Tag Archives: blyth

A Night of Gnocchi, Galleries and Good Theatre 

17 Aug

Part 2 Bistroby Diva Calista Powell

It has been a very long time since I walked through the doors of Blyth Memorial Hall, and upon walking out last Wednesday I vowed to return soon. A friend and I came down from London to see the Blyth Festival’s preview show of St. Anne’s Reel a new play written by Gil Garratt and directed by Marion de Vries. Starting with an absolutely amazing dinner by Chef Peter Gusso at Part 2 Bistro, my friend Pravin and I chose the vegetable gnocchi pasta in a brandy rosé sauce, and the mushroom stuffed chicken supreme. I am a huge gnocchi fan, and not many restaurants can make it right, but as always, Peter Gusso did not disappoint. Pravin chose the chicken supreme, and as he is originally from Toronto, he was amazed that the ingredients were from our local Huron County agricultural belt. I was definitely proud to show someone from a busy metropolitan area how we do things in rural Ontario. Resisting the temptation of dessert, we then headed over to the Hall and had a couple moments to browse through Kelly Stevenson’s art installation at the Bainton Art Gallery. It was amazing to see the fine details in the geometric patterns of her work and it interested me that she used india ink on a variety of mediums.

A couple onlookers view Kelly Stevenson’s exhibit at the Bainton Gallery.

A couple onlookers view Kelly Stevenson’s exhibit at the Bainton Gallery.

Doors open at Memorial Hall.

Doors open at Memorial Hall.


After perusing Kelly’s captivating work, we settled into our seats amongst a full house of eager theatre-goers. The performance started off with old man Walter in his farm house struggling to play his fiddle. He is then joined by a young and beautiful woman with a ghost-like presence who disappears when a travelling cowboy, Daniel shows up at the door. Quite quickly, the character roles fell into place and it was established that Daniel was returning back home for his mother’s funeral and Walter was in the midst of dealing with his recent widower status. Through heated bickering and passionate fiddling, the two wove a story of love, loss, and life’s regrets with the ghost of St. Anne hovering over them with a watchful eye. David Fox, Emily Lukasik and J.D. Nicholsen received a well deserved standing ovation at the end of their performance. I made a point to not read any synopses before St. Anne’s Reel and, as always, the Blyth Festival put on a deeply moving and unforgettable production.

St. Anne’s Reel plays until September 6th, 2014.

For tickets and other information about the Blyth Festival visit: http://www.blythfestival.com

Blyth Festival
P.O. Box 10, Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300 | 1-877-862-5982

Photo 1: Come visit Peter Gusso and try his amazing gnocchi!

Photo 2: Doors open at Memorial Hall.

Photo 3: A couple onlookers view Kelly Stevenson’s exhibit at the Bainton Gallery.

Kitchen Radio opens Blyth’s 40th Anniversary Season

13 Jul KitchenRadioSet

by Claire Carter
I must begin this post with full disclosure.  I am a big fan of the Blyth Festival.  I love that the performances feature locally relevant topics, and exclusively Canadian plays.  I love visiting Blyth Memorial Hall, sitting in either the upper or lower balcony, and enjoying a world-class show in a Huron County village of 1,000 people.

I have been lucky enough that each of the recent productions I have attended have had bonus events.  Last year, I enjoyed a country dinner before a play (dinners take place Friday and Saturdays at different locations in Blyth, including churches, community centres and the Legion). The meal was lovingly prepared, and ended with so many different types of pie!  This year, the Huron Tourism Association was hosting the evening I attended.  Sweets and appetizers featuring local ingredients were available from local eateries and hotels, including Queens Bakery, Benmiller Inn and Samuels.

I was lucky enough to attend Kitchen Radio at the Blyth Festival on June 26.  The performance I attended was the day before the official opening, but as an audience member, I would have thought the show had been on stage for years.

Written and directed by Marion de Vries, the musical is set in 1968, and features a mainly female cast.  The play examines the relationship that women have with each other and music.  The play was captivating, and seemed to feature each of the four strong main characters equally, developing their personalities through song and dance.  The set and costumes were both fantastic.  Charming and funny, I found myself in good company with the rest of the audience, laughing and grinning at the on-stage antics.  Locally relevant tie-ins were made throughout the play, my favourite being that CKNX was the station being listened to over the radio.  Over a week later, many of the songs are still stuck in my head.  The YouTube clip below shows dress rehearsal of Kitchen Radio, and will give you an idea of the fun music and choreography you can expect in this play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwBLniZy_PI

The Blyth Festival offers Canadian written and produced plays from late June through early September.  This season, four plays are set on the Mainstage (Blyth Memorial Hall): Kitchen Radio, Billy Bishop Goes to War, Stag and Doe and St. Anne’s Reel.  The Young Company presents Out of this World from August 27-30, and Radio: 30 is on stage at Phillips Studio from September 4-6.

Blyth Festival
Box 10
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300 / 1-877-862-5984

KitchenRadioSet

 

 

Apple Blossom Walk on the Blyth Greenway Trail

14 Jun The winter was long and hard on fruit trees - and the blossoms weren't quite at their peak.
The winter was long and hard on fruit trees - and the blossoms weren't quite at their peak.

The winter was long and hard on fruit trees – and the blossoms weren’t quite at their peak.

by Karen Stewart

On Saturday, May 24th, 2014 a small group of local residents met in the Village of Blyth to enjoy a walk along the Greenway Trail and hear about the no less than fifteen brands of apples growing there.  The story that these apples grew from cores pitched from the windows of the passing trains captured my interest.

Due to the long, long winter, the blossoms were not quite at their peak, but we did listen to tales of the Blyth Greenway by local historian Brock Vodden while enjoying a walk among the blossoms, trees and shrubs!

This blossom walk was lead by Hauke Reisenbichler, a Master Craftsmen in Gardens and Orchards from Germany.  He shared information on the fruit trees as well as some uses for wild plants growing along the Maitland River located adjacent to the trail.

Participants agreed there was interest in gathering again this fall to walk the trail and identify the apples, many of which are heritage brands.  A local source reported that one particular tree makes great applesauce — I look forward to trying some this fall.

But, the Trilliums were in their prime.

But, the Trilliums were in their prime.

Group Spa Days popular at Spa Essentials

5 Feb

by Diva Karen

spaEssentialsI ran into Kelly of Spa Essentials recently and asked her what was new in “Spa” world.  Her answer surprised me.

Group Spa days are becoming more and more popular” she said.   I was curious how they work as I think of the spa as being an individual experience.

Employee and girl-friend groups are getting together in a more leisurely fashion as time is at a premium.  Spa Group Outings are perfect for brainstorming and networking at an entirely different levels – a whole new way of team-building.

As the touch-point, Kelly co-ordinates all the services for the participants during a set time period, say 4-5 hours.    All the group leader needs to do is pick a date and provide Kelly email addresses of group members.  She takes care of the rest!

Some participants enjoy a single spa service, some buy-in for a full set.    Sometimes an employer will provide a credit for each of their staff (unused credits are carried over for another visit); other times the group participants pay for their own way.  Either way, the atmosphere is set for the “party” to be fun for everyone.  And if someone is running late, or another must leave early, schedules can be accommodated.

Groups bring in their own meals and beverages – sometimes potluck, sometimes they order from one of Blyth’s great restaurants (Part II Bistro, Blyth Inn, or pizza from Bell’s).

Manicures, Pedicures, waxing, facials, eye lash extensions, various types of massage, teeth whitening, and laser hair removal services are all available at Spa Essentials.  

Spa Essentials
406 Mill Street
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
kelly@spaessentialsblyth.com

Embrace Winter, Escape to a Country Cabin

3 Feb
Cabin in the woods offers a great escape all year round …

Cabin in the woods offers a great escape all year round …

Winter-time in Huron County can be brutally cold and stormy or the sun can shine through and make for a spectacular canvas.    But whatever the weather, nothing is more comforting than a roaring fire in the wood stove and a rustic cabin retreat. The A-Frame Cottage on Currie Line just outside of Blyth contains a full kitchen, 3-piece bathroom, 2 bedrooms, satellite television, a wood stove, a barbeque and a fire-pit. Linens are provided. To really enjoy winter, get the whole family involved!  This cottage sleeps six and there are plenty of options to suit all ages and fitness levels.   The snowmobiling trail is just 1/4 mile away; hiking, snow-shoeing or skiing trails meet the property line, and – if all else fails – enjoy a friendly snowball fight! Then after-dark curl up by the wood-stove with some of your favourite family games or a good book.

A-Frame Cottage
83248 Currie Line
Blyth, Ontario  N0M 1H0
519-441-1475
wharton1475@icloud.com
www.cottagesincanada.com/aframecottageblyth

spectacular scenery to enjoy at this time of year.

spectacular scenery to enjoy at this time of year.

Comfortable spaces to curl up in!

Comfortable spaces to curl up in!

Sleeps Six:  two regular beds in separate rooms in the loft area, and a queen size pull-out in the Living room.

Sleeps Six: two regular beds in separate rooms in the loft area, and a queen size pull-out in the Living room.

Sunday at the Blyth Steam Threshers Show

9 Sep
Classic Steamer

Classic Steamer

By Guest Travel Divo and Diva Wayne Vaasjo and Karen Melady

For Wayne this first time visit was a great surprise.
Wayne:  There was just so much going on.  It’s a mechanical engineer’s dream.
My highlight was the steam shovel – sort of like a fairy tale – with a man in the old engineer’s spot pulling the levers and the bucket magically goes up. Meanwhile in the back the stoker is filling the firebox, the machine is sending up a great plume of smoke that you can see from any place in the grounds.
Karen is a repeat visitor.
Karen: It’s been a few years since I last visited and I’m amazed at the increased organization and that it doesn’t change the homey feel.  There was great camaraderie among the people – those with displays, the visitors, the vendors.   And stories from the campers about the great music and the reunion atmosphere going on all week. It’s been going on for 52 years, so there are a lot of friendships made and kept up  because of this event.
Fairlane

Fairlane

1959 Retractable Ford Fairlane

1959 Retractable Ford Fairlane

We enjoyed the classic cars, the tractor pull and watching children cheer for their grampa. Loved the interactive displays and demonstrations: farm animal tent, rope making, blacksmithing, miniatures.  And just watching those great machines do their work threshing, cutting corn, shredding turnip.  A special moment was when an older man answered my question about a seeder that I recognized but couldn’t name. He described how he and his father worked the turnip seeder. I thought about how much more rare this is – a first person account of using the old farming equipment.

Here comes Grampa2 (Tractor Pull)

Here comes Grampa2 (Tractor Pull)

Steam Shovel

Steam Shovel

Wayne and I noted that it was sort of like being in a cartoon with these loud self-propelled, huge, old (and small), loud things popping up and tooting their whistles and puffing out smoke! A really grand day capped off with a swim in the lake. Love this country to coast lifestyle.

Turnip Seeder

Turnip Seeder

thresher at work

thresher at work

Old Beauty

Old Beauty

Co-ordinator Notes:  Ray Hallahan, a representative from the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association reported that attendance for the 52nd annual Steam Show was up slightly – that even the rain on Saturday couldn’t keep enthusiasts away!

750-800 trailers were on site for the three-day event, filling the trailer park  with a few located in an overflow area.

The Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Associations annual reunion is held the weekend after Labour Day each September.  Admission is $8 per person.

Falling: A Wake

5 Sep
image by Alyzen Moonshadow taken from Blyth Festival website.

image by Alyzen Moonshadow taken from Blyth Festival website.

by Diva Trista Russell

Falling: A Wake is the last production of the Blyth Festival’s 2013 season. Written by Gary Kirkham and directed by Peter Smith, the play follows retired couple Elsie (played by Catherine Fitch) and Harold (played by Tony Munch) as they discover the body of a young man on the front yard of their farm one autumn night. I had heard that this play was going to be quite comedic, but I was also surprised at how emotional it was as well. This play is actually inspired by the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy over Lockerbie in Scotland. Kirkham’s friend was on that very plane, and he wrote this play many years later.

Elsie and Harold are awakened one night by the sounds of banging and crashing, and come to realize that a plane crash occurred. Surrounded by luggage and debris, they discover the lifeless body of a 20 year-old man, sitting in a plane seat. Elsie, who loves to talk, decides to keep the young man company until the authorities arrive. Much to her husband’s dismay, she carries on a conversation with the victim, which is actually quite comedic.

Aside from the comedy, the discovery of the body reminds Harold and Elsie of their unresolved loss of their son, and is symbolic of the profound impact of grief. The couple’s lack of closure about their son and their resolve to move on was a reminder to me that we’ve all experienced loss in our lives in some way, and the healing power of letting go. I didn’t realize until I was writing this post that the title is “Falling: A Wake” not “Falling: Awake” as I had thought, which is quite fitting considering Elsie’s determination at staying by the side of the young man’s body.

Held in the intimate Phillips Studio, there was no stage set when I arrived. The props were very minimal. I learned that Elsie and Harold are a couple in real life too, which is not surprising considering the great chemistry and quick comebacks they have on set.

Falling: A Wake plays until Saturday, September 7th, including afternoon and evening performances.  The Phillips Studio is located at 209 Dinsley Street in Blyth.

For tickets, call 1-877-862-5984 or visit www.blythfestival.com.

Catherine Fitch

Catherine Fitch

Tony Munch plays Harold

Tony Munch plays Harold

Photos of Elsie/Catherine Fitch and Harold/Tony Munch are from the Blyth Festival’s website.
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