Summer 2016: Cottaging in Haliburton

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I went to my friend Chelsea's cottage over the weekend. It was actually my first time at a cottage, ever (does that make me a bad Canadian?), and I had a surprisingly amazing time. I say "surprisingly" because I'm not exactly the type to enjoy the outdoors. But it's like a whole other world up there in cottage country. Time slows down. Air is purer. Nature is brighter. And also, if someone told me that cottaging was just about eating and being lazy, I would've done this a long time ago. So, here is some proof of me doing some naturing. And eating. In chronological order.

A lonely maple leaf floating on the lake

Views from the dock

Davis Lake at dusk

Dinner: Striploin steak, garlic butter shrimp, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and roasted parmesan potatoes

We arrived at Chelsea's cottage in the early afternoon on Thursday. It wasn't a particularly sunny day so no one wanted to go into the water, but it was still warm so we spent the rest of the day hanging out on the dock, feet in the water, listening to music, drinking (orange soda for me, beer for everyone else), snacking, chatting, and smoking. Time is a funny thing when you're at the cottage. It seems like it's slower, but then hours pass and you have no idea where the time went. We had a splendid dinner of steak, shrimp, and potatoes, and then spent the evening hanging out on the deck and playing Cards Against Humanity until midnight.

Tarts from The Little Tart: Blueberry cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, lemon, classic butter, blueberry crumble, salted caramel custard, and pecan

Breakfast: blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, sausages, bacon, and fresh strawberries

We woke up early on Friday morning to drive 30 minutes to to The Little Tart in Haliburton. It's a tiny little shop specializing in old fashioned home baked goods. It's become extremely popular and because everything is made fresh and by hand, there is a limited amount of each item and a lot of their offerings are sold out within the first two hours of opening (in fact, the owner told us that there were already three people waiting on the porch before he even opened the store). But we got there about 15 minutes after they opened and managed to get all the things we wanted. I picked up fourteen tarts (my favourite is the "Booty Call," a salted caramel custard tart with a chocolate base) and two lemon squares so I had enough to bring back home to share. When we got back to Chelsea's cottage, we tucked into breakfast and then set about our day by the water.

Panoramic view of Davis Lake (taken with my iPhone 6!)

Paddle boat views of Davis Lake

Paddle boat views of Davis Lake

Paddle boat views of Davis Lake

Paddle boat views of Davis Lake

Yes, for the first time in nearly two decades, I got into a bathing suit and shorts and went swimming (well, wading, really, because I had my contacts in and didn't want to go underwater for fear of losing one or both). My legs literally hadn't seen the sun in over 15 years. It was a very surreal experience. I didn't think I'd have fun because, again, I don't really do the outdoors, but I had a surprisingly fantastic time helped by the stunningly beautiful weather. It was sunny but not too hot or humid, the sky was the bluest of blues, and the water so clear that you could see to the bottom of the lake. We had a nice lunch spread on the patio consisting of freshly baked cheesy bread (picked up from the local bakery that morning), prosciutto, figs, various crackers and cheeses, pickles, hummus and red pepper jelly, strawberries, grapes, and cucumbers. I didn't take any photos, but trust me when I say we were eating like royalty. Chelsea and I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon paddle-boating around the lake and actually got quite far (I even brought my camera for proof). I haven't gotten this much exercise in years but, you know, we had to burn off all the food somehow. 

Dinner: Grilled prime rib beef burgers with cheddar and hot dogs

After being exhausted from paddle-boating, we lay on the dock for a couple hours (I got quite the savage sandal tan) and then went in to shower. Dinner consisted of prime rib beef burgers and hot dogs from the charcoal barbecue, plus heirloom tomatoes and bocconcini on the side. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the deck and playing more Cards Against Humanity (as it turns out, we are terrible, terrible people).

Breakfast: pancakes with butter and homemade strawberry jam, parmesan scrambled eggs, bacon, and strawberries

Panoramic view of Davis Lake (also taken with my iPhone 6)

Views from the dock

It was a cold, gloomy day on Saturday with periods of rain, so we slept in, had a lovely breakfast inside, and then spent the day having a serious Yahtzee! competition. I do remember spending a couple hours on the deck just smoking and drinking and chatting when it wasn't raining, but we spent the majority of the day indoors.

Dinner: Tenderloin steak, grilled shrimp, corn on the cob, roasted garlic potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and tomatoes

The rain didn't deter us from barbecuing, though, and we had an early dinner of grilled steak and shrimp and corn on the cob before heading out to watch War Dogs at Highlands Cinemas, an old independent movie theatre with a movie paraphernalia museum. Highlands is old-school, the way theatres were before multiplexes. They display movie times with retro dimensional letters on an old marquee sign. It has a very kitschy, vintage feel and even smells like an old thrift store, which some will like and some won't, but it is definitely a very cool small-town experience and anyone going up to the Haliburton area needs to check the place out at least once. And as for the movie? I'd give it a solid 8/10 (on its own, War Dogs would probably get maybe a 6 or 6.5, but Jonah Hill is really, truly spectacular in that film — as Wendy Ide of The Guardian says, "Jonah Hill is so repellent — all swagger, sweat and unapologetic sexism — in War Dogs, that for a while, you don't immediately realise what a blitzkrieg of a performance he delivers.").

Morning views of Davis Lake

Morning views from the dock

Yahtzee! and strawberry cheesecake

On our last morning at the cottage, we got up early to pack, had warm apple strudel and bacon scramble on English muffins for breakfast, hung out by the dock for a bit (despite the sun, it was actually pretty cold), and then spent a couple hours eating cheesecake and playing more Yahtzee! (seriously, it got really addictive) on the patio before finally hitting the road in the early afternoon. And just like that, vacation was over. But despite the many mosquito bites and the slight sunburn on my legs, I would do it over again in a heartbeat. Consider my cottage cherry popped.
2 comments on "Summer 2016: Cottaging in Haliburton"
  1. Glad you experienced the full joy of a good cottage trip! Honestly though, it's the people you go with that make or break these things. I think you had the magic combination with good food, good location, good company, and good weather. :)

    1. I totally agree. I think going with the right people is the most important aspect to any trip. You find out so much more about someone when you live with them for any amount of time and so many things can go wrong. I went with one of my best friends and another close friend of ours. No fighting, no arguments, no attitudes. Just a relaxing time. I've been on trips with friends during which at least ONE person would annoy the shit out of everyone else and there'd be so many arguments.


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