Boo Manor was acquired in part with entertaining in mind. We wanted a place that our friends would view as a destination, and that they would want to come and visit – and to stay awhile. That’s one of the reasons we gave so much thought to guest space – in terms of number of guest rooms, and ‘alternative’ sleeping spaces that could be pressed into use where required.
While much of the entertaining will have to wait until renovations are finished and we have moved in, we couldn’t wait to share the house with our friends. The only solution was organizing a road trip. Through the virtue of work schedules and family commitments, something we aimed to organize for October became a trip that was planned for… December. December 2, to be precise.
Ferrying everyone to and fro was also a consideration. Apart from Dianne and myself, there would be five others. And despite all the vehicles that do exist in our collection, none of them have that much capacity. Nothing for it, then, but to go and rent a big-ass Chevy Suburban for the trip.
Early on the morning of December 2, then, Dianne and I hauled ourselves up into the cockpit of our rented behemoth, off to fetch our friends from various points around the city before heading to points westward. After a brief but necessary stop at Starbucks for caffeinated products, we were ready to hit the road. Given that it was a Sunday, traffic was fairly light. And with seven people in the vehicle, we definitely qualified for the High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes. Settled in at a nice, steady speed (that for reasons of discretion I shan’t reveal here) we made good time as we headed west on the 403.
The first destination was Innerkip itself, to give our friends a tour of the town that we would soon be calling home. Two minutes later, we pulled into the driveway.
The tour of the house was much longer and more involved than the tour of the town. Mostly because the house is large, while the town is not. Two basements, many bedrooms and five bathrooms later (all of which, apparently, required testing by one friend or the other) we arrived back at what we expect to be the site of a great many parties and gatherings: the great room. And it is indeed a great room. In excess of 500 sq. ft., and more than two stories tall, it offers beautiful views of the garden and pool area.
In the absence of the kitchen, the fireplace mantle was pressed into duty as the ‘bar’. Plastic glasses in hand, we christened Boo Manor with the first of what will likely be many, many, many (and I don’t think I can emphasize ‘many’ sufficiently) pops of a champagne cork. I had questioned the wisdom of needing three bottles of champagne for this trip. Knowing our friends the way we do, that was an unnecessary consideration. In fact, if we had a fourth bottle we would probably have consumed that, too.
As we got into the third bottle, we were surprised and delighted to have Gene and Jenni join us as well. Our friends got to meet the author of our current renovations, and Gene and Jenni got to find out just how insane we and our friends truly are. I’m not sure who gained more out of the experience.
No road trip is complete without stopping for a meal, of course. Our plan for this trip had been a jaunt up to Stratford for a lunch at Boomers Gourmet Fries, home of the Poutini Martini. If you have to ask, you really, really don’t want to know what that is. Dianne has been coveting one since she saw the restaurant featured on a show on the Food Network. Sadly, in this age of instant-on awareness, all of us managed to – despite drooling over the menu – remain completely oblivious to the fact that Boomers was closed on Sundays.
A large group of very unhappy campers was left to contemplate what to do for lunch. Fortunately, Stratford is well equipped with many dining options. It required very little thought before determining that heading ‘to the pub’ should be our next strategy, the pub in question in this case being Bentley’s. A time-honoured destination for thirsty travellers (and local thespians) to Stratford, many of our number have spent many an evening (and late night, and afternoon… and possibly morning) in the bar of Bentley’s. It was a comforting place to return to, then, to recover from the sadness (if you can call it that) of missing out on poutine.
Being in Stratford, it would have been neglectful in the extreme to not pay a visit to Balzac’s, one of the finest coffee roasters in Ontario. That, and I really, really wanted an Americano for the drive home. Well sated, and moderately caffeinated, we began our return trip to Toronto. The first visit to Boo Manor was complete. Many more parties and weekends lie ahead in our future, I’m sure. Can’t wait.