You might not believe that the Peterborough Lift Lock is worth visiting…

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You might not believe that the Peterborough Lift Lock is worth visiting...

but it is! Anyway, I will get back to the Lift Lock later. Yesterday we had a beautiful lunch at Arrowsmith to say goodbye to two of the students who are in the West Class room who are leaving Peterborough this weekend before the term ends officially. Sami’s mum shopped and cooked for 3 days to make a fabulous meal for all the students, teachers and the few parents who were able to get there. Mr Coppins said the West Room had never seen such a feast! It was great to be able to share it with the students who are relaxed and happy now the assessments are done. Five students are leaving to go onto new adventures and we wish them all the best for their futures. Having finished their Arrowsmith programmes they can now go onto pursue their dreams.
Jean and I had a lovely evening walk around the Marina and got to Friday night rather later than I usually do. Good conversation and a glass of wine made for another interesting Friday night.
This morning saw us at the Farmer’s Market buying more beautiful produce to supply us for the week. After lunch we went on the top tourist attraction in Peterborough – the Lift Lock Cruise and, dare I say it, it was even better with Captain Jody than it was when we were invited on board at the end of the season, all those months ago last October! The commentary was very entertaining and we know more about the Lift Lock and the Trent Seven Waterways than we knew there was to know! The mechanism of the Lift Lock is extraordinary and to think, it is now 110 years old (and it was only meant to work for 80 years!) and still the highest Lift Lock in the world! Once we had gone up, 63 feet, in the Lift Lock it certainly seemed a long way up!
A beautiful evening awaits us so we shall head off for a walk now, mosquitoes permitting!

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Niagara and more!

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Niagara and more!

Since Simon finished his end of year Arrowsmith assessments on Monday we decided to whisk him and Amanda to Niagara for a couple of days of fun! We walked into our room at the Embassy Suites to a stunning view of the Horseshoe Falls which seemed to be just right outside our window. We sat and watched them for a while and we could have sat there for the rest of the afternoon but we decided to make the most of the day so we ventured out to look at the falls more closely. First we did “the Journey behind the Falls”, catching a lift deep down into the tunnels behind the falls – there is an area to the side of the falls where we stood awe-struck by the power of the water gushing down, being grateful for the lovely yellow ponchos which stopped us from being soaked! We walked along to the holes in the rock behind the falls – the noise of the rushing water was so loud we couldn’t hear each other speaking, it was amazing! There were extraordinary stories of people who had gone down the falls, both deliberately and by accident, the woman who went down in a barrel with her cat particularly intrigued us! Onto “Niagara’s Fury”, a short animation featuring a beaver and an owl, telling us the geological story behind the formation of the falls, followed by a 4D experience simulating that story. We stood on a platform in the midst of a circle of water with handles to hold, rain poured down on us, the wind blew, thunder and lightening struck all around and all the while the water surrounding us roared, making big waves which soaked us from below. We were shaken, stirred and soaked!
Another look at the falls themselves and we headed back for dinner at the Keg, with a window table which was worth waiting for as we were overlooking the falls directly. We waited and waited for the night time illuminations but unfortunately the warm temperatures meant there was a lot of mist which obscured the colours! We walked down to see the illuminations but we still couldn’t see too much! Oh well, we had had a great view earlier in the day!
The Hornblower cruise was how we started the second day of our Niagara extravaganza! We were amazed by the power of both the American and the Horseshoe Falls though the Canadian Falls are the more stunning. Once the boat had approached the falls it was almost impossible to look straight at them as the water was coming so fiercely towards us. It was, to use a word which is often overused, awesome!
Equally awesome, but quite different, was the White Water Walk – the power of the world’s wildest rapids was frightening to see as we walked the boardwalk. We loved the stories of the, in our view, mad people who had thrown themselves down the rapids to seek their fame and fortune. The biology of the Niagara River was really interesting too – amazing that salmon can manage to swim up those rapids!
Onto Simon’s choice of entertainment, we enjoyed a fun game of Wizard’s “glow in the dark” mini-golf with the most tasteless carpet (all glowing!) that I have ever seen, with a three way draw for the winners and Jean trailing far behind! A quick pizza and then off to the very picturesque Niagara-on-the Lake, via a couple of vineyards, Riverview (for old time’s sake!) and the Peller Estate where the choice of wines was so much more interesting and exciting than in the LCBO! We had a wander through Niagara-on-the-Lake but we were all too tired and not hungry enough to stop so back to the QEW and the 401 to Peterborough! I don’t think we could have done much more, as evidenced by the 3 sleeping passengers on the drive back!
Yesterday I went on an excursion with some of the Arrowsmith parents to the Petroglyphs – finally, one of us has made it there, having failed with Stella and Simon and then Simon with his class (though they had the consolation of the glacier lake and a turtle the size of a 20 Cent piece!). The park around the Petroglyphs is beautiful, peaceful with a spiritual atmosphere. We watched a short film about the Petroglyphs and wandered through the information centre reading about the beliefs and life of the First Nation peoples. The Petroglyphs are known as “The Teaching Rocks”, they are the largest collection of Aboriginal carvings in Canada, and are carved out on a White Marble, depicting turtles, snakes, birds and humans. According to our very interesting and informative guide the stories can be interpreted in many different ways depending upon who is doing the interpretation. This sacred site is still used for ceremonies and offerings today. Abandoning our plans to eat in the picnic area due to the massive number of massive mosquitoes, we ate and chatted inside. We enjoyed a lovely walk to Minnow Lake, not much in the way of wildlife other than a small(ish!) Garter snake – Lynette and I were very impressed with ourselves that we didn’t scream! A quick peak at the Glacier Lake.
Back to Arrowsmith where the programme has gone back to normal after assessments – Simon and Zac were waiting for us! Jean, meanwhile, having decided not to come with me to the Petroglyphs, and had walked the length and breadth of Peterborough and was quite worn out!
A delicious dinner at Elements featuring local ingredients including fiddleheads finished our day!

Welcome to Canada Jean!

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Welcome to Canada Jean!

Not a moment to pause, Jean arrived in Toronto on Friday evening and we went directly to Friday night to pick up Simon, stopping to have a chat and a glass of wine before we left. Then straight off to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, which is outside again and much expanded now, to pick up supplies for our weekend sojourn at Pines Vista. A quick lunch and then we headed for Lakefield, stopping for an ice cream along the way – impossible to find – only available from June we were told! Onto Pines Vista, and after settling ourselves in the cottage, we went to see if the racoons were still in the dumpster but they must have found a new home as there were no big eyes looking up at us! We tried to go for a walk along one of the nature trails but it was too swampy. So Simon and I went for a swim – the pool was a delicious temperature, not too cold and not too hot! Impossible to think that it really wasn’t that long ago that we were there with Stella, we slithered through the snow to reach the frozen pool and that the spa felt just warm and not hot as it does now! And our view from the cottage was of a beautiful shining blue lake, boats all over the place and green, green grass which was constantly being mown! On our evening walk we were lucky enough to spot a tiny chipmunk and, we think, a beaver but it could have been a groundhog! I am going to believe it was a beaver! An iconic Canadian!
On Sunday we made enquiries about the possibility of hiring the house on the island for a family summer holiday in 2015 – I think we are getting ahead of ourselves! We were taken out to see it on the cruising boat which meant easy access for Jean and a little jaunt on Stoney Lake. It was such a beautiful spot and I am sure we would have a wonderful time beetling back and forth in the boat, fires in the fire pit, barbecues, fishing and swimming in the lake and relaxing in the sun.
Lunch was calling so we headed to Young’s Point to the Old Bridge Inn with their new patio, with the sun shining, we enjoyed a great lunch, a short walk and then Kawartha Dairy ice creams from the Lockside Trading Company – maple and walnut being my choice whilst Simon had a hideously blue bubblegum flavour and Jean, Irish Cream.
Back to Pines Vista for a run out in an aluminium tinny, Simon and I went out past a very few of the 1,100 islands to see the wide expanse of Stoney Lake – there were big waves and quite a strong current. It was amazing but we didn’t venture too far as all the islands looked the same and we felt quite nervous about getting lost, not to mention the difficulty of steering with a tiller (where you push it in the opposite direction to the direction in which you want to go, which takes some getting used to!).
Simon and I tried to walk the long nature trail only to flee in the face of thousand of mosquitoes – I have never, even in Australia, seen so many mosquitoes or so massive! Instead we had some fun in the games room and then got Jean in there, playing pool! Girls vs boy as suggested by Simon – Simon won but only just! Followed by a delicious barbeque!
This morning we got up early to make the journey to Arrowsmith, with me returning to breakfast on the balcony with Jean whilst Simon continued with assessments. Shortly after breakfast Simon called to say that his testing was finished and could we come and pick him up – so we did! Jean met Jill and the few students who were still at Arrowsmith, most having finished their testing and having the day off. Mr Coppins also was also away for a very exciting reason – more news to follow! Amanda spent some time explaining 10 handed clocks to us – wow! It is so complicated!
Our highlight of the day was the beautiful meandering walk we had with Sami and his lovely Mum down to Little Lake, stopping at the Silver Bean Café for iced teas and coffees.
All in all, a great weekend and Monday too!

How football sounds to people that just don’t care

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With the fact that the World Cup is coming up soon I read this and loved – so very clever and funny! Enjoy! I am off to Toronto shortly to pick up Jean soon – we are looking forward to showing her the sights of Peterborough and taking her to the Arrowsmith Programme so she can meet the wonderful teachers and Simon’s fellow students.

Stephen Liddell

I thought I would issue a bonus post today seeing as it took very little effort 🙂  I can’t claim credit for the text below just as I can’t track down where it originated from but I hope some of you will like it.

With the World Cup Football tournament looming and the football seasoning just ending I thought this was quite funny and can relate to it as someone who likes a bit of sport but even for my own team don’t believe it should feature in daily life/news.  I have removed some of the industrial language.

If football/soccer isn’t popular in your country, I’m sure you can substitute it for NFL/Hockey/IPL.  The funny thing is that as someone really into history and archaeology, I get annoyed with the obsession over Egyptian mummies, pyramids and Pharaohs.

Firstly, imagine every time within a day that football is mentioned by someone…

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A Gift

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A Gift

This was a gift, shared by a lovely friend, which she discovered whilst dog walking – a wonderland of lily of the valley. It isn’t quite out yet but she wanted to share it so we three friends and two dogs set off on a walk this afternoon to find the air fragrant with lily of the valley and further up the hill, lilacs! I have never seen so many lily of the valley together – I am so excited to go back there over the next few days and watch them coming into full bloom, the scent might almost be overpowering, but I am more than happy to be overpowered by it!
And, in the meantime, the testing continues at Arrowsmith. I think Simon was more tested by cycling to school with me this morning! He cycled back with one of his class mates this afternoon and I think that was much more fun!
On another matter, a book that is worthy of mention is one that I have on my pile of books by my bedside at home in Sydney is “Far From the Tree” – I also have a growing pile here in Peterborough, despite my belonging to the library in both places! I knew I wanted to read, and keep, “Far from the Tree” as soon I read about it so bought it but couldn’t fit it into my suitcase but now, having read Meredith Jaffe, writing in The Hoopla, I want to read it even more – I think you will see why when you read what she says about it:
“The Sydney Writers’ Festival officially launched on Tuesday night with the opening address given by renowned psychologist, activist and writer Andrew Solomon.

From an assignment to write about deaf culture for the New York Times Magazine began a journey that saw Andrew conduct over 300 family interviews with parents of children who are deaf, dwarfs, profoundly autistic, born out of rape, mentally ill, incarcerated for committing terrible crimes, prodigies and terminally ill.

It poses the uncomfortable question: how many families “have ended up grateful for experiences they would have done anything to avoid”?

The resulting book, Far From the Tree, which took over 10 years to write, has been described by critics as lionhearted, monumental and mind-opening. However, rather than chronicling the inexorability and unfairness of fate, this is a book that celebrates life in all its diversity, the great capacity for joy all children bring into parents’ lives and the journey we all go on to forge a meaningful identity from the experiences we have of life.

“Life is enriched by difficulty; love is made more acute when it requires exertion” – I would add that all parents of children with special needs, whatever their needs may be, know and appreciate that.

– Dr Andrew Solomon, writer, psychologist and activist

So long, farewell..

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So long, farewell..

The farewells have started and the next few weeks are going to be sad as families start to leave, some sooner than others, heading home after being away too long, even before graduation. Today we adults went to a lovely pot luck on Chemong Lake, such a beautiful setting, sitting on the balcony looking out over the lake, basking in the sunshine, enjoying the companionship of the Arrowsmith families. It was such a treat but as everyone began to leave, the goodbyes began as those who won’t see each other again parted ways. I am not good at goodbyes (as Simon will attest loudly!) and it is only going to get worse as people leave for good and who knows when we will see them again. I hope the friendships we have found and our common bond will hold us together despite the tyranny of distance.
The glorious day continued and I walked over to a friend’s to borrow a bike so that I can cycle with Simon to Arrowsmith rather than run (walk fast, actually) beside him! On my way through the park, I couldn’t help but wonder at the beauty of the spring leaves – that very particular shade of green, so light and vibrant, there should be a specific word for that green. I think the long, long winter has made me especially aware of spring and the emerging of new life – it is such a joy after the monochromatic winter. There was a lovely scene in the park, a bike leaning against a tree, and on the other side a long-legged girl leaning up against the tree reading in the late afternoon sun – I didn’t feel I could interrupt her to take a photo so instead I tried to capture the vibrant spring green.
Such a beautiful time of day I really didn’t want to return to what my husband teasingly refers to as our tenement, not that he has spent much time here! But as I came back into the apartment from the beauty of Chemong Lake and then the bike ride it did feel somewhat dingy!
In the meantime, the assessments continue apace and happily, Simon is a little tired but so far not nearly as wiped out as he was by the assessments when we first arrived.