Southampton and the Laurentians: July-August 2010
Hooray, some more pix have been contributed from the Quebec contingent, including Catherine's family: sons Robert and Jody, and Jody's family Sophie and beautiful baby Olivia Rose.
Dad and the rest of us in front of the chalet in Ste-Agathe, and playing in Lac Paré; perfecting the underwater torpedo throw.
Thomas and James sharing a moonchair; planting the pear tree; Cindy playing with Thomas' new toy (remembering her old lemon twist!); Catherine's son Robert playing with niece Olivia Rose.
More Tinkertoy creations; Thomas with Uncle Nick; Olivia Rose and mum Sophie.
We had been eagerly anticipating this holiday for some time, Thomas in particular looking forward to the taxi to the airport and the ride on the big airplane. The airport was pleasantly uncrowded for a Saturday in August, and we took advantage of the family lounge to give the boys a chance to run around before being cooped up for several hours. As usual James was not best pleased with having his movements restricted, but he did sleep for some of the journey, both in the air and on the road.
We were greeted with the usual warm hospitality in Southampton and it didn't take long for everyone to settle in.
At our yearly visit to the Keady country market, Thomas decided to try the pony ride:
Thomas took a lot of pleasure in helping out with various jobs, especially watering the trees with Mormor and helping Big Steve to cart away the cedar hedge trimmings. James also thought it looked like fun! He really wanted to join Thomas on the ladder to help Mormor make lemonade - or maybe he thought it was a swing.
There was no shortage of real swings...
...and other playground-based activities.
There was also the additional entertainment of work crews rebuilding the local roads and spraying down "instant grass" after installing new sewage pipes; we had to take several walks around to supervise and investigate the goings-on in the neighbourhood.
Other fun activities included swimming in Lake Huron, playing on the beach, putting up a tent in the yard, riding the Port Elgin North Shore steam railway, sampling local ice cream and other delicacies, playing with various toys and presents, and generally exploring.
We enjoyed our stay in Southampton tremendously, although James was not always content, especially during moments of teething discomfort, heat, or being constricted by seat belts. Thomas started to get a little bit homesick at this point; this year he is more aware of his environment and his memory goes further back.
Eventually we had to move on, and after a fairly smooth 11-hour journey, we arrived at our luxurious chalet in the Laurentian town of Ste-Agathe. Amenities included super-comfortable beds, air-conditioning, dishwasher, and a jacuzzi in the master bedroom - but best of all was the bathtub-warm swimming pool in the basement, which got a great deal of daily use.
Swimming - indoors and out
Visitors: We had the pleasure of several visitors at our chalet, including Cindy's old school friend (another Cindi), and the Marshment family, all of whom also joined us for a dip.
Being in the Laurentians allowed us to spend a bit more time with Cindy's dad and other members of the family, who joined us in Chertsey for some quality time.
We couldn't pass up the opportunity to dip our toes in another lake; Grandpa and Thomas got quite good at a game of catch with the toy underwater torpedo, Jonathan caught some fish with his homemade net, and James patrolled the beach with one of the resident toy cranes.
Another big highlight for the boys was checking out Grandpa Ken's pickup truck; Thomas was especially interested in the hitching mechanism which Grandpa was happy to demonstrate with his real trailer.
Thomas got another chance to participate in tree maintenance, helping Uncle Nick to plant a pear tree as per Grandpa's specification. Besides checking out Grandpa's real tools, there were plenty of other toys to play with and opportunities to relax - when not chasing James around on his excursions, even in the rain.
Back in Ste-Agathe, we did some laundry, found another playground with yet more swings, and made the most of our remaining time in our very special chalet.
Finally it was time to return to Toronto, where we spent a few hours of our last day checking out the Toronto Zoo. The boys particularly enjoyed the beautiful Conservation Carousel, but we also managed to take in most of the Asia section including a clever elephant, some cheeky orangutangs and a regal Sumatran tiger.
We had a relatively uneventful journey home, arriving before 9am on a Friday with the whole weekend ahead to recover from jetlag. This was a very good idea, as James in particular had trouble keeping food down and was generally under the weather for the first day or so. Both boys were delighted to be home, and celebrated with yet another swim on the Sunday - the beginnings of a return to normal life.