirthful moment'!

Rob & Danna

What a wonderful way to complete the summer!

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