This has been a great weekend. I would hesitate, however, to say it has been a relaxing one. ;-) After a long week at work, Friday night we went down to Bluesfest (Ottawa's largest annual music festival, although they really lost the "Blues" part a long time ago, so they really should look into changing the name) to hear my beloved Great Big Sea boys perform (see above -- GBS are most decidedly not "blues" -- not that I'm complaining!). This was my 5th time hearing GBS and they never fail to delight. They have so much energy and so clearly love what they do, and that translates into a wonderful experience for the audience. The thing I love the most about GBS's music is that it is always hopeful. It's not always happy, but it's never angry or unpleasant. Their message is always one of enjoying the day you've been given, counting your blessings, and taking pleasure in the simple moments in life. Sometimes life is hard, but there's always something to be grateful for and the hope that it'll get better. That's an attitude I try to have in my own life and so their music really speaks to me.
I have to admit that this was not my favourite time I've seen them ... not because of anything the boys did (other than that they were promoting their new album, so some of their songs weren't as familiar to me, but they played all the classics as well, and the new stuff is great) but just because of the set up of Bluesfest. Serdic and I both might have been overheard to remark more than once that we're too old for this. 50,000 people in a field, with beer cheap and plentiful ... not my favourite way to attend a concert. It has to be a band I really, really want to see and hear (GBS fits that criteria, obviously) but I'm not good in crowds -- I find the pushing and shoving and drunkeness very distracting, and it takes away from my enjoyment of the music. We met up with a friend who has been "Bluesfesting" all week and she said that Friday night she would be seeing her 29th, 30th and 31st bands, and all I could think was "why would anyone want to do that?" Of course, I do lots of things that I suppose other people think are crazy, so if she's enjoying it more power to her.
Saturday morning we had a bit of a late start (and I had no voice until noon!), but after a late breakfast we packed up the car and headed to Wakefield, Quebec, for a mini-getaway. SerdMom and SerdDad had stayed at the Wakefield Mill inn recently and really enjoyed it, so we decided to do the same. Wakefield is great in that it's only a 40 minute drive from downtown Ottawa, but you really feel like you've gone somewhere different. It's a little community with the usual artists and cafes and gift shops you find in a "tourist" town, in a beautiful setting right on the Gatineau river. We were only gone from Ottawa for 24 hours (we came back after lunch today) but it really feels like we went "away" for a longer time than that.
The highlight of the whole excursion was definitely dinner last night (included with our package at the inn). The dining room was lovely, overlooking the falls that used to power the mill when it was in operation, and we had a two and a half hour culinary feast. It started with an "amuse bouche" of wasabi sour cream over julienned cucumber with toasted sesame. Then as an appetizer I had cream of asparagus soup and Serdic had breaded goat cheese with a yam and roasted almond chutney. Both were yummy -- the soup was divine and I was glad Serdic ordered the goat cheese as I love it, but a little goes a long way for me (it's so rich!) and this way I could just have a couple bites. After this course they brought us a shot to cleanse the palate -- cranberry juice, coconut juice and rum. Yum. The main course was beef tenderloin with a herbed bread pudding in roasted shallot sauce for me, bison shank wrapped in endive (and we weren't sure what all else) for Serdic. The tenderloin was perfect ... I could literally pull it apart with my fork and barely needed a knife, and Serdic all but licked his plate clean so I guess he enjoyed his meal as well. ;-) Dessert was a chocolate mousse cake type thingie, with a banana rum puree, and fresh fruit. Throughout, the service and presentation were impeccable, and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute. As, it was clear, everyone else in the restaurant was doing. It's always great to sit in a room where you know everyone is enjoying themselves and their meals. It's a great atmosphere.
The room at the inn was the weak point in our stay, as it was quite small and under the sloped roof (we both hit our heads repeatedly, and neither of us is all that tall!). I would suggest to friends and family members wanting to stay at the inn to request a room on the 2nd or 3rd floor, not the 4th. However, it was the last room they had and considering we booked it on a Wednesday for the Saturday of the same week in the middle of July, we weren't expecting the best room in the house. We have stayed in nicer rooms for less money, though, so we were slightly disappointed. The dinner, and brunch this morning (also included in our package, and a fantabulous feast), made up for it, though.
So now we are back in the city, getting ready for another week at work. We are hoping to get home next weekend, to have some time with our respective parents and celebrate my Aunt C's birthday with her. Never a dull moment around here, that's for sure!