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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Dog Blog!

Dog Blog - a late entry into the Farm-Sitting series of blog posts!



Our Two Charges!
It doesn't seem possible that our time at the farm finished three days ago! We had a fantastic time doing something totally different from our normal daily routine. All the animals were great (Grover, being the one exception!). But, the real heart-stealers were the two Australian Shepherds, Julie and her son, Brynn! Even though a few days have passed, we felt that the 'Farm Sitting' blogs would be incomplete if we didn't feature a 'dog blog'. 

Julie's pleading eyes tug at the heart strings!

It was a challenge to remember that they had jobs to do and were not just pets. Julie's mournful eyes, and her wicked little grin (she actually showed her teeth in a smile!) meant that she had us wrapped around her little paw! Brynn's excitable behaviour won us over within minutes - after all, who can resist a little bit of calculated adoration? 


Brynn will do anything for attention!
The two of them share one simple trait - the need to be the centre of attention! It was hilarious to note that, whenever we were fussing Julie, Brynn would muscle in and try to push our hands away from her and towards him! Julie, on the other hand, would place herself near to wherever you were sitting and would nudge your hand to remind you to continue smoothing her - and woe betide if you stopped to take a break! 




They also have distinct personalities and, despite being much smaller than her son, it wasn't above Julie to keep him in check at times. After all, Mother knows best!

Everything in its place - at the start of the day!
At the beginning of the day, their toys, including some large gnawing bones, were all neatly contained in a basket. As soon as they came in, they each grabbed a toy before proceeding to their normal place. At the end of the day, a nursery with 10 children would be much tidier than what we would behold in that kitchen! 

Julie loves to roll in the snow



Following our every move, they accompanied us to the barn to help with the daily chores. Julie would ensure that she gave herself her daily bath by rolling in the snow. 








Helping with the chores!

Whisper, 'What's that?' and they become instantly alert!

'Glad you looked after us, Uncle Alan and Uncle Mark!

They adored Mark!


All in all, it was these two beautiful souls who claimed their places in our hearts, and we're looking forward to seeing them again soon! 

I wonder if they will remember us? 







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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Farm Sitting - Old Friends, New Surroundings!

Farm Sitting - Old Friends, New Surroundings!

Getting the appetizers ready!
Monday was a very special day as we welcomed our dearest of friends, Pat, Daphne, Helena, Sylvia and Bob to the farm for lunch. 

These wonderful people are part of our MLT (Markham Little Theatre) group and we meet several times throughout the year - especially at Pat's cottage on the July weekend.

Whenever we get together, there's always plenty of laughter, story-telling, reminiscing of funny events we've shared, pleasant pandemonium in the kitchen, and great food and wine which pepper the sheer joy of being together - wherever that may be.


Daphne and Pat, sharing a mirthful moment!

Helena, preparing her Scotch Eggs

Pat and Helena had been out to the farm several years ago and know John and Doug quite well - especially after our wedding, which was in Helena and Neil's back yard in Markham. 

As soon as Sylvia (Pat's sister) heard that we were farm sitting, she was itching to come and see as it had been years since she had been in a barn. We obtained permission from John and Doug to have visitors and so the event was arranged - and the gang were delighted!

They arrived shortly after 1:00 p.m. and then there wasn't a quiet moment for the next few hours as we chatted, caught up, laughed, and just had so much fun with them. They are the kind of people with whom you feel very comfortable and can be yourself. Now, whether that is a good thing or not, is a matter of opinion!! One thing that happens frequently is that we are all talking at the same time, and this produces a harmonious cacophony (if there is such a thing!!) At least, we all seem to be very happy to be in one another's company!!

They spent quite a while in the gallery admiring Doug's amazing artwork (more on that in a later blog), and loved the interior of the farmhouse, with its blend of modern and traditional decor.

Admiring Doug's amazing art work



We had said that we were going to make a soup, but decided to make a Chili instead. Anticipating a soup lunch, Pat and Helena had brought a few veggies along in the spirit of the story, 'Stone Soup'. We appreciated all the goodies that everyone contributed to the meal.

After lunch, we took them to see the animals in the barn. At one point, Pat urged us to listen - we craned our neck, hooked our heads to one side and wondered what we were supposed to be hearing. Then, Pat said, 'Can you hear it? Running water! A sign of Spring!!' Typically Canadian - celebrating the annual melting of snow and ice after a long winter!!




The trip to the barn was the highlight of their visit - by general consensus - and we were treated to the full display of the opened tail of the peacock in the barn as he soaked up the sunshine through the window.






The dogs tagged along for the total happiness of having the extra attention! Alice and Jessie stood close to the barn door, almost blocking the entrance as we were trying to leave! We had quite a job trying to get them to leave an opening for us all to squeeze past to get to the gate. It caused quite a bit of mirth among our visitors!










All in all, we had a great time, and were very appreciative of our owner-friends who had made this possible for us all.











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A Little Piece of Heaven 

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Warkworth - a Hidden Gem!

Warkworth - a Hidden Gem!


Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Northumberland, Ontario, lies the village of Warkworth - a hidden gem which we had only heard about by word of mouth. Though quite small, there is so much to see and do here that you could spend 3 hours, just browsing through every shop - each with its own selection of merchandise, and each with its own decor. Being a Sunday, we were surprised - and pleased - that many of the stores were open and every single server went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

The Cheeky Bee Gallery
We went into several lovely shops and boutiques. The Cheeky Bee Gallery is the place to go for 100% pure beeswax candles, fine craft, and original art from North America. 



I particularly liked this item which depicts a hot-air balloon with an unusual character as a passenger! 


Fairy Doors - made by our friends, Alan and Sarah


We were thrilled to see a display of fairy doors there as the people who make them are our friends, Alan and Sarah. Alan was interviewed on Garden Gate last year. 






Another really interesting shop we stopped in was the Frantic Farms Clay & Glass & Gallery. 


An interesting staircase - with an even more interesting story behind it!







Monica Johnson


It was here that we met Monica, who is skilled in pottery and produces the amazing crockery that was on display. 

Her husband, Paulus, is a glass blower and his creations were phenomenal. The following pictures of the products of these talented people give an idea of the excellence and uniqueness of what they provide. 















We were fortunate to have visited today as next weekend is the Maple Syrup Festival - and the area will be packed with visitors and tourists who have already discovered this remarkable place. We'll probably be a part of that throng and will be happy to take the bus to the Sugar Bush demo. However, it was good for us to be able to spend time chatting with the boutique owners and servers so that we could get to know the area and history a little better - an opportunity which probably won't be so readily available next weekend!
Our Lucky Stars




We stopped in at Our Lucky Stars for a hot drink. It seemed to be quite popular, even though the village was relatively quiet. 








Once again, we were struck by the architecture and one-of-a-kind elements and styles that we saw in the buildings throughout the village.



Memorial Community Hall

St. Jerome's R.C. Church

The Town Hall


When we left the farm, the weather didn't look too promising. That being said, we have a tradition that, unless the weather is totally crazy, we won't be put off by lack of sunshine - we'll just go and see what happens. (This is a tradition that I learned through osmosis after spending many such days with Jess and Dave, my sister and brother-in-law in the U.K. I couldn't count how many times we had our picnic in the car while it showered outside! Who cares - let's have fun!  That was their motto, and I'll always be grateful to them for imbuing me with the same attitude!)
Sign for the Millenium Lilac Trail

True to form, the clouds cleared and we were left with beautiful sunshine with blue skies and puffy clouds, so we took advantage of this and went for a short walk along the Millenium Lilac Trail. I can only imagine what it would be like at the end of May when they hold their annual Lilac Festival! Even in the snow, we enjoyed our stroll.





















We were told  that a well-known hairdresser, who had a salon in Toronto (frequented by anybody who is a 'somebody'), lives in the village in an old renovated Anglican Church. It certainly looks interesting from the outside and, apparently, it used to be on the garden tour a few years ago.



I loved the village clock which stands proudly, half way down Main Street.

The Town Clock


Cell phones are consigning these to history!
... and just HAD to take a pic of something which, I'm afraid, is becoming a dying breed...!!


We can thoroughly recommend a visit to this hidden gem - you won't regret it!

Main Street


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