Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers – The Sipping Society

For a good part of my childhood I had the privilege of living in Jordan Station. One of the things that I loved the most about the area when I was growing up was the amount of fruit trees that were present in the area. We always had fresh fruit, from local farms, except of coarse in the winter time. However as I grew up there was a time when, many of those same trees were being pulled out, to make way for subdivisions and other uses. It was very sad to see.

Dillon’s Sipping Society Fall Shipment.

So fast forward to 2018. Thanks to my wife, she knows that her husband, is somewhat of the adventurous sort, she put me on to a small local business that I see big things for in the coming years. While she was checking her social media feeds as well as looking for a potential Christmas gift for me, she stumbled across Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers. She thought I should check them out, and as they say, the rest is history.

Dillons Bitters

Dillon’s Bitters

So going out on a limb, and at the encouragement of my wife, I decided to go heavy and jump right in and become a member of the Dillon’s Distillers Sipping Society. Up until this point, I have had a total of Zero experience with any of Dillon’s products, so I was taking a chance. I Liked the fact that the distillery is local and conveniently situated between Vineland and Beamsville Ontario. I really liked the fact that they use locally sourced fruits and products for their wide array of adult beverages. One of the products that caught my eye was the Pear in Bottle Eau De Vie. That was one of the clinchers for signing up for their Sipping Society, it had the appearance of something that had to be tried. As part of membership there are perks that are well worth the price, like quality locally produced products shipped right to your door four times per year. The promise of members only events, advance notice of new products and the chance to be the first to try new items. The personalized journal and Sipping Society T-shirt are also great additions as well. . The price for a yearly membership is 500.00 for the first year, and 400.00 for follow on years. To me when you include a great quality product with a group of people, that clearly love what they do, then the price is well worth being paid.

Speaking of great people, I also had the opportunity to visit Dillon’s Distillery, my wife and I thought we would take a road trip out to my old stomping grounds and see what all the hype was about. I got the opportunity to me some of the staff, as well as Natalie, who is the Sipping Society contact, or Concierge would be a better term to describe the position that she holds. By all accounts they were great, friendly and answered all of my questions. I got a bit of a crash course on “Bitters” and their uses. To be honest I have never used bitters, so my knowledge of them was absolutely zero. However my lack of knowledge was not a problem, because of the attentive staff. At our visit we sampled and purchased some Cherry Gin, tried out some Peach Schnapps, as well as some Lemon Chelo, and while there I took the opportunity to purchase a book about the creation, history and uses of Bitters.

I believe this is the first year that Dillon’s has had its Sipping Society, but I don’t think its going to be the last.

 

Facer Street European Festival 2018

Facer Street European Festival 2018

Today I had the opportunity to visit the area, during the annual Facer Street European Festival. It was a hot day, but my wife and I, with hats and sun screen, braved the temperature and ventured out to the historic community. We weren’t sure what to expect, as we had never been to this festival before. We were pleasantly surprised.

The festival was a mixture of Polish, Ukrainian and Italian heritage and this was reflected in the music, food and festivities that ran the length of Facer street. Everything from Pirogies to Pizza and Ice Cream to Sour Kraut Soup could be found. There was an abundance of good food that left an abundance of full stomachs and broad smiles.

There were two stages set up for various forms of entertainment. There were a couple of venues that were licensed for the sale of alcohol, The event was well attended even in the stifling heat, nothing can prevent a great party.

For my wife it was a little walk down memory lane, it had been quite some time since she had walked the streets that she had lived on as a little girl. She showed me the “swear” corner, the place at the corner of a church no less, where as a child she got into trouble by her mother for using less than savoury language. She is still not really sure how her mother found out about it though. We strolled past where she used to live and she pointed out where here friends used to live, and then passed her old school. She showed me how she and some of her friends used to walk to school. It was a little look back into her past.

A place like Facer Street is a community unto itself. Even thought it is part of a larger city, it is the parts that make the whole. It is the small places that contain the stories and creat the memories that make the reality of the place.

Foot steps into the Wind: what we are all about!

To me traveling, or a better term to use would be “the traveling spirit” is more than just about going to see different places. Having the spirit of a traveler or adventurer, is about many different things rolled into a single package.

Being an adventurer does not always mean that you have to climb the tallest mountain, or swim to the bottom of the deepest ocean. The spirit that I speak of can be found right outside your front door.

Foot Steps int the Wind is about fostering that adventurous spirit. It about traveling for sure, however it is also about history, good food, its about people, art and culture. Its about enjoying life, learning a thing or two and staying safe while doing so.

My vision of a traveler is someone that is well rounded and conscientious of how and where they are traveling. It is of a person that is knowledgeable, about the current facts of where they are going as well as the historical context and why that is important. Foot Steps into the Wind is about enriching and enjoying life.

Why is Understanding History Important?

One of my passions is history. I love reading about it and learning about it. I love those old dusty things that are taken for granted in the modern world. I am always drawn to the old stories, I love speaking with people who have a different experiences than my own.

One of the best things that a traveler can do to improve their trip, is to educate themselves on the place that they are going to. I think this is especially important if it is a place that they have never been to before. When traveling I think that it is important to be a conscientious traveler when it comes to understanding the place that you’re going to see. Looking at historical items prior to your trip will give you insights into why things are the way they are in the places that you are going to visit. It will help you understand local customs, attitudes and points of view on various topics that may be different from your own.  After all when we travel it is to experience the place, the people, the life and customs of the location we are going to.

I believe, just like people, places have a soul and a spirit that is hidden from view and only the adept and knowledgeable traveler will be able to see it. The soul of a place becomes bare when we look beneath the surface of what is presented to us. Also like people, places change over time, and the historical context of a place or thing can be lost to the point where it is no longer relevant. To me, because a place or thing is old, doesn’t mean it has less value, or that it has diminished. In fact to me it holds more value because some time in the past someone gave the place or thing value by creating it in the first place. I have the same opinion of historical events.

Another item that I think travelers should keep in mind is that not knowing your history, could make the difference between a great holiday and a really bad holiday. For example if you find people being rude to you and you’re not sure why that is, it may be your attitude or your ignorance of local laws and costumes. Laws and local customs usually arise from events or conditions that existed in the past. To not understand societal norms in the place you’re traveling to is, to me, very disrespectful.

So my little piece of advice for the day is, if you are going to travel to some far away location, do yourself a favor and do a little bit of reading into the history of the place you are going to. Go to your local library and crack a book or two.

 

Making Changes

image (24)I have undergone a few changes in my life in the past couple of months that leave me reflecting on what the next steps will be for me in my adventure of life. I have left the army after nearly 30 years. Although it was part time career, if one can call it that, it still took up a great deal of my life. Couple this with having a full time job, being a father and husband, and add to all of this another nearly full time job of being a Union activist, my plate was nearly full. I have also relegated to the past my activities with respect to the union to the younger and more energetic crowd. My children for the most part are now grown up and for the most part are making all of their own decisions. So needless to say I am faced with a dilemma that all parents, and people of my generation face, what the hell am I going to do now.

Well with any situation like this I suppose that people in my position reflect on the time that is in the past and the time that is left in the future. What I find myself saying is, what’s next, what is around the next corner, where do I go from here? Well I find myself in my office, looking at the numerous maps and wondering about my roots and where it is that it all started. The faraway places nestled between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, to the tiny country in Europe where the people where the wooden shoes.   I have come to realization that the story of me really does span the entire globe. I find myself thinking more and more about the place my mother considered home, and often spoke of, even to the point of returning to one day. There was a constant pull upon her heart to return.

I also hear that call. Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada the country where I live and where I was raised, but I feel that much of the context of my life is somewhere else. My wife and I have often discussed moving to Europe and what the ramifications of that decision would be. How would we do it, how would we live, and what would our quality of life be? I guess the big question is, where do we start?  These are just some of the questions that we asked ourselves. I am not saying that this is going to happen, but it is something that I would like to consider as a possibility for our future.

image (23)My military mind tells me that (as well as my wife) with any successful operation, it starts with a good solid plan. So I guess we need to at least start creating a plan, if what I’m thinking about is going to have any chance of success. With anything like this there is a lot of apprehension a lot of things will have to happen, like the liquidation of assets, to generating capital to make any of this even possible is also a big question. In reality any journey starts with a first step. My first step in even making this idea a reality will be to regain my Dutch citizenship. Even if I never return to Holland our Europe for that matter, regaining my Dutch citizenship is also a personal goal that I have wanted for quite some time. The Dutch rules on citizenship have changed considerably over the last couple of years, so this option may not even be possible any longer.

In the short term there will be a considerable amount of research that needs to be done to compile the information that is needed to fully understand this kind of undertaking. For me personally the hunt for information has begun. My ability to collect and correlate data will now finally be used for my own gain and for my own purposes.  Maybe  it will happen maybe it won’t, however we will never know unless we take the first step to making the change.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

One of the most beautiful pieces of history that you will see on display at the Louvre is The Winged Victory of Samothrace or The Nike of Samothrace.

It was on my first visit to the Louvre that I met her, she is truly a breath-taking sight to behold when you first see her. She meets ever visitor to the Louvre with the same defiant yet elegant stance. This image of triumphant spirit has graced her honored position in the Louvre since 1884 and is a sculpture known the world over.

This wonderful beauty was first discovered by armature french archaeologist  Charles Champoiseau in April of 1863 on the Greek Island of Samothrace, which is located in the northern Aegean Sea. The statue contains a partial inscription on the base that includes the word Rhodios (Rhodes). For those that are into history you will know that at one time, Rhodes  was the strongest naval power in the Aegean sea. The inscription would then date the statue at 288 BC at the earliest.

It is thought that the statue was commissioned to commemorate a naval battle. The most likely one is thought to be the battle of Cos that took place in 255 BC in which Antigonus II Ganatas of Macedonia was victorious over Ptolomy II of Egypt.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The statue itself stands about eight feet high and is made of grey and white Thasian and Parian marble and was originally part of a temple complex that was dedicated to Greek Gods on the Island of Samothrace.

As previously mentioned this statue is known the world over and has been the inspiration for other works. She has been copied several times. Likenesses of Nike can be found at the Ohio State University, Connecticut Collage at Syracuse University and The Estrugamou Building in Buenos Aires Argentina, just to name a few. She has also been made the subject of poetry and song and she has been used as a symbol of freedom throughout the ages.

I hope to see her again one day, perhaps next time I am in Paris…

Just a sad short rant about graffiti !

One of the items that I found to be what I would call a crime against all those that love Rome, on many levels, is the amount of unsightly graffiti, that has been plastered all over the city.

I know that with every large city there are many difficulties to over come, poverty, immigration and homelessness just to name a few. I have to ask myself why would anyone want to deface a lovely place such as Rome. I know I am perhaps spitting into the wind with this lament. However it pains me to see things of beauty defaced out of sheer stupidity and selfishness. Before my last trip to Rome, I heard of a man that had carved his initials into the Colosseum, he ended up getting arrested.
However his scrawl will now be part of the monument for ever. He had no right to do that.. Horrible.
To the people that live in Rome, I suppose to them it is just a city and nothing more and that we tourists are nothing more than a seasonal inconvenience.
I know people may lash out with graffiti when things are difficult, but in the end it serves no purpose. There is no added value to the city because of the graffiti so why waist your time in doing it in the first place.

Like I said just a rant and thanks for reading.

Closer to Home

Some times when we travel I think people lose sight of whats important. I Think the spirit of travel can happen any where, it can be found right in your own home town, it can be in the corner coffee shop, it can be any where.
Sometimes I think we need to look closer to home to find those interesting , and different things in life that make you say  “Hmmm I never knew that”.
I think that is something that people need to look at ojprofijt All rights reservedr consider when the say I wish I could travel, or I wish I had enough money to do that. May be that is true that we need to spend some money to travel, but at the end of the day, you need to get yourself into the mindset of traveling and in to the spirit of traveling.
An example that I like to point to is a couple of years ago, Suzanne and I were in Amsterdam, and we were with my sister and her Fiance, and we had made plans to go to the Ann Frank Museum. We asked one of the locals, that in our mind should have known where the museum was. Well we asked him how to get there and to our surprise at the time he didn’t know how to get there, because he had never been there. He explained to us that he had lived there for some time but he had never been to the Museum before, so there for never knew where it was. The point here is that people live all of their lives in places that are already interesting, they just need to seek them out and enjoy them.
If people want to travel and if they wan to do new things, like travel and have some adventures, like they read in books or see on TV, they need to start a little closer to home, and pick those gems out of an other wise mundane life that they lead and try to focus on them and see what comes of their efforts.

Operation Hotel Part I – the search for the right Accommodation

A very short walk from the hotel

When planing to travel especially when you are on a budget one of the biggest costs is going to be on accommodations. The types of considerations that are made also depend on the circumstances of the traveler. For example if you are a young person or you are the only one traveling, then surly a hostel or other similar accommodation would be perfectly suitable for your trip. However if you are a little older and, shall we say, have a few miles packed on then a more comfortable  accommodation would be the order of the day.
For my family and I we wanted to find a good balance for our money. Another factor for us with this trip was the fact that there were three of us traveling rather than just two. A fact of traveling is the more of you there are, the more expensive it is going to be. So what do you do? You make darn sure that the hotel you’re  going to stay at is exactly what you are looking for.

The search for the right hotel was exhausting, but really worth the effort in the end. If your like me you don’t like to spend money on junk. What we did was we took a hard look at what our travel abilities actually were, especially when we were traveling with a 16 year old girl.
We wanted a hotels that were  close to the sites, but yet not overly touristy sections of the cities we were going to visit. We were looking for places that would accommodate three people in a room, as well as include breakfasts in the cost of the room. We looked at accessibility from transportation hubs in and out of the city, and different forms of transportation that would be most cost effective.

We literally read hundreds of reviews on expedia.ca and tripadvisor.ca. and narrowed our search from there.
We did have some criteria in mind when we started looking. We wanted  to be close to what we wanted to see, so a central location was key for us. Included breakfasts were a must and descent restaurants within walking distance. We wanted WiFi and our own restroom, It is not uncommon to have shared restrooms in some of the hotels in Paris.

In Paris we settled on Hotel Astrid, It was a beautiful little boutique hotel situated right down the street from The Arc de Triomphe in historic part of Paris…then again what part of Paris isn’t historic. The room was small, but well kept, It was really a double room with three single beds. However it suited our purposes, the beds were comfortable and there was a very adequate restroom.
On one of the evenings the street below was a little loud due to the fact that there was Football game being watched in the cafe that was below. However, being a soccer fan, this was not an issue for me. We just got up and closed the window and everything was fine.
The breakfast was well appointed with juice, coffee and  tea. There was all manner of breads croissants, spreads, fruit, cold cuts and cereal…we did not start the day hungry to say the least.

View from Hotel Astrid

Two steps out the door, to the left there was little cafe,  L’ Arc Cafe Paris, This little place had a well rounded menu from pasta to fine french fair, My wife Suzanne found a new  favorite in the Beef Bourguignon, she had it two nights in a row! The hotel was well located by two cafes, a pastry shop and corner store that had a great selection of beer, wine and spirits.

One major thing that can make or break a hotel stay is the staff that works at the hotel. On this occasion for this hotel the staff were absolutely wonderful. From arranging our stay to assisting with taxis, they all went above the call of duty. When were leaving the hotel we had to check out early to catch a flight to Rome. The night clerk prepared some coffee juice and Croissants prior to the normal times that breakfast was served, and he verified our taxi to ensure that it would arrive on time to take us to Orly airport. To top it off they all spoke english very well so it made the stay that much more comfortable.

This is just part one of Operation Hotel, I will be posting the next portion in a little while so please stay tuned.

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