By Brenda Duke

My return to Barton Walkabout, was during the Barton Village Street festival this year, referred to as “Open Streets on Barton”.  The first one this year was in July, and as I write this there will be another one this coming Sunday, August 20 and a last one will happen for on September 17, the last one for this year.   This is a wonderful initiative of the Barton BIA.

Barton Street will be closed, between Victoria and Sherman, from 11am until 4pm.  It’s a wonderful way to find out which businesses are on the street, some long term and those new to the street.

If you’ve never attended one of these street fests, I highly recommend you do so.  There are lots of vendor stalls, kid’s entertainment, musical events and so much more.  Many of the restaurants will be open, either for indoor dining or patio seating.

This is a great way to meet some of your neighbors and community members.  I hope you attend and have a great time doing so.  Fingers crossed for great weather this Sunday, as we had wonderful weather in July, albeit very hot.

I’d like to keep my first edition back, as a positive one.  It’s been a tough couple years for many and I feel we need more joy in our lives at this time.  Some of the things that give me joy are attending to my garden, meeting up with friends for coffee, and my daily walks.  We live in a great location to all of those things.  So, the garden is not faring as well as I would have liked, due to so much heat and rain this year.  But the butterflies are now finding my native plants.  I have spent hours just waiting to catch a photo of a butterfly.  The bees have tripled in numbers this year too, they are gentle creatures, preferring to hover around the flowers rather than annoy me.  Now the wasps, that’s another issue!!  Especially the ones who find their way into my house!

Meeting up with neighbors has never been easier on my stretch of Barton Street.  I often find my way to Diamantino’s, (I think most people know the pizza restaurant on the corner of Barton and Emerald).  The owner, Lena, is a very hard worker, spending most of her waking hours at the restaurant, the only day she has off is Tuesday, and I’d say a well deserved day, although she assures me she is just as busy with work related stuff, ordering, cleaning, preparing etc.  Since her husband passed away a few years ago, things have been much harder for Lena, she prides herself on keeping her restaurant running and I know how appreciative she will be if you stop by for one of her coffees, or to have a beer at the bar, or just to watch sports on the TV screen.

I have taken quite a few friends there now, her lattes, and cappuccinos are some of the best I have ever had, and for a much more reasonable price than many other “Barista” style coffee shops. I am not an espresso drinker but I see many people ordering them.  You won’t find the regular drip style coffee here, but here specialty coffees are about the same price as a drip coffee elsewhere.

She has many different sizes of pizza too.  I usually order a mini, a 4 slicer; she also has a 6 slicer all the way to an extra large.  You just tell her what you want on it and “viola” it’s done.

Lena is also an amazing cook, she offers different dishes over the course of the week, and they are amazing.  She is flexible, if you want an ingredient added or taken away, she aims to please. You’ll often find me at Lena’s, during the week, normally with my book and a latte, or sharing a meal with friends.

I hope you will go there and say hi to Lena and her staff, if Angel is in, you’ll have a laugh for sure, although she is a very hard worker and always on the go, she will take a moment to stop by and chat with you.

Across the street from Diamantinos, is The Emerald, coffee shop, another great place to meet up with friends.  This is a more “Barista” style coffee shop.  They have a few tables inside and a nice snug patio at the back.  I have written extensively about them, in a former issue of the Gala Herald, but it’s worth a reminder that they are still around and as busy as ever.  They offer a breakfast and lunch menu, soups, sandwiches, pastries, overnight oats and yoghurt etc.  Amy, the main day time Barista, is also a dab hand at making something different, like her quiche, scones etc.  You won’t always know what she has made until you get there.

My third option for coffee and a friend “meet up” would be at the General Hospital.  I know eh?  Who would have thought?  I tell you, their gardens are amazing, for either a wander through or to simply enjoy the quiet (yes, quiet at the back and sides of the hospital) with a book, a coffee alone or with a friend.  I love sitting there, by myself, when the mood hits, when I feel overwhelmed with life, when I need a bit of solitude outside of my own garden.  It’s a short walk for me, just 6 or 7 minutes, they have two coffee shops, one on the main floor, and one in the basement, although, this is more like a food court, however, they do have a “Barista” style area (much like Starbucks) when you can get a plethora of coffee varieties, from hot or cold.  If its tea or a cold drink you’re after, they have that too.  Ill often go there in the winter too, and sit and read in one of their comfy seating areas.

If it’s a coffee and a browse you’re after, there is a wonderful little gift store, across from the main coffee shop, on the main floor, just to the left of the main entrance.  Here you will find clothing, for babies to adults, jewelry, pottery and so much more.  This is a great place to visit, either on a rainy day or when you need to rush out and buy that last minute gift, which I am known to do.

So, let’s find time to get together, to enjoy our community, to turn off our devices and enjoy what our wonderful community has to offer.

Diamantinos Pizza· 341 Barton St E, Hamilton · 905-972-9889