Next day Jimmy and Jean took me to Union station – on the right of the photo - where I got my ticket in the very impressive marble ticket hall and joined the queue waiting to board the train. The journey wasn’t too long, about 4 hours maybe – I forget now, from this distance in time – following Lake Ontario’s shoreline for a while. It was very relaxing anyway.
Arriving in Ottawa I was met by cousin Gail. We had joked about maybe having to tuck a newspaper under our arms so we would recognise each other but there was absolutely no need for that. She spotted me first, but I knew her right away too, which wasn’t bad for only seeing each other in photos until that moment. No, we had never met before! We hit it off right away though and on the way home I caught up on the plans for the next week. That evening Gail’s sister-in-law Sonia and her partner Steve were coming for supper with the littlies, Katie and Campbell – who had been warned not to laugh if I spoke a bit funny (I suppose they would think my accent a bit different!) - and next evening I was to meet her brother – Gail’s brother – Ken, now sadly parted from his family.
However, once at home - on the other side of Gatineau - I met Gail’s partner, Peggy, who had cooked a special meal of what sounded like pattie shinwa! I got the shinwa bit as being the French word Chinois/Chinese, but wasn’t so sure about the pattie bit, expecting maybe some sort of paté dish. Anyway, it turned out just to be like Shepherds Pie, though made with beef and bison or was it buffalo? It was one or the other! Once the rest of the family had arrived and we’d all been introduced – the kids were great! No giggles about my accent – we all sat down to supper which was delicious, I’m sure I had a second helping! Young Campbell had a present for me too – a little clear plastic angel in a dome, which when switched on glows red, pink and purple in turn! I’ll certainly put it beside my Christmas tree this year.
I had presents to give too, and I think the book about Hamish the Hairy Haggis went down best of all . Auntie Gail may have to be up to some sneaky tactics to get hold of it if she wants to get it off Campbell! (She said she wanted to read it too!)
So we had a lovely evening, and all too soon it was time for Sonia and Steve to take the kids home – school the next day. I can’t remember how long the three of us sat up chatting but Gail is also a bit of a night bird, like myself, though Peggy isn’t!
So next day we went out in the car – and to be honest I have forgotten in which order we did things over the next few days! I think this was our first day out together. We visited the country estate of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister (22 years )in Gatineau Park, and saw his home, Moorside,
some of the “ruins” erected in the gardens by King himself,
Then we continued to the Eardley escarpment to look out on the amazing view. You could see for miles. This too is the geological point where the Canadian Shield meets the St Lawrence Lowlands. That’s the stuff of countless boring geography lessons at school, but here.. here’s the real thing!
Wakefield is an attractive small village beside the river Gatineau where we stopped to look at a couple of shops, then drove along a bit to take a wander over the recently restored covered bridge over the river. It doesn’t go anywhere nowadays but is a nice walkway from which you get a nice view of the river.
It was getting near suppertime and Gail and Peggy knew just where we should go. We landed up at Wakefield Mill standing beside a rushing set of waterfalls. Having had quite a history of milling and then lying empty it was recently restored and refurbished as a hotel and spa. What a lovely place. These seats across the river were just waiting for a photo shoot so Peggy took a pic of the cousins!
Later, while waiting for a table in the dining room we sat on comfy sofas in the lounge in front of the log fire, and were eventually taken to a table in the conservatory – see the above photo – overlooking the falls, where we ate the most delicious meal, accompanied by a glass of something red and alcoholic! Very nice too.
This obviously wasn’t the night we were due to meet Ken. I’ve definitely got my days muxed ip.
Talk again soon.