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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Skating, Everyone, Everywhere

 Felix made a bee-line for the raft, frozen into the lake, with the waterslide.  The water, being harder than usual, requires that James be right there to catch him, but that was just fine with Felix.

 went on a bit of a mission today to find skates for some of our visiting guests. It's hard to do, actually. We were blessed to have someone very kindly ride to the rescue with a large box of little skates.  (Taffy was on hand to ensure the correct fit!)  Thank you so very much, Sharon, for helping out with these.  These kids are here from San Francisco -- we think we may have converted them to Canadian winter because of those skates!

James borrowed from one of our other guests (we are still seeking out some adult size skates)

Heidi was only trying this sport out for the second time in her life.  She soon was zipping about, outdistancing her mom.

Before we knew it, she could not only go forward, but she was mastering the backward 'push', too!

The bay was covered with skaters today. It was a lovely sight. The pick-up game went on all day, even after the light had failed.

We are not sure that Esme is using regulation 'gear' when she is playing in goal, but she's effective!  Heidi, here from London, England, asked if only boys played hockey, and was delighted to learn that the Canadian Women's Hockey Team is virtually undefeated. Over here, we tell the boys to 'play like a girl.' (that made her day!)

It isn't all about hockey, however. There was a lot of 'just skating' taking place. The feeling of freedom to be out on the bay, not cooped up in an arena, brings with it wings.  Sam and Mark were happy to simply be out there, flying...

Booming Ice

Just back from a night hike --  with all the little ones wearing glowsticks (they looked like a flock of free-ranging northern lights), Taffy with a flashing blue collar (looking like she just hopped off the TARDIS), everyone bundled up against the cold. 
The owls did not hoot.
The wolf pack did not sing back to us in harmony (although there was a distant bit of a howl)
But the stars were out -- we found Orion, and learned how to track from there to Sirius in Major; to the Pleiades, Aldebaran (and with that Taurus); and Castor and Pollux in Gemini, not to mention the North Pole and it's entourage. 
And then, well, then... the ice on the bay begin to thrum and sing its own old magical song. As the nights get cold, and the lake starts to make ice, there are deep rumbling booms, some almost electronic chords that remind one of Star Wars and light sabre duels, fascinating (and if you don't know what it is, unsettling!) night music as the pressure forces cracks through the ice and the lake tightens up. It is incredible. We stood out there, until a little bitty moon, and just listened.
You just don't hear that in a city.  This video isn't of our lake, but it gives you a bit of an idea.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Play On

 The mild weather watered up the bay, which already had a good six inches of hard ice on it, then froze it into a perfect rink.

Brian and David had already checked ice depth for safety -- reminder: NEVER go out on ice that you don't know is safe. Always know before you go!

That was fantastic news, because we have a great group of guests with us again this week -- they come every second Christmas for a reunion, and if there is one thing they enjoy, it would be skating!!!    This afternoon, they pretty much swarmed the bay.

I went outside, wondering what I could find to post here, and glancing at the lake I saw Nicholas swooping past! Skating! What could be better!   In fact, there are few things more fun than skating not in an arena, but out on an open lake. This is what makes Hockey "our game" up here in the Great White North.
 We think Esme had the most colourful outfit, but Augustine had the coolest of the sweaters...

Getting to the lake was easy -- it is hard to believe that just a few weeks ago we were buried under snow! Today it did start to snow again, and we are cheering that on, because while the skating is awesome, the skiing is pretty heavy going.  Although our toboggan hill, tucked in on a north facing slope, has kept enough snow that it has been thoroughly enjoyed already this week by Felix, Jonjo and Heidi who are here from England!  One of the great things about staying here is that the kids can go right from the cottage to the ski trails, toboggan hill -- or skating! without anyone having to get loaded into a car first. And as soon as someone starts to get cold or tired, or just in need of more hot chocolate, it is always close to the warm cottage and fireplaces!
Nicholas and Taffy started out with a little one-on-one before he left to, as he put it, help out the old guys. Those would be his parents and uncles and aunts, who were getting pretty beaten by the youngsters!

Some of the really little ones stayed out of the scrimmage, perfecting their skills at just standing up, with just a little help from Grandpa Stan.

The main game was fast, furious and widely ranging across the bay.  There were no defined edges to the rink, although there were some boots to mark goalposts, and eventually and actual goal net.

Taffy and Esme got right into it.  Taffy's scoring instincts aren't as sharp as they could be, given that she will steal the puck and keep it, but gosh, she moves like Gretzky!!!

She also got to share a little love with Margaret, in goal.

They played on through the entire afternoon and well until the light was failing.  We expect they'll be back at it again tomorrow!

With a crowd of cousins, there's no shortage of team members!  And with our bay providing such a great rink, there's no shortage of fun!

Note: our Bondi bay is protected, and shallow, and so freezes before much of the Lake of Bays. We have carefully checked out where it is safe to be skating -- there is open ice near the main dock, so that is clearly out of bounds.  Along the shore there are some springs that keep some open puddles, very very shallow but still cold.  Out past our points there is still open water, so we repeat again, and again, always check ice before venturing out onto it!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day Foolery

 It cannot ALL be work -- although here is a shot of Brian diligently raking up the beach at Anchor cottage today...  He likes to stay ahead of things.

But once that task was done, it was time to move on to the fun (and silly!) stuff.

While there are limited destinations available at present, with nearly six inches of ice on our bay, that still left the swath around the main dock where the ice away has been at work. It doesn't usually open up that much water, but it has been so mild that we suddenly had a tiny lake there.

It was enough to go paddling around and around.  Note that he is a) wearing the appropriate life jacket, and has a whistle attached; b) is close to the dock and to the assistance of the photographer in case he dumps the kayak, and c) is nicely bundled in warm and mainly waterproof clothing. 

That water is COLD so don't try this at home, kiddies! It requires adult supervision (in this case, provided by David. A scary thought, although we love the lad to pieces)

The BMD has already been out to check the depth and strength of the ice. That meant that David felt confident walking out to get some shots looking back at the resort and Brian. This one is my favourite, with the trees reflecting on the wet surface.

All of which just goes to show that even a dull and not-sunny day here in #northmuskoka it hard to beat! And sure beats battling crowds in the mall to buy 'stuff'.

Brian paddled madly about in circles until it finally occured to him that he was not going to locate the Northwest Passage, and then it was time to tuck the kayak away again, and head into the house for hot coffee and another of Carol's delicious dinners! 

Charlie's (well, Dino's) Angels

Recently we got a photo sent to us from a Girlfriends' Getaway Weekend that happened here in November.  These gals, from Oakhurst Farm in Ottawa, know how to make their own cheer.

Part of the fun was a treasure hunt -- including staging and photography to prove that it happened.  For one item, they had to re-create the iconic picture from Charlie's Angels.

This happened at the excellent Family Place Restaurant in Huntsville, with Dino and his kitchen staff filling in for Charlie.  Fun. Just plain fun.

Note: you do not have to be taking part in a treasure hunt challenge to enjoy the great food at Family Place!

Going with the Flow

 Rain watered up the ice on the Lake of Bays last week -- but up here, we know how to roll with the weather...

Thanks to Robin Tapley for this great image.  Just a reminder, always be sure how much good ice you have underneath you before going out onto ANY frozen surface.   Simple simple rule of thumb: 
1" = stay off
2" = one person may
3" = small groups
4" = okay...

but check. Check. Check.  We are glad to have David and Brian who go out with the auger to check depth in our Bondi Bay!

Boxing Day

 One of Santa's Canadian-style rain-deer showed up just before Christmas.  

Mild weather knocked down some of the snow, but it is still here, still hanging on -- and the good news?  The rain watered up the lakes, which are now freezing in with flat skate-able surfaces.  Ski trails have a decent base, which this will just solidify, and there is snow in the forecast.

We are decorated for the season, with not only ribbons and bows, but with turkeys at feeders (as close as we got to the 'two french hens' requirement.)

It is Boxing Day. Which loosely translates to Madness at the Malls, a surfeit of 'stuff'. We avoid that.

I took Taffy on walkabout this morning and got these last two shots -- yes, we still have snow.  We are delighted to be welcoming our guests for the Christmas-New Years' week, including visitors from England, Portugal and California! (so, yes, we could use a good old Canadian blizzard, just to let them experience it.  See if you can help arrange that?)

Lots of snow of the little ones to go sliding... hiking/snowshoeing is good to go. Algonquin Park is open wide, including the Visitor Centre.   The Baysville arena is open for Public Skating all week (check here for hours). Hidden Valley Ski centre is open, with decent conditions and our guests can get a 10% discount. Arrowhead Provincial Park has some ski trails up and running, and as soon as it gets a bit colder they will re-open the skating trail. In Huntsville, at the Summit Centre, there is holiday skating and swimming (not in the same room. Stay calm)   Muskoka Heritage Place is open. Local dogsled and sleigh ride providers are operating (but be sure to call for a reservation) and the Haliburton Forest Reserve Wolf Centre is open all week.  Lots to do, lots to see. 

And did we mention the kids visiting us in Wheelhouse cottage got funky snowball makers for Christmas??? They can pop out those snowballs at almost lightning speed!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Owl be home for Christmas

Tonight it is raining -- which might not be a bad thing, because it will water up the lake and when it freezes (which it will. and soon) it will snap the ice on our bay into a fabulous skating rink.

Always check the ice before you venture out on ANY lake.  We send the BMD out on our bay to test levels, so we know where we can safely let our guests go to play!

But it was snowing during the week, and it is going to snow again. Up on the hill, the barred owls have been hooting up a storm.  No surprise, really, since we have about four of them who like to sing in the choir.  And, of course (and sorry, but yes I have to go there) they all want us to know that Owl be home for the holidays!

We hope your Christmas day is merry and bright, with not what is under the tree, but who is around it that lightens your heart and shines your memories into the future.

Our Year, in Review with Gratitude at Christmas

Christmas 2014

We packed a lot into 12 short months!  The highlight?   That is easy!   David married Megan MacDonald on Sept. 13 in our biggest moment of the year. (only 9 years coming!)  Having taken a honeymoon to Florida (including Disney where they visited ALL the parks and took in the wine and food festival) they are living next door to the resort, in a house that David built with help from his Dad, and best man Mike Bechtel. It is David’s design and he and Mike did themselves proud in the construction department,  learning lots in the process.  Now the couple are working on the finishing touches, and furniture, while David gets accustomed to Megan’s Scottish cooking!  No slouch as a chef himself, Dave got a smoker for his birthday, and along with Mike has perfected pulled pork and is working on smoked pizza.

Megan was selected by the TV program Say Yes to the Dress Canada, airing this winter. Please take note that Reality shows are not real... they get scripted for drama. But the dress is real, and gorgeous (so is Megan!) 

We had to wait for that September date, however, so what else happened in 2014?  We kicked off the winter with the celebrated Polar Vortex. That cold air came pouring down into Ontario, providing us with exceptional snow conditions. Plowing, plowing and plowing again. The frequently groomed ski trails were superb. We were grateful to have Mike staying with us, helping out hugely, before he headed back to College, where he graduated from a carpentry course and is now in his apprenticeship.  The resort stayed busy,  with ski and snowshoe trails, our celebrated toboggan hills, and some snowmobilers.  There is always room for more, though, so come on up! Our skating rink suffered, the depth of snow creating too much slush. We gave up, and directed our guests to the unique skating trail through the woods at Arrowhead Provincial Park instead. 

We cheered local girl Dara Howell as she won Gold at the Sochi Olympics – Huntsville threw her a huge welcome home party. We had the chance to meet Cmdr. Chris Hadfield:  Dave and Megan scooped up an autograph. What an inspiring man he is!

That cold weather hung on through April, with a surprise late blizzard. That was the weather that bracketed the summer season – blizzard in April, blizzard in November!  It was a cool summer – but having said that, the weather up here was much better than in the GTA. Skimming back through the Blog, there really weren’t many days when people were not able to get outside or in the lake!  Storms rolled through, but left hot sunshine in their intervals.   We added a pair of stand up paddleboards to our ‘fleet’ this year   Brian has a couple of runabout ski-boats he would like to sell, so give him a call!

Cooler weather did push the gardens back – everything seemed to be late. The corn was ready with just two cook-outs left! Carol’s big project was a lovely new garden at Clover cottage, and she was able to draw on her gardening expertise to provide a young minister with topics for his children’s sermonettes. 

We were blessed with help this year. We paused mid-summer at the cook-out to celebrate our Sue Baker for over 23 years of fabulous assistance at the resort. What a gem! We had Carol’s grand-daughter Sarah with us all summer. What a treat, with her enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Willing and dependable, she is also creative, and put her talents to good use!  Plus, she provided great Blog photos, kept the horses fit, and what a slideshow she created for the Wedding Reception!

It’s not ALL work! During the winter months, Brian and Dave snuck in three snowmobile excursions. Summer saw a lovely family day trip canoeing down the Oxtongue River. The boys finally got to go up in a hot air balloon (after 3 years and 18 cancellations by the company) They very much enjoyed the flight – but recommend not being in a hurry if you plan to book one!

 Come November, Brian and Carol headed for a break in Florida. Carol has a passion for ocean-side vacations, and she truly needed this one, having spent the year being the Keeper of the Harmony in the family (not an easy job in a family business especially during a wedding planning year).

We saw a slight increase in the number of monarch butterflies – but they are still far too rare.  In early summer, there was a grand adventure when we discovered we had a ‘wild’ Rhode Island Red rooster living in the woods across from the resort. Heroic measures, involving fish nets and golf carts,  captured this bird, who moved to a farm north of us. It is always Fish o’clock somewhere: one guest landed a 28” pike off the main dock. The wolf pack has decreased the number of deer somewhat, but their night-time howls are still hugely popular with our guests – as is the star gazing program we offer. It is  alarming to have some guests from cities tell us that they have never seen the Milky Way... There are still lots of deer to be seen – and Reader’s Digest magazine chose December to reprint an article co-written by Nancy back in 1999 about a fawn named Noel that we had rescued from the ice.  (annoyingly, they left her name off the print edition, but it is correct in the on-line article!) Come winter, huge crowds of wild turkeys moved in to clean out the fruit trees (and birdfeeders) much to the fascination of Napster cat. Taffy added chasing turkeys off the lawn to her job list along with keeping Canada geese away, and squirrels out of the feeders.

Speaking of Napster, he was disgruntled (as an artist) to be left out of the Macleans Magazine summer list of the top animal artists by money earned. By our calculations (and theirs) Napster should be #3 on that list!

Technology continues to amaze. Rob Williams, long time Bondi Family member, made an extraordinary video of Bondi from the air with the help of his drone. Check it out on our Resort Blog.  There are some exciting new attractions close to us now, too, with almost daily summer excursions on the S.S. Bigwin out of Dorset, and the opening of a new mountain bike park near Dwight.

The cooler summer may have contributed to one of the most spectacular autumn colour displays we’ve seen in years.  If you have not made that trip north to see colour at peak up here, put it on your bucket list at once. It can be crowded in Algonquin, however – don’t forget that we’ve got the same vibrant colours right here at Bondi! 

Nancy  was re-elected as Councillor for Franklin Ward, Lake of Bays, and has also been named as the Deputy Mayor for the Township. There are some big challenges coming with this term! She continues to coach and judge with the horses, but finds very little time to ride these days. If anyone out there wants a lovely dressage horse, call about Abby... who is bored with lack of work.

Brian will be going in to have a hip replacement in the new year. The hip contributed, along with the cloudy weather, to him not getting in much flight time with his plane last year, but he DID get airborne enough to bring us great photos for the Resort social media sites.

Megan and David are both working at the resort, with hopes to one day take it over, and we could not be more thrilled about that as we head into our future. There are great challenges to operating a family tourism business in this economic climate, but there are also great joys – and among those joys are the wonderful people we get to meet. At this joyous season, we touch base with friends near and far.  We treasure your friendships, and hope that the coming year brings with it great blessing, comfort and joy.

Merry Christmas, from all the Tapleys at Bondi!
Brian, Carol, David, Megan and Nancy

Christmas Eve Memories

Christmas Eve... a breathing space in what has been a hectic month.  Hopefully by now everything is wrapped that should be, spiffed up that needs to be, decorated that ought to be.

Christmas Eve is a time for reflection, before Christmas Day.  My dad, Paul Pax Tapley, was born on Christmas Eve.  During a blizzard.  The doctor was summoned from Huntsville -- he came by horse and sleigh and was cold, hungry and cranky by the time he arrived.  Elizabeth got out of bed, made him a hot dinner, returned to that bed and gave birth to her fourth child.  It was 1918.  His middle name, Pax, was to remember the Great Peace.  You remember that, yes? The War to End ALL Wars...???   Shame it didn't, really.
My Mom, Rosemary Hannah Buck Austin was also a December baby. Dec. 9th. 1911.  She grew up in the shadow of Windsor Castle, and was once (along with her best friend Renee) plucked from the branches of one of the Windsor Park Long Walk oak trees where the little girls had climbed up and discovered it was much harder to climb down.  Their rescuer, a gentleman standing in his stirrups while another man held the horse, lifted them gently down while the rest of the riding party watched.  The girls hit the ground curtseying, and Rosemary confessed they thought they were off to the Tower of London.  Their saviour was a slim man, with a stutter.  His father was King George V, who in a low gruff voice told the little girls to 'be more careful,' before riding on.

This photo was taken in 1949, here at Bondi.  Paul had recently met Rosemary who was working at Tally Ho. They were married and lived together at Bondi for 42 years. Paul always credited Rosemary for pushing him to buld the cottages, rather than "puttering around here doing odd jobs and ploughing up the field."

He built Lantern in '49. Anchor in '50. Springside in '51 -- the year their son Brian was born. and Beaver in '54. Tamarack went up in '56, and in 1960, he built Longside specifically for a long visiting family, the Longs, who needed a bigger cottage.

Elizabeth Tapley, with her son Paul and his wife Rosemary, 1960
That was where it began...   and I always stop on Christmas Eve, Dad's birthday, to remember them all with tremendous love. I always stop at the stable, late at night, when you can just barely hear the sleigh and the reindeer scratching across the night sky, and sing a carol, just me alone, for my Dad with whom I used to sing in church. I don't have the beauty of his voice, but I always have had the beauty of all their love.

Wishing you all a happy, safe, and blessed Christmas season, and a new year full of comfort and joy.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Guns Blazing at the Valley

 Out there under the full moon the snow guns were going full blast at Hidden Valley Ski Centre.

It's about a fifteen minute drive from Bondi, and it's a world of winter fun.  These guys don't have the biggest hills in the world, but the runs they have are varied, interesting, well laid out, and the lifts are fast, fast fast, so there is no hanging about.  You can actually get more time on the slopes because there is so much less time waiting in the line ups.

And if you think you need a monster hill to ski, you should keep in mind that Gold Medal Slope Style skier Dara Howell calls this hill home.

Now, in addition to all the great features of the ski centre, we are happy to announce that Bondi Village is partnering with Hidden Valley and can offer you voucher worth 10% off the lift prices.

With flexible hours, a great ski school, and night skiing under those lights that look a lot like a full moon, what is not to love???