Friday night at the Manse – when your shoulders come down from around your ears.

Friday night at the Manse: organic chicken pot pie, candlelight, the local weekly paper, and my husband uncorking a nice bottle of wine. Could there be anything better? Especially after a long winter drive in the dark?

Friday night at the Manse: organic chicken pot pie, candlelight, the local weekly paper, and my husband uncorking a nice bottle of wine. Could there be anything better? Especially after a long winter drive in the dark?

People, after tonight and until Christmas, my posts will be all about Christmas at the Manse – the first Christmas my family will have spent there since I was 14 years old, way back in the 1970s. I am very excited about the whole thing, and I think it will be lovely – and I hope my Christmas posts will help put you in the spirit too. Tonight, though, after a hard slog of Christmas-card writing – which I love doing, but my lord it can be exhausting – I’m kind of, well, exhausted. But it makes me think of how the Manse can make one feel better when one’s in that frame of mind.

Driving to Queensborough from our home in Montreal on a Friday night, after a long day’s and week’s work, can be trying. Unless we’re incredibly lucky with traffic exiting the city, and don’t need to stop for gas or to use the facilities, the trip takes four and a half hours, and that is long – especially at this time of year, when it gets dark at 4 p.m. When you drive four and a half hours in the dark, you feel like you’re ready for bed, even if you’ve been lucky enough to get away early and it’s only 8:30 or 9 p.m. when you get to lovely little Queensborough.

Me in the Manse kitchen one recent Friday night with an especially good haul: we'd been away for four weeks, so in the mailbox were four weeks' worth of the local newspapers. Gold!

Me in the Manse kitchen one recent Friday night with an especially good haul: we’d been away for four weeks, so in the mailbox were four weeks’ worth of the local newspapers. Gold!

Ah, but when we get there, something magical happens. First, our tensed-up shoulders come down from around our ears as we take in the night sky and the bright stars and the absolute quiet around us, save for the sound of the water of the Black River tumbling over the dam at the Thompson Mill at the centre of town. And we unpack the car, and in the Manse turn up the heat and turn on the water (and use the facilities). And Raymond generally smokes a little cigar out on the front porch while I put some things away. And the house warms up, and we light the (electric) fireplace and some candles, which helps warm the house up even more. And we put on some music. And I haul in from the mailbox some seriously good reading material: all the copies of the local weekly papers, the EMC and the Community Press, that have accumulated since the last time we visited.

And we turn on the stove and warm up dinner – last Friday it was an all-organic chicken pot pie bought on the way from the excellent store called Foodsmiths in Perth, Ont., recommended to us by Queensborough-area resident and amazing photographer Pauline Weber (and thanks for that, Pauline!). And uncork (or twist off the cap of, if it’s conveniently screw-topped) a bottle of wine.

And suddenly, all the strains and stresses of the work week and everything else are forgotten. We are at the Manse in Queensborough, a beautiful and historic house in a beautiful and historic village. A house and a village filled with stories of interesting residents long gone, and interesting residents of the present day. It is quiet, we are together, we have arrived safely, and there is warmth and good food and a nice glass of wine. And the prospect of a weekend of quiet adventure and discovery as we make our way in this lovely and largely undiscovered part of the world.

What could be better?

10 thoughts on “Friday night at the Manse – when your shoulders come down from around your ears.

  1. And one of the best things in a wee village is that quite likely a neighbour looked out their window and upon seeing the lights on in the manse commented, “I see that Kathy and Raymond have arrived, I was beginning to wonder if they might have had a problem getting out of the city.” Happy Holiday!!…GnG

  2. Katherine, I know how you feel. We often have the same sensation travelling to the cottage. It’s a hassle, sometimes, just getting there, hauling the boat into the water, loading it, sailing across the lake and then hauling all the stuff up the stairs to the cottage, but once that’s done and there’s a chance to sit out on the deck with nothing but the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees, all of a sudden we’re relaxed as we never seem to be in the city. You’re blessed in having a place you can go to year-round, your own little corner of heaven. Enjoy! Christmas will be magical this year. The best to both of you!

    • Thank you so much, Doug! Clearly you know the feeling precisely. I have to admit I don’t envy you the loading-the-boat part of your exercise (and my goodness but it must be trying if it’s raining or whatnot), but I can just imagine – in fact, I know – how wonderful you feel when you finally get to the cottage. Wishing you and your family a wonderful, peaceful, joyous Christmas!

  3. Your description of arriving home to the Manse is how I feel each day after work. A friend once asked me if we had a cottage or go on holidays? I said I live in my cottage and am on holidays everytime I’m finished work. There is nothing like coming to a place where the warmth and comfort surrounds you that the world could fall apart and you would never know. Enjoy your Christmas holiday in beautiful Queensborough. Look forward seeing you at the service at Hazzards :).

    • “Where the world could fall apart and you would never know” – I absolutely love that! And it is what Queensborough feels like, isn’t it? Lucky you, to get to return home there every single day. Yes, see you at Hazzards!

  4. Hi Katherine: Is your route home along 43 from Alexandria through Perth on to 7. I ask because you mention the Foodsmiths. In a previous life (the 60’s) and marriage I took this route back from Lake Chandos and remember turning through S Falls by the old indoor rink (now replaced) and the turn left in Merrickville on to 43 not knowing one day I’d live in the 1832 Mirick Tavern and Inn. Isn’t life like that. And here you are proving one can return. You both have to pause here and enjoy a mulled wine by the Rumford Fireplace on your next sojourn. Gordon and Ewa.

    • Hello, Gordon! I always enjoy “previous-life” stories, having had a few of those (previous lives, I mean) myself. No, we go north from the 401 at Brockville on County Road 29, thence on to County Road 1 through Rideau Ferry and on to Perth. But I know the route you refer to, and it’s a lovely one. Isn’t life like that, indeed. Returning to places after many a year, and many a mile. We would be so happy to stop for a visit with you and Ewa in Merrickville, and will do so as long as you’re still there. And if not there, in Brockville!

      • Look forward to your visit. Home is 269 3290 and cell is 296 9670. We could combine the two by your heading north (or south) from Brockville via Merrickville. That way you’ll see the 1832 Tavern here and the 1840 building in BV. Meanwhile enjoy Christmas at the Manse and overload Ray with rum toddies.

      • Thank you, Gordon! Good advice re the rum toddies, and really something to look forward to, seeing the 1832 building and the 1840 building that you have restored (or are in the process of restoring). I feel pretty confident that you will have some voice-of-experience advice for us on the restoration front, though your very historic buildings make the 1888 Manse seem almost new! Wishing you and Ewa a joyous and peaceful Christmas.

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