Travel Swellness: Your Guide to a Dog-friendly Getaway to Prince Edward County

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Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto, Prince Edward County is a bucolic wine and food lovers’ escape that many of us in Toronto flock to in the summer. I’ve visited several times (once to stay in a tiny house, another time for a girlfriend-and-pups vacay, and yet another time for foodie girlfriend road trip, to name just a few). But what about PEC in the fall? The County has loads of gourmet indulgences and wouldn’t the fall be a cozy time to explore? I set out there recently to discover what it’s like for a dog-friendly fall getaway.

Note: This is about Prince Edward County(—not to be confused with Prince Edward Island (those outside of Canada often confuse the two!).

Although it was fall, we ended up with very summery weather for our whole stay! Something else unexpected: I only visited quickly once last year, and this trip I discovered that several of my faves in the County have closed down. Although that was disappointing, I found that there are lots of darling new spots to enjoy.

Some of my favourite (mostly dog-friendly) things to see and do while in the County.

WHERE TO STAY

It can sometimes be hard to find great dog-friendly accommodations, amirite? Not in Picton, though, dog parents, you’ll want to stay at The Ferg in Picton with your four-legged pal if you can snag a spot.

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This is my second stay in the Loft at the Ferg (I visited first in 2017) and it’s a gorgeous, welcoming space filled with natural light and stylish cottage country decor. There is a full kitchen if you plan on cooking meals (we treated ourselves to eating out while there). Billie Jean seemed to remember the space and made herself right at home right away. (btw, if you’re interested in Billie Jean’s backstory, check it out here!)

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Another fantastic dog-friendly spot to stay? The Drake Motor Inn (I stayed here with Billie Jean last summer). Where your pup will have a plush bed to sleep on and you get to enjoy the stylish retro-inspired space. Bring a crate (or request one from the Motor Inn) as your dog must be crated if you go out and leave your pup in the room.

WHERE TO EAT

at Flossies

A new spot for us, Flossie’s Sandwich Parlor serves up very large and tasty sandwiches. Definitely go with an appetite–I was only able to finish about half of my When Porky Met Petunia (housemade sausage patty that is wrapped in bacon, topped with a fried egg, housemade aioli and old cheddar cheese). There are picnic tables on the patio and it’s got a family-friendly atmostphere; plus dogs are welcome, so it was a great spot to grab lunch at on the day we checked out of the Ferg and had Billie Jean with us. To wash down your sandwich, order one of the Lemonade Dave (another Ontario brand!).

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Yes there’s a Tim Hortons right by The Ferg in Picton, but we weren’t in the mood for a double double and trekked over to the adorable Beacon Bike + Brew where the latte was good but the croissant was phenomenal (they’d warmed it up and it was a delightful buttery, flaky treat to kick off the day with). As they were serving customers right at the door, no need for Billie Jean to stay outside with one of us while the other ventured inside to order.

Sunnydale Farms

If you like me go by the motto “treat yourself” while on a getaway, then you follow up breakfast by stopping to get a cookie at Picnic Cafe, another new spot to me! We’d seen some incredible salted caramel cookies there the day before, but when we went back, they didn’t have them (lesson learned: snap up delicious treats when you can cuz if you snooze you lose!). However, the peanut butter cookie more than satisfied our sweet tooth. Speaking of treats, definitely stop at Sunnydale Farms to pick up Waupoos Butter Tarts; these ample tarts (one was three servings for me!) are the perfect late-night sweet treat. Next time, I’ll get some of the Sunnydale Popcorn, too!

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Like a moth to a flame…I feel like I can’t visit PEC and not eat at Drake Devonshire. Its dining room is one of my favourites, although we sat outside thanks to the gorgeous weather this time. The menu was more limited (due to the pandemic, I presume) but that didn’t impact how good it was. We both ordered the lobster and shrimp roll and it was so good that neither of us could stop talking about how delicious it was in between each bite. The fries were perfection as well, crispy on the outside, soft and potato-y inside. N.B. The Drake Devonshire is not dog-friendly, so enjoy a meal here when your itinerary includes leaving your dog to lounge at your Airbnb.

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My biggest regret this trip is that we missed our one opportunity to stop by for Jamie Kennedy’s J.K. Fries. They were only open the day we arrived as the next two days they were closed as they were prepping for an event, and I read the news on the Instagram too late. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had are at his restaurants. J.K. Fries returns May 2021.

Because there are only so many meals one can have on a two-night getaway, my next stop into PEC will include trying out Bermuda. The owners are the one’s behind Guapo’s Cantina, a Mexican taco spot I’ve tried twice (the first time was during a foodie tour for work), and this is their new brick-and-mortar resto in Bloomfield.

WHERE TO SHOP

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Field Made Goods is one of the shops that’ll have you wanting to ditch everything you own and replacing them with the beautiful lifestyle pieces that fill this new shop. It’s a collaborative shop featuring the work from four makers: Sunday’s Company, Bethanie Kaye, East City Candles, and Cylinder Studio, and now more than ever, I think we need to fill our lives with beautiful items that make you feel good every day, whether that’s a dreamy scented candle or a mug that feels great in your hand for the cup of hot cocoa after a walk in the brisk weather.

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I’ve always been sad that Sand & Sumac closed in Wellington, and when I walked into Keep in Picton I was excited to see many of the stunning covetable items I recall from S&S, and then we chatted with the woman running the shop as we cashed out and I learned it’s the same owner (who also owns another favourite lifestyle shop, Kokito). At Keep you’ll find decorative throw pillows, cozy throws, and beautiful tableware and more (like the Moroccan babouche shoes I pick up every single time I’m in the shop, but never end up buying as i don’t know how I’d wear them…).

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I am no green thumb but the curated gardening items and other pretty products (think candles and flannel shirts) at Carson’s Garden + Market made me want to become one! While your order at Flossie’s Sandwich Parlor (located just outside of Carson’s) is on the grill, take the time to poke around in the shop to make your shortlist of what to buy before you leave (it’s gardening expert Carson Arthur’s shop, by the way, who’s the nicest; I met him when I did a garden-centre partnership with Loblaws a couple of years ago).

WHERE TO DRINK

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While many of the wineries require you book your tastings (given the pandemic), which I personally found hard to do (given we would play things by ear), Closson Chase Vineyards was one you could pop into to have a tasting or glass on their expansive outdoor terrace. Although we admittedly stopped by just for delicious wine and to take photos at this charming space, we left with a couple of bottles in hand. Oh, and the terrace is dog-friendly (they even had treats for Billie Jean!).

Although I do enjoy a glass of wine now and then, I’m usually more likely to order a cocktail. Kinsip House of Fine Spirits was fully booked (we arrived unaware we had to book in advance) so we didn’t get to enjoy a whiskey tasting (it seems there weren’t serving cocktails like they did last summer). Pop by here (the Kinsip Maple Whiskey is fantastic) and to check out the beautiful chickens roaming the property. And cider lovers, you’ll want to make a visit to County Cider Company; I have a weakness for cider and these beautifully bottled ciders are another PEC essential of mine. My fave is the County Apple, their flagship product.

Do your tastebuds a favour and book a wine and cheese tasting at Lighthall Vineyards. It’s a vineyard but they also make cheese, and their feta is unlike any I’ve ever had, and I was so happy that my friend enjoyed our visit as much as I did my first visit there, as evidenced by the bag filled with wine and cheese she left with. It’s not in a pretty barn or Instagrammy space, but one sip of their wine paired with their cheese and you’ll forget all about “IG or it didn’t happen.”

WHAT TO DO

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On a day you’ve left your pup at your accommodations (or can take turns staying with the dog in the car), visit Shed Chetwyn Farms for their adorable alpacas and shop the store for the softest alpaca wool goods. I completely missed the sign that dogs aren’t permitted but went to wait by the car with her after stressing out the poor alpacas (I’m sorry, sweet alpacas!).

Although the lavender won’t be in the bloom in the fall and winter, a visit to Prince Edward County Lavender is worth it. Check if they’ve got lavender gelato in stock, and even if you’re not in the market for say, lavender sachets for your closet, soap and hand sanitizer is something we’re all using plenty of these days, so why not make it a luscious lavender-scented one to soothe you during quarantine.

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It wouldn’t be a dog-friendly trip without some quality time with your pup outdoors! We ran out of time to visit Sandbanks Provincial Park for the day, but I discovered Wellington Public Beach, which I’ve never been to before. There were so few people there so I let Billie Jean explore and we played fetch with her by the lake for a couple of hours. Oh, and if you’re staying in Picton, for your morning walk, be sure to bring your dog to the Prince Edward Dog Park, a vast and grassy fenced-in dog park where you’ll find many locals, morning cup of coffee in hand, with their puppies.

Prince Edward County is one of my favourite road trips, and now that I’ve written this post, I’m thinking maybe a winter getaway there needs to be planned! Do you have favourites in the County? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Leave a Comment November 30, 2020

Fitness Swellness: What I learned at Sugo Sundays

boxing with Striking Concepts and Sugo

They had me at Sugo.

If you follow me on IG, you know I’m a fan of the food at Sugo, an Italian-American resto at Bloor and Lansdowne; I did an early carboload there for my Detroit Marathon last year, and just about two months ago, celebrated finishing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (and Back Across Tennessee) with a meal there. The velvety sauce on the rigatoni, crave-worthy and the perfect comfort food!

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So when Sugo slid into my DMs and asked me if I wanted to participate in their first ever edition of Sugo Sundays, I was little confused as to what the goal of the fitness-focused workshop was but my immediate answer was yes, I’d love to take part!

For three Sundays in September, a group of about 20 or so of us met up at a track and first worked on a warm-up of dynamic stretches with some of the team from Myodetox, followed by a short run and running drills, then a kickboxing session lead by Striking Concepts. And last but not least, refueling on food from the team at Sugo, yasss!

(Plus, the folks from Myodetox offered some stretching and fascia work post-workout as well).

Sugo Sundays got me to foray into running again (I’ve been taking a rest since completing GVRAT mid-August), I had what is possibly my first (!) mini session doing fascia work with a physiotherapist (and I felt so much better afterwards–my body is a bit angry at me still from the 2000+ kilometres I did over the summer), and I found the kickboxing sessions enlightening; I’ve been to other classes at a few studios in the past but I find it’s very often not focused on form but rather just getting things done quickly in a HIIT format, and all I get mired up in is figuring out the damn sequence based on the numbers for jab, hook and cross. Here, thanks to Evan from Striking Concepts, I got to understand for example what angle my arm should be at, the proper positioning of my feet, and more.

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And from the refuel, I discovered that the Sugo kitchen can put out more than just great pasta. I missed week 1 of Sugo Sundays (it was a downpour and even though I’ve run and raced in the rain, I simply couldn’t get myself to bike to the track that day to start the workout drenched), so I missed the classic Sugo carb up (the meal was lasagna, still sad I missed out!). For week 2, the meals was keto (think trout and sauteed spinach) and week 3 was vegan (a quinoa bowl with tofu and an incredible chocolate cake), and both meals were very satisfying and ones I’d happily eat regularly. And I appreciated Sugo co-owner Conor Joerin saying that eating healthy means finding what works for you, adding that the team doesn’t eat pasta 24/7. So true, and why I bristle when people seem surprised I’ll happily eat a giant bowl of pasta or a plate of fried chicken. Do I eat that daily? Of course not! I eat what works for me.

I asked Conor what made them hold Sugo Sundays and he said he was initially inspired by a workshop he’d done with Lululemon a year or so agao and the lasting connections he’d made on that trip. With the pandemic and being a social person himself, he was felt this was a great way to build community and bring together healthy lifestyle-type folks with people from the restaurant industry (who, he noted, are not always leading the most active type of lifestyle). And he felt that with this continuing pandemic, and with us heading into the colder months, it was a great time to bring people together to make connections at a time when we all especially need it.

I’m sad Sugo Sundays is already over… but I can’t wait to set up an appointment at Myodetox and cook up something using the jar of organic tomato sauce made from tomatoes at Conor’s farm! Thank you to Sugo for the invite, and see you over a plate of pasta soon, or a slice of pizza (did you know they recently opened pizzeria Conzo’s next door to Sugo?)!

P.S. Conor promised us a few recipes from our refuel meals, and I’ll share those when I get them!

 

 

Leave a Comment October 4, 2020

Fitness Swellness: GVRAT Back Across Tennessee race recap

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108 days into the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, I made it BACK ACROSS TENNESSEE!

That’s a total distance of 2,043.36 kilometres. If you recall, at the beginning of May I wasn’t sure how difficult it’d be to complete the Race Across Tennessee (RAT) distance in the four months for the race, so to have completed double the distance with just under two weeks to spare, I’m shocked, and proud.

It’s 107 days if you’re looking at “chip time” as I only registered for the race on May 2nd, but the race goes by gun time. This race most definitely tapped into my competitiveness. Once I finished RAT, I knew I could complete 1,000 miles. Especially since for the BAT race, I was including walking miles.

I completed 1,000 miles in 91 days, ahead of the “end of July” goal I’d set for myself. And on August 5th, I thought “It’d be a nice even date to complete the BAT distance by August 15th.” For no other reason than it being the halfway mark of August. Out came my calculator and it called for doing just over 30 kilometres a day for 10 days straight. And even I knew that was unrealistic; my schedule is a lot busier now and I was struggling on the days I managed to log 21k. It included often sacrificing sleep to get at least 6k done in the early morning, and then walking at least 3k late at night (sometimes as late as 1 a.m.).

But I’d become a bit nervous about those late night walks and runs. I realized I was going through some dark and pretty deserted areas, which wasn’t the safest idea, then to add to it, there have been a slew of harassment incidents in the area so as I closed in on the last 200 or so kilometres of the race, I didn’t think it was wise to do the late walks and so I lost some precious time chipping away at the distance.

I realized on Friday, August 14th, that I had that day and the entire weekend I could devote to logging distance for BAT. And with 120 kilometres left, if I did 40k each day, I’d be done by Sunday, August 16th (just one day more than the goal I’d chosen as an ideal end date). So, I went for it. I already knew I had to run 21.1k on the weekend for the Lululemon Virtual SeaWheeze Half Marathon, so it meant “only” walking another 21k that same day as well, so that covered off one day. For my final 35k on Sunday, I took a very long (and rather boring) 12k walk across the city with my dog, visited the beach, stopped for pizza and then made the 12k walk back across the city and finished off the BAT race with a 3k run at night.

I walked much more of the BAT than I expected to. I think the RAT’s very intense 1,021.68k, for which I decided to only count running miles, was really hard on my body. My pace is terrible and I now even walk slowly, just out of pure exhaustion.

My BAT by the numbers

  • 766.86 walking
  • 267.3 running
  • zero 0 days (meaning I logged distance every single day)
  • a negative split of 10 days (I completed RAT in 59 days and BAT in 49 days)

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Billie Jean and her GVRAT and BAT journey?

She completed 76 percent (or 1,554k) of the 2,043.36 RAT + BAT with me:

  • 1,071.3k running
  • 483.32 walking

And I’d have registered her as a dog completing the race but I knew the city’s heat and humidity would make it dangerous for her to complete every run with me, so I didn’t commit to making it race official for her, but to me she completed the race and I’m so proud of her.

And in the final standings, when I checked on Monday to confirm I’d officially completed the BAT, I finished 276th out of 11,063 women in this global virtual race, and in 622nd place (out of 19,612 participants).

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So many firsts for me with this race, including my very first buckle! Now just need a belt to sport this huge, gaudy piece of bling on, haha!

This race has helped so many of us around the world cope in this crazy time. It became a huge thing to fixate on, distracting me from the stresses of  living through quarantine, which would’ve otherwise swallowed me whole. And the Facebook group for the GVRAT was a joy to be a part of (other than people asking every single day what the actual distance of the race is… people, get your act together, it’s clearly stated in the race FAQ). From the gorgeous photos from around the world, to so many shots of snakes (I’m so glad that’s not something I encounter on my runs!), along with Lazarus Lake’s often hilarious posts, plus all of the personal stories; there have been pregnancy announcements, breakups, deaths, pets, so many injuries, and with it, just the whole gamut of human emotions; the camaraderie that developed as we all pushed through living under lockdown and making it through this continuing pandemic–I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed being part of a Facebook group more. We are all in this together: the pandemic, this crazy race, interpreting “Laz miles”, all of it.

Thank you to Lazarus Lake and the entire GVRAT team for putting up with so many of the same questions and continually working on improving the virtual race experience for all of us and creating this crazy race that none of us will ever forget.

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Leave a Comment August 18, 2020

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