Cobble Beach

October Delights

Kayaking and Swimming
October 2, 2017
5:23 PM

That was delightful. We just came home from kayaking along the shore of Georgian Bay here at Cobble Beach. This morning when we were golfing the bay was a sheet of glass. Not so this afternoon. The waves were rolling in from the northeast; so, we paddled north with the waves swiping at our side and occasionally landing in our kayaks. It would have been a good day for kayak skirts. That is something for our purchasing list.

It is so quiet kayaking in the bay with only the occasional cry of a gull or the waves splashing the shore or spilling over boulders rot make white caps. It has been three weeks since we finished kayaking the Douro and our first time back in a kayak, this time our own, a little sleeker and cushier. I think our trip gave me a keener interest in kayaking. We had never done a multi-day trip before. I really enjoyed it.

We kayaked back to the beach in a stream of sunshine, the sun warm on our bodies. That made it perfect for a swim after kayaking. Brian did not think so, but when the air and water temperatures match at 20C, I think it is perfect. I love to be able to swim in October. That is so special. Still more swimming, Kate!

I spent a few hours this afternoon dead-heading flowers, trimming and edging the garden. I prefer cleaning the garden to cleaning the house. We grew our tomatoes with our dahlias this year, with greater success. If the long range forecast holds true we should keep getting tomatoes for a couple of weeks.

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Blue Sky Day

Saturday, September 30, 2017
Blue Sky in Grey County

While we were in Portugal, most days were blue sky days. Since we arrived home we have seen far more grey skies. From Thursday evening to the wee hours of this morning we had plenty of rain with fierce winds. People north and south of us lost power as tree limbs or trees downed hydro lines. We were spared. Today turned into a blue sky day.

This morning I drove to the Riverside Community Centre southwest of Meaford to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Trout Hollow Trail and to walk a few kilometers on the trail with Robert Burcher as our guide. Robert is a John Muir enthusiast who has been compiling data about Muir for a number of years. Robert gave a very interesting presentation to the Owen Sound Field Naturalists in the spring. That inspired me to participate today. Robert is a member of the Canadian Friends of John Muir. Muir was an environmentalist, botanist, writer, co-founder of the Sierra Club and known as the father of the National Parks system in the United States. Muir spent two years (1864-1866) in Ontario a year of that time working for the Trout family at their mill near Meaford.

Today’s hike took us to locations that have been identified and sign posted of the mill and cabin where Muir worked and lived as well as other historical features including the remains of a concrete dam that was used to create a 30 foot deep lake on the Bighead River. While we can still see where the dam was and stand in the Hollow where a lake once existed. It is hard to reconcile today’s peaceful pastoral scene where there once was a project that provided electricity for Meaford and a bridge where people used to walk for a Sunday outing.

I will have to visit the Meaford Museum the next time I come to hike Trout Hollow with my hiking buddies. There are 14 kilometers of trail of varying difficulty. We did not hike the whole system today.

Instead of going to the museum after our hike for cake and coffee, I drove into Meaford to admire the many scarecrows that are hanging about on the Main Street. At this time of year no visit to this area is complete without stopping at one of the roadside stands to buy apples. I brought a bag of sweet juicy Honey Crisps home to Brian who was waiting for our new fridge to arrive.

The fridge did not arrive until after I came home, but Brian made good use of his day cleaning the pond, doing laundry, getting rid of wasps and making our bed with fresh sheets. What a great husband!

We golfed nine this afternoon. A month’s absence did not improve our scores. We do not usually golf on a Saturday as it is usually busier; thus, slower. Brian had time for a nap while waiting to hit his ball off number five tee.

Home at Cobble Beach

Cobble Beach
Home again, home again! Yeah!
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We love travelling but we love coming home! There is nothing quite like our own bed, our own shower, our own home. Our fall garden is well underway. There is plenty of deadheading to do, but my roses still are colourful and those splashy red and white dahlias make me smile. We had overnight guests here on the weekend. They loved our sunrise and enjoyed watching the heron pick his way over each fish line to the pond. They did not see him eat any koi. Brian was hoping a neighbour would have had barbecued heron by now.

Our fridge is not working. We had heard of problems with it a couple of weeks ago but anticipated the problem only being in the freezer compartment which was emptied. Sadly the fridge itself is at 61F. The good news is the repairman will come this afternoon. The last time we asked for a repair, it took two weeks for someone to come. Arghhh…$1000 compressor needed…buy a new fridge!

We watched a beautiful sunset sink into a hazy horizon as we approached Owen Sound last night. We stopped for some groceries and thought we would have a Hamburg on the barbecue when we arrived at home but neither of us felt especially hungry; so, we thought it might be a popcorn evening. As we drove past Kate’s, Brian called out to whoever was standing at the barbecue, “Is supper ready?” We kept driving but minutes after being in our house, Kate called and invited us for ribs. So happy to hug our friends again.

A welcome home emergency food kit was waiting in a cooler on our front steps. Bryan and Susan made sure we would have some essentials: tonic, cheese, crackers, eggs. We have good friends here who took care of us and our property. Will made sure the grass was cut and windows open.  Helen watched out for intruders and Susan watered plants. Adrian has been feeding the fish. Lots of willing hands. We are so grateful!

This morning I cycled in a few drops of rain to the beach to meet Kate for a swim. En route I stopped for welcome home hugs. Susan rode down for a swim too. After Brian had secured a fridge repairman he rode down for a swim too. The water is an awesome 72F. Even though yesterday’s air temperature of 32C has cooled to 20C, it felt great.

I planted my few Portuguese seashells in my beach garden.

Three new houses and a set of townhouses have been started in our absence and several of the newest houses now have green lawns. By all accounts the Concours was a great success, the first of five that we missed.

Lisbon to Cobble Beach

Lisbon to Toronto to Cobble Beach
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Walk 500 metres, Cais do Sodré Metro to Airport 10 km, airport walking, Air Transat Flight to Toronto 5746 km, walk to car in parking garage, drive home 182 km

A very nice Portuguese-Canadian gentleman quickly came to our aid when we arrived at the Oriente train station yesterday. He has been living in Canada for the past forty years, most of that in BC. He returns to Portugal every year for a couple of months. He has an apartment for sale in Portimão if you are interested. He decided he is too old to keep doing this trip and his Canadian wife refuses to do it anymore.

We got out of the metro at Baixa Chiado station, based on our helper’s advice. I am glad we did. We would not likely have climbed up here from our apartment but it was worth seeing the elegant squares and impressive buildings. Our friend was disappointed we had so little time in Lisbon as there is so much to see but we are travel weary and ready for home.

We spent five hours walking nine kilometres around Lisbon mostly in the Alfama district. We walked up the narrow streets, visited the Immaculate Conception Church with its amazing carved arches, the Se Cathedral where groups were filing through and tuktuks lined up at the entrance, St Anthony’s Church and birthplace. Anthony is the patron saint of Portugal. We climbed to the Sao Iorge Castle. A line forty people deep was waiting to buy tickets. Lines are not for us. Brian talked to the budgies in cages along the streets instead. I took photos.

There were people shopping everywhere. We sat at a sidewalk cafe sipping beer, watching the lemmings race across streets against red lights, narrowly missing accidents.

Getting to the airport in Lisbon was easy and cheap. We left our apartment, walked across the square to the market where cleaners were sweeping up last night’s debris and pigeons were treating themselves to the sweepings. We dined in the brightly lit Time Out Market last night. We sat on stools on the quieter side of The Sea Me restaurant. I had very good baked cod with roasted potatoes and turnip greens. Brian’s cod cakes with tomato rice were much less satisfactory. He suffered from indigestion.

This morning we walked through the deserted Time Out side to where the fruit, fish, meat and vegetable vendors were now all set up and ready for business. We picked up our cafe com leite and pastry and sat in the sunshine opposite the Cais de Sodré train and metro station. Brian is always wiser choosing ham and cheese while I opt for chocolate. I really wanted a pastry half the size and a coffee twice as big. Spain’s cafe con leche are twice as big as Portugal’s.

We descended deep under the city to the green metro line and for one euro forty-five we had our ticket to the airport that involved one transfer at Alameda Station to the red line. This took less than half an hour including waiting for seven minutes for the first metro train.

Getting through Lisbon airport was quick and painless, no long lineups until it was time to board our flight. We had Option Plus that was to speed up boarding but there were a dozen wheel chair passengers and half of the hundreds other must have had Option Plus. Two passengers got lost somewhere in the airport. Extra time was being taken to remove their bags from our flight but then they were found. We were in a bank of three seats with extra legroom but less elbow room. Luck was on our side as the big guy beside me was moved elsewhere and Brian and I were sharing the three seats. Our flight was fifty minutes late leaving.

Eight and one quarter hours later we stopped taxiing down the runway at Pearson. Now we are driving north, past the rush hour traffic and less than two hours from home.

Preparing for Portugal

Thumbs away! Only two more sleeps to take-off for Porto! I sure hope the next two nights offer better repose than last night. I was awake from 3 AM until 6 AM flipping side to side rather than sensibly getting up and reading. At seven the construction vehicles awakened me from deep slumber with their constant beeping. I think they operate in reverse more than forward. My neighbour had said we could use their hot tub anytime except at 2 AM. I suspect that three to six is somehow also in the exclusion zone. Unless perhaps I slide in without turning on the jets?

Had I arisen in those wee hours I may have caught the Great Blue Heron pilfering koi from our pond. Brian had not laced fishing line over and around the pond as he had done in previous summers. Initially he was waiting for the garden tour at the end of June to be done. Then it seemed there were no herons hovering over our yard although we have seen the silent sentinels on the edge of the golf ponds. Last night a heron alighted in the yard while we were dining. We rushed out to see it take off. It is a magnificent bird but an evil antagonist for anyone who has fish in a pond. Brian thought he would have time to string his line this morning but the heron was already at the edge of the pond when we got up. We do not know how much damage he has wrought. So far we have only seen two koi. Either they are totally spooked or twenty koi have been devoured. Sigh!

It appears that the predators know we are departing and are moving in. Brian’s game camera caught the groundhog thief in action as it munched its way through our peas. It already ate two full rows of lettuce. Brian has noted that it did not touch any kale, beet greens or zucchini. Therefore, a smart groundhog.

We had told our neighbours to help themselves to our herbs and vegetables but we did not include groundhogs as neighbours.

I spent this morning weeding and deadheading. Of course everything will be looking even weedier and deader upon our return in a month’s time. Getting sweaty meant I had to leap into the Bay. The dock was rocking and rolling today with big waves and the water was probably about 66F. Refreshing!

Brian has packed his backpack. I have mentally packed mine but I still need to move to the physical packing. We are pretty good at travelling lightly. We really do not need much for kayaking across Portugal or hiking the Fisherman’s Trail. At least we think we do not.

We have hosted four dinners in the past five evenings and gone out for dinner on the other evening. We have caught up with most folks and have many offers to look after our house in our absence. Will already cut our lawn this morning and we have not even left yet. Such good neighbours! Will was actually hoping Brian would rest his knee and hip for a few days before we left. Not having to cut grass was indeed helpful.

Brian has been suffering from sciatica for over a week. He has not golfed for a week; has had shiatsu, daily massaging with the thumper and a friend gave him some homeopathic pills to try. Two days ago his knee gave out the way it did in Iceland. We hope that both of these issues will be resolved very soon.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, Ladies Golf League day, our last. I will be playing with my team then dining at the inn. Brian will be going to a Kate and Jim’s for dinner and cards. I really must get packed tomorrow.

Excitement is mounting!

 

Winter Wonderland

January 29, 2017

This morning we went to 8AM mass at Our Lady of the Scapular Church in Niagara Falls. This is a regular Sunday habit when in Niagara. We usually have occasion to see some siblings there. This morning it was Margaret and Genny. Rarely, there are no other family members present, but we have been attending mass for many years here; so, many faces are familiar even if we do not know all their names. The church was built in 1960. My family moved to Niagara eight months later.

Brian and I have a history with this church. We received the sacrament of Confirmation together. We were married here. Two of our three children were baptized here. Our parents’ funerals were here. So even though only two years of our married life was in Niagara Falls, we have been returning here for decades. There is something very comforting and peaceful about such a familiar place, about such a tradition.

Father Paul’s homily this morning was about the Beatitudes: nine blessings such as Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God. All are very hope filled. Father Paul read some modern versions of the beatitudes that refer specifically to our times and suggested we create some of our own. Pope Francis has added some beatitudes for our times: Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Plenty to consider and practise in what can otherwise be troubled times.

Today we drove the two hundred and seventy-five kilometres home to Cobble Beach in our normal three hours and forty-five minutes. We listened to the beginning of Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo, one of the earlier Detective Harry Bosch series. We noticed that the fields were blanketed in white around Guelph but the snowbank and piles of snow did not appear until Durham. At home we had to clean almost a foot of snow out of the driveway before we could drive in. We did not anticipate more than a couple of inches of snow. When we left home two weeks ago, the ground was still covered in two feet of snow but we thought with the mild temperatures and rain of the past two weeks, there would be nothing left. In fact all had disappeared but this fresh snow fell in since yesterday.

We quickly emptied the car and donned our skis to take advantage of this winter wonderland. We think Cobble groomed the trails just for us, a welcome home gift! The trails are in good condition and except for a few places, we were the first to use them. After 7.4 kilometres we were happy to relax in our steam bath.

Home Again

Home Again, Home Again
Niagara Falls to Cobble Beach
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Always a pleasure to come home. We picked up our essential grocery items at Zehrs and still arrived home around 1 PM. A number of our flowers bloomed and finished without us: tulips, poppies and half the irises. Some are still blooming. A yellow dahlia is in full bloom. That was a surprise, a quick growth from bulb. The peonies are still looking good. The rhubarb went to seed! The weeds were not supposed to push through the mulch but they did and will provide me with some hours of work.

I got out the window screens we had put away for the winter, washed them and put them up so that we could open them wide. We unpacked, are airing our sleeping bags and out away our backpacks.

Then we golfed the front nine. What a perfectly glorious golf day. It even appears we still know how to golf after being away for a month.

We had a lovely chicken dinner at Kate’s. Kate beat us at Hand and Foot. A pleasure to be together again and share our respective stories.

A full moon is shining beautifully across Georgian Bay welcoming us home.

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Thankful for Memories

Cobble Beach

October 8, 2015

Happy birthday to my youngest brother and our wonderful daughter-in-law!

I have been closely following my friend, Fran, and her five female companions as they walk the Camino Frances. The Canadian Chicas are on Day 29 of their journey. One of the Chicas has been posting photos with one-liners to describe this awesome journey. I am basking in the memories of our trip as I watch progress toward Santiago, some 220 kilometres still to go.

They started with a more modest measured approach than we did, but then they also gave themselves forty-two days to complete their pilgrimage. Now at Day 29 they are where we were at Day 24, but they are picking up the pace. They completed twenty-eight kilometres yesterday, their longest day to date. I applaud them each step of the way. I think they have already dealt with more blisters than we did, but will not be defeated.

From the photos, it appears that they are wearing more clothing; thus, they have been experiencing cooler temperatures. They have already had more rainy weather but have not yet reached Galicia, the rainiest province. I wish them sunshine!

Whatever the weather they will continue to meet a host of international characters and they are participating in an incredible adventure. I still smile at the memory of ours, flip through our photobook, marvel at electronic images and forget about the aches and pains that formed some part of walking.

Next week we are going to visit James and Danielle, two of our Camino friends, in their home in North Hatley, Quebec. We are excitedly anticipating this reunion.

We had an email this week from two other Canadian Camino buddies. No dust is settling on Susie and Kanji. They walked 84 kilometres, paddled a canoe 450 kilometres then biked 880 kilometres around Lake Ontario, all in sixteen days. For anyone who thinks this type of triathlon might only be for a much younger couple, think again. Kanji and Susie are older than us. We are only as old as we think we are. Keep those bodies moving! There is much fun to be had!

I have renewed my weekly long walks of thirteen to sixteen kilometres with four friends. We have been hiking combinations of blue and white Bruce Trail sections in this area. I try to plan circular hikes and mostly this has worked. I am also trying to fit in completing other sections of the Bruce Trail, twenty or so kilometres at a time.

Inglis Falls

Inglis Falls

Circling the Slough of Despond

Circling the Slough of Despond

Still golfing

Still golfing…a practice swing…that is why the ball is still on the ground. 🙂 

Margaret and Rachel have been helping me complete parts of Iroquioa when Brian and I make our biweekly trips to Niagara. I would like to work on sections of Dufferin and Toronto. Any takers?

Happy thanksgiving to all! We have so much for which to be thankful!

Home Again

Home Again
May 11, 2015
Cobble Beach ( pop: 37)
Niagara to Cobble Beach via Toronto
9:15 AM to 4 PM
6 hrs and 45 min for 338 km

Avec Rachel

Avec Rachel

Hellebore

Hellebore

Tulips smiling

Tulips smiling

Georgian Bay is out there somewhere.

Georgian Bay is out there somewhere.

Brian and Kishu together again

Brian and Kishu together again

It is always a pleasure to visit new places and experience another culture. It is equally wonderful to come home again. I remarked today that Brian did very well negotiating traffic on the QEW and in Toronto after very little driving in the last forty-four days.

We left home on March 28th when all was deep in snow and the low temperature was -13C and the maximum was -4C. Today when we stopped for groceries at Zehrs on the east side of Owen Sound it was 26C. We were not a long time in the store but when we came out it was -16C. By the time we had driven ten minutes to downtown beside the sound, it was ten degrees Celsius, but we arrived home at Cobble Beach to 18C. Welcome to Ontario spring weather on the shore of Georgian Bay. The Bay itself was well hidden in fog.

We also experienced fog along the shore of Lake Ontario this morning. The skyscrapers in Toronto were exposing their tops above the fog. We went to Toronto to pick up,our cat, Kishu, who has been boarding with Brilynn since January. She did not greet Brian with, “Hi, Brian!”; so, he was disappointed. We were pleased that Kishu did not meow loudly all the way home. Once on the 403, she cut the volume and meowed less frequently.

Coming home also involved delicious coffee and a visit with Rachel and Andrew in St. Catharines. It was great to bookend our trip with a visit with Eliane at the beginning and a visit with Rachel at the end. We have known one another since our Africa days, more than forty years ago. One of these years we are all going to get together in the same place.

We made a stop in Oakville at Fogh Marine where Brian bought a jib kit for the Hobie Cat. Watch out, sailors, Brian only needs a job sail now to fly faster around Georgian Bay.

We arrived home to plenty of spring flowers blooming. The daffodils are fading but the tulips have taken over. The magnolias and rhododendrons are still blooming. Will took good care of our indoor plants. The violets are radiant, the agapanthus is still abloom, a new hibiscus is showing large pink flowers. The purple shamrock has come alive again.

On Saturday Margaret and I walked three and a quarter hours with her Niagara Bruce Trail Club on sections of trail around St. Catharines. Her friends gave her a hero’s welcome. The 32C temperature was a bit much for me; I was feeling faint by the end of our walk. A change for me though was that none of the hills felt like hills; they were certainly not as steep or as long as any in Spain. Bonus: my blisters did not reactivate!

We think we might be over our jet lag but our own bed looks especially appealing. We think we will probably hear the spring peepers. We hope Kishu will not be yowling in the night!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It is only 4C and there is a bitter 40 kilometre/hour north wind, but the good news is that the sun is shining brilliantly, the sky is totally blue and there is no St. Patrick’s Day storm! Yeah! Spring is coming!

Can you not imagine the daffodils hiding under the snow?

Can you not imagine the daffodils hiding under the snow?

We see shrubs!

We see shrubs!

Still some slow melting banks of snow

Still some slow melting banks of snow

The roads are bare and mostly dry!

The roads are bare and mostly dry!

The ant will soon be free!

The ant will soon be free!

The steps are clearing.

The steps are clearing. Soon there will be snowdrops!