Southampton & Laurentians - July-August 2011
July 2011 found us winging our way once more to Canada, for our yearly summer holiday visiting family and friends.
There have been several exciting developments at Mormor's since last year, including new landscaping, stone slab driveway, and arrival of Leo the lion. It took a few days for James to overcome his timidity, but eventually he built up the courage to squeeze the lion's ear and provoke the roaring sound himself, and for the rest of the visit it was one of the highlights of his days.
Other pleasant activities: playing with cars & traffic light ("Op....goooo!"), building block towers, walks and bike/trike rides around the neighbourhood, outdoor dining and indoor stories.
Thomas enjoyed helping out with various tasks, including gardening, husking corn, podding peas, hauling hedge clippings, and assisting in the production of a "snake cake":
July is birthday month for Thomas, Mormor and Big Steve, so there was plenty of reason to celebrate
More playgrounds have popped up since last year, requiring extensive research and quality testing!
This year we checked out "Storybookland" for the first time, a kiddie-oriented amusement park not too far from Mormor's.
As usual the beach was another favourite destination. Not to mention Gerry's Famous Fries and ice cream afterwards!
The old Port Elgin Steam Train was also appreciated, and Thomas made a new friend (also with Great Britain/Canadian connections) at the playground while waiting. The ever popular minigolf was fun too.
We made our yearly pilgrimmage to Keady Market, where Thomas got lots of new football (soccer) gear and a pony ride. James in the meantime preferred the comforts of Mormor's, in particular soap bubbles on the deck.
A new item on the agenda this year was checking out some of the local hiking trails. Thomas and Mormor studied the local botany, while James expended some of his never-ending energy (until it was time to turn around, which he didn't like much).
After a most pleasant visit with the Ontario branch of the family, the day came for the all-day drive to our idyllic chalet in the Lanaudiere area north of Montreal. Luckily both boys really enjoy the car, and took full advantage of the time to watch favourite shows on their respective media players, do various travel activities, catch up on some snooze time, and (in Thomas' case) play multiple games of I Spy and Twenty Questions.
James was wide awake when we arrived at our destination just after sunset. He was most excited and delighted to explore the place right away, while Thomas sleepily crawled onto a sofa and fell asleep again. The next morning we woke up to fabulous views out across the lake, and wasted no time in getting settled in. Each cottage on the site has it's own clearing out of sight of the neighbours, containing horseshoe pitch, BBQ pit, enclosed gazebo, and hot tub. A shared playground with volleyball court and tetherball was located just around the corner, although the mosquitoes were waiting for us there.
Grandpa Ken had gone to great lengths to make his stomping ground a fun place for the kids to hang out. The pickup truck was as always a popular item, but most exciting of all was the shaded play space with wading pool, water toys, giant beach ball, and not least the long pipe through which ping pong balls and other small toys could be rolled.
As always Grandpa Ken and Catherine pulled out all the hospitality stops, with fridges full of yummy snacks and lots of child entertainment. James was so taken with the wading pool that he hardly ran off at all, making it actually possible to remain seated in the comfy chairs for quite a long period. Between ongoing food preparations Catherine was even happy to change a nappy or two and pitch a few baseballs and/or horseshoes, much to the boys' delight. Mum left feeling thoroughly relaxed and refreshed :-)
The long tube was a particularly big hit, lending itself to various alternative uses. James liked to push his small cars through it, sometimes upside down to force Dad to tip up the end to get them out. Thomas discovered that he could confuse James by putting his mouth at one end and calling James who would look, thoroughly bewildered, at the other end!
Since we had to head back to Toronto before the week was out, we took the opportunity to invite some Montreal friends to come up and use the remaining days. It was a brief but lovely visit, and the rainbow picture they took the following day was a great way to remember the Chalet Le Huard (appropriately, the loon!)
The drive back to Toronto was relatively uneventful, and we checked in to our usual Travelodge Toronto East where we grabbed an easy dinner at Shoeless Joe's and a couple of quick swims before checking out the next morning and heading to Toronto Zoo.
Thomas' face got very swollen during this part of the trip. He seems to have developed a major sensitively to mosquito bites, causing the skin around them to swell up dramatically for 4-5 days. He'd had one on his belly just before leaving for the holiday, and now his face had taken the hit for the return journey. Luckily he wasn't in any major discomfort, although there was a half day or so where he could hardly open his left eye.
The zoo was even more of a hit than last year, as James could appreciate more of it now and Thomas could remember some favourite attractions like the Conservation Carrousel.
We arrived at the airport several hours too early due to a combination of flight time confusion and delays. Luckily Pearson wasn't too crowded that day and some new child-friendly areas had been put in since last year. Eventually we got on our plane, both boys asleep on our shoulders, and the rest of the journey went relatively smoothly (though it took quite a long time to adjust afterwards!).