Category Archives: Life in Ontario

Terre Bleu Lavender Farm

Yesterday afternoon went to Terre Bleu Lavender Farm for an adventure. It is located just a short car ride from home on Sideroad 25 just west of Guelph Line. I have been wanting to visit here for a few years but the timing just wasn’t right until this summer. Visiting the farm right now is a little bit different-but still an amazing time. For this summer tickets can’t be bought at the gate…each week Terre Bleu releases tickets via their email subscriber list. This is to control how many people are arriving at the farm in capacity etc. We picked 3-4 to arrive…which mean Katie could finish her nap before we went off on our adventure!

It was such a fun afternoon adventure–it was hot, but honestly I hardly noticed! The smells of the fields…and just walking around taking photos made me so happy.

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

The first stop for our crew was to head to the Yellow Door Field…this was the part I had been waiting for…I had seen beautiful photos of people standing at this yellow door in the middle of the lavender field. However, I didn’t know that in order to get there we had to walk there on the “Yellow Bench Trail” through a 200 year old Cedar forest.

The Yellow Bench was occupied each time we passed through the forest…so we didn’t stop to take a photo…sometimes when you are adventuring with a toddler you pick the places you will wait to take a photo. Some day I’ll be back Yellow Bench–but today was not the day for a photo shoot!

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

My Bug…waiting for her turn to walk through the door.

The wait for the yellow door was pretty short…there were just 2 groups ahead of us! We had fun striking a pose in front of the door. Katie at this point had her camera out and was taking photos too!

“When you walk through the door, your worries are behind you and your joys are ahead!” this was a quote from one of Points of Interest Cards that are all around the Farm. The historian in me is a sucker for information and plaques at places I visit–but the ones around the farm have so much added info about the history of the farm. Also right now if you answer a few questions from the “Bleu’s Clues” you can get 10% discount in the store! So it’s worth the time to go seek them out and read…

At dinner every day I have started a tradition to talk to Katie about what her Favourite thing was she did that day. Today it was “Playing Peek-a-boo with the yellow door momma!” (I think this needs to be printed for my house).

Being a single mum and a photographer…I always have these photos in my mind I want to capture with just myself and my bug…but often after wrangling a Toddler–setting a timer, setting up a tripod etc is just too much work! I must admit I have a great stash of selfies of the two of us. But I’m so thankful that Darcy was able to capture these shots of the two of us on this adventure!

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

The smell of the lavender is so amazing…Katie was really good to smell, and not pick (except for this clover).

I LOVE this photo that Darcy captured of me taking a photo of my bug.

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

What do you do when your toddler takes off across the Lavender field? Well first you take a few photos…then you go collect them!

*She was walking between the plants, but I also encouraged her to RUN down the open rows between the plants after these photos were taken!*

There also was a little bit of wrangling, and convincing the toddler in our group which direction we had to go!

Sometimes when you set your camera up with a timer to attempt to do a group photo–your toddler decides that they have a better location to be captured in the group photo… so you just go with it!

One of the things I didn’t know.. is that there are a few art installations to take your photo at… this giant circle is pretty awesome and is at the far end of the Yellow Door Field.

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

I love this series of photos of my Bug and myself.

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

Today was the first day in a very long time that I actually felt like myself again. I was happy…I actually put on contact lenses for the first time since September of last year. I stopped wearing them at some point last fall around the time of mum’s death. It felt good to wear them & sunglasses again…I felt more like me than I had in a long time.

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” I know I have my many faults…but if I pass along a love for photography and capturing the perfect image my job is done!

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

It was so great to see all the bees–hard at work making honey!

We explored the farm and found the Herb Garden & Bee Apiary & Essential Oil Distillery…some of these places weren’t doing typical things like serving refreshments–but it still was lovely to wander around and see the areas.

We also stopped at Farm B for a visit on the way home. There are some pretty ruins you can sit in..we found a table with an umbrella to sit at and enjoy some Lavender ice cream…

Katie had more fun feeding me ice cream…then eating it herself. (You will have to go watch the video on my Instagram feed…it’s hilarious!)

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

She also explored the ruins…and quietly placed little rocks into this circle for a few moments…until she discovered I was watching. Then she promptly got up and ran away!

If you are in the area…I really strongly recommend going to the farm for a visit. The fields are lovely…the staff is friendly and helpful (from a distance). Masks aren’t mandatory in the fields…because you can keep a 6ft distance. But if you go in the store it’s limited entry–one group at a time & masks are mandatory.

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

When we went into the store… Katie was in the stroller and immediately said, “Oh Momma–look at all those Teddy Bears–I’d like one please.” I couldn’t say no… and I’m not sure what toddler would resist the gorgeous display of teddy’s. So “Milton” has come home with us… he is filled with a lavender sachet…and smells amazing! (I’m secretly hoping the lavender will help her sleep too!)

When the woman in the store asked her what the Teddy Bear’s name would be…Katie said, “Elephant!” and started to laugh. Then she declared, “I’m funny-I just joking!” We also talked about naming him “Lavender” or “Milton” (his actual name on the tag…) time will tell what this little guy’s name will be!

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

Playing in Galena -Sky Window… the plants are all starting to grow up and into this cool structure…

We didn’t walk up the giant swing…this visit…but next visit we definitely will!

Photo Credit: Darcy-Rea Theriault

Thank for a great visit Terre Bleu Lavender Farm…we will return again! Maybe in August when your sunflowers (new for 2020) are in bloom!

“Hole in the Wall” Limestone Hike

This summer Katie, Darcy and I have been hitting the trails doing some small hikes close to home. Today was our 3rd hike we have done together–all the hikes have been usually a 10-15min car ride away-today it took a bit longer because we had to wait for a train! It has been fun to explore Halton and have new adventures so close to home.

This just shows a map of the area and how long of a distance we hiked!

Today we all had a late start, but around 10ish we looked at the temperature and it was only 24C so we got excited and decided to go venture out for a hike. We were able to get everything we needed put together and were in the car leaving by 10:30ish.

Our destination was Limestone Conservation Area . Here’s a bit more about the area:

“A visit to Limehouse Conservation Area is an opportunity to experience the natural wonders of the Niagara Escarpment as well as the cultural heritage of its past. The Bruce Trail and its side trails take visitors through a variety of Escarpment landscapes and even into its geological heart at an area known as the “Hole in the Wall”, where ladders cut through fissures in the escarpment rock. Credit Valley Conservation has installed and re-opened the bridge over Black Creek at Limehouse and the Bruce Trail has been re-routed accordingly, taking the visitor past unique natural and cultural features. Past to Present: Trails also take visitors past remnants of the Lime industry where they can stand before huge lime kilns and associated features like an old powderhouse. These cultural heritage resources of the 1800’s are representative of an important part of Ontario ‘s past associated with the Niagara Escarpment resources.” Source

Photo credit: Darcy Theriault

Hiking has something I have loved to do and dreamed of the day I could share that with my children. The summer I was expecting Katie with my hiking group we did a series of 5 hikes to get a badge each were 10-15kms (I know I left you hanging… maybe someday I’ll go back and finish up sharing about that hiking series… spoiler alert: I did finish and I did get my badge!!)

Because of life the past 2 summers I haven’t been able to get on any hiking trails at all. So this summer wanted to I change that–let me tell you hiking with a toddler is so much fun.

You just have to be prepared. Make sure you bring snacks and water for both of you and have enough time to go at a toddler pace! I also have a MEC Hiking backpack (got it used off of FB marketplace has been the best $50 investment!- even though it’s missing the backpack that clips onto the bottom).

Katie usually starts off walking…then after our first break often climbs in for a ride…then often gets out to do the last km of our hike. Katie is now 34lbs…so hiking with that weight on your back is another fun way to get your exercise in! Today she walked probably 2kms then got a ride for about 1km…and then walked the final 2kms back to the car.

It’s also about knowing your child’s abilities and going with it. Today on the trail a couple asked if their son could handle the hike? I said, “I have no clue–a) I’ve never been here and b) I don’t know what your son is capable of”. You need to know your child’s abilities in order to assess if they can do activities safely…and at what level of risk is it for them.

All spring I have been working with Katie to build up endurance in walking so that we could be able to hike this summer some of the longer trails. We have practiced by walking on a nature trail behind our house and into the neighbourhood with a 3km loop. At first she would only walk a portion of it (getting rides in the wagon)… but now can walk the whole thing, but sometimes still chooses a ride in the wagon over walking!

You also have to be prepared to walk “a toddler km” pace… that can take anywhere from 15 to 35+mins! It’s so refreshing to stop and see the world from their level and eyes–what do they notice, what do they see… what catches their attention. Just need to keep that mind with meals/naps etc.

Darcy is an amazing photographer. I’ve been so lucky to be able to include a few of hers in this post…as well as share some of the ones she captures of Katie in action on a daily basis.

She and I have enjoyed bringing our cameras for our hikes–Katie has also decided that she needs to bring her camera! (It’s a little wooden camera…that she uses backwards to take photos!) But it makes the hikes extra fun–because often she says, “need to stop to take a photo momma–just a second!” (just like her momma–monkey see monkey do!)

This part of the trail is so much fun. They call it the “Hole in the Wall”–they have added ladders to be able to get down and walk thru the fissures of the rock in the escarpment. I was definitely glad to have a 2nd set of hands as I sent Katie down the ladder… (she wasn’t in the backpack yet).

Darcy at the bottom of the ladder and then on the other side of the “Hole in the Wall”.

Photo credit: Darcy Theriault

Katie was so excited to go down the ladders…she talked about getting back to the ladders and really didn’t want to leave this spot on the hike. However, we were able to re-direct her attention so we could find new things to explore!

This whole area–can be pretty hazardous…there are lots of fissures and cracks you could fall into. So if you have young children make sure to hold their hands and not let them wander away from you. Katie has learned in our hikes so far this year that we need to stay on the trail. Today we added “need to hold momma’s hand for safety”. She is pretty good listening to these rules, and knows if she doesn’t I will just put her up the backpack and she usually likes her freedom–so she will stop and hold my hand!

Katie loved walking back thru the “Hole in the Wall” to the ladder.

When you hike with a toddler you need to get use to rests and breaks! Katie sat here on this rock and watched others walk down the hill that we just came down. Katie usually announces that there are people coming on a trail and we often get to the side to give them space to pass. (I think this might because I keep telling her she needs to give people space because of Covid-19).

The first time we crossed this little bridge Katie was in the backpack…it was so tight that I couldn’t even turn the other direction! On our return trip she was so excited to be over the water–got down on all 4s to see if she could see the water…then peaked through the railing to see the cool rock-bridge left over from the late 1800s early 1900s industry in the area.

My attempt to get a selfie of all of us… it was very rushed and not in focus!

The Limehouse kilns date back to 1800’s represent an important part of Ontario’s past associated with the Niagara Escarpment’s natural resources. The Lime Kilns operated for approx. 75 years (from the late 1840s to 1915). It would employ over 100 men at times. The kilns closed when more modern technologies became available, the quarries were being exhausted and the realization that blasting associated with quarrying was encroaching on the residential area!

This is one of the Draw Kilns…they date from the early 1870s. This style of kiln required 3 days to start up to get to heat the interior walls, but was considered an improvement over the ‘set kilns’ as they could be used constantly. The draw kiln was approximately 16 metres high–making the top of the kiln level with the quarry…so that horse teams could bring in the wagon loads of raw limestone to the opening at the top of the kiln. From my research it looks like this kiln is being worked on and restored. It’s behind a fence–because those rocks have been there a long time, but you never know when one might decide to come crashing down!

This is one of the remnants of a “Set Kiln”… this dates back to the 1850s. There was a row of them–each kiln was approx. 4metres in height and 2 1/2metres in depth and hollow with an opening at the top. Limestone & other ingredients were loaded into the kiln along with firewood. The kiln would burn for 3-4 days with wood being added in the fire holes at the bottom front of the kiln. A set kiln had to shut down and cool before the lime chunks could be removed out of the fire hole. This is what made the “draw kiln” more popular technology because it didn’t have to shut down to remove the limestone chunks–it was a continuous operation!

Here is a “Powder Magazine” or Explosives Storage. It was erected in the mid-1850s, is located in a slight depression of the old quarry floor to limit damage from debris in case of an accidental explosion. A secure storage place was necessary for the various explosives and gunpowder used in the blasting operations.

So many of my photos of Katie are blur and motion/freeze. No matter how fast my shutter speed is–she’s always in motion!

We met a Cockatoo on the hike today… His name was Danny. His owners stepped back to let us pass safely–and Katie was excited to see him!

Coming back to the ‘sitting rock’…watching people come down before we go back up to the ladders!

Photo credit: Darcy Theriault

Another fun tip for us… is Katie has been so excited and loves to play “tag”…so to pick up the pace once we were past the fissure/cracks… we let her “chase” us, her running behind letting you know you were “it!” Even some strangers on the hike today got an “Your IT…Hi, Hello… Your IT” greeting!

It was a great day. We hiked 5.25km and it took us 1 hour and 42mins to complete. (This included our stops and snack breaks!). I was so happy to finally be able to have visited this place–been wanting to for awhile…I do want to go back at some point to do some more of the trails around and explore a bit more!

Happy Canada Day

It’s been awhile…lots of life has happened since I last posted in the summer of 2017. Someday soon I might share some of those changes. (honestly, I’m not even sure if anyone will read this!) But today I just wanted to share a few moments from today as I celebrated Canada Day with my daughter.

My Little Ladybug is very close to being 2 1/2 years old–technically July 6th she’ll officially be 2 1/2. Time has flown so quickly!

My friend, Darcy also is in the photos… she’s been staying with me since May to help with childcare. Let’s just say working full time and having a toddler in the house is 2 full time jobs! I’m so glad that she was able to come and help me.

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”― Mary Anne Radmacher

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

MEC Race Series: June (5km #6)

Well June was here and even though there has been so much rain.  But today there was lots of sunshine that greeted all the runners for the 1/2 marathon, 10km and 5km courses…

Josefina and I were ready as we could be…honestly over my holidays I haven’t been running as much as I should have been.  I’ve been doing more hiking…but probably need to add a few more training runs into my routine. 

One thing I did learn which isn’t something that new… that I don’t like the heat…and really don’t like running in the heat any better! I’m excited that next month’s race in July… will be a wet one…with water and foam on the course for the Foam Fest Toronto!

Again so glad we are doing this together Josefina…we are 1/2 way through the year…6 races done 7 to go! Let’s finish this year strong.

Next Month: Foam Fest Toronto

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2017 quest…13 Races in 2017… (1per month and 2 in September) a baker’s dozen:

 

Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club’s Historical Hiking Series: Hockley Valley Hike #2

Last week our ‘Take a Hike Group’ tackled the first hike and this week’s hike was in the Hockley Valley.  Last night our group of 12 started and finished Hike #2.  It was a fun hike, even though it was longer than we all expected…thank goodness for snacks that I brought along and was able to share!

If you are looking for details of the hike…here is the instructions (more can be found on the Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club’s Website).

Hockley Valley Hike: Map 18

Distance: Approx. 10 km loop (but was more like 14 kms–that was a ‘fun’ surprise!!)

Park: In the parking lot on Hockley Road, just east of 2nd Line EHS.

Hike:

  •  West along Hockley Road using the Hockley Road Side Trail, to meet the main Trail as it enters the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve
  • Follow the main Trail to km 62.5 and then take the Tom East Side Trail to the main Trail at km 64.7
  • Follow the main Trail to km 65.7 and take the Isabel East Side Trail
  • From km 66.5 of the main Trail, head back along the main trail to km 62.5
  • Return to the parking lot via the Hockley Road Side Trail

Photos Required: ’39 Chevy sedan; William Thomas Allen’s bench; Jeju Olle Trail Marker

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The funny thing about this hike was we kept looking for the “Jeju Olle Trail Marker” the whole time we were hiking…and NEVER saw it.  

However, once we were done and went through the photos Mira let us know that the marker was actually at the bottom of the photo that is below– in that blue frame close to the ground! (I even unaware snuck a selfie of it!) 
After all the rain we have been having it was a nice GREEN hike… so nice to see the flowers starting to pop up along the trail.

Some Historical Information about this hike was provided by the CHBTC. “This hike follows the route of the Jeju Olle Bruce Trail Friendship Trail, which is twinned with Route #2 of the Jeju Olle Trail in South Korea. Officially opened in September 2011, this friendship trail consists of the Tom East Side Trail, Isabel East Side Trail, Glen Cross Side Trail and the main Trail to form a 9.6 km double loop.”

We had a few ladders to climb up and over the fences. Usually a rule of thumb when hiking is not to touch nature when you don’t know what the little creatures are… turned out this little orange fellow would have caused problems for anyone picking it up!

This hike had heaps of UPS and DOWNS…guess that goes with the hike being in the “Caledon Hills”… LOL

The one thing I’ve come to love about hiking on the Bruce Trails is all the signage and maps along routes!  What an awesome place to hike with the trail marked so clearly.  …starting to get dark but this hike isn’t finished yet!  The rivers or probably more like creeks in the summer months were full of water… we have gotten so much water later!  Love me some moss on a tree.  

…this random photo below was a happy surprise when I edited my photos from my camera.  Mira was getting everyone lined up at the William Thomas Allen’s bench for our required photo! 

Some more historical info about this spot on the trail.

“As you travel along the Isabel East Side Trail be sure to take a few minutes to pause and sit on the bench that overlooks the meadow. A few years ago Laurence Christie, long-time Caledon Hills volunteer, built this bench because it was one of his favourite view spots, especially in the late afternoon. It was also constructed to honour the farmer who worked on this land in the early 1900s. William Thomas Allen, along with his wife Minnie, bought the farm where our trail passes through in 1914. William operated a threshing machine business for over 40 years and was regarded by many to Photo: Hockley Valley Nature Reserve Trailhead Sign be a good friend and a wonderful neighbour. All that remains of the farm now are the foundation stones of the old barn; a depression in the ground where the house likely stood, beside which are a few lilacs; and out in the farm meadow beside our trail, the remains of the old binder rusting away in the sumacs. The dedication on the bench is to William Thomas Allen (1873-1947).”

Photo Credit: Mira Budd Photography

Photo Credit: Mira Budd Photography

Walking along this path, and sitting for a moment on the bench really made me think about the farmers that worked to clear this land and farm it.  What a hard go they must have had to make a life…but with views like this it was sure to be rewarding!

We were all excited to see the ’39 Sedan on the trail (because that meant the hike was almost over!) 
Here’s some info around the car…

“The abandoned car that you’ll come across as you return on the main Trail has long been a topic of discussion amongst hikers. Where exactly did it come from, and how did it get to where it currently rests? Thanks to club archivist Helen Billing, we’ve recently come across an article penned by Bill Taylor, which reveals the origins of this ’39 Chevy sedan. Prior to the creation of the Hockley Valley Nature Reserve in the 1970’s, this part of the Nature Reserve was owned and farmed by the Nevett family. The car in question was purchased by the family in approximately 1951, and was used until it broke down on the way home from a family vacation in the summer of 1956. Stored in the barnyard for a few years, the car came to its current resting place sometime between 1959 and1961. With ways to dispose of unwanted vehicles limited at that time, moving cars and broken down machinery out of sight and out mind was a common practice (which you’ll notice as you hike the length of the Bruce Trail).”

Photo Credit: Mira Budd Photography

We were so excited to finish this 14 km hike… instead of taking 2 hours…it was more just over 4 hours! However, I wouldn’t have wanted to hike with anyone else but my “Take A Hike” friends. Hike #3 & #4 happen when I’m on holidays in Newfoundland…so will have to do those ones solo away from the Take A Hike group…but with other friends!



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