Tag Archives: shopping

There’s treasure on Hwy. 86

14 Dec

bushart1By Diva Heather Boa

HURON COUNTY – It’s easy to image carloads of tourists and cottagers rolling along the picturesque Hwy. 86 – the dividing line between Huron and Bruce counties – in search of adventure during the summer months. They stop to poke around the markets, garden centres and studios that surround Wingham in a big arc, and they eat picnic lunches or enjoy coffee breaks at pretty parks set in small villages.

This time of year, the swarms of summer visitors are gone, but many of those places remain open to be discovered in this week before Christmas.

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Bush Art, 86457 Norman Line, Wingham

The roadway sign at the corner of Norman Line and Hwy. 86, just west of Wingham entices folks down a dirt road and up a farm laneway. It would seem unlikely that on this dreary day the place would welcome travellers, but there’s the neon “open” sign lit up with red light bulbs. I enter a room filled with wooden angels with crosses of copper wire hanging from their necks, walking sticks with patterns burned into their smooth surfaces, a massive tree burl with every curve highly polished, and other items crafted from materials found on the farm’s acreage. As is Huron County custom in the rural area, I know that the owner will eventually discover my car in his laneway and come out to greet me. True enough, within a few minutes, retired-farmer-turned-artisan Brian Wellsted joins me, inviting me to wander further into the old barn, where used row upon row of books neatly line his handmade bookshelves, organized in categories just like you would expect to find at Chapters or Coles. He leaves me alone with the hum of the heaters and the rhythmic tap of rain against the old window panes, while I explore the mystery section, picking out two reasonably priced hard covers, and then sifting through the Canadiana, gardening, travel and sections.

I leave with my two books and wooden angel just as what appears to be a mother-daughter combo enter for their turn to explore.

Pioneer Conservation Area, 13 Clyde St., Bluevale

Today the ball diamond is empty, the playground equipment quiet. There’s no one under the picnic shelter. It’s peaceful. A great place to read my new book, enjoy a cup of coffee and recall the last time I was here – as a reporter, observing a mock disaster built around a scenario of a bus accident. There were student actors hanging in tree branches, caught under the bus, trapped inside, thrown clear across the field and impaled by branches. They waited while emergency workers co-ordinated efforts to get medical help to them and extract them, in a rehearsal of their skills. But on this day there’s no one in the park and on the footpath to the Maitland River even though it’s quite pretty.

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Old 86 Farmers’ Market, 44229 Hwy. 86

The fry truck is all closed up now that the sun has waned, but there’s still plenty to see at this massive farmers’ market of locally produced frozen, boxed and preserved food, and everything from gardening tools to home décor to underwear.

I wander through a front room filled with wonderful preserves by Glenn Hill, turkey products by Hayter’s and new giftware, picking out a jar of marmalade for a Christmas morning treat.

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Then I head back into the vast room, at the least the size of an arena floor, and sift through toys, gift wrapping, golfing shoes, work clothes, wall signs, books and all sorts of items that would make great gifts or stocking stuffers. In the end, I pick out two pairs of gloves with little no-slip nubs of plastic on the palms, perfect for the gym.

With my haul of treasures in the back of the car, I head back down the highway, this time in search of lunch.

Nosing around Exeter’s downtown unearths some great treasures

4 Jun
The beautiful exterior draws visitors in to Seasonals.

The beautiful exterior draws visitors in to Seasonals.

By Diva Jennifer Mossop

EXETER – There is hidden treasure in Exeter, Ontario.

The town is known for its beautiful buildings and parks, as well as a classic, South Western Ontario Main Street of yellow brick

Exeter is known for sweet shop Sugar and Spice Chocolates.

Exeter is known for sweet shop Sugar and Spice Chocolates.

facades.   And, while most know about long-standing favourites like Eddington’s of Exeter and Sugar and Spice Chocolates, there are some lesser known gems for noshing and retail pleasure.

Exeter’s annual Ladies Night Out is a great chance to check out the newer, the lesser known, or the ones you haven’t managed to visit before, as well as the old favourites. Dozens of places offer discounts, specials, treats and samples to turn an evening of shopping into an event.

Consignment product is artfully displayed at Luv Scarlett.

Consignment product is artfully displayed at Luv Scarlet.

First stop was Luv Scarlet – the new tenant of one of Main Street’s lovely old buildings. It is a mixture of very good consignment – gently used or new clothing, shoes and hand bags, scrumptiously arranged in the high ceiling brick walled store. A gourmet coffee bar and retro fridge filled with old fashioned glass bottles of Coke offer a way to slake thirst, while the weekly Saturday table of to-die-for baked goods gives this place a feel of endless possibility.

Half a block to the North is another business finding possibility in every nook and cranny. Jennard Cheese, which boasts an excellent selection of cheeses, olive oils, maple syrups, gourmet goodies, alcohol free

There's even ice cream at Jennard Cheese Shop.

There’s even ice cream at Jennard Cheese.

wines, and gifts, has recently blasted a hole in the wall to the next shop. There, delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and, yes, ice cream are served.   It’s not unusual to see customers staring down at their café tables as they pore over the historic pictures and articles acting as a glass covered tablecloth, while the yellow brick walls showcase local art.

Next stop, Willow Valley – a new addition to the décor scene, which already includes such spots as Inner Urban, Interior Concepts, Custom Covers, and the creative Bella Casa. Willow Valley offers expert decorating services, along with an irresistible array of interior delights to take home on a whim. Antiques, including sometimes hard-to-find items, are found here.

Seasonals is housed in a quaint little single storey, rambling house (yes, yellow brick) and deserves a real exploration. I have long noticed, and long not visited, this cornucopia. Don’t rush through this tiny maze of garden, home, and body décor. You will find a treasure at a good price to tuck in your pocket and take home.

Finally, a trip to Miller’s Country Store. I am always speeding up, or just barely slowing down, when I catch sight of the sign in the South East end of Exeter on Thames Road. But this time, I slowed right down, and turned in. Again, an eclectic and fun mix of offerings – authentic farm, fun garden, gifts, toys and a mix of pet, farm and wild animal supplies are all available.

If Exeter isn’t a regular stop for you, make a point of getting there. And if you are a regular, set aside a little extra time to nose around this Town, and enjoy the discovery of hidden treasure.

Bayfield Christmas Parade

4 Dec

by Diva Rachel Lynn

Ahhhh Christmas. I love everything about Christmas.  I love the snow. I love the carols. I love spending time with family and I love Christmas themed events.  I gathered up my mother-in-law and daughter and headed to Christmas in Bayfield.

We arrived as the stores opened to beat the morning crowds… or so we thought.  It seems like a lot of others had the same idea.  As we popped in and out of stores, there were free offerings of hot chocolate and apple cider to keep us warm.

The crowd is getting bigger waiting for Ol’ Saint Nick

The crowd is getting bigger waiting for Ol’ Saint Nick

The shops were decorated for the Christmas season and the music was playing in the background and I caught myself humming along.  You could also get free horse drawn carriage rides around town.

JMR Gallery & Village Bookshop are ready to welcome guests

JMR Gallery & Village Bookshop are ready to welcome guests

It was time for the parade and people were lining up on the Main Street.  There was a variety of people in the parade from miniature horses, to a pipe band to the local fire department.

FiretrucksAndFuryFriendsI managed to pick up a few goodies, but unfortunately I can’t show you the pictures!  Someone reading this may be a recipient of the gifts!

After an hour of shopping we decided to visit the Albion Hotel for a bite to eat.  The place was packed!  We didn’t even think to make reservations but managed to grab one of the last tables.  We decided to feast on wings and sweet potato fries.  I must commend the waitress.  She was amazing! Even though the place was full, our drink order came fast, our meal was really fast and the food was hot and delicious.  I would recommend the Albion to anyone who wants a relaxed atmosphere.  I will even go so far to so say the Albion has the best wings around.

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Beatrice was fast asleep as we headed home.  Despite the rain, it was a fantastic day.  The people were happy, the streets were full and Bayfield helped us all get ready for Christmas.

A few tips for those attending the parades:

  • If the parade is on Main St and you can back your car up in a parking spot, please do.  This will help if it is raining or too cold so you can watch from the front seat.
  • If you plan on eating before or after the parade at a local restaurant, make reservations to avoid disappointment.
  •  If you didn’t make the Bayfield Santa Claus Parade, Santa is making one more stop in Huron County – Clinton Santa Claus Parade: December 5 @ 7pm

Be a Tourist in your own Backyard

18 Jun

by Diva Claire Carter
As a recent transplant, I still feel like a tourist in the town of Goderich in many ways.  Although I’ve lived here for over a year, I still spend my weekends following the crowds; attending concerts, outdoor events and visiting the beach.  Here are some of my favourite ways to relax in Goderich:

Shop the Square, and explore the Farmer’s and Flea Markets

Farmers Market on the Square, Saturday's

Farmers Market on the Square, Saturday’s

The Square in Goderich is a beautiful shopping destination.  Shops have something for everyone, including clothing, home and kitchen items, jewelry and books.  If shopping isn’t your thing, or you’re hungry from too much of it, enjoy one of the great restaurants.  Whether you are in the mood for a snack, full meal or fast-casual, you will be delighted by all of the food choices.

The Farmer’s Market takes place each Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., starting in May and ending in October.  The Market is a fantastic place to buy locally grown items.  As a tourist, I would suggest picking up some items to be enjoyed right away, and some non-perishables to bring home.  The Flea Market takes place on Sundays during the same months, but starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m.  In addition to many delicious food items, unique vendors selling antiques, collectables and handmade items are also at the Flea Market.

As a tourist, I would pick up a snack or meal from one of the wonderful restaurants on the Square, or vendor from the Flea or Farmer’s Market, pick up a book, and have a picnic in the Square, or at one of many beautiful local parks.  Depending on what day it is, I might find a concert or festival in one of these settings.

Gates to Harbour Park

Gates to Harbour Park

Lions’ Harbour Park

Located right before the hill to the beach on West Street, Lions’ Harbour Park is also home to many great events throughout the year.  Weekly summer events include Circle City Cruize Nights (every second Wednesday from May 21-September 10) and Sunday Concerts (June 22- August 31).  Annual events include the Festival of Arts and Crafts and Celtic Roots Festival.  The stage makes this park great for watching concerts, while the covered gazebo ensures an enjoyable atmosphere, regardless of the weather.

On Gloucester Terrace, across from the Huron Historic Gaol, there is a lovely place to sit on the swings.  This area also happens to be a scenic lookout point, as it overlooks the harbour.  There is a cairn with a giant piece of salt nearby, and plaques that tell the story of salt in Goderich.  After enjoying a bite to eat, cross the road and visit the Huron Historic Gaol, which also happens to be a National Historic Site.  If you’re lucky enough to be in Goderich on a Tuesday or Thursday night between July 10 and August 28, consider visiting in the evening (7-9 p.m.) to enjoy a special tour called Behind the Bars.

Huron County Gaol hosts "Behind the Bars" all summer long … it's a great way to learn about local history.

Huron County Gaol hosts “Behind the Bars” all summer long … it’s a great way to learn about local history.

Once you are feeling well fueled, I would suggest visiting one of the great local trails.  Two of my favourites are the Maitland Woods Trail, and the Tiger Dunlop Trail.  Both trails are cyclist, walker, runner and dog friendly.  In the winter, bring cross-country skiis or snowshoes.

The Maitland Woods Trail is located at the south end of the Knights of Columbus Centre parking lot (390 Parsons Court).  The trails are beautiful all year long, and depending on what you are in the mood for, you can choose a number of different distances.

The Menesetung Bridge is a really beautiful walk, as it features some of the best views in Goderich.  Another walk that is different each season, this one takes you across the historic wooden Menesetung Bridge that spans the Maitland River.

Sunsets are spectacular at Rotary Cove

Sunsets are spectacular at Rotary Cove

After a long, action packed day, my final move would be to head to the beach and enjoy the sunset.   Lake Huron is known for beautiful sunsets, and I happen to think the view from Rotary Cove is pretty spectacular!  If you’re visiting on a Friday (early July – late August), come an hour before sunset, get an ice cream cone, and listen to the Celtic Blue Highlanders pipe the sun down.

(Photo Credit:  Pat Carter)

The view from Menesetung Bridge - great place for a hike

The view from Menesetung Bridge – great place for a hike

Winter trails ...

Winter trails …

Maitland Trail … another great place to explore flora and fauna

Maitland Trail … another great place to explore flora and fauna

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping at the Old Mill

14 Aug

OldMillby Diva Nicole Olson

September is a big month for birthdays in our family, so I thought I would get a head start on my shopping and check out the Old Mill’s Annual Sell-abration, celebrating 53 years in business. Right now, they have a tent set up outside with major deals, up to 70 percent off regular prices. They have clothing as well as leather goods, sheepskins, toys and accessories.  Inside the store, they have deals on their summer stock. They also have a huge selection of fall and back to school items.

OldMill3 OldMill4The winter mittens they have are the warmest around, and I have sheepskins that I used to keep my mini Divas cozy when they were small.

The Old Mill is huge! There is a lot of ground to cover.

Whether you are looking for outerwear, jewelry  purses, footwear, men’s, ladies and children’s wear or specialty items- the Old Mill is literally one stop shopping.

The sale started June 24 and will be on until September 8.

The Old Mill
82790 London Road, Blyth, ON, N0M 1H0
(519) 523-4595
http://www.theoldmill.ca/OldMill2

Nicole's mini-Diva snug as a bug in a sheepskin!

Nicole’s mini-Diva snug as a bug in a sheepskin!

Pottery, glass and good conversation

5 Dec

In late November I headed to Blyth to get a few groceries while I was in the cute little town I made sure that I went in to Davara Studio. I’ve known Dave for a couple of years now and have been in to the shop a couple of times. It is located at 197 Westmoreland St. in a cute little studio, built off of a house. More Information here.

They sell all different kinds of pottery and glass, on top of selling they also offer classes. The classes sound really cool, Dave told me they keep the classes small (2 or 3 people at a time) and they run for 5 weeks. At the end of the course you will have made 8 – 12 pieces that you get to take home! Dave also told me that if you bring a bottle of wine it will be shared with the whole class throughout the evening!

After looking around the store I stood and chatted with Dave for over half an hour, he showed me many of the different pieces and gave me some insight to what it is like to be a potter. The store is very small, but I was super surprised to see the many different items available. At first look my favourite piece was the clay birdhouses, but after Dave showed everything to me I ended up buying a berry bowl/shrimp ring combo (pictured below).

The prices are outstanding, I paid $40.00 for the berry bowl, most places charge that just for the bowl, plus it comes with the extra dipping bowl and saucer! Dave and his wife Tamara also have some very unique ideas within the store, they give added value to products by telling their stories. The photo above with Dave holding two serving dishes is a funny story. The dish on the left is a Perth County corn on the cob holder, while the one on the right is a Huron County corn on the cob holder… I guess we grow bigger corn in Huron!!! If you are driving through Blyth, stop by Davara studio and see what they have to offer, it may seem small, but there is much more in there than first meets the eye!

Shopping is the best!

24 Nov

By Diva Jenna

Last week I decided that it was a perfect day for a trip to Blyth. I hadn’t been to one of my favourite stores in a while. When I say this, I mean I hadn’t explored the entire store in a long time. I usually walk in the door turn left and look at the dresses! I rarely leave the store without a dress, leather gloves or a purse in hand. Yes this store is the Old Mill.

The Old Mill is located on Hwy # 4 south of Blyth and north of Londesborough and Clinton. They are known for creating the first washable sheepskins and try to buy as much Canadian product as possible (the purse I bought was made in Vancouver!) www.theoldmill.ca

Front Entrance

Front and back buildings

Front and back buildings

When I first arrived at the Old Mill I took a quick walk around the grounds, it is a truly unique building and I do plan to find out more about the building! On the trip there I promised myself that I would explore the entire store, so when I walked in I started exploring right away. This place is filled with so many items, I didn’t know where to start. One of the employees came over and asked what she could help me with and just looking around. I couldn’t resist going to my regular section, they seemed to have more dresses than usual, I ended up trying on 7 0r 8 and found two that I couldn’t leave without! After I had my purchases set aside, I moved in to the back section of ladies wear where they have all different brands of Jeans, shirts and of course leather. They also have a section with bras and underwear!

Dresses!

Fashion Leather

I then moved on to the winter jackets, gloves and purses. I didn’t try any of the jackets on, as I already have too many and didn’t want to fall in love with another one! They have jackets of all sorts, any brand name you can think of! They also have hundreds of leather purses, gloves and hats. I tried on a bright pink pair of leather gloves, but they were a bit too big and they were the only pair left. Also in this section they had more clothing and accessories… plus some pretty cool boots!

Rubber Cowboy Boots!

Warm red fur hat

Next I moved in to what I always called the vintage section, but it isn’t just vintage clothing and leather, the first floor is all kids and men’s clothing and accessories! They have lots of cute items for boys and girls of ages. The men’s section had a variety of boots, gloves, mitts, jackets and more. I ventured upstairs to check out if they had anything I hadn’t seen before, and of course they did. They have beautiful leather coats and lots of shoes and clothes that take me back to my child hood and before! Beside the floor length wool coats they have a big long shelf of vintage leather purses in every colour! I couldn’t stop myself from getting an awesome brown clutch, and for $20.00. The last photo is of my Old Mill purchases. I should also tell you that when I got home I wanted to see the year that my purse was made, but there was not date, so I pulled out the newsprint that was stuffed in the purse and it was from 1982! If you are looking for unique items, make sure to head to the Old Mill, just south of Blyth, Ontario, also if you are in to vintage make sure to get there soon… eventually it will be gone!

Vintage fur and leather jackets

Vintage coloured leather jackets

Muckluks

My purchases!