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When is it Time to Downsize?

Downsize is a term used when a home owner sells their bigger house to move into a smaller place. Part of their relocation involves getting rid of most of their belongings in exchange for a simpler, less cluttered lifestyle. People move out of their bigger estates for many reasons. Buying a home is one of the biggest, most exciting, and most expensive investments you will ever make. When shopping for a home, many potential buyers look for big, beautiful homes with all the features and rooms to meet their current and future plans. The bulk of real estate buyers do not think about the possibility of eventually downsizing their property. Reducing your home’s size is not always an easy or voluntary decision. Sudden life changes can force homeowners to look for smaller lodgings. When reducing your living space, there are many things to consider. One of the biggest challenges of moving to a smaller location is deciding what to do with the excess furniture.  Before shopping for a smaller abode, it is important to go through your current home’s furnishings and heirlooms and decide what you want to keep and what you are willing to part with. Unexpected expenses can also impact your decision to move to a smaller space. Furniture that was bought specifically for the bigger rooms might not fit in a new place. Changes in the real estate market can also impact how much money you get for your house and the cost of a smaller space.  These additional costs can quickly deplete your savings if you are not prepared for them beforehand. While there are many considerations to address when thinking about reducing your house mass, there are also many benefits. Monthly expenses are cheaper, the place is easier to clean, amenities are usually closer, and less space suits your evolving life’s needs. So, when is it time to downsize your home? If you are thinking of moving to a less spacious place, these are the most common reasons why owners choose to move to a smaller unit.

Empty Nest Syndrome

One of the most common reasons for reducing property size is because the children have grown up and moved out. Space that was once needed for a bigger, busier family is now sits empty. After the kids are gone, some aging parents find their place is too big and barren to manage. Relocating to a smaller place eases the feelings of emptiness.

Keep the Kids Out

It is not uncommon in some circumstances for adult children to move back in with their parents. Life changes, schooling or job loss can force grown kids to return to mom and dad’s place. But not every parental figure welcomes their adult children back with open arms. Having another person living in the family household reduces privacy and increases the workload and expenses. To prevent their kids from returning home some parents will relocate to a tinier abode so the kids cannot move back in with them.

Financial Changes

In today’s continually changing market, financial security is not guaranteed. Most working adults today do not have enough savings to cover their bills if something were to happen to their primary income.  If you are living “house rich, pocket poor”, there is very little room to save money for those unexpected expenses. As inflation increases, it can get even more difficult to keep up with the monthly bills. Scaling down your lifestyle by moving to a less expensive, smaller place will free some of your money so you can keep more of your hard-earned money. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your financial obligations, it might be time to consider downsizing your property.

Change in Health

This isn’t something that people like to think about, but the truth is that illness or injury can happen anytime. If someone in the family has had a significant change to their physical or mental wellbeing,  it can affect their ability to move about in their home. Wellness concerns can make it difficult to utilize the rooms on different floors or navigate through different spaces. A change in your healthy status can also impair your ability to properly maintain the general cleaning and care of your house and yard. If your daily activities have been altered significantly by trauma or a medical condition, it might be time to consider downsizing to a more accessible place.

Maintenance

Owning a house is a great financial asset, but it is also a lot of work. The bigger the property, the more maintenance required to keep the property in good, shape. Most of the time, it is also costlier to fix bigger homes than smaller suites. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed with the volume of work and rising costs needed to maintain your property, it might be time to consider reducing your living space to a smaller, more manageable place.

Upkeep and Chores

Bigger estates take a lot more time to do the routine chores. Cleaning the interior, mowing the lawn, shovelling the drive and walkway, and tending to the garden requires much of your time, leaving you less freedom to enjoy recreational activities. Hiring someone to help you with the upkeep also costs a lot more when you have a bigger place compared to a more moderate sized area. Tinier, less cluttered living areas are a lot easier to keep tidy. If you do not want to spend a lot of your free time on chores, it might be time to consider sizing down your property for a smaller unit.

More Free Time

Sizing down your living space frees your time and money, so you can start doing more fun things that you want to do. After spending your younger years evolving your schedule around work, family, and household responsibilities, now it is time to enjoy your freedom. Reducing your house size will give you more options to try a new hobby, travel, join groups, and socialize with others.

Safety and Security

Some people want to move to smaller places for security reasons. Protecting a larger place can add extra stress to the owner, especially if you are alone or away a lot. Although there are many home security providers and systems available, they are costlier to install in a large place. Most condominiums and apartments have security systems set up to keep invaders out and provide extra protection.

Closer to Amenities

Often homeowners who downsize move to locations are closer to commercial properties. Rather than driving everywhere, they prefer an area that has most of the amenities they need within close proximity.  It is easier and much more convenient to have stores, restaurants, bus routes, schools, medical facilities and recreational establishments within walking distance. For those who do not want the extra burden of driving everywhere to get what they need reducing your material lifestyle for a more convenient one makes sense. When homeowners are first looking at buying real estate, bigger, spacious houses are the more desirable options because they have the much-anticipated room to accommodate a growing family and fit the material wants.  But change is part of life and as you evolve, things that were once important can become less ideal. A large home that was the perfect size once, might be too big in later years. Furniture that you needed when the kids were younger, is no longer used once they move out. Sudden events can also quickly impact your need for a bigger place.  Whatever your reasons for getting rid of the excess, making the decision to downsize from a large house to a smaller one is a very personal, and sometimes difficult decision.  Some homeowners have the time to plan for it while others face sudden, life altering situations that can force a move. While it is a huge adjustment, downsizing your home can be very beneficial. Knowing when and why you are reducing the size of your living area can help you better prepare for it financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Heeman’s Garden Centre

ABOUT  

This week I visited third generation Heeman and Chief Daymaker, Will Heeman. The family farm was founded in 1963 after his grandparents immigrated from Holland. When Londoners think strawberries, they think Heeman’s, but they are a LOT more than just berries. The family owned and operated business pride themselves on being able to offer everything for your green thumb at an affordable price! Their kind and knowledgeable staff (who stand out in orange) will be sure to help you find everything you need. Bring your kids and dogs! Have fun on the hill while checking out some fish and wildlife around the pond, or enjoy a coffee or famous strawberry sundae at the Berry Beaner! Don’t take our word for it, let your taste buds tell you why local is better (and tastes better).

 

Contact Heeman’s

https://heeman.ca/

Phone: 519-461-1416

          

Address

20422 Nissouri Rd., Thorndale, ON

Hours

Monday-Friday: 8:00am-8:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am-5:00pm

 

The Best Places to Watch the World Cup in London

The FIFA World Cup has returned and as always, it has infected the world with patriotism. Londoners are reconnecting with their roots, since rooting for Canada’s soccer team just isn’t an option this time around. While watching in the comfort of your own home can be great, there’s nothing like the comradery of screaming with other fans at giant television screens, and for that you’ll probably have to head out to a public space. There are plenty of places to watch the tournament. Sports bars across the city will be putting on the game live, replaying it in the evening, and showing highlights the day after. But for the best experience to cheer your heart out, the places on this list are the ones to check out.  
Neighbourhood: Downtown 122 Carling Street (map) http://www.marienbad.ca/

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Marienbad Restaurant and Chaucer’s Pub, a two-named establishment, has strong European roots, so it’s needless to say soccer runs through their veins. The large television at Chaucer’s will be showing every game of the tournament. Come together with friends and family at this downtown location to watch your team and root them on. While you’re there, it will be hard to resist grabbing a pint of one of their 75 unique varieties of beer, 11 of which are on tap. These beers range in nationality, not unlike the teams participating in the World Cup, coming from all six inhabited continents, so you’ve got plenty to pick from that could even rep your team. Since most of the games start between morning and midafternoon, you’ll be getting acquainted with their lunch menu. A range of European inspired salads, sandwiches, and platters, along with daily specials – displayed on their sandwich board out front of the restaurant and on their Twitter. For a taste of Europe to match the team you’re cheering for, Merienbad/Chaucer’s is the place to be.
Neighbourhood: Downtown London 595 Richmond St. (map) https://joekools.ca/

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Joe Kool’s is a Richmond Row staple, serving hot food and cold drinks over the sounds of sports games for over 30 years. Joe Kool’s offers sports bar classics like burgers, pizzas, and nachos as well as a variety of domestic and imported beers, including a selection of beers from their Richmond Row neighbour, Toboggan Brewery. With over a dozen screens throughout the restaurant, you’ll easily be able to see the game from any table in the place. Sports fans have used Joe Kool’s as a gathering place for decades, and nothing can change that. The atmosphere is vibrant with cheers of elation and groans of disappointment whenever a team scores. Joe Kool’s itself does not have a public stance on who wins the World Cup, so everyone should feel welcome. Just keep it civil if you get seated next to a family cheering for the rival team.  
Neighbourhood: Downtown London 268 Dundas St. (map)

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The Scot’s Corner is a classic British pub with beer always flowing and brimming with UK pride. It almost goes without saying that the Scot’s Corner will be showing the World Cup, but that is the point of this list after all, so it must be said. The Scot’s Corner will be putting every World Cup game on display for its patrons. Whether it’s a 9AM start or 2PM, you’ll be able to grab a seat and a pint, and watch the game. Thanks to the AGCO’s temporary change, bars and restaurants are now allowed to serve alcohol as early as 9AM, though that rule is only for the duration of World Cup tournament play. They’re even offering a World Cup special – 20oz pints of Scot’s Corner Local Lager for $5. Between this deal and the game, it’s understandable to get a little rowdy – but don’t go full hooligan, or you won’t be invited back for the next game. Being a British pub, a good portion of the patrons will be rooting for England, but all are welcome to eat, drink, and cheer for their team.
Neighbourhood: Fairmont 706 Haminton Rd. (map) http://reidosleitoes.com/

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King of the Pigs, or Rei dos Leitõs, is a barbeque joint with a few locations across London. Their style of barbequing and love for soccer stems from Portugal, so you know both flow through their veins. Their Hamilton Road restaurant, their flagship location, has been open for over 25 years. Their Portuguese barbeque is unrivaled, charcoal infused chicken, Peri Peri sauce, and pork ribs are mouth-watering and have gained them much renown throughout the city, beyond just the Portuguese population. No matter who you’re cheering for, grabbing a table at King of the Pigs is guaranteed to be an excellent experience, just make sure to tip well if you’re rooting against Portugal.
Neighbourhood: The Coves 1 Cove Rd. (map) http://germancanadianclublondon.com/

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The German Canadian Club of London is welcoming Londoners to watch the World Cup on their big screen. While there may be a slight preference toward the German team, soccer fans of all nationalities and club affiliations are welcomed. Their kitchen and bar will be open an hour before each game and throughout the match, so classic German dishes and beer will never be in short supply. Sausages, schnitzels, and lagers make for excellent sustenance to keep your cheers going strong. Check on their social media or their website’s event page to see which games they’re showing. You’re guaranteed to get every Germany match, but showing other matches depend on public demand. And just for good measure, after every Germany match, there will be giveaways and prizes. No public word on what they are just yet, so you’ll have to head over and check it out if you’re interested in potentially winning a prize.
Neighbourhood: Downtown, Masonville & White Oaks 660 Richmond St, 88 Fanshawe Park Rd. & 1070 Wellington Rd. (map) http://jackastors.com/

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We don’t usually shout out chains on Santa Knows Best, but Jack Astor’s has one of the best sports bar set ups we’ve seen out there. Their massive screen makes the game visible across the whole space, it’s impossible to miss, even from outside. Crowds gather there to share in one communal watching experience. Everyone has probably been to a Jack Astor’s at some point, so there aren’t really many surprises on the menu. Classics like burgers, chicken fingers, and steaks, alongside a plentiful array of beers, wines, and spirits. Other chain sports bars, like Crabby Joe’s and Boston Pizza, which have numerous locations across the city, will give you a similar vibe to Jack Astor’s, so in a pinch they’re also a great choice for decent food, good service, and watching the World Cup.

Neighbourhood: Fairmont 134 Falcon St. (map) http://www.portuguesecluboflondon.com/

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The Portuguese Club of London are cheering on Ronaldo and the team and welcoming everyone from far and wide to join them. Their club’s adjoining sports bar is always open to the public, no club membership needed, you just have to show up and enjoy a drink and the game. The sports bar’s kitchen will be ready and available for your snacking and/or meal needs, serving up traditional Portuguese cuisine alongside their cold beverages, or hot coffee for the early morning games. It’s safe to say that all of the other cultural community centres in London will also be playing their team’s games, if not more. Check out places such as the Irish Canadian Club or the Curinga Italian Canadian Sport Club. National pride runs strong, especially when it comes to soccer, or “football” as they call it.

Budweiser Gardens

Driving Arts, Culture & Business in Downtown London

Tonight is going to be fun: you and your best friends have tickets to a big event that you’ve been anticipating for months, and you know that it’s going to be a blast. This is your town and your scene, after all. Your evening starts at a downtown pub with a round of a few local craft beers, where overnight parking is just a stone’s throw away. Afterward, you and your crew hit one of the many available dinner options. It’s busy, but fortunately you made a reservation in advance. A few hours of banter and catching up with one another sets the stage perfectly. You each enjoy a five-star meal including steaks, tapas, and a bottle of Ontario wine. Eventually, you and your friends have to settle your tab and make tracks to get to your seats on time. And so, in anticipation of the evening’s main event, you waste no time in walking only a few blocks to Budweiser Gardens. That’s right… You’re not in Toronto. You’re in London, Ontario, taking part in the city’s quickly growing cultural and entertainment scene that brings more and more people to its hip downtown area every year. The lights in the Gardens go down, and your evening’s entertainment is about to begin!

The Venue

Budwiser Gardens downtown London, Ontario In the heart of the city’s downtown core, Budweiser Gardens stands alone as London Ontario’s premier large-scale entertainment venue for sports, live music, theatrical performances, and more. Originally opening its doors as the John Labatt Centre (named after the founder of Labatt Breweries), the complex was renamed in October of 2002, and is home to both the London Lightning basketball and London Knights hockey teams, offering seating for over 9,000 fans per game. Consistent with the city’s longstanding mission to support the vibrancy, culture, and growth of its downtown neighbourhoods – while at the same time preserving as much heritage architecture as possible – the facility was originally intended to incorporate materials from the Talbot Inn, a 19th century hotel that had previously occupied the site for over 125 years. Though the plan to preserve the original structure for the centre’s northeast facade turned out to be largely unfeasible, the end result has done well to blend in among the older, yellow Chicago-brick buildings found throughout downtown, especially given its considerable size. What bricks could be salvaged from the Talbot Inn now make up the walls of the Talbot Bar & Grille restaurant found on the Gardens’ second level. In their quest to deliver event programming that holds something for everyone, the designers at Budweiser Gardens made accommodation and accessibility a top priority. From comfortable standard seating, to the boxes and VIP sections, to multiple accessible entrances and viewing areas, the venue is fully equipped to satisfy its diverse audience’s needs and provide an exceptional experience every time. To help attendees plan their night out and find their way around the facility, the Budweiser Gardens website offers loads of information and interactive features, including downloadable maps that show the locations of the various amenities on each level. These include, but are not limited to, gates and box offices, escalators, elevators, washrooms, food concession stands, bars, ATMs, merchandise booths, and, of course, the restaurant. Each event is also staffed by friendly and courteous ushers, security personnel, and customer service reps who are happy to answer any questions from patrons and help them find what they’re looking for. “I love the fact that I don’t always have to go to Toronto to see the bands I love”, insists frequent concert-goer Erik Jenner of Springbank Drive. “It’s just a short walk from where I live, which keeps things simple. I was just there for the Queens of the Stoneage show, and it was awesome. They always run things tightly on schedule, and getting to your seats is easy, so there’s no endless waiting around. What’s more is that events always seem to end right on time too, so it’s no hassle if you want to make plans with friends for later.”

Buying Tickets

The event listings and calendar on the Gardens’ site are simple to navigate, quickly and clearly showcasing what’s coming up in the Gardens’ impressive schedule. From regular sporting events to some of the biggest rock’n’roll tours in the world, picking your pleasure is the only hard part. From there, you are taken directly into the ordering process, complete with colour-coded seating charts for the different sections of the venue, and pricing for each. Any special conditions (e.g., a maximum of 8 tickets per customer) are featured in bold red text to help avoid confusion. Once your order is added to your cart, you have an opportunity to see the total cost of your order and how it breaks down before checking out. But don’t wait too long… Your booking will time out after a few minutes, so get your choice of seats while you can!

Group Experiences

According to the Budweiser Gardens website, anyone can attend an event as a group! Group bookings are entitled to discounts on select events, preferred seating options, and additional attention from staff who will be on hand to ensure that your evening out together is a magical and memorable experience. Group ticket sales are also made available for select shows – even before they go on sale to the general public! Budweiser Gardens will also drop the per-ticket service charge, and even provides incentives for the organizers of group bookings which may include tickets for other events, gift certificates, and merchandise (depending on the number of seats booked).

Dinner Packages

Certain shows have dinner packages available with event viewing from the Talbot Bar & Grille located within Budweiser Gardens. Select menus are listed on the website enabling patrons to customize every detail of their meal, guaranteeing that a perfect evening will be enjoyed by all.

Premium Club Memberships

Budweiser Gardens rewards regular attendees for their loyalty. With a Premium Club Membership, you can take advantage of regular season tickets to all London Knights games, the chance to reserve your seats for all the hottest events before general tickets go on sale, member parking at the Covent Garden Market across the street, invitations to all Premium Club member parties, and more. The Premium Club is currently full according to the Budweiser Gardens website, but there is an online form that can put you on the waiting list today.

Presale & Promo Codes

The Garden’s ecommerce portal also supports promo codes that offer discounts to certain groups for specific events! Check online to see what’s currently available. Want to catch that big upcoming tour? Follow their social media channels to be the first to take advantage of great deals when these offers go live.

Planning Your Night

Budweiser Gardens instantly became one of the major cornerstones that characterizes downtown London’s newly dubbed ‘entertainment district’ due to the wealth of options that are available to the public, allowing them to customize the perfect experience with a focus on what they want to do. And options are abundant.

Accommodations

For the convenience of many out-of-towners that come to in to London for games, shows, and events each year, Budweiser Gardens is nestled among a number of amenities that meet their unique needs for parking, food, and accommodation. Nearly twenty separate paid parking lots surround the facility, with plenty of free street parking in nearby residential neighbourhoods. “Honestly, I often prefer going out of town to see some of the same things that I could potentially see closer to home”, offers Toronto’s Danielle Kenedy, a live music and hockey enthusiast. “Sometimes it’s nice to not have to deal with Toronto’s congested downtown traffic or exorbitant parking fees and see a new city at the same time. It’s also great to be able to catch a touring band in a slightly smaller and less overwhelming venue that still has all the perks. I saw Green Day at the Budweiser Gardens a little while back. The sound was fantastic and there seemed to be great stage visibility from every area of the venue. I’m not that tall, so this is kind of a big deal for me.” Roughly a dozen hotels to suit various budgets are available to event-goers in the downtown core alone. This is complemented by an ever-growing number of upscale and competitively-priced Air BNB options in both homes and condos for those who want to have a truly unique experience, and not have to worry about getting back home the same night.

Driving Business Downtown

Community feedback from nearby business owners is universally positive, given that events at Budweiser Gardens bring a great amount of overflow traffic into their places of business. There are numerous sports bars nearby where fans can grab a great meal and a drink before puck-drop, ideal to serve a large and diverse public in search of exciting evening entertainment with friends and family. “You can’t get a seat in here on game night” says Gord Pellett, manager of The Squire Pub & Grill. Having the Gardens right here is extremely good for business.” Gord is also excited to see the area develop further with the city’s plans for Dundas Place, which are currently underway. “It’s a little painful right now with all the roadwork, but we’re very excited for the finished product. A pedestrian area like that is going to bring even more foot traffic into the downtown core, and will enable cafés and bars to set up outdoor patios and feature live music of their own. With the Gardens right at the end of the stretch, it will be the perfect scene for people to plan a fun-filled day in anticipation of seeing a spectacular event in a world-class venue at the end of it all.” Another business owner, Jocelyn de Groot of zen’Za Pizzeria, says that having the Gardens across the street is absolutely ideal for their business. “It’s really helped us connect to countless new faces who have since become regular customers”, she explains. “It’s definitely made us feel a part of the scene down here. Not only do we feed countless attendees both before and after events, but we’re even known now to many of the performers and athletes that routinely come around. We have a wonderful open-door relationship with the management at the Gardens so we can simply call them up and ask how many tickets they’ve sold on any given night. This lets us ensure that we’ve scheduled enough staff. Many bands will arrive at the venue and will ask for a good pizza recommendation, so we’re constantly running pizzas over there. It’s been really great for us.” Bob Usher, CEO of Covent Garden Market, is thrilled to have the Gardens as a neighbour. “When the city began reinvesting in the downtown core we were very much the flag-bearers of that initiative. Of course, we can’t do it alone. While the Market caters to all kinds of daytime interests and activities, the Gardens gives people another reason to stay downtown and spend their evening here. We’re proud to partner with Budweiser Gardens in supplying parking for their preferred members and look forward to working together in supporting downtown London.” Though it has existed for barely more than a decade, it seems impossible to imagine London’s downtown area without the prominent presence of Budweiser Gardens. Our downtown has come a long way thanks to the value it brings to our culture and nightlife, alongside the countless unique businesses that work together to make it a fun and exciting part of town. The area continues to change and evolve, most notably with the imminent completion of Dundas Place. The end result will be a stylish community scene that supports downtown businesses, reduces congestion, and offers something to satisfy everyone, regardless of their tastes or interests. Make a day of it! Do some shopping. Enjoy some great food. Socialize with friends and strangers alike. And reserve your seats to the next awesome event happening at Budweiser Gardens, so that you, too, can live and experience everything that the new downtown London has to offer.

The Best Gyms
in London

Whether you’re aiming to flaunt your beach body this summer or looking to improve your fitness to lengthen your life expectancy, a gym membership is likely one of the first steps to reaching your fitness goals. But with so many different fitness goals – slim down, bulk up, improve cardio, etc. – picking a gym can be difficult. Some gyms are catchalls and can service any need to some extent, while others are highly specialized in a certain area. Taking this into consideration when you’re deciding on your new gym membership will make you happier with your experience and more motivated to actually go and work out. Luckily, there are a bunch of locally owned and operated gyms and fitness centres, each with their own specialties and focuses to match the type of workout you’re looking for. Any of the options on this list are fantastic for someone, but maybe not for everyone, so make sure to look through all of them and find the one that suits you best.


Neighbourhood: Downtown London 241 Oxford St. E (map) http://www.hi-ignitionfitlab.com/

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Hi-Ignition Fit Lab will get your butt in shape! With talented trainers, top of the line equipment, and a broad range of classes, they have everything to get you fit in no time!

The gym is a boutique-style fitness centre, dedicated to helping you reach your fitness goals, whether it be losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving flexibility. They’ve got classes for everything from yoga to high intensity interval training (HIIT), so not matter what you’re looking for, you’ll have a bounty of options at Hi-Ignition.

The gym, which is conveniently located downtown, has three floors, each with their own specialty. On the ground floor is the personal training room and a cardio space, perfect for one-on-one or small group sessions with your trainer. On the second floor, you’ll find all of the stationary bicycles and a group fitness room, which hosts Bosu, TRX, and other HIIT training. On the third and top floor, is the Spirit Lab, your destination for yoga, meditation, barre, and pilates.

We did a #BusinessOfTheWeek with owner April Crake way back in 2017, check it out here! She’s passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable about fitness, and definitely someone you can trust to take care of you on your fitness journey!

Neighbourhood: Glen Cairn 962 Leathorne St. (map) https://fitclubbootcamps.ca/

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FitClub Bootcamps was easily the most recommended gym when we asked for your favourites on social media. The public’s support for FitClub was so immense, we definitely had to check them out. FitClub runs on the boot camp model, hence the name. They host hour-long sessions of circuit training a few times per day, ranging from the crack of dawn 5:30 am sessions to after-work workouts at 6pm. Every day is different though, so make sure you’re signed up and attending at the right times. They even have an app for both Android and iPhone to help you schedule your workout sessions which is incredibly handy. There are also opportunities for personal training, either one on one or small groups. Going for smaller groups allows your program to be more tailored to your goals and will better suit your pace without pushing you too hard or being too easy and wasting your time. For the truly dedicated, FitClub also offers access to their “Inner Circle,” which includes features such as nutrition and supplement guidance and unlimited personal coaching online. While this may not be for everybody, they think of it as a way to give yourself an extra sense of motivation to stay healthy and active. With the tightknit and incredibly supportive community growing, both in the gym and on social media, FitClub Bootcamps has quickly become a fantastic spot to get your sweat on.
Neighbourhood: Old East Village 1025 Elias St,  (map) http://powerhousetraining.ca/

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Powerhouse Training Systems lives up to its name in every way. This Old East Village gym is easily the most physically demanding gym on this list, pushing an emphasis on being greater than average. Their approach utilizes a combination of open gym and structured training sessions, either strength training or dynamic work, in small groups. This style of training gets the attention and coaching of personal training and the motivation and morale of training in a group, as well as the benefit of being a fraction of the price of personal training. Powerhouse may not be for every person, and they know that. They pride themselves on catering to an upper tier of fitness, beyond the everyday need to stay fit. Their style of training is intense, modeled after the kinds of training that professional athletes do and they don’t hold back. Their relentless approach to fitness has brought over 40 CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) athletes into the gym to use their programs over the last couple of years. That’s not to say that you have to be an athlete, but you do have to be ready to train like one. Training at Powerhouse takes dedication and perseverance, it’s more than just heading to the gym for an hour on the treadmill. For some, it may be excessive, for others it could be exactly what they need to excel in their fitness goals.
Neighbourhood: Hyde Park 1175 Hyde Park Rd. (map) http://rev3k.com/

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Rev3K Fitness Refined is an all-around facility that realizes fitness is more than just physical exercise. The programs at Rev3k offer entire lifestyles to help improve your nutrition, motivation, and, of course, your physical fitness as well. Owner and coach, Leija Koeman, is a former Dutch Olympic athlete turned fitness instructor, sharing her training, knowledge, and experiences with the London community at their Hyde Park location. Their training style combines Olympic training, modern circuit training, anaerobic pathways and metabolic conditioning. Koeman has multiple programs to target people’s various goals, whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain strength and muscle mass, improve your cardio, or some combination. The various programs involve different circuits and offer nutrition guides to help you meet your goals and make sure you aren’t reversing those gains with every meal. There’s also a program for kids to ensure they’re up and active this summer and throughout the school year. Rev3K also has a “cardio cousin” on Windermere, which offers spin classes multiple times per day. The classes are conducted in the dark, lit only by candles. They believe that this environment allows you to lose yourself in order to push past barriers – whether physical or mental – and exceed your own expectations. If you’re looking for a gym that helps all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, Rev3K is a great one stop shop for all-around fitness. 
Neighbourhood: Hyde Park 1695 Wonderland Rd, (map) http://combinefitness.ca/

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Combine Fitness, up north at Wonderland and Fanshawe Park Road, is a premiere training facility for developing and enhancing adults and youths alike. Their variety of classes and extended programs makes them suitable for most people looking for something new in their fitness regimen. The name “Combine” stems from the structure of their classes. There are seven varieties, each with their own combination and ratio of cardio, resistance, weight, and core training. For instance, if you want a heavier emphasis on cardio, the Classic Combine class offers a 50/50 split of cardio and weights, or Combine Boxing has a 70/30 split of cardio and strength training. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of your workout, any of these seven programs could be the one for you. For the athletes out there, Combine also offers specialty programs tailored to improving your fitness in a way that will also improve your game. They offer programs for football, soccer, hockey, and volleyball currently, with plans to implement basketball and track and field programs in the future. They’ll even train your whole team at once because what helps boost team morale more than a hard workout? Whether you’re an athlete or just looking to get fit, Combine Fitness has all the best elements of other gyms combined into one package and is worth checking out.  
Neighbourhood: Soho 180 Simcoe St. (map) http://www.andfit.ca/

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ANDFIT is one of the most specialized gyms on this list, being a women’s only gym with dedicated classes for pregnant women and new moms. Owner and operator, Andrea Merucci Hsiung, has multiple certifications that contribute to her success in this niche market, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies and Psychology, a certification in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and of course, a certification as a personal training specialist from the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals. All of this education has cumulated in ANDFIT, a fitness experience tailored for women to build strong bodies and minds. ANDFIT’s mother focused classes include both pre-natal and post-natal yoga, mom and baby strength classes, and stroller boot camp, a six week program with two classes per week, which takes place in Springbank Park for a nice change of pace. But don’t feel excluded if you currently don’t have children, there are plenty of options for classes. Women’s Bootcamps, Strength Lunch classes, and Sunday Sweat Sesh classes run regularly, and regardless of your parental status, you’re welcome to join in and get your sweat on. Andrea’s goal is to create a group of women supporting one another and acting as motivation to believe in a happier and healthier self, and from the look of things, she is succeeding. The ANDFIT community is growing rapidly with no signs of stopping, so get into a class while there’s still space.
Neighbourhood: Berkshire Village 460 Berkshire Drive (map) https://joinfcf.com/

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Forest City Fitness is the only 24 hour gym on this list. This place never closes. Weekends, holidays, you name it, they’re open. Since they use key fobs to access their facilities, they never have to close! The ease and convenience of a 24 hour gym is not lost on anyone. Go whenever it suits you, even if that’s 3AM. Forest City Fitness offers more than just open gym time though, there are also a number of classes scheduled throughout the day, some of which are irregular to say the least. They offer gym classics such as bootcamps, Core and Strength classes, and beginner yoga, but they also offer oddities such as Kangoo Jumps class and POUND Rockout Workout. The former being a workout aided by Kangoo Jumps rebound shoes, a high end version of Moon Shoes from the 90’s, but for adults. The rebound shoes reduce 80% of the impact of a typical workout on your body’s joints, allowing people with bad knees and other joint issues to still get active. The latter uses the power of music to get you moving, but not just listening to Eye of the Tiger and other pump up jams at loud volumes – you make the music. Using lightly weighted drumsticks, the POUND system turns drumming into a full body workout, incorporating cardio, conditioning, and strength training with yoga and pilates-inspired movements. For the intrigue of completely new styles of workouts, as well as the convenience of a gym that’s always open, Forest City Fitness could be the perfect fit for your exercise needs.
Neighbourhood: Downtown 238 Dundas St. (map) https://bpmfitness.ca/

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At BPM Fitness, their number one goal is self-love. In their eyes, working out shouldn’t be perceived as a punishment or a chore, it’s a way to prove to yourself that you are worth putting in effort for. Self-love is a motivator to stick with diet plans, fitness regimens, and other healthy habits that take work – you do it because you believe you’re worth it and are proud of your accomplishments. BPM offers group classes and personal training with their fitness staff, working with you through circuits of high intensity exercises, a routine they call “burn, build, and bike,” that will dissolve those pounds and shed those inches off your waist. Despite the high intensity, the trainers never feel like drill sergeants that are there to demean and punish, instead they are supportive and knowledgeable, helping you succeed and feel the right kind of burn when you exercise. With plenty of classes throughout the day and an app to help you schedule your upcoming workouts, finding the right time to get out to their downtown location and sweat has never been easier. The environment at BPM Fitness is a great way to get into exercising if you’re just getting back into it or starting a workout regimen for the first time. The BPM team is inviting and supportive to keep you motivated through their intense workouts. For a positive experience from bottom to top, BPM fitness will get your heart pumping with good vibes and exercise.

Landscaping Ideas for Around Your Pool

Now that the warm weather is officially here, it’s time to get your back yard ready for summer.  If you have or are thinking about installing your own in-ground pool, landscaping around the area is essential to complete the beauty and functionality of your space.  Creating an attractive outer living area connects the inside of your home to outside while maintaining a natural and efficient flow to your property. When set up properly, swimming pools are a great way to add value to your home. But even more important, they provide the perfect place to relax, have fun with the kids and entertain family and friends. Oval swimming pool in a garden area, surrounded by plants When it comes to landscaping ideas around your pool, the design options are as endless as your imagination. With the right layout and accents, you can easily create a unique private sanctuary that reflects your own personal style and taste. However, it is important to plan your layout carefully beforehand to make sure everything you choose compliments each other. The worst thing you can do is buy something that completely clashes with the rest of your décor because it will take away from the rest of your space.  A professional landscaper can help you with your design and layout, so you will choose the right materials and colours schemes. When planning the right look for your yard, remember to keep it simple. You want to add features that will  compliment your space and provide ample room to move freely and safely. Avoid busy designs can make your environment look cluttered and messy. Also, it is important to remember that once permanent structures are installed, they cannot be covered up so choosing the wrong materials will quickly cause a decorating nightmare. Always plan your ideas first before buying any additions. Never choose things randomly, even your furniture. What might look good in a store or website, will not necessarily fit in with the scheme of your space. When choosing the layout in your backyard, there are four things to consider: beauty, privacy, safety, and shade.

 

Beauty

When thinking of ideas to landscape your swimming pool area, you will want to create a beautiful space that that you enjoy spending time in and showing proudly to others. Each part of your décor should naturally compliment and flow with the other aspects of your sanctuary. All the colours, textures, patterns and placements should combine to create a visually breathtaking area. There are many ways you can add the wow factor around your backyard pool. Installing the right fixtures including tiles, patio stones, furniture, ornamental pieces, lighting and foliage will create a visually appealing place that is both attractive and functional.  When shopping, pick accents that will add beauty to your environment. Some products can create other problems that you want to avoid. Plants are a must have in yard décor. Your foliage can be planted anywhere including around the fence or pool to create additional privacy, along walkways to provide a natural border, and in pots to fill in spaces and add a splash of colour.  But picking the wrong shrubs can attract unwanted guests turn your yard into a messy disaster. Steer clear of sap or nectar producing greenery that attracts insects. Avoid choosing shedding bulbs that lose their leaves or petals. These plants only add debris in and around your swimming pool. Also steer clear of prickly thorns that can injure to unsuspecting guests. If you are planning on installing shrubs close to your swimming pool, try to pick hearty bushes that can tolerate the chlorine and other water-based chemicals. The colour of your furniture should compliment the rest of your set up. Opt for contrasting hues that stand out, but do not clash with the rest of your area. Chairs, benches, and other outdoor settees should be set up in different locations throughout your yard, so your guests have ample room to sit comfortably. Wooden decks, patios, stepping stones, tiles, and marble slabs are used to hard flooring surfaces, paths and a supportive area around your pool walls. The hard tops are not only attractive foundations,  but they also help to keep your environment clean. Installing the right patios, decks, and walkways is important because they are permanent features that lay the foundation for the rest of your décor.  It is essential to choose products that balance your layout so each part transitions smoothly into the next. Remember, you cannot camouflage bad tiling so take your time choosing the right materials and patterns. There are plenty of accent pieces that can be installed to help add appeal to your private space. Waterfalls and fountains are must have’s in pool landscaping this year. Setting up a lighted waterfall with the water cascading into the pool creates a glorious focal point around your swimming area. Planters, statues, and other contemporary furnishings fill empty spaces while adding the right final touch to your outdoor room.

Privacy

Spending time in your yard is not enjoyable when everyone can see what your doing. Your pool area is your own personal retreat, so it is important to set up your area with fixtures that will guarantee your privacy. To keep the prying eyes from watching your every move, install fencing, lattice walls or trees around the outer rim of your place. There are several options available to select from that are made to compliment your area. If you share an exterior wall with neighbours, replacing it might not be an option. Planting lush bushes along your side is a great way to increase your privacy while hiding unattractive siding.

Safety

Inground pools are great features to have in your backyard, but they are not without risk. When planning your backyard landscaping, you must keep safety for yourself and others in mind. The tiling around your swimming area should not only be attractive, but also slip resistant to reduce the risk of falling when the area gets wet. The types of foliage you choose is also important. Avoid plants with thorns so your guests do not prick themselves. Bug attracting greenery can be hazardous because they increase the risk of getting stung or having an allergic reaction from hungry a bees or wasp sting is higher.  Stay away from plants that  increase the risk of injury.   When choosing lighting, beware of electricity near water. If needed, hire an electrician to install the light fixtures around your space so they are done safely and properly. Some wiring might be installed underground. This should be done first so you do not have to rip up your grounds later.

Shade

As fun as the sun is, staying directly under it for too long is not only uncomfortable, but it can also be unsafe. Burns and other heat related injuries can occur if you and your guests cannot escape the blazing rays. Therefore, part of your pool landscaping plans must include shaded areas. Gazebos are great structures that offer protection from the heat and create a permanent focal point in your decorating schemes. These solid outer spaces also offer the perfect place to install an outdoor kitchen or barbeque area, so you have everything to fully entertain your guests. When a permanent building is not an option, portable large outdoor patio umbrellas are also great features. The moveable coverings let you choose where and how you are going to set up your shaded area, so you and your guests will always have a protective area away from the sun’s harsh glare. Swimming pools are the perfect backyard accessory to have during the hot summer months. With the right landscaping ideas, your can create a great environment to relax, have fun, and entertain others. Creating a beautiful space will also increase the value of your property.  Landscaping your inground pool area takes thought and planning to make sure it is done right so you optimize your yard to develop your own private oasis.

Victoria
Park

Victoria Park, London, Ontario Victoria Park is located in the heart of downtown London and is a central hub for all kinds of events and goings on. The park itself is beautiful with walking paths, benches, lots of tree shade, and monuments to view. It’s within walking distance of so many pubs, coffee shops, restaurants, and ice cream stores, that it is almost begging for post-meal strolling of various kinds. It’s so close to shops and the Grand Theatre, it’s a great excuse to stay downtown, rather than to just have a quick evening out and go back home. Victoria park slows things down a bit, lets you walk around and admire the outdoors and the beauty of the city.
It’s also a great place to visit during lunch or break for people who work downtown to get out of the office, stretch their legs, and catch some rays. Victoria Park is also a perfect spot for a leisurely picnic or a game of frisbee. The park is also home to the rare eastern grey squirrel so animal enthusiasts will want to head there to see if they can spot one!
But this park is so much more than just a beautiful park to walk through and visit. It holds so much history, has so many fun events, and really is the heartbeat of London Ontario.  

FESTIVALS

Summer is my absolute favourite time to live in London, and one of those reasons is because of all of the amazing festivals that Victoria Park holds. There is often fun activities, cute little booths set up to by unique trinkets, live music being played, and the absolute best part, by far, is the food trucks. I’m talking deep fried delicious foods that absolutely do not fit in with a restrictive diet, but that make summer time all the more wonderful. These events are free admission, but you’ll want to bring your wallet for the delicious treats and super cute wares that people are selling.

Ribfest & Food Fests

Rib Fest in London Ontario at Victoria Park
There are a bunch of different fests that center around food that pop up in Victoria Park, such as Feast Fest, Poutine Fest, and of course the infamous Ribfest . Ribfest is the absolute best weekend all summer. The entire downtown gets filled with the mouthwater aroma of smoked meats and meat connoisseurs from all over southwestern ontario come to London with their absurdly giant booth signs and offer you their award winning ribs, pulled pork, and sides. If I can give you any kind of friendly advice, it would be this: go with friends and each get ribs from different booths and split them. Because, honestly, half the fun is deciding who you would pick as the winner that year. For those of you who can’t eat pork, or don’t like ribs (is that a thing?) there are PLENTY of other food booths available for you, so you will not be disappointed. In 2018 they added craft beer to Ribfest, because nothing goes as well with barbecued meat as a nice cold, delicious beer.
But even if you’re not big on food, Ribfest is still the place to be. They have live music, shopping, rides, and there is always some kind of interesting competition to watch like chopping the most amount of wood in a time frame, which is actually quite riveting to behold.

Children’s Festival

For families, Children’s Festival is the absolute must-go-to event in the summer. Admission is free! Just bring your kids and the entire park will be filled with crafts, interactive activities, games, and rides! Your whole family can go and play giant jenga. You can draw with sidewalk chalk and show off your artistic side. There’s kid-themed music and performers. There are bouncy houses to bounce out the energy and yummy food trucks to re-fuel. It’s a place for your family to go and spend a fun day together and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

New Years Eve in the Park

New Years Eve in the Park is a winter festival that ring in the new year. There are fireworks, and bands, and of course, a countdown! Grab a bite to eat downtown and then head straight to the park and enjoy the festivities! If you’re sick of parties but still want something fun to do to celebrate, then Victoria Park is the place to be. And the best part is that it won’t cost you a dime.

Pride in the Park

Pride in the Park is just one of the wonderful events that London puts on to celebrate Pride Week. There is great entertainment, delicious foods and thirst-quenching drinks! The vibe is always energetic and exciting! If you only have the chance to attend one of the many Pride events that London Ontario hosts, I totally recommend that this be the one.

Sunfest

Sunfest in London Ontario at Victoria Park
If there is one festival that you attend in Victoria Park, make sure that it is Sunfest . It’s been a thing in London since 1994 and attracts over 200,000 visitors to the park. It’s the place to be. It’s a festival that celebrates art, music and culture. The bandshell in the park serves as a stage for performances and many different types and genres of live music. People rave about the music at Sunfest! And in front of the stage is an area for people to gather and dance! Craft vendors sell their unique wares throughout the park. There is art and dancing and celebration happening all around you as the sun shines down on your face and the squirrels run up the trees. Food trucks and stations are everywhere, offering a wide variety of culture in the cuisine. If you love food, you’re not going to want to miss this event. There are competitions, talent shows, and games. It brings a vibrant energy to downtown London, and is an event that I never miss.  

MOVIE NIGHT IN THE PARK

It’s the perfect family event in the summer. Gather at the bandshell with your beach chairs and blankets in tow and get set up. They screen family-friendly movies in the park for any one and every one to enjoy. There are food trucks around to offer delicious movie snacks that is sure to satisfy every member of the family. Get there early for the food and fun at 7pm, but the movie starts screening at 9pm. Oh, and the best part is that admission is free. Parents can even get set up to have text reminders about what movies are coming up so that you never miss one!

 

BAND SHELL

The bandshell sits near the center of the park and is the hub for so many things. Live bands, entertainment, art pieces have had their time to shine up on the bandshell. It has become a place to host interesting events, like the live-streaming of The Tragically Hip’s last concert. It projects the movies during movie night in the park. It is the place where people gather to dance during Sunfest. It has a wonderful sound quality and the music just projects at you and washes over you.

 

HISTORY

The park has a rich history. It served as a spot for military occupation between 1838 and 1869 and had framed infantry barracks and other building. The barracks burned down around 1869, but the spot is the largest and best preserved historical site in London, Ontario. In the 1850s the barracks were also used a camp for refugees and escaped slaves from America. There are still archeological remains of the Barracks.
The park is full of so many monuments, celebrating and preserving history. There is the Boer War Soldiers monument, three war cannons, a Holy Roller tank, the Women’s Memorial Sculpture, and the Veterans Memorial Garden. These pieces are so integral to the park, as it serves not only as a place to relax and have fun, but it’s a place for reflection and remembering.
And on one corner of the park, stands the powerful presence of The Cenotaph. The plaque on it reads: “In Honor Of Those Who Died In War And Conflict.” It’s a replica of the one at Whitehall in London, England that was designed by Sir Edward Luytens. London holds a Remembrance Day Observance at The Cenotaph on November 11th and those who attend stay intensely silent for two minutes at 11:00 am in honor of the fallen.  

LIGHTING OF THE LIGHTS

Every single winter something magical happens in Victoria Park. The terrible cold, the harsh bitter winds, and the annoying snow fade away into the background and winter suddenly feels wonderful. The reason for this good cheer? It’s the Lighting of the lights in Victoria Park. I love it. It’s so magical. More than 75,000 lights transform the trees and make the whole place fill up with the holiday spirit. They also put up festive displays like a Santa’s workshop or reindeer on Santa’s sleigh. It’s really a magical sight. Grab a hot chocolate and take a stroll through the crisp winter night and behold all of that dazzling beauty. It’ll put you in the Holiday spirit, actually make you WANT to be outdoors, and is the perfect way to end your day.  

SKATING RINK

Every winter victoria park gets transformed by winter. It becomes this beautiful wonderland. The lights twinkle, and it’s the perfect spot for a romantic date night, or a fun family outing. They always have a part of the park that gets turned into a skating rink. It’s open every day 10am-10pm (closed only for an hour for the ice to be resurfaced) and it’s absolutely free to use. There’s a place to rent or sharpen skates for a small fee.
Sometimes they even transform the rink into curling sheets for anyone interested in trying their hand at the strangest (and most fascinating) sport known to man.  
Victoria Park is so much more than just a park. It’s a place for remembering. It’s a place for celebrating. It’s a place for families, for friends, and for couples. It’s a place that gives you a reason dance, and play, and just enjoy life in general. It’s a place that gets you out of the house without costing a lot of money. It’s a place that lets you enjoy the outdoors and this beautiful city at the same time. It’s a place that you really should check out more often. There always seems to be a reason to pop by to Victoria Park! So grab your family or some friends or maybe a loved one and head over there through the summer and the winter. You’ll be so glad you went. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for those rare grey squirrels!

The
Factory

London has a reputation of being a somewhat staid, if affluent, working class city, the sort of town where you can raise a family in peace and quiet but where you always had to go somewhere else to get your quota of fun and excitement. These days, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Those leafy, breezy, quiet residential sections still exist, of course, but the fun quotient has been cranked up to eleven in recent years. One of the best examples of this is London’s newest all-in-one excitement attraction, The Factory. The location and the story of how the Factory came into being are emblematic of the story of London itself. The Factory – which bills itself as “Canada’s Biggest Indoor Adventure Park” – occupies the site of the old Kellogs factory on Dundas Street. The Kellogs factory, which first opened in 1907, was one of many examples of London’s place in the 20th Century as a manufacturing powerhouse. However, with the decline of manufacturing as the central factor of the economy in Southwestern Ontario, the Kellogs plant was finally closed for good in 2014, leaving the city with 23 acres of property encompassing 30 separate buildings. The rebranding of the city as a friendly environment for both established and start-up technology companies has led entrepreneurs to try to retool the old manufacturing skeleton of the city for a new age. The Factory is exactly this: taking the bones of the old Kellogs factory and using its natural advantages to create something new and wonderful. With the old factory’s 35 metre ceilings, it was no great leap to imagine filling the place with more adventure than any abandoned facility really has the right to hold. The key here has been to attract Millenials moving to London, which means not only competing with the other attractions that London has put on offer lately, but also competing with the ease of entertainment option on offer at home, via Netflix, Amazon, and the internet as a whole. Thus, local entrepreneurs must offer a cut above the usual in order to attract that young clientele, something that The Factory offers in a significant way. Thus, The Factory is a symbol of how London continues to change as we march forward into the 21st Century. Rather than let outmoded industrial landscapes rot, an unfortunate feature of many post-manufacturing North American cities, London innovators have chosen to repurpose them into something new, exciting, and modern. The sheer amount of entertainment value on offer at The Factory is impressive as well; like East Park, The Factory has proven adept at diversifying the possibilities for adventure that they have on hand. Whether you’re looking for an all-out maximum-sweat athletic competition or something a little less cardio-intensive, you’re probably going to find what you’re looking for in London’s historic Old East Village.

 

ATHLETIC FUN

The Ropes

The central feature of The Factory in terms of getting the heart pumping is the ropes course. At 75 feet high and with 145 feet of ziplines, the rope course at The Factory is the highest and largest indoor rope zone in North America. The ropes in this course are spread between two towers standing on opposite ends of the old factory floor; between them, there are 88 separate obstacles that range from the fairly easy to manoeuvre to the nearly impossible to pass. Once you make it through these obstacles, the tops of the towers contain the zip lines, strung above the fray. You can ride back and forth on the ziplines to your heart’s content and believe me, once you get the taste of it that rush through the air with the adventure spreading out below you is an experience you’re going to want to take in again and again If you somehow get your fill of zipping through the air like a special forces operative, this section of The Factory also features an attraction of the death-defying daredevil in all of us: free-fall jumping. For beginner jumpers, or for people who think of heights in the same category that they think of spiders or the electric bill, there is a 39-foot jump that will provide all of the thrills with none of the memories flashing before your eyes. Beyond that, though, there is a 65-foot free-fall jump the staff call the Shift-Ender, which isn’t perhaps quite as ominous as it sounds. There is, in fact, something incredibly freeing about standing at the top, looking down into the void, and forcing your body to just jump. There’s no need to worry about global affairs, or the changing workplace, or that nagging voice that keeps you awake at night telling you to stop drying your work socks on the radiator: there is just you, the restraints, and all of that delicious empty air beneath you. Speaking of the staff, they really are a cut above at The Factory. You never feel rushed as you’re getting set up, or as though you’re just another numbered customer that they have to go through to get to their coffee break. It’s incredibly obvious that for them, this is not just a job but a passion; they’re patient, kind, and will thoroughly explain the answers to any questions you might have until you’re both comfortable and satisfied. They’re professionals in terms of customer service, sure, but it’s also apparent that they’re professionals in terms of the offered attractions as well. They don’t just work there, they play there – there’s a reason they call that gorgeous 65-foot drop the Shift-Ender, after all. It’s clear that this was part of the founding vision of The Factory. General Manager and part owner Dan Cassidy, in a press announcement to the CBC, mentioned an attraction called the Battle Beam, which would involve those giant staffs resembling Q-tips that were first popularized on American Gladiators. Cassidy’s joke was that all staff debates would be solved on the Battle Beam, but there’s a sense that it’s only a half-joke, since the staff is deeply embedded into the adventure. They know everything that’s going on: the rope course alone requires them to go through over 40 hours of training so that they can safely and easily ensure that you’re having the maximum amount of thrill-seeking adventure per visit. Health and safety is quite naturally a big concern, and to this end The Factory has partnered with Waterloo-based Med-On-Site to provide the perfect balance between highly trained medical staff and flexible coverage. The safety system also involves a state-of-the-art RFID system that tracks guests through the facility, ensuring that no one wanders into areas that would be unsafe to venture into and also ensures that even your rambunctious thrill-jockey children won’t get lost or hurt.  

The Trampolines

Of course, The Factory offers more than just the rope course for working up a good sweat. Another key attraction is the massive trampoline park – here is where the Battle Beam that Dan Cassidy mentioned resides, and a whole lot more. There are 20,000 feet of trampolines on The Factory floor, and if that doesn’t solve your need to grab serious air then nothing will. It’s not just trampolines, either, but the way The Factory has put together these trampoline attractions. Have you ever wanted to slam it just like LeBron, if not his teammates? The basketball slam attraction will have you shooting your way to NBA stardom in no time. Do you want your jump time to encompass a kaleidoscope of flashing lights, sounds, and bouncing? The interactive lights attraction will fulfill those artistic pop-star visions that are dancing in your head. Ever wish that Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller made an all-out sequel to Dodgeball? The glow dodgeball attraction has your back: it’s dodgeball, on trampolines, that’s also glow in the dark. If that doesn’t get your athletic competition saliva flowing then maybe the Meltdown will catch your attention. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Wipeout you’ll know exactly what the Meltdown is all about; even if you haven’t, it won’t take you long to catch on. It’s a block with two long arms sticking out of it; the block rotates at multiple different speeds and it’s your job to jump over the arms and ensure that you remain upright. It’s one of those things that sounds simple but when you’re doing it on a trampoline it becomes a lot more challenging. It’s also one of the most fun challenges to take on as a group: start with a collection of people and watch them dwindle as they fall victim to the spinning arms.

The Ultimate Warrior Course

If the trampoline park isn’t hands-on enough for you, The Factory also features a full Warrior Course so you can live out all of your American Ninja Warrior fantasies. The Ultimate Warrior course consists of 38 stationary obstacles, including rings, ladders, nets, swinging steps, cheeseboards, log rolls, sweeper arms, and spinning discs. For those who have a need to compete to the edge of their endurance, the Ultimate Warrior course is the perfect test, and it even features the ability to run the course against friends. If you want to dial it down a little bit from that height, there is also the Adrenalator, which tests the racer’s endurance as they try to outrun a huge treadmill. For those looking to capture some of that movie star glamour, there is also the Stunt Airbag, which let’s you free-fall 15 feet onto a gigantic inflated airbag. These options bring some diversity to the physical activities on offer at The Factory while still keeping the heart-rate pumping. The adventure isn’t the sole province of adults, either. The Factory features a 5,500 square foot play area for children under 12. The playground features an intricate series of tubes as well as a miniature rock-climbing wall for the budding daredevil ninjas out there. A separate area is available for infants and toddlers, with small slides and padded play areas to stimulate interaction in the youngest. It’s not just standard physical play either; there are games available on interactive touch screens and 10 different scavenger hunts to keep things continually interesting.

GAMING FUN

The Factory isn’t just a playground for those who like to defy gravity and move to the limit. It’s also the home to cutting-edge entertainment that combines media and technology with human interaction. The arcade section boasts over 100 games, putting it in direct competition with London’s other state-of-the-art arcade, The Rec Room. In addition to the games, however, the arcade section also features a Lazer Maze where you can live out your spy infiltration fantasies, and another trampoline game where you bounce and try to smash as many ninja stars as you can in a 90 second time frame. Not content with merely tacking on an arcade like so many other places do, The Factory has gone the extra mile to ensure that the entertainment they offer is cutting-edge. To this end, The Factory has implemented an entire Virtual Reality section, featuring top-of-the-line HTC Vive VR headsets that provide a full range of motion for the ultimate immersion into whatever program you’re in – and there are a lot. The Factory’s VR section has over 700 different VR “experiences”, ranging from action-packed shooting sequences to team-based athletics to more refined, artistic experiences. The VR room rotates through 50 or so per day, so you’d have to go fairly often to get the same set of experiences twice. Plus, with 24 pods to park yourself in it’s not just a solo experience – this is something the entire workplace can get together and enjoy. At the risk of sounding like Billy Mays, that’s not all! The Factory also offers a series of interactive escape rooms powered by London’s premier escape room company, Mystery Escape Rooms. If you’re a beginner to the escape room experience, MER’s facility at The Factory features a 25-minute mini-escape room to get you acclimatized to how it all works. If you’re already in the know, then there are 7 different experiences for you to take in, depending on your group size, comfort level, and time constraints.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Indoor adventure isn’t something that you need to go far from home to seek out; you can push your endurance to the limit right at home in London, Ontario. Whether you’re looking to work out to the extreme or get in some good competitive group fun, The Factory has exactly what you’re looking for. This new growth in London’s historic Old East Village proves London’s status as a city of forward-thinking entrepreneurs looking to match the city’s gorgeous vistas with the best in entertainment for people of all ages and skill levels.

The Best Ice Cream
in London

With the terribly long winter finally coming to an end and summer upon us, there’s one treat on every Londoner’s mind: ice cream. There’s nothing quite like the joy of a summer’s first sundae or cone, but with so many options across the city, one could have decision-induced brain freeze. This summer, refuse to settle for the same old chain ice cream spots, especially ones that offer “vanilla ones” rather than actual vanilla ice cream. Look beyond the Dairy Queens and the Marble Slabs that find their way into basically every strip mall, and you’ll see that there are a bunch of London-owned joints that serve up some of the best frozen treats in the city. Whether you’re looking for a modest scoop, an extravagant sundae, or something a little off the beaten track, London has more than enough options to curb your ice cream cravings. From local staples to fresh-faced trendsetters, these parlours and scoop shops are where you need to hit up this summer for a stellar way to keep cool this summer.

 

MERLA MAE

Neighbourhood: Carling Heights

1080 Adelaide St. North (map)

http://www.merlamae.com/

Basically every Londoner already knows or immediately needs to learn about Merla Mae. Located on Adelaide St. North between Huron and Cheapside, Merla Mae opened all the way back in 1957 and has been a go-to ever since across every demographic. You’ll run into teens and young adults on dates, retirees enjoying an evening out, and most definitely parents with their kids running around in their Timbits soccer jerseys. You’ll be transported to the past with the pastel décor as you step in through the garage door they treat as an entrance. Only a few tables line the right wall and a couple of umbrella-covered tables outdoors, so grab a spot if you can, as they can be pretty hard to come by at peak hours, which seems to feel like every hour that they’re open. Even after over 50 years in business, Merla Mae could be one of London’s perpetually busiest spots in London during the summer. There’s almost always a line due to their small staff and only two order windows. However, some people appreciate the wait as they look over the massive menu and make their selection. Merla Mae takes a shotgun approach to their frozen desserts – that is to say they offer an impressively wide spread of options, so at least one of their offerings will satisfy every palate, no matter how picky. Their menu takes up an entire wall, which may seem daunting, but take your time to scan through, and you’ll find your perfect treat. Scoops of hard ice cream or soft serve on a waffle cone, fruity and/or chocolatey sundaes, creamy milkshakes, or sweet slushes, it’s all there for you to enjoy once you finally get up to one of the order windows. The hardest part of going to Merla Mae is whether to try something new or stick with the sundae that blew your mind last time.

 

HAVEN’S CREAMERY

Neighbourhood: Downtown

226 Piccadilly St. (map)

www.havensicecream.com

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  Pint of Ice Cream from Haven's Creamery Haven’s Creamery is a newcomer to the London scene, nestled just off of the Richmond Row on Piccadilly Street. But don’t let the company’s lack of history concern you, these guys know exactly what they’re doing. Haven’s only uses local, sustainable ingredients that your first grader would be able to pronounce. No preservatives or enhancers. Their artisanal product comes in almost a dozen flavours, including limited time featured flavours. This week they’ve gone for a lemony fresh theme with their new flavours being Buttermilk Lemon Curd ice cream and Lemonade sweet sorbet, alongside their apparently semi-permanent feature Half-Baked ice cream. Haven’s storefront feels incredibly modern and trendy. Their storefront sports a clean, minimal aesthetic with warm wood tones and sleek white subway tile. Their menu is a stylishly designed blackboard for easy updating of their featured flavours. All three of these textures act as fantastic backdrops for posing for pictures with your cup or cone that are completely worthy of Instagram. Despite their popularity, their limited space means they can offer only a few seats in the form of outdoor picnic tables and other improvised seating such as the ledges to their garden. Thankfully, ice cream paired with a cone is incredibly portable so the nearby Victoria Park is an excellent option once your ice cream Instagram photoshoot has concluded. Even just walking by, the sweet smell of fresh waffle cones, made right in front of the awaiting customers, will coax you in and before you know it, you’ll be getting a double or even triple scoop of any of their enticing flavours in any combination you desire. And just for good measure, you can be sure to grab a pint or a litre of your favourite flavour on the way out from their freezer up front. You can share it with friends or family if you’re so inclined, or hoard it all for yourself. Either way, you’ll definitely enjoy yourself. When high quality comes at low prices, there’s no complaints to be had… Except maybe for brain freeze from eating too fast.

 

ROLI POLI ICE CREAM CO.

Neighbourhood: Downtown

484 Richmond St. (map)

https://www.rolipoliicecream.com/

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If the classic scoop just doesn’t do it for you anymore, look no further than Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. This year-old business on Richmond Row offers rolled ice cream, a trend originating in Thailand that has blown up across North America recently. Rolling the ice cream is a hypnotizing process that Roli Poli will do before your very eyes. They pour the liquid base onto a super-chilled slab which freezes it almost instantly. With quite a bit of elbow grease and a specialized metal spatula, the ice cream is spread and the toppings are incorporated, until finally it’s rolled into tight cylindrical tubes of frozen goodness and placed in a cup with more toppings. It really is something that needs to be seen, words just can’t do it justice. If the theatricality of it all isn’t enough, flavours such as Apple Pie – vanilla ice cream, apple fritters from our friends at the Fritter Shop, caramel, and cinnamon sugar – or Avo-licious – an interesting sweet application of the avocado – will definitely bring in a crowd. They are always coming up with new flavours and combinations to consistently blow your mind on return visits. Roli Poli offers three different bases depending on your preference or dietary restrictions: cream, yogurt, or coconut milk. Or perhaps your dietary restriction is simple pickiness and rolling up ice cream goes against your values. In which case, Roli Poli offers classic hard scooped ice cream in a variety of flavours. Whether you’re lactose intolerant, fully vegan, or stuck in your ways, Roli Poli has got you covered. For a bit of a twist on the old ice cream formula, Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. is a trendy, fascinating spot to still fill that cold and sweet craving.  

LONDON ICE CREAM COMPANY

Neighbourhood: Southcrest

43 Baseline Rd W. (map)

http://www.londonicecream.ca/

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  So local, they put the city in their name, London Ice Cream Company began in 1994 and has grown to incredibly heights since then. Their mission statement is to make ice cream “the way it used to be” and they don’t mince their words. On their website, they state “We do not make Ice Milk or Frozen Desserts. We make Ice Cream.” London Ice Cream Company offers over 120 flavours including award winners such as Moosetracks and Peanut Butter Mudpuddle. Interestingly, their highest selling flavour is none of their award winners, or even classics such as vanilla or chocolate: it’s mango. The sweet and fruity flavour has gained popularity rapidly over the last couple of years and shot straight to the top of their best seller ranking. Their local roots haven’t limited their distribution though, as London Ice Cream Company produces and ships ice cream across the country. You can find them in scoop shops, restaurants, and retail food stores from coast to coast. For Londoners, the most direct source of their ice cream is straight from the storefront attached to their factory on Baseline Road just west of Wharncliffe. The bright pink walls and picnic tables should tip you off that you’re in the right spot. London Ice Cream Company also distributes their product under the name New Wave Ice Cream to their various outlets, but it’s the same fantastic product so don’t hold back and grab a pint or two for an upcoming barbeque, pool party, or movie marathon.

 

DOUBLE DECKER ICE CREAM

Neighbourhood: Old East Village

900 King St. (map)

  Winning the unofficial award for most unique ice cream venue in London, Double Decker Ice Cream is served out of exactly what the name implies: a double decker bus parked on Wellington Road. The bright red decommissioned British bus is hard to miss when you drive by, acting as the only advertising done by the company. From the bus, you’ll be served Shaw’s ice cream, a dairy based out of St. Thomas that just celebrated its 70th anniversary in business. They proudly boast that their ice cream’s first ingredient is 100% Canadian cream, always fresh. For their anniversary, they have introduced a few throwback flavours like Cherry Vanilla – a 1950’s style classic – and Saturday Morning Cartoons – a blast from the past that “tastes like that sweet milk rippled with a golden graham cereal swirl.” Other spectacular offerings include cones, sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches – where you can pick both the flavour of the ice cream and the cookie flavour. For example, for total cookie overload, you could go for the Double Stuffed Cookie ice cream sandwiched between classic chocolate chip cookies. Double Decker is a great place to bring your kids, with rock bottom prices and plentiful options, you won’t be breaking the bank to give your family a great summer treat. You could even bring a pint of your favourite flavour home for under $10. Plus the big red bus is a great spectacle for the kids. For a completely original experience, nothing parallels purchasing delicious ice cream from the side of a double decker bus.  

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

Festivals:  Throughout the summer, there are plenty of festivals held in Victoria Park that have entire rows dedicated to food and desserts. Whether you get a scoop on top of your funnel cake, or in some other crazy concoction, there are plenty of opportunities to grab some ice cream. Sunfest is coming up at the beginning of July, so head down and keep an eye out for an extra special cone or sundae on those festival weekends. Chil: Although technically speaking, Chil offers no ice cream, frozen yogurt could be considered close enough by the common person. Chil is a pay-by-weight frozen yogurt spot just off of Richmond Row on Hymen Street. Their variety of flavours and toppings is so expansive, it borders on entrapment, where most people will end up piling on more than they had anticipated and pay the consequences. For the absolute beast of a dessert though, it’s more than worth it. Make sure to look around downtown until you find one of their many coupons strewn around every bulletin board and lamp pole. You could end up getting a great deal on your fro yo. Taylor Sue’s Cups and Cones: Found in the Covent Garden Market in the heart of downtown, Taylor Sue’s Cups and Cones serves up more than just their titular cups and cones of ice cream. They also offer other frozen delicacies such as frozen yogurt, slush, and smoothies. For a bit less guilt, you can feel safe in the knowledge that this ice cream is healthy, as they can add protein, whey, and other healthy nutrients upon request. The Scoop: The Scoop is a classic scoop shop with a couple locations in London – one on Hyde Park and another on Wellington. Like Double Decker, the Scoop offers Shaw’s Creamery to great praise from the local community. Despite being barely more than a shed, the Scoop will often have a line down the steps full of people just waiting for a classic cone. While it might not be something to travel miles for, it’s a popular spot among locals if you’re in the area.  

The Best Fathers Day Gifts
in London

Father’s Day, the frequently neglected holiday, is coming up once again – on Sunday June 17th for the record. But rather than get him another lame tie or another gift card to Tim Horton’s, why not go the extra mile and find him a gift he’ll be excited about? Of course, the quality of a gift depends entirely on your dad. Not everything on this list will be a perfect fit for every person out there, but we’ve given a wide variety of gift ideas to fit a variety of personalities, from the classic machismo to artistic to a bit off the beaten track. Dads are often impossible to buy for: if they want something, they just buy it, or they’re so stuck in their old ways that anything new will go unused. So we have taken a lesser focus on the products themselves, and opted for a heavier focus on the experiences. Even though dads sometimes have trouble voicing their emotions, they love doing things with their children, especially when they’re grown up and have left the nest. Taking the time to experience something with your father can make his day much better than just getting him a card. With that said, every business featured in this gift guide is owned and operated in London as you may have guessed. These local businesses offer some of the greatest goods and/or services that could make the perfect gift for dear old dad.

 

WHISTLING DICKS BARBER SHOP

Neighbourhood: Old East Village

760 Dundas St (map)

https://www.whistlingdicks.com/

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Whistling Dicks Barber Shop London The gift of a trip to Whistling Dick’s Barber Shop could be a time machine back to your father’s childhood, depending on how old he is. Whistling Dick’s is replicating the feel of a 1930’s barber shop and act as a safe haven for guys to be guys. Old tunes play from their stereo as you enter and you’re hit with the rustic scents of wood and tobacco. Despite their rugged appearance and rustic décor, Whistling Dick’s is all about pampering their clients. Just by the barbers’ appearance, you may think they look more like butchers, but their hands are nimble and will give you and your father one of the smoothest shaves you’ll ever experience with their hot straight razors. And of course they’re some of the friendliest guys you’ll meet, chatting with every patron they comes through their doors. Whistling Dick’s aims to be more than just a barber shop though, they aim to be a social hub, a place to hang out with other guys, a clubhouse with a big old “no girls allowed” sign if you will. And with a liquor license pending approval as icing on the cake, this could be a great experience for you and your father to share. He might even become a regular and owe you for introducing him to the idea! Even if your dad might not be in need of a haircut right this instant, Whistling Dick’s is more than just a razor, a pair of scissors, and a buzzer. At Whistling Dick’s, you’re welcome to join in a society and experience the barber shop of yesteryear. For a more in depth look at Whistling Dick’s, including a video with the owners, head on over to our Business of the Week on them here.

 

LONDON FLOAT THERAPY

Neighbourhood: Masonville

215 Fanshawe Park Rd. (map)

http://www.londonfloattherapy.com/

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London Float   If your dad is more inclined to physical activity or he’s always complaining about being sore and his creaky joints, London Float Therapy could be an interesting new experience for him to try. Featured in our Business of the Week last July, London Float is the only float clinic in the city. Float therapy promotes relaxation and healing through floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Once inside the pod, you lay in a shallow pool of salt water. The high levels of epsom salt increases the density of water, thereby counteracting the effects of Earth’s gravity and allowing you to float in complete silence and darkness. While out of context this may sound like something out of a horror movie, float therapy is an incredible experience for most customers, allowing for both physical and mental relaxation and healing. The lack of stimulus allows muscles to release tension and begin to heal, while it coerces the mind into a meditative state. It allows for mental introspection and self-discovery as your physical sense of self almost melts away to the point where some customers weren’t sure where their body ended and the water began. Sessions last for either 60 or 150 minutes, in either a float pod or a float room, which is more spacious for the claustrophobes out there that may still want to try, but both are the same price. The biggest barrier may be convincing your dad to get in the pod. But if you can, this could be the perfect opportunity for him to relax his old bones and forget the stresses of his job. For more info on London Float Therapy, check out Santa’s firsthand experience in the float pod in our Business of the Week here.

 

ANDERSON CRAFT ALES

Neighbourhood: Old East Village

1030 Elias St (map)

http://andersoncraftales.ca/

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Anderson Craft Ales

For the beer drinking dads, Anderson Craft Ales is a great gift idea. London has an abundance of breweries within the city limits, but Anderson is definitely one of our favourites. Their Old East Village brewery is also open to the public, which makes the gift more than just a six-pack of their fantastic IPA. Their small batch, handcrafted, premium beers are incredibly popular among locals, and have spread in restaurants, bars, and LCBOs (only the IPA so far) across the province. They even won the silver medal in its category at the Canadian Brewing Awards, beating out over 200 competitors. The taproom and tasting room overlooks their open concept brewery, so as you sip one of their excellent beers, either permanent or a seasonal brews, you can watch their process. They also have a shelf of board games for your enjoyment, as long as everyone can keep their cool during a game of Monopoly. Don’t forget to grab a souvenir from their retail store as well. A hat, t-shirt or pint glass with Anderson’s stylishly minimal logo would accompany the case of beer your dad is taking home perfectly, and of course acts as a reminder of what an excellent gift giver you are, even after the beer has disappeared. To sneak a peek at the brewery and get more information about their products, head over to our Business of the Week we did with them last summer, found here.  

ILLBURY + GOOSE

Neighbourhood: Old East Village

884 Dundas St (map)

https://www.illburyandgoose.com/

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  If fashion is what your dad is into, Illbury + Goose offers trendy, high quality clothing and accessories for Canadians, proudly sporting the maple leaf in their logo. Heavily inspired by the trendy shops found on Queen Street West in Toronto, Illbury + Goose puts an emphasis on high quality and locality in everything they do and every product they sell. The clothing brand began with two Londoners, Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips just wanting to rep their hometown without wearing hokey, low quality souvenirs. Soon, the couple were selling locally branded clothing out of the Western Fair Farmers’ and Craft Market and then moved into their own storefront in the Old East Village. Their line grew beyond ball caps and t-shirts quickly. They now offer outerwear and accessories such as moose hide gloves. They also have their own lines of coffee and tea, assorted cleaning products – both personal hygiene and household cleanliness – and scented soy wax candles, featuring offbeat scents like Dark + Stormy, which smells of ginger and lime like its namesake rum cocktail. Their minimal designs allow their clothes to fit into any wardrobe without feeling out of place, while still standing out as impeccable quality. Even for the old fashioned dad that has worn the same rotation of four polo shirts and the same baseball hat every day for years, a high quality Illbury + Goose tee or hat could fit into his attire with ease. So if you’re looking to pick up something that your dad might actually wear or an accessory he’d use, while still being on trend, Illbury + Goose is a great place to look.

 

ROCK THE PARK

Neighbourhood: Downtown London

Harris Park (map)

https://www.rockthepark.ca/

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  For the music-loving dad, tickets to London’s outdoor music festival, Rock the Park, would be a great pick for a gift. Rock the Park is a yearly festival hosted in Downtown London’s Harris Park. Depending on his taste, you could get him a ticket to any of the four themed nights of Rock the Park: July 11th is “FM96 Presents” for the modern rocker; July 12th is “Mixtape Rewind” for those who want a blast from the rock and pop past; July 13th is “Bring Back the 90’s” for lovers of 90’s RnB; July 14th is “FM96 Presents” for the modern rocker that doesn’t have Wednesday evening free. The lineups at Rock the Park are always impressive and diverse, bringing in a variety of demographics. From 80’s sweetheart Cyndi Lauper to emo punks Three Days Grace to hip hop legend Coolio, at least one of the nights is more than likely fit your dad’s style. Just to make the gift a little more sweet and feel like you’re doing a bit of extra good with your gift, part of the proceeds from Rock the Park go towards four charities: the Make-a-Wish Southwestern Ontario, Big Brothers Big Sisters of London & Area, the Brandon Prust Foundation, and Western Football. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Rock the Park. Firstly, general admission is standing room only and lawn chairs are not permitted due to limited space in the park. So if your father’s knees and back just aren’t what they used to be, it might be in your best interest to grab one of the VIP reserved tables. Secondly, it’s an outdoor event that will be happening rain or shine, so check the forecast ahead of time. Wear your rubber boats and bring an umbrella if necessary. Thirdly, Rock the Park usually does sell out, so be sure to jump on your tickets quick, especially if you want to gift them to your dad on Father’s Day. Rock the Park is a wonderful gift that you and your father can experience together or as an entire family, so grab your tickets now!  

BARACOA TOBACCONIST CIGAR SHOP

Neighbourhood: Old South

173 Wharncliffe Rd. (map)

http://www.baracoacigars.com/

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Baracoa Whether your dad is a cigar aficionado or only partakes occasionally, a cigar or cigar accessory always makes for a fantastic gift. Baracoa is London’s premiere cigar shop, with a massive and varied selection of cigars for your gifting needs. They have cigars from a variety of countries. Of course, the usual suspects such as Cuba and Nicaragua, but also lesser known tobacco producers like Italy and Mexico. While the prospect of entering a cigar shop may seem intimidating for the inexperienced, the guys at Baracoa, led by owner Dave Sorge, are incredibly knowledgeable and more than happy to help you make your selection. If your dad already has his own assortment of cigars and doesn’t need any more, Baracoa has accessories that will make your dad’s day. Cutters, lighters, and punchers are popular gifts that don’t break the bank. If you’ve got a slightly bigger budget or can split the price across a few siblings, a humidor would make an excellent present to help him maintain and expand his at-home collection. They even have an in-house engraver, so after you pick your gift, you can get it personalized with your father’s initials, name, or maybe even a meaningful phrase or an inside joke between the two of you if it’s short enough to fit. Cigars are a commonly seen as a sign of celebration, and there’s no better to way to celebrate your dad this Father’s Day than heading to Baracoa for his gift. To learn a bit more from the owner himself, check out our Business of the Week featurette on Baracoa here.