Raymond and I spent a grand total of 36 hours at the Manse in Queensborough this weekend, from our arrival a little after 10 p.m. Friday night to our departure a little after 11 a.m. (which is really 10 a.m., but 11 given the !#@*& imposition of Daylight Saving Time – better not get me started on that – this morning). You might think that such a visit is so brief as not to warrant just under 9 hours of driving there and back again, from and to Montreal. But you would be wrong. Because our one full day there – yesterday, Saturday – was: a perfect day. (And Friday night and Sunday morning were very nice too.)
What constitutes a perfect day for us in Queensborough and environs?
Well, it begins with glorious weather. The forecast the night before had been for a cloudy day Saturday, but we awoke to brilliant sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, and pleasantly warm temperatures (which proceeded to get even more pleasant as the day went on; we spotted guys doing roofing work in T-shirts, and people sitting outdoors enjoying the sun).
After coffee at the Manse, it was on to our errands. In order:
Try to find some new-crop maple syrup. We’d read in the local papers the night before about an event held in late February, bringing together local syrup producers and local politicians and whatnot to officially launch the 2013 season, so we thought some new product might be found. We stopped in at O’Hara Sugar Maples on Hart’s Road, and were enormously fortunate to be able to buy a litre of the first batch – two bottles of which had just been set aside for entry in “The Royal” (that’s the prestigious Royal Winter Fair in Toronto). We were offered a small sample, and it was as light and delicious as any maple syrup you’ve ever tasted. And the syrup inside the bottle we bought was still warm! It doesn’t get any fresher or better than that.
Here’s a little video showing how crazily fast (in the warm sun) the sap was pouring in from the pipelines connected to the tapped trees to the sugar house, where it would be boiled down to make syrup:
Next, do the rounds of Madoc:
- First stop, Hidden Goldmine Bakery, to try to buy one box each of their awesome cookie selection. (Successful on the cinnamon-sparkle, peanut-butter, and chocolate-chip front; Raymond’s new favourite, cranberry-oatmeal, was sold out, but clearly we had no shortage of cookies when we emerged.)
- Next: Kelly’s Flowers & Gifts, a delightful shop that doubles as the Sears catalogue outlet – and we needed a Sears catalogue because we need old-fashioned spring-roll window blinds for the Manse, and Sears seems to be the place to get them. And a bonus! It turns out the proprietor, Kelly Declair, was a classmate of mine at Madoc’s Centre Hastings Secondary School back when we both were teenagers (I have got to dig out my old CHSS yearbooks) and now lives in – Queensborough! So Kelly and I compared notes on several things, including how much we love Queensborough.
- Then: Kim’s Kollectibles, a fun antiques-and-collectibles place that was having an end-of-winter sale to make space for the new stuff sure to come in once auction season starts, which will be soon. (Antiques-and-collectibles sellers get a lot of their stuff at auction sales. I’ve written here and here – among other places – about how much Raymond and I enjoy going to the auctions in Hastings County.) We bought a nice Mission-style side table for the space between out two vintage leather rockers in the Manse dining room, along with a bunch of books (right; there‘s a surprise), a Bunnykins china cup and bowl (I am a sucker for Bunnykins, since I had some when I was a wee girl and well remember how easy it was to be coerced into eating my supper thanks to my eagerness to find out what the Bunnykin Family was doing in the picture at the bottom of the plate or bowl), and a few other things that you may hear about anon.
- Last stop in Madoc: the car wash, so Raymond could rinse the mud off the car. And while he was doing that, I opened up my new Sears catalogue and was transported back through the years by the smell of the ink on a newly-opened mail-order catalogue. Try it and see!
Then it was on to Tweed. We’d collected enough recyclables in the past few Manse visits that we had to make a run to the municipal dump at nearby Stoco. But before that we stopped for lunch at the funky and delightful Kelly’s Restaurant on Highway 37 between Tweed and Actinolite. Kelly’s has been around since the early 1970s, and has a cool kind of patina about it. You walk across a little footbridge to get to the slightly hippie-looking frame restaurant located in a pastoral setting. Inside, the walls are covered with vintage signs and photographs. The welcome is friendly, the ambience is great, there are lots of fellow diners, and the food is excellent: I had one of the best Caesar salads of my life (restaurants so often mess up Caesar salad – for one thing, using the unpleasant bitter dark-green outer leaves of the romaine lettuce instead of the hearts, which is the proper way – but Kelly’s gets it right) and Raymond had a splendid burger.
We had a few errands to run in Tweed: food shopping, etc., nothing too exciting but perfectly pleasant. Then on to the dump, and then back home – all still under glorious sunshine and amid temperatures that reached 9C. We unloaded the car, installed our nice new (to us) little table, and had a long(ish) refreshing nap. That evening, we enjoyed lamb curry that we’d bought at The Old Cheese Factory in Tweed, a good bottle of wine, and a long session of reading in our rocking chairs. And then bedtime, in a place where one sleeps very soundly because the pretty little village around us is so quiet.
Is that not the perfect day? In Queensborough or, maybe, anywhere else?