The Rideau Camp

The Rideau Camp

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday morning, after Attila had slept for a few hours, we packed the car to the ceiling with needful things, and headed out the Rideau Camp for our first visit as owners.

The day was chilly, well below freezing, and we drove through periods of driving snow to get there. Snow! Wouldn’t you know it! We would not be deterred.

To cope with the cold weather we both wore many layers of clothing, with hats, and scarves, and long johns, and gloves. The wind was brisk, there was quite a wind chill factor. The temperature never did rise above freezing, although the snow stopped shortly after we arrived at the Rideau Camp.

Attila went right to work digging the new fire pit. I went right to work with the garden fork to remove brambles from the perimeter of the area around the fire pit. After a few minutes of this vigorous work neither of us felt in the least bit cold. We worked diligently for around six hours, and accomplished much. There was one long break mid day when we stopped to eat our peanut butter and jam sandwiches. The sun eventually came out from behind the clouds, and we drove home into a glorious sunset.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saturday first thing we were out there again. The day was sunny, and chilly, well below zero as it had been on Friday.

Attila spent the day working on the drainage system, as we are hoping to drain the swampy areas on the property to reduce the mosquito population. The small creeks on the property had been badly used. The main creek was full of garbage, there were many torn bags of garbage, that had been there for a very long time. There was even an old umbrella in there. Attila used the shovel to lift the garbage out of the creek and onto the bank, it was an all day job. My task for the day was to mind the camp fire, which I really enjoy. We are burning the dead wood closest to the fire pit first, and working our way out from there. There are a lot of dead fallen branches, which I broke into small pieces and burned in the fire pit.

This is the creek that runs through our property. This picture is taken from the driveway, showing the culvert that runs under the driveway, and the garbage that we found in the creek. What you see here is an old paint can, and above that a broken laundry basket containing a green garbage bag full of garbage. This was the tip of the iceberg when it came to garbage in the creek! Attila dug out bags of it. What possesses people to mar a beautiful landscape with garbage?

Saturday we stopped for a lovely lunch cooked over the embers in the fire pit. Attila found two large rocks to place on either side of the fire in the pit, and these rocks held the grate. Using a sandwich cooker, Attila slowly grilled cheese sandwiches. So wonderful! There is nothing like the taste of grilled cheese sandwiches cooked over an open fire.

When it was time to leave I fetched two large buckets of water from the swampy area near the entrance to the camp, and with this water I put out the fire completely, drowning the embers.

And again we drove home into a glorious sunset. I felt very tired after my second day working in the bush!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

That brings me to today. Again, bright and early, we were off to the Rideau Camp. I had second thoughts about the way we constructed the fire pit, I felt there wasn’t enough sand lining the pit. I discussed my concerns with Attila, and requested that he dig up some of the gravel pile that he found overgrown on our property, and transport it to the fire pit. So that is what he did. Attila removed the rock lining we had put into the pit on Friday, and shovelled in the gravel, it was about two inched deep. Then Attila lined the pit with rocks from the property. Finally, I added a bag of sand and worked it into all the spaces between the rocks, to give us a thick, non-combustable base for our fire pit.

The rest of the day I tended the fire, burning dead wood from the property, and Attila did various odd jobs. He brought several loads of gravel to fill in low areas around the picnic table; collected and bagged the garbage that he had thrown up on the bank to dry yesterday; cut wild grapes around the property, that were growing up into the trees, dragged brush from down the driveway to the fire pit area so that I could burn it, and did more work on the drainage system.

There were no grilled cheese sandwiches for us today though. I had carefully packed everything we needed, except the bread!

We left the Camp mid-afternoon, so that Attila could come home and get some sleep before he heads off to work tonight.

We have left our mark on the Rideau Camp. The garbage cleanup, the removal of dead wood and brambles, the lovely fire pit, the grilled cheese sandwich feast, it was a good inauguration.

We are thrilled that it is an easy day trip to visit the Rideau Camp. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes from driveway to driveway, and the scenery along the way is very pleasant.

One of the interesting things about an open campfire is how you smell after spending time around one. People don’t smell very nice when they have been spending a lot of time around a campfire. We showered each day when we arrived home, but since our clothing reeked, we wore the same layers all weekend, and when we got home today we began to do loads of laundry. This includes washing my parka, which I had to wear all weekend because it was so darned cold out there! Hopefully next weekend will be milder, so that I can wear a lighter jacket while tending the fire, which will be easier to launder than a parka.

We are totally in love with the Rideau Camp!

Worldly Distractions


Cloudy. Periods of snow mixed with ice pellets beginning early this evening then changing to rain overnight. Risk of freezing rain after midnight. Snow and ice pellet amount 2 to 4 cm. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h this evening. Temperature rising to plus 4 by morning.

Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 10 April 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -0.1°C
Dewpoint: -8.1°C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: S 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -5


“By health I mean the power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with… the earth and the wonders thereof – the sea – the sun.”
Katherine Mansfield
1888 – 1923

The sea has not been a part of my life, but the sun, inland lakes, precambrian rocks, pine trees, maples trees, oak trees…


  1. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Sounds like you’ve done right by your new camp this first weekend. It’s looking like spring may finally come back to us next weekend, so hopefully you have much better weather in store.

    I hope that the garbage you’ve found doesn’t mean that you’ll have people invading your space come summer.

    I guess I’m having a round of spring fever myself lately. I’d love to take a nice long ride through the country, but DH wants to wait until next weekend. Can’t wait!

  2. Teri, I have my fingers crossed that milder weather is on the way!

    The garbage is quite old Teri, which means that the previous owners didn’t bother to clean it up, they may have even dumped it there themselves. I doubt we will have much trouble with trespassers, our neighbours have lovely homes in which they live year round, they check out everyone who comes down the road, they have been watching us, they know every vehicle and face that belongs there. There is almost no privacy in a lot of rural areas, people are much more anonymous in the city .

    You might get the nice weather later this week for your country tour Teri!

  3. Bex, we are camping senior style, coming home to our hot shower, full refrigerator, and comfy bed!

    I met one of the neighbours who lives in a huge country home on the next property. She told me that our neighbour across the road is selling to move to an urban area near health care, his is in his mid eighties. She is thinking of selling and moving to an urban area to be near health care, as she is getting older. This confirms to us that we have made the right decision to live in our very small urban house, near health care and facilities, while camping at our Rideau and Ancestral Camps without investing in buildings or any kind of facilities. The best of both worlds, and we don’t have to sell up and move to town later in life, we can just stay home at Mist Cottage. The properties don’t need any maintenance, they can sit happily vacant for decades if it ever came to that.

  4. Kate, tending a fire is one of the basic human pleasures! We can’t have camp fires at Mist Cottage, so we feel very lucky we can do it at the Rideau Camp. We haven’t build a fire pit at the Ancestral Camp yet, I think we might do that during our vacation this summer, when we take Iris up there for a week.

    Attila and I are parallel players, we interact at intervals. This works for us because we are both very independent, and we think very differently about things, so we tend to divide tasks up so that we optimize our strengths, and minimize the potential conflict when our differences have difficulty fitting into a compromise.

  5. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Maggie, how do you find these little plots of land, while riding out in the area investigating nooks and crannies? What would you say is the average cost of a plot of land like yours, in that area I mean?

    DH is a parallel player, as you call it. Sometimes I jokingly say he does not play well with others. 😉 Unfortunately, I prefer to work together toward a goal. That’s probably the one big lesson I’m learning with our marriage, to just let him go do what he’s going to do and find something else for me to do.

  6. Teri, we watched very closely, have done for years and years. Usually there isn’t much (not usually anything really) in our price range, we watched for five years before this piece came on the market, and it was only there for two days, we were just lucky to have seen it at the right time. You can do a search for the lowest priced vacant land by restricting the upward range to $25,000, and as you will see it is slim pickings, hence the many years of waiting to find a property that suits. As time goes on it gets more difficult to find inexpensive plots of land.

    The Ancestral Camp was on, we saw the realtor’s sign on it when visiting my Granny and Grandpa’s house, but when we called they said it wasn’t really on the market because of estate issues. Who does that!! They did it. I kept calling back, it took a few years of repeated calls to catch it when it finally genuinely went on the market. But there were complications with the deed, which all had to be worked out before closing. A bit nerve wracking, and certainly not a pleasant process.

    All properties in our price range have “issues”, for us it has been a matter of finding a property with “issues” we could live with. For instance, a while back we saw a property a few hours north of Toronto that was beautiful, but I couldn’t manage the steep hills, so it was a no go. Another affordable piece of property was lakefront, but there was no road access and the waterfront was a 30 foot cliff, you would have to be a mountain climber to get access to the property, a niche market I guess, but not for us. Because we are not going to build, we don’t have to consider local building codes, but if you want to build, and you find a piece of property you are interested in, check the township building codes to see if you can actually build. A lot of times the inexpensive property will not pass muster for building.

    If you are searching, good luck to you!

  7. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    I’m very well acquainted with We enjoy looking at what’s happening with land/houses in our local area. And since we’re looking at retiring in a different area from where we now live, is an education on what’s available.

    I was on there not too long ago looking at places in the Clarington area, and I know what you mean about there being slim pickings. For that matter, I found it slim pickings just looking for empty parcels of land no matter what the price, which is why I was wondering if you found your spot while riding around.

    Thanks for the tip as to checking on whether a lot is buildable. Goes to show it’s a dangerous assumption to think just because a lot is for sale that you can build on it.

    A part of me still dreams of building my own house, some day. Unfortunately, times and finances have passed for the more grand house I envisioned in my youth. But now I still have visions of a house just right for DH and I, a one story micro cottage where we could have flowers and veggie gardens, and easy access to the outdoors.

  8. Thanks Diane! The appeal of tending an open fire is powerful indeed, one of the highlights of camping. When I was a single Mom and I took Terra camping during the summer, I would let the fire die down after she had fallen asleep for the night, wrap my potatoes in foil, stay up late until they were perfectly baked in the embers, then fish them out and put them aside for the next day’s meals. It was a lovely end to my day, quiet and peaceful, and Terra loved the potatoes.

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