Waking at the King George Inn, our old prison Inn at Cobourg, to glorious sunshine (nice and early - only 4 am today!) we headed off to find a beach on the shores of Lake Ontario, on our way to Kingston. We decided to book a motel for 2 nights before we left and found a cheap as chips one on the internet.
Deciding to take a local road rather than the highway we passed through a succession of hamlets with traditional wooden farm buildings sporting fiercely pitched roofs to prevent the heavy snow of winter building up on them. By the time we needed a coffee, and having finally bought a route map we hit upon Brighton. Locals sat out in the sunshine enjoying the morning papers, we opted for the AC indoors to escape the heat that was already building. Home made cakes and fabulous coffee restored us. Fred decided that the Chocolate Toffee Brownie was the 'best he had ever tasted'...... again! I had a coconut and lime vegan cake that was beautiful. We popped across the road to an art gallery in someone's house and garden which was really quaint.
We had been planning to hit the beach at South Picton, but in Brighton we saw signs to Presqu'Ill Provincial Park a nature reserve where we thought we'd take some pics. We got talking to a woman who had also stopped her car and she said there was a beautiful beach in the park so we decided to head there instead of schlepping out to Picton.
We passed Beach 1 entrance, Beach 2 entrance was blocked off, so we went in at Beach 3. There was only 1 other car parked which we thought odd but we spotted the occupants making their way through a woodland track to the beach and followed suit in the breeze free stifling heat . As Dean was dressed in a rather 'interesting' combination and doing something he hates, walking to a deserted beach in the heat, I decided I had to capture the moment on camera. As I lined up my lens I realised that I had 2 enormous mozzies feeding off me. The reaction was instant as I saw both bites swell. More mozzies were starting to land at which point I screamed at Fred and Dean to run. My parkrun training paid off and I made it back to the car just ahead of the swarms following me. Dean and Fred were totally unaffected! Looks like I'm going to be the 'Barney' of this holiday (Barney, Deans other son is usually our mozzie bait who draws them all away from us and keeps us mozzie free!).
We canned the idea of the trek to Beach 3 so went back to the Beach 1 entrance. The car park was full! When we stepped out we realised why. A strong cool breeze and no woodland to trek through meant it was mozzie free. So we loaded up and took the short walk through the sand dunes to a fabulous 5 mile beach (not unlike Rhossili Bay). The Canadians seem to provide picnic tables, volley ball nets etc on all their beaches so Dean didn't have to deal with the irritation of sitting on sand with no shade!!
Fred has got so used to travelling alone with us and having to find playmates that within 5 minutes of setting down he had made friends with a Brazilian family who were playing football. Happiness all round! After a lazy few hours on the beach, interspersed with building sand forts and taking refreshing swims in the icy water with Fred, I finished the 1996 updated 'Brief History of Time'. Its apparently out dated in terms of its science but I wanted to read it. Having finished it I moved onto the 2015 'Before the Big Bang' by John Gribbin which gives the updated science of the Big Bang for the first 30% of the book before taking on the time before. My resolution this trip is to get a bit more educated about the world scientific before we get to the Atacama Desert for our visit to the worlds highest observatory. No mean feat for someone who got an 'Unclassified' in my Physics O'level!!
Leaving the mozzize free beach with three stonking bites that had by now developed a full allergic reaction we drove to Kingston, our destination that evening. We had found a wallet saving motel with good reviews (clean, free wifi, and beds!) . As we arrived we were a little nervous. Our prejudices were popped with the service we got from Jim the delightful ex-Hell's Angel (not 100% sure on this but he did have old tattoos, a Harley Davidson ring and the look of someone who could look after himself in a bar so I'm going to make this bit up but secretly hope its true.....!). In addition it turned out that the owner who was also there was originally from Swindon where his son was still running his old shop. Fred was rather taken by him because he looked just as he imagines 'Raj' from the David Walliams books (for those who don't know them this is a good thing because Raj is the true hero through all of them!). The room was also great. New bathroom, 2 large double beds, TV, free WiFi, fridge, microwave and thankfully really good AC.
Ready for a burger we were recommended Harvey's by Jim because you get to design your own burger and they make it in front of you. We all loved it and Fred decided.....(yes you've guessed it)..... that it was 'the best ever'!
As we're on a mission to get around as many iconic places as we can we popped into Tim Horton's for a take out de-caff coffee which we drank on our porch before heading to bed.
Heavy rain overnight had left a lovely freshness when I got up at 5am (slowly improving!). Across the road to Tim Horton’s for a full strength dose of carry out coffee for Dean and I as Fred slept on. We were kept company in the early morning by black squirrels and an extremely tame Groundhog (see pics!). A pint of coffee later I’d finished 4 TripAdvisor reviews, caught up on my blogging, and emails.
When Fred got up we shot some hoops in the yard. I’d like to say I won but you’ll have to read Fred’s blog to see if he agrees. I personally think he makes up the rules as he goes along but we’ll have to get his basketball coach Andy to give an independent view of the video evidence…..!
We decided to catch the local express bus into Kingston to do our sightseeing. Dean managed to break the automated pay machine next to the bus driver who gave up on our incompetence and waved us on for free! Totally innocently he managed the same on the return trip – so buses in Canada are very cheap for bumbling Brits!!
Kingston is the original capital of Canada and contains some beautiful historic grand buildings. We went into the town hall which sits on the harbour. Fronted with an impressive portico we were allowed to go up into the state rooms. The largest of these rooms was decorated with 16 stained glass windows depicting a soldier from different regiments that had served in the 1st World War with the name of the town where significant battles had taken place. Two years ago we visited Amiens and the Somme, including the Canadian cemetery and memorial that contains preserved trenches. Canadian losses in the 1st WW were massive and the Canadians we have talked to still see the connection between Britain and Canada in both World Wars as emotionally, politically and culturally significant. It’s something I reflect on with the recent Brexit result and maybe it explains why the Canadians are perplexed at the result – they see the common ground not the differences…..
Brunch was in Le Matin a small French ‘Nora’s Caff’ type place. Hot dogs (best ever according to Fred…!), bagels, waffles (best ever according to Fred…!), and Eggs and Peameal (a thick juicy bacon / ham type thing), with more coffee hit the spot. As we ate we had the excitement of fire engines charging to an incident in a hairdressers. The street soon filled with ladies in foils much to the amusement of those around us. It was also from here we saw the first beggars. From our spot in the window we saw the Canadians treating them with respect and generosity. When we walked past them later both had veteran and PTSD written on their cardboard signs.
We made our way to the harbour to catch a 3 hour cruise through the 1,000 islands which has become a millionaires playground. Enormous houses and plush cottages have been built on islands of all sizes. One house sat on a tiny crop of rocks with only water access. I loved the fact that in the 1700’s no-one could decide where to put the church in this area so they decided to have pontoon set up that families would row to for Sunday service and the vicar would preach from the pontoon. This tradition continues today.
We were entertained on our cruise by a jazz duo, which was an unexpected pleasure. Ronnie and Spencer were fabulous (see vid) and played a wonderfully diverse (Bob Marley to Fats Waller) set plus requests. Ronnie the singer, keyboard and jazz sax player was a hoot with his ironic but uncynical audience engagement. We reached hysterics with ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles where he knew only 75% of the words but valiantly made up the rest.
After our free bus ride back we nipped into Fresh Co to pick up a fiberous salad supper to counter the carb and protein filled diet. Thanks Dr Chris for my Wilko shopper bag its getting loads of use and will have its own picture gallery! You can only buy alcohol in specially licenced liquor stores so Dean drove out in search a few bottles of wine for the next few days. We chilled down a bottle of local Prosecco in a plastic pint glass we turned into an ice bucket. Thanks to Jim (again) for coming up trumps and providing free ice J
As we sat out on the porch sipping Prosecco a people carrier full (and I mean full) of Chinese arrived. As one lady walked past she turned to me and said “Pretty, you very very pretty lady” oh what a joy! We spoke to them for a bit and they were all utterly charming and found us fascinating; Fred with his blue hair (now green!), Dean with is beard and manbun, and my blonde hair and red lipstick. If you’ve not heard it play ‘Chinese Child’ by Devendra Banhart, we’d been listening to it just the day before J
A bit more basketball before bed, and I’m pretty sure my game improved after a few Prosecco’s. I wonder if the LA Lakers have thought of that? Another thing to check with Andy.
For me this trip is all about having a great adventure with my family. Its taken years for us to finally stop talking about it and do it - simply because it both excites and frightens the life out me! So I'm stepping out of corporate life, where I singularly failed to achieve a work/life balance....to experience different cultures and spend time with those I love xx