Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Picnic on the Beach

Finds: Mid-Century Orrefors Romeo & Juliet Vase. Mid-Century Birks Regency Silverplate Candlesticks.

At this time of year, I like going to sales in the country hoping to find choice pieces for my boutique inventory. Hunting for antique and vintage treasures is what I enjoy most in what I do.


My husband likes to come along if the sale is on a weekend so that we can take some of the time to explore the area. On a recent trip, we decided to take a small picnic lunch. It is fairly easy to find a spot for a picnic in one of Ontario’s provincial parks or conservation areas. At home we normally eat from good china, but having a meal in a natural outdoor setting with few implements seems to add to the enjoyment of being on a picnic.

Finds: Spode Copeland Hand-Decorated Plates, ca. 1940.  Vintage Wedgwood Creamware. 
Find: Victorian Enameled Glass Decanter, ca. 1880
We found a sandy beach on the shores of Lake Ontario only one and a half hours from Toronto. There's an island on the left in the photo above, but you can’t see all the way to Rochester, New York on the other side of this huge lake. We brought my movers’ quilt that is comfortable to sit on and seems impenetrable to any ants lurking nearby. Lunch was thinly sliced left-over New York steak on thin whole-grain rye, limeade, and take-out cut up watermelon for dessert.


Friday, July 16, 2010

A Day in Stratford

Stratford ON,Norbridge Antiques,Stratford Festival

The summertime is an ideal time to take day trips and explore the local villages and towns in the surrounding area. Ontario is full of picturesque well-groomed farms, villages and towns. Most of them are low-key, unpretentious and charming.

Stratford Festival,Norbridge Antiques

Recently I visited Stratford with my husband and our daughter. Stratford is the home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The Festival has a world class production company and brings Shakespearean plays alive on stage every summer. Christopher Plummer who is now over 80 has regularly starred in many of their productions and is appearing there again this summer in “The Tempest”. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival also puts on other plays and musicals. Our choice was the musical “Evita” which turned out to be an excellent production.

Stratford Festival,Avon River,Norbridge Antiques

Only two hours from Toronto, Stratford is a Victorian town with a charming old square, and lots of quaint shops and restaurants. The parkland on the Avon River banks within the town are dotted with benches and picnic tables which make you want to stay awhile and enjoy the swans, ducks and small boats.

Stratford ON,Straford Festival,Norbridge Antiques

Although there are plenty of restaurants and cafés in town, the Avon River looked like the ideal place for a picnic the day we were there. I like picnics but I hate eating at a bare rough picnic table. For that reason, the movers’ quilt or industrial quilt is an ideal tablecloth. It is thick and easy to wash. For all of you who might be interested, our lunch consisted of thinly sliced leftover pot roast on whole wheat hamburger buns, cherry tomatoes on the vine, small elegant cookies from a Toronto bakery, carbonated not-too-sweet pink lemonade from France, and apricots that I am sure were grown in Georgia.

Stratford Festival,Norbridge Antiques,Avon River

If you go, there is free parking almost everywhere, and nothing is too far away. Be sure to visit the antique shops in town and in the nearby hamlet of Shakespeare. The Scottish shop on the main shopping street is also worth a visit.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Have you ever visited Niagara? It is a picturesque region dotted with orchards and wineries that straddles the U.S./Canada border not far from Toronto. Whenever I go, I think of how the Falls must have looked to the native people and the early settlers before all the über-building took place.

Niagara-on-the-Lake travel

Because we’ve seen Niagara Falls before, we tend to bypass it and go straight to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here you can have a walk or bike ride through the strip of parkland on the Niagara parkway. Along this long stretch from the Falls, and Queenston Heights to Niagara-on-the-Lake, you can have a picnic; look at the Niagara River gorge; buy local fruit and vegetables from the orchards; visit one or two wineries; and when you get close to the town, have an elegant lunch or dinner at a restaurant or a small hotel like the Riverbend Inn.

Niagara-on-the-Lake,Niagara-on-the-Lake garden
A discreet peek through the shrubbery at a private garden with a fountain

Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL), then known as Newark, was the original capital of Upper Canada (Ontario) having the first Upper Canada legislature in 1792. The first anti-slavery legislation in the British Empire was passed here in 1793. At the end of the American Revolution it was settled by Loyalists coming to Upper Canada. Later during the war of 1812 fierce fighting took place here.

Charles Inn Niagara-on-the-Lake,Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle
The perfect place for dinner, The Charles Inn built in 1832

The Charles Inn Niagara-on-the-Lake,Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle
The verandah at The Charles Inn

The Charles Inn Niagara-on-the-Lake,Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle
The view from the verandah at The Charles Inn

PhotobucketTurn over the plate,Niagara-on-the-Lake,Niagara travel,Norbridge Antiques
As a member of the Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle, I turned over the plate to examine the marks You can join here. The Charles Inn uses Tafelstern dinnerware, Germany.

We always take time to walk or ride bicycles through the quiet old streets of the town that have a predominately Georgian look and style. Some of Georgian heritage houses were rebuilt just after the war of 1812. There are also beautiful Victorian houses, as well as others of attractive mixed styles.


We like to go to the live theatre in NOTL at least once during the summer. It is the home of the Shaw Festival, a live theatre company that presents the work of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) and playwrights writing anywhere in the world during that time. This time we enjoyed Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband".

Niagara-on-the-Lake Niagara River,Queen's Landing
A view of the Niagara River from The Queen's Landing Inn at lunch on a rainy day.

Turn over the plate,Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle
Yes, as a member of the Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle, I did "Turn over the Plate". The Queen's Landing uses Oneida Espree restaurant ware, USA. Get permission to check the hallmarks wherever you go by becoming a member,
click to join--it's free.

Queen's Landing library,Niagara-on-the-Lake,Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle,Norbridge Antiques
The library at the Queen's Landing has a masculine décor.

Niagara-on-the-Lake,Niagara-on--the-Lake Golf Club,Norbridge Tableware Collectors' Circle

Sometimes we have a round of golf at the oldest golf course in North America on the shores of Lake Ontario near the Niagara River outlet into Lake Ontario.

Fort Niagara,Lake Ontario,Niagara River,Niagara-on-the-Lake
View from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club patio, the outlet of the Niagara River into Lake Ontario. Fort Niagara in Youngstown NY is across the way.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourth of July 2010

Norbridge Antiques,Wedgwood,Royal Albert,Waterford,vintage china,vintage crystal

Fourth of July greetings to all my friends and relatives in the United States! I appreciate your great spirit, and I enjoy how much energy you put into celebrating every holiday.
Norbridge Antiques,Wedgwood,Royal Albert,Waterford,vintage china,vintage crystal

I’ve added some red, white and blue to our table to commemorate the birth of a unique new nation.

Welcome to our home and garden. It is a warm evening. I’ve set the table on the patio with Wedgwood Candlelight pattern china mixed with Royal Albert Centennial Rose. The wine glasses are Waterford. The stainless steel flatware is Splendide. The placemats and napkins are of an indoor outdoor fabric made in Canada by Lady Rosedale.
Norbridge Antiques,Wedgwood,Royal Albert,Waterford,vintage china,vintage crystal

I wish you a Happy Independence Day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Walkways, Patios, Driveways

What is your favourite garden design? What can you live with and most importantly, what kind of garden will you be most willing to maintain?
Outdoor patio,House Beautiful,Norbridge

In every garden design whether it is formal, informal or a mix, the walkways, the patio, and the driveway set the scene.

When I was a child, my father built a patio of bricks in a checkered pattern separated by cement mortar. The patio was flush with the grass and over time with the help of moss, it took on a beautiful aged look. I thought the patio was beautiful then and it is what I most miss about my parents’ house besides their espalier trees. I wonder if this spawned my love for bricks, and all stone. Alas, I don’t have any photos of the patio or the espaliers, but the driveway below reminds me of the pattern.

Recently, I went for a walk in an old neighbourhood and looked at the walkways and driveways.

I do like the brick.

Herringbone, just like at Hidcote.

I wonder what planning went into choosing the materials and designs of some of these walkways and driveways.

Brand new cobblestones.

Machine cut flagstones.

My own sandstone steps were here when we moved in. They are so warm and welcoming; I would never want to change them.

When we had our raised patio built, we wanted it to be of brick, but we found these flagstones in the garage and didn’t want to just throw them out. If possible, I like using what is already there if it is of value and is aesthetically pleasing for its purpose.