I won’t lie, the idea of an outdoor beer festival in the middle of winter did not seem appealing; I hate the cold, but this was a part of my “event-every-month-xmas-gift” and I’m trying to get as much outdoor enjoyment as I can until sock-free weather returns, so off I went.
The two year old Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival is everything I love about these kinds of events: local craft brew, food trucks and beer loving Torontonians gathered in the heart of the city to taste the latest offerings from the growing list of local beer entrepreneurs. I was surprised, not only by my own winter embrace, but by the quality of beer at this small festival. Don’t get me wrong, this is no Oregon or Vermont Beer Festival, but things are happening in our Ontario craft beer world despite the difficulties of making and selling beer here, and I, for one, think it’s pretty fantastic.
It’s a beautiful thing to be just a short walk or bike ride away from great culture, festivals and incredible food. This sort of proximity allows for spontaneous “date nights” or, like many city dwellers call it, a night out in the ‘hood; something we enjoyed just other night. The evolution of the night went something like this:
Him: “Let’s go watch a play at Tarragon” (we are subscribers, so the answer was easy)
Me: “Okay. You get the tickets and see if you can get us reservations at Fat Pasha”
And so was born a pretty incredible night right here so close to home.
There are many reasons why I train with Marv at Blast Athletic, and many reasons why I think his approach stands out above the countless “trainers, boot camps, and group training” classes that seem to have saturated the market, including:
- He is ridiculously fit; and there is nothing more inspiring that a trainer who is equally passionate about his own fitness as he is mine.
- He is constantly engaging in professional development; always bringing in the latest exercises, techniques, apparatuses to the floor.
- His “hybrid” approach incorporates the best training methods from almost every discipline/sport out there. This makes every class different; every class super challenging; and every class ridiculously fun (who knew football drills could be so great).
- He cares about the phycological aspect of fitness and health; he asks for our goals and speaks often about “upping your game” and pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do.
- He sets up leagues for added fun and teamwork (and doesn’t ask for more money).
- He holds yearly competitions to keep everyone working hard towards a goal, including this year’s Toronto Athletic Games (which is open to non-members, so you should definetly check it out).
- He conducts monthly appraisals for everyone who wants one, and keeps your numbers for comparison, and goal setting.
- He has a yearly Blast Party – huge and fabulous, just because.
- He sets up workshops on technique and form, and lectures on nutrition, sleep and stress.
- He never accepts “I can’t” from anyone.
- He is NEVER on his phone during training, because he doesn’t need to be – he’s that good, and that committed to knowing what he is doing.
But, despite all this (and I could go on), what really impressed me was the metal he gave me last week. It was not because I won anything, not because I signed up for anything, just because he wanted to acknowledge how far I’ve come after two years of trainging with him; something I was already very proud of, but didn’t think anyone else thought too much about. Ii know there are many great trainers out there, but I challenge you to find one who cares this much about his clients.
What’s that old saying: “if you build it, they will come”? Well, they did (finally) build it, and the folks did indeed come. Last Wednesday night the residents of Christie Pits and Dovercourt Village (including me) finally got to experience the long awaited arrival of Actinolite. Since first moving back to this neighbourhood five years ago, we’ve watched as owner and chef Justin Cournoyer (formerly of Susur) lovingly and carefully renovated and restored this neglected building into both a home for his family and a much needed neighbourhood restaurant. The wait was worth it! The space itself is warm and inviting, and the food (made with regionally sourced items) was fantastic. The excitement of the night’s grand opening was punctuated with the arrival of Lisa Ray, host of this season’s Top Chef Canada; a dose of celebrity in a neighbourhood that has, for the most part, gone unmentioned.
I really want one, or should I say another one…
There are lots of reasons to love Toronto, and Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche is definitely one of them. When else can you roam the city streets all night long in the company of hundreds of thousands of Torontonians. Amazing video, light, and sound installations as well as performances share the city’s public spaces with the usual art suspects and some questionable interpretations. As much as I love this event every year, there are still some kinks that have not been worked out. The most obvious is the pathetic attempts at road closures. I probably don’t have to point out which of our neighbouring cities has no problem shutting down large sections of city space for a celebration. Come on Toronto – just shut her down to cars! Everyone knows the only way to get around is on foot or by bike (on a side note: it gave me great pleasure to whizz by the drivers stuck in “not-going-anywhere-anytime-soon” traffic; I tried, but was unable to muster up any pity for their stupid decision). The other annoying aspect of the evening are the idiots that use this event as an opportunity to display obnoxious public drunkenness; I wish they would stay home and not clog the already too-long line-ups. Speaking of line-ups: wow, are they ever an exercise in frustration, but the only way to ensure you get into everything you really want to see without waiting is to arrive at the very beginning of the event, or late into the evening when most folks have exhausted themselves and gone to bed. However, as much as line-ups irritate me and prompt my fight instincts, it still makes me happy to see so many people enjoying Toronto and the public events she has to offer (now if only we had a Mayor who felt the same way…).
My brand new solid silver, hand-made necklace purchased at The Queen West Art Crawl. Besides having purchased this beautiful piece, and picked out art we want for our home, one thing was made glaringly clear walking alongside hundreds of Torontonians: it doesn’t matter now much our mayor hates and tries to ruin our city, he’ll never stop the life and energy that goes on here.