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Shelter Valley Campground offers plenty to do

2 Jul

by Diva Christine Harris,

I packed up my husband and my little dog Maggie and we went to spend some time at Shelter Valley Campground this past weekend.  We were greeted by Linda Lucier, who is one of the new owners with her husband Shawn.  She was very helpful getting us situated in the cute little cabin we were to stay in.  This cabin is the only one on the campsite, which made us feel a bit special when some of the other campers took notice and asked if they could take a peek inside.

Our tiny little cabin was cozy and sweet!

Our tiny little cabin was cozy and sweet!

Shelter Valley Campground is located on highway #8 between Clinton and Goderich.  Once you turn off the road you drive down a pathway to the campground in the valley right next to the Maitland River.  There are plenty of amenities and things to do at the campground.  They have a store full of everything you might have forgotten to pack or have ran out of, and if you happen to feel electronically deprived you can even sign up for wifi.  There is lots of playground equipment for the kids, a pool, and shuffleboard and horseshoe pits for the adults. They even have foosball, ping-pong and darts set up in hall.  The weekend that we were at the campground, there was a movie playing, a bass fishing derby, kids crafts, kids bike parade, ice cream social, wagon ride, and a 50/50 draw.

 

Activity Board keeps everyone "in the loop"

Activity Board keeps everyone “in the loop”

We really enjoyed staying in the cabin.  It has two bunks (double on bottom, single on top), a mini fridge, fold out table, chairs, BBQ with propane, hydro, picnic table and a fire pit. There is also a cute little porch to sit on out front to catch some shade during the day.  The cabin is also situated between both river access points and just a short walk to the store and washroom facilities.  All around the cabin are trailer sites and we were pleasantly surprised by how many friendly people stay here.  Almost everyone said hello as they passed by, and someone was even nice enough to let us know that our interior lights had stayed on in our vehicle.

Overall we really enjoyed our stay at Shelter Valley Campground.  Great scenery, great people, and plenty to do!  For more information check out their website: www.sheltervalleycampground.ca or call Linda or Shawn at 519-524-4141.

Camping requires a roaring fire to sit around, doesn't it?

Camping requires a roaring fire to sit around, doesn’t it?

Double size on the bottom, single on the top bunk

Double size on the bottom, single on the top bunk

The camps sits beside the beautiful Maitland River

The camps sits beside the beautiful Maitland River

The little porch on our cabin

The little porch on our cabin

The store was well stocked with camping essentials

The store was well stocked with camping essentials

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Winterlicious Getaway at Brentwood – Part 2

24 Mar
Peter & Joan with Sof & Olga (seated) (Photo courtesy of Brentwood's FB page)

Peter & Joan with Sof & Olga (seated) (Photo courtesy of Brentwood’s FB page)

by Diva Trista Russell

Earlier this month I wrote about my overnight stay at Brentwood on the Beach, and I promised another post with some stories about the interesting guests I met. Well here it is!

Betty & Pat: These two ladies were from the Harriston area, and I had a chance to chat with them during dinner on the Sunday night. They found Brentwood online, saw pictures of fellow quilters on the website that they knew, and decided to make a reservation! These two lovely ladies enjoyed manicures, pedicures, and massages during their stay. Their praise for Brentwood was recently posted on Brentwood’s Facebook page: “What a great winter getaway we had at Brentwood. The Winterlicious dinner was awesome and the brunch the next morning was wonderful. It was so relaxing and soothing to be pampered and cared for by your staff. We had a lovely time and will certainly be back again.”

Guests relaxing

Guests relaxing

Gwen & Don: This couple was from Stratford and I sat down to talk with them during brunch. This active couple loves to run and won a stay at Brentwood as door prize from the Pinery Provincial Park Road Race.

Andy & Michelle: From the Kitchener-Waterloo area, this couple enjoys outdoor activities and were excited to head to the Pinery Park to do some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

 

Gwen looking out at Lake Huron

Gwen looking out at Lake Huron

Anthony & Daphne: Anthony is Brentwood’s computer expert and he and his family lives in London. After they were married, they spent their honeymoon at Brentwood!

Sof & Olga: This has to be one of the craziest stories! This couple from Toronto were repeat Brentwood guests. Sof said he booked the Winterlicious getaway after he saw the picture of the Rouladen dinner on Brentwood’s newsletter. Before their stay, they decided to spend some time cross-border shopping. On their way back from Michigan, their truck broke down in Michigan. After a 1.5 hour wait, they were towed to the border, but the driver had no passport so they were left at the border. Another tow truck driver arrived almost an hour later to tow them. After a long and stressful afternoon, you would expect they would have headed home and cancelled their stay. Instead, this couple was focused on heading to Brentwood! The tow truck driver towed them over the boarder to St. Joesph’s, where they arrived after dark when dinner was just finishing. When Peter and Joan heard about this, they invited the tow truck driver in for dinner. While it was a bit later then they would have liked, Sof and Olga enjoyed some dinner and some Brentwood hospitality. Such dedicated guests!

Joan feeding the tow truck driver (Photo courtesy of Brentwood's FB page)

Joan feeding the tow truck driver (Photo courtesy of Brentwood’s FB page)

Entrance to Brentwood

Entrance to Brentwood

Winterlicious Getaway at Brentwood on the Beach – Part 1

2 Mar

by Diva Trista Russell

Lovely sunset over Lake Huron (photo courtesy of Anthony Sitko)

Lovely sunset over Lake Huron (photo courtesy of Anthony Sitko)

I’m excited to tell you about my relaxing little holiday on Ontario’s West Coast as part of the Taste of Huron program! I was lucky enough to stay overnight at Brentwood on the Beach, which is a luxury bed and breakfast on the shores of Lake Huron at St. Joesph’s (between Grand Bend and Bayfield). The special Winterlicious package I booked included a traditional German dinner, four star accommodations, and brunch the next day.

I had heard about Brentwood before, but I had never had the opportunity to stay overnight before. I had no idea that it was such a large and beautiful property! Peter and Joan Karstens own and operate Brentwood, which is a 10,000 square feet house with 9 guest rooms, a salt water pool, hot tub, sauna, guest kitchen, and common areas with books and games for guests to enjoy. When I arrived, two other guests were curled up on the couch reading a book by the fireplace.

The traditional German dinner included rouladen, which was made out of a Metzger's beef roll made with dijon mustard, pickles, and bacon. Very tender!

The traditional German dinner included rouladen, which was made out of a Metzger’s beef roll made with dijon mustard, pickles, and bacon. Very tender!

There were over 15 guests for dinner, and with the floor to ceiling windows in the dining room, many of us watched the beautiful sunset go down over Lake Huron before our meal. Peter is originally from Germany, so we enjoyed an authentic German dinner made by Peter and the Brentwood staff including garden salad, red cabbage, turnip, roasted potatoes, green beans, rouladen, pickle tray, and various breads. Dessert was German black forest cake, which was delicious!

Homemade Black Forest cake (photo courtesy of Anthony Sitko)

Homemade Black Forest cake (photo courtesy of Anthony Sitko)

I had a chance to chat with Pat and Betty, two ladies from Harriston, during dinner and discovered that these ladies discovered Brentwood on the internet and decided to come for a break from life at home. They also indulged in some in-house pedicures and massages while they were there!

The morning after I enjoyed a mini spa-like experience: a dip in the pool and hot tub and a quick visit to the sauna before brunch! Brunch included Peter’s famous German apple pancakes with homemade mulberry sauce, poached eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese and cold meat platter. All I can say is that if you come to Brentwood, make sure you try the pancakes as they are scrumptious!

The salt water pool was very warm and with the humidity it felt like the tropics!

The salt water pool was very warm and with the humidity it felt like the tropics!

Beach Room with lake view and fireplace

Beach Room with lake view and fireplace

What I discovered during my stay was that most of the guests were repeat guests. They loved staying there and decided to come back, which speaks volumes about the quality of Brentwood. Stay tuned for another post with some stories about the interesting guests I met during my stay!

Brentwood on the Beach
33937 Moore Court, RR #2,
St. Joseph Shores
Zurich, Ontario
www.brentwoodonthebeach.com
Email: info@brentwoodonthebeach.com
Phone: 519-236-7137

Ensuite bathroom with whirlpool tub

Ensuite bathroom with whirlpool tub

Common area with books and games for guests

Common area with books and games for guests

Breakfast is served!

Breakfast is served!

Peter's famous German apple pancakes (yes, a full one is the size of a dinner plate!)

Peter’s famous German apple pancakes (yes, a full one is the size of a dinner plate!)

The 182 Year Old Inn

24 Feb

IMG_4549 (Large)by Diva Trista Russell

I subscribe to the Little Inn of Bayfield’s e-newsletter, and this past January I saw that the Inn was offering a great winter deal as part of their 182nd anniversary: stay in the room of your choice, $50 dining voucher and full country breakfast for $182 for two people!

Since February 14th was coming up, I treated my Valentine to a great getaway that wasn’t far away from home, but was a nice change of scenery. We both had never stayed at the Little Inn before, so it was a new experience for us. The Little Inn of Bayfield has a CAA Four Diamond Award for lodging and dining and it’s Ontario’s longest continually operating inn. Wow!

The Little Inn of Bayfield

The Little Inn of Bayfield

IMG_4534We arrived early for the snowshoe adventure (see my last post for details), and the reception staff was very friendly and welcoming. There were guests milling about, some enjoying coffee and a good book in the front parlour by the fireplace, and others enjoying a late lunch in the dining room. Innkeper Darren Erb led us to one of the Carriage House rooms which is a bit more spacious than the Original Rooms. Room 31 featured a queen size Tempurpedic bed, small sitting area (complete with mohair throw from the Old Mill in Blyth), ensuite bathroom with standup shower, and view to the historic Main Street. The bed with custom made duvet was very comfy, although it was so high you literally had to climb up into bed (there were actually stools provided!). Two heart-shaped sugar cookies were waiting on the bed upon arrival, which was a nice treat after snowshoeing.

Lake Huron fish and chips and mushroom risotto

Lake Huron fish and chips and mushroom risotto

For dinner we enjoyed Lake Huron fish and chips and mushroom risotto, as well as a warm apple tart with chocolate ice cream for dessert in the Carriage House dining room. Nearby in the Original Inn dining room guests were enjoying an Around the World Wine and Dine event featuring food and wine pairings from all over the world. If we weren’t so stuffed, we would have tried the Hayter’s Turkey Poutine which was made with gnocchi fries, devils rock blue cheese, chive seedlings, turkey veloute…sounds yummy and interesting! I especially enjoyed their speciality tea after dinner, which was a decaf vanilla blend. The Inn also shares some of their favourite dining room recipes on their website.

Diva Trista at The Little Inn of Bayfield

Diva Trista at The Little Inn of Bayfield

There were couples young and old, and even families with small children (they have a children’s menu) enjoying dinner in the dining room. The little girl next to us so well behaved and was quite entertaining: at the end of dinner she put her utensils “to bed” under her napkin! What was nice was that throughout the meal our server explained the ingredients and how the food was prepared, and we didn’t feel rushed even though we spent over 2 hours enjoying a candlelight dinner.

Breakfast was a continental buffet of cereals, fruit, yogurt, breads, jams, and juices as well as an item off the hot breakfast menu. We enjoyed the French toast and Spanish omelet and we were quite full by the end! I especially enjoyed the homemade banana bread and local coffee from the Coastal Coffee Company. The Little Inn features locally grown and raised products from Huron County, as their breakfast featured sides of Exeter tomatoes and Metzger’s bacon and sausage.

The LittleInn is quite charming with its antique furniture, traditional decor, and friendly service, so it’s nice to see that it is still operating since 1832! Every January they close for their annual “winter’s rest” where they give the Inn a facelift such as refinishing the original wood plank floors in the dining room. While it is a historic Inn, it still offers much of the same modern amenities as other inns and hotels (such as free wireless internet), and it’s evident that they maintain the Inn without sacrificing its original character. I thought with the older plumbing, the shower would be just lukewarm, but it was the hottest water I’ve ever experienced!

This package was a great deal and it shows that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to stay in a beautiful historic Inn. Considering that the cost for the room was slightly over $100 with the breakfast and dinner amounts removed, I think most would find it difficult to get quality accommodations elsewhere at that price. Along with the great price, parking was nearby and free, shopping was literally down the street, and the service and charm was much greater than what you’d find in the city!

The Little Inn of Bayfield
26 Main Street North, Bayfield, Ontario
Telephone: 1-800-565-1832 or (519) 565-2611
Email: frontdesk@littleinn.com
Web: www.littleinn.com
Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for deals and specials!

parlour at the Little Inn

parlour at the Little Inn

Diva Trista is snuggled in during a winter retreat at the Little Inn of Bayfield

Diva Trista is snuggled in during a winter retreat at the Little Inn of Bayfield

Winterlicious at Benmiller Inn

23 Feb

By: Travel Diva Jenna

Benmiller Winterlicious - Happy Divas

The Group – Ang, Sarah, Jenna, Monica, Kate, Courtney, Griffyn, Katie and Melissa.

I finally got out to my first Taste of Huron Winterlicious event at Benmiller Inn and was it ever delicious! What made the dinner even better was that 7 other divas joined me on this culinary evening, oh plus our token “dude” Gryffin! The Winterlicious events are such a great opportunity for people to try out menus at restaurants across Ontario’s West Coast, Prix Fixe menus, 3 courses and the cost is $29!!!

Benmiller Inn wowed us from the start, before our first course came they served us a mushroom wonton amuse bouche, which indeed made our mouths happy! Of course the whole menu is available during Winterlicious, but all of us decided to go with the special. Between all of us we ordered one of everything. I have always had a tough time getting great photos at Benmiller, since the lighting is low and I never bring extra lights, luckily Katie Schedlich was along with us and had the idea to use our phone lights to make the photos looked posed and perfect… so much better than a flash! Below are the menu options and photos of the food:

Benmiller Winterlicious - Amuse Bouche

Above – Amuse Bouche – Mushroom Stuffed Wontons

 Starter

Benmiller Winterlicious - Duck RaviolliBenmiller Winterlicious - Pork Soup

Everspring farm Muscovy duck confit ravioli, honey beets, sea buckthorn mirin glaze.
or
Slow roasted Metzgers pork, udon noodle, dashi broth, chili oil, scallion

Benmiller Winterlicious - Fish and ChipsBenmiller Winterlicious - Gnocchi

Main

Ausable gold potato gnocchi, Wild boar with cranberry & Berkshire pork sausage, Weth shiitake cream sauce
or
Panko crusted yellow perch goujons, Garlic box scape caper tartar sauce, pomme pont neuf

Finish

 Winterlicious - Poached PearWinterlicious - Cheese Plate

Blyth farms chevre with spiced pecan and Inn made lavash
or
Prosecco poached pear, vanilla ice cream, Johnston’s Apiary honey drizzle

I chose the Roast pork soup, Gnocchi and the poached pear, all of which were wonderful. To be honest I was full after the soup, it had three large pieces of pork that could be a regular serving for a dinner! But of course I was able to find room for the creamy gnocchi and the poached pear. Out of the whole meal I would have to say that my favourite dish was the gnocchi; the wild boar sausage mixed with the perfectly cooked cream sauce and potato dumplings made my taste buds jump for joy!

We left Benmiller feeling happy, full and excited for the next adventure. During the next week I will be heading to Eddingtons and the Black Dog for more Winterlicious dining… I can’t wait! The Taste of Huron Winterlicious runs until March 9, and there are 9 restaurants taking part! For menus and more information visit: www.tasteofhuron.ca

 

 

 

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.

Brentwood on the Beach hosts Hobby Retreats … and more

8 Nov

by Karen Stewart

Today I popped in at Brentwood on the Beach while I was in the area.  I was delighted to meet a group of quilters who were on a retreat for four or five days from the Kitchener area.  Many of them have been visiting Brentwood twice a year for over ten years to enjoy the peace and solitude and allow them time to focus on their hobby.

I have about eight stunning quilts that were made by my maternal great grandmother, my paternal grandmother or my mother.  I sincerely appreciate the hours and the work that goes into these beautiful art pieces as not only were they constructed stitch by stitch (no machines then) but the patterns were, I suspect sometimes challenging.

The ladies at Brentwood are machine quilting – the work is still intricate and the results equally stunning functional art pieces.

Wendy Chandler has been enjoying quilting retreats at Brentwood for six years

Wendy Chandler has been enjoying quilting retreats at Brentwood for six years

Wendy Chandler has been coming to Brentwood with the group for about six years to enjoy the collaborative work with like-minded crafters in a peaceful setting that’s not too far from home.  She shared details of her project with me.  Wendy receives a “block of the month” package with fabric pieces already cut, ready for her to put together in a block.  The pattern is included.  At the end of the year, the 12 blocks are stitched together for a full-sized quilt.  The club she belongs to is through a quilting store in St. Jacobs although she did feel there were these types of projects available online or via mail order too.

three of Wendy's squares in the Block of the Month club

three of Wendy’s squares in the Block of the Month club

Wendy's Block of the Month squares will come together at the end of the year to make this beautiful quilt.

Wendy’s Block of the Month squares will come together at the end of the year to make this beautiful quilt.

Megan Stauch is one of the co-ordinators of the biannual gathering at Brentwood. She was working on a modern quilt that included brighter colours and squares or rectangles rather than the typically more muted colours and triangular shapes of many quilts.  She’s been coming to Brentwood for ten years and finds the area enticing – “the weather’s different every time we’re here”.  (I love visiting Brentwood too as the view of the lake is stunning – no matter what the weather).  Megan says she’s been quilting for just fifteen years but has made about 40 full size (Queen or King) quilts and 50 lap or baby quilts.  Wow … can you imagine the work!

Wendy's 'modern' quilt features bright colours and squares or rectangles.

Wendy’s ‘modern’ quilt features bright colours and squares or rectangles.

These ladies also shared with me one of the projects being worked on by one of the other ladies.  Describing the project as a block exchange, each of the ladies in the group were sent a package with a pattern and some of the “main” fabric.  Each quilter completed the block with unique fabrics.  A draw determined the winner who gets all the blocks to make a full quilt –  colours and patterns chosen by each individual made for a really interesting outcome.

These squares were made by twelve different quilters in twelve different places.  The "winner" of the draw stitches the squares together for one unique and beautiful quilt.

These squares were made by twelve different quilters in twelve different places. The “winner” of the draw stitches the squares together for one unique and beautiful quilt.

Brentwood hosts numerous crafters groups as well as individuals, couples or friends groups for getaways or retreats in their beautiful lake-front property on St. Joseph Shores – located between Bayfield and Grand Bend on Ontario’s West Coast.  The property features an indoor salt-water pool, an outdoor barbeque area, access to the beach, beautiful gardens, cozy fireplaces and warm hospitality from owners/operators Joan and Peter Karstens and their staff.

Brentwood on the Beach
33937 Moore Court
R.R. 2, St. Joseph Shores
Zurich, ON N0M 2T0
(519) 236-7137

www.brentwoodonthebeach.com 

Catherine manages much of the day-to-day needs of the guests at Brentwood.

Catherine manages much of the day-to-day needs of the guests at Brentwood.

Hermie and Anita are in the kitchen preparing breakfast.  Lunches and dinners are sometimes part of the package for hobby or spa retreat guests too.

Hermie and Anita are in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Lunches and dinners are sometimes part of the package for hobby or spa retreat guests too.