Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heavy Medals: How the Race Was Won.

The Clam Race is always hotly contested. Clams (who knew?) are quite competitive, and with 37 entries, they can get into a lot of traffic during the overnight race. In fact, Good Gollusk, Miss Mollusk collided with Pulled Mussel, detracting from an otherwise good stretch run. Pulled Mussel, evidently feeling the strain, just stayed put.

Brian was over the moon to finally -- after never getting close to the podium in all these years -- to WIN! Clamagement Services dashed five feet to scoop the gold medal.

A close second for the Silver was Lottie Faulkner's entry, the very royal Princess Clam, at 4'6". Up on the podium with Lottie, by the lake, are the 4th place winners, Alli and Zach Robb, whose Clamentine ran a very close 4'3".

In third, at 4'4" was Clamboyant, the entry of Laura Biggar. From the indications at her Certificate Presentation, it would appear that Clams aren't the only things Laura has under her spell!

Because the Clams ran on a Thursday, the actual medals won't be here until next week. Jim, our hero at Treasures and Trophies, simply can't get it done over the long weekend. So the Clam Race will extend a little longer, and the winners can breathlessly watch the Mail for the arrival of their medals.

Some of our other contestants included Clamtastic, Abraclam Lincoln, Put a Shell on It, Adam Clambert, Clamrad Quack, Escargot Girl, A Clam for All Seasons.... even Napster the Cat had an entry this year, Clamcasso, in honour of his new artistic career.

It was a Grand Occasion, tons of fun. Thanks to all the competitors for their spirit and inventive Clam Names, the Music Men for being so thoroughly into Clam Racing, and all the folks who make this race run. Not to mention, Here's to the Clams! Couldn't do it without you!!

The Running of the Clams

The Clam Race is an Endurance event. For everyone. The Start is a big occasion -- we were thrilled again this year to have the Muskoka Music Men attend. They add a heightened level of class and a great deal of entertainment to the festivities, and are always popular with our guests, so thank you to our Barbershop Quartet. The old favourites are always best, are they not? Songs like "My Wild Irish Clam," "When All Your Clams are Smiling," and the like...

A bit of rain doesn't stop the Race. Clams like wet and muddy conditions, and the big event tent we borrowed perfectly fit the bill, and kept the famous Chowder Bowl nice and dry.

Brian and Mike took clams to the Start; Kitty scribed the names; Shelley and Dan helped prepare the clams for their racing numbers, Mike handled the official fireworks to start the race. 37 Clams were placed on the Start line. The Ducks were on hand to act as area stewards and keep the race orderly.

Mike and Laura lead the charge for fashionable headwear -- like Royal Epsom or the Queen's Plate, fancy hats are always encouraged at prestigious events such as these.
It began to rain just before the Clams were all at the post, so this year some of the candles along the start line did not burn.

The next sun-soaked and spectacular morning, at 8.30, we all gathered on Clover's dock for the official measuring. This task falls to Brian, our resident Clamologist, using a carefully calibrated wheel on a hockey stick (after all, this IS a Canadian event). He carefully follows the trail left by each clam to determine the best distance. The rest of us stay on the dock so as not to disturb the clarity of the water, and take down the numbers. And cheer on the favourites. It gets noisy and fun, but we were assured baby Marty was already awake before we started. Sleeping babies take precedence over cheering crowds...
Mother duck and her baby were on hand early, soon to be joined by the entire flotilla of Area Stewards supervising the measuring. Mother duck kept up a raucous squawking -- we couldn't account for her alarm, until Brian spotted Achmed the Cat lurking under the Clover dock, beneath our feet, hanging out in the crib. Mother Duck was on to him!
In the next post, we'll tell you how the Race Was Won.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Never Miss a Thing

Summer vacations tend to overlap with things like horse shows. For the horsey set, that can be an issue, since they want to go on a family vacation and get to the lake, but they can't really take the horse out of work in between competitions...
And for some folks, it's not a vacation if they can't spend time with their horse. Meanwhile, the other family members may be more into water sports or exploring Algonquin Park.

What to do? What to do?

Well, we've got a solution. Several of our guests bring their horse along with them. This year, Frances and Versace have been in residence for most of the summer.

Last week, Arrakis joined them. He had a splendid time in the pasture, chatting with new friends over the fence, and exploring new trails with his person. Who was also able to take advantage of our cross country jumping course, and the expertise of her sister, who represented Canada at the Barcelona Olympics and was here for their family get-together.
The last time Rachael rode at Bondi, she was 14, and riding one of Nancy's horses for the summer. It was wonderful to have her back, along with her family. She and her daughter Lottie had a blast taking Arrakis and Bailey out together, while her sister Amanda was able to keep her horse working, enjoy the time with her family, and even get Jonathan out riding with her!
Over the years, we've had several of our guests take us up on this option. The horses work early in the morning, leaving the whole day for family activities, and there's plenty of time in the evenings to come up and spend quality time with a horse and a carrot...
Both rider and horse get to go home refreshed and re-energized.

On the Beach, and Off of It

There is something wonderful about water sports -- they can be adapted to suit almost everyone! We spent some time on the beach with guests this week, who were trying their hand at some of the things you can do behind a ski boat.

Whether it was Rachael, having only her second go at skiing ever, Harry looking like a pro on the waterboard, the whole gang piled into the tube for some speed and bounce, or very young Tom having a go on the waterboard in the shallows with his mom pretending to be the motorboat, everybody got to play.

Cameras came out, grandparents cheered from dockside, lots of new skills were learned, confidence soared and lots of laughter was heard in the land.

Evan came down to see if he could recall which foot goes forward when he slaloms (and he fell once, which will teach him for missing one of his Bondi summers because he had to, like, work...)
Evan learned to ski here, more years back than need to be mentioned -- he was very young! We have taught generations of skiers, and it's always good.
After getting back the feel of the skiis, he was up and gone. He coasted in looking brilliant, but did point out that he'd forgotten how great a workout it is...

We're very keen on the watersports that challenge -- skiing, boarding, and the like. Tubing is great good fun, but there is nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from being able to ride on the water, in control, and "doing it yourself"
You can watch the kids blossom as they discover they CAN DO IT! And before you know it, they're looking as proficient as the "big kids"...

Tasty in any Language

Anne points out she only knows how to pick mushrooms in Swedish and French. But that's okay... They are delicious in any language!

Fred and Anne canoed along the shoreline this week, exploring and searching for mushrooms. They came back with a bag of Chanterelles. Not only are these beautiful, with their strong orange colour, but they smell like apricots and taste divine fried up with some butter and cream, served on crackers with a slice of avocado.

Chanterelle mushrooms, sometimes called Queen of the Forest, is the mushroom many of the world's great chefs prize above all others. in Italian, they are known as Girolle. In German, Pfifferling. Wherever you harvest them, and however you pronounce it, they are prized for their superb flavor.

Chanterelles are only found in the wild. So far, efforts to cultivate Chanterelles have never proved successful. Fred has done fairly well at encouraging them to grow near his cottage here at Bondi by carefully putting the scrapings from the kitchen in appropriate places.

Tough and mild, Chanterelles have that slight spicy edge which is characteristic of things that grow on their own in the forests and fields - something that comes from competing in a natural environment.

Our 600 acres of surrounding wilderness is a great place to go harvesting mushrooms. If, like Anne and Fred, you know what to look for. If you don't, you should be sure to take along someone who knows their mushrooms...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Listen to the Moon

Kyle was the only stalwart that came out Tuesday for the Star Search. An enormous moon caused some issues with that... although on the other hand, it can be quite useful in narrowing down the options up there. Kyle was easily able to find the Big Dipper, and from there the North Star, Little Dipper, Draco the Dragon and Casseiopia. Heading the other way, he picked out Arcturus, Bootes, and the Summer Triangle of Deneb, Vega and Altair.

There's a LOT out there to see, and to remember, so perhaps having less stars to compete with the major ones was helpful!

While we were out in the moonshadows, a Barred Owl hooted at us, reminding us that we weren't alone out there in the beautiful night air.

So we howled for the Wolf Pack. They've been around, but not as close as a few years ago, so I warned Kyle I made no guarantees of a successful howl. They've been howling a lot up close to the Oxtongue Craft Cabin, but that's a bit far away for my voice to carry!

Oh me of little faith... the Pack came back strong and proud, and sang for Kyle for several minutes. That's our first Wolf Howl of the summer (we usually start in late July, so we're on schedule!) and it bodes well for the rest of the season! Algonquin Park will be starting their Thursday Wolf Howl program next week, and that's a good one to put on your To Do List.

Or you could be here, on the lawn by the cottages, a loon on the lake, an owl on the hill, and the wolves singing to the moon overhead. Magical.

The Running of the Clams

Well, gosh, they cancelled the 87th Annual Anglican Church Regatta, just because it was a cloudy, drizzly morning with a thunderstorm in the forecast. Always a mistake. There is really no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing... And as the day progressed the weather improved, as it tends to do.

Although, yes, it would have been a challenge for the young canoeists to keep straight. Perhaps the Regatta needs some dry-land challenges to go along with canoes and swimming?

All that, however, caused the calendar to be drastically altered, and brought forward the Annual Running of the Clams for the coveted Chowder Bowl. There was a lot of buzz amongst the Bondi crew leading up to this, and the earlier date was driven by demand.

So, the Clams will be going to the Post on Thursday, tomorrow, at 7 p.m.

It's hard to pull things together last minute, and change schedules, so we do hope we'll have the Muskoka Music Men with us, and maybe a Piper... but we've got some great guitarists here at the resort, so we won't be short of melody

Mike's put up the Event tents, courtesy of the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce, so we're good to go even if it isn't perfect weather. Clams like a wet, muddy track, so there's no problem there.

We've even got a hopeful call in to Dr. Norman Yan, Professor of Biology from Guelph U. who works out of the Dorset Research Station in Dorset and who is a world reknowned expert in the field of fresh water, calcium levels within that fresh water, and the effects of that on clams and other truly cool critters that hang out in our lake. The Dorset Research Station, at Paint Lake, is an unsung hero -- this is where the fight against Acid Rain was fought, this is where cutting edge work is done on our environment and climate changes, and we bet you don't know where it is, or that it is. Our clams, however, are grateful indeed for the work being done on calcium levels in lakes, because without that, they cannot form shells. No shell, no foot, no racing clam... Our fingers are crossed that Dr. Yan can join us...

That is serious science. The Chowder Bowl is serious fun. Results of the Race go to the University of Massachusetts to contribute to other scientific endeavors in Statistics. For the rest of us, it's just a great little party...

The Ministry of Silly Hats recommends funky headwear for the occasion. Seven o'clock, at Nancy's beach at Bondi... bring your Clam from Bondi Bay (sorry, no foreign clams are allowed in the water here, due to Ministry of Transferable Clam Conditions requirements. Bring a good Clam-ish name: Clamate Change; Romeo&Clamiette; Shell We Dance?; Mussel Beach... we're sure you get the picture...
Shhhh..... listen..... I think I hear the pitter patter of tiny clam feet training in the shallows...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Corn

Last summer we had to wait until almost the end of August. This summer, with the heat, the garden has come on a treat.

We had our first corn ready for tonight's Wiener Roast!

There is nothing better than sweet corn that is freshly picked. And we do mean fresh picked. Our Dad, Paul, used to maintain that the water should be boiling before the corn was picked.

It is certainly the most deliciously sweet flavour, and when the first cobs made their appearance tonight on the cook-out beach, they were snapped up eagerly, gone almost before
Brian could set them out on the tray!
That's one of the advantages of having our own organic garden -- the taste is so fresh and flavourful. Mind, it can spoil you for the supermarket veggies, which have had to struggle just to get to the shelves. Still, corn dipped in butter, eaten beside the lake in a crowd of good company, that's unbeatable.

On a Roll

Starting, Dan tells us, is the hardest part. We'll take his word for it.
He brings his unicycle every summer. And every summer we are amazed by it.
He doesn't ride as far on his single wheel as Grant does on his bicycle -- Grant just clocked up 4000 km. so far this year, and he can get from Bondi to the Tim Horton's on Hwy 60 and back in 48 minutes -- but it's still quite a feat to be balanced on the contraption at all!
Grant bikes up into the Park most days. Sometimes he drives up with the bikes on the car and Francis and Kyle in tow and they ride the Rail Trail, which is an ideal bike trek. It follows the old railway bed in the Park. Francis reports seeing a bumper crop of blueberries this year, and some bear sign but certainly no bears.
Dan can get to Sunflower cottage, and part way back... the uphill bit is tricky. He also reports no bears...

We can FLY!

The baby swallows jumped out of their nest yesterday.

They are zipping around in and out of the stable doors, trying to figure out these new-fangled wings. The flight portion seems to be coming on quite well, but the landing technique is still a bit shaky.

Mom and Dad Swallow are having fits flying circles around the children, trying their best to dispense advice, and flight tips, all the while stuffing the occasional mosquito into a hungry little mouth.

They finally came to rest on this wire near the barn roof. There is something truly magical about a nest of barn swallows. It begins with a pair, noisily selecting a site for their nest, zipping about in the barn and testing every option. That is followed by a quiet stretch, with Mom sitting on the eggs. She never says much then, trying not to draw attention. Once the chicks hatch, however, it's all noise and commotion and the pitter patter of little beaks. The cheerful busy twittering (the best kind of twittering, too), the hectic rush of the parents back and forth to the nest, and finally this, truly magic moment, when the kids hop out of the nest and fly.

Barn swallows have been struggling of late, as new construction produces barns that close up tight and leave little room for their nests. That's a shame. We think every barn should have a few nests of these cheerful beautiful birds. One swallow may not make a spring, but a summer without swallows would be sad indeed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pump up the Jam

This hot weather has brought the garden on. Carol spends every moment she can out there, tinkering, weeding, picking, planning...

Right now, she's in the midst of a bumper crop of raspberries. Picked straight from the vines, at their very best, they have been transformed into lovely dark red raspberry jam to cheer the table through the winter to come.

That's the thing about gardens. Just as looking at the Stars when we go out to see the constellations is like looking into a time machine of times past (since it takes so many light years before we see the stars, lots can have happened out there and we won't know about it for ages to come), gardens let us look forward in the time machine to future menus. Turning today's harvest into jams, jellies, preserves, pickles and frozen veggies, gardeners and cooks let us keep summer's bounty on our tables through many a season yet to come.

Right now, we're selling the freshest, tastiest beans you've ever held on your tongue. Plenty of lettuce, herbs, onions and other vegetables are showing up on our guests' tables. With free range eggs, of course! The corn is not far away from our dinner plates, either!

How Tall do you Think I Am?

If you've ever wondered how we get that nice neat line along the shoreline, about 7' up, you can wonder no longer.
That's the browse line, the height of a deer on the ice in winter, reaching into the trees.
If you thought deer just stood about, four on the floor, munching without having to extend themselves, well, think again.
Mackenzie sent us these pictures, taken from his cottage last week, and the mystery is resolved!

The deer look so innocent, don't they?
We have twin fawns, which some of our guests spotted yesterday.

And the twins from last summer? Well, you should see the young buck's very impressive first set of antlers. He's very proud of himself.

Up Up and Away

Mackenzie has skied before, so he's an "old pro" at this, but last week we had both Zachary and Bryce 'give it a go'. First timers, both of them, they watched Mackenzie show 'em how it's done.

We always take our new skiers through a dryland training session before they get in the water. It helps them to get the butterflies in their tummy flying in the same direction. Bryce went first, and bobbled on the attempt, only staying up for a short distance. That's a good thing -- it lets the kids feel how much the boat pulls, how the water holds the skiis, all the things you just can't do on the dock or in simulation. With that bit of experience under his life jacket, Bryce was up and gone on his second start.

Zachary was obviously taking notes. He was up on his first try, and off around the bay.

It's fabulous to have the kids learning to ski. It's a skill that you have to work a bit to master. Unlike just hanging onto a tube and having it all done for you. That gives the kind of confidence boost that carries through into so many other activities.

And to pop up out of the water on your first or second try, behind a powerful boat, with lots of folks on the beach watching... well, that's beyond words. Well done guys. Well done, indeed!

Where Have I Been?

Some folk have commented that I haven't been posting a lot during the last week... well, I have reason. Two reasons, in fact.

The smaller of the two is that we were having some problems with our high speed internet connection on the portion of the resort that covers my house. So, while guests were able to connect, and the main office was fine, I was on dial-up... Apparently, I post too many pictures. It gets slow, and time was in limited supply because of the larger of the two reasons.

Thanks to Jim from Brendish Computers, we seem to be back on track and back on-line.

The bigger reason is that I had cataract surgery done on both eyes last Tuesday. Shock and awe... I didn't even know I had a problem. Back in the spring, I broke a contact lens. Before replacing that, it seemed smart to have the prescription checked. I hadn't had an eye exam in a year and a half, so nobody was quite expecting to hear that I had early cataracts in both eyes, not even my optometrist. Off to the specialist... with me dreading the news that I would gradually see less and less until it was deemed "time" for the operation. And equally dreading the concept of anyone operating on my eyes.

Three huge rousing cheers then, for Dr. Cripps, in Gravenhurst. Let me tell you, if anyone suggests you need cataract surgery, RUN don't walk to the nearest specialist. Nerves notwithstanding, and floating along on Dr. Hill's happy drugs, off we went at 7 a.m. for the surgery. Both eyes. Be brave.

By noon, I was home, with the best vision I've ever had in my life. By 6 p.m. I was on the beach for the Wiener Roast. It is beyond belief... and I am so grateful to medical science and to the wonderful medical team at the Huntsville Memorial Hospital and to Dr. Cripps. Thanks to my family and friends who pulled together to drive me about while my eyes were larger than life, and made sure I didn't need to be in dust in the stable...

It did, however, eat into my nerves and my time last week... so there's been a gap in the Blog. But, wow... really. Wow. What a beautiful world, and how truly blessed to be able to see it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quite a Sight

Mike and Dave created a bonfire for the Cook-out that must be among their most superb bonfire creations. As Dan pointed out, 'a fire like that rather calls for a heretic.'

Be of good cheer: the only thing burning at this stake was a marshmallow, as the bonfire rapidly burned down to a cheery glow surrounded by kids with sticks and ambitions in the s'mores department.

Grounded for the duration of the G8, the potato cannon was back on the beach. It has great sound, and impressive range, but we're still struggling with the accuracy!

Sunsets, Smiles, Rainbows

After the cook-out Tuesday night, we got a sudden rainstorm. The sky lit up with a double rainbow -- as Kyle pointed out, with excitement, "That must mean something!" No doubt... It's an interesting aside on double rainbows, that the outer rainbow reverses the colours of the inner rainbow.
Judy was here, with Squeegee the pony, and she made the best of it by giving pony rides in the aisle of the stable.

Just as the adage goes, Hard Rain Short, Soft Rain Long, these sudden storms don't last long, and long before Judy had worked her way through the collection of excited youngsters, the storm had passed and she was back outside with the pony. Having come from the beach, nobody was really 'dressed' to ride, but being lead on Squeegee, who is in line for sainthood in the Pony Universe, does allow us some leeway... provided everyone has a helmet! We don't ever bend THAT rule -- you need to slap one on, every time, every ride.

Dave, cheerfully took a turn being "Pony for a Day" and pulling a packet of people in Squeegee's cart. The passengers in the 'Rickshaw' were shrieking with delight, and Dave got quite the cardio workout. Kyle also took a turn between the shafts, much to the delight of the passengers. He discovered that going downhill is much easier than coming back up!
And when the sun finally set, it left in a blaze of colour. And that, too, means something. Good weather coming!

Here's a Cheer!

Every Thursday during the summer we take to the water. It's an escorted swim -- with varying distances on offer. The Point is 500 metres away. You can swim there, catch your breath, and swim back for the full 1 km. swim, or hitch a ride back if you are just at the beginning of a distance swim career.

Or you can swim back from the Island, which is a full 1.6 km (l mile) away.

Alice tells us the swim from the Island is her favourite part of her holiday. Shelley swims about that distance daily, but still never misses an Island swim.

Last week, we had twelve intrepid swimmers -- with the youngest being 12.

And while we always celebrate the accomplishment of the swimmers, young and old, we must never forget the folks that come out in their boats to make the swim a success. We feel you can never have too many boats along as escorts -- the swimmers will spread out across the lake, with the front swimmers back on the dock before the doggedly determined rearguard is halfway home. And that's just fine -- it is NOT a race.

So here's a cheer for all our great guests who come out early, and hang out on the water with us and the swimmers. We couldn't do it without you!