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Well then, that’s it. We’ve got a little better than two weeks left of official Summer, but as soon as Labour Day hit, Fall was in the air. The kids went back to school this week with coats or sweaters on. Spray pads, wading pools and city-run outdoor pools are all closed for the season. But the weather reports still have plenty of sunshine in them, with temperatures in the mid 20s this weekend. If you have a heater in your pool, or no pool at all, how are you going to cool down?

Never fear my fellow Londoners. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outside world in London, Ontario this weekend. Why not check out one of these options;

Wet and Wild Fun In Your Neighbourhood

Slippery’s Great Escape is still OPEN for play

Storybook Gardens saves the day! While the rides and concessions are closed weekdays, they are still open weekends until October 14th, 2013. The splash pad however remains open during the week and on weekends until further notice. Once you are done at the splash pad, why not wander through the Enchanted Forest, stop to pet the animals in Old McDonald’s Farm, stop for a minute or two in the Village and Backwoods, explore the Frog Pond, or find adventure at Pirate’s Island. You’ll find family fun in every corner of Storybook Gardens this weekend.

 

Last weekend to enjoy East Park’s Water Park

Get to East Park while you can! This is the last weekend that East Park’s Wally World Water Park will be open for the season. They’ve got the 55′ Wally Tower with 5 amazing slides, Intencity Tower with two awesome flume water slides, plus a new splash pad for kids that opened this year. In addition to that, there is also Go-Karts, a Batting Cage, Driving Range, Minigolf, Intencity indoor play (rock walls, bumper cars, climbers and more), and even an 18-hole Golf Course. You’ll be in for plenty of fun for all ages, both indoors and out.

 

Drive right up to Ipperwash Beach

And of course all of our area beaches are still open for business as well. While you might not find life guards monitoring the waters after Labour Day, the waters of Lake Erie and Lake Huron are still a welcome attraction for anyone willing to dip their toes into the Great Lakes. The good news is that after Labour Day paid parking is no longer being enforced at Port Stanley Beaches. For those wanting to head to Ipperwash Beach, there is bad news on the horizon though. Perhaps taking a nod from Port Stanley’s decision to charge for parking, West Ipperwash Beach Property owners are looking at adding parking fees to their beach. The fees will be used towards adding permanent washrooms, garbage cans, gates, better security, and providing employment opportunities for area band members. The plan has not been authorized as of yet, but the Kettle and Stony Point First Nations band and area homeowners are hopeful that a plan can be put in place by next Victoria Day. If you want to spend the day at the beach, I guess we have to pay to play, but this weekend you can enjoy all the area beaches for free!

By George, it’s almost the weekend! Whatever shall we do with it? For some strange reason, I’ve got a mind to nosh on some fish and chips, with a round of pints to follow with me blokes. If you are wondering what I am going on about, you must be daft. Haven’t you heard all the hullabaloo going on across the pond? What with the “Royal Baby” being born, it seems that the whole world has gone batty over everything British. Well, we’ve got a few English things right here in “little” London that are worth a gander too! Suss out these limey offerings, right here in London, Ontario!

A Taste of England In Your Neighbourhood

Olde London Fish & Chips

Established in 1994, Brenda Phillips opened the doors of Olde London Fish and Chips at 561 Southdale Rd E. Obviously not the only purveyor of seafood in the city, she enchanted our good citizens with her light, non-greasy batter. Of course her personal touches are what keep folks coming back for more though. It is a family run business that was born in Phillip’s blood, as her father ran his own fish fry business to boot. Her daughter Keri has gotten in on the action as well, serving up a mean mushy peas to order! If you are looking for homemade goodness, you’ll find it in their seafood chowder, traditional coleslaw, hand-cut fries, and fresh halibut to order. Tuesday, they serve all-you-can-eat haddock for $9.99. Wednesdays are 10% off for Seniors. And Sunday you can enjoy all-you-can-eat Alaskan white fish for $7.99! How’s that for a wee bit of some tasty grub for ya!

A Taste of Britain

Anyone up for some Spotted Dick?

Fish and chips aren’t the only thing the British are known for and the purveyors of A Taste of Britain can prove it to you. With two shops in London to choose from, I’d say that we haven’t lost our taste for the Monarchy just yet. Whether you take a jaunt to 1634 Hyde Park Rd in the north end, or wander down to 5-9 Southdale Rd E in the south, you are bound to find anything English that you might fancy. They have British sweets, Official Guinness Merchandise, Celtic jewellery, flags, rugby jerseys, English Premier League Football merchandise, Scottish Clan items, frozen meat pies, black pudding, and even a Bakewell tart or two! Oh, and don’t forget your tea and crisps, mates! They’ve even got Marmite flavoured bags of Walkers. Nosh on that!

London Landmarks with a Nod to the UK

Or you could explore one of the landmarks around London, Ontario that glean their heritage from our British ancestors.

Thames River, London, ON

  • For starters, there’s the Thames River. The English one is 346 km long, with our Canadian version stretching 273 km in length. They both run through their respective London’s, but the British river takes top billing for shipping and navigation purposes. This time of year, our Canadian contemporary supports movement of aquatic wildlife (like walleye, trout, bass, etc) and maybe a canoe in some of the deeper sections.
  • Hyde Park, London, UK

    Next up, you could take a drive out to Hyde Park. Here is another location that shares the same name in the UK and right here in Ontario. While Hyde Park can lay claims to being the biggest park in Central London, UK at 630 acres, it doesn’t have the same composition here. Oh sure, there are green spaces and the London Hunt and Country Club is located within its bounds, but that doesn’t have quite the prestige as being on the doorstep of Kensington Palace. A stop to the Bellemere Winery might perk you up a bit though.

  • Covent Garden Market, London, ON

    How about a little shopping at Covent Garden Market? In Downtown London, Ontario, you can get fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, baked goods, cheese, chocolates, flowers, jewellery, crafts, plus you can take part in one of many community events on the premises. There is also an outdoor Farmer’s Market on Thursdays and Saturdays from May thru til December. The Market’s history stretches back to 1835, but as you might have guessed, that is a far cry from our British counterpart’s lineage. There has been a settlement in the area where the British Covent Garden is since the 1st Century, with a 40-acre site supplying fruits and vegetables for monks at St Peter’s. It thrived for centuries, but came into disrepair by the 1970s. Today it has been redeveloped and now boasts 750,000 sq ft of retail, office and residential space.

  • We have a Museum London in Ontario and there is the Museum of London in the UK too. Both museums are FREE to explore! Why not check out the one here, before jetting off for your overseas exploration.
  • There are parks scattered across the city with names that are reminiscent of their British mates; Sherwood Forest, Westminster Ponds, Cavendish, Piccadilly, Kensal and Victoria Park, to name but a few.
  • London, Ontario even has a rugby pitch on the grounds of University of Western, plus a London Rugby Club. It’s a jolly good start to a sport that has been played in Britain since the early 19th Century.
  • Double Decker Ice Cream Serves Up Delicious in London, ON

    And of course we even have our very own iconic Double Decker bus that serves up ice cream at 663 Wellington Rd. The buses are a National Symbol in Britain, but represent delicious treats closer to home. Have you visited yet?

Do you have any favourite British haunts right here in London, Ontario?

Guess what? It looks like our prayers for a break in the rain have been answered. The humidity levels have dropped and so has the possibility of rain! It looks like London might be able to look forward to a rain-free forecast for the weekend. If you have waited for that to head to one of our local beaches, now is the time. You just have to decide which one of the many beaches around to go to.

Top 10 Best Beaches Around London, Ontario

Ipperwash Beach

Ipperwash Beach

  • Ipperwash Beach – Located in Lambton Shores, Ipperwash Beach boasts a beautiful sand beach that is perfect for family fun. Walk the shores of Lake Huron or wade in the shallow waters, ideal for children and new swimmers. Close to Grand Bend, but without the wild parties and huge groups of people who are attracted to it, Ipperwash is the perfect beach for a family day trip.
  • Fanshawe Lake Conservation Area – You might not even know about this campground nestled within London’s borders, but there is plenty to do at Fanshawe Lake. Go canoeing, watch dragon boat racers practice, try your hand at fishing, reserve a campsite for spending the night under the stars, walk (30 km of trails) or bike (20 km of trails) some of the trails or just enjoy a step into nature in our own backyard.
  • Goderich – Canada’s prettiest town might have taken a hit when it was in the path of a tornado in 2011, but that can’t keep this vibrant community down. With three beaches to brag of, and free parking available, you can enjoy the waters of Lake Huron, plus hopefully catch sight of one of their gorgeous sunsets to boot. There is awesome fishing that abounds, playgrounds for kids, and plenty to do in town, if you venture away from the beautiful sandy beaches.
  • Grand Bend

    Grand Bend – A recipient of the coveted Blue Flag Certificate, the beach at Grand Bend has lots to brag about. Lifeguards watch on, as people frolic in the waters of Lake Huron. Washrooms  are handy, as are concession stands for beach-goers. The surrounding community of Grand Bend has plenty of shopping and dining for any patron’s needs or desires.

  • Long Point – Not far from London is another beach that stretches forever along Lake Erie. How does 40 km of sandspit sound to swimmers and sand castle makers alike? Anyone that has ever ridden a motorcycle has probably seen the beach, at least some of it on Friday the 13th for an annual trip to Port Dover. With plenty of bird watching, hiking trails and campsites available, there is more to this fantastic beach than a bike stand though.
Pinery Provincial Park - Dunes Beach

Pinery Provincial Park – Dunes Beach

  • Pinery Provincial Park – Can you beat 10 km of beach on Lake Huron, surrounded by dunes, hiking trails, opportunities for camping, canoeing , kayaking and more? Not by a long shot, and that is why Pinery Provincial Park has been so popular for so long.
Port Burwell Provincial Park

Port Burwell Provincial Park

  • Port Burwell – Not to be outdone by other area beaches, Port Burwell has a sandy beach that is nothing to sniff at. Located on Lake Erie, the Provincial Park here has some of the best and most private campsites of any Provincial Park around. Enjoy swimming, hiking, fishing, camping and maybe even take the time to explore Canada’s oldest wooden lighthouse.
  • Port Stanley – Only a half hour drive away, you will be enjoying the warm waters of Lake Erie before you know it, when you make the trip to Port Stanley. Grab some fries from Mackies, play beach volleyball at GT’s, ride the rails of the Port Stanley Terminal Rail, or build the biggest sand castles you can as you soak up the sun on one of Port Stanley’s popular beaches. Main beach has lifeguards on duty, plus has been awarded a prized Blue Flag Certificate.
  • Rondeau Provincial Park – Whether you want to soak up the sun, splash in Lake Erie’s warm waters or bird watch on one of Ontario’s best bird migration routes, Rondeau is a great place to escape from the city. There are hiking trails aplenty, camping available and memories to be made at this beach.

Sauble Beach

  • Sauble Beach – Over 10 km of soft, white sand to enjoy on the shores of Lake Huron, Sauble Beach has also been awarded a Blue Flag Certification. With a bevy of restaurants and vendors in walking distance on the main strip, you just might want to stop at a real estate agency to see what’s available in the community. One visit to this active beach town, and you will understand why.

I live in London, Ontario and have called it home for many years. There are so many great things about this city and I have tried to share many of them with you, here on the pages of this blog. We have extensive bike paths and nature trails, many great schools, including world-class post-secondary ones, an International airport, proximity to other major urban centres and convenient highways running between them, a great cultural community, plenty of entertainment options, and an accessible housing market! London is a great place to work, play and live, and I am proud to support it in any way that I can.

Sometimes that support comes in the form of telling you about places in and around London, like Storybook Gardens or Wortley Village. Other times, it is in letting you know about local events that are going on within our vibrant community. Today, I want to introduce a relative newcomer to London. It’s not new in years (built in 1958) and it got its start in Ayr, Scotland, but this weekend a bright red, Double Decker bus is celebrating its one year anniversary of serving up ice cream to London residents. If you haven’t discovered them already, let me introduce you to Double Decker Ice Cream.

Double Decker Ice Cream

It’s not every day that you see a Double Decker bus in London, Ontario. London, England might be a different story, but they just aren’t a common sight here in “little” London. That was until Neil Sunnuck got an idea in his head to mix together a few of his favourite things; a bit of history from his homeland in Britain and ice cream (he worked in an ice cream parlour in Scotland in his teens). The result was a brand new take on tasty tourism, when the Double Decker Ice Cream company served its first Shaw’s ice cream last June at its permanent location at 663 Wellington Rd S.

Neil loves to personally serve his customers

You might wonder why Sunnuck would open an ice cream store and choose a double-decker bus to run it out of, but apparently it was a stroke of genius. Many small businesses have to wait upwards of three years before they see a profit from a new business, but Sunnuck can brag that by the end of his first business year, he was already in the black. That success can be chalked up to a few factors, not least of all being the support from great family and friends. Sunnuck’s wife Melissa helps scoop ice cream as needed, plus takes care of the books. After he bought the bus from Aboutown (for a steal, considering how few double-deckers are on the market), his father flew over from Scotland to help with the necessary renovations to turn the bus into a fully functioning ice cream shop. Plus, the Sunnuck’s many friends have helped by spreading the good word, as well as eating a delicious cone or two. Add to that a high-quality product, an eye-catching location and great customer service, and its no wonder that they have done as well as they have. In fact, they have made enough of an impression that they have also been asked to serve up their tasty treats at the Hyde Park Lions Club “Country Cruizin” Nights (at Plunkett’s Farm – 9282 Elviage Dr).

So after a chilly start to the 2013 season, the bus was re-stocked and is open for business again. At present the hours are 3 – 9 pm from Monday to Friday, and 1 – 9 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Once school is out for the season, ice cream will be available from 1 – 9 pm seven days a week. This weekend will be a little different though. The hours will remain the same, but after serving up sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, DAD’s rootbeer floats and of course ICE CREAM for a whole year, the Sunnuck family decided that it was high time for a celebration, and of course it will be held British-style! There will be colouring contests for the kids, British trivia (correct answers scoop you ice cream upgrades), a visit from a real London taxi cab on Saturday, and a fiddler tempting your dancing feet on Sunday! There is even rumours that the Queen herself is interested in stopping by for a kiddie cone (or was that a double scoop waffle cone?) on Sunday between 2 – 4 pm, so make sure to bring your camera! Neil, Melissa and their two children will certainly welcome you with their signature smiles and whatever flavour of ice cream you desire.

What flavour is your favourite?

Black Sweet Cherry (no sugar added)
Blueberry Cheesecake
Butterscotch Ripple
Caramel Turtle & Fudge
Chocolate
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Cotton Candy
Lemon Pie (LIMITED TIME ONLY)
Lime Sherbert
Maple Walnut (no sugar added)
Mint Chip
Orange Sherbert
Pralines & Cream
Raspberry & Truffles
S’mores
Strawberry
Toffee Cashew Crunch
Vanilla

COOKIE FLAVOURS:
Brownie
Brownie Skor
Chocolate Chip
Skor

Abigail & Austin Approved!

Spring is in the air. I don’t exactly know why I say that, as it is still -1C outside (with windchill feels like -9C) with scattered flurries in the forecast, but I feel it. Perhaps it is the fact that the sun rises earlier in the morning now and sets later in the evening. Maybe it was the slushy puddles I jumped over and through getting the kids to school this morning. Or perhaps it was the sign that said “Maple Syrup” that I passed over the weekend and instantly had my mouth-watering.

I think that was it.

Mmm, golden, delicious maple syrup is a sure sign of Spring in my books. When you hear tell that the local sugar bushes are swinging their doors open for another season, you know that full-on Spring is finally on the horizon. If you haven’t been to a sugar bush, this year looks promising for a great season. And we are lucky to have plenty of Sugar bushes to choose from in the London area.

Sugar Bushes In Your Neighbourhood

Maple syrup taps

Maple syrup taps

The McLachlan family has tapped the trees in their sugar bush for over 150 years. They serve a pretty tasty pancake breakfast and offer horse-drawn wagon rides through the bush to see where their delicious syrup comes from. The Pancake house (10279 Lamont Dr) opens February 23rd this year!

Another family run sugar bush is right around the corner at 27382 Coldstream Rd. The Fort Rose Maple Company has plenty of the liquid gold you are seeking this time of year as well. Starting February 23rd, their Pancake House will be flipping flap jacks and drizzling their very own maple syrup on top of them for you. Plus you can take a wagon ride, explore some of the 6,400 taps and of course, buy some maple syrup to take home with you.

Small maple syrup jug with non-functional loop...

The folks at Crinklaw Maple Products are no strangers to maple trees either. The Crinklaws moved from Scotland in 1832 and have produced maple syrup out at 4570 Westminster Dr since then. They offer wagon rides, pancakes, plus a wide variety of maple products to take home with you, like maple sugar, maple butter, maple mustard, BBQ sauce, and even Maple Syrup!

Interested in more sugar bushes? Why not try the Fanshawe Sugar Bush at 21201 C Lakeside Dr, run by the Kinsmen Club of Greater London? They have guided tours, hay rides, great educational displays, which demonstrate how maple syrup has been produced through the years and of course an opportunity to sample some maple syrup on a pancake breakfast, before buying your own maple syrup and other maple products to take home with you. Don’t forget your cash though, as that is all they accept on the premises.

What better way to enjoy maple syrup, than in your favourite recipe. Here is one that I think will quickly enter rotation around your supper schedule. You have to try this recipe from Yummly.com for Maple Slow Cooker Boneless Ribs. I think your whole family will be saying yumm…

MAPLE SLOW COOKER BONELESS RIBS

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless pork ribs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle ribs with pepper and rub into surface. Place meat in slow cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour sauce over meat.
  3. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.
  4. Serves 6

Have a sweet week!

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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