The Perfect Day Trip From Toronto

When I travel, I love big cities.

I also love the smaller towns, a day trip away, where a different world awaits.

If you live in or are visiting the Toronto area, then this is one day trip that should be on your list.

Go one hour east of Toronto and you will find two of the quaintest towns ever – Port Hope and Cobourg, side by side.

Port Hope has a charming name and plenty of adorable scenery to match. A main street filled with flowers, cute stores and delicious restaurants combined with a rolling river with a path along side makes this town perfect for strolling and relaxing.This is the kind of place that you search for high and low when you travel. And when you find it, you don’t want to leave.

Port Hope is filled with great restaurants but if you are coming, be sure to check out Olympus Burger, a favourite destination for locals filled with a wide range of burgers with Greek names and the best sweet potato fries ever. Any burger place that also includes 3 veggie burger options is also top-notch in my books!

If you are in the mood for Thai, our favourite is The Bualai Thai restaurant where friendly service and a beautifully designed interior meets amazing food and equals major satisfaction.

For shopping, you must visit a one of a kind store just outside Port Hope called Primitive Designs. This is not just shopping, it is sight-seeing around the world! With an inventory from Buddha statues to Tiki bars to wood carved furniture to even transformers made from recycled parts, it makes shopping a delight for even a non-shopper such as myself!

If you are in the mood to swim, drive a few minutes more to Cobourg where the loveliest beach and harbour await.

Port Hope and Cobourg are 2 towns that look like they walked off a Hollywood movie screen. So charming and adorable to look at that you can’t believe they are real!

When you travel do you like to find smaller places outside larger cities to explore? 

My Husband Has Replaced Me

It is not looking good.

Chris has found a new love. And it is not me.

Competition has arrived in a smaller and cuter package, one that doesn’t talk too much and will listen to all his stories. This perfect low maintenance relationship has begun and I haven’t even packed yet!

Yes, Chris, otherwise known as “I love to mow the lawn and trim trees and nothing more”  has entered the first stage of You are leaving and I need to get busy to fill up my time. 

Hence, the ominous appearance of these on the scene.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris's life.

The infamous pumpkin and sunflower seeds that now shine in Chris’s life.

Now to be fair, we have always been a bit of a pumpkin driven family. Enticed by the lure of fall, our family has been known to spend great gobs of time searching for pumpkins, playing with pumpkins and ultimately massacring them in the name of Halloween. Left to rot outside in the cold winter, we only remember to put them to rest once the snow begins to melt.

And so it is not too shocking that of all the seeds to attract Chris’s attention, pumpkins won out. The sunflowers were a peace-offering that I would remain “somewhat in the picture” as these are my favourite.

So determined to have the prettiest pumpkins and the sunniest sunflowers, Chris has turned on the charm as he lovingly plants and tends to his new garden.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

Chris planting the pumpkin seeds.

I actually caught him the other night checking them out. “Apparently” frost was forecasted and he was deep in worry that his new “friends” were in harm’s way. Pacing and sweating, he finally managed to fall asleep, only to run to the yard the next morning to triple check their security.

So until I leave, I am now playing second fiddle to the dirt in my backyard.

Oh and the promises have already begun. I will be able to meet Chris’s new friends when they are born. Apparently Egypt Air will let them accompany Chris from Canada to Cairo. Well it is a direct flight after all… 🙂 If not, then we can still skype I guess.

(Special thanks to Ally from The Spectacled Bean who suggested the title for this post. Be sure to check out her blog which is terrific.)

Does your significant other have a hobby that “takes over” at times or borders on “obsession”? 

The Friendliest Town In Canada

Ok. I am going out on a limb on this one. A Maple tree limb that is; being Canadian and all.

Although I am no Canadian expert, I have lived in 7 cities in Canada, and 7 other countries so moving and me are a little like peanut butter and bread; at least in our house.

So here I am walking out on that limb; wobbly as it is and I am going to declare:

Cobourg is the friendliest place to live in Canada.

From the dentist who has a VW bug in his office to the natural health store to the grocery store to the salesclerks at the local mall to the high school to the dog walkers to the second hand stores to the beach goers to the staff at the hospital to the local gym to the curling club to the drivers even, this is hands down the friendliest place I have ever lived in Canada.

Charming, quaint, down to earth, how towns used to be back in the day.

As I glance at the dog walkers, baby strollerers, cyclists, skateboarders, walkers, runners; this is a place that people roam freely and safely; comforted in the knowledge that they too have chosen the friendliest, the most peaceful place to live in Canada.

My photos are limited as apparently it is not cool to take pics of the town you live in when walking with your mom and your dog. Someone might see you! – according to my teen daughter, Jade who now sports purple hair and gets plenty of attention for that fact alone!

While taking a few pictures, we ran into a lovely couple who walk daily by the beach and a gentleman who was concerned about the hood of my car and if it was properly latched. Random friendly acts of kindness are not so “random” here for which I am very grateful.

(Cobourg is a small town located about one hour east of Toronto. We moved here primarily because it is located right on the shores of Lake Ontario so we have a gorgeous beach one block from downtown. Coming from the east coast of Canada, this appeals to us. The super friendly factor we did not know. We just lucked out. 🙂 )

I would love to know where is the friendliest place you have ever lived? Why?

The Early Birds: Weekly Photo Challenge

After a fun but bizarre night of watching my daughter’s choir belt it out as they accompanied a rock band singing Led Zeppelin songs in a church on a Friday night, I woke up deaf with a rocking headache. My body, still vibrating from the church pews, was screaming “NO!” to this 6 AM rise. Fortunately Jazmin, my loyal sheltie, was willing to accompany me quietly as I stumbled out just before sunrise to catch a photo of our town’s beach and water front. The seagulls were much more alert than I. They truly were the “early birds”. (Cobourg, Ontario, Canada)

The best sheltie in the world, as long as you don't count barking and annoying wake ups in the middle of the night!

The best sheltie in the world, as long as you don’t count barking and annoying wake ups in the middle of the night!

This is part of a Weekly Photo Challenge by WordPress.

9 Tips for Moving With A Teen

What does Jade think? was the common question or should I say concern, when I mentioned we were moving from Prince Edward Island to Cobourg, Ontario.

Jade - a very creative and confident girl who fortunately, enjoys change.

Jade – a very creative and confident girl who fortunately, enjoys change.

And I would respond, she is fine as long as she can walk to school from our house and that she gets to choose how she decorates her room. 

So that all seems fine and dandy however, it is a tad gut wrenching when you are in the middle of it. Jade had lived in PEI her whole life and had many solid friends; in fact the same ones since grade 1. It is hard to anticipate what that will look or feel like when she actually goes to move.

Thankfully, my worries were mostly laid to rest. She moved in the summer, had a fantastic trip to Colombia and Peru, and began school a couple of days later…with little time to think about it… just dive right in.

I am not sure Chris and I breathed much on that first day of school as she started grade 9, the beginning of high school in Ontario. The clock moved slowly as we waited for the verdict at 2:30. Would she hate us for moving or would she be fine?

Thankfully, the latter. She had survived and would continue to do so; each day proving to be more promising than the last. Before we knew it, there was a new list of names of friends and stories to share.

Tips That Worked For Us

1. Really listen. What do they need to make the move more attractive? (in our case it was walking to school and a Moroccan/Indian inspired bedroom with orange/blue walls.)

2. Get in touch with the school ahead of time. Check out its website to familiarize with courses, activities, calendar etc. We discovered that her school was going to Europe this year and we were able to get her registered for the trip so she knew in advance that she would meet a group of similarly minded kids at the outset.

3. Start to explore the neighborhood, community and surroundings as soon as possible. Jade and I felt more comfortable in Cobourg as we discovered the best second-hand stores, the cool restaurants, the library, the scenic walks and drives we could take together.

4. Develop new routines. Jade and I used to love chatting at Harvey’s (I know but it has veggie burgers for me), Splendid Essence and Noodle House (2 favourite PEI restaurants) and these are what we missed most when we first arrived in Cobourg. Once we found some fantastic replacements, these routines made us feel more “at home”.

5. Get involved. Thankfully, there was a musical theatre program for her in Cobourg with outstanding teachers who were both warm and engaging. This made all the difference in the world really. An automatic outlet for her creative talents as well as a place for her to make friends with similar interests.

6. Develop a relationship with the new school. I know that this is high school but this is still important. Once the teachers realized that Jade was new to Cobourg, they went out of their way to ensure she felt included; which I am certain they would have done regardless. We are so lucky. Her school is stellar on all levels.

7. Find a balance between alone time and family time. I struggle with this as I want to be more present than a teen probably likes 🙂 Taking our cues from her, we would ask questions, listen and support if we could. Keeping the lines of communication open are so important during these teen years as well as during the added stress of a transition such as a move.

8. Maintain old relationships which teens of course do so easily through social media. Sometimes I wonder if she talks to her friends in PEI more now than when she lived there.

9. Be patient (parents) and stay open-minded (teen). Jade knew it would look and feel different here but she welcomed that readily. Fortunately, that is her nature..

Jade feeling settled.

Jade feeling settled.

And now that we have gone through all this, we have learned we will be moving again…exactly one year from the last move. Thank goodness, Jade, like her mom, embraces adventure and change. As this time, adventure and change are guaranteed to be on the menu!

These converse won't probably make the next move. But a new pair will.

These converse won’t probably make the next move. But a new pair will.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Basket

The strangest thing happened the other day.

I went to the travel clinic in Cobourg, Ontario. Bored, I gazed at the photos of South America when something caught my eye. There sitting on the floor of the clinic was our basket from South Africa; wobbly, worn and faded just as I remembered. It was most definitely ours. Sitting there proudly holding slippers for travel patients waiting to get needles to go overseas. A fine life for our basket.

I thought to myself ,”How did it end up here?” I don’t know this clinic; in fact I hardly know anyone in this town.

Then I remembered… the desperate search for something for Jade to sell so she could participate in a fundraiser for her school trip to Europe. Having sold most of our stuff in PEI, there weren’t too many extras left over so I guess this basket had made the ultimate sacrifice.

Now Jade and I just returned to the travel clinic and I excitedly pointed out our old basket. The basket from Africa that moved to Canada to helped Jade fund raise to travel to Europe was now sitting in its new home as we waited for needles to return to Africa. The travelling basket had come full circle. Who knows what its future has in store for it?

Another Day From Rodent Hell Or Better Known As “Cheryl vs. Canada”

OMG it is real. It is happening again. I have very bad karma when it comes to houses and rodents. I really don’t know if rodents includes squirrels, bats, and raccoons but I know that it includes mice.

So Jade was right when I posted Why I Prefer Hotels to Houses. The Canada rodent curse has followed me all the way from PEI to Ontario and has managed to break through this concrete jungle even. And I AM NOT handling it well.

Two nights ago, after Jade’s quick sighting in her bedroom, I saw that furry scumbag run past my bedroom door into the kitchen. From that moment on, I have been on lock down. I am in solitary confinement. And the process of Cheryl losing it has begun.

I know. I know. I have travelled. I know cockroaches only too well, I have seen my share of snakes.. but I draw the line at rodents that move fast. They are not welcome in my house.

So Jade thought my Alzheimer’s was starting early when she discovered the dog food in the frying pan under the stove.

Mom. How come this dog food is in the frying pan under the stove?! 

I don’t know Jade. That is strange. I mean, I am a little preoccupied, but that preoccupied?

The mystery has been solved. This little bugger (and who am I kidding… is there really only one? they always live in packs) has been siphoning off Jazmin’s dog food and hoarding it in our frying pan.

Ok, war on.

Cheryl retreats with a food stash and her computer to the bedroom for self-imposed lock down. No principal here needs to tell me what to do. And I am not coming out (except for a few necessities) until Chris has fought and won the rodent war. Wish me luck.

After we sold the house in PEI (which was totally infested with numerous mice, families of raccoons in our ceilings each and every spring and squirrels who ate their way in and trust me, there were no rodent whisperers who were willing to help us) Chris and I VOWED never to own another house again in Canada.

But in Guatemala? Now that might be another story.