Tag Archives: family activities

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Celebrating the festive season in Port Hope (Part1)

This past weekend, I decided to join my friends in Port Hope to celebrate the Christmas season, so I booked my VIA Rail ticket and set off for my adventure on Friday afternoon. Before arriving in Cobourg (the main rail stop for area), the train whistled hello to Port Hope as we rode across the Ganaraska River over the big bridge. Woohoo!

On this Friday night, Port Hope merchants presented their annual Midnight Madness late night shopping, after the townsfolk strolled the streets during the candlelight walk to the main park for the Christmas lighting ceremony and opening of the nativity scene in the bandshell. I was thrilled when I was “adopted” by a lovely family and got to join them on the candlelight walk (thanks, Val from Pharmasave, for bringing me into the family).

20181123_190539 20181123_192017 20181123_192020Lots of fun rides and activities, including VIA Rail‘s mini train chugging around the streets, full of laughing kids and parents. What fun!20181123_192638And everybody loved the maple syrup pops made fresh, courtesy of the local Home Hardware store. Yummm!

I also took a ride on the wagon drawn by 2 big Shire horses thru the streets, then spent time injecting some cash into the local economy…yes, it was time to shop!!

As always, my first stop was at Queenie’s Bake Shop where owner Adam (that’s him on the TV screen) and his staff were running a toy drive and I was happy to donate a couple of treasures, too.  www.queenies-bake-shop.business.site/20181124_113140 20181123_162352Then off I went next door to the Kenneth Bell jewellery & fashion boutique for some retail therapy and shopping for pressies. Ken was kind enough to pick me up from the station and bring me into Port Hope that afternoon. We always share a laugh when I visit… www.kennethbell.com

20181123_172143 20181123_171608 20181123_171552After my credit card got a good workout at Ken’s, I then went to visit the elegant and friendly Bubbles & Gems where I picked up a couple of pressies for my sister Jenny in Australia…no photos of them ‘coz I think she actually reads my blog! https://bubblesandgems.com/  They have a lovely section of the store towards the back that is set aside for display and sales of local artisans’ work and I highly recommend you visiting and supporting the local craftspeople.20181125_132232 20181123_173731 20181123_173718As I made my way up Walton Street, I saw so many beautiful window displays including Holton Flowers (they ALWAYS have big beautiful floral displays in the windows)  www.holtonflowers.com/20181123_174618 20181123_174603Then across the street, I saw Furby House Books and loved their Dickensian style windows, and the travel agents next door with their festive globes…all decked out for the holidays.20181123_174829 20181123_174834 20181123_174844I was getting very hungry – it’s exhausting spending money!!! so I sought out Nookie’s Soul Kitchen & Bar, one of the town’s best restaurants offering gourmet meals. Friday is “surf’n’turf” special night. Yes, lobster & steak for $20 (see below) and it was DELICIOUS! Thanks to Tony the cute bartender for taking care of my needs….LOL!   www.nookiesph.com20181123_204114Burp! That was soooo good!

Finally it was time to go tuck myself in for the night so I walked past more delightful decorations, up the hill to my home for the weekend. I stayed at the Summerhill Manor B&B (more about that in Part 2 of the blog) 20181123_174857

20181123_185734So with a full tummy and heart full of joy, I slipped beneath the big fluffy comforter and slept well until I awoke to smell of fresh coffee brewing and bacon on the kitchen grill. Chef Ron of the Summerhill was up early getting my breakfast ready.  TO BE CONTINUED…..

For tourist info: www./visitporthope.ca/

CONCERT RAISES FUNDS FOR NEXT MONTH’S “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL”

Last week, one of Toronto’s favourite watering holes, The Duke on Queen St East, played host to a special fundraising concert benefiting this year’s 14th Annual Beach Celtic Festival (Sept. 9/10) and festival founder SANDY GRAHAM was thrilled to welcome an exciting line-up of Celtic dancers and musicians to the stage.

MC  & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured musicians to take their bows.

MC & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured performers to take their bows.

Thanks to the generosity of the performers and that of the prize donors for the silent auction, a substantial amount of money was raised to help underwrite the costs for producing the annual festival celebrating the contributions made to Toronto’s history and growth by Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English immigrants.

Led by Meghan Bold, the lovely ladies from the Bold Steps Dance Studio entertained with traditional dances and clogging – the excited crowd clapped along in time.

Apart from MC’ing the evening, singer/songwriter Don Graham opened the night with some great tunes….20170822_195838…and he was followed shortly by roots musician Syd Simkins (below)…20170822_203237….and award-winning artist Lisa Hartt (below)20170822_205652The auction tables were pretty busy throughout the night, offering all sorts of treasures and treats.20170822_183041 20170822_183938MPP Arthur Potts (below) dropped by to wish Sandy and the Festival volunteers well…and shared a few funny stories with the audience. He and Sandy go waaaay back and she was delighted to pose for pictures with him.20170822_194407 20170822_195102Music insider and columnist for Cashbox Canada e-magazine (Sandy is publisher of this long-running music magazine), Lenny Stout (below, left) helped sell 50-50 draw tickets with Festival volunteer Fiona Lawson (right). 20170822_203358…they also helped Don with the draw. And the winner is…. Zita DaSilva who was obviously very excited about the result!20170822_220328Sandy was pleased to welcome reporter Courtney from Snapd newspaper (below left) to the event where she snapped lots of pictures of the performers including Brooke and Steve from Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost.20170822_211243 20170822_213338Stephen Lamb (Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost) was, in fact, presented with the “Beach Celt of the Year” award honouring his contributions to the Celtic community and continued support of the Festival. Steve was later joined by Sandy and MPP Potts for photo opps.20170822_212210 20170822_195122

It truly was a grand night and the artists and audience all paid tribute to Sandy Graham for creating such a unique family-friendly annual event.  You can learn more at www.thecelticfestival.com

BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL
Sat/Sun September 9 & 10 and it’s FREE!
Kew Gardens, Queen St East in the Beach, Toronto

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I VISIT THE ANNUAL RIVERDALE ARTWALK IN TORONTO

So nice to catch up with old artist friends and check out their new works when I dropped by the annual RIVERDALE ARTWALK at Jimmy Simpson Park along Queen St East today. I was also pleased to discover some exciting new painters I’d never seen before, several of whom came in from Mississauga – is there a secret arts community out there we don’t know about? Boy, are they ever talented out west!! For instance, Neerja Trehan (below) whose bright canvases drew me in to the first booth I encountered upon arriving.  www.NeerjaTrehan.com20170603_122048 20170603_122213I then turned the corner and wandered down the second aisle and who did I find? The amazing Mark J. Gleberzon www.mjggallery.com who was happy to pose with his customized skateboard. Always a joy to see Mark and his work…one day I hope to acquire a piece for my own modest art collection.20170603_122406(0)Here’s Kate Taylor who just got back from various art shows around the world.  www.katetaylorstudio.com  She brought some of her well-traveled art pieces to the show today…again, another artist I hope to include in my personal collection one day!20170603_122540 20170603_122549Dear Rea Kelly…she always greets me with open arms and a warm hug! Love her big, bold and bright florals (below) www.reakelly.com20170603_122752Another exciting new discovery for me was Josee Duranleau (below) who uses found images and photographs from bygone eras then applies her own paint and vision to them. www.joseeduranleau.com   Her stunning “Queen of the Catwalk” (3rd pic below) glittered and shimmered in today’s sunlight.20170603_123114(0)20170603_123325 20170603_123420And I found Laird McMurray‘s exquisite tiny fishing flies with illustrations charming and innovative (below) and perfect for Dad’s Day gifting. He was busy greeting clients and art fans (bottom pic, left) so hopefully he won’t have too much to pack up and take home on Sunday! Just wish he had a dedicated website to share more of his work.20170603_123708 20170603_123729Julia McNeely posed proudly with her wee beasties (below) …don’t you just love the big chicken? You can find more of her work on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/julia.mcneely20170603_123943Christopher Masoure is another of the Mississauga contingent – here he is with potential buyers (below).  His stark large-format paintings are stunning in close-up. Check out his work for yourself at www.studiomasoure.com 20170603_124209 20170603_124513Margaret Horvat‘s paintings of beautiful blooms were such a lovely surprise…and she also hails from out west, too…..well, Burlington, at least! www.margarethorvat.com  Here she is (below) in her garden of art!20170603_124343And here’s the always-smiling Morgan Jones who offered such a lovely warm welcome to his booth. He has a number of new “travelling gnomes” pieces…so cute! You can view his gnomes and many other images on his website: www.morganjonesart.com20170603_124552(0)Cape-Cod-150x150Ian Busher always surprises me and here he is (below) with a whole new series of colourful geometric paintings. I’m a proud owner of one of his woodland creature artworks so I’m a little biased about this artist – I think he’s fab! www.studiobusher.com20170603_124640W. Stephen Cooper (below) is always makes me feel so welcome at his booth. His photographic artwork of abandoned old junkers always pleases the eye. His work inspired me to snap the various old trucks down at the Distillery District. www.wstephencooper.com20170603_125051Jamie MacLean was busy with customers so I didn’t disturb him, but I did check out his latest works. I first met him earlier this year at The Artist Project. Next week, he’ll be up at the Rosedale Art Fair so you can see his stunning tree paintings in person. jamiemacleanfineart.bigcartel.com 20170603_12524920170603_125342I just love young Robert Strickland‘s bold florals (below).  Big peonies, delicate roses and other glorious buds and blooms painted in the old-school tradition but with a definite edge. Keep an eye on this artist… www.robertstricklandart.com 20170603_125909 20170603_125918Sheila Thompson (below, in white) is another artist whose work intrigues me…she works in felt & fibre and adds special touches to each piece, like a porcupine quill. As her business cards say…”warm your walls”!  www.sheilathompson.ca 20170603_13013320170603_13021620170603_130251Elena Balkos showed off her large format photography of exotic beaches, and of course I headed straight for the one behind her to the right – it’s of the Algarve region of Portugal which I consider my “spiritual home”. Bravo, Elena – they’re all gorgeous, esp. those of your own home, Greece.  www.elenabalkos.com20170603_131141(0)So here she is….the one and only Nancy Bennett! Nancy and I worked together waaaay back in the late 70’s and it’s been so nice to reconnect and see what each of us has been up to since then. Nancy’s created quite the wonderful artistic life for herself and here she is (below) entertaining more old friends from her school days!  www.nancybennett.ca  20170603_131649(0) 20170603_131744Another new artist for me, Nadia Lassman (below) showed off her cool, calming impressionist-inspired works inside the park’s adjoining community centre. A former lawyer, Nadia is now a full-time artist showcasing her work here, in Miami, Scottsdale and New York. Bravo, Nadia, I love your work!  www.nadialassmanart.com20170603_132114(0)Also inside the community centre, I found Rob Croxford and his humourous Toronto-centric critter posters, as well as lots of fun word-play smalls, robots and vintage pin-up girl pieces. Rob was making lots of sales so I had to wait several minutes to grab him for this quick pic….congrats on another successful show, Rob!  www.robcroxford.com20170603_132813 20170603_132933 20170603_132534 20170603_132926

Riverdale Artwalk is open again tomorrow (Sunday June 4) but it looks like rain so take your umbrellas. The artists will all be there so come out and support them and take home a little framed memory, too. 20170603_130918For more information about this show and other upcoming events, visit www.artistsnetwork.ca20170603_130746

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ARTFEST BRINGS EXCITING ARTISTS AND CRAFTSPEOPLE TO TORONTO’S HISTORIC DISTILLERY DISTRICT

Over the long weekend, my bestie, Erena, and I made a quick visit to the annual ArtFest crafts and fine arts market in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. We also visited some of the established art galleries located in the enclave of 19th & early 20th century warehouses and cellars. It was so crowded that it was hard just to get in to some of the tents so Erena and I focused on just a few.

Our very first stop was at Joseph Calleja‘s handcrafted silk & cotton scarf display The Toronto-based photographer & artist incorporates many of his own photos into the unique and beautiful prints in multiple colours, shapes and sizes. Some are pure silk, others a cotton/silk blend as well as long wraps in the softest of cotton. Erena purchased 2, one a vibrant pink and the other…the blue one she’s modelling below. www.callejascarves.com20160522_133428 20160522_133236I then noticed a very talented sculptor, Chaka Chikodzi, who hails from Kingston, ON, which has become quite the artists’ colony thanks to the great light quality in that area (about 3hrs east of Toronto, on Lake Ontario). This one charming piece of carved Springstone is a a guinea fowl and it really called to me. Perhaps next time he comes to Toronto, I will have the $s to make it mine!   www.chakachikodzi.com20160522_141408Erena and I wandered around some more trying not to trip over the cobblestones (hint: NEVER wear your Manolo Blahniks to the Distillery District!!) and saw lots of returning exhibitors from last year which I previously covered in my blog, so we sought refuge from the hot sun inside the Thompson Landry Gallery and discovered all sorts of amazing artists we’d never previously seen, for example Tommy Zen from Montreal. He is descended from several generations of Venetian cabinet makers and artisans, eventually discovering his own love for clay and ceramics. The gallery (there are actually 2 amazing Thompson Landry Galleries on-site, opposite each other) proudly displays his giant ceramics, each gilded with sparkling gold and vibrant colours. Below are 2 of my favourite pieces, each well over 6ft tall!!  www.thompsonlandry.com20160522_160806 20160522_161353Many more artists are showcased there including this massive 10′ x 6′ canvas of a raging bull (titled Turbo) by Dominic Besner (below). This was Erena’s fave.20160522_161251I also liked these pieces…what do you think?20160522_16131520160522_160924We then walked over to artagallery where I found some more gorgeous works of art that really resonated with me. I really liked these two: below left is P. Colbert’s “Dream Creek” oil on canvas (36″x48″) and below right is I. Stoyanov’s “Yellow #18″ mixed media on canvas (68″x48″)  You can find out more at www.artagallery.ca20160522_164359I also found these florals engaging…and happy!20160522_164730 20160522_164742….and Erena made a bee-line for the playful pieces featuring wildlife!20160522_164839artagallery offers some unique display settings, too – I really liked this rusted old boiler plating (below)20160522_164702The next Artfest takes place over the labour day long weekend (Sept. 2-5) in the same venue; if you’d like to check out the shopping, dining and sight-seeing opportunities at Toronto’s Distillery District, visit their website for hours & directions: www.thedistillerydistrict.com20160522_164631

 

 

 

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KENSINGTON MARKET (TORONTO) – LAST “PEDESTRIAN SUNDAY” OF THE YEAR

Today, the sun was out and so was half of Toronto (it seemed) on the streets of Kensington Market to celebrate the last “pedestrian Sunday” and to support the art fair featuring local artists and craftspeople.20151025_132739My bestie, Erena, and I wandered down Augusta Ave where we saw lots of vendors and all the regular stores were decked out in their finest Halloween decorations. Best place to find groovy costumes for trick-or-treating!20151025_134254 20151025_142559 20151025_142811 20151025_143737Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was one of the thousands of starving artists, actors or musicians who shopped, dined and partied in Kensington Mkt. This was the first period of vintage clothing crazes Toronto went thru and Kensington was the coolest neighbourhood where all the second hand and vintage togs were affordable….Courage My Love, Exile, Black Market….all my old haunts for buying clothing, shoes, jewellery. Nice to visit and see some of my old fave places still there and thriving. Nice to see the old House of Spice still there although it seems they’re more into incense than actual spices. Used to buy my curry powder there.20151025_143629 20151025_143818 20151025_135110But today was all about the artisans and street performers. We met the delightfully bright and cheery Whitney French (poetrybusker.tumblr.com) who was typing instant custom poetry and prose on her portable typewriter. 20151025_133803 20151025_133800

20151025_133810Before heading over to the art fair, Erena and I just HAD to go grab some Turkish Delight…the best in the city…from a little spice and nut store on Bladwin St. They have THE best rose-flavoured fresh TD (see below)20151025_134633 20151025_134648…and as we walked away I noticed their next door neighbours. Their signage made me laugh – “hustlin’ since 1965″!20151025_134904Round the corner at the art fair, I met the lady at the BB Tresors handmade jewellery booth. I really liked the bracelets which reminded me of the California-based Satya line…but hers were half Satya’s price. Wow.  Check out the Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/bbtresors20151025_140715

20151025_140851 20151025_140725Along the next aisle was a real cute art/ceramics booth (below)20151025_141151…then I met Marcella Valentino of inch x inch. What super cool handcrafted jewellery designs (below). Loved the big pendants made from metal washers or oversized crystals.  www.inchxinchxmv.etsy.com20151025_141411 20151025_141453 20151025_141456One of the artists I had already scoped out online was Ralph Alfonso of BBAM! Gallery in Montreal, a rock’n’roll photographer whose pictures showcase the great bands of the 70s and 80’s and who was himself a music manager (The Diodes). http://www.bbamgallery.com/ Here’s Ralph (below left) surveying the scene.20151025_141912 20151025_141922

20151025_141940Here’s a cool way to light your home. Veggie lamps. Yes, artist Masa Lizdek creates plaster molds of vegetables & fruit, then handcrafts them into stunning porcelain lamps (below) under the designer name Ripe – check ’em out at www.masalizdek.com/artdownload IMG_7165 IMG_7177Erena and I were hungry and thirsty so we went looking for some nibblies…we shoulda grabbed some Rasta Pasta but the line up was too long!20151025_142622And of course, I wanted to ride the pony (below) but couldn’t find an actual pony anywhere!20151025_143018No idea what this was supposed to be (below), but that’s half the fun of Kensington Market – finding all the wacky characters and street art. I thought Lady Gaga had arrived with a giant eyeball or albino boob. I dunno – what do you see?20151025_144827So much to see, hear, smell, taste, touch….I needed a whole month of Sundays but will certainly make another visit soon during the week. Here are a few more photos and a couple of videos I shot – enjoy!20151025_135253 20151025_143625 20151025_134050

URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES KHAT KARIM’S SHOW OF CONTEMPORARY ABSTRACT ART

Another fab soiree with the folks at Toronto’s Urban Gallery…last night they opened their month-long Under My Skin show for Canadian artist Khat Karim, featuring her wildly colourful and movement-filled abstract contemporary work.

20150604_181049Khat uses a variety of painting applications – hands, brushes and other unorthodox painting tools to drip, splash, pour, and layer paint to create her strikingly, raw, organic works of art. The intricate movements and swirls in her paintings capture the interplay of skill and unplanned occurrences that determines the final outcome. This process allows her to abandon self-control and surrender to her subconscious bringing forth an emotional release.

20150604_175707 20150604_180623Khat was surrounded by friends and members of her family (below) who came out to support and celebrate her show opening.

20150604_175927 20150604_184702 20150604_184914 20150604_184724(0)Fellow artists Angel Torres (below r) and Brenda Clews (centre) joined Snapd photographer Morgan (left) to admire Khat’s work.

Morgan, Brenda and AngelAnd I attempted somewhat unsuccessfully to snap a selfie or two (below) in front of my fave paintings….at least you can see Khat’s superb technique and colour palette in close-up.20150604_180141 20150604_180434…the crowds kept coming and soon the gallery was full of admiring art-lovers.

20150604_180101 20150604_181026 20150604_183740 20150604_183459Congrats to Khat…we hope to see lots of red dots over the coming weeks. Under My Skin runs until Saturday June 27th at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East. Check their website for hours: www.urbangallery.ca

20150604_181039 Seeing The Light Under My Skin IMG_0659

 

 

 

 

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GIDDY-UP AND DANCE! ODYSSEO HORSES MESMERIZE AT MEDIA DAY

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the media preview of Cavalia’s “ODYSSEO” show featuring 70+ horses and dozens of riders, trainers and gymnasts performing under the big top down in Toronto’s portlands.

20150407_132204 20150407_132420We all crammed into the press area and pulled out cameras and spent 55 minutes clicking and rolling as the horses jumped, galloped, and danced to haunting live music, many horses working without reins or any sort of tack – it was amazing to watch how gently and calmly the trainers worked with them.

20150407_133420 20150407_133835(0) 20150407_134020There are many vignettes featuring medieval style dressage (above), and energetic cowboy rough-riding (below) demonstrated….

20150407_135340 20150407_135445 20150407_135703It was difficult to capture the fast galloping trick riders (above) but soon the mood changed once again….

20150407_140127 20150407_140145Wow….they filled the giant arena with water, turning the scene into a beautiful waterfall pool where the horses danced like 4-legged water sprites.

20150407_140815 20150407_140910 20150407_1409273 years ago, I attended Odysseo when the show first came to town. But on Tuesday, I still got the chills watching these breathtaking beasties charge around, perfectly choreographed. Congratulations to Artistic Director Normand Latourelle for maintaining such a high standard of professionalism and inspiration. And bravo to all the creative team, the riders and trainers, the musicians and the beautiful vocalist who brought the “middle earth” vibe,  and those astounding gymnasts who jumped, bounced, climbed around the arena with such energy and gusto.

20150407_141402 20150407_141424Equine artist, Bruce K. Lawes (http://bklawesart.com/) came with me to shoot additional photos and he was in horse heaven!

20150407_143154 20150407_143513 20150407_143225 20150407_143211Local horsewoman, Amanda from Mississauga, rode in the show, too. (below)

20150407_142245And here’s the amazing trainer who worked with 12 “free” horses earlier in the show.

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20150407_133219So if you love horses, if you enjoy theatre, if you’re passionate about dance – you MUST visit ODYSSEO while it’s here in Toronto. The show has already been extended for another two weeks so check your newspapers or visit their website for show times and ticket information: http://cavalia.net/en/odysseo/tickets-info/toronto-can

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OTTAWA’s CLAUSTROPHOBIA ESCAPE ROOM VENUE CELEBRATES GREAT OPENING WEEK

I’m excited to hear about the success of Claustrophobia’s launch week, covered by the Ottawa Citizen, KISS-FM radio hosts Carter & Sandra, and hundreds of social media and blog posts from the first players in the rooms.  Earlier this week, I spoke with Claustrophobia’s founder, Jennifer Schnare, and asked her about the game venue’s opening week and how business is growing.

Now that you’ve been open for 10 days, how has Ottawa accepted Claustrophobia?  It’s been an amazing response from the Ottawa community. Many people haven’t heard of real escape games and are just discovering it for the first time. They are falling in love with the concept, especially thanks to interviews with KISS-FM radio and the story in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper (photo of Jennifer below).

0313 escape room1.jpgHave people been spreading the word and bringing in teams of friends and family?  Yes! The word is definitely spreading in the community. People are telling their colleagues and their friends and thanks to sharing team photos and results via social media, more and more people are contacting me to ask about reservations.

SatMar21 47minslabDid you have many March break teams in?  Yes, I had quite a few families come through during March break as they found new activities to do with their ‘tweens and teens. The kids would sometimes solve the complex puzzles before their parents…we even had a mum-to-be play. Maybe her baby picked up some “escape clues” that will help on his/her actual birth day!! LOL

Sat team 1What has been the fastest escape time so far and which room?  The fastest escape time has been 40 minutes from the Hostel themed room…and without asking for any clues! The team was a group of four individuals (pictured below) who had some previous experience with escape rooms.

40 min teamWhat sort of feedback are you receiving?  People are having a lot of fun; there is amazement at some of the puzzles and clues, and many people walk out of the rooms after their 60 minutes game-play are up thinking “if only I had tried that…”

Some of the great feedback from players can be found on social media, including these:

Had an awesome time tonight! Thank you, Jennifer.  Jana K.

Awesome puzzles & great overall game. Finished the Lab, can’t wait to give the Hostel room a go.  Anthony R.

Super fun experience! Totally worth checking out.  Stephanie W.

Jennifer is now preparing a special promotion where players can make suggestions for the theme of the new 3rd room and win free gaming sessions. Make sure you follow Claustrophobia on Facebook and Twitter (linked on website).   Why not try escaping from one of Claustrophobia’s rooms yourself. Visit the website and book a session now. http://claustrophobiagame.ca/

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