Four days of my Canadian holiday were spent in a cottage on Shadow Lake with my two friends, Z and R, respectively British and Canadian. Despite the fact that it was the perfect setting for a horror movie and my mind is very impressionable (too many Criminal Minds episodes) I loved every single moment of this very Canadian summer experience.
Summer in a cottage means spending most of your time in shorts and bikini top, reading on the deck with a cup of coffee or swinging on a hammock, blinking in the sunrays peeking through the foliage. The commute between bed, screened porch and deck is much more pleasant than my usual Haggerston-London Bridge journey.
When in a cottage you learn that almost everything can be cooked on a barbecue or campfire and that it usually tastes better! I learned that when the wind blows the smoke in your direction you have to scream “White rabbit!” while you wave it away. There must be some scientific Canadian study that proves this! I finally tried s’mores, i.e. a roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two Graham Crackers together with a piece of chocolate: it’s probably the best treat you could ever taste!
Our nights were spent around the campfire, sipping beer, chatting and stargazing: I spotted one shooting star, admired the most stunning night sky, recognised the Big Dipper and learned that that’s its English name, not Major Bear!
We also had close encounters with wildlife: cute chipmunks paid us a welcome visit on our first morning; a horrible couple of giant spiders reclaimed the deck as their own territory and we had to sip our evening aperitivo on the edge, ready to jump in the lake, had they tried to attack; an unknown creature was spotted crossing the lake and we like to think it was an otter!
What we did not encounter was a bear, which we would not have feared at all because we were prepared: as a Canadian granny teaches, you have to scare bears by making noise. A high pitched “shooo” will do.