Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The gang enjoying a lovely day in Prince Edward County.

This past Saturday I spent another lovely day in Prince Edward County. My third trip with Authentic Canadian Tours, and my second trip to this beautiful part of the province with the tour company. This time Rob and my girlfriend Anita joined me, making for an even better day!

The drive to the county is about 2.5 hours but passed quickly with all the friendly chatter on the mini bus and we soon found ourselves at our first stop of the day, Waupoos Estates Winery. Waupoos was the very first winery in the county, opening in 2001, and now, just ten years later, there are 36 wineries gracing the county.

The grounds of this winery are gorgeous. They overlook the Lake of Ontario and are surrounded by apple orchards and perfectly manicured vine-lands. Their best selling wine is called Honeysuckle, and what is most interesting about this wine is it's smell. It does not smell good at all, Anita said it smelt like stinky sweat socks! BUT, it tastes really good, and a bottle came home with me, along with a large bar of pairing chocolate from their Chocolatier Store.

Waupoos Estates Winery.

Grapes hanging on the vines of Waupoos.

The wines of Waupoos.

Next we were off to Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, specializing in goat and sheep's cheese, and being very "Green". The tasting room was small, but it was worth the wait for all the samples and I purchased my three favorites from the tasting. They also offer a wine and cheese pairing at a couple different times in the afternoon and I hope this makes it into the itinerary for one the tours in the future.

The huge sunflowers on the grounds of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company.

The cheese menu of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company on Saturday.

Lunch was at "Lake on the Mountain Resort", located on the shore of Lake on the Mountain over looking the Bay of Quinte 200 feet below. The view was spectacular and the food delicious. I will definitely be visiting this amazing place again.

The Lake on the Mountain Inn, it was charming.

The group waiting for what turned out to be a delicious lunch at the restaurant of the Lake on the Mountain Inn.

The Lake on the Mountain, there are lots of legends as to how it got there.

We had a short stop in the charming village of Bloomfield, just long enough to enjoy a delicious homemade ice-cream from "Slickers" and have a peek in a couple of the boutique shops.

Waiting in line for a yummy home made ice-cream from "Slickers".

The next winery on our itinerary was "The Grange of Prince Edward County". This was my second visit to this picturesque winery. I bought a bottle of a late harvest dessert wine so freshly made the labels for the bottles weren't ready yet.

The picturesque Grange Winery.

Inside the large tasting room of the Grange.

This is how Rob spent most of his day, out on the winery grounds looking for wildlife and birds.

Our last stop of the day was "By Chadsey's Cairns Winery". Never have I visited a winery so full of character. With big old barns and a Pioneer Cemetery, this winery is full of uniqueness as well as great wines. I picked up another bottle of their 2010 Riesling on this trip, just like last time.

We had no idea what these ball things were lining the driveway of the winery, but we liked them!

The group sitting on the hay bales inside a large barn on the grounds that is used as an entertainment theatre.

Anita and I showing off our Riesling 2010 purchase inside the tasting barn.

Forty-Two rows of Riesling grapes.

Before heading back to Toronto we enjoyed a meal of Charnivore BBQ, who had set up shop on the winery grounds for the summer. It was the perfect ending to another perfect day in Prince Edward County.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Judy and I getting ready for a feast of oysters!

Last night I made my second visit to Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill with my friend Judy. I discovered this little gem of a restaurant with my friend Anita during "Summerlicious" this year. I knew then that this was going to become a restaurant that I would be returning too.

Judy met me after I got off work and we went for a feed of oysters followed by an early dinner. We sat at the bar for our oyster feast and then moved to a table for our dinner.

I like that they offer such a variety of oysters, as it's fun to try new kinds. I had a few from the UK that were much larger with a more "gamier" taste. Judy likes the smaller ones, mostly coming from the East Coast, which I really enjoy too. I really need to start paying more attention to the ones that I really like, so I can remember the names of them for return visits or when I'm somewhere else that serves oysters as well.

Our shucker, Bruce, who was friendly and knowledgeable.

They there are! This was our first round, we had more at the dinner table.

The bar is beautiful, a clear top covers shells and starfish resting on authentic PEI red sand.

I think the next time I'm there I'm going to pick up the book the owner wrote on oysters and learn a little more about them. Judy has bought oysters and shucked them herself and I am looking forward to being invited over to her new place when she's settled for an oyster and wine night.

Dinner was delicious too. I had lobster bisque followed by a rib-eye steak with frites and coconut cream pie. While Judy had a tomato and mozzarella salad followed by duck breast with a chick pea side and creme brulee for dessert.

We enjoyed 2 bottles of this wonderful Riesling made right here in Ontario.

As wonderful as dinner was, I wouldn't be surprised if the next time we go we just sit at the bar the whole night eating oysters and drinking wine!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Me and Fronz, a Harris Hawk, which is a non-native species to Canada.

This past Saturday, Rob and I visited Wye Marsh in Midland, Ontario for the first time. We had registered for a "Behind the Scenes, Birds of Prey Program", months ago, after learning about it from a friend.

Entrance to Wye Marsh in Midland, Ontario.

We weren't sure what to expect, but weren't disappointed. It was an introductory class to birds of prey (which we already knew quite a bit about), and also in the the sport of Falconry.

We got to see some really cool looking raptors not native to Canada and learn a bit about them.

The is "Jay-Jay", a Speckled Owl, mainly found in Indonesia.

The best part though, for both of us, was getting to "fly" a Harris Hawk. Meaning, it flies to you from his perch, lands on your gloved hand, and then eats the food your holding for him. It was the first time we did this and it was really cool!

Rob with Fronz.

Mike, the falconer, felt bad that the weather wasn't co-operating and that he couldn't hold the course outside in the aviary, so he gave us all free passes for a future visit to the park.

We had another nice surprise while there. We met Casper, a Barn Owl, and found out he is one of Silo's off-spring. Silo is the Barn Owl we sponsor at the Muskoka Wild Life Centre. This is the second chick of Silo's we've encountered, as "Jazz" at Mountsberg is also one of hers.

Casper, a Barn Owl was having a nice sleep on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Another reason Rob and I had been wanting to visit Wye Marsh was their involvement in bringing back the Trumpeter Swan from near extinction.

The original captive breeding pair of Trumpeters at Wye Marsh were "Big Guy" and "Lady Girl". Big Guy and Lady successfully raised the first cygnet in 1990, and she became known as "Pig Pen". In 1993, Pig Pen and her mate became the first wild nesting pair of Trumpeters in Wye Marsh in over 200 years.

The one Trumpeter Swan we saw at Wye Marsh. The rest of them were probably all out in the large marsh.

Enlarge this picture to read the touching story about Pig Pen.

We had a great day at the park, despite the weather, and look forward to returning for some bird watching, snow-shoeing and more falconry courses!

Friday, August 19, 2011


Introducing "Moonie", the newest addition to our home.

I was suppose to be at work at 1pm on Wednesday afternoon, or was I? I happened to book the day off, to recover from the Def Leppard concert festivities the night before. I also just happened to be in front of the kitchen window at just the right moment to see a little blue budgie walking around in the garden.

Rob hadn't left for work yet, so out he went to investigate. The budgie seemed pretty calm and walked away from Rob more then flew from him. He came back in and got the extra cage we keep on hand in case of bird emergencies. We have had a few!

He was back in the house within five minutes with the bird in the cage and then he had to go to work, leaving me alone with the new little guy.

At first I was, "no way are we keeping him!" Thought it was a male at first. We already have a budgie, we have a CAT, where would be put another cage, etc. But over the course of the afternoon I kept going in to have a peek and talk to her while she was resting in the other room and she's just so damn cute!

She gave me a hard time the first night, but once I got her settled in and everyone else, I started thinking of how we could arrange the house so both her and Misfit, another backyard rescue from four years ago, would be safe from Meadow, our cat.

By the time I woke up in the morning I had named her, "Moonie", Rob likes "M" names, and I'm fond of the moon, and also, "Moonie" is a nickname of one of the Harry Potter characters, my favorite teacher, Professor Lupin.

Rob had e-mailed a few people about taking her, but no takers. We were both leaning towards keeping her at this point anyway, we were just trying to figure out how to make it all work; where to put her, etc. We had decided on installing a shelf above the computer desk, and we'd put her away at night in the other room, like we do Misfit at bedtime. Even with all this figured out, we still weren't 100% sure, it was actually Misfit herself who sealed Moonie's fate with us.

Today Rob had Misfit's cage on the table and her door open so she could go for a fly. Meadow is locked up when we do this. Moonie was in the other cage on top of the fridge. Misfit flew over to Moonie's cage and landed on it and was looking down and checking her out, and they were tweeting to each other. Rob open the door, and Misfit flew in! They set in there happily tweeting to each other for a half hour, sometimes sitting side by side.

And that was that, she's ours. We're going to keep them separate most of the time for the next little while, let them get acquainted slowly and when we feel they are ready to share a cage we are going to buy a bigger one that will be new to both of them.

Misfit and Moonie getting to know each other.

Right now they are in the same room for the night, both covered in different cages and our little family of pets just went up one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Me at Def Leppard's 2011 Mirror Ball Tour.

So last night I did something I have never done before, I went to a concert by myself. Brian, the friend I usually go to concerts with was away on vacation and Rob works nights and isn't really a fan of Def Leppard anyway.

When tickets went on sale I knew Brian was going to be away and decided that I wasn't going to go this time. We had did the ILoveAllAccess thing in 2009 when they were here and had a great time. As time for the show drew nearer, the more I wanted to go, so I bit the bullet and bought the 5 Star VIP package from ILoveAllAccess again, this time alone.

Registration was at 4pm, so I left work early, went home, got ready and took a taxi down to the Molson Amphitheatre at Ontario Place. Lots of people doing the VIP package were there so I chatted to a few people but mostly waited alone. When I got my envelope I was kinda nervous about what ticket I was going to get, Brian and I had scored 2nd row, but he had bought our tickets the day they went on sale. I knew I was guaranteed a seat in the first five rows, but closer the better, right? I was pretty happy when I saw I had scored 2nd row again!

My VIP pass and a drink, perfect combo!

We were taken to the lounge/bar off to the side of the Molson Amphitheatre stage for our private pre-show party from 4pm-6pm. After 6pm other concert goers would be allowed in too. There was food and drinks, and we were given our swag bag. There was also a raffle with lots of Def Leppard items being given away, the top prize being a Pyromania CD, that Helen, our hostess would accompany you backstage before the show to have the whole band autograph.

I met some nice people back there to hang with and texted Rob that I was hanging out with a bunch of hot women and that he should of come.

Look at me hanging out with a bunch of hot women! I almost look like I fit in.

Always good to run into old friends. This is Harrison from my Club 279 days, he always made sure I got home safe and sound.

The cooler damage! I do love vodka coolers.

You know you've had enough to drink when you start taking pictures of your foot wear!

I also had a nice chat with Helen, who was the hostess in 2009 as well, but is now also Phil Collen's wife. Phil is one of the guitarists for Def Leppard, just in case you don't know.

Helen, our hostess, and myself.

Turns out, a picture from the 2009 show that I had posted of them on their FaceBook fan page earlier yesterday, that they both saw and discussed, was the first picture ever taken of them together, they weren't even dating yet. But obviously the attraction was there, they started dating about 2 weeks later she told me!!

My "eagle eye" noticed Phil walking by at one point, and I called to him and he came over. I was telling him what Helen had told me and he gave me a high five. He started to draw some attention of others in the lounge when he posed for a picture with me, and I said to him. "oh, oh, I'm going to start a commotion aren't I?" to which he replied, "yes, you are going to start a commotion" LOL!! Actually, it was him causing the commotion, and when others started walking over to talk to him and ask for autographs and pictures, he was too gracious to turn them away. Hence the funny look on both our faces in the picture below, I'm trying not to laugh as he sees the crowd coming for him!

Now, on to the show! I made a conscious decision before the show even started that I wasn't going to take a lot of pictures. I didn't want to be watching it through a lens trying to get "the perfect shot". I wanted to get lost in the music of Def Leppard, that has been a friend to me for over 30 years.

I took a few pics of both Heart and Def Leppard, mostly at the very beginning. Below are the few pics that I did take.

The Wilson sisters of Heart, Ann and Nancy.

Nancy Wilson of Heart.

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen.

Def Leppard's lead singer, Joe Elliott.

Def Leppard bassist Rick "Sav" Savage.

Def Leppard guitarist, Vivian Campbell.

My very blurry picture of Rick Allen, Def Leppard's drummer. This had the potential to be a great shot.

Waiting for the encore.

My friends Teena and Gord were at the concert as well, she won tickets! She took more pictures of the show then I did, and did a nice blog about the show.

All in all, I had a great night. Would I have preferred to go with someone? Yes. Would I go solo again? Absolutely!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Anita and I getting ready to tackle the tower of seafood at the 360 Restaurant in the CN Tower.

Last night I did something I've been wanting to do since I moved here in 1989, eat at the 360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower. Rob really didn't have any interest in going so I invited a girlfriend who had never been either.

We had decided what we were going to order not long after I had made the reservation after checking out the menu online. Both being seafood lovers we ordered "The 360 Towering Platter of Seafood", and what a tower it was! We were the centre of attention as 3 waiters paraded to our table, each carrying a platter of seafood. Neighboring diners even took pictures of our meal!

The 360 Towering Platter. A chilled three tiered platter of fresh Canadian seafood.

We enjoyed most of the seafood immensely, except for the oysters, they we're disappointing.

The top tier was a 1.5lb split lobster, with a half a pound of crab legs.

The second tier was 1 dozen Malpeque oysters with 2 dozen marinated PEI Mussels.

The bottom tier was smoked salmon, trout and mackerel, Bay scallop, baby shrimp and calamari salad, one dozen jumbo shrimp and some potato salad.

We were there for over 2 hours, but alas, cannot say we were able to finish it, but we definitely got our full of seafood.

Anita had to stand up to get the food off the top tier, we couldn't see it sitting!

I should say something about the restaurant itself. The elevator ride up is always fun, and no waiting in line because your going to the restaurant. It wasn't the intimate fine dining experience I was expecting, it actually seemed very "touristy" to me, which makes sense. The decor seemed dated and could do with an upgrade. But the view is spectacular and I would definitely go again, especially if I had company from out of town. It takes 72 minutes for a full turn of the revolving restaurant, and the view is amazing all the way around. We went up when it was still light, and left when it was dark, stunning views. We were there on a night before a Full Moon, and it was an incredible sight to see.

This picture does not do the breath taking view we had of the almost full moon justice.

We felt like something sweet after all that seafood so we shared the truffle platter.

It was quite the experience, and I am glad that I finally went. It's the perfect place to take people visiting from out of town for a memorable evening out.