Yesterday was the perfect day to have a "staycation"! It was a sunny mild day in March and it called for getting outdoors and soaking in some harmful ultraviolet rays and a change of scenery. What better excuse than to head east from my west-end nest and wander around the Beach neighbourhood. Of course, I still call it the "Beaches", but only because that is what we called it when I lived there 30 years ago. And sometimes you just can't teach an old dog new tricks. Hmmmfff!
We started at the corner of Woodbine and Queen and made our way across to Neville Park and past the Harris Filtration buildings and took a look at the apartment building I once lived in. Not much had changed with the exception of new management as indicated by the signage and they had maintained it pretty well with some new pavers and landscaping going from building to building of the small compound of 3 story walk-ups. I tried peering into the windows of my basement beauty but did not want to be too obvious and besides, it was a pretty ordinary apartment to begin with so not sure what I expected to see anyway. I did remember the exact unit of course and being a basement suite, it was ground level windows all around and I recalled one time late at night being frightened by someone trying to open my bedroom window. The police were alerted right away and whoever it was ran off, so no harm, no foul, but it did put me off basement suites from that day forward.
After a cursory look around we headed back to hook up to the boardwalk along the lakefront and as we passed the houses on the street leading to the beach, we came across a house that had been doing some spring cleaning. There was an assortment of junk piled up near the curb and I noticed one item that brought back a memory of my time there. The woman of the house had placed one of those round rattan papason chairs, sans the base out with her collection of cast-offs. My bff who was my roommate at the time had one of those chairs and it sat in the corner of the living room of that apartment. It was the chair of choice if you wanted to curl up and read a book or whatever other form of relaxation struck your fancy. Once you were in it, it was hard to get out of it. I think you can still buy them at places like Pier One and they were almost a rite of passage for first time apartment dwellers back in the day. It was odd that we would see that old beat up shell so close to the old homestead - a real memory jogger.
The beach does not change much other than new shops taking over old shops and it was heart-warming to see that some places are still standing with the same old signage, refusing to move forward as though time has stood still. The two that stand out the most are The Beacher Cafe and The "Goof". The Goof of course being the old Garden Gate Chinese Restaurant with the neon sign that reads Good Food. The way the letters are positioned and the colour of the background creates an illusion of the word GooF - hence the name that most people know it by. It was often a dinner stop on my way home from school during my Ryerson days. They had a list of about 10 Chinese combos and if I recall, you could get just about any of them for about 5 bucks. Not a bad price for an impoverished student and no mess to clean up.
Although there were a lot of likely better choices for lunch, it seemed apropos that we stick to tradition and experience the Beacher Cafe. The original signage still in place, the food reliable and adequate and I could even get a lunch that stuck to my cleanse rules. I had to leave a few bits out, but at least there was something on the menu that I could eat. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, some fresh fruit and a cup of green tea. It was painful watching my lunch partner scarf down Eggs Benedict but I survived my food envy and enjoyed the passing parade of Beach residents, most of whom have dogs. I swear this hood had more dogs than people. Warning: Watch where you are walking! Most people do scoop but there are always those who don't as was evident on several occasions.
The great thing about spending an afternoon in a hood other than your own, it the feeling of being somewhere new. Somewhere fresh. At days end, we headed west past a few of my other old living quarters, then to the St Lawrence market to see if we could scoop up any late day fish bargains, which we did. At about 4 pm on a Saturday, the fish mongers there start a sell off of the fresh fish and the savings can be really great.
It was a typical day in the city of Toronto, but it felt like I was on a little mini holiday. Just sitting here trying to figure out where to go today. Day 2 of the "Staycation".