Hi Julie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Besides living and working in London, I run the website Drive on the Left with my husband, Drew. We write about our adventures around Europe, the UK and our lives as expats. When we’re not on the road, we can usually be found drinking pints of beer at the local pub, and scoping out new restaurants in our neighbourhood!
So, where’s your happy place?
Pointe au Baril, Ontario, Canada, where my family had a summer cottage for many years.
Have you had the chance to spend much time there?
The vast space north of Toronto is rural, so we mostly visited during the summer. Add to this that most of the cottages in the area aren’t well insulated, don’t have heating or air conditioning, and you’ll understand why visits were pretty much limited to good weather. Oh, and it’s on an island, so you need either a working boat or a snowmobile to get over to the cottage during the deep, dark winter.
Why is Pointe au Baril so special to you?
The ‘Canada House’, as we refer to the cottage, was a place where our family gathered for years. The best years were those when I was a young adult, newly on my own, when money was pretty tight. I could come and visit my parents during their annual long visits, and thanks to having literally nothing to do and nowhere to go, I got lots of relaxation very, very cheaply!
How did you spend your time there?
One of our annual summer traditions was to do a big and complicated puzzle. We would lay out the pieces on a spare table and when it rained, or during those evenings when the mosquitoes got really bad, we would come in and work on the puzzle. We also read a lot, played cards, and talked and talked for ages. When the water was warm enough for swimming, we would gather our various floating toys and a small rowboat, and float our way out to deep water. There was a pretty gnarly forest of seaweed close to shore, so we would float beyond the seaweed and swim and play around.
Sounds idyllic! Has Pointe au Baril changed a lot over the years?
One of the best things about the Canada cottage was that it was always like coming home. There is very little development in this area of Canada. There’s also lots of open space, so we rarely saw other people, not to mention any significant changes to the area. We did make home improvements each year, so one year, I arrived to a newly painted front deck. Other than that, it blissfully stayed the same.
In one sentence, could you describe your happy place for us?
The Canada cottage: a northern oasis for family, where wildlife rules and we pray for warm weather!
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