Howdy my friends! Time for another quick tale of fun and excitement from the pages of my travel journal. Right off the bat, I’m going to admit something to all of you. Jody and I simply haven’t had the chance to get away just the two of us for quite some time. As it turns out, between our various international trips last year, due mainly to my own selfish NZ ambitions, we just didn’t travel together. While this was admittedly not a conscious decision, we certainly do plan to rectify that in the coming years by having some more excellent international adventures! In order to get back on that track, we decided it best to start small by a weekend getaway in the beautiful area around Picton known as Prince Edward county. There are a bunch of new wineries springing up, and we decided to do some cycle wine touring and stay in a B and B. Of course, another major reason for this getaway was to meet up with my sister Andrea, as well as Patrick and Helena. More on that later on if you read the full post, but in the meantime, you can have a gander at a little custom map that I put together of our wine touring, as well as the pictures that Jody posted on flickr.
So just how exactly were we meeting with Andrea, given that she currently resides halfway around the world in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia? Well, simple, the family was traveling to Canada for other reasons, but would only be in Toronto and around Picton. This was for a family wedding on Patrick’s side. Also, given that Jody and I were flying out to visit her family the following week, there would only be a very small window of opportunity to visit with them. So small in fact, that it ended up being only about 5 hours in total! However, it was still well worth the 3 hour drive, given that it also gave us a little break from Ottawa life. Prince Edward County has become a rather popular destination of late, and several of our friends had already made the journey earlier this year.
We had decided to not only visit wineries, but we were keen on checking out the Counties Cidery, as well as the Black River Cheese company, as well as any and all breweries that we could find. Apart from booking a bed and breakfast, we’d made no real attempts at planning out any sort of itinerary, opting rather to just ‘wing it’ and go where the spirit moved us. Well, that and the whims of mother nature. Given this summer’s track record, we were cognizant of the fact that there was a good chance we’d have to call off the biking. Granted, I’m happy to train on my bike in the rain, but when I’m out for a leisurely wine tour on it, I have to draw the line, wouldn’t you agree. Although we may have liked to slip out on Friday night, we had no pre-arranged dog sitters, and all the kennels are in their peak summer bookings, so we instead left on Satruday morning, and entrusted our happy mutt with Dave, who did a great job taking care of Jonah in our absence.
Leaving Saturday wasn’t a big deal from the family perspective either, as Andrea, Patrick and Helena weren’t due to arrive until Sunday anyway, spending Saturday evening in Toronto for a Bachelor party, and not due to check into a cottage until Sunday afternoon. We talked them into coming to the county as early as they could on Sunday so that we could share a meal and a good visit, and then allow for Jody and I to get on the road to return Sunday evening.
The B and B we stayed at was a lovely place called the Cornelius White House, located in Bloomfield, ON, halfway between Picton and the major wineries. This proved to be a great location both in terms of proximity to the attractions we were interested in, as well as the fact that the hosts and facilities were top notch. I think we really lucked out in finding that place, as they had only a single night available in one room, and a lot of places only accept 2 night bookings in the summer. So in that regard, we were pretty fortunate.
First order of business upon arrival in the region was to head straight to the County Cidery, where we had lunch and some excellent ciders. The food was stone-fired pizzas prepared outdoors in a stone oven. What a treat. The views were great, the food delicious, and it was a strong start to our fun weekend. After devouring our meals, we made our way to the B and B, dropped our stuff off, and proceeded to bike to the wineries of the region. In the end, we visited a total of 5 wineries: Norman Hardie, Sandbanks, Rosehall Run, Carmella Estates, and By Chadsey’s Cairns. Each offered a modest selection of wines, but all of them generally enjoyable. The one downfall of bike touring to them all was the logistics in transporting bottles around. In the end, we bought 9 bottles of wine between the two of us. I had 5 in my pack, and Jody had 4. The load was getting a bit weighty, but the samples along the route helped ease our burden 🙂
Once back from our little wine adventure, we headed out for supper at a local Texas Grill style place called JJs. We first looked at a fancy pants french restaurant right by the B and B, and knew it would have been good, but after spending a lot on wine, and being famished, we opted for the easy eats in the end. We were both quite pleased with the choice. I had braised ribs with all the fixins, and Jody had some apparently tasty Fish and Chips. Nice ending to the day. We headed back to our accommodations, enjoying some pool table fun while watching the Olympics on a big TV in the ‘lounge’. Of course while enjoying some chilled cider from the fridge. Did I mention this was a peach of a place?
Overnight, there were raging, and I do mean raging thunderstorms, the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a while. Luckily, it rained itself out by morning, and we awoke to clear skies and wet grass. Of course, we wouldn’t be on the bikes today anyway, so that was fine. The breakfast spread was fantastic, and once we’d had our fill, we went out for a nice Sunday drive around Sandbanks Park to kill time. They wanted something like $14 just to park there, even if you’re only there for 20 minutes, so we had to be creative with where we parked and what we did 🙂 After our car tour, we headed for the brewery, which wasn’t opening till noon. Luckily, there was a homemade ice cream place, Slickers, pretty close on the road, so we had a tasty treat before getting a brewery tour of the newest addition to the area, the Barley Day’s Brewery. They only had dark beer ready for sale, which was fine by me, as I really liked it.
From the brewery, we were off to the Black River Cheese factory, and then lunch with Andrea et al at a place called The Inn, located at lake on the mountain, a nice spot overlooking the river where a ferry crosses. The family visit, although brief, was a great one, and we got to become re-acquainted with our little niece Helena. I’m sure that I’m biased, but I’d say she’s one cute girl. Although, she has taken to having a few hissy fits and man can she scream! Might have something to do with all the jet lag and what have you. Either way, she’s talking a lot more, and just generally being a lot more interesting and adorable. We’re already looking forward to having them all back in the same city as us! However, that will have to wait. However, plans are already in the works for a little visit over the Christmas period to the ‘Magic Kingdom’ of Saudi Arabia!
Well, that’s about all the time I have to write my story. Our plane just arrived at the gate here in Vancouver, so I’ll be losing my wi-fi soon to board the plane, and want to get this posted. Hope everyone is well, and stay tuned for stories from the West Coast (and the dry west coast for once so far!). Toodles.