a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Jun, 2017

This was our summer solstice

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa

I can’t even remember when we bought Mark his portable charcoal grill. It may have been Father’s Day last year. Or maybe his birthday? Regardless of when, I do know that it’s been gathering dust in the basement, despite repeated declarations that it was going to be used. Soon.

Well, SOON finally happened this week. (Someone had to take matters into her own hands!) I picked up some seasoned kebabs at Farm Boy (spoiler alert: they were AMAZING), a few other things, and packed our bags.

The original plan was to find a picnic table and some shade at Britannia Beach but it quickly became clear that we were not going to find a parking spot, anywhere. Plan B, was a little further west: Andrew Hayden Park. I held my breath as we pulled into the lot because there was no Plan C! Phew. I needn’t have worried because there was plenty of parking to be found here. It’s not as popular a spot – maybe because there’s no beach here – but it’s just as pretty.

We parked the car and set up at a picnic table overlooking the water. This was our view:

The view from our picnic table, Andrew Hayden Park

Boats dotted the sparkling water, ducks landed and took off, and we got some serious side eye from the resident gulls. And of course, there were the geese. The goslings are probably due to leave the nest very soon:

The geese at Andrew Hayden Park

Mark assembled the grill and lit the coals while got everything ready. (Note to self: always travel with a Swiss Army Knife):

Hot coals!

Stuff for the picnic!

Here’s a tip: grilling over coal can take a while, so bring something to eat while you’re waiting. (We had Farm Boy chips and fresh salsa. Next time I will buy more than I think I need because the family will devour it.) Also, pick something that doesn’t take too long to cook. The skewers were a perfect choice:

Farm Boy beef and chicken skewers

While dinner was grilling, the four of us simply enjoyed our surroundings: the people, the wildlife, and the view. There was a church group at the amphitheater, so we even had some distant musical entertainment!

Finallyyyyy, dinner was ready:

Dinner is served.

It was easy peasy. DIY souvlaki was what I was going for here. Pita, plus meat of choice (beef or chicken), topped with a drizzle of simple yogurt sauce (plain yogurt, garlic, seasonings), pickled red onion slices (vinegar and sugar I mixed up at home), and romaine lettuce. Grape tomatoes rounded out our meal. I can’t describe how delicious it was. There is something about eating food prepared on a charcoal grill, that makes it extra smokey and delicious isn’t there? Every bite was like, OMG!

After dinner we had dessert. Nothing fancy here:


… and then watched the sunset.

Watching the sun set at Andrew Hayden Park

My only disappointment was (a) the days are shorter from here on in and (b) the fact that we’d never done this before. I guess we’ve just never made the time, which is just plain sad. I will say this, it was The Best Way to spend the longest day of the year. I definitely think we should grill our dinner at the park more often.


4 Responses to "This was our summer solstice"

1 | KristaR

June 25th, 2017 at 8:39 am


Looks like a perfect evening! I live close to the park and it always warms the cockles to see families enjoying the space like this.

I love your Canada mugs :)

2 | splashy

June 26th, 2017 at 12:09 pm


I WILL bbq with charcoal. It really does taste better.

For years, my summer solstice “thing” was getting up to watch sunrise and watch the sun drop behind the horizon at the end of the day. Didn’t do it this year. But will soon – even if it’s not on the solstice. Maybe on Canada Day. That would be special.

3 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive So what did you do on Canada Day? - a peek inside the fishbowl

July 4th, 2017 at 8:08 am


[…] coals for a little BBQ in between the waves of rain. Sidebar: I’ve been keen for the coals since our picnic at Andrew Hayden Park but have since learned that it’s a good idea to let the coals burn and settle before putting […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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