Keeping the Flame of Love Alive in Hastings County

Photos and Story submitted by Aysha Tayab-Ratsep

 It’s often said that variety is what keeps a relationship interesting and meaningful. Both partners are encouraged to engage in something new. I can safely say that this trip to Hastings County was full of surprises and new experiences for both my husband and me. Staying in a yurt for one night was at the heart and soul of this trip. We both love the outdoors, but we also love coming back to the comfort of our own homes. However, we were also craving an adventure and that is what we got.


Aside from the information on the Airbnb listing, we weren’t sure what to expect from this stay. We first approached our mixed feelings of excitement and hesitation by doing something more familiar. Plus, we also had some time to wander the area before checking in.

Our first stop was at the Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art Gallery. This two-storey art gallery was filled with impressive pieces of work from local artists and artisans. The second storey, along with the music in this place, made me want to dance. Doesn’t the space just call for it?

After feeling inspired to dabble in paint, we then checked out The Unconventional Moose. Wandering around this store was a fun treat. It had anything and everything you could want or didn’t know you could want. It also satisfied my love of cheesy puns.

Just when things couldn’t get any cheesier, it was time to go to our next stop: Ivanhoe Cheese.

I’m so grateful for this stop. Pun not intended this time. It was close to the yurt, and it was a great way to stock up on treats for our cozy night in.

The Yurt

When we reached the address, we had no idea where this yurt was. We parked our car and then started walking along the long driveway. Then we saw this.


I guess that’s where it was. Sort of. My husband made two trips to bring in our bag and the firewood down this winding path on a toboggan. Then, we approached the yurt.


When we first walked in, we were surprized that it was cool not cold. I was particularly amazed at how homey the inside was.

The hosts had already started the fire, making the yurt cozy and welcoming. We also got other lovely surprises!


Fresh warm bread and heavenly scented bath salts made by the hosts. This level of hospitality and warmth was genuinely touching.

We made ourselves quite comfortable on the couch where we got the best view of the woods outside and the fire inside.

Hearing the crackling fire and the rain coming down on the very sturdy canvass that made up the yurt was a great way to appreciate and connect with nature’s elements. We spent so much time by the fire since the weather wasn’t looking so great. So we decided to stay inside for dinner. Afterall, we had everything we needed. I always thought to myself that I would be happy just eating good bread and good cheese. Now it was time to eat my words, or rather, my thoughts. I was content, but my husband was not. Men always seem to need to eat more anyway. Since this was our special time just to relax and unwind, we went out again once the freezing rain stopped. However, it was late, and options were limited, so we made due with what we could find. We still had a great time going for a little night hike down the path and hear some owls.

Luckily, we had dessert planned long before came to town: s’mores.


It was the sweetest ending to a night filled with warmth, love, and laughter.

It was also a good thing that this day was my treat day from my usual work-out and diet regimen. The next morning greeted us with a cow moo-ing and this beautiful sight.

This beauty alone could have kept me inside and indulging my introverted tendencies to read the books provided by the hosts. But as fate would have it, we were on our last log for the fire. But a firepit full of warm coals doesn’t mean the fuel was gone. It was time to go outside and play.


A hot breakfast at Sunny Side Up got us adequately thawed and ready to make the most of this sunny morning. We walked along the frozen paths at the lake on Tweed Memorial Park.

Venturing toward these fishing huts while walking on a solid frozen body of water was an eerie but fun feeling.

We also made our way for a hike in Vanderwater Conservation Area. The quiet sounds of nature in the winter was everything we needed to bring this trip in Hastings County full circle.

There will never be enough words (or photos) to truly capture all the beauty and peace we experienced during this very trip.

With that, I encourage you to make a winter wander of your own. Explore and enjoy what this beautiful area has to offer. If you have any suggestions for places to winter wander in Hastings County, please leave a comment and/or picture on Facebook!