After we left Collingwood, we made an overnight stop in Ottawa before heading to our next house sitting opportunity in Moe’s River Quebec, Canada.
Moe’s River is sandwiched between Compton and Coaticook. It was an easy drive from Ottawa, about 312 km away.
Compton is described as a municipality in Coaticook Regional County Municipality in the Estrie region of Quebec. It is bordered on the north by Waterville, the east by Martinville, the south by Coaticook and on the west by Hatley and the township of Hatley. The village itself is approximately 15 kilometers from the south end of Sherbrook and only 25 kilometers from the U.S. Border.
Compton is a ten 10 mile drive from Coaticook and 20 minutes from Sherbrooke.
Louis St-Laurent, Canada’s 12th prime minister (1948-1957) was born on February 12, 1882, and raised in the village. Statistics Canada puts the population in 2016 at 3,131, not much more than in 2011 when it was 3,112.
At first glance, you might think Compton doesn’t have a lot to offer but there are three rivers that flow through the municipality from south to north, in the centre of Coaticook River and east to the Moe and Salmon Rivers. There are over 80 kilometers of country lanes, beautiful landscapes and valleys. It also boasts approximately 140 agricultural businesses.
Many young families, who are looking for a better quality of life for their children, are choosing to move here.
Coaticook (a French person doesn’t pronounce it as Coat – i – cook but more like Quat-i- cook) at least that’s how we were told.
A town in southeastern Quebec, Coaticook is on the Coaticook River and in the Coaticook Regional County Municipality. Its southern border is also the Canada-United States border. (Source Wikipedia). The population in 2011 was 9,255. It also has the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge (169 m) which spans the magnificent Gorge de Coaticook.
Coaticook is a well-known tourist destination. At the Parc de la Gorge, you will find the Forestra Lumina nocturnal pathways, all lit up with fairy lights. It was believed that magical creatures lived in the woods. Up to 2017, a total of 375,000 visitors have been drawn to it, paying for a 1.6-mile nighttime stroll.
If you are planning to visit this summer, book your tickets now. Besides rates and schedules, the website also gives a lot of useful information such as:
- What happens in bad weather
- Is it suggested for children, elderly, or individuals with reduced mobility
- Are shuttles and parking free
- Are pets allowed
- Can you take pictures and videos
- Can you eat on-site
- A picture gallery with lots of photos
Local legend says a girl name Margaret lived near the forest years ago and had a special gift. It was believed she could see things that others couldn’t such as fairies and magical creatures and her soul is still in the forest and it lights it up.
Tasty treats abound in Coaticook such as this tasty looking pancake (looks almost too pretty to eat) which we had at the L’Eggspress Du Verger on Child Street. Yum!
Finally, we come to Moe’s River where we house sat. It is one of the oldest picturesque hamlets and is a popular spot for vacationers.
Moe’s River is in the Eastern Townships in Quebec and a tributary of the Saint-Francois River. It is about 190 mi (306 km) east of Ottawa and 14 mi (23 km) from Sherbrooke Airport. It is 6.2 km from Compton and 16.9 km from Coaticook.
Our Host Pierre’s home was a quaint little house nestled on 5 acres of land in a small hamlet of Moe’s River. You immediately felt the peace, surrounded by many many trees – no noise from traffic! In fact, our first day there we saw a young deer quietly munching in one of the big fields, only to scamper off when we stopped to take a photo.
Pierre himself is a gracious host who owns a boat selling company and travels all over Canada to participate in boat shows and promote his boats. If this is a passion of yours, you can connect with Pierre at Topper or Parallel 45 Marine. Before we left, he took us to the place where they store some of the beautiful boats that they promote and sell.
The home was comfortable and warm, easy to look after and situated in a great spot. You could see why Pierre loved this place.
Our Reason For Being There
Buddy is a six-year cross between a Japanese and Labrador breed and absolutely lovable. He has such a beautiful and kind face.
When Buddy was inside he was quiet and quite content to be petted and rubbed. Outside, he loved to wander on his own; sometimes we would catch him just sitting, as if he was watching over his vast domain which I am sure he was!
BUDDY AND I
Buddy was very easy to care for, did not require any special medication and once asleep we did not hear from him until morning.
We understood he was a hunter but he did not present us with any of his spoils while we were there – I’m not sure that was a bad thing!
Even though our stay was short, we really enjoyed this house sit and wish we could have had more time to check out some of the local attractions.
We have been fortunate to meet some really terrific hosts and pets and Pierre and Buddy were no exception. We definitely would return.
MOUSETTE PARK, GATINEAU
On our way from Moe’s River to Ottawa for our next house sit, I snapped a photo from the car in Magog, and then we stopped at Mousette Park, Gatineau, on the northern bank of the Ottawa River. Ottawa had been going through some major flooding and we wanted to get a few pics of the water.
If you would like to know how we are able to travel to places like Quebec, check out Trusted House Sitters.
Have you ever been to Quebec and did you like it? What was your favourite experience?
Two days after our house sit in The Beaches, a lovely area in Toronto, we headed to Collingwood to start a 10-day house sit. It was a cold, dreary, drizzly day and about a two-hour drive.
Collingwood is a town in Simco County, Ontario, Canada. It is situated on Nottawasaga Bay, at the southern point of Georgian Bay. Population is 22,000 (2016).
We just returned from beautiful Mexico to start our first round of House Sits for the next 6 months. Our first sit of 2019 took us to the Beaches, Toronto Canada, an area which we had not had an opportunity to fully explore before. The weather was on the cooler side (not like Mexico!) so we had a little adjustment to make.
The Beaches is a neighbourhood in Toronto Canada, so-called because of the four beaches (Balmy Beach, Scarboro Beach, Kew Beach and Woodbine Beach) situated on Lake Ontario. It is located east of downtown within the “Old” City of Toronto. It stretches from Victoria Park Avenue on the East to Kingston Road on the north, Coxwell Avenue on the west and south to Lake Ontario.
The area is characterized by a large number of stores along Queen Street East making shopping ideal.
The beach itself is a stretch of sandy shoreline with a long boardwalk that runs along most of its length.
The name, “The Beaches,” has been a long-standing dispute with some local residents claiming The Beach is the proper historical name. However, “The Beaches” is more commonly recognized, especially by non-residents.
The dispute escalated in 1985 when the City of Toronto installed 14 street signs designating the area as “The Beaches.” Eventually, the signs were removed although it is still officially designated as The Beaches by the municipal government. In 2006, the Beaches BIA (Business Improvement Area) cast a vote to place “The Beach” on signs on new lampposts planned over the summer, but local outrage put a stop to that.
What is interesting to note though is that the BIA followed the decision to rescind with a poll (by ballot, in-person and online.) Fifty-eight percent (58%) of respondents chose “The Beach” as the name to appear on signs.
In addition to all the great shopping boutiques, there are several eating establishments in the area. We enjoyed an amazing gluten-free vegetarian pizza at Pizzaiola and took a stroll to Murphy’s Law Pub and Kitchen, where we enjoyed the delicious Thai Green Curry and Chicken Pot Pie – yummy! Both places were within walking distance of our house sit.
Regardless of whether you want to refer to it as The Beaches or The Beach, it is a beautiful place and we were so lucky to be able to live there for a week and enjoy the area.
We arrived at our house sit the night before our host’s departure as we knew she would want to get an early start in the morning. We were welcomed by Janet, a very attractive, intelligent woman who is a communications advisor. She soon had us sitting down and sharing refreshments with her. Her cozy brick home which is located within walking distance to the water and the famed Toronto boardwalk is full of character; for the book lover, there are many, many books everywhere. It was an enjoyable evening as we got to know a little about each other before heading off to bed.
The home was very clean and had all the amenities one could wish for, including a fabulous shower. Janet was very generous and told us to help ourselves to whatever we needed to make our stay there an enjoyable and comfortable one.
Our Reason for Being There
Pippa and Chapman, who are both four-year-old rescue dogs, stole our hearts immediately!
Pippa is a blonde Spitz with lots of energy. My husband started calling Pippa “Her Majesty” as she was the bossier of the two and very vocal about her needs and wants.
Chapman is a Shih-poo with the kindest eyes! He is not as boisterous as Pippa although he has his moments. He is definitely the quieter of the two and often took a backseat to Pippa.
Their daily routine included feeding, long walks, and lots of love and attention which we had plenty to give. For in-between walks, there was a lovely back yard where they could run and burn off energy. When it was time for a walk, Pippa especially would get very excited and would grab the leash in her mouth as if to say “Come on, let’s go! What’s taking you so long?”
After a few days, they trusted us enough to climb up on the foot of the bed to sleep at night where they stayed until morning.
Both Pippa and Chapman were very low maintenance and did not require any special instructions or medical attention. As long as they went for their daily walks (it did not matter which direction to them), and of course had their treats afterward, they were content.
We felt very lucky to be able to spend our first house sit of the season in such a beautiful area and to have met Janet and her two beautiful pets. As this was the first house sitting experience for Janet, we kept her in the loop sending daily photos and updates so that she would know all was well and she could enjoy her vacation. We would definitely go back!
From there we headed to Ingersoll and London where we spent some time with our good friends Judy, John and Randy before heading to Collingwood for a 10-day house sit, looking after two cats, Piper and Blue.
Note: We hope you enjoyed reading about our house sit. If this is something you have thought about, then check out Trusted House Sitters. Presently, we choose to house sit in Ontario because of the family plus we think it is great to explore the country you live in but you can go anywhere in the world. In fact, we are thinking about Australia or Portugal in 2020.
We recently took an opportunity to visit the Mayan Ruins in Mexico – Tulum, and Coba. I want to share some things we learned on this trip and how our journey in life has some parallels.
While many people visit the ruins on their own, we decided that since we had friends visiting for a short time we should take a guided tour. The cost was $55 US per person and included a buffet lunch.
Our day started out around 8:30 in the morning in Puerto Morelos where we met the driver and one other person. We had our backpacks with suggested items – sunscreen, bathing suits, sturdy shoes, hats, water, and of course our sunglasses which we were already wearing. There were six of us altogether – the driver, a young woman named Kathy from Hungary, and our party of four. The sun was shining and everyone was in a carefree happy mood. Our driver was friendly, our vehicle comfy and air-conditioned, and the time passed quickly.
With one stop on the way to take a bio break and pick up some coffees/water, we arrived about two hours later at the beginning of our journey. (That’s hubby and I by the sign to the entrance.) It is about a 10-minute walk to the entrance to the ruins; if that sounds tiring, there is a tourist train available.
This would also be the time to take advantage of the washrooms before heading to the ruins.
Location of the Ruins
Tulum (original name Zama which means ‘place of the drawing sun’) is a resort town on Mexico’s Caribbean, approximately 130 km south of Cancun and 65 km south from Playa del Carmen. The word Tulum means ‘wall.’ Taking you back to the 13th century, the archaeological site at Tulum overlooks the sea on 39-foot cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It survived about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Diseases brought by the Spanish settlers caused high fatalities resulting in the abandonment of the city.
It is believed that Tulum was an important site for worshipping the Diving or Descending God. Three main structures of interest are El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God.
El Castillo was built on another building that was colonnaded with a beam and mortar roof. Serpent motifs are carved into the lintels (structural horizontal blocks that span the space or opening between two vertical supports) of the upper rooms. It has also been called the lighthouse.
It is suggested that El Castillo was built in stages. A small shrine appears to have been used as a beacon to guide incoming canoes. This may also have been why Tulum became a prominent trading port.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Sverzel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3993280)
The Temple of the Frescoes
The Temple of the Frescoes contained a lower gallery and a smaller second story gallery and was used as an observatory for tracking the sun. The temple is decorated with ‘diving god’ or Venus deity figurines. The ‘diving god’ is positioned above the entrance to the western wall and is stil preserved. There is a mural on the eastern wall called Mixteca-Puebla but visitors are no longer allowed entry.
The Temple of the Descending God
The temple of the Descending God consists of a single room with a door facing the west and a narrow staircase built on top of another temple and was used as its base. Above the door is a sculpture that can be found throughout Tulum. It has wings, a headdress, and is holding an object. He is shown as being upside down. Tulum isn’t the only place this figure is found – it is also found in Coba on a small temple on top of the Grand Pyramid. It is also associated with Venus which in turn was associated with war and fighting.
Tulum is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites and is very popular among tourists. They are the third most- visited archaeological sites in Mexico after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, with over 2.2 million visitors in 2017.
IGUANAS WERE EVERYWHERE IN ALL SIZES
Before we headed on to Coba, we stopped and had a delicious buffet lunch which was included in the cost. This lake was across the road from the restaurant. According to our guide, it is supposed to have lots of crocodiles but we didn’t see any. Not sure if this was true but we certainly kept our distance.
Our next stop was Coba (which means “waters stirred by wind”) and I must say I found this ruin even more interesting than the Tulum ruins. Our guide pointed out that we should take photos of the Temple (Nohoch Mul), the Observatory and the “Ballgame” court.
The site covers about 30 square miles with the ruins covering four miles. You can explore by foot but it will take several hours. We all took advantage of the chauffeured tricycles (125 pesos round trip for two) to get us between the buildings, otherwise, we would have had a long walk.
The Mayan site of Coba was set up with multiple residential areas that consisted of around 15 houses in clusters connected by elevated walkways (sacbeobs). Most of its construction was between 500 and 900 AD.
At its peak of civilization, Coba is estimated to have had some 50,000 inhabitants; today, there is approximately 1500 inhabitants on the outskirts of Coba.
The Temple or great pyramid, Nohoch Mul, is the highlight of the Coba Ruins and one of the most significant and popular of the Mayan sites. It is a challenge for those who want to climb and reach the top but once there you will see a panoramic view of the surrounding jungle.
Nohoch Mul which means ‘mound’ is 137 feet tall; it is the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan peninsula and the second tallest Mayan pyramid in the world (the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today is the Great Pyramid of Choula located in Choula, Pueblo, Mexico).
If this is something you would like to do, you will have to take care as the steps are worn and slippery in places; there is a rope to assist you.
Out of our group, Kathy was the only one who ventured this climb (and she made it all the way – 120 steps!). My friend and I only went up about 10 steps so we could stop and have our photos taken.
As Kathy climbed to the top, we were all encouraging her and cheering her on. This reminds me of our journey in life, where we are faced with challenges and obstacles. How good it feels when we are fortunate enough to have someone in our corner willing to cheer us on and encourage us to reach our goals. Kathy’s goal was to reach the top and she succeeded. It was another of life’s lessons and came at an unexpected moment.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Ken Thomas – KenThomas.us(personal website of photographer), Public Domain)
La Iglesia church is the second tallest building in Coba, standing at 74 feet. This is where religious ceremonies were held. It is believed that it was built during the Late Classic Period which was 500 to 900 AD.
Although not much is written about the Observatory, it appears this building was to keep track of the movements of the sun, moon and stars as well as synchronizing the calendars. It had a circular base instead of a rectangle like the pyramids.
Mayan Ball Courts
Another interesting area is the ball court which was used mostly for ceremonial games. The Coba ball courts have inclined walls. Only certain parts of the body were allowed to be used – hips, shoulders, knees, and elbows but not the feet, hands or head. A heavy ball was used weighing about 6 to 8 pounds and put through a stone hoop or goal, similar to basketball.
Our guide told us that the winner was sacrificed and there was “death in winning” but some experts believe that it was the loser instead who was the sacrifice and had his head cut off.
An important feature of the Coba Ruins is the engraved and sculpted Stelae – inscriptions and hieroglyphics in limestone used to decipher the ceremonial life and important events of the Mayan culture during the Late Classic Period (AD 500-900). Women are the figures of authority in many of the scenes on the stelae. Unfortunately, today, they cannot be deciphered because of natural erosion.
After the ruins, we went for a refreshing swim in one of the cenotes in Coba. On our way to the Cenote, we passed many stores laden with handcrafted items. If you have a car, it might be fun to check them out.
A cenote is a natural sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially symbolic of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take the opportunity to explore the Cenote (being a non-swimmer has its drawbacks) but look how beautiful the water is!
A Tequila Tasting
The last part of our trip ended up with a tequila tasting in Playa Del Carmen. Although I am not normally a tequila drinker, I have had my fair share here in Mexico. One of my favourites was one that was coffee-based, smooth and creamy.
After spending some time tasting and wandering around looking at the various souvenirs on offer, it was finally time to call it a day and head back to Puerto Morelos.
How to Get to Tulum and Coba
Our guide told us the best days to visit the ruins are a Monday or Tuesday as the crowds would not be as thick. The ruins themselves are about 3 km from the centre of the Town of Tulum.
For us, hiring a tour guide was the easiest way to go. However, there are other options which I will briefly touch on here.
Travelling by Car
There are lots of places to rent a car for the day. Follow the 307 highway from Cancun which will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes or from Playa del Carmen which is approximately 45 minutes. Parking costs are inexpensive.
Travelling by Bus
The ADO bus travels from Playa del Carmen to the ruins and will cost you about 80 pesos which is approximately $4 US and $5.50 Canadian, one way. It will drop you off near the ruins or you can go into town and take a taxi from there. These are big, comfortable, air-conditioned buses.
Travelling by Collectivo
The Collectivo is like a small bus and probably the cheapest way to go. You can ask the driver to drop you off at the ruins on the highway. You will have a little walk ahead of you but for the price of the Collectivo you can’t beat it.
Travelling by Taxi
You have the option to take a taxi which is a bit more expensive and will cost you approximately 600 pesos ($30 US or $42 Canadian). While most taxis charge the same, there will be the occasional one that charges more – sometimes you can haggle with them, but don’t be unreasonable.
Travelling With a Guide
If you choose to do this, there are several companies that offer this service and the prices vary as do what is included and not included in the tours. A couple of these are: We Love Puerto Morelos Tours and Cancun Adventure Tours.
Getting to Coba is easier if you are part of a Tour group (our tour to the Tulum Ruins included the Coba Ruins) or you could drive. From Tulum it is approximately 45 minutes.
Although not as famous as Chichen Itza, Tulum is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites and is very popular among tourists. They are the third most- visited archaeological sites in Mexico after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, with over 2.2 million visitors in 2017.
Coba had over 702,749 visitors in 2017. Part of this attraction is Nohoch Mul which can still be climbed today, unlike Chicken Itza.
This was a great way to travel back through time to the 13th and 14th centuries and learn a bit about the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, the people, culture and what their beliefs were. If you decide to visit, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Note: If you have the travelling bug but not the dollars and want to see such wonders as the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, then house sitting might be the way to go. My husband and I are house sitters and have house sat extensively but are thinking about travelling to and house sitting in other countries. This is a fun way to see places and experience adventures. Go to our website to read about some of our sits. We love it! Check it out. You might too!!
Have you experienced the Mayan ruins? We would love to hear about your adventures.
Name: Trusted House Sitters
Owners: Andy & Rachel Peck
Overall Rank: 5 Stars
My husband and I love to travel, especially south for half a year where we can avoid the cold winters in Canada. This sometimes proves difficult because for the other half of the year, where do we live? Trusted House Sitters is a viable option and is making our travel possible.
This solution presented itself to us while visiting Costa Rica a year ago. We met many wonderful people who told us they were house sitting. Our interest was peaked and when we got back home we immediately decided to check it out. I am happy to say we feel we made a great decision.
House Sitting can make vacations to places like this (Yucatan, Mexico) affordable!
Trusted House Sitters
This company, based out of Brighton, Sussex, UK, was launched in 2010 by Co-Founders Rachel and Andy Peck. Its mission, simply put, is to allow pets to stay safe and happy in their own homes.
It is the largest company of its type and allows you to literally travel the world!
Peck saw the need for such a service when he cared for 2 cats and three dogs in a villa in Galica, Spain. At that time, he realized that there were many homeowners who did not want to board their pets away from their homes. Many chose not to travel rather than place their pets in places they weren’t comfortable with.
Trusted House Sitters’ staff are encouraged to do hands-on training – in other words, they are encouraged to experience house sitting for themselves so they can get a better understanding of what a member needs!
What is Trusted House Sitters
In a nutshell, it is trading services – The best part? The sitter gets free accommodations for the necessary length of time and the owner can have peace of mind and security, leaving their home and their pet(s) in good hands.
Note: You have a choice of what animals you are willing to look after so if you have an aversion to reptiles (like I do), then you can indicate this on your profile. While the majority of house sits do have pets, there are a few who just want their property looked after. We will be looking after one such property for four months starting in May of 2019.
How does it Work
Actually, it is really quite simple.
(1) You Pay a Membership Fee. There is a yearly fee involved for homeowners and sitters alike.
(2) Create your account. You will be asked to select whether you are a sitter or an owner. Then you will be directed to create your account.
Note: Before you even create your account, you will have limited access to sits already available to give you a glimpse of what is out there.
(3) Verification. There are 3 levels of verification. The basic, standard and enhanced. This is not a major requirement to get house sits although you may be asked by a prospective owner. In our experience, we were never asked and the only level we have is the basic.
(4) Start looking. Homeowners will look for criteria that will match theirs. Think of it as a ‘matchmaking’ website. You will want to put your best foot forward – in other words, a profile that rocks!
(5) Email Alerts. You will receive email alerts from Trusted House Sitters when a match to your profile becomes available.
(6) Welcome Guide. The owner will prepare a welcome guide. Included in this guide are items such as: alternative contact phone numbers/people; heating/air conditioning instructions; first aid kits, medications/feeding schedules of pets/plants; where restaurants/grocery stores are located, information on the vet and how he or she is paid, bus schedules. These are just a few of the items you might find in your guide. Some will be more extensive than others.
• Largest company in the world therefore lots of choices;
• Verification is not necessary to get house sits;
• Win/Win situation – house sitter has opportunity to see the world; owners can travel with peace of mind;
• One-time fee covers you for the whole year;
• Free accommodations;
• Easy to use website including a place to load up to 14 photos;
• Now has an IOS app;
• Reviews – homeowners can rate your performance. You can also rate the owners.
Some Cons – Here’s the Deal
• Price – while some might find that $130 is a lot, I personally don’t think so. As a sitter, if you factor in your accommodations, food, and travel, you are looking at way more than just 37 cents a day! If you are the owner, your boarding fees alone would set you back considerably. In Canada, you could be looking at $30 (low end) up to $85 (high end) per night; in the US, according to CostHelper.com, you could be paying anywhere from $240-$550 per month! Plus, your pet won’t have the comfort of being at home in familiar surroundings.
• Size of Company – Being the largest does give you lots of options, but it also provides lots of competition. This is where you need to make your profile shine!
• App just for IOS. In 2017, Android accounted for more than 80% of all smartphone sales worldwide and is projected to account for 85% of shipments worldwide in 2020. That is a significant number. Hopefully, Trusted House Sitters will address this in the foreseeable future.
So, Does Trusted House Sitters Work?
YES. Would I recommend Trusted House Sitters? YES!
This review is based on facts and our own experiences. My husband and I have been using Trusted House Sitters since February of this year and so far everything has been great! In fact, we already have two house sits confirmed for 2019!
This company has thousands of positive reviews and thousands of members.
We did have over 5 years of previous, private experience when we started, which I highly recommend. Whether it is sitting for your co-workers’ pets, the neighbour next door or family, it all counts as experience.
Our goal is getting 5-star reviews while we travel and help owners, giving them the peace of mind and security they need, and so far we have managed to do just that.
I definitely recommend TrustedHouseSitters.com as your go-to place to house sit – and travel – anywhere in the world!
BONUS: Please join our website and receive Ten 5-Star House Sitting Tips for FREE
Our final house sit took us to St. Catharines Ontario. We didn’t have much time between our house sit in Ottawa and St. Catharines – just one day and night.
First, we visited a young fellow, Caleb Barris, who we once billeted during hockey season; he was from Martins Ferry, Ohio at the time and has since relocated to Uxbridge Ontario. We then visited friends, Rick and Laurie, who had just built a new home in the same area. After a wonderful steak dinner and wine, we spent the night there and then headed out early in the morning for St. Catherine’s.
St. Catharines, Ontario
Before staying here, I did not know a whole lot about St. Catharines. It is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region and the sixth-largest urban area in Ontario, with 96.13 square km of land. It is situated 51 km south of Toronto across Lake Ontario and only 19 km inland from the international boundary with the United States along the Niagara River. Another thing I did not know – residents are known as St. Cathariners and the city has an official nickname “the Garden City’ because it has 4 km of parks, gardens, and trails. The population in 2016 was 133,113.
The actual area we stayed in is called Port Dalhousie (pronounced duh-LOO-zee). In addition to a lighthouse and pier, it is mostly known for its waterfront appeal and has one of the city’s most popular beaches located at Lakeside Park.
Tom and Liza were absolutely amazing! Like our previous 3 house sits, the bar was set high. They generously provided us with provisions to make our stay a comfortable one. Their easy-going nature, humour and genuine welcome made us feel as if we had known them for a long time.
Our first night was spent with them and Tom cooked us an amazing dinner, served with red wine. They left early the next morning to start their vacation on the eastern coast.
We had our choice of bedrooms (of course we chose the one with the King size bed). We also had the use of a newly installed hot tub, complete with numerous jets and music. Their backyard is not large but is well landscaped. There was this amazing flowering plant (shrub) that covered the whole back fence and I was able to get a nice photo before it died off.
This home is called Henley’s Dream and can be rented through AirBnB. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you decide to stay there. As your hosts, Tom and Liza will take great care of you!
Well written instructions were available for everything imaginable. I don’t think they left out a single thing!
Our Reason for Being There
Stanley and Sophie, their golden retrievers, stole our hearts. Sophie was the younger of the two and for her, it was all about the treats! Stanley was older and quite blind. They both loved walks, being petted, and rewarded for their good ‘deeds.’ Stanley just needed some gentle guiding, especially when he got into a corner and couldn’t see his way out – literally! Sophie liked to stick close to the humans so we had to be careful she wasn’t underfoot. She especially liked hanging around the kitchen – I suspect hoping food would make its way to her mouth.
They were extremely well behaved and rarely barked.
Tom and Liza had detailed instructions on everything from feeding to medication to what they liked. They were very strict about what Sophie and Stanley could and couldn’t eat, when they were to eat and go for their walks and bio breaks. As I have mentioned previously, it is extremely important to follow the guidelines when it comes to feeding and medication.
Since we were right smack in the middle of the Niagara Wine Festival, it was an opportunity to check it out.
One night we went to the Montebello Park Wine & Culinary Experience and Centre Stage (featuring an all Canadian lineup) where we heard the band “The Strictly Hip” (tribute band to The Tragically Hip) formerly of St. Catharines and now out of Buffalo. They were awesome and many people were up close to the stage dancing. The music was continuous!
We had friends come in to visit and we decided at the last minute to purchase a wine tasting passport through WagJag – $15 for two! This was so much fun! We visited 8 wineries in total with a minimum of three tastings per person (two had 4 tastings each). Since hubby was the designated driver, I had a little extra (!). I think my favourite was the DiPietro Winery in Jordan Station. The owner was very knowledgeable and entertained us with the history of the winery while serving us. I ended up buying a bottle to keep for our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary at the end of October. If you ever go there, make sure you give this one a try – the Kitchen Zinc!
On another day, feeling a bit playful, we decided to check out the Lakeside Park Carousel with some other friends who stopped by. The beautifully restored carousel was exquisite with each animal carved in great detail. As we chose our animals, we couldn’t help but laugh, reminiscing about our childhood; around and around we rode, accompanied by music from an antique Frati band organ. At only 5 cents a ride (!!), this was a true delight. In addition to horses, there were lions, goats, camels and giraffes, 68 animals in total. If you have a young family, this is a must! Heck, even if you don’t have a young family, do it! You will smile a lot and feel carefree and happy.
Tom and Liza came back two days early; although they told us they ran into some rainy weather, I suspect the unspoken reason was they missed their fur babies.
We had another amazing dinner that night – planked salmon on the bbq, bacon-wrapped asparagus and a great tasting salad – again served with wine (PS Tom is an amazing cook!). We stayed that night and left the next morning with promises to return if we were ever in the area.
This was a great house sit in every way – getting to know the area, meeting new friends, a comfortable home and two beautiful dogs to care for.
This wraps up our house sits with Trusted House Sitters for now as we will be in Mexico for 6 months. And to cap off our house sits, we again received 5 stars!
Watch for our blogs from Mexico as we continue to have new experiences and meet new people. Fun and exciting times ahead!
IF YOU MISSED PART 1 click here.
IF YOU MISSED PART 2 click here.
IF YOU MISSED PART 3 click here.
Please feel free to share any house sitting experiences you have had – the good and the bad, the funny and not so funny!
HOUSE SITTING PART 3
Our third house sit took us to beautiful Ottawa. Although we have been through there numerous times to get to somewhere else, we never took the opportunity to really check it out and were excited to have this house sit drop into our laps.
Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is a beautiful city and home to the Parliament Buildings, the Rideau Canal and the Canadian Museum of History, festivals and markets. It was ranked as one of the world’s cleanest cities by Forbes in 2007.
Carlington, which is where we were house sitting, is a neighbourhood in Ottawa, located in River Ward in the west-end. The community association boundaries are Clyde Avenue to the west, Carling Avenue to the north, Fisher Avenue to the east and the Central Experimental Farm Pathway to the south.
Approximately 2000 dwellings were built from 1945 to 1960 and were meant for returning veterans of World War II and were known as war homes. Many of the streets also reflect this military heritage such as Viscount Ave., Admiral Ave., General Ave., Veteran Ave., Crerar Ave.
Vivian is a very interesting woman, almost a perfectionist in detail and organization. I have to say, she is one of the most organized people I have ever met. Beyond the guide provided on Trusted House Sitters, she had everything outlined for us so there was no guesswork. Like our previous hosts, she made sure we were well provided for and that our stay would be an enjoyable and comfortable one.
We stayed with Vivian on our first night and had an opportunity to get to know her a bit and go over things. She is very personable, has a wonderful but quiet sense of humour, and entertained us with information about the house and the area.
Our Reason for Being There
As mentioned earlier, this house sit was a month and there were no pets. However, there were lots of plants, inside and out. Again, everything was detailed so we knew when and how much to water them. The house required very little maintenance, was very clean and comfortable. Because there were no pets, the hardwood floors were easily maintained. There were several plants, some I was familiar with and other beautiful ones that I had no idea what they were!
Outside, we had two backyards and more plants! The weather was seasonably warm, being August, and some watering and a bit of weeding was required. We had a great area to sit out in and sunbathe and were blessed with many beautiful sunny days.
We also saw some spectacular sunsets.
A Chance to Get Fit
My husband and I took this month-long opportunity to get into shape and lose some weight by walking almost every day – there were so many routes to choose from. We found a ski hill – Carlington Ski Hill -and steps; no excuse for not getting a good work out.
I actually counted both the steps on the stairway and the number of steps it took to climb the ski hill. The stairway was 96 one way and the ski hill was 170 one way!! I was amazed at the number of people we encountered on the ski hill. Turns out it is a very popular place for the locals to exercise!
Quaint Restaurants in the Area
Our neighbours told us if we wanted to get a great breakfast, close to us, we should try a little place called Reynolds. The first time we went, it was a Sunday morning and it was packed, with more people coming in. We ate there a few more times; it was always busy, had great service and excellent food.
We discovered a little joint called Joe’s Pizza and Sports Grill about 5 minutes from the house. Since my husband is a sports enthusiast, he was happy! Plus they made great blueberry pancakes.
The original owner of this sports bar sold this one and opened a second one so, of course, we had to go check this one as well. Since the lunch hour was over, the owner actually sat and had his lunch at a table next to us so he could talk with us. We found out he was from Lebanon and has been in Canada for over 30 years. His name was…Sam! He had some great stories to share about his family and the area.
A Day at the Beach
We are a beach-loving couple and make it a point to always find time to go to a relaxing beach.
Nearing the end of our second week, we had a beautiful sunny Friday with temperatures promising to be in the high 20’s and decided it was a great day to play hooky. Besides that, the next week’s forecast, although warm, predicted no sun so we didn’t want to waste this day.
Not knowing Ottawa, we decided to trust Google and get some reviews. We opted for a beach called Britannia Beach, located on the Ottawa River and about a 10-minute drive from where we were staying. School was still out for summer so it was very busy! We went back again, on a weekday, after school started and really enjoyed ourselves. Britannia is a large park with outdoor showers, bathrooms and a cool restaurant called the Baja Burger Shack. We had beer and fish tacos. Yum!
For families who like to bring their own food, there were lots of picnic tables, barbecue pits, grassy and shaded areas – a great place to let your kids play and enjoy the day!
The beach had lifeguards and volleyball nets that you can rent by the hour or day.
About Our Stay
Ottawa is big – the population in 2014 was 947,031. It is the capital of Canada, close to Montreal and the US border. We saw only a tiny fraction of it but we have been invited back next year for a longer stretch and plan to see and do lots of things including a visit to Mooney’s Beach, the Hog’s Back Falls and Vincent Massey Park
Looking after so many outdoor plants wasn’t a hardship. When Mother Nature wasn’t watering, I was! But again, Vivian had it all set up with a hose and watering cans to make the job easy.
Since we had no pets, we had lots of freedom; we met our neighbours who were awesome and gracious enough to let us use their barbecue on occasion. This is a great neighbourhood to get out and walk in and putter around.
I would definitely recommend Ottawa as a place to visit. Our time was rather unstructured as we were house sitting but if you are going on holiday, it would be good to plan what you want to see and do as there is so much.
As with our previous two house sits, we enjoyed this opportunity and received another glowing 5-star rating! We definitely look forward to next year.
If house sitting is something you are interested in, don’t wait. There is no time like the present!