Tag Archives: outdoors
January 9, 2018

Top 20 heart-warming Winter Quotes to brighten up your day

Top 20 Winter Quotes - The Quirky Traveller

It’s the heart of winter here and January has its got its gnarled fingers well and truly into our souls. Some days its cold and wet, others it’s mild and windy, others icy and sunny, and a few snowy and beautiful. At this time of year, many of us want to hibernate and hardly venture out, or fly off for a dash of winter sun. Here are my favourite seasonal quotes, many by well-known writers, to lift your spirits and brighten your day.

Top 20 Winter Quotes

Arctic Fox - 20 winter quotes - The Quirky Traveller

1.  Of all the seasons, winter is the most conducive to the great art of dormancy. This art requires an appreciation of semi-consciousness: the beautiful and necessary prelude to sleep – a special pleasure in itself that is all too often neglected, under-valued or looked down upon. Michael Leung

2.  Winter is a season of recovery and preparation. Paul Theroux

3.  I love the scents of winter! For me, it’s all about the feeling you get when you smell pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread and spruce. Taylor Swift

Winter spices and apple mug

4.  In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. John Burrows

5.  The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? J.B. Priestley

6.  Few sights are more charming than that of a town covered in new-fallen, clean white snow; and how pretty it is to watch the tiny flakes drift downwards through the air as it there were a wedding in the sky and the fairies were throwing confetti. The Mysterious Toyshop – Cyril W Beaumont

7. It is winter in Narnia and has been for ever so long and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

Winter trees, snow and hare

8.  I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” Lewis Carroll

9. Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.  Thomas de Quincey – Confessions of an English Opium Eater

10. When the snow is still blowing against the window-pane in January and February and the wild winds are howling without, what pleasure it is to plan for summer that is to be. Celia Thaxter

11. Where the sun shone, everything glittered and sparkled as if diamond dust had been strewn about; and the snowy carpet of the earth seemed covered with diamonds from which gleamed countless lights, whiter even than the snow itself.  The Snowman – Hans Christian Andersen

Snowy landscape - winter quotes

12. What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. John Steinbeck

13. It’s called skiing. It makes you rush ahead fast, like lightning, in a cloud of whirling snow, and you’ve got to look sharp, or else. Mominland Midwinter – Tove Jansen

14.  The snow had a fine crust upon it and the old trees sparkles like tinsel … The sky cleared and broad streams of stars ran down over the valley and away to Wales. Everything was quiet; everywhere there was the faint crackling silence of the winter night. Cider with Rosie – Laurie Lee

20 Winter Quotes - The Quirky Traveller

15. The rapid nightfall of mid-December had quite beset the little village as they approached on soft feet over the first thin fall of powdery snow. Little was visible but squares of a dusky orange-red on either side of the street, where the firelight or lamplight of each cottage overflowed the casements into the dark world without.  The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham

16. Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem. William Hamilton Gibson

Snow globe world - winter quotes - The Quirky Traveller

17. Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.  The Sugar Queen – Sarah Addison Allen

18. And though in your winter you deny your spring, yet spring reposing within you, smiles in her drowsiness and is not offended. The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran 

19. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.  Albert Camus

20. No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  Hal Borland

Crocus in snow - top 20 winter quotes - The Quirky Traveller

All photos from Pixabay.com – free for commercial use. No attribution required

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20 Winter Quotes to warm your heart - The Quirky Traveller

December 31, 2017

The Quirky Traveller Top Travel Tips of the Year

The Quirky Traveller - Quirky Travel Tips of the Year

At the end of the year, it’s become a tradition with travel bloggers to look back over the past 12 months and review our top trips of the year. Here are a few of my Quirky Travel highlights from a year when I made a conscious decision to do less overseas travel and explore more of the magical British Isles. Hopefully they will give you some inspiration and ideas for your own holiday plans.

Quirky Travel Holiday Tips

Take a ride on North Wales Vintage Railways

Ffestiniog steam train in Snowdonia in North Wales - photo Zoe Dawes

Ffestiniog steam train in Snowdonia

Taking a trip on one of many wonderful North Wales steam trains is to journey back to a time when rail travel was less frenetic and life moved at a more leisurely pace. I spent a few days trying out various options, including the quaint Ffestiniog Railway, Welsh Highland Railway and the Llangollen Railway, enjoying genteel luxury in elegant carriages pulled by a variety of impressive steam engines. I also fulfilled a life-long ambition to get to the top of the highest peak in Wales on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. You can usually get refreshments including meals and afternoon tea. I’d recommend you book in advance to ensure you get the best deal or choose one of the many package deals on offer from specialist railway travel companies. Read about my railway tour of Steam Railways of North Wales here.

Discover Nuremberg, an elegant Bavarian city of historic significance

Nuremberg city centre Germany

Nuremberg city centre

World-renowned artist Albrecht Dürer was born in Nuremberg in Bavaria, one of the most interesting regions of Germany. It’s the largest walled city in Europe and has been lovingly restored after heavy bombing during World War II. Nuremberg Castle, dating back to 1140, overlooks the oldest part of Nuremberg and there are plenty of splendid museums and art galleries, the Opera House and historic buildings to get a feel for its distinguished past. Make sure you try some of the hearty Bavarian food and excellent beer. I can also highly recommend a tour of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds to see how well the Germans are dealing with a challenging aspect of their history. During a press trip to the Germany Travel Mart we were given a glimpse of the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market – read about it here.

Mooch about Ottawa, Canada’s fascinating capital city

River view of Ottawa Canada - photo Zoe Dawes

River view of Ottawa

Often overlooked by visitors to Canada, Ottawa is a compact, friendly capital city with plenty of things to see and do to keep quirky travel visitors very busy for a few days. The excellent Museum of Canada encapsulates the essence of Canada whilst the Rideau Canal demonstrates the engineering capabilities of the early pioneers. I stayed in Byward Market, one of the liveliest areas, with loads of great bars, cafes, shops and restaurants. You can get really excellent food and drink in Ottawa; read about my Funky Food Tour of hipster Ottawa here.

Visit the newest World Heritage site in the UK

Sunset over Windermere in English Lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

Sunset over Windermere

In June 2017 the English Lake District finally won UNESCO World Heritage status. After many years of trying, this beautiful part of the world was awarded this prestigious accolade, the first UK National Park to do so. The inscription says:

‘Located in northwest England, the English Lake District is a mountainous area, whose valleys have been modelled by glaciers in the Ice Age and subsequently shaped by an agro-pastoral land-use system characterized by fields enclosed by walls. The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes. Grand houses, gardens and parks have been purposely created to enhance the beauty of this landscape. This landscape was greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards by the Picturesque and later Romantic movements, which celebrated it in paintings, drawings and words.’

If you can, stay for a few days and really explore the area. It’s got so much to offer including stunning scenery, adventure activities, quaint villages, charming towns, loads of great pubs, restaurants and hotels plus a lively arts scene, historic houses and also many ways to get off the beaten track in Cumbria. Read about my weekend break with Good Life Lake District Cottages in the heart of the Lake District World Heritage site here.

See the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

The Quirky Traveller at the Taj Mahal India

I’ve left the best to last … Just about everyone has heard of the Taj Mahal but many have not seen it. I finally got to achieve a life-long dream to see this iconic building on my very first trip to India this year. It did not disappoint. Built by Shah Jehan between 1632 and 1643 in honour of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it is breathtakingly lovely, much bigger than I expected and quite probably the most beautiful building in the world. India is one of the few places in the world where I’d strongly recommend visiting on a tour; read my article on Top 10 Reasons to Choose an Escorted Tour in India.

PS – Pye Motors Brand Ambassador

The new Ford Fiesta beside Morecambe Bay - The Quirky Travelller

My new Ford Fiesta beside Morecambe Bay

At the end of memorable year of quirky travel I was delighted to be chosen as Brand Ambassador for Pye Motors, a family-run Ford Dealership in North West England. I’m going to be out and about in my new Ford Fiesta, exploring lesser known areas around the Morecambe Bay area as well as across the UK. Watch out for #followpye updates in the coming blog posts.

I hope this article has given you some inspiration for a few new places to visit in the coming year. Do share your own suggestions in the Comment Box below. May all your quirky travel dreams come true …

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The Quirky Traveller Travel Tips of the Year

 

November 29, 2017

The joy of a charming cottage with a cosy fire in beautiful Cumbria

Logs on fire at Rose Cottage Elterwater lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

Fire at Rose Cottage Elterwater

There’s something very special about sitting by an open fire on a chilly night, logs crackling, coal sizzling, flames dancing brightly as the heat radiates out around the room. Maybe there’s a pre-historic memory of sitting in cave round a fire, protected from the sabre-toothed tiger prowling around outside. Maybe it’s just the warmth and cosiness, being full of life that makes us feel much more content than a radiator or electric heater. It’s even better if you’re on holiday and can really relax and enjoy it, knowing you’ve nothing more urgent to do than, keep it fed with fuel, top up your drink and maybe curl up with your loved one. It’s one of the simple joys of life and for those of us who don’t have an open fire at home, staying in a holiday cottage with a fire is real treat.

Rose Cottage in Elterwater Lake District- Good Life Lake District Cottages

Rose Cottage

On a recent visit to the Lake District with Good Life Lake District Cottages, I stayed for a few days in Rose Cottage, Elterwater with a friend from college days. This delightful 2 bedroom self-catering accommodation is in the heart of the village, a hop, skip and a jump over the road from the Britannia Inn. With a comfortable lounge, well-equipped kitchen-dining room, a twin-bedded room and en-suite double bedroom, it had everything we needed. We very quickly made ourselves at home, having a cuppa and biscuit whilst working out what to do over the coming days.

The advantage of staying in Elterwater in the Langdale Valley, is that you’ve got everything you need on the doorstep; charming accommodation, a traditional pub serving excellent food, a shop, a bowling green (OK a bit random but if you’re a bowls fan …), a bus service, stunning scenery and Herdwick Sheep roaming freely around the village.

The Britannia Inn opposite Rose Cottage - photo Zoe Dawes

The Britannia Inn

We decided to have dinner that evening at the Britannia Inn. I’ve eaten there lots of times and it’s always good food. If you want to eat in the dining room then make sure you book. Otherwise you can take potluck at getting a table in the bar or hall. We shared a table with a couple from Derbyshire who come up to the Lakes every year and absolutely love the Langdale Valley. There’s always an excellent array of local beers here, and the weekend we stayed the pub was hosting a beer festival so it was packed with beer lovers from around the UK and abroad.

Britannia Inn Beer Festival Elterwater Cumbria - photo Zoe Dawes

Britannia Inn Beer Festival

I’d chosen the Three Sausages with mashed potatoes and onion gravy; an enormous plate of venison, boar and chef’s recipe traditional Cumberland sausages, creamy mash and seasonal veg. Pat had the Five Bean and Vegetable Chilli, which she pronounced delicious and we both had local beers. There were lots of dogs around room, sitting, lying down or gazing beseechingly at their owners’ meals in the hope that some tasty morsel might come their way. A roaring fire kept us all warm; in fact, after our meal we had to move away as we got very hot …

Log fire at Rose Cottage

Having got heartily fed and warmed up, we returned to Rose Cottage to light our own fire. We’d arranged to have kindling and logs delivered and there were firelighters and matches above the fire-place. I used to live in a cottage with a wood burning stove, and grew up with coal fires, so I very much enjoyed trying out my latent pyromaniac skills. Very quickly we had a grand blaze burning away merrily. Pat produced a couple of glasses of wine and we settled down to enjoy the rest of the evening.

By the fire Rose Cottage Elterwater, Lake District Cumbria - Zoe Dawes

Sitting by the Fire in Rose Cottage

In front of the fire, there was a rocking chair complete with woollen rug, so we took it turns to play ‘grandma on the rocker.’ It was so peaceful rocking backwards and forwards, wrapped in the rug, reading a magazine, listening to the gentle crackle and hiss of the wood. The smell of wood smoke and pine wafted around us and for a while the cares of everyday living faded away …

Over the next couple of days, Pat and I explored the area, enjoying being in such glorious scenery. We went for a leisurely walk beside the river to Elter Water (Norse for Swan Lake), the nearby lake after which the village is named. It only takes about half an hour to I’d recently taken ownership of a brand new Ford Fiesta from local dealership Pye Motors, so took great pleasure in driving Pat around and showing off the car’s many features.

New Ford Fiesta on Elterwater Common, Lake District Cumbria UK - zoe dawes

Fiesta on Elterwater Common

We went up the Langdale Valley and had a drink in the Old Dungeon Ghyll, where another welcoming fire warmed up the many walkers making the most of a late autumn weather to get out on the fells.  One wet afternoon we visited the quaint little Armitt Museum & Library in Ambleside. It has a permanent display of illustrations, writing and objects belonging to famous botanist, author and farmer Beatrix Potter. There’s also an excellent library and we saw an exhibition of paintings by German artist Kurt Schwitters, who lived in Ambleside for many years, and also Chapel Stile, down the road from Elterwater.

Armitt Museum Library Ambleside Cumbria - photo Zoe Dawes

The Armitt Museum & Library

We had a wonderful stay here and, without doubt, the best part was getting that fire lit each evening and rocking back and forth in front of its glowing warmth.

Quirky Travel: Guided Tour of Rose Cottage

Good Life Lake District Cottages

We stayed at Rose Cottage as guests of Good Life Lake District Cottages. Many thanks to Natalie and the team for another very enjoyable break. They have plenty of very special Lake District places to stay throughout the year. Ask them about their properties with fires – but book early as they are very popular!

Good Life Lake District Cottage Company Office Elterwater Lake District - photo Zoe Dawes

Good Life Lake District Cottage Company

More lovely places I can recommend to stay with Good Life Lake District Cottages in this part of Cumbria.

Church Gate Cottage, Chapel Stile

Daw Bank Cottage, Chapel Stile

Jonty’s Cottage, Elterwater

Braegarth Cottage, Elterwater

Knipefold Barn, Outgate 

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Enjoy a cosy fire in the Lake District cottage - image Zoe Dawes

 

 

 

November 18, 2017

Quirky Travel Review: Slow Travel – North Devon and Exmoor guide book

Porlock sign Exmoor

“Our Slow guides to British regions are the foremost of their kind, opening up Britain’s special places in a way that no other guides do. Discover the spots that aren’t normally publicised, meet the locals, find out where the best food can be enjoyed indulge in a little cultural foraging and discover the Britain you never knew existed with our expert local authors.”

This introduces the Slow Travel series of excellent guide books published by Bradt Guides. I am a huge fan of the the Slow Movement, the ideals of which are  incorporated into Quirky Travel.  On a weekend of stargazing and sightseeing in Exmoor last winter, Ian Mabbutt, owner of West Withy Farm, gave me a copy of  Slow Travel: North Devon and Exmoor by Hilary Bradt. What a delight this book is.

Slow Travel North Devon and Exmoor - Bradt guide bookIt’s divided into easily accessible sections covering the Cornish border, seaside coast of North Devon and Exmoor, Lundy Island, Barnstaple and inland, Exmoor National Park, Minehead, Dunster and eastern fringes of Exmoor. There’s plenty with lots of useful information, with the emphasis on encouraging us to slow down, take in the sights, sounds and inspiration that this area encourages, whilst getting around with the environment and local inhabitants playing a key part.

I’ve stayed on the north Devon coast many times at a friend’s chalet overlooking Woolacombe Bay. We based ourselves there to explore the various beaches, villages, tourist attractions and gentle countryside around.  Woolacombe has had a revival recently, having gone from top seaside resort in the mid 20th century, to fuddy-duddysville towards the end, and now quite a ‘cool’ surfing centre.

Woolacombe Beach Devon

I was pleased to see that the book focused on the wonderful bays and beaches nearby, rather than very crowded Woolacombe. Tiny Grunta next to Morte Bay gets a mention, as does little Lee You could spend hours here investigating the pools, collecting pink quartz or walking up the fuchsia-lined footpath to the village and its delightful pub, the Grampus Inn.” 

In the chapter on Lundy Island, off the north Devon coast, I learnt that Lunde øy is Norse for Puffin Island and that it was well known to Scandinavian pirates. Hilary Bradt’s obviously a keen ornithologist and she writes eloquently about the bustling bird life on the island, including the puffins, gulls, razorbills and guillemots, fulmars and Manx shearwaters. It’s also the only place in the UK where you can find all five species of shallow cup coral. I didn’t know there was one species of cup coral; now I want to go to Lundy just to see all five …

The_Jetty Lundy Island North Devon

Lundy Island – image Michael Maggs

I love the insets sharing quirky tales, little known facts and folk tales, often written by local residents or from Hilary’s vast store of Devonian knowledge.  The book is a joy to read from start to finish – whether you are travelling in mind, spirit or body.  “This region has so much to offer the Slow Traveller; cliff paths for walking, sea for rolling breakers for surfing and sandy beaches for lounging, hidden coves, and wonderful Exmoor with its heathery hills and deep valleys, combes, where rivers tumble over mossy stones on their way to the Bristol Channel.”

Exmoor ponies overlooking Bristol Channel

Exmoor ponies overlooking Bristol Channel

You can get your copy of Slow Travel: North Devon and Exmoor here

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Quirky Travel Review Slow Travel Devon and Exmoor

October 16, 2017

What are Britain’s ULTIMATE happy places and favourite holiday activities?

What makes you happy on holiday? Where are you happiest? Recent research by SACO shows that 2/3 of us would not bother to go abroad for our holidays if we could guarantee good weather. Our happy places include Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands and happy activities include a pub lunch in the Cotswolds, building sandcastles in Blackpool beach, visiting the Roman Baths in Bath, exploring Exmoor and, of course, walking in the Lake District.

Britain’s Ultimate Happy Places

Britain's Ultimate Happy Places

I love that one of our favourite activities is getting rained on. So very British! Looking for somewhere special to stay when enjoying your happy places? There are plenty of choices on this blog. Just search accommodation or check out serviced apartments such as those on offer in London by SACO.  My favourite activity is stroll with friends beside a lake on an autumn day anywhere in the Lake District. What’s yours? Do share your own suggestions in the comment box at the end of this article 🙂

This post is brought to you in collaboration with SACO.

September 30, 2017

Upper Canada Village: escape to another era where life is slower and more relaxed

Horses Upper Canada Village Ontario - photo Zoe Dawes

Carriage horses on Church Street

The children squeal with delight as a piglet clambers over the back of its brother to get a better place in the sun.  A huge sow slowly rolls over in the gloopy mud, grunts and flops back into contented slumber. A tussle breaks out as three youngsters nip ears and legs before deciding it’s all too much effort and collapse in a piggy heap on top of each other. Just another day of bucolic pleasure in Upper Canada Village, not far from Morrisberg in Ontario.

Pigs in sunshine - Upper Canada Village Ontario - collage Zoe Dawes

Happy pigs

Less than 60 miles (90kms) from Ottawa, Upper Canada Village is a unique visitor attraction depicting life in Ontario around 1866, when the pace of life was much slower. Many of the 40 historical buildings were transported here from nearby villages which were flooded to make way for the St Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s. It gives a vivid idea of 19th century agricultural practices including caring for livestock, growing crops and harvesting vegetables. Attractive gardens showcase the plants and flowers that would have been grown in the summer. Staff dressed in clothing of the period carry out domestic tasks and discuss what social life, music, religion and politics would have been like at the time. They demonstrate how cheese, bread, shoes, tin jugs, brooms, furniture, dresses and hats were made.

Crafts at Upper Canada Village Ontario - collage Zoe Dawes

Demonstrating crafts and housework

I’m visiting Upper Canada Village with local travel blogger Cindy Baker of Travel Bliss Now on a day out from Ottawa. It’s a school trip day and lots of children run around the grounds, stopping to pat horses and watch sheep being shorn. Wandering along sunny paths and through shady nooks we pass the Woollen Factory and Saw Mill before reaching an elegant yellow house. On the veranda a young woman in a vivid orange dress sits reading a book.

Robertson House Upper Canada Village - photo Zoe Dawes

Robertson House

Inside Robertson Home we learn how a well-to-do middle-class family would have lived. The parlour has ornate decor with family portraits and lots of knick-knackery typical of the Victorian era. Further on we find the Bakery where a young man is showing how the bread is made. Later in the day we see the baker’s horse-drawn cart collect the bread; it’s sold on site and served in the Village Cafe and at Willards Hotel.

Bakery Bread Upper Canada Village - collage Zoe Dawes

From bread oven to table

We have lunch at Willards Hotel, with Customer Service & Corporate Communications Manager Susan Le Clair. Willard’s Hotel is one of the oldest buildings on the site, constructed in the late 1790s and restored to the style of the 1850s. It’s now a restaurant where we are served by costumed waiting staff with food from the period. I have the local bread and cheese platter – very tasty. Susan explains the philosophy of Upper Canada Village. “Our aim is to show what it was really like to live and work in the 19th Century. Many people in Canada have little idea of what that looks like and this place is perfect to teach visitors some of our important history in an engaging and fun way. It’s especially popular with families and people come back year after year. We have a diverse and interesting Educational Program that enables young people to discover their past in engaging and fun ways. Although we’re usually closed in the winter months, we do have special events including our very quirky Pumkinferno at Halloween.” 

Susan Le Clair in the livery Upper Canada Village - photo Zoe Dawes

Susan Le Clair in the Livery

After a delicious meal, Cindy and I go off to explore more of the village. In the distance we catch a glimpse of some people floating by on some sort of craft. It’s the horse-drawn tow scow which pootles back and forth along the village canal from the dock behind Cook’s Tavern to the Tenant Farm. A tow scow is ‘ … a flat-hulled barge that is drawn along the canal by a horse walking along the bank. Two villagers (one at the bow and one at the stern) help steer the scow using long poles. In typical village life, the scow would be used to transport heavy goods to mills and other distant locations.‘ (Upper Canada Village website.)

Horse-drawn Tow Scow in Upper Canada Village Ontario - photo Zoe Dawes

Horse-drawn Tow Scow

We climb aboard and listen to the gentle shuck of the boat on the water as we pass the Pier Light. A flock of Canada Geese peck around in the grass, honking as we pass and overhead birds swoop and dive across the clear blue sky. Time seems to slow down and the ‘real world’ fades away as we drift slowly along. Beyond the canal, the wide open waters of the Saint Lawrence River glitter and ripple as ship sails past; an incongruous reminder of 21st century Canada.

Tow Scow trip Upper Canada Village Ontario

Tow Scow on the canal beside St Lawrence River

 The tower of white-painted Christ Church peaks out above the trees near the canal. On the front cover of an excellent book, ‘A Village Arising – the Story of the Building of Upper Canada 1957-1961 and After‘ by Peter Stokes, there’s a photo of the church being hauled along the road from Moulinette to the site of Upper Canada Village on top of flat-bed trucks. We peak inside; the interior is similar to a Scottish Presbyterian kirk and includes box pews, a gallery and a cast iron stove.
Christ Church - Upper Canada Village - photo Zoe Dawes

Christ Church

Just round the corner from the church is brick-built Cook’s Tavern, which serves Ginger Beer and Sarsaparilla, based on the popular 19th century tonic made from the root of a South American plant (Genus Smilax).  Commonly referred to as “root beer”, these tonics contained a variety of roots, such as ginger for tang, sassafras for flavour and sarsaparilla to make it foam. Outside, a few people are waiting for one of the horse-drawn wagons to take them on a 20-minute drive round the village. It’s late afternoon and the school groups have left; the place is quiet, with a tranquil atmosphere very different from the frenetic excitement of the morning.

Cook's Tavern Upper Canada Village

Cook’s Tavern

Exploring some of the back lanes of the village we come across a farm with large-horned cattle in the fields and a tiny calf in a paddock. I get up close to take a photo and the farmer asks if I want to buy him. We haggle a bit and then I seem to have bought him for a couple of dollars. “Now you can take him back to the barn.” I think the farmer is joking but no; the next minute, a rope is thrust into my hand and I am taking a calf for a walk …

Walking calf on farm Upper Canada Village - Zoe Dawes

Walking my baby back home

After a full-on day it’s time to go. On our way out, we have a quick look at the gift shop and exhibition centre, which tells the history of the area. Outside, the little train that runs round Upper Canada Village is setting off on its last ride. We stop for a photo of the monument commemorating the Battle of Crysler’s Farm, a nationally significant battle in the War of 1812 that halted the 1813 invasion of Canada.
Upper Canada Village

As we drive onto the main road back to Ottawa, I can still hear the sound of children’s laughter, feel the soft muzzle of the wagon horse and smell that freshly baked bread. Upper Canada Village is a charming place of sensory and historic enjoyment that magically encapsulates an idyllic moment in Canadian history …

Days Out from Ottawa

This is just one of the many day trips you can take from Ottawa. I also visited Merrickville, a pretty village on the banks of the Rideau Canal, Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, Fultons Pancake House and Sugar Bush and spent a very relaxing day at Nordik Spa-Nature, a luxury spa at the entrance to Gatineau Park.

Many thanks to Susan Le Clair of Upper Canada Village for showing me round and sharing stories about this unique attraction. Grateful thanks also to Air Transat, Destination Canada and Ottawa Tourism for sponsoring my visit to Canada. It was a pleasure to explore more of Canada, a country of unforgettable experiences.

Check out Canada Keep Exploring to discover more about where to go and what to do in Ottawa. Return flights from Gatwick to Toronto from £346 (October 2017) and £349 (May 2018) per person with Air Transat. Canadian Affair offers an 8-day package tour Ontario Taster Holiday which includes 2 nights in Ottawa.

Find out more about Canada in these articles

Discover Ottawa, Canada’s charming capital city 

A Funky Food Tour in Ottawa

Ottawa: 8 fun ways to celebrate #Canada150 in the capital city

Top 10 Memorable Moments in Canada

Vancouver in 24 hours

A Digital Detox with the Grizzly Bears of British Columbia

Top tips for a motorhome trip across Canada

Upper Canada Village – LOVE IT? PIN IT!

Upper Canada Village Ontario - Pinterest - Zoe Dawes

September 22, 2017

Quirky Travel Photo: Little African boy by a stream in Rwanda

Little boy by the road in Rwanda - photo zoe dawes

Little boy in Rwanda

On a very long coach trip through Rwanda from Kigali up to Volcanoes National Park, we stopped en route for a ‘comfort break.’ As soon as we got off the bus, we were surrounded by a gaggle of children and adults who seemed to appear from nowhere. All curious, some holding back and others venturing closer, they wanted to say ‘hello’ and see what we were wearing and holding. This little boy caught my eye with his delightfully shy smile and, as I crouched down to talk to him, he came closer and closer. Finally he reached out a tentative hand to my camera so I handed it to him to have a look. Another member of our group came up and called to him to have his photo taken.

Little boy being photographed Rwanda - photo Zoe Dawes

I stepped back, clicked and got this shot. He sums up the warm welcome and friendly faces we saw throughout our memorable trip to Rwanda with Uber Luxe Safaris, a country coming to terms with a tough past and and embracing an exciting future.

Read more on Rwanda

Up close with Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

5 great reasons to visit Rwanda

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Little boy in Rwanda Africa - Pinterest poster Zoe Dawes