Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Solid Water and Tracks in the Snow

 The bay is frozen.  Not just here in Bondi Bay, but all the way across, beyond the Island to the far shore at Vimy Ridge.  Which is not, we hasten to report, to say that it is safe for travel, but it has begun!

The main lake, down by Bigwin Island, is still open. We're fortunate that our smaller bay is sheltered from the main currents, so freezes sooner. There's a really good chance we'll be able to clear off a rink during the coming week, in close to shore, if the weather stays cold!

Two of our young guests this week have been having a blast at the Ski School at Hidden Valley. They are now proficient at both skis and snowboards.  Another set of guests have been tearing up (or should that be down?) the toboggan and tubing hill. The more these get packed in, the faster they get!   Brian was able to groom a cross country ski track around the back fields -- we do need more snow before most of the trails in the woods are in good shape, but you can get a great ski in through the Pioneer Fields, with rolling hills and open spaces.

While walking along the shore to check out the conditions, we also found where the deer had been napping peacefully under the cedar trees at Beaver cottage.  I love this shot -- which shows where Bambi's knees marked up the snow as the deer got up, and even shows the imprint of one hind leg where it was all tucked under.  

It's a lot of fun to decipher the animal tracks in the snow at this time of year!

But not nearly as much fun as making those tracks.  Be that with hiking boots, snowshoes, skiis - or paws...

 I love this shot of little miss supermodel Taffy, sporting the ChillyDogs jacket she got for Christmas, tearing up the shore.

Shopping, not Dropping

I was in town yesterday -- Taffy spent the afternoon at Dog Gone Beautiful, and came home looking just that... dog-gone beautiful. 

While she was enjoying the spa treatment, I was on a mission to find a particular book. Which lead me into the Mall.  No crowds, lots of parking, and oh my, the Boxing Day Sales prices are still in full cry.

One of my favourite stores, The Clothes Closet, had amazing deals.  Slightly fewer amazing deals after I spent some time there...

I truly enjoy shopping locally. Not only does it help the economy here, it helps my friends and neighbours. It's really lovely to find friends behind the counters or in the aisles, ready and willing to help you. (and in this case, Jocelyn kept bringing me clothes from the various racks, because she knows me, knows what I like...   The shoe store is the same, they have a file wherein they keep information on styles, sizes, etc. that you have shown a fondness for. I love that)  Huntsville has a wonderful array of stores that offer unique CANADIAN MADE products.  I love that, too!

David did Christmas shopping in town too.  One gift he gave was a collection of hand-made soaps from Soaps Stones, on Brunel Road. This is a store that David describes as "the best smelling store in the World." 

Darla -- we must admit -- does whip up an impressive line of soaps, lotions, bath salts and the like, all of which smell absolutely divine and most of which are made right there.  It's right next door to Taffy's Spa, so I stuck my nose in there for a therapeutic 'sniff' as well. 

 David's analysis could well be correct.  You sort of exhale tension as soon as you step inside.

So here's a cheer to our local stores, storekeepers, entreprenuers, artisans and craftspeople.  Here's to the people who frequent those establishments, and here's to the unique, the locally made, the different. And here's to a shopping experience that is devoid of the hassle, crowds, frantic frenzy that seems to permeate the season, while offering prices that really are amazing.

Hooray for Here!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A hike is always more fun in company.

Judi and I headed out, just before sunset.  We had Taffy the dog, and Squeegee the pony along for the walk.

And Achmed, who refuses to be on a lead, but equally refuses to be left behind.

With the sun painting the sky, and the snow sparkly and white, it was a wonderland.

We wandered up through the back fields, where the cross country course is located. There are over 50 fences back there, for training horses at every level of competition.

Brian has been 'pruning' the trees in the field. At least, that was his word for it. We see a bonfire in our future.
But not tonight.  The colour tonight was all courtesy of the sunset.  To the west all golds and reds, to the north, lavenders and blues.

Makes me wish I could paint! Perhaps we should offer these colours to Napster, and see what he creates!

Splish Splash... and BRRRR...

Never mind wading into the malls for some Boxing Day madness... David donned hipwaders and stomped out into the lake to retrieve the red marker that sits on the water intake.  The ice, alternately shifting and forming along the shore, pushed by the wind and current, had knocked it off its stake.

Now, even wearing hipwaders, its chilly in there.  In the chapter wherein Dave had to reach underwater to locate the stake, he discovered there was a small hole in one glove.  That water is cold. Never mind all that nonsense you see in the movies where the hero dives into the frozen lake -- it's breath-stoppingly cold in there.

He hoisted an iceberg, to show how thick the ice is. About an inch or so -- which quite obviously is not enough to support a person.  It is enough to support Taffy. She got a good education in thin ice today.  As David stomped about, cracks formed and widened, the ice under her paws shifted and tilted.  She got pretty excited, trying to tell David he should 'Get Back to Shore!'

But, Boys will be Boys -- and who can resist splashing in puddles?  Not our Dave, who had some fun Stomping his way along the shoreline.

Good thing it's very shallow!

Of course, the hipwaders provide excellent insulation and keep him dry.  He's wearing layers. He's in very shallow water, with back-up (me, not the dog) in case of anything untoward.
Cold water is not to be taken lightly.  But that doesn't lessen the appeal of iceberg hopping.

Be of Good Cheer

First Day, First Chair, First Run.
Hidden Valley. Shred!!!
We are still waiting for more snow... but that said, do not despair, oh dearly beloved.

You have no need to worry about boredom up here in North Muskoka. 

Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area is open with four runs in operation. Ski School is in full swing -- a super option if you have youngsters or if you yourself would like to develop some better ski skills. Skiing is a lifelong pursuit -- we have friends from 4 to 84 who enjoy
hitting the slopes, the older of whom maintain that a Bad Day Skiing still beats a Good Day at Work.

Rock Ridge Tubing Park is open, as of today.  Slip slide away...

Algonquin Provincial Park is offering daily short movies at the Visitor Centre, and their wonderful hiking trails are all wide open.  The "other Park", Arrowhead, is often overshadowed by Algonquin, but it's well worth spending a day on their trails too.

Broomhill Farm (just 5 minutes away); Little East River Farm (30 minutes) and Algonquin Highlands Trails  (10 minutes)  and Back of Beyond (40 minutes) are all open, offering trail rides, or wagon/sleigh rides, often with a bonfire and hot chocolate thrown in.

If you'd like a different kind of Trail Hike, check out Tim Yearington -- he is offering Spirit Walks, to Thunderbird Mountain, some of which might well change your life.
Usually in winter, the mountain hike takes place on snowshoes... just plain hiking makes this walk a little easier.

Here at Bondi Village, our hiking trails are all open.  We have a six target Frisbee Golf Course open for play.  For registered guests, if the night is clear we are offering Dark Skies programs.  The chickens, horses and pony are all ready and willing to greet our guests -- Squeegee is taking our younger guests for Pony Rides.

Both the arenas in Huntsville and Baysville are offering Family Skate times, and it is possible to book the Baysville arena for a private hour on the ice just for you.  The local spas are all open, if you'd prefer just a day of pampering while the snow slowly falls...   Browsing the main streets of Huntsville and Dorset are another great way to spend a little time, searching out the unusual.  Don't get me started on the wonderful restaurants that are located within a half hour's drive of Bondi... too many and too diverse to truly list, but all of them are well worth the visit.

And sometimes, it is more than enough just to be away, to find yourself in a quiet place, where the deer graze the lawn, birdsong can be heard in the trees, traffic noise and sirens fade away. A place where you can set up a jigsaw puzzle, or a card game and discover that you have a fantastic family.  Sometimes just snuggling by the fire and doing nothing at all, that's enough for the spirit.

A Delicious Day

Christmas involves getting together with family and friends, an activity that seems to gravitate to the dining room table.  After all, where better to gather to celebrate than at the sharing of great food?

All of which means that a lot of time is taken up with preparing that food. There is the traditional baking of cookies and goodies, preparing the main meal, trotting out treasured family recipes...

I have my Mom's very old, very tattered recipe book. It was given to her in the 1930's. In the margins, she wrote down adjustments to favourite recipes, comments on the end products, and --most interesting of all -- notes about what was going on with the family: dates of births, deaths, weddings, notes on unusual weather, or on interesting people that were sharing one of the meals.  The book is a labyrinth of information, the best of which has nothing to do with food.

People all have different traditions at Christmas. One of ours is that David and I make the breakfast. Carol makes the actual Feast (and it is always spectacular).  My role has evolved from the early days, when I had to help David every step of the way as we whipped up Eggs Benedict -- where his contribution started out as simply stirring the hollandaise and setting the table.  Now all I really have to do is blend the fruit juices and make sure the muffins don't burn in the toaster.  The lad has a solid grasp on the making of a World Class hollandaise sauce, and knows his way around a kitchen.

We enjoy a lot of food this time of year in which we wouldn't indulge during the rest of the season.  One item is the traditional "killer eggnog."  David and Mike helped with the construction this year. Good thing we have chickens, since the recipe opens with LOTS of eggs. It then moves on to whipping cream, sugar, and a dash (or two) of whiskey and brandy. Taffy has never seen the process before, and was enchanted to have the two young men whipping up a storm in my kitchen.

And speaking of foods in which we don't usually indulge -- while Taffy did get to lick one of the beaters, it's not a habit she should get used to.

For all of those who, like me, perhaps overindulged in fabulous foods, be of good cheer.  One of my Mother's quotes, inscribed in her recipe book above one of the Christmas pudding recipes... "It doesn't matter what you eat between Christmas and New Years.  What matters is what you eat between New Years and Christmas."

So very true.


Lovely and Dangerous - Stay off the Ice!

Just prior to Christmas we were experiencing some Global Warming effects --  one of the very very rare Green Christmas' in our memory.

I do recall, as a teenager, taking my Mom out in the canoe on Christmas Eve, so it is not unprecedented, but it is very rare.

In the absence of snow for skiing the trails, we have been -- quite simply, and quite gloriously -- hiking.

Sunshine pouring through the pines along the River Loop trail turned it into a cathedral -- very fitting for this holy season.

The Beaver Ponds have embraced the season -- frozen over, they provide a focal point to the hills beyond, which are themselves dusted with a light snow.

Now, we did get more snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We now look white... and Christmasy... but we are, admittedly, still short of snow, still long on hiking opportunities.

Not to say there's no winter up here -- in addition to long wonderful walks (and as a quick editorial aside, guests who were here for Christmas Day told us that they were delighted to just be hiking and spending time together. "It's easy," said Jasmin, "to do too much. We're happy just to be here, together.")

In another slide aside -- we caution people to STAY OFF THE ICE.  Beaver Ponds may look enticingly skatable, but there can be currents that undermine ice and right now, while it is still firming up, it can be extremely treacherous.  Taffy gave me minor heart failure when we got to the river. She happily ventured out following otter tracks... but just beyond this little swale you can see the river run.  And run it does. The flow is fast. The shores are frozen. There is absolutely no way to get to anyone, dog or person, who falls in.  I turned and ran the other way, calling, and she came racing after me. Whereupon she found herself on leash until we were well clear of the river.  I felt really stupid -- I was the one who knew we were approaching the river. I was the one who knew about ice. She was just interested in the fascinating smells of otter paws... So -- keep in mind the Rule of Ice:
One inch: Stay Off
Two inches: One Person May
Three inches: Small groups.
Four inches: Okay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Letter -- Our Year in Brief Review!

Christmas, 2011

Greetings to all our friends...

Despite best intention, we are again running late with this greeting. The arrival of much enjoyed Christmas letters and cards always reminds me that I need to get our own letter underway! Through “social media” we are able to keep in touch year round through our Bondi Resort Blog, Facebook and (heaven help us) Twitter, so this letter will be shorter this year. We’d be delighted to have you “follow” the blog, etc. -- those of you who enjoy that sort of thing... for those that don’t, we like to continue this ‘old fashioned’ contact. We introduced an on-line booking system this year, too, but we still much prefer to talk to our guests rather than have them be just a click on a screen!

2011 was another busy year. Brian’s health has been good this year, for which we give constant thanks. Among other projects, he has been installing a third solar collector system, making Bondi even greener. Hopefully it will be connected by year end – Ontario Hydro, in this fight against global warming, moves at a glacial pace. Every opportunity that allowed him to get into the plane saw him in the air. Which isn’t saying all that much – he would always like more flight time. Weather conditions don’t always mesh with available time. A planned balloon trip is still on hold after repeated weather delays pushed it clean into next year.

We are constantly upgrading and improving the resort and its facilities. Along with renovations, we have upgraded the television system (reluctantly, since we truly believe families need more than ever a chance to spend time together ‘unplugged’) and the Internet accessibility all the way across the property. Carol is tireless in her pursuit of improving the interior design and conveniences in every unit. We know our guests appreciate those efforts – and we do too! She has an amazing ‘eye’ for decorating and it is thanks to her the cottages are sparkling. Thanks to her, we also have gardens that bloom beautifully and provide the very best veggies on the table. It’s easy to forget just how much work goes into making sure that happens – it’s important, and it is appreciated.

Winter brought us less tourists than usual, despite fantastic conditions for winter sport. It would appear the lure of cheap flights to Cuba prevails – understandable for some, but others succumb to a new found fear of winter driving. Yet, with the possible exception of a short stretch near Barrie, the highways have never been better. Canadian winter is part of the identity of this great nation, and we would like to see more people embrace it and enjoy it! Vacationing closer to home is also affordable – worth considering in this economic climate! We were delighted to see the National Geographic Travel Editors select Muskoka as the Number One Summer Vacation destination, and keep it in the Top Ten for Year Round vacations. That was a great reminder of just how beautiful and special this part of the world is!

We enjoyed an old-fashioned HOT and dry summer that came on the heels of a cold and wet spring. Oddly, we had vacancies scattered throughout the season, sometimes in weeks when we frankly did not expect to see space open. Many bookings are being made with less advance notice – folks’ day timers are complicated these days! It’s always worth a call if you are thinking of a last minute get-away. Research is piling up on the benefits of getting back into Nature, fighting what is now labelled “Nature Deficit Disorder,” and by golly, have we got the place for that! Over the winter, we’ve got some ‘sweet deals’ on offer too, close to the skiing, snowmobiling, and just ‘chillin’ by the fire’.

We look forward to welcoming back familiar faces each year, but we also welcome our newcomers. New guests mean forging new friendships. Returning guests mean family -- we were honoured this summer to welcome Evelyn Hadden home to Bondi for the 50th year, and to take part in her 90th birthday party.

This year the boys of the Bondi Maintenance Dept. embraced fishing. The early part of winter was spent hand-crafting an ice hut. The bass boat hit the lake early. A special trip into Algonquin to fish Lake Opeongo was a highlight for all of them. The fish population seems to be standing up well to their onslaught, but some success fuels their enthusiasm. Golf also moved onto their agenda. Seeing as several of the clubs were gleaned from the Recycle Shed at the local dump, we don’t need to comment on the quality of their game. Now hunting is looming on the horizon, with attendance at gun classes and hunting permits. The deer seem remarkably unconcerned, although there is the occasional ruffled grouse. Archery is also under consideration – as David points out for all these endeavours, “they need practice.” It all helps get them out of the house – they have done a lot of work on our ski/hiking trails, coped with a lot of windfall trees that needed to become firewood, hammered and sawed their way through a multitude of projects.

Carol’s grand-daughter Sarah came for two week in late June. That evolved into a six week stay, and she proved to be very helpful at the resort. Almost 15, she is growing into quite the young lady. Carol got her a new camera, which was never far from Sarah’s hand, and she supplied us with wonderful pictures of activities at the Resort, many of which were featured on the Resort Blog.
Dave passed his last exams in August and in October we celebrated David’s graduation from Georgian College in the Architect Technologist program. He can now officially create plans and get them from paper to standing structures. We are really proud of what he’s done – and his marks reflect that Georgian is really proud of him as well! We are delighted to have him working here at Bondi!

We’ve enjoyed having Mike Bechtel with us again, rounding out the complement of the Maintenance Dept. A cheerful, willing worker, we always miss him when we lose him to the ski hills in winter. He and Dave are plotting a trip out West to (as they say) ‘shred the gnar.’ New skis have already been acquired.

Abby, ridden by Nancy's friend Chris. Anyone looking
for a truly lovely young horse should give us a call!
Nancy had an unhappy year in the health department when she suffered a detached retina. Incredible work done at St. Michael’s hospital was able to repair this – but the recovery period is long and limiting. Beginning with a week lying face down, it was followed by a summer without riding, swimming, boating, or anything strenuous. For a while, she sported a Pirate patch – and was loaned a turkey vulture in lieu of a parrot. At the end of it, however, she has good vision again. Dr. Muni is a miracle worker, and the Canadian medical system certainly stepped up for this. She continued to judge, coach and conduct clinics both in Ontario and Manitoba. Abby, her young mare bred here at Bondi, is now reluctantly up for sale since she is a bit more horse than the doctors currently recommend. Blizzard and Bailey, and the pony Squeegee are all well, so the barn is still full and happy – and the chickens continue to produce their very popular eggs as well.

Her bright spark came in January -- a new puppy, Taffy. From the same kennel as Holly (and before her Toby) this standard poodle is a joy and a mischief. There’s a lot of learning involved in being a Resort Dog! Taffy remained glued to Nancy through her recovery period, and they are now taking small (and somewhat unruly) steps into the world of Dog Agility.

Re-elected last October for another term on the Lake of Bays Council, she is working with a new group of Councillors and a new Mayor, with often differing viewpoints on the importance of community and environment on the Lake of Bays.

Napster, our painting cat, had a huge year. A wedding gift to the Royal Couple produced a charming letter from the Palace. Another became a gift for the Governor-General. He has sold around the world (including Iceland, Tokyo, N.Z.) and one design is being sold as a Christmas card for an Amsterdam-based charity. In all, sale of his work has raised almost $4000 for charities this year. He has his own Blog, linked to the Resort site, telling about his artistic adventures. We never thought that David’s inspiration for the Cat to take up art would lead to this! Achmed, the ‘other’ cat, continues to enjoy taking guests for Nature Hikes and riding on car roofs.

Come November, Nancy stayed home to “hold the fort” while the rest of the gang headed off to Florida to play at Disney. While Brian and Carol comment it may be their last trip to Disney World, perhaps the same can’t be said for David and Mike. They had a great time – even when Brian was “captured” by a living statue! David’s friend Megan was busy at University, so she missed out on this trip.

It has been an interesting year, globally – and looks to continue that way for a while. We send our best wishes to you and yours, and hope you will stay in touch with us. This is the time of year when we pause, reflect and remember. Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

It is very true that the Gifts of Time and Love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. So, here we are, wishing the very best of the season to all of our friends. We hope to see you in 2012!

And never let us forget, “Love is what is in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents, and just listen.”

Easy, breezy, beautiful...

Well, it took a few years, but here we are on the Cover of the Winter Scene publication!  This picture is from 1962 (when we were very young!) That's Nancy, Rosemary and Brian enjoying some bike adventures on the frozen Bondi Bay. 

Yes, mountain biking is a lot of fun at this time of year -- when the trails are frozen solid and before there's too much snow for those tires.  Frozen lakes are also a great place to ride when conditions are right.

It's one of the more unorthodox ways we play with winter up here.  Brian has a new business card -- in part it reads, Any Resort can Do Summer... Come See what we Do with Winter.

We were featured in the magazine in several other pictures. One of my Mom, Rosemary, with her cat Mandy, taking part in the Dice on Ice car races that used to be popular.  Of course, the ice had to be good for this game -- and not too much snow, so they usually occured in mid-March.

We don't see these any more -- perhaps we've let go of that pioneering spirit, perhaps insurance companies simply blanched at the very concept...  Hard to say. They were fun while they lasted!  Mandy enjoyed taking part, as Chief Cat and Navigator.  I suspect Achmed, who adores riding on car roofs, would also enjoy the speed, the wind in his whiskers, zooming around the Island...

There's another Bondi photo in the magazine.  My Dad, Paul, standing at the base of the Ski Jump hill at the old Curlew Ski Centre (he's the one on the left side of that little group of men) -- now long gone, just south of Huntsville. He's watching the winning jump, 110' down the hill, on skis that weren't much more sophisticated than curved planks. 

But if some of those more adventurous events are gone from our winter calendar, there's still plenty to do.  The Arenas in Huntsville and Baysville both offer Family Skating times.  Baysville will let you even book the place for an hour for private skating with the family.  The two Curling Clubs -- again, Huntsville and Baysville -- are open.

Wagon rides are available in the area at a couple of centres, and Algonquin Highlands Trail Riding has opened up their trails for winter trekking with the horses.

Right here at Bondi, our trails are open for hiking. Wander up and see how the Beaver is enjoying this mild spell, and check out his logging operation.  Bring your frisbees along and play a round on our Frisbee Golf Course -- we've kept six targets open for the winter, and it's a game anyone can enjoy.  We're also offering Dark Skies programs on starry nights.  Orion, Perseides, Leo -- all those gorgeous constellations that are hard to spot on a summer's night -- are in their glory right now.

Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area has taken advantage of the cold -- they've stockpiled snow, and are open for the season now.  Their ski school is a super place for the kids (and adults!) to get started into this lifetime sport!

There's plenty to do...   so come on up and see what we do with Winter!  All sorts of Winter! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Trip down a Sideroad

Bondi Bay, 1929 - note the log jam in the corner of
the bay and the open pastures behind!
Our little Blog gets read in a lot of unlikely places -- which is just fine with us. We have some very loyal readers (oh dearly beloved!!!) and some who just click in, read, click out...  

One of our readers is Sarah Ryeland, of Sideroads of Muskoka magazine. Sarah is also an avid fan of Napster's, and in fact painted with him for an article in an earlier edition of the magazine.  She noticed a couple of posts on the Blog this fall -- one about Vikings, one about Names...

Passing them along to Gillian Brunette, she got the ball rolling. Came out to the Resort. Got some old historic photos to go with the article...

The result is a fun feature in the Winter 2011 Sideroads of Muskoka,  all about Buried Treasure.  Now -- we hasten to point out -- it is completely unknown if a) the Vikings really did get to Lake of Bays; and b) where the treasure might be buried.  Gillian likes to place it in our bay, Bondi Bay.

Given the geography of the lake, this seems to us unlikely -- somewhere between the portage into Dwight Bay and the exiting river at Baysville seem more along the probability curve.  That said, we're all for  giving this old-fashioned geocaching a try -- let's go treasure hunting!! Why not!?

Original farmhouse at Bondi, 1905 -- Joseph and Elizabeth
Tapley, with their two young sons Douglas and Percy,
and Mr. McIlwaine. They would have been delighted to find
Viking silver on the land!
From what we've been told, this bay was considered a place of healing by the First Nations.  With it's southwest face, shallow bay, deposits of clay and open beach, it was an ideal location for a spring camp, a place to soak up some long-awaited sunshine after a long winter.  Come to that, it still is. And that could well be the Real Treasure of Bondi Bay.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Still Shopping?

If you, like me, are stunned into silence by the discovery that Christmas is NEXT SATURDAY, and your Christmas shopping consists of a few bags of ribbons and wrapping paper, then take heart.

Dwight has some great little places to browse around and find fun, unusual and lovely gifts.

I was in one of them today -- I went in for bird seed... I came out with Christmas presents for the unfeathered members of my family.

Dwight Garden Centre is looking particularly 'festive.'

Linda has a great selection of items, including some truly gorgeous floral arrangements for the season.   (This one is hers, but on display at the Dwight Market -- another great place for last minute shopping, and with the very best meat counter around.  Not to mention the pies. Fantastic!Why would anyone cook when they can score out pies like these that just need to be popped in the oven?)

By shopping in the community, we help each other. And isn't that what Christmas is about, really?

Besides, these gifts are unusual, attractive, useful...  there's mugs featuring a map of Lake of Bays, local history books, lovely flowers, funky tree ornaments, and a sign that reads "A woman who is looking for a husband never had one"  -- now, that should make someone smile!

Oh, and yes, she's got lots of seed for the birds, too!  At least I remembered to buy what I went in to get in the first place!  Usually I get distracted by all the other fantastic stuff, and come out with something totally different from the Plan!

Skating Rink, Under Construction

It needs to be a bit thicker, we grant you, but just look at how nicely Bondi Bay is freezing in!

One of the advantages of this being a shallow, sheltered bay with no major rivers flowing in is that it does freeze over early.  We usually have a rink for Christmas near the red roofed boathouse, very close to the shore. 

So, yes, we are optimistic!  The rink is Under Construction.   If Mother Nature doesn't slack off, we'll be good to go!

Big Guns

Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Centre opened today.  Conditions, thanks to Mother Nature, were more limited than is usual at this time of year, but they had a run open, and three boxes... and the Bigwin Quad Chair got everyone up the hill fast.

Dave and Mike were there early -- and yes, much to their undisguised glee, they got First Chair. First Run.

They were sharing the hill with lots of good company.  The great deal, $20 to let you Ski All Day merged perfectly with the Ski Fever that has been building up all fall to get people onto the slope!

The Big Gun are out at the Valley -- this is the way we make snow over here, provided the temperature is low enough.  The stockpiles are then spread over the hill and groomed, producing everything from silky smooth fast runs to a half pipe.

There was snow all day today as well, which just added to the fun. 

It was wonderful to see so many people out enjoying the Valley.  I was greeted by several people who pointed out that they knew it was me, bundled up as I was, because they recognized Taffy. We got greeted by cheers and waves from those on the lifts as well as some snowy sliding stops to say Hi as the skiers aced the hill.  I'm not sure what it means when people recognize my dog before they recognize me...

 Taffy was pretty excited to see her first ever skiers, and didn't understand why she, too, could not just Bomb the Hill!

The Ski School was up and running on Day One as well.   Mike knows all about that! He will be teaching at Snow Valley this winter. On their opening day he was called in for On Hill Training, but he's got a couple of years teaching at Grouse notched on his belt now, and before very long they had him out there teaching.

The great technology they use at Hidden Valley means that there will be plenty of fabulous skiing over the Christmas holidays.  Rock Ridge Tubing Park also boasts snow-making equipment, and they are set to open on Boxing Day.

Between the ski hills, tubing park, and the fantastic hiking that is still on offer, there's no shortage of activity.  The indoor skating rinks are also open for the holiday, with plenty of free ice time for families.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Boy's Toys

It is said that the difference between the Men and the Boys is the size of their Toys...

So when Brian forwarded these photos, we knew he was just a teeny bit envious...

Our cousin Michael is currently working in Belfast, supervising a dredging/scour protection contract preparing a berth for 2 new ferries on the Belfast to Cairnryan (Scotland) route.

Due to the location and nature of the seabed a large backhoe dredger was used – by large I mean a 25m3 capacity bucket.

Brian put this into context, pointing out that one scoop from the Nordic Giant is equal to one truck from the local gravel pit, fully loaded!

His excavator is just a little smaller than that...

Nevermind. It gets the jobs done, and we have no desire to muck about with the lake by dredging -- that's not a good thing for any environment. Belfast may have to undertake this operation, to keep the shipping lanes open -- after all, Islands need to be able to stay in touch through ferry lanes!

Without that pressing need, we'd rather have fish, and clams in the lake bottom dreaming of glory in the Clam Race, snails and little benthic 'thingy's' all happily contributing to a natural world.

We're happy with smaller toys.  But still, the Bondi Maintenance Dept. being 'boys', after all, there is just that touch of wide-eyed "Wow" when they see the toys Michael is supervising!