We had another “Great Days Out” on April 30. As usual, I left home 10 minutes too late, and then spent most of my time trying to decide which road to Newmarket would have the least amount of traffic at 7:45 a.m. Woodbine was its usual wicked self — bumper to bumper cars — and Green Lane equally sluggish. Making a last minute decision, I veered off and took Main Street to Newmarket so that I could meet my friends Mary, Ann and Wendy. For some weird reason, I am always the last one to arrive, and this day was going to be no exception, but to my absolute surprise, Ann wasn’t at Mary’s. It was a sudden redemption — my stigma erased. Guilt drained from my body, and I casually got out of the car, and walked over to join Mary and Wendy who were standing patiently on the driveway, their arms crossed over their chests. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw Ann’s little truck racing to the curb. Ann got out of her truck looking frazzled. She had slept in. Instantly my heart went out to her, and I had to confess to my usual tardiness. She relaxed, ate a banana and we got in Mary’s car.

This time we were going to Medieval Times in Toronto. It’s located very close to Exhibition Place, and not difficult to find, unless you are a moth. Mary had decided to take Hwy 400 in to avoid traffic, and everything was going well, until we got lost. Well, maybe lost isn’t the correct word, more like displaced. It was actually quite fun. I saw sections of Toronto I had never seen before. Some were good and some . . . well I wouldn’t want to walk around at night by myself. Eventually, we ended up next to High Park. Having never been to the park before, we thought we could put it on the list of possible destinations. It was here that Mary described this method of getting to a location as  “The Moth Technique.” Close but not quite there! Eventually, we fired up the GPS, and amazingly, we arrived at Medieval Times.

Our mouths dropped when we pulled into the parking lot and noted that there were even more school buses parked outside Medieval Times than at last month's Bruce Mills Sugar Bush outing. It seems our path is to follow these yellow boxes. Inside the building, it was a sea of grade-school kids, and I’m pretty sure we were the only people who needed to colour our hair. While we stood in the Main Hall waiting to be seated, the sheer noise from adrenalin-pumped children was amazing. And just when we commented, “Wow that’s loud,” sudden bursts of screams would come out of the dungeon as kids filed through. Their excitement was contagious and fuelled our anticipation. Once seated to watch the performance, we weren’t disappointed.

If you have never experienced Medieval Times, it’s well worth going. The magnitude of the creation of the experience is fantastic. From costumes, to arena set-up, to fests and performances, it is well done! You get a solid two and a half hours of entertainment and the food was fine. I mean, it’s not quite fine dining, and your fingers do get sticky, but eating without utensils is part of the experience. And one great thing we have discovered from tagging along with the school bus patrol, is that you get great tour guides and clear explanations. This time, we got to learn quite a bit about medieval history before the jousting performances began. The cost of the tickets was approximately $35 each, and when you consider that it includes a meal — which we love — and entertainment, it's not a bad price!

Our next stop was downtown Toronto. Mary had heard that the Mountain Equipment Co-op store (MEC) on King Street, had a roof-top garden, so we were quite curious. Ann wanted to check out coats, so it seemed like the perfect place to visit. I have heard that MEC is opening up a store in Barrie, so it will be interesting to see if MEC creates a roof garden at this new location. As soon as we entered the store, Mary wandered off to see if we could get access to the roof. Amazingly, the first salesperson Mary talked to was super “green” and had his own roof-top garden. He said that when he made his roof top green, the government offered subsidies of 10%. Now, he believes, subsidies are between 30% and 40%. Even with the lower subsidy, he is now at the break-even point after four years. Apparently, the city of Toronto has recently passed a law requiring that all new condominiums must have green roofs. All excited, we asked if we could visit the MEC’s roof, but our request was met with an abrupt “No.” Ann was having no luck with her coat hunt, so we asked the clerk if he knew of any roof top gardens that we could visit. And, luckily enough he directed us to one just around the corner at a place called 401 Richmond Street West.

Let me tell you, this is a fantastic building! It is an old red brick factory that has been renovated into Gallery Studios with some really neat shops. It is quite artsy, and I loved it. On the main floor of the building, we went into a delightful café, with great food . After picking up lattes, we went to the elevator. Some of the shops/galleries in the building include a wonderful musical instrument shop, displaying instruments I have never heard or seen before, a hat gallery, sculptures and painting galleries. All the business tenants of the building have gone to great lengths to ensure the building keeps its historical charm. Up on the roof top, we were absolutely amazed! It was beautiful. High above the bustle of the city, there were flowers and shrubs, little private alcoves with tables and chairs — it was a fabulous place to escape and relax.

Eventually we decided to make our way home. We got stuck in a stationary chain of traffic on Hwy 404, and enjoyed watching a groundhog that was oblivious to all the cars. After arriving back in Newmarket we said our goodbyes until our next outing — which is coming up pretty soon.


P.S. I was really fascinated by the green roof concept, so If you know of anyone who has a green roof in the Lake Simcoe region I would love to hear about it. Oh, and, that really cool musical instrument shop at 401 Richmond Street West, is call Musideum. Val.