Monday, July 30, 2012

Gramps, Red/blue and the Cabin.

I will quickly skip over last week with the highlights – Quiz night on Tuesday was fun as normal, even though we didn’t do too well. The rest of the week was mainly spent attending shows at The Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Some good, some not so good and some downright shit.

The best two shows we saw were the ‘Dungeons and Dragons- Improvisation show’. A ridiculous show, controlled by a ‘Dungeon Master and dice’ and about strange and wonderful characters finding their way across unknown land to find ‘The family jewels’. Do not ask about how many elbows the weird unicorn creature had!! The other ‘best’ show was ‘The agony and ecstasy of Steve Jobs’ – a really funny and strong show about Steve Jobs, Apple and the story their factories in China. It also had one of Buffy's friends, Connie in ut - complete with a cast on her leg that she broke just before fringe started. 

It was a fun week and very busy as we were out every night – including one fun late night spent in the woods behind a friend’s house, making a copy of an advert with Buffy’s boss, Rick and his  3 year old son, Sam. The resulting video can be seen here:- its only a minute long, so take a second to have a look.

Mainly though, the week was all a run up to the highlight and the part of the week we were both looking forward to – as on Friday night, we packed up our stuff after watching the Spectacular Olympics opening ceremony on TV (We now have 25 channels of free TV!) and drove two and half hours eastwards, just over the Manitoban border into Ontario where we were spending the weekend at the cabin.

The Cabin belongs to Buffy’s mum and dad, Susan and John and it is unbelievable.

We arrived late evening on Friday, just about the same time as Buffy’s mum and dad, at a small marina on Lake of the Woods. After loading up a small steel hulled boat the four of us headed off on a two or three minute motor across the lake to a small island just a couple of hundred metres off shore. (Yes, the cabin is on an island!) Once there we loaded up an ATV (Quad bike, to all you brits) which Buffy’s mum rode up the hill, while we walked up the short steep steps to the cabin at the top.

11pm on the swimming dock

Now, before I go on I must tell you about the cabin itself. I found a Wikipedia page and it describes the cabin perfectly – ‘Cabin - A small, roughly built house usually with a wood exterior and typically found in rural areas.’

Now, that is exactly what a cabin should be – wooden, homely, roughly built and a home away from home. Around the lake, as we discovered the next day when myself, Buffy and her brother Stefan went on a boat trip  a lot of the ‘cabins’, here are nothing of the sort. A lot of the other ‘cabins’, are huge, holiday houses – modern, 3 or 4 bedroom houses with all the trappings of home – mains electricity and water supplies. Wide screen telly’s, huge kitchens and bedrooms with everything you would find in a modern home – they aren’t cabins – they are houses. This is a cabin and it is exactly what a cabin should be. 

5am at the fire pit

Early morning at the cabin

The stairs leading down to....

...the swimming dock


The Cabin itself is located at the peak of the island and contains just 4 rooms. A bedroom with double bed.  A kitchen with an old working range alongside a gas powered fridge and cooker.  A lounge area with a huge fantastic stone fireplace in one corner and through a door from the lounge is one more room, overlooking the lake below. This room has huge plastic sheeted windows, which lift up allowing the breeze to blow through and for obvious reasons – this is everyone’s favourite room in the cabin. That’s it – simple, homely and stunning – much better than any of the big, silly monstrosities that veer for space alongside the ‘mainland’ shore of the lake just a few hundred metres away. Oh, did I forget to mention that on the island, there is only one more cabin!? This cabin is located right at the other end of the island, a 5 minute walk away. So apart from that, this cabin is basically on an island all on its own? It is awesome.

The main cabin though, is just the tip of the cabin iceberg...there is more – much more. From the big wooden rebuilt dock on the north of the island where we docked the boat, you climb up the steps to the cabin itself. Turn right here and you continue up the path, past a big garden on your left and you come across the fire pit. An open area in the trees, where at night time, you can pile up the firewood and sit on one of the many stumps, whilst enjoying a cold beer from the fridge – which is exactly what me and Buffy did on the first night and were joined by her brothers Stefan and Pat, who had been visiting their Uncles and Aunts at their cabin, a little further along the lake.

To the right of the fire pit is another small simple building – This is called ‘Red and Blue’ and consists of two rooms with entrance doors on opposite sides. One room ‘Red’ has two single beds and the other ‘Blue’, a double bed. This is where me and Buffy were staying.

Doorway to 'red'

on the other side the doorway to 'blue'.

A path on the opposite side of the fire pit leads down to the south side of the island and another small wooden building – This one known as ‘Gramps’. Gramps has one room with bunk beds, single beds and a pull out sofa bed and sits atop the small cliff overlooking the lake below. This is where Stefan and Pat were staying for the weekend.

From Gramps and the fire pit there are more paths leading to the western point of the island where on Saturday myself and Buffy sat as we watched the sunset behind the hills. There are also paths leading through the garden, alongside the main Cabin and to the top of a set of newly rebuilt steps. These wooden steps lead down a windy staircase to a wooden swimming platform at the bottom of the rock face. This place just keeps getting better and better.

Buff and Stefan out on the fishing boat

One of the bigger 'cabins' on the mainland

The swimming dock and boat dock have all been built by hand by Buffy’s mum and dad and the rest of the family, with a home-made ‘Baywatch’ style lifeguard chair/tower at the far end. I loved the swimming dock, with loads of room for people to lounge about (It's about as long as a tennis court and about 3 metres wide) It has wonderful views across to the wooded area opposite and the boats and jet-skis and they zoom past. It also faces south, so it is a perfect sun trap. This is where I and Buff spent most of Sunday afternoon, snoozing, reading and taking dips in the cooling waters of the lake. I cannot express how much I like it. It’s brilliant. Remember, all the big ‘cabins’, on the mainland have docks, with neighbours just a few feet away and not a lot of privacy. Here, we have all the room you could imagine, with all the privacy you want. (Did I mention it’s also on its own little island!? 

The doorbell at Cowtan Camp

Buff, getting some water in the kitchen

..relaxing in the porch..

..and down on the swimming dock.

That’s the cabin – a brilliant, relaxing and comfortable place with everything a cabin should be. There are even loads of funny and weird trinkets all over the walls of the lounge that have been found around the island and the cabin over the years. No aircon, no hot water, except from a solar shower heated by the sun, no mains electricity – just a generator to power a couple of lights and nothing but peace, relaxation and stunning views. I don’t know if you can tell, but I like the cabin – a lot.

The weekend flew by too fast though – Buffy’s mum and dad spent most of their time completing the building of the north, boat dock and really should sit down more as they always seem to be building something!!! Buffy and myself had a good time swimming, helping out every now and then, when we were asked - holding pieces of wood and helping to tidy up as well as trying out all the flavours using Buffy's mums new Soda stream machine!! We also had the trip along the lake in the families fishing boat – a more comfortable and larger boat than the steel hulled boat we had taken to the island. We had a look into a little cave before going around to some cliffs. We may return sometime as there is a rope climb and a place to jump off. We then made our way back looking at some of the huge expensive silly houses lining the lake. We enjoyed a big family breakfast on the Saturday morning and visited the aunts and uncles cabin a little further up the lake, where we spent a couple of hours drinking cider in the sunshine and chatting with Sandy, Nancy, Brent and Megan. 

The cool wall in the lounge

Home on the range!?!

The view from the porch

Saturday night was spent with Stefan and Pat playing a daft board game called  ‘Mahkbusa’ – (The whole world plays Backgammon, but the Persian way is the most exciting!! MAHKBUSA!!)  A few drinks and a good night!

All in all it was a fantastic weekend and we were already counting the days till we go again as we drove home to Winnipeg through a huge summer thunderstorm, with the sky turning black, hailstones and the temperature dropping from 31 to 18 degrees Celsius in just a couple of minutes.
It’s not a long wait though as we are going again this Friday for a long weekend.  

really big storm....

Trees down in Winnipeg

and all over the road

Final view of the cabin.

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