Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thursday's variation - champagne and mango!

(Sorry for the delay, folks -- my report of our honeymoon got interrupted by yet another vacation.   Decadence!)

Thursday morning, we awakened to a beautiful day.  We opted for a large, late breakfast, so we could skip lunch that day, then have an early dinner (reason why later!).  I went all out and had the "omelette supreme", which lived up to its name in fine fashion.  Once finished, we grabbed a sticky bun for "dessert" and an extra mug of coffee and headed down to the deck gazebo to enjoy the breeze.

As this was our last full day at the Inn, and we hadn't actually taken advantage of any of the boats or other recreational offerings, we decided to grab a canoe and make some attempt at exercise.  While my technique was pretty rusty and Don's was... ahem... yet-to-be-learned (onlookers would have enjoyed our lovely zig-zag pattern, though!), we had a nice tootle around Eagle Lake, peeking in at cottage properties and fantasizing about having our own fully maintenance-free one (hey, it's a fantasy!).  We had the distant company of a pair of loons for much of our jaunt -- so, although our steering may have been questionable, we obviously weren't splashing around too much for their comfort!

Feeling virtuous, we headed back to the room for a wee nap for our last-day double-header.

And what a double-header!  Two full hours of pampering at the hands of the spa staff.  Ahhh...  It started with a Champagne Mimosa Sugar Scrub, with the ladies rubbing us down in loofa-like mitts with, yes, champagne and sugar and a bunch of yummy-smelling oils.  Once we were suitably exfoliated, we were coated with a gooey, deliciously-scented Mango Enzyme Body Wrap, and then twisted into a warm linen cocoon.  While we relaxed there in ooey-gooey goodness, we were treated to a blissful face and scalp massage.  Did I mention, "ahhh..."?  Once this segment was over, they sent our cocooned bodies waddling into the shower room, where we rinsed off the mango and grabbed some fresh robes, only to head right on back into the treatment room for our moisturizing treatment -- Don stuck to the mango, I went for the champagne.  :-)  This final goop-ing was followed by an hour-long massage.  Oh me oh my...

We floated back to our room with orders to drink lots and lots of water.  Which we did, until we decided it was time for a final beer on the patio.  Sigh...

Early (well, for us, anyhow!) dinner -- our final one.  We descended to the wine cellar for a special bottle of red to celebrate our last night.  At the table, our waitress said the chef had gotten creative for me once again, and there was a non-menu item he'd made especially for me.  Woo-hoo!  It was absolutely incredible -- I don't know why he didn't include such a masterpiece on the main menu, because even die-hard carnivores would have probably enjoyed it.  Little puff-pastry-like forms of baked whipped potato (and something else, I assume, to help them keep their shapes), filled with a delicious lentil (yes, those words can go together!) peppery mixture that made me wonder how on earth I used to think I didn't like lentils.  I would have asked for the recipe, except... it didn't quite seem like the kind of thing you can cook in 30-minutes-or-less, which is usually the extent of my culinary concentration.  I'll just have to go back and ask for it next year!  Somehow, I was negligent and didn't write down either the appetizer or the dessert -- and my memory ain't what it used to be.  I know they were really good, and I remember being surprised that I ate everything on my plate for all three courses, but I can't remember what two of those courses were... drat!  Apologies...

We took our final glass of wine out on the deck to savour and digest for a bit.  Then it was time for our late-night visit to the WaterSpa!  It truly is a different experience at night, and we were fortunate to have the place to ourselves.  Bathing by mostly moonlight, with some little tiny star-like lights in the ceiling, and a warm glow coming from... well, never figured it out, exactly, but wasn't interested in the technology at the time, I have to say!  If we weren't relaxed enough by the earlier champagne and mango treatments, we certainly were by the end of our WaterSpa circuit.

Don went to the bar to ask for a couple of champagne glasses and an ice bucket, so we could enjoy one of the bottles of champagne we were given as a wedding present (this one was yours, Debbie and Mitchell -- thanks!).  The bartender handed him an ice bucket, then frowned and grabbed it back, saying that wasn't nice enough for a last-night celebration with wedding champagne.  He came back with a fancy silver ice bucket, and carefully selected and polished two glasses to send up to the room.  Now that's class treatment!

And so we spent our last night finishing off the chocolate strawberries with a bottle of champagne in a fancy bucket with hand-polished glasses -- opting to skip the hot-tub this time!  :-)

We WILL be back...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday's variation: single malt and strawberries

Wednesday morning, we were in much better shape, so got a little more adventurous with breakfast.  For me, it was a fabulous vegetarian omelette with goat cheese -- mmm-mmm!  Got a final refill of coffee, and took our cups out onto the lawn, where we found some nearly-dry muskoka chairs available.  Don started up a conversation with another happily honeymooning couple, who were equally impressed with Sir Sam's -- his one comment was "I keep trying to think up new things I can ask them, because so far nobody's said 'no' to anything!"  I don't think he ever did find that "no"-able question -- I know we never did!

Coffee consumed, we decided to head upstairs to change into some hiking gear, and check out the trails.  The housekeeping staff were just leaving our room as we arrived -- one of them bubbled "I know we're not supposed to comment on things we see in guests' rooms, privacy you know, but I saw your John Irving book, and I just love him -- is it new?" (yes it was: Last Night in Twisted River)  And so began a delightful conversation with a sweet young woman we never saw again.  Unfortunately, Don didn't finish his book before we headed for home, or we would have left it for her -- obviously a big Irving fan!

Just as we headed out to the trail, the raindrops started to fall.  Oops!  Plan B... back to the room for our books, and onto the porch to read and watch the rain fall softly on the... ok, maybe not so softly... ok, now the wind is picking up a little and... ok, now we're getting soaking wet even on the covered porch!  Plan C: bring books inside and watch the storm through the windows.  And what a storm!!!  The clouds rolling over the lake, the lightning exploding overhead, the thunder rumbling so hard it felt like an earthquake.  Mother nature at her finest!

All that thinking of a hike had, of course, made us a bit hungry, so we headed into the pub for some lunch. Perusing the menu, I mumbled something about getting a little tired of fish, and my sweetie -- against my protest -- asked our waiter if there was anything non-fishy on the menu for dinner that night?  She went in to check with the chef, and he said he'd whip up something special for me (a good thing, too, since that night's menu didn't even have any fish on it, it was all meat!).  For lunch, then, I ordered a delicious salad with almonds and apricots and goat cheese and... all sorts of things I forgot to write down, but they were delicious.

Then it was time to prepare for our couple's massage.  Upon meeting our second masseuse, I was a little concerned -- she was a small person with a quiet voice and tiny, gentle hands.  While delicately starting on my back, she told me to let her know if she was working me too hard -- I answered "I don't think that's possible!"... at which point, all delicacy was set aside.  Ahhh... she must have been exhausted by the end of it, because I don't know how she managed to get all that weight and pressure into my muscles from such a small frame.  But she did it beautifully.  :-)  Once again, we both left the treatment room feeling like happy jelly!  We wobbled around for a while, drinking lots of water and tea... until we figured it was cocktail hour.

By this point, the rain had stopped, so we took our beer out onto the lawn and watched the world go by.  Local cottager Bill Candy was going to be playing on the patio that evening -- I remembered his name from somewhere, but couldn't remember where.  When we went in to the bar for a refill, the bartender introduced us to Bill.  I didn't recognize him at all, but after a bit of a conversation, we realized he and Don had played together in a festival several years before.  He was ready to start playing, so we headed out onto the patio to listen for a while before our dinner reservation -- he was drawing quite the crowd, and our table was eagerly snatched up by a waiting couple when we headed in for our meal.

We headed down to the wine cellar and picked out a lovely pinot noir.  As promised, the chef had whipped up something special for me for dinner!  My appetizer (from the main menu) was a delicious cambozola and greens salad.  Dinner was pasta with roasted vegetables and goat cheese -- so good that, once again, there wasn't anything left on my plate.  Stuffed to the gills, I opted for the strawberries for dessert, although some of the more decadent options were very tempting!

The plan for that night had been to pay a night-time visit to the WaterSpa after dinner, as we had been told that the lighting at night was beautiful and romantic.  But the combination of the earlier massage, full bellies and tasty beverages left me thinking that I would probably fall asleep and/or sink to the bottom.  Instead, we grabbed a couple of diamond-encrusted scotches (we still weren't aware of the price tag) from Margo and brought them up to our room, calling it an early night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The morning after the champagne and strawberries the night before...

Tuesday morning.  Note to self: the combination of hot jacuzzi and champagne is not a wise one, especially when you have to get up for breakfast the next morning.

But get up we did, slightly miraculously.  And breakfast at Sir Sam's Inn is definitely worth the effort!  (Yes, Mom, even I ate breakfast!)  The buffet table is stocked with various juices, cereals, fruit, breads, muffins, and sweet rolls.  Plus you can choose from two or three hot breakfasts -- a different selection each morning.  Considering my woozy head, I decided to forego adventure and go with scrambled eggs this time 'round (unfortunately, however, I forgot to mention I prefer my eggs really really really well-done -- my only food disappointment the entire week, although my own fault).  And coffee, lots of coffee... and juice, lots of juice.

Breakfast accomplished, we went back to our room to decide which peaceful activity we might try that morning... and quickly fell into comas.  Yes, a good brisk nap was in order... and, fortunately did the trick.

Once that frenzy of activity was over, we obviously needed to replenish ourselves with lunch!  On to the patio for a wee bite.  I opted for a delicious vegetarian pizza on a phyllo pastry... splendid!  Don went for a burger that was so delicious, he was about 3/4 finished it before he realized it hadn't been cooked all the way through -- his only food disappointment the entire week, though our waiter said she'd take 1/2 off the bill (which, considering he'd eaten more than half, was a generous offer).

A little bit of wandering, and then it was time for my first massage!  We had booked a couple's massage, but one of the women was not able to make it, so we went back-to-back today, instead -- Don ever-so-virtuously going for a workout while I had my appointment.  Despite our pre-wedding massages the week before, and another one two weeks previous, this masseuse definitely had her work cut out for her!  My back and shoulders were in their typical "crunchy" formations, but she pummelled them into submission and left me feeling like very happy jelly.  I was sent forth with an order to drink lots and lots of water (oh, if she only knew!), and said a quick hello to Don in the waiting room.

A little less virtuously, I went to read my book during Don's appointment.  :-)  But it was a terrific book: "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage" by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Yes, some might question it as appropriate reading material for a honeymoon, but... as I said in my wedding vows, if I'd listened to my brain in the first place, I wouldn't be here in my bliss-filled life with a man I adore.  And, as I read more and more of the book, I realized just how incredibly uber-appropriate reading this book was.  I'm sure Ms. Gilbert has heard far too many times "it's almost as if you wrote your book about me!" but... holy geez, it was like she'd written the book about me.  :-)

For your edification:

1) almost-40 highly creative (and, one might argue, slightly neurotic) woman attempting to come to grips with the concept of marriage;
1a) loves food and wine
1b) forever questioning herself and the world around her
1c) prone to meditation and searching
1d) much more forgiving of the world than of herself
2) has previously had to survive an unhappy marriage and soul-crushing divorce (OK, I had her beat there: two abusive marriages and soul-crushing divorces);
3) after banging her head one too many times on rock bottom, swears off men (temporarily, of course, let's not get crazy about it!) and takes soul-awakening inner and outer journeys that finally make her feel strong and alright about herself...
4) when suddenly, she meets and unexpectedly falls in love with a man 17 years her senior (mine's 18, but who's counting?)...
5) who has also had a soul-crushing marriage and divorce experience that left him shaken and shattered and disillusioned (albeit in Bali... slightly different than Barrie!)
6) so they live together in romantic bliss for several years, knowing they don't need government or religious sanction for theirs to be a sacred bond, a lifetime union...
7) when suddenly (OK, our tale doesn't involve homeland security, she's got me there!) they find themselves staring marriage in the face and
8) she needs to figure out a way to convince herself that that's alright.

Damn, I should have written a book, instead of dealing with months of fretting and loss of sleep before making peace with the concept -- I could have made money off my struggle and had Julia Roberts (with, perhaps, some extra padding) eventually portray me in a movie!  :-)

But, ahem... back to the honeymoon.

Don emerges from his massage a very happy, gloopy man.  We change into our bathing suits and inn-provided spa robes and pad down the hall for our first WaterSpa circuit.  Pure bliss!!!  The instructions on the wall suggest anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes for each station -- we stay at all of them until the jets turn themselves off, except for the air lounge, which we do twice because it's... just... that... good.  We must have stayed there about an hour and a half in total, and came out feeling even more relaxed, if that was possible.

Upstairs to wash the salt off, and then onto the deck for pre-dinner cocktails and murmurs of relaxed post-massage bliss.  Alas, the rain starts to come down a little heavily, so we retreat to the covered patio and watch the lake dance.

Don's still a little suspicious of the grape, so we opt to forego the bottle of wine with dinner -- I get their house red by the glass (as Air Canada and the Barrie Examiner know, you just don't pick a fight with Lyssy and win!) and he sticks with their local draught.  My appetizer is decadent blue cheese courgettes, followed by grilled local Walleye in a cajun-like seasoning, followed by raspberry creme brulee (who needs strawberries when you can have raspberry creme brulee?).  In a rare moment for someone who usually gets only a main course and still needs a doggie bag, I leave no crumb behind, no trace of creme or even brulee remains in the dish.  I vow to start exercising again in August, and send an extra birthday gift to our foster child in Nigeria.

The rainstorm continues with gusto, and we don't feel like being holed up in our room all night (and we sure as heck aren't getting back in that jacuzzi!), so we decide to sample the inn's supply of single malt.  My dear beloved picks out two from Islay: an 18-year Lagavulin and a 12-year Ardbeg.  The good news is, he prefers the Lagavulin and I prefer the Ardbeg, so nobody has to arm-wrestle.  The bad news is, we don't discover until checking our bill (several days later) just how fine our tastes are!  Ah well, you only get married once, right?   ;-)

We take our diamond-encrusted beverages out to the covered patio to watch the storm.  It appears that several others have had the same idea, and are are all cosily huddled at the side of the patio closest to the house, so the driving rain doesn't soak anyone.  We worm our way in to the gathering and discover that everyone on the patio is either on their honeymoon or anniversary!  Many of the anniversary couples were once here on their honeymoon, but keep returning -- we agree it's a brilliant idea.  It's a diverse group, ranging from a couple in their early twenties to... ugh, I hate guessing these things, but I'd say late sixties, most from Ontario but a couple from out west, and two from the States.  The next few hours of conversation covers everything from the weather to jobs to politics to children to geography to food to sports to US/Canada relations to how much better the world would be if this friendly patio crowd were in charge!  As people slowly tucker out and excuse themselves, we observe how this enjoyable visit with total strangers would not have happened, but for good old mother nature.

Once again, we night-owls are the last to leave the party.  Our friendly server, Margo, pops her head through the patio window to see if we'd like another diamond-encrusted single malt before the night is over?  She obviously doesn't know us very well... she brings us our thirds and joins us on the patio.  She, too, first came to Sir Sam's as a honeymooner, a moon or two ago.  Later, her family moved up to the region, and her daughter Katie (our server the night before) started working with the wait staff.  Several years ago, Katie convinced her mom to join her, and they've been working together here ever since -- except for Margo's anniversary weekend, when she becomes a guest once again.

We must mention that most of the staff here seem to have been working here for several years full-time, or are students who come back year after year.  In an industry that often struggles with staff itinerancy, this inn has obviously been treating its staff well, and inspires them to treat their guests even better!

The last drops licked from the bottom of our goblets, we bid good-night to Margo and head up to bed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday, continued - champagne, strawberries, and wildlife!

And so, we set off to explore the new terrain, wandering the grounds.  We headed down the hill to the water, and unknowingly entered the terrain of a duck, who started heading towards us.  Assuming we'd come too close to her nest, we switched the direction of our ambling.  She followed.  Oops, we must have guessed the wrong direction, so started walking away from the water.  Duck followed.  And so it continued, with us wandering a rather serpentine path, and the duck (whom Don later named Wonk) trailing along in a lazy "heel" position.  Even when we walked out onto the dock, Wonk stumbled along behind, tripping a little on the gaps between platforms, but still doggedly determined to be our chaperone.  So canine she appeared, we finally bent down to see if she wanted to be pet... but no, she tended more towards the feline with that concept.  Finally, we bade her adieu, certain that we'd see her again the next time we went for a wonder -- although, disappointingly, we never caught sight of her again.

So began our evening of blissful ignorance.  :-)

It was the cocktail hour, so we walked back into the house and up to the bar to grab a couple o' pints of the local draught.  Asking if it was alright to take our tasty beverages onto the patio, we were informed that we could take them anywhere we liked, other than onto the boats or down the street.  (Ooh, how civilized -- you sure we're still in Ontario?)  So we grabbed our books and notebooks (which went unused, as we were chatting and watching the whole time) and took our Muskoka dark ales out onto the patio.

We must have been having a Dr. Doolittle day, because a little after we had sat down, a little red squirrel scampered through the deck and hung out with us for quite some time, until it resigned itself to the fact that we had no snacks to share.  Unfortunately for him, the bartender came out to check on us a few minutes later, bringing us a little bowl of snacks!  We opted for a second brew to help wash them down, and chatted and stared at scenery a little longer.

And then the descent into the wine cellar - a fairly small-ish room (you probably wouldn't want to be in there with one who hadn't recently bathed), filled floor to ceiling with 80-ish bins of reds and whites.  Like kids in a candy store!  What to choose, what to choose?  We opted for our usual favourite, a Rioja, and clambered back up the stairs.  We were informed by our waiter Katie that, if we didn't finish the wine at dinner, they could re-cork it and save it for the next day, or we could take the bottle up to our room -- again, how civilized!  (Although I don't think we've ever not been able to finish a bottle of wine, so the option wasn't terribly beneficial to us.)

The dinner menu at Sir Sam's varies each night.  You can choose one from about three appetizers or salad (if you opt to skip dessert, you can have two appetizers instead -- but who wants to skip dessert?), one of usually four entrees (although the chef seemed quite happy to prepare special off-menu vegetarian stuff for me too, as long as he knew in advance), and one of three desserts.  Throughout the week, the food at every meal was just fabulous -- there was nothing either of us didn't enjoy whole-heartedly, and Don was forever teasing me about all the coo-ing sounds I'd make with each mouthful.

I'm afraid I didn't write down what my darling husband (!) ordered, but I started with a delicious salad of greens and strawberries, followed by an exquisite catfish dish and finished with chocolate mousse -- with strawberries, of course!  We took a tiny wander to help digest, and then headed back to our room to make sure the champagne was still cold.  :-)

And here comes the grand finale of blissful ignorance: definitely blissful that evening, not-so-blissful the following morning.  (Can't say we were even ignorant, just choosing to forget, I guess...)

Bottle of champagne in the room.  Jacuzzi in the room.  Tasty treats in the fridge.  Either of these three options would have been lovely.  But we're not terribly good at making decisions, so opted for all three.  Not our most brilliant choice, I'm afraid, as our fuzzy heads the next morning would attest.

But, still in blissful ignorance mode, we filled the tub with nice and hot-hot-hot water, grabbed the champagne, cheese tray and chocolate-covered strawberries, turned on the jets and enjoyed a night of complete decadence, calories and brain cells be damned!

Sometimes, you just have to forget about consequences, throw caution to the wind, and jump right in...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

When champagne and strawberries need a nice backdrop

Monday morning, time to get this honeymoon started!  We packed up the car and drove the mere hour and a half that it takes to get to paradise: Sir Sam's Inn.  Only got lost once at the very end of our trip: at a fork in the road, the arrow to the inn pointed dead centre!  Our observation that the sign seemed to angle a tiny bit to the left led us on a wee sightseeing expedition into the nearby village of Eagle Lake (the last glimpse of the real world we'd see until Friday), then we doubled back and tried the road to the right.

Coming in from the road doesn't give you much of a glimpse into the beauty of the property -- just looks like you're coming in and parking next to a nice, albeit very large, cottage.  Park we did, then sauntered up the steps onto the main building's -- holy cow! -- expansive verandah, overlooking the lake.  A blissful pause with the scenery, then in the screen door to the front desk, looking kind of like an old European inn, complete with a little bell.  Before Don got a chance to demonstrate his musical skills, however, a young woman came out to greet us.  Despite our detour, we were still a bit early for check-in, but... ah yes, our room was ready anyhow.  Did we want to just go and settle in to our room, or would we like a tour of the inn first?  Tour, please, if you have time -- of course!  (As we came to learn during our time here -- the staff ALWAYS has time to do things for you, and seem genuinely pleased to do it.)

The front hall with the reception desk was the centre of the original building, with stairs to the guest rooms down the right.  At the entrance was a bulletin board detailing the current weather forecast, times for the daily boat tour (we really wanted to do this, but the first two days the times conflicted with other things we were doing, and then, sadly, the boat seemed to be out of commission for the next two), events in town, expeditions, etc.  And, on the main credenza, a basket of every type of sunscreen and bug spray you could possibly need, just in case you'd forgotten to bring your own.

Our guide started us in the dining room, overlooking the expansive verandah overlooking the beautiful vista.  Very cozy, stone fireplace in the centre of the inside wall (not that it was needed during our visit), maybe about 20 tables set out, dark-stained wood trim and real wood shutters -- definitely staying true to a country-inn feel.  Just inside the door to the dining room, a spiral staircase down into the wine cellar, where you could go before dinner to pick out a bottle from over 80 delicious options (I'm assuming... we didn't have quite enough time to sample all of them!)

Across the hall was a living room / lounge with nice comfy couches, antique (guessing) coffee tables, and an expansive selection of coffee table books.  In front of this was a screened-in patio, with a bunch of little tables set up for drinks or snacks or... whatever you felt like doing on the patio.  Back into the main hall and going to the back of the building, you reach the pub, complete with a beautiful old wooden bar, typical pub-style tables, and more comfy couches in case you want to read a book with your beverage.  We never asked if these were the creations of staff or guests, but there were a number of artfully decorated canoe paddles displayed on the walls, as well as some historical photos of Sir Samuel Hughes -- apparently not a terribly impressive man, but he sure had good taste in summer homes!

And so ends the original part of Sir Sam's estate, but a bright, modern atrium (complete, of course, with comfy couches, in case you're needing a moment) connects the main house to the Hughes Wing.  Here again are a bunch of little nooks with comfy couches, a community room with ping-pong table, etc., workout room, and the spa treatment rooms.  Plus an endless supply of tea, apples, and water, in case you're feeling too far away from the main building to make it back un-nourished.

A little farther, and you reach the piece-de-resistance: the WaterSpa!  I swear, if it weren't for the fact that there was no food or alcohol here, I would have probably spent the entire time in this WaterSpa.  If you haven't already, take a look at the photos on the website (we, of course, forgot the camera!).  It's about twice the size of our house -- a salt-water pool with various "rooms" with varying massage jet configurations.  They heat it to a different temperature depending on the season, and have a suggested "circuit" for you to try -- it's open any time from 8am to 10pm, although they'll open it for you any other time you like, as well (did we mention, they just don't say "no" to anything at this place?).  At night, it's just beautiful, with little lights embedded in the ceiling and the moon coming in through the full-length glass wall overlooking the lake.  In case you get tired from all that relaxing, you can climb to the platform overlooking the pool and lounge on one of the Balinese beds.

The WaterSpa Circuit:

The full suggested course takes about an hour or so, if you're keeping track.  First, you have a warm shower and loofa -- they suggest a sauna too, but we didn't do that, neither did we take the quick, cold plunge-bucket showers they suggested at intermittent points throughout the circuit, because that just didn't seem terribly relaxing!  As you walk into the pool, there's a very large area where you can just float -- or swim, if you're feeling energetic (!).  The first station is The Large Bench (not terribly imaginative name, I agree), with jets that concentrate on the neck and back -- it's suggested you sit here for 7-10 minutes, but we stayed until the jets turned off, at this and every other station.  Next is the centre island, which is notable for the large marble ball rolling around on top of the fountain, and the jets that look after your feet and calve muscles.  Next are the deck fountains -- my second-favourite formation (favourite until I moved on, though...)  The deck fountains are like giant curved faucets that spew out strong streams of warm water down onto your neck, shoulders and back.  Basically, I could stand on my tip-toes and lean backward into the stream and be held up -- I did this one twice the first time!  :-)  Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, you move to the air lounge, which is my all-time favourite station!  You lie on your back with your head in a nice little pillow.  Start the jets, and they come up from the bed below, floating you to the surface and massaging your back with a gazillion strong fingers. Pure bliss!  The final station was the only disappointment, despite the pretty name of "The Champagne Grotto" - just a bunch of tiny little bubbles that looked pretty but didn't really do much that we could tell.

Ahem, back to the tour:

Actually, that was the end of our tour of the building.  Other than to say that in every little sitting area or room, there were bookshelves filled with books and movies you could borrow for rainy days, and just tons of pretty decorative touches.  Oh yes, and would we be alright with a 6pm dinner this evening?

In front of the house was a large outdoor pool, festooned with many deck chairs and patio umbrellas.  Scattered across the grounds were various formations of Muskoka chairs and more Balinese beds.  There was a dock with the tour boat and room for visiting seafarers, a lakeside gazebo, a bonfire platform, and the boathouse.  At the boathouse, there were canoes, kayaks, windsurfers, waterskis, etc., which you were welcome to use whenever you wanted, and there was a staff person available during the day to help you out with anything you had questions about.  We asked where we should sign out the boats when we wanted them, and were told they didn't need us to do anything like that -- just remember our life jackets.  Wow, a hotel that doesn't assume its guests are criminals, who'd-a thunk?  ;-)

We headed back into the main "Lakewinds" section, up the centre stairs, past even more bookshelves to the end of the hall and into our corner room (#1, so we couldn't forget too easily!).  And what a sweet room it was!  Walking in the door, on our right was the bathroom with large jacuzzi tub and environmentally-friendly toiletries.  To the left a closet with our spa robes (nice and comfy they were, too! -- sure beat the robes at the hotel on our wedding night that more closely resembled itchy tea-towels and came complete with a warning that if you stole them, you'd be charged $100), a little "kitchenette" (OK, it had a bar fridge and a coffee-maker -- what more do you need, really?), and then the main room, decorated in cozy cottage style.  The outside corner had a real fireplace and stack of wood -- not that we ever needed a fire, but it gave the room ambience nevertheless -- and behind the wooden panel above, a television, stereo and DVD player (not that we ever used those, either).  On either side of the fireplace corner, two nice big windows that gave us a good cross-breeze and a great view of the waterfront.  Obligatory big comfy couch with a cedar chest serving as coffee table, and a chest of drawers whose drawers didn't always fit together perfectly -- in other words, just the perfect amount of perfection for us!

On a side table under the window was a bottle of chilled champagne and two champagne flutes, plus a wrapped "congratulations" gift from the staff at the inn -- two lovely glasses, etched with the Sir Sam's loon logo, resembling large-ish champagne flutes without the stem (if anyone knows an official use for these, do let us know, otherwise we reserve the right to pour whatever we wish into them!).  Upon closer inspection of our bar fridge, it contained a "welcome" platter of yummy cheeses and breads, plus, OF COURSE, chocolate-dipped strawberries.  Pure bliss!

Since it was still fairly early in the afternoon, though, we decided to wait a bit on the special treats and do a wee bit of exploring... (to be continued)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Champagne, day 2 - but no strawberries

Hello all!  So much for writing a new "episode" every day... my work ethic is obviously still enjoying our honeymoon.  :-)

We had been wise enough to book ourselves a room at the local hotel for our wedding night -- our helpful friends stayed at the house (can't make them pay for a hotel room when they've just decorated and flowered and organized us!)  Our friends Ken & Arlene drove us there after the ceremony (well, Ken drove... 'nuff said!), with our house guests and groomsman Paul bringing all our stuff home.  Yes, this is definitely where I started getting used to being lazy!

We thought we'd go fancy for our wedding night, so had booked a room with jacuzzi, fireplace and a bottle of champagne.  When we got there, however, there was rien du bubbly!!!  Called down to the front desk, who said the bar was closed and locked up and they couldn't do anything about it.  Grrr... Probably a good thing, anyhow, because we had to get up the next morning!

Yes, in one of those "what were we thinking?" moments, we had decided to host a family brunch at our house the morning after the night before.  Of course, what we WERE thinking of was how much we'd like a chance to visit the folks who had come from all over the place.  What we WEREN'T thinking of was a) panic cleaning, b) how to provide brunch for 30 people, and c) that whole thing about MORNING.  :-)  In the last couple of weeks, I had been able to convince my darling husband (yay!) that he shouldn't expect himself to cook for 30 people the day after his wedding, so we'd gotten the catering team from Sixteen Front to look after the food part.  And, when we returned to the house, our darling Ali (yay!) had already done most of the panic-cleaning for us.  Did we mention how incredibly generous Ali is???

All I had to do was put on my "Bride" hat (also provided by Ali), and put out the cutlery.  All Don had to do was pour the champagne for the mimosas!  (Not a day of champagne and strawberries, but we did have champagne and orange juice, so that oughta count for something...)

Brunch was yet another social whirlwind -- we got to visit a bit more with family, but still not anywhere near as long as we'd have liked to.  Folks started trickling out mid-afternoon, with Ali and brother Bruce staying to help pack up the leftovers and tidy up, and then we were left to our own devices.

I think I forgot to mention before, but Ali & Lisa had put together a framed picture of the flowers from our bouquets, with a writeable-onable frame for everyone to sign.  So we read through that, and our guestbook. and then went to tackle the pile of prezzies, from the many folks who chose to ignore the "no presents" instructions that were so clearly given!  ;-)  We couldn't help but notice a "theme" in them all: I think we'll have enough champagne and single-malt to last the year!  (Ah yes, you folks know us well... too well, perhaps.)

After a nice brisk nap (3 hours!), we did a couple loads of laundry, and started packing for the HONEYMOON!

Will get to that tomorrow... honest, I mean it!  :-)

Musically and matrimonially,

Monday, July 26, 2010

The week of champagne and strawberries

Hello all!

Yes, we have been a tad quiet in recent months -- turns out, planning a wedding (even a relatively simple one) takes more out of you than we'd remembered. Either that, or we're just getting old...

But yes, we are no longer just a musical duo, but a legally-endorsed one as well! And it was a bloody fabulous party, not to mention the entire week! And musical, naturally.

Once I get organized (!), we'll be putting some photos up on the website, so you can see just how bright The Brights' wedding truly was. I, of course, wore red; Don, yellow. Our friends Ali and Lisa put together stunning, colourful bouquets and centrepieces of bright gerbera daisies, roses, lilies, etc., and our wedding party and guests were all in bright colours too.

The ceremony took place on the shores of Lake Couchiching, on the grounds of the Leacock Museum, where there was another stunning array of flowers in the garden. Our friend David Zub was the officiant; my sister Tarah and best friend Ali were my attendants, Don's brother Bruce and friend Paul were his attendants. And we can't forget Lilly, our flower girl (who had been practising her walk since November), or Wyatt, our ring bearer (who wore a fire helmet, with siren, in honour of Uncle Don). Ceremony music was by the other two members of the Amity Trio, Michael Adamson and Sandra Ruttan -- tangos, of course. Readings were by David Francey (I had to keep reminding myself I was a married woman, and Beth is bigger than me, so as not to swoon at his voice mid-ceremony) and cousin Rebecca Ejo Colwell (who had me in big, smiley tears the whole time, because she's just so marvellous!).

We had written our own vows -- in typical form, Don had had his half a year ago, I completed mine two days before. Mine went first, and I was already crying by the first sentence, but made it through. Then Don started his and... out of the corner of my eye, I saw Pat McPhail walking up with his bass, Joe Yanuziello with his guitar, and Roy Hickling and Paul Court getting in formation and handing Don a mandolin. Yessireee, Don's vows were in musical form, and I was serenaded by all five men -- how lucky is that?

We tangoed back down the aisle and met everyone for champagne and chocolate covered strawberries on the lawn. Bliss! And a pleasant introduction to what would be a staple diet for us the rest of the week -- again, how lucky is that?

The entire day passed in a blur -- fortunately, we had a bunch of people taking photos, plus Don had stuffed our video camera into the hands of Ron Belanger, so we'll be able to go back and remember it all later.

Dinner was inside at Swanmore Terrace, and was delicious -- although, for some reason, they didn't start BBQ-ing the chicken and salmon until about 7pm (when dinner was supposed to be 6-6:30-ish). That was really the only annoyance, although people seemed to deal with it just fine. Michael's wife, Ingrid Adamson, had made and decorated our wedding cake, complete with little musicians and hand-made bright-coloured sugar flowers.

My sister, Tarah, was the MC, and she took on her task with gusto! She had both us and the room completely organized. :-) Speeches by mom Nancy, Bruce, Ali, Paul, Don, Me and thank-yous by Us. Then some impromptu speeches / presentations, including a song by David Francey (married woman, Lyss, married woman!).

This then descended into a free-for-all jam / open mic that lasted the rest of the night.

A fabulous, fabulous day, surrounded by dear friends and family -- from as far away as Nova Scotia and Utah, and as close as around the corner. This was a true celebration of love, in all its forms. We hope everyone had as wonderful a time as we had!

Stay tuned for more tales of champagne and strawberries -- we've got a whole week's worth! :-)

Musically and celebratorily and lovingly,