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By Katherine Kiang
KaTsZoNe Newsletters > KaTsZoNe - Issue 125 - Barrie

11 Aug 2015

Hi all!

Hope it's been a fun-filled summer for everyone! 

As you may recall, I went on several road trips in Ontario during May and June.  For 3 weeks in July-August, I spent time in my "third home" - Barrie.  I live in Toronto but go to Newmarket on a regular basis to shop at my favourite grocery store, Nature's Emporium, and to eat at my favourite restaurants, J & S Asian Cuisine and Mint Garden Vietnamese Restaurant.  I started to call Newmarket my "second home".  This year, I have been going to Barrie a lot more, so, that's why I have been calling Barrie my "third home".  

While Larry was working in Barrie for three weeks, I met him for breakfasts and dinners, but, during the day, I explored Barrie's Georgian Mall, Tanger Outlets (at Cookstown) and went to Casino Rama (in Orillia) and Georgian Downs (in Innisfil).  I became well acquainted with two Starbucks in Barrie especially on a particular week in July when we had a heat wave!  One of the baristas said to me, "I should know your name by now."  I should've replied, "I should know your name too!"  I do know most of the names of the baristas at my neighbourhood Starbucks (in Thornhill) and they know me too so that is not an unusual thing for any barista to say!  Anyway, Barrie's retailers started to recognize me when I was there for the past few weeks!

Barrie is a city but a smaller one compared to Toronto.  I often prefer to shop and meet people in smaller towns and cities.  Retailers are friendlier and I appreciate the extra attention.  I recently went to Jump+ which is an "Apple Reseller" in Georgian Mall.  I met a young sales associate who just graduated from high school.  We just "clicked" and so, when I was passing by the store again recently, I saw her and stopped to chat, as though we were long time friends!

For three weeks, I also explored the streets of Barrie and surrounding areas, including Innisfil, Cookstown, Alliston and Orillia.  I'm glad that during this time, I was able to meet my friend, Cheryl, in Orillia.  I first met Cheryl and her boyfriend (now husband), Ross, in 1994 when we were on a Trafalgar tour of the U.K. and Ireland.  Wow - 1994! I had just finished my first year at Seneca College in the Legal Assistant (Law Clerk) course and decided to go to Ireland.  It had been my inspiration and obsession for a few years and after doing research about the history of Ireland, I was ready to go!  And, since I had not been to England since 1973 when my parents and I first came to Canada via England, I thought that a tour of the U.K. would also be worthwhile.  So, after my last exam that day (in Commercial Law - OMG), I was on a flight to England, and landed at Gatwick Airport.  I spent one day in London on my own before joining the Trafalgar bus tour.

When you spend two weeks with a group of people, you become better acquainted.  I remember two sisters from Australia who were really kind to me and included me on several of our walkabouts.  I remember a young couple (Cheryl and Ross) from Canada - the only Canadians that I knew of on that tour.  There was an older couple from the U.S. who Ross and Cheryl introduced me to.  I also remember a single, Portuguese lady from California who was so lively and funny and if anyone could get into mischief, that would be Maria - nothing illegal, but, if anyone could instigate adventure, she would be the one!  And, she would tease me too, but, I was so naive at the time, I didn't know what happened - long story!  It was tons of fun!  But, out of all the people I travelled with for 17 days, I only stayed in touch with Cheryl and Ross till today.

Cheryl and I reminisced about those days on the tour.  While we were having lunch at Casino Rama in Orillia, I told her that it was her husband who taught us how to play the slot machines while we were on the ferry crossing the Irish Sea.  I had never played slots.  Gambling was illegal in England, so, we had to be in Irish waters before we could play slots.  During the tour, Cheryl was collecting rain water from different regions for her dad, for his garden.  It sounded unusual, but, I thought that was so nice of her!  So, one time, I tried to help while it was pouring.  I took the jar from Cheryl and on my tiptoes, I reached up to where rain water was dripping from the spouts, while our Tour Director, Tony, had a shocking look in his eyes.  "What are you doing?" Tony asked.  Either Cheryl or I responded that I was collecting rain water.  Tony put his hand on my forehead, as though I was feverish and delirious. And that, was all captured in a photo!  There is proof that I was having fun collecting rainwater for my friend!  I certainly did not dream that we would be talking about it 21 years later!

I've met Cheryl and Ross a few times in Toronto since our 1994 trip.  They were married 19 years ago and now have three sons.  I have received their photos just about every Christmas, but, I did not meet their sons until three years ago when Larry and I went to visit them at Cheryl's parents' home in Orillia.  At that time, I brought my photo album from the U.K./Ireland tour - thinking that their sons and Larry might want to see it.  I had more photos than I thought.  Even though they now live in Edmonton, I'm glad that we have managed to keep in touch via email, Facebook and during the summer, to see them in Orillia.

So, coming up is a trip to Sauble Beach!  Larry and I will be heading there on my fifth visit to Sauble Beach and our fourth stay at the Saugeen Shores (in Port Elgin).  Sauble Beach is the second longest freshwater beach in the world - 11 kms of sandy beach along L. Huron.  By the way, the longest freshwater beach in the world is Wasaga Beach, Ontario.  Although we did not go to Wasaga Beach this year, it would not be a surprise if we swing by on our way home on this trip.  I hope to update you on our trip to Sauble Beach and surrounding areas in the next episode of KaTsZoNe. 

I have not seen many of you this summer.  It seems that it has, once again, gone by so quickly!  After my Sauble vacation, I hope to get in touch with some of you who live or work in downtown Toronto!  Hope we can talk about some good summer memories and maybe make plans to get together in the fall!

KaTsZoNe will be back in October!  Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Peace and blessings.


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