Posted by: Valerie | June 1, 2011

What a Hero!

Joe, that is! Read on and you will understand why.


My hero!


What a bizzee whizzee time I’ve been having.  We have started clearing out stuff prior to our move but what an enormous undertaking that is turning out to be. Of course this is no surprise to me or anyone who knows Joe. We spent yesterday in the basement and I discovered things that I’d never seen before. There are collections of albums from many years, hundreds of tapes, and a large collection of 78s in boxed sets. Maybe they are worth a whole heap of money?  And then what about the hundred or so old cameras and radios that are scattered throughout Joe’s “shop”?  Joe had hurt his back so we called on John who is a tiny chap who can haul paving stones around with great ease. John’s appearance does make one wonder if perhaps he lived in the uranium mine which was active here until the late 70s (and which they are threatening to reopen!). John hasn’t too many teeth and a slight speech impediment, perhaps caused by the lack of teeth? He was very happy to take away quite a few items that we were divesting ourselves of anyway so that’s fine. I’m always pleased when someone else can use something we have had finished using.

The door to Joe's amazing shop

Then there is the garden which has been mostly a matter of hacking at the weeds and making sure the blackflies are well fed. Judging from the state of my wrists and ankles they are having a really good season. In spite of my long pants with thick socks pulled over them, a full bug jacket and really tough leather garden gloves!

More entertaining than this litany of misery is the tale of my birthday trip. Joe did such a wonderful job arranging a perfect trip. Apparently he booked it last February!

We arrived at the Merrill Inn in Picton, Prince Edward County on the 24th (the very day). It is a wonderful three gabled building dated 1878 and magnificently restored and furnished carefully in keeping with its period. On being escorted to our room on the third floor (puff, pant) I found a bouquet of a dozen mixed roses on the bed and a lovely bottle of red wine awaiting the corkscrew. Dinner was at 6.00 in the tiny but highly recommended restaurant.  The food was sublime, needless to say, and afterwards,  with somewhat over-indulged tummies, we had to climb the three flights back to our room.

The Merrill Inn, Picton

In addition to all this spoiling, Joe gave me a Motorola Xoom Tablet as a pressie.  It worked beautifully in Picton but it doesn’t like my router here at home so I have ordered another one which I’m told will solve the problem. It’d better!

Day two of the trip we went to Sandbanks Prov. Park and many other oh-so-pretty places full of lilacs and the last of the cherry blossoms. Sandbanks I have visited before and found it hideously crowded with sun-worshippers and ankle-biters but this time it was completely empty – just how I like my beaches! Neither of us was tempted to tear off our clothes and dive in, it being only May and all, but a long stretch of clean sand and sparkly blue water would have been most inviting if the temperature had been a little warmer. Lake Ontario is so huge that one gets the feeling of being at the seaside but I miss the tides, the seaweed and the shells.  And the smell of the sea of course.

Pretty perfect, no?

The lovely people at the Inn had sent us off for the day with a healthy picnic, telling us to be back by 2.00 pm for our carriage ride. A very fine Clydesdale called Burt pulling an original but reupholstered carriage took us for a bumpy clip-clop around the prettier parts of the Picton. There was a driver at the reins too. Now it is a fact that if you sit facing the horse on a carriage ride, your principal view is of the driver’s capacious backside! But then if you sit the other way around you’re just looking at the traffic behind. We settled for a side view. Aside from the novelty of being in the carriage and looking out, we were greatly entertained by the reactions of the people we passed in the street. Almost all the people we passed paused to stare (at the horse I suspect, not us!), some took photos and some waved. In fact I rather caught onto this and practiced a queenly wave which I had just about got right when we were clopped back to the Inn.

Enough of our wonderful mini-holiday – suffice it to say that the next day was spent touring the wineries and in the evening we went to the movies. Not a very unusual activity for townies but for us in the lake and rock country of the Kawarthas, it is indeed a novelty. We saw Water For Elephants which I did enjoy but of course it didn’t really stand up to comparison with the original book. The elephant was nice but didn’t really do a lot, Reese Witherspoon was pretty, if anorexically thin but Christopher Waltz, the spine-chilling Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds (what about  that spelling? What is the point?) was the star of the show again as the vicious and violent ringmaster. Joe was bored. The last movie we saw before that was Avatar over a year before and he was bored there too.

When we got home last Friday, we began preparing for a visit from Stephen, Joe’s son, and his family and dog later that evening for a weekend visit. As always we had a fine visit. We had a lot of fun but by the time they left we were done in!

The weeks ahead are going to be filled with preparations for the move with a side trip to Ottawa for Deklin’s second birthday. Yes, I know, where does the time go etc. etc. My daughter Anna and her Tim plus one of Tim’s teenage daughters, Rebecca, are coming to visit from Calgary in July so they can enjoy packing a box or two!  Thankfully most of the bugs will be gone by then.  I’m looking forward to both sides.

I’m going to bed now.

We picnicked in the midst of this blueness





  1. Wow, go Joe!!! And what a wonderful photo of him. That just sounds like the most wonderful birthday present ever!

    I was reminded of my time in Canada when we were in the south island. We call them sandflies (presumably something to do with summer and the beach) but they are the same as your black flies. I always thought the black fly were huge compared to our sand flies until I went to the West Coast of NZ. I think they have their own rugby team! We stopped once and I left the car door open, the car soon filled with sand flies. Paul decided the best way to get rid of them was to open all the windows and drive really fast!

    Anyway, good to hear you are sorting stuff for your move.

    Love Sarah

  2. What a wonderful trip. A belated Happy Birthday to you, Val! Picton is such a lovely little town. Sandbanks is great when empty but the water never warms up except in the shallow beach areas. The rest remains icy cold. I’d love to be able to go through Joe’s shop – the thought of all those cameras makes my head spin. If possible, let’s do lunch the next time you’re in Ottawa.

    • Invitation accepted! I am hoping to get the time to photograph all the cameras and put them up on Kijiji and see if anyone nibbles. They are mainly junk I think but there may be a gem or two in the middle. I’ll send you the pics first if you like!

  3. What a gem of a man. Great birthday present.

    Don’t get your hopes up on the albums–no compilations of music. First cuts of Jazz or the Beatles might be nice!!

    • A gem is only a gem when it twinkles. This one doesn’t always twinkle!

  4. I have walked down that very sand path to the water, in 2005, when we biked there from here. It was in July and boiling hot – it was 40C with the humidex every darned day. You’re right – fewer people is better. Your horse and carriage ride sounds lovely too.

  5. Hi there! A friend who reads your blog also reads my blog and knows how much I love old cameras. She mentioned your post and I had to drop by and say hello! I too am of Scottish descent and mom to three. 🙂 If you wouldn’t mind sharing the pictures of the cameras before you put them on kijiji, I’d love to take at least a few off your hands!!

    • You wrote to some time ago, Dani, and to my shame I never replied. The cameras were not sold. We have just moved and they are still packed away but I will ask my other half what he wants to do with them. Are you looking for anything in particular? Where are you located?
      Apologies again,

      Val Winsor

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