The World of Riding

One thing is for sure, my feet were feeling itchy for some change. A year cooped up, working from home, masked in-person meet-ups, plenty of time for self-reflection, booking reading and mental gymnastics had me thinking “Hmmm”.

Before our premier announced today “Do not make any plans for Easter…, this is an announcement about an upcoming, unplanned announcement!”, before that, I decided to dip my toe into the world of Horseback riding.

After much googling and reading reviews, I decided upon a Stable / Barn / Ranch that would be adequate for safe, in-person, private lessons and a Store from which to buy suitable gear. I researched boots, helmets, pants and armed with all the information I could find, marched into an equestrian outfitters.

Before I go further, I want to point out that from the very beginning of this notion that this would be a good idea, I felt out of place. An interloper ready to give away my money to a sport that will most likely eat me up and spit me out. This really isn’t my game but I want to play.

So, in I marched, ready to talk gear and immediately I felt out of my depth. The lady was very helpful, asking me questions for which I should have and answer, such as “how much are you planning to spend?” and “What size of pant are you.” Easy questions and I just had a huge brain block.

“I am willing to spend as much as it means that I will be as safe as possible if I am thrown from the horse and / or if the horse decides to kick me in the head.” Why am I doing this? I can back out; I hadn’t bought the ticket and the train was still in the station. I stuck to my plan, buy gear no matter the cost!

I picked a helmet, boots and breeches. Now the breeches are really just fancy workout tights with rubbery designs across the buttocks and down the inner thighs – $170 please! The boots, a return from a lady who paid $$$$$ for custom footwear and for whatever reason decided against the purchase? On sale, but still steep. The helmet, for an extra $30 you can replace the front, decorative bezel. Decorative! $30! I bought the helmet, not because of the $30 interchangeable bezel, but IT’S ON SALE. Again, still steep but on sale.

I left the store a bit sheepish, still a bit unsure of the WHY I was doing this, and announced to the sales lady, “Well if all else fails, when I fall off the horse I will be doing so IN STYLE!”

She laughed and I dashed out to my car.

Little Big Guy Coffee

Little Big Guy Coffee

wpid-20140310_121341.jpgThis weekend I visited a new coffee shop on Lakeshore West, New Toronto to be specific. It was suggested to me a month or so ago by a local business owner who was adamant the coffee shop was a “super friendly”, “really nice” and “the best on Lakeshore West”. I didn’t want to argue, I have my bias, and instead made a mental note to check it out…one day.

I’ve driven by it a few times on my way to work. I’d slow down and peer towards the store in an effort to distinguish from my driver’s seat whether it was worthy of a “stop-and-see”. To be honest, it never looked open.

I decided this weekend was as good as any time to try it out and instead of turning right onto Lakeshore, I turned left.

As I walk towards the store it continued to look closed with the exception of the two jolly ladies sitting on chairs on the sidewalk directly in front of the shop. There are two doors to this coffee shop, one is for decoration, and the other is the actual door. Unlike regular doors of stores, this one had a door knob at the same level as my ears (or so it seemed) with a little sign above that says “pull”.

I pulled, the door opened and there I was standing inside the coffee shop. The room isn’t very big. There are 2 or 3 mismatched tables with mismatched chairs. Halfway along the left wall is a doorway that leads to the second side of the shop, the side that belongs to the door that isn’t meant to be opened.

Along the back of the first side of the shop is the coffee bar. Not one that you might expect, a low counter that crosses the width of the shop with nothing to distinguish it from a regular counter in a kitchen. It reminds me of a table at a fair where people showcase their goods.

Behind the bar is a large man. He is friendly just like the lady said he’d be. I ordered a “mostly-dark-roast” coffee and crossed to the second room to the left. There are more tables and chairs in this room.

An old drafting table with an array of counter and bar height chairs, a long interesting wooden table from an 18th century pub house (not really), including a bench that ran the length of the table, some leather chairs and regular height tables and more mismatched chairs.

The small metal encased radio sits on a corner shelf that is filled with books, pens, pencils and paper. Some of the pencils are loose, rolling around the floor. I’ve arrived in someone’s kitchen in an old farm house where I can put my feet up, fart and just be. The atmosphere is welcoming for sure with the 1980’s radio was blaring out 1980’s tunes, it’s antenna reaching for the ceiling.

The shop has a musty smell, a mix of old deodorant, unwashed hair and dirt stuck to the base boards. It may be the two older gentle men sitting at the front who are busy banging on the window, making faces and hand gestures to the women sitting outside, I can’t be sure.

Friendly, cosy, smelly, delicious coffee.

With a some cleaning TLC, a fresh coat of paint, an update to the entrance, a coffee bar that isn’t so confusing, I could then call it a hidden intimate gem, good for farting around 🙂

Thank You

Thank You

Quote 2It’s the Holiday’s. There is no denying it. We are in full swing.

Another year has gone by and it is safe to say that in some shape or form we have all experienced change this past year.

While I sit here (watching the clock) waiting for the holiday break to officially begin, I realize how thankful I am for the people I spent year(s) learning to trust (as you well know, I am rather suspicious about many things; especially when people are too friendly LOL!)

I am thankful for: The craziness. The camaderie. The strength we have given each other. The pointed advice on life. The teasing and the laughter. The motivation and individual desire to achieve. The encouragement to be better people. The integrity. The honesty.

Although I know the past is a time that can never be had again; there is no portal to transport us back to moments we wish to relive again and again. We have our memories. We have the connections and each other. We have the strength to do the thing that will bring us closer to our dreams by believing in ourselves.

Thank you all for reading my blog this past year, sending me emails, facebook messages, comments and likes!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas!

MINI Mania

MINI Mania

So not THE most creative title, but that is what is happening to me right now. I am experiencing mania towards my MINI!

Some people have children and pets, I have cars. I love cars (trains, planes and skateboards too!). Yes they eventually disintegrate and get recycled (we hope the metal and plastic parts do!), but to me cars have always been an extension of myself. Call me crazy, but I love driving with no destination in mind. The most important part being the experience of getting there and the mode of transportation.

It’s not about the brand or how much the car costs, it is how it handles the road, the ambience and comfort on the inside and the sound system blaring tunes.

There was my pain. What small car could I buy that would give me all those things, suit my personality and be THAT car.

My list was whittled down to two choices:

1. Volkswagen Golf – responsible me
2. Mini Cooper S – irresponsible me

The Mini had some advantages, besides being irresponsible, it also had a HUGE personal backer. I might come from automotive, I might understand the product, I might even understand the sales process, but all those things just made me more anxious about picking the right car.

So what happened exactly?

My good friend who is still in the business, the Volkswagen didn’t stand a chance :(, arranged for a nice dealer to call me, serve me up an offer I couldn’t resist that had me signing papers making me a ridiculous Mini Cooper S owner in mere minutes.

What I think of my new car after 3 days of ownership?

More fun than I thought. I forgot how much fun a manual car can be. Reminds me of that Mazda MX-5 Mazdaspeed I was pulled over in a few times!! but managed to talk my way out of my tickets (I wouldn’t have deserved them – honest 🙂 )