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Rains of summer

“What’s it like living in Prince Edward County?”

That is the question friends and family keep asking.

“Wet.”

That is my standard answer. Vastly different from last summer when I would have said,

“Hot and yes, we have another fire ban this week because everything is so dry. No fire pit s’mores this year.”

When I ask around everyone seems to agree, we have yet to experience a normal winter or summer here in PEC.

“This is highly unusual.” Is the usual consensus from our neighbours. (They said the same thing last year about the drought most of Southeastern Ontario experienced.)

Of course it is unusual. So, as we celebrated our first year anniversary moving from suburbia to the gorgeous countryside of Prince Edward County- instead of enjoying the sunsets and the pretty waters of the Bay of Quinte, we watched the rain come down, and down.

This week is the first week where it may not rain. May not. The weather experts are calling for thunderstorms tomorrow. But, since the weather changes every five minutes, you really have no idea what the day is going to be like.

Now don’t get me wrong. One thing about Canadians and especially country folk, a little rain doesn’t deter anyone. Summer events still go and people go out. Grab your rainboots instead of sandals, that’s the only difference. Everything is lush and green throughout the county and the mosquitos are almost as big as a small bird. (I’m not kidding, they are huge. Think stagnant water, still flooded areas and damp all the time. Haven for bug-life including giant, hungry mosquitos.)

We are well into summer and of course, taking advantage of the sun when it does come out.

Fidget spinners have saved us on long car rides from place to place. Each kid now has two of them, their favourite?

 

 

On my first warm weather visit to Bloomfield, as always, my first stop is the Prince Edward County T-Shirt Company. They have a great social media presence and fun, new items for adults and kids alike. As soon as they posted that fidget spinners were in stock – I soon had three purchased and tucked away for that special time when the kids had an argument-free day on summer vacation. (It took until this week!) They love them.

Strawberry season has pretty much wrapped up here in The County, but what a bumper crop this year! Sweet, juicy Ontario strawberries at their best and although we didn’t get our freezer jam made, we did get to go picking at our usual hang out – Campbell’s Orchards.

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Since our kids were done school a little earlier than others in the area, it meant that we took advantage of quieter side trips before July. We took a couple – one to the 1000 Islands (1 hour drive) and then to Cobourg (1 hour drive). Two places we had not yet visited.

1000 Islands

It was simply a gorgeous drive around this area. We found a hiking trail that a guide suggested and spent the day outside exploring a small portion of the 1000 Islands. PEC is a great starting point to explore so much of the Eastern side of the province and we look forward to going back again this summer.

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Cobourg

Canada Day was a highlight for our family and although we missed our annual street party back in Oakville and our friends, we made the most of the free activities and fireworks! Trenton, ON put on a fantastic fireworks show and we joined the hundreds of people down at the Trent Port Marina.

Happy birthday #Canada #candaday #fireworks #trenton #ontario

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Also that weekend, we drove to Cobourg. A small pretty town to the west where they have a street festival every Canada Day weekend and although the beaches were (and still are) water-logged, it was fun for the kids to get on the fair rides, view the boats in the marina and check out the festivities.

 

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Music and Ice Cream

This year we decided to explore the multitude of free, family friendly events offered throughout PEC.

In Wellington, just a short 20 minute drive from us we found Concerts In The Park sponsored by the local Lions Club. Held every Tuesday night throughout the summer – this free event provides live music, hot dogs and drinks by donation. The last couple of weeks have been those special summer evenings that have been spectacular. (Bring bug spray!) An added bonus is the huge wooden playground for the kids.

Being relaxed summer parents, we opted to have ice cream for dinner one night (or rather as an appetizer before the hot dogs) and found that Nice Ice Baby, the ice cream shop we found in Belleville last year, has a Wellington location! The kids enjoyed their customized cones while sitting at their outdoor seating area.

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As we enter the mid-way point these lazy summer days are flying by, but we are trying to make the most of it. At least the kids still want in the pool each day – even if it’s raining.

Each week we keep exploring the area and brace ourselves for guests that start arriving next week and that will continue throughout August. We may get our sprinkler system on this year if the forecast holds and the rains of summer at last abate. It would be nice to start cleaning up our soggy shoreline.

Floods of Spring

Our first spring in the country and we were looking forward to seeing the garden start to bloom, grasses turn green and of course, getting the boat out for the year. We were so excited. We got our dock down and started cleaning up our bayside fire pit.

Then it rained. And rained. And rained.

It rained so much here in Prince Edward County, that our retaining wall went under the water. So did our dock. Mr. L and Carl, the handyman, spent a fierce couple of hours getting the wood planks off the dock before the crazy waves of the Bay of Quinte washed them away.

And then the flooding really started. As the water levels rose in the weeks after the rains, the cement wall that was now under water now sits almost a foot under water and the water line is so high our yard has become a haven for water fowl, ducks and geese who can swim right in off the bay with ease onto our lawn. Perfect for little goslings and ducklings.

The boat house doorways are under mid-calf high water and for safety we have a new “No Go” rule and are thankful we have a fence that separates where our dogs and kids play and that part of our property. There are sink holes, debris and parts of the brick inlay having sank or washed away on the whole shoreline. Any thought of getting a boat in the water from our property, well, if we can get it in this summer at all will be a miracle. I think realistically, we’ll be looking to find a dock slip at the Trenton marina and put into the budget a floating dock installation for the future.

With the most recent reports being that the waters are going to be high for awhile, the expected mid-June receding will probably not happen and we will not be able to assess any damage until it does. PEC is offering sandbags to anyone whose property is at risk and Mr. L borrowed a neighbours tractor and trailer to get the 60 lb bags down to the shoreline to try and protect the boathouse. At least the kids had fun riding around in the trailer!

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The large trees by the shore are in danger as the waters erode away the earth and all we can do is be grateful our house, septic system and well are far enough away and on the upper part of our sloped property to be safe from the flood. I worry about the huge willow on one corner that now is just raised a bit above a new pond that has formed where the lawn used to be.

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Welcome to living on the water. I suppose it is a risk you take, but as our neighbours (lifers in The County) no one has ever seen the bay this high and the net result is – we are all in the same boat, literally. Unlike last year when the whole place was desperate for rain, now we want it to stop. For awhile. Our wells are full and grasses, gardens and fields sopping wet. Our backyard is great to look at, lush and green, just bring a pair of rubber boots if you want to walk around.

On another note, turtles are beginning to migrate. We have a little one who seems confused in our backyard and keeps running circles around the grass. I have had to move him once or twice to keep it away from the dogs. The pond, though murky (another mystery that we’re trying to solve) has some great foliage and those wet-loving plants are blossoming.

Things of note these past few weeks that I have found in and around Prince Edward County:

Rocia Naturals – when the seasons change, my skin goes a little haywire. After a bad outbreak of eczema on my face, I went in search for organic, all natural and local skin care products and found Rocia in Brighton. They are the best thing ever. The two ladies running this business are so helpful, and their products cleared up my eczema and it’s all I will use from now on.

Another shout out to Campbell’s Orchards for putting on a fun-filled Easter Extravaganza. Face painting, chocolate eggs and treats. The addition of County Cider to the festivities was much welcome!

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One thing I have been searching for in PEC is a yoga studio. Practicing off and on for almost 15 years, I missed over the winter having a regular studio to attend classes. I was thrilled to find Mindful Movements in the County. Having an extra excuse to head down the cute town of Picton once a week is an added bonus.

Potter’s Creek Conservation Area – another great conservation area by Quinte Conservation. This free area has hiking trails, old bridges, ponds and tons to explore. We enjoyed the May 24 weekend with another spring hike down the Creek Path.

Spring Forward

Winter out here in Prince Edward County can be quiet, peaceful even lonely as you hear the chilly winds whip across the frozen bay and farm fields. Unless you have three kids, than you find things to explore.

This time of year is a hectic one for our family. Full of holidays, birthdays and escapes to warm temperatures which leaves little time to explore as much as I would have liked this past year. In addition, a lot of places close down on winter or reduced hours in the area. You learn to call ahead anywhere you go, even if it states something is open. That was a tip a neighbour gave me in the fall.

Snow tires became a must to navigate the sometimes icy roads and we watched in fascination as the bay seemed to freeze overnight. The best part of the winter was watching the ice fishing huts go up. With mouths agape, our family watched in fascinated wonder at the ATV’s and snowmobiles going across our shoreline or dedicated ice fishers trekking out to their spots. It became a familiar sight before too long to have the horizon dotted with little black mobile huts.

We had lots of fires to keep the house toasty warm on those windy nights. Played board games, and when there was enough snow the kids ran to the backyard to play.

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Overall, the winter went by quickly for us but I must say, we are looking forward as spring rushes into Prince Edward County.

Some highlights:

Denmar Farms – fresh cut Christmas trees.

Once upon a time we had a real tree, bought from a store parking lot. For the last ten years, it has been artificial as per Mr. L’s wish. This year, I wanted the kids to experience cutting down a real Christmas tree. I heard Denmar Farms had some beautiful ones so we jumped in the SUV a sunny Sunday afternoon and drove to north Belleville. Upon arriving we spotted a cute little shop and before too long were out on the very organized tractor wagon ride out to the fields. Even with a bit of grumble, Mr. L even cut down our chosen tree himself! Afterwards, the kids had fun running the hay maze, and drinking hot chocolate. All complimentary.

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Batawa Ski Hill

We signed the kids up for ski lessons at the local hill in a little village just north of Trenton called Batawa.  The kids all had amazing lessons and learned a lot from the instructors who tried to make it fun and challenging. Parents could ski or sit in the cozy lodge where lunch and drinks were being served and watch out the huge windows. I highly recommend this as a family outing or for younger children learning to ski. It is not too far from Prince Edward County and the hills are manageable no matter what your level. One tip, Sunday 1 pm lessons are not as busy and with one chair lift that means no line-ups!

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Hiking

We took the kids on winter hikes this year and what a lot of fun! We hit Sandbanks Provincial Park. Seeing the long sandy beach encased in white snow and ice is a sight to behold. Over March Break, winter’s last hurrah, we hiked Massassauga Point. The kids enjoyed the old quarry and climbing the rock wall to the trails above.

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For the first time we also went to Presqu’ile Provincial Park in Brighton. A large, more rugged but great hiking place for families. We took the dogs for the marsh hike and checked out the old lighthouse. Perfect for a sunny day hike!

Maple in the County

The official end of winter and onset of spring with Maple in the County. A fun-filled weekend where all the maple shacks open up, wineries have fun events and everyone is out and about snow, rain or sun. We rushed back from a quick March break trip to attend at least one  event and decided on Three Dog Winery. We have been before, but the open space, open fire pit, marshmallows and food for everyone was a draw. They had delicious waffles and sausages and wine tastings. Jacob had fun with the miniature horses and the kids were a damp, sticky mess from the marshmallow roasting but it was a nice afternoon.

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We topped the afternoon with a stop at our favourite local orchard, Campbell’s Orchards and picked up a few treats and Audrey enjoyed the maple dunked candy apples and I picked up some of their new Premiere cider from Apple Falls Cider.

With temperatures warming up our attention will focus on Easter, spring garden planning, house projects and I can take stock how much of that firewood we used. Did I mention we discovered a river? Right beside our house. Apparently we live on a main run-off that ensures our backyard grass is marshy. I think we’ll keep the winter boots out for backyard walking a little longer.

The 9-1-1

Fall is busy here in the county, picking the last of the apple harvest, pumpkin patches open up, raking leaves over and over. Homeowners scramble to put away the last of the summer furniture worried snow may hit at any time. Pools are closed and last-minute lawn work is done all in preparation for the first blast of winter that can hit anytime.

October is always that way in Ontario, a crap shoot. Warm and balmy one day, frigid but sunny the next. Or my favourite type of day, the gloomy gray days where the rain seems to come up off the bay and drench the whole world.

It also means for those of us with wood burning fireplaces, making sure we have enough dry hardwood for the season. Having gone through the last of the pile from the previous owners, I was on the hunt. Thankfully, Carl, our trusty country living guide, had a guy named John.

Now I have no idea where John gets his wood, all I know is that I called and a man picked up with an eastern Canada accent.

“Beckie? Yes, Carl told me you’d call. You’re lucky. I should have some left. But it will be two weeks. Normally you should call in the summer.” I take a note to make sure we’re on John’s rotation list for next summer. Who knew people just run out of wood to sell?

“Great, how much do you think for us? A cord? Cord and a half?” (Thankfully, even back in the ‘burbs once upon a time we had a wood burning fireplace and I had ordered wood so knew the lingo.)

“My trailer only fits a cord and a half. So either a cord and a half or three.”

“Okay, we have two fireplaces. So three.”

We agree on the price and he tells me he’ll give Carl the heads up when it’s coming. We’ll need his help to get the load into the garage. At least for now until my three kids are old enough to haul wood and we buy a wheelbarrow.

“Wait, what’s your 9-1-1?” John asks.

I stop, unsure I heard right. Isn’t 911 an emergency number to call? I have no idea what he’s asking me.

“Umm..phone number is..” And I prattle it off wondering why he doesn’t just see my number on his phone but of course not everyone has call display.

“No. You’re 9-1-1.”

I rack my brain wondering if anyone had ever used that term with me before. Nope.

“My address?” I guess.

“No, the number on the little green sign.” John asks and I almost wonder if he’s chuckling or exasperated.

Now I am definitely confused. Isn’t the green number on the sign my house number, sort of? I start going over my address again and I swear, I can hear the poor man sigh over the phone.

“What part of all of that is on the green sign. Just the numbers. I know where your road is.”

At last getting it, I tell him the numbers and we ring off.

When I was telling this story later that day to Mr. L he said it was probably some strange way John wanted an address. I agreed, until it happened again. And again. For some reason, when someone asks for your 9-1-1, they want your rural road designated number, not your whole mailing address. Just the numbers because if you told them the general area of the country, (a specific road, or landmark like the nearby church) they know where you live. Who knew?

So two weeks later our wood arrived, lots of wood. I didn’t realize how much 3 cords of wood is. I sent Mr. L and Carl a picture with the following text:

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1.5 cords of 3

 

“Bundle up, you guys are going to be awhile.”

Between the two of them, it took a few hours to get the wood into our garage. Thankfully Carl borrowed a wheelbarrow from work and our wood is now neatly stacked in our garage ready to burn. An added bonus,  I still have room to put my vehicle.

With piles of leaves all over our yard, fridge full of apples and more and more pumpkins from the local patch decorating our yard, we’re embracing the fall in Prince Edward County. The colours are amazing this year, and we’re burning our wood. So all in all, old man winter can come anytime.

 

 

 

The Apple Trail

Sunshine filled days that turn into cool night signifies one thing in this part of Ontario, fall. Along with the nuanced change of the leaves to faded colours of their summer glory, apple season starts. At first it’s the Macintosh and early apples, but then the fun begins. Paula Red, HoneyCrisp and Royal Gala being to ripen.

Prince Edward County is known for being apple country. Most obviously stated by the totem, The Big Apple, right at the boundaries of Quinte West and the County. Off the 401, this tourist attraction is only the beginning of the apple trail. It isn’t until you start driving down the county roads, past the yellowed corn stalks and bales of hay that you start seeing signs, APPLES! Farms that have been quiet and reserved all summer open up as if to say, come and get them!! Pies are being baked, corn mazes being created and apple picking becomes a weekly outing for a local family.

Having tasted the local PEC county pies, one of our family’s favourite times is when the HoneyCrisp are ready. We watch with bated breath as September days pass quickly by knowing by the end of the month, the large, delicious sweet apples will be ready.

Until now, we tucked our brood into the mini van at least once a season and drove from suburbia to line up with the rest of the GTA at the handful of apple farms just north of us.   Fighting the crowds for just a few of those delicious treats we sweated and waited for our turn on the wagon ride, watched as our kids waited in line to play on the playgrounds. But this year, all that has changed. Here, in Prince Edward County, apples are in abundance and a quick jaunt down our county road showcases a few farms celebrating the fall harvest. Really, we could visit a different farm every few days and buy as many apples as we can eat.

This past weekend, my sister’s family and our family braved the rain and drove around the County. After a delicious lunch at William’s Family Diner in Picton, we made a pit stop at Campbell’s Orchards to pick up a bag of glorious looking Macintosh apples. Our project, homemade applesauce. A reminder of our childhoods where every fall our Grandmother and then our Mother would core, cook, mush and stir a delicious concoction  called, warm off the stove applesauce. Add a bit of Black River Honey Cheddar and you have a feast for a king. What a great tribute to family and country life, and something I’ll be doing as long as I have apples nearby.

As I sat outside this morning during one of the last glorious fall days, I looked down at my morning snack. Apples and cinnamon, coffee on the side with a smattering of almonds. Healthy, local and delicious.

Does it get much better than this? I think the plan this year is to find as many apple orchards as possible and see what we can do in our home kitchen with what we find.

 

Get Up With The Sun

The weekend before school ended, (Labour Day weekend here in Canada), was party weekend at our new house on the bay. Neighbours from our old suburban neighbourhood came to play and thus we ended up hosting two families. There was pool time followed by BBQ with warm September sunshine. It was dreamlike as we all soaked in the last few days of freedom. Freedom from school schedules, bus routes, early days and nights and eating whatever we wanted.

The end of the first day we celebrated the fire ban being lifted (partially at that time and now fully) in Prince Edward County by joining the neighbours at the shoreline for Saturday night campfires complete with songs and s’mores. Our neighbour, Tom, wandered over to chat happily handing out the packages of sparklers from somewhere in the depths of his shed. Another neighbour, Martha and Glen wandered over, wine glasses in hand, to wish us welcome to the neighbourhood.

“Don’t let your fire get too big.” Tom cautioned Mr. L.

“Why?” Mr. L responded tossing another large log on the fire. “We’re by the water.”

“Did you get your fire permit and call in your fire?”

“What?”

The conversation had caught my attention and I looked in shock. “A fire permit?”

“Yep. Cost something like $15. And you have to call a number each time you have a fire.”

Never in my past small town life did we have to get a permit. This was news to me and Mr. L looked at me accusingly. “You didn’t get one?”

“No. I had no idea.” And I grabbed my phone and punched in a reminder.

Tom chuckled. “Don’t worry, it’s probably fine unless the fire fighters are bored, and then they’ll rush down with their hoses if they see the smoke. The season is almost done anyway just make sure to get one for next year.”

I had a sneaky feeling Tom was enjoying educating the city folk a bit too much, but nonetheless, another item on the never ending to-do list. We all went on with our nights and whooped it up but Mr. L did try to keep the fire as small as possible when trying to have 13 people roast marshmallows.

The rest of the weekend passed by like a golden age before the start of something new and then, the first day of school descended on our little family. The kids were nervous and excited to start their new school and both Mr. L and I drove them on Tuesday morning noting the scores of kids eyeing the newbies. As we waved goodbye, it was with a pinch of missing them and a dash of excitement that Mr. L and I were about the start our week of adult exploring in PEC.

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First stop was hiking. I had heard of a trail in Rossmore, and after tons of internet research believed I had the location mapped out. It was a bust. Through a small park to a suburb called Bay Breezes, we walked with Chip the Australian Labradoodle and checked out this strange suburb in the middle of the country. After we had walked the whole 1 km suburb, we decided to head to the more picturesque trail in Carrying Place on the canal that connected the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario. It was peaceful and quiet. The waters were still and the only sound was the crunch of the gravel beneath our feet as we followed an obscure road. After that, we were ready for  an early lunch at Birdy’s in Belleville and a couples  massage.

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The rest of the week was a combination of hiking, picnicking, wine tasting and jet skiing. We hiked the trail at Massassaga Conservation with Chip, stopped for wine tasting at Huff Estates, Traynor and Sandbanks Estate Winery. Fell off a jet ski in West Lake, had lunch at Isaiah Tubbs and sat on the soft sand at Sandbanks main beach. We also swam and read poolside for at least an hour everyday. All in all, an enjoyable week.

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Monday morning. After a bit of scrambling, the school at last had a bus driver for our area in the County to transport our kids to school. Still dealing with the insane construction on the Bay Bridge connecting PEC to Belleville, (where the kids school is), we were informed pick up time was 7:30 am. Because we are out in the country, the commute for the kids is longer to their new school. Which means I have to be up earlier to facilitate three sleepy kids to breakfast, to get dressed and out the door. Up with the sunrise no longer became an idealogical item on my to-do list, but a reality.

Two days in this week and the kids are not doing too badly. Me on the other hand? Well you know what they say, early to bed, early to rise? I need to get on that program, quick. Being used to lounging until 7 am or later, with a bus picking my last two kids after 830 am, I was used a more leisurely start to the day and thus later nights binge watching whatever Netflix program was my current obsession or reading until my eyes closed of their own accord. Well firstly, Netflix doesn’t work well out here during prime time meaning 8 pm – 10 pm. The invisible waves that connect us to some tower just south of here are being overwhelmed by all the other people on Xplornet. So any streaming ideally occurs past 1030 pm. (What is Xplornet? A rural internet and phone provider. With no fibre optic cables out here, we have had to resort to dishes strategically placed on our roof that connects us via wireless waves to the closest tower.)  So by the time 1030 pm rolls around, Netflix may be up and running but I need to learn to get to bed. All I can keep thinking is that getting 5-6 hours sleep a night is not going to work long term and the sooner I embrace that sweet old adage and go to sleep soon after the sun sets the better off I’ll be.

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Armed with this new routine, I realized with the onset of September comes a whole new routine not just for the kids, but me too. Add to waking up earlier, I now have longer drives pretty much everywhere and more things to do around the house. I need to re-evlauate how I’ve done things in the past and how it work going forward. A project on my list this week. Some things that took me 10 minutes in suburbia was going to be a major time commitment now.

The first fall storm also hit this past weekend here in The County. I heard that nearby communities got hit pretty hard, but here on the Bay of Quinte, just a lot of noise and a lightning show with drowned out thunder that kept the kids awake long past bedtime and had me worried about the numerous large trees in our yard watching as they bent sideways in the periods of torrential rain. But with the storm came cooler temperatures, ideal of this small town gal. There is nothing better than warm sunny days and cool nights to start the fall off right.

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The Golden Age of Summer

Summer has flown by in The County. We are now two months into county living and with so much to do, visitors flocking to the dazzling shoreline of the Bay of Quinte and our new home, I shoved the remaining boxes into corners and gave into being a tour guide.

One wonderful thing about country living in the summer is the abundance of food available every few kilometers. If it’s not a fruit stand, it’s fresh eggs left on the driveway. I had to dig into my only resource on country living, my mother, to ask how that worked when I began seeing the handwritten signs out of my peripheral vision, FRESH EGGS.

“You stop, leave the money and take the eggs.”

“What? What if someone just took all the eggs? What if you need change?” My urbanized brain could not comprehend someone leaving their goods unattended like that, and having exact change, forget it.

Mr. L just shook his head, “Where I come from, those eggs would be gone.”

“People live on the honour system here and keep some change in your truck.” She responded with a casual shrug.

I still haven’t been brave enough to pull over and grab some eggs and leave my money. I was all worried about stopping safely and what if there were no eggs left? But I will..

Everywhere we have traveled through Prince Edward County this summer there was wine, ciders, beers, pizzas, fresh fruit and vegetables. Baked goods. Ice cream. God, the ice cream. What ice cream is the best was the prevailing question of the summer.

Cousins, friends, kids and adults. We’ve had them all visit and below are some the more notable places we have visited that I highly recommend checking out if you are in the area. I have quickly found my favourites, close enough to our house all with friendly, PEC service and welcoming attitudes. We’ve been congratulated for moving here, our hands shook by strangers and quickly told where the goldmines are, where you can go hiking for free, or park so you don’t have to pay for a provincial park. Informed of the best wineries, where to order pizza and initiated into what seems to be a special kind of club. We have also been told it will take twenty years or one of our kids marrying a local to stop being the new people. Good thing we are not planning to move anytime soon.

Great places to visit when in Prince Edward County – A summer to remember

Campbell’s Orchards – What can I say about the Campbell family? The first people here to make us feel welcome and up the road from our new place we were greeted by Sophie the dog, our kids wander in the play area through the stone labyrinth and my eldest child demands (nicely of course) that Colin ensures to have Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream when she visits. They always have ready their delicious Raspberry Chocolate Scones when we stop by (and other baked goods, the kids like the Short Cakes). We have been raspberry picking, apple picking, rode the wagon more than once and it’s a staple when I need fresh fruits and veggies. With a cute gift shop it this local farmer’s market is a must stop for all of our visitors. Apple season has just started and I already have two bags of delicious apples to try including the Zestar.

Sandbanks The Dunes – it took me a bit to navigate this huge park near the tip of Prince Edward County but it was worth it. Gorgeous soft sand dunes, shallow warm waters and a place to grab lunch. I’m in. The kids enjoyed the challenging hills and I can’t wait to explore this park in the cooler weather and hike around.

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Bay of Quinte – We live on the bay so may be a bit predjuiced but have witnessed amazing sunsets, rainbow laden waters and have had fun boating around the waters catching fish.

North Beach – A more northern beach but closer for us than Sandbanks. A tip from a couple of sources informed us we should drive all the way to the end and go to the bay side for a quieter experience and especially if you have small children. With calmer, water water, long stretch of sandy beach, it is the perfect place to take a swim and have a picnic.

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Casa Dea Estates Winery – With a beautiful tasting bar, good wines and a giant chess board to keep the kids busy. A definite stop.

Harwood Estates Vineyard – an all solar powered winery the cute tasting bar is well set up and the wines were very good. You can order a picnic basket and it’s a large enough property that the kids can hang out in the muskoka chairs by the pond.

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Nice Ice Baby Ice Cream – we tried all the ice cream that The County can offer but our hands down favourite is Nice Ice Baby in Belleville. It is a constant request by our kids to try one of their unique flavours. With an eclectic patio and indoor seating, you can grab hand-crafted ice cream or gelato plus an espresso or quick lunch. With another location in Wellington, this is must visit.

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Wellington Park – In the centre of Wellington this local park overlooks the dazzling waters of Lake Ontario and possesses a huge wooden play structure. Great for kids and full of people of all ages. With tall, old trees and picnic tables, grab a book, coffee or your spinning wheel and let the kids play for awhile. Usually new friends are to be found.

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Diamond J Ranch – One of our last summer excursions took us down to Picton, on Loyalist Parkway just past the Glenora Ferry. The kids voted to go horseback riding. Reserving an hour trail ride a couple of days before was a good idea, they were busy! Doug and Jacob led us on our gentle steeds through the woods that overlooked the Bay of Picton. Our behinds were a bit sore and our clothes soaked through from the summer heat, but it was a great experience.

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There are so many other places that we’ve visited, stay tuned for more updates and hear how we transition to autumn weather that will include cooler nights and sunny days. Personally, I can’t wait for the leaves to change colour having (at last) some huge trees in our front yard. The kids will get to jump in a proper pile of leaves!

Today with the onset of school and after a three and a half hour trip into town for groceries and supplies for the next week or so, getting into a regular routine will be interesting. We shall see what real country living means for our family.

 

 

 

 

 

Our new playground

Water. Peacefulness. Family. Play.

So far this summer those words keep swirling in my head. For the first time, we have a pool and on such a scorcher of a summer, it is being used, a lot. By our children, grandparents, nieces, nephews, friends and critters. Critters? Yes, I have quickly become the champion saviour of little chipmunks, mice and frogs who mistake our pool for a fresh body of water, (or don’t see it in the night when they are out and about) and fall right in. My new set of skills as a critter rescue agent are becoming very developed. My son, B. well his sharp five-year old eyes spot those critters right from the windows and he tugs on my hand, I grab the skimmer and we try to save these poor little things. I have to move fast, disoriented and water-logged, oftentimes they jump right back into the pool out of the net and I have to resort to my hands to convince them to relocate to safer and dryer conditions in our lawn.

The best mornings are when Mr. L is working from home. He diligently gets up or takes a break from his office to help skim this pool, checks the levels while I scramble like crazy cleaning before the next set of guests. I hear a holler at some point, usually when I’m in the middle of something,

“Beck! Beck! Rebecca! Come here….”

And I know, a poor unfortunate critter soul is in the filter and guess who has to fish it out? Not the urbanite who is a foot taller than me who stands by the side of the pool that he desperately wanted, pointing down his face a mask of horror as a bloated mouse goes round and round. Not him but me, the once a long time ago small town gal must get down on her knees, try to get the critter out before the kids see and dispose of it.

Living on the Bay of Quinte also means we have a gorgeous body of water to play in and we have taken advantage.  Our boat, well-suited for the choppy waves of Lake Ontario is problematic on a shallow bay with multiple sandbanks. We soon figured out the proper routes for the deeper water, but discussions are underway to downsize. In any case, until that happens, we take it out, cruising on the smooth blue waters, in awe of where we live. The sunsets are amazing and even our kids got into the spirit, meditating at sunset on the balmy nights, (a practice that lasted exactly a week) and I got my fishing licence.

I got wind of a great winery with delicious lunch so when my girlfriend and her three kids visited, I figured we should check it out. Norman Hardie winery did not disappoint. With music playing, people buzzing around and an energetic vibe on the open patio and upstairs tasting bar, I knew I had found a new favourite place to visit. When the kids found the trampoline in the back and as soon as we sat down our served asked, “Do you want me to put on the kid’s pizzas right away?” I knew I had found a perfect place to wine and dine my friends for the summer.

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Norman Hardie Post Lunch Photo Op

I sampled their crisp but buttery Chardonnay that first visit and it went perfectly with, well, any of their mouth-watering pizzas. The kids also declared them best pizza to date. Of course, I’ve been back every week with a different set of friends and the rest of the wines do no disappoint. A little pricer than some other wines it is well worth the cost for a great PEC wine. Of note: County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Mr. L bought a bottle of Riesling on one visit being a sweeter wine drinker and really enjoyed it too. Make sure to take the Pinot challenge, compare their County Pinot Noir with their Niagara Pinot Noir. Find your favourite. Norman Hardie is definitely worth a visit in Prince Edward County if you are driving down Loyalist Highway during the summer take a turn onto Greer Road, follow the long road through the fields and enjoy.

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Norman Hardie, PEC, Chardonnay (Don’t mind kids in background. They photobomb everything!)

 

Friendly Places

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Our first few weeks here have been a blur of activity. Unpacking, organizing, people in and out fixing this and that. Re-setting up our life. Finding out how the local cable company and Internet providers work. Getting back to reality with work and deadlines and managing new schedules.

At about two weeks in, I threw up my hands and realized I had unpacked all that I could for the summer. The three monkeys are home full-time, Mr. L went back to work, I still had a bit of time before my client emailed asking for more blogs and people flocked to our new home, curious to see what drew us out to Prince Edward County, wondering if the pictures did the house and property justice.  I had a calendar that looked like a confusing muddle of names trying to keep track of who was coming when. Mr. L joked that maybe we should open a B&B.

But I didn’t mind. Having people visit forced me unpack a bit faster what needed to be done and to clean, daily. It also made the kids happy seeing their friends and selfishly, having other people here to distract my trio was welcome. With each visitor that passes by our door, this place feels a little more like home instead of a very, very nice cottage we rented for the summer.

Most importantly, I get a chance to drive around and explore PEC. I am becoming familiar with the country roads and certain places know my face as I seek out my new favourite places each week bringing with my crew and their families in tow to experience the local hospitality.

In our first few days of exploring we revisited Prince Edward County Lavender. A beautiful farm on Closson Road that we had discovered on an earlier scouting trip in the spring. Hoping to see the plants in blossom, we were not disappointed and the kids enjoyed running through the neatly lined rows of lavender, stopping to inhale the scent or listen to the buzzing bees. A guitarist provided some afternoon entertainment, there were shade-covered muskoka chairs to sit and enjoy the scenery and of course, a visit to the store where I found my new favourite face cream. A definite must visit on any trip to view the fields, visit the store to pick up a local product and snack on some delicious lavender shortbread.

Of course, no journey into Prince Edward County is complete without a stop at a one of the many fabulous wineries. I confidently told Mr. L that I was going to visit one new winery each week until I got through them all. Our first choice, Closson Chase, the purple barn winery just down the road from the PEC Lavender. With a lovely tasting bar and freezies for the kids, we enjoyed their buttery Chardonnay and peppery Pinot Noir while the kids explored the barn and sitting area outside.

 

Our first week touring the county was filled with warm sunshine, friendly service with the aromatic smell of lavender filling the air. The perfect combination to welcome us to The County.

 

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