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Saturday, 24 September 2016

I'm a Thief! Just call me, 'Jean Valjean'!

I'm a Thief! Just call me, 'Jean Valjean'!

Our latest house/pet sit adventure has taken us to the picturesque community of Manotick - just south of Ottawa, on the Rideau River. Looking after a gorgeous duck toller retriever, and two adorable pussy cats is reminding us, once again, why we love doing what we do - and the wonderful home in which we are staying is just icing on the cake. The home owners, Diane and Stephen - who are vacationing in Europe - are delightful and we truly feel blessed to have met them. They made us feel so comfortable and welcome from the moment of our arrival on Tuesday. 

Diane told us that, while we were here, we should include a visit to the Manotick Farmers' Market, which is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., June 11th until October 8th.

Manotick Farmers' Market - opposite Watson's Mill

It may be found directly opposite Watson's Mill - a working grist and flour mill that is open to the public. As usual, we have lucked in by being here before it closes for the season. Mel, the owner of the Foster Family Farm, which sponsors the market, told us that there were fewer stalls present today, because it was near to the end of the season; but the produce and other wares available were top notch. 

Watson's Mill is a working mill
We were impressed by the quality of the produce, and the welcome friendliness of all the vendors. 

Anu with our Trusted Housesitters Colleague

Home Made Jewelry

Foster Family Farm - great produce! Mel Foster is the vendor.

Jack Williams - Market Manager

JJ's Handcrafted Woodworking

Anne Smith, of Kneading Bowl Foods, had a winning smile and a warm personality

These folks didn't have a business card, but their wares looked enticing.

We've often agreed with people when they say that the world is a small place and, today, we had a couple of serendipitous moments which gave credence to the adage. 

While obtaining permission from each vendor to post about them publicly, we found out that Anu, the lovely woman who was selling flour that is ground at the mill (along with some delicious home-made loaves), was born in Sudbury, and was raised for most of her life in Elliot Lake!!!  What's more, her mother still lives in our town - and, believe it or not, actually lives in an apartment on the floor below us!!!!! In fact, after we had seen a picture of her, Mark realized that he had often spoken to her in the elevator.

Warsaw Place - our home in Elliot Lake

Anu asked us why we were all this way from home, here in Manotick, so we told her that we were house/pet sitting, and that we had found out about this from Trusted Housesitters

Trusted HouseSitters Website

Lo and behold, a woman standing nearby said that she couldn't help overhearing, but she was also in Manotick doing the same thing, under the auspices of the same company! Upon further discussion, we found out that she is minding the home directly opposite to where we are staying! 

So, what has this got to do with Jean Valjean, and my self-description as a thief? 

Well, while Mark was talking to the fellow house-sitter, I got talking to Anu about how amazing it was that we knew her mom. Noticing that she had some samples of the bread she was selling, I availed myself of a tasty morsel and decided that a loaf of freshly-made, mill-flour bread would be a perfect complement to the tomato soup that Mark was going to make that afternoon. 

Carefully lifting one of the loaves in its brown bag, and placing it in my white plastic bag, we continued talking and found out that we were both on Facebook. Exchanging information and mutually requesting friendship on the social medium, we continued to chat about the amazing coincidence when Mark rejoined the conversation. 

After a few minutes, we bade her farewell and went on to the neighbouring stall to buy veggies, and then on to another stall run by Anne Smith - a delightful woman, whose baking had been calling to us from the moment we arrived! We bought some treats from her and, bless her heart, she gave us a free taste of her delicious sausage rolls. She had such a winning smile, and a lovely, warm personality, so we had to ask her for a hug - to which she readily agreed! 

It was while we were choosing some scones from another stall, on the opposite side of the square, when the following conversation took place: 

Mark: You'll have to pay for these as I've run out of change. 

Alan: (reaching into his pocket) - I can't.... I've left my wallet and keys at the house. 

Mark: You can't have done, you just paid for the bread!

Alan: (the uncomfortable truth beginning to dawn on him) Oh, for goodness sake, I didn't pay for the bread! Oh, for crying out loud, I didn't pay for the bread!

Mark: You've got to be kidding me!!!!!

At this point, I ran across the square towards Anu, shouting 'I'm a thief - I'm a thief - I didn't pay for the bread!!!  Several people started to laugh, and Anu was chuckling. Sarah (the vendor where this realization had taken place) said to Mark, 'The look on both of your faces when you realized that you hadn't paid for the bread - it was priceless!' 

Sarah, from Genuine (tr)eats - thought the look on our faces were priceless!

Anu was wonderfully forgiving and told us that she had realized that I had put the bread in my bag but, in the course of the conversation, was not sure if we had paid for it or not. I think she was just trying to be kind and to help to assuage my obvious guilt!

Anu - one gracious woman!

We asked her where the nearest ATM could be found and she told us. Mark said that we would just nip round to get some cash out, but I told her that I had better stay near to her so that she could use me as a ransom, should Mark not come back! Well, she thought that was funny, and we both laughed. 

After paying our debts, we left with our legitimate wares, and went for a walk around the mill and across the river. We both remarked that, had this been 200 years ago, in France, I would have ended up in a chain gang - just like Jean Valjean in 'Les Miserables'! Hence, the idea of the title for this blogpost was birthed!! (We called my first and dearest Canadian friend, Pat, this evening to share the story and to congratulate her on teaching me so well! Pat knew exactly what we were referring to - but that's another story, for another blog.

For the next hour or so, we took in the beauty of the scenery surrounding the mill, with the river shimmering in the sun, and cool breeze rustling through the trees. 

A.Y. Jackson Park - over the river from the mill. 

Couldn't resist tinkling the ivories on this outdoor piano

Gazebo (where the piano was) from other side of river

Mark - appreciating the Rideau River

The Rideau River shimmering in the sunlight

The mill from the other side of the river

Mark, enjoying a brief break

The sluice bridge at the working mill

Where we ate our lunch

This is a truly captivating spot, and we're looking forward to revisiting the mill on another day as it was closed for a personal wedding today.

We'll also be returning to the Farmers' Market next Saturday - though we wouldn't be at all surprised if the vendors have handcuffs at the ready!!!

#happyfitandfree    #travelguys
Here's a list of the vendors at the Manotick Farmers' Market: 

- JJ's Handcrafted Wood Creations for Your Home - Jeff and Jordan Fleming (a Father-and-           Son Team) 613-447-3832

- Jacks Fudge  613-519-4807

- Fancy Nancy Jewels   Nancy Deslauriers                           613-825-2888      Cell: 613-794-3712

- genuine (tr)eats   Sarah Hobbs  homemade goodies for any occasion    Sarah Hobbs 

- Kneading Bowl Foods  - From Scratch Fine Food Catering - Handcrafted Baked Goods 
      Anne Smith - chef and catering coordinator   613-255-5343

- foster family farm  - Feeding the Nation's Capital - Mel Foster

- United Rustproofing and Detailing - Mobile Unit - Anti-Corrosion System for Fleets 
      Jeff Fleming and Bo    613-447-3832

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