Globally-minded family travel and kidspiration

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Stay: Villa Serena. One of the many exceptional properties in the Inspirato collection: a travel club offering its members the best in private villas/estates and service to make any destination feel like a (luxury) home away from home. In our case, this particular abode was high atop a precarious hill outside Sorrento, with views of the Mediterranean from every room. The surprisingly sprawling grounds (given the steep lots) were as lovely as can be with an inviting swimming pool one tier down, surrounded by jasmine, crawling ivy and olive trees. It was hard to find an excuse not to relax given that our every whim had been looked after (a stocked fridge on arrival, local wine and ripe fruit for the taking, travel arrangements and day trips looked after by the villa concierge, beds made daily by the lovely Theresa)…..now what? Oh right, time to enjoy this holiday.
 
Treat: obviously gelato becomes a daily staple when in Italy, but Primavera doesn’t make just ANY gelato. Warning, there will be a line-up, and you will wait in it (without complaining) because the minute you taste one of their 30 plus flavors there will be no looking back.

\\ A D V E N T U R E S  I N  C A P R I // APERITIVO HOUR

When the sun sets over Capri, the islanders take to the Piazetta for aperitivo’s and a healthy dose of people watching. So when in Rome……or Capri….we had to join in the fun.

We snagged a front row table at Al Piccolo Bar where we had a perfect view of the parade of well-dressed (and questionably dressed) folks on their way out to drinks and dinner.

\\ C O O L  S T U F F // THE STORY BEHIND A FELT BALL RUG

It takes a great deal of work, patience and dedication to produce each of these beautiful rugs. They are handmade by Nepalese women who work in small shops and receive a fair wage for their work. For many of the women, especially those who have young children, flexibility in work is essential. For them it is also possible to work from home.

The video presents all materials that are required for making the rugs, including non-toxic colorants and high-quality New Zealand wool.

We love how this video celebrates the artistry of the Felt Ball Rug.

via: www.feltballrug.com

\\ A D V E N T U R E S  I N  C A P R I  // SHOP

100% Capri is a perfect little boutique tucked into a tiny, romantic alley off the main Piazetta. Go here for breezy linen caftans, sheets, homewares and chic designer pieces that will take you from dinner in St Barth’s to dancing in St Tropez. Oh, and if you happen to be there in season and have the great fortune (as we did) of meeting the founder of this chain of exclusive shops, be sure to introduce yourself and accept his offer of a Bellini!

\\ ADVENTURES IN CAPRI // LUNCHING & SUNNING AT DA LUIGI AI FARAGLIONI

A quintessential Capri afternoon is to be spent at one of the many bathing establishments on the island. Our beach club of choice happens to date back to the ever-so-glamorous 1930’s, when Capri started attracting stars of the cinema, models, jetsetters and business magnates alike.

Be sure to set aside a few hours (at least) to enjoy a light seafood lunch, then make like Liz (Taylor) and rent some towels and chaises so you can worship that Italian sun and swim in Capri’s turquoise waters right off their rock-cliff docks.

\\ A D V E N T U R E S  W I T H O U T  A T T I C U S // A DAY IN CAPRI

A little photo diary of an amazing day in Capri organized by our Inspirato hosts. A beautiful gleaming wooden boat picked us up at a small marina outside of Sorrento and off we went to check out the beautiful turquoise grotto’s and rock formations around the Isola di Capri. We lunched, we sunned, we shopped, we snacked and we aperitivo’d. All my recos in posts to follow……

Be sure to earmark the dates for next year's Lavender Festival in Prince Edward County. There was a small petting zoo, live jazz music, lavender picking and local food. http://www.peclavender.com/

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A few more snapshots from our recent adventures in PEC.

The Prince Edward County Lavender Farm is a must - it happened to be the weekend of the Lavender Festival and we enjoyed picking fresh lavender from the fields, live jazz music, a little petting zoo and local food.

We also recommend Huff Estates winery - they have a beautiful contemporary art gallery and outdoor sculpture garden, offer tastings of their current and past vintages and have a cute patio for lunch or snacks overlooking the vines.

\\ W E E K E N D  A D V E N T U R E S //

A short ferry ride - but a world away - lie the Toronto Islands. I should be admonished for taking so long to discover Ward’s Island - the smallest residential island of the lot. It is a magical escape from the city…….at the foot of the city.

You can hop a ferry from the main terminal at Queens Quay ($7.50 per adult). For approximately the same price ($10 per adult) you can take a water taxi over at your leisure.

We spent a morning lounging on the patio of The Island Cafe over a late breakfast of delicious local fare (there were even some freshly picked peas on our plates from their personal garden). We ordered impressive coffees from their espresso bar (which we took to go while we explored the island in all it’s park - beach-life glory) and had every intention of returning for ice-cream had we not made a run-for-it to catch the ferry in order to make nap-time back on the mainland!

We can’t wait to return for round two on an up-coming summer weekend.

\\ A D V E N T U R E S  W I T H  A T T I C U S //

Some lovely friends recently hosted a lovely affair in celebration of their son’s 4th birthday. The theme was King for a Day and we were enamored with all the perfect little details from the gorgeous cake topper (a crown of course) to the bouncy castle (what would a king be without his kingdom).

Atticus had a ball - as did all the other adorable munchkins. But the best part was, the adults were not an afterthought. There was tons of beautiful wine and adult beverages on offer and a food truck parked out front so everyone was well fed!

Beautiful photos shot by super talented Trish Mennell.

\\ W E E K E N D  A D V E N T U R E S // PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY

We’ve been shooting with the Canon EOS 70D lately and the results have been pretty epic. I’m a Canon girl and my old G10 has been my standby - but it can’t compete with the optic lens on this puppy! Unfortunately the G10 won’t be getting much love from now on….

Here are some snaps from our recent summer road trip to Prince Edward County. We spent a fun-filled few days biking the rural roads, tasting the local wines, picnicking and antiquing.

You can read more about it in my House Seven article here…and we’ve included a little cheat sheet below:

EAT:

Breakfast
At Tall Poppy Cafe Wellington you’ll find small-town hospitality with a hippy vibe, great coffee and homemade raisin cinnamon toast.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Lunch:
The Grange Vineyard offers tastings of its estate wines, and they’ll pack you a gourmet picnic in a wicker basket that you can take to one of the tables shaded by the property’s maple trees. Pair your seasonal sandwich and salad with The Grange Estate Gamay, an easy drinking wine with aromas of herbal juniper and spice that gives it refreshing acidity.

Another must-visit on the Prince Edward County Taste Trail, Norman Hardie Winery has an outdoor tasting room where you can sip their famous Pino Gris or Reisling. Then, spend a couple of hours in the sun at one of the wooden patio tables around the restaurant’s centre-piece, a stone pizza oven, which serves delicious wood-fired pizza.

Dinner:
Agrarian Bistro is a rustic, laid-back gourmet market and restaurant on Bloomfield’s main drag, with a comfortable patio. Chef Neil Dowson is a Chopped Canada star — be sure to try his charcuterie and cheese platters made with locally sourced meats, cheeses and pickles.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Dessert:
Don’t be put-off by the line out the door at Slickers Ice Cream — its inventive flavors made from local ingredients are well worth the wait. The menu changes daily, but expect classic scoops Apple Pie (a la mode, naturally) made with actual chunks of pie pastry and apples seasoned with cinnamon, and Campfire, which tastes uncannily like burnt marshmallows.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

DRINK:

The Barley Room, a little gastropub located in The Waring House Inn, is as close to an English country pub as you’ll find this side of the pond. It serves classic pub fare and cold pints: make sure to try the Barley Days craft brew made proudly in PEC. There’s also live music most days of the week.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

To get to Agrarian Speakeasy, descend the steep little staircase at the back of the Agrarian Bistro — you’ll be rewarded with cold craft brews, exceptional cocktails and local County wines in a prohibition-era environment.

Huff Estates Winery is run by a French expat who has made the winery, inn and art gallery feel like a stylish California bungalow. The vineyard produces a handful of lauded varietals from Pinots to Reislings. In July and August the winery’s Sunday Series features one-night-only performances of music and theatre (www.festivalplayers.ca).

SHOP:

Francophiles should head to French Country in Picton: the belle France sourced and inspired delights include soaps ceramics and fine linen.

Stock up on every conceivable lavender product at Prince Edward County Lavender in Hillier, from pure essential lavender oils to lavender shortbread.

In Bloomfield, Kokito is an inviting little shop featuring beautifully crafted everyday objects like canvas bags and pillows, etched wood maps, tea towels and pottery, all sourced with care. Expect lots of Canadian-made curiosities and items made for lakeside living.

SEE AND DO:

Hit the beach. The County is all about the shore in summer so clear a half- or full day, pack a picnic and head to Sandbanks Provincial Park. Dunes Beach is a local favorite for its sandy mounds.

Rent a bike. You can combine wine slurping with an invigorating country ride on one of The Bloomfield Bicycle Co.’s wine tours. Or, just hire some bikes and enjoy the views along the sloping country roads.

Catch a movie. For a truly retro experience, take in a flick at Mustang Drive-In an original drive-in theatre. Bring some cold (non-alcoholic) roadies, comfortable blankets and pillows and settle in for the evening. Retro treats are available at the snack bar.

STAY:

Request a room in the majestic 19th-century main farmhouse at the Waring House, a comfortable classic well situated between Bloomfield and Picton.

The Claramount Inn is an elegant colonial revival mansion with 13 comfortable antique filled rooms and two cottages. There’s also a five-star dining room and a full service spa. Request a room with a view of the Picton Bay.

Slated to open this summer, The Drake Devonshire is a conversion of a large lakeside Victorian house into a 14-room Inn, with classic Canadiana-meets-rustic-luxe looks and expansive views of Lake Ontario. The restaurant’s menu will focus on farm and lake-to-table produce.

\\ A D V E N T U R E S  W I T H  A T T I C U S // Bradford, Pennsylvania

Arriving at a final destination while road-tripping always makes me giddy. It’s a combination of the destination anticipation combined with the euphoria of finally emerging from such a confined space. To say that Atticus was impressed with our home for the weekend is putting it lightly — from the old-fashioned gates that magically creaked open, to the welcome party of staff who greeted us personally when we pulled up to the main house. It all felt like we had stepped back in time to a very civilized (and wealthy) period in American history. We wandered the grounds accompanied by the welcome committee who proffered crystal goblets of freshly squeezed lemonade. Atticus loved the billiards room and ice cream parlor (complete with actual retro freezers and ice cream sundae accoutrements in perfect condition from the 1950s property upgrade). We all ohhhh'd on cue when escorted through the impressive great room, admiring the two-story beamed ceilings and gigantic sandstone fireplace.

A highlight for all three of us was the Saturday night bonfire set up overlooking Skipper Lake. The walk was illuminated with discreet tiki torches that reflected off the water, but Atticus still insisted on bringing the small flashlight that had been part of his bug trapping welcome kit. The fire pit was set up on a stone terrace overlooking the water, and surrounding us was Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. We taught Atticus how to roast a marshmallow and build a s’more (with Pennsylvania’s own Hershey chocolate — no less) while we sipped on bottles of cold craft beer.