Well, you've likely noticed I've been significantly MIA in the "real blog posting" realm the last little while. Mostly because my real life got in the way.
So I present to you my online scrapbook (read: long post with pictures) in lieu of some heartwrenching, thought-provoking introspective blog posting. My blog-brain is on vacay.
We had a couple days at my sister-in-law's family cottage, and then another couple of lovely days at my hubby's boss's cottage (which was uber lovely, because our kids were of similar ages so we - gasp - had some ADULT time!).
And then we embarked on the long awaited early anniversary weekend away. Sans kids.
Without further adieu, the following is the bullety lowdown:
1/ Dropped the kids off at the sister's house downtown. My sister is so energetic, she takes on two kids on top of her one year old, and plans the ENTIRE weekend of activities for the kiddies, including Centre Island, Ward Island and High Park. Excellent plan on our part ... best that the kids be exhausted when we pick them up.
2/ Drove a long 2.5 hours to the lovely Niagara-on-the-Lake ... usually a 1.5 hour drive, but we were in Friday, get-out-of-city traffic. I cannot count the number of times "relax, enjoy the ride" were uttered to me on one hand. Oh to relax to the soothing sounds of Howard Stern interviewing Seth Rogen. Bliss.
(For those of you who don't know, this is a fabulous wine-region in Ontario, known in particular for ice wines. )
3/ Checked in to the lovely Shaw Club Inn with personalized service, a lounge complete with DVD library with some recent selections. And what? What's this? FREE computer and internet access in lounge?!!! Not that I noticed.
Our room was modern, zen with rain shower and a Cold Play CD playing as our background music. Just perfect. How did they know?
4/ Dinner downstairs at Zee's, with the largest patio in town, and a lovely view of main street. The menu? Goat cheese croque-monsieur salad and Morroccan spiced scallops; Pinot Noir and Blueberry Tea to complete the evening. Crab cakes and Lamb shanks for the man. Dee-Lish.
5/ One thing I love about Niagara-on-the-Lake is that I feel like a teenager whenever I'm there. It's got a large retirement community. The after dinner walk down Main Street made me feel almost giddy. Late night Peach Daiquiri made me giddilicious.
6/ Next morning, for some reason we were up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 AM, so watched the rest of "The Savages" which is, despite the brilliant performances and uplifting ending, a deep, and often depressing film. Not the best for an anniversary celebration. Oh well.
We had a nice breakfast, and headed over the the Shaw Club Spa for their decadent Couples package. A close friend of ours had warned us to avoid a "couples massage" at all costs because he found it too weird when he indulged with his wife, and the fact that two other individuals were with them while they were undressed ... well, you get what he meant. So in the spirit of all things weird, of course we just HAD to try it for ourselves.
It was actually quite fun and funny. I asked my therapist whether couples talk or are silent (of course, we being the odd balls, couldn't keep quiet); whether any couple had ever held hands during a side-by-side massage. And she said yes, but only once in her experience- awkward. And we laughed, all four of us.
Facials and pedicures completed the morning. The ladies who did these services were so pleasant and hilarious. We left the spa feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and with a lovely bouquet of roses to symbolize the memories.
7/ On the agenda for the afternoon: a bike ride to some local wineries. But first a nice lunch at Charles Inn patio.
Lovely lunch - check.
Dessert for me: a bee sting that left a welt on my left thigh, the size of my fist and in the shape of Australia. Yikes! What is it about me and outdoors that does not mix?
The damn thing was resting comfortably in the folds of my napkin and got annoyed when I picked it up to wipe my mouth. Nice. Very romantic. And me, I'm not the greatest patient. Ian's first reaction - after I bit my lips, tears streaming down my face as I cursed in such a lady-like fashion and pulled out the stinger (which, by the way, you're NOT supposed to do. Scraping it out would have been better to avoid spreading the venom... where's Google when you need it? ) - was that it would have been easier if he was the one stung. But I'm always the lucky one.
Nixed the bike ride.
8/ No matter, still managed to stroll and do a little shopping, before heading back to the hotel. Took a nap(it has been 15 years, people!) .. - while my leg was throbbing, watched a really, really bad Tori Spelling movie. Don't ask why, just a mystery of life. It was so bad we had to watch the entire thing. Sort of like rubbing salt into a wound. But we had to rest up for what we thought would be a magical evening ahead...
9/ An enchanted wine garden dinner at Peller Estates Winery. Heavenly surroundings.
Mind you, we didn't realize we'd signed up for an "intimate" dinner along with 12 others that we'd never met. Strangers. Okay, so we rolled with the punches, but it wasn't what we had expected.
Thank goodness we were pleasantly surprised, and met some very nice couples. When Ian mentioned we were at NOTL for our 15th wedding anniversary, and the nice young recently engaged fellow said "Congrats, did you get married when you were 12?" to us -- well, that alone was well worth the price of admission.
See the happy couple...
Dinner, a five-course affair paired with wines. Absolute decadence.
10/ It was still early when we got back to the hotel, around 10:30. But the bar was closing!! We're not THAT old. So we walked into town to look for another venue for further libations.
And we found it ... or rather heard it, coming from the Angel Inn Pub. A live band was playing rock and blues in an area that could barely house the couple of dozen people in the bar section. People dancing, laughing, drinking... "Mustang Sally" was a highlight for me. No dancing though; I was afraid I was going to be trampled by this one fellow who had a few too many.
My kind of place:
By this time I had totally forgotten about my leg. Having too great a time. Fuzzy, boozy brain may have had something to do with it.
11/ After checking out the next morning, drove back past some wineries and over to the Royal Botanical Gardens and horticultural college. The grounds were immaculately groomed; just beautiful. And we did talk, and not only about the kids. We laughed. A lot. I'm better with my one-liners and he's more receptive to them, when the kids aren't around.
12/ Lunched at Vineland Estates. This was the highlight for us. We think it was the best lunch we have had...EVER. Remember the blueberry dessert? This was the entree:
13/ Picked up wine, some peaches, and headed home to the best homecoming. Kids had been very good for their aunt and uncle; and my boy, he took very, very good care of his little sister.
And all this after having called us only three times all weekend. The last call was to declare it the worst day of his life - which of course it would be if your shoes and hands were wet and had goose poop all over them. So I'm glad that his smile and hugs when we picked them up signalled that things were all better.
We told my sister and her husband that they could bank this one. After all, to parents of a one year old, that's worth more than gold.
Time away as a couple shouldn't be a "nice to have". No matter how short the time is before the cloud of happiness dissipates and the reality of life hits you , the thing is, at least we had it. And we have the memory of it.
We're going to try to recapture this more than once every 15 years.
After all, my right leg needs a matching patch of stingwelt. Maybe that'll happen next time.