Submitted by Linda Benson

November has proven to be a beautiful month so far. We certainly can’t complain, who would have thought that we would be enjoying temperatures well into the 20’s? 

I went to out to Kamloops BC for Thanksgiving this year, and I can tell you that Kamloops welcomed their gorgeous weather during October. I left Ontario in the rain, also quite cool at 7 degrees, arriving in Calgary three and half hours later, where it was already 19 degrees. I had a five-hour delay in Calgary before flying on to Kamloops. It was 22 degrees when I eventually arrived at midnight their time, which was 3 am for me.  A long journey for sure, however, I did enjoy unwinding for the next couple of days in their glorious weather. My Thanksgiving was a quiet and relaxed affair, sharing quiet and reflective times with my son and family. My daughter in law was almost 8 months pregnant, so we decided not to celebrate in the usual way.  With a rambunctious 2-year-old on our hands, we took plenty of walks and ate easy, but delicious meals. Our aim was to tire the toddler out, but we adults were the ones exhausted from his boundless energy and amusing antics. I enclose a photo of the two of us, at 8pm, after an exhausting hour walk, where you will see my grandson offering me some of his energy!  I accepted.

I returned to Ontario in the midst of our Municipal election campaign. I threw myself into learning about our candidates and their platforms. I was the second person in line at the Eva Rothwell Center, our Ward 3 voting Site. By the time the doors opened, there were quite a few of us. I had high hopes for a good turnout, however was quite dismayed to learn that far below 50% of eligible voters actually cast their ballot. How distressing is this? I know we can do much better, and hopefully we will the next time around.

Just before my vacation, I walked to OLA Café, only to find it closed and the windows and door covered in brown paper.  I really didn’t know what was going on.  I had heard that the owner was thinking of selling, but wasn’t sure when this would take place. When I next walked into Ola Café, I was overwhelmed by the transformation. The new owners had totally revamped the café. At first, I missed the vibe of the “old” look, I had gotten used to it over the years and it was always my go to café for their Canadian coffee with steamed milk. On my first day back I was not totally impressed, my favourite person was not behind the counter; my coffee did not get served with the steamed milk; there were tiny creamers on the saucer, which I was not used to and, to be honest, I felt quite dismayed. However, I decided to give it another visit, a day later. This time, I received the coffee as I knew it, hot, steamed and tasting just wonderful. My favourite server was back, plus another two friendly ladies, a mother and daughter team. As I sat enjoying my coffee (and treat) and enjoying the banter of the other customers, I noticed how bright and cheery the décor is. The accent colour is a lovely blue, reminding me of living in Holland, where there was pottery and tiles in this same colour, known as Delft Blue. For 16 years I loved visiting the Ola Café, and I know I will now continue to do so. I have yet to meet the new owners, but I am pleasantly surprised that they have kept the same ambiance. They have added to the menu, introducing daily soup choices and more variety of sandwiches.  The prices may have slightly increased, but I still feel they are some of the best in Hamilton.  If you haven’t tried Ola Café yet, I urge you to do so. Honestly, I am wondering if James North would be the same without Ola Café, I truly don’t think so.  

Throughout the winter, it is my intention to visit some new locations, maybe those a bit off the beaten track, maybe little hidden gems that I have yet to learn about.   If you have somewhere in mind and would like me to visit and write about, please let me know.  Oh, and you are more than welcome to join me.