Wonderful interview by the Ruralist



Away in the County B&B

These lovely glimpses are of AWAY IN THE COUNTY, a sprawling bed and breakfast in Prince Edward County.

Glen and Susan Wallis purchased the building which became AWAY several years ago, knowing they would love to make it into a bed and breakfast. In 2012, the new and improved rural getaway was ready, and the Wallis’ began their new life of welcoming visitors to their beautiful spot.

The couple are not only bed and breakfast proprietors, chefs, and animal caretakers, but they are also both artists, and their creativity shines through AWAY!

Here, Susan tells us the details that can’t be found on their website:

What is it like to wake up each day with such views?

It really is difficult to put into words. All I can say is that looking at the lake and the surrounding landscape periodically throughout the day has a wonderful calming effect and creates moments of clear re-focusing. I am a big believer that exposure to nature can lower blood pressure and reduces stress levels.

There is nothing more satisfying as a B&B owner to watch our guest’s stress levels just melt AWAY as they take in the environment around them. I can often hear sighs from guests as they for the first time glance out the windows. For more information on the effects of nature, I love the book YOUR BRAIN ON NATURE written by a medical doctor and a naturopath. Wonderful reading.

What is the story behind the name?

Keeping it simple is our mantra at AWAY and also applied to our choice in names. AWAY seemed like the perfect name, because lets face it aren’t we all just looking for a little time away? Away from work, away from the big cities (whether it be Ottawa, Toronto or Montreal), away from the daily grind, the list goes on. We also have GIFT CERTIFICATES that many of our guests buy for family and friends to give them a gift of time-AWAY.


What is the best part about the location of Away?

Our lake and garden views make AWAY a destination. The sunsets are spectacular. In addition, we provide a lovely path down to a deck by the water through our vegetable and flower garden.  We also keep a large part of our property natural which attracts many birds and animals to the property from foxes to rabbits to deer.

AWAY is also centrally located. Wineries, farm markets, shops, and art galleries, including my encaustic studio appropriately named Melt studio, are nearby attractions. Away is a mere 10 minutes from the beautiful beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park, 12 minutes to the shopping village of Bloomfield and less than 10 minutes to restaurants, shops and the heritage Regent Theatre in the town of Picton.

What does a day in the life look like for you and Glen?

The day starts off early with the feeding of our chickens and the collecting of our farm fresh eggs.  Betsy. Lucy, Luvy. Maureen (Moe) and of course last but not least Duck are recent additions to AWAY and are under careful watch by Oscar, AWAY’s official mascot.

While I set the table for breakfast, Glen starts with making muffins and coffee for our early risers who are welcome to grab a coffee and a freshly baked muffin at about 8:30 a.m., and sit and relax at many of the cozy seating arrangements scattered throughout the property.

Then at 9 a.m., everyone sits down as a group for a “field to fork” breakfast. The menu is typed up daily on our old typewriter. Each guest chooses from a choice of either a savory like Glen’s famous Eggs Benedict or a sweet like apple or blueberry pancakes, depending on the season, served with local maple syrup.

After our guests are fully satisfied with breakfast, we help them plan their day’s itinerary, supplying suggestions and maps and right down to ensuring they have made their dinner reservations at a place that suits their palette.

Once our guests leave for the day, Glen and I will either work on the garden or retreat to our respective areas in the home to work on our individual pursuits. Mine is my painting in my at home studio, Glen to his workshop where he will continue to develop his line of home furnishings and accessories and work on some of the local home renovations he is project managing.


What are the best local restaurants and shops that you recommend to guests?

Summer wouldn’t be summer without having the delicious strawberry salad with a glass of a local Chardonnay on the patio at the LAKE ON THE MOUNTAIN INN AND RESTAURANT. You can also buy the secret dressing to take home.

My favorite gallery in the County is MAD DOG GALLERY, which is located opposite us on East Lake.  This beautiful renovated gallery is a carefully restored barn that is half gallery and half the home of local architect Brian Clark and gallery curator and quilter Anne House. Their lovely gardens and pond are also a feast tor the eyes. I also happen to be lucky enough to display my art at this gallery.

ZEST KITCHEN SHOP on main Street in Picton is the most wonderful kitchen shop. Jenny (the owner) has exceptional taste and provides her clients with a wonderful selection of kitchen and tableware.  She also carries a great selection of cookbooks, including THE ART OF HERBS, A LOCAL ART/COOK BOOK by chef Cynthia Peters of FROM THE FARM cooking school with illustrations by yours truly.

KOKITO is a brand new store that has opened up on Main Street in Bloomfield.  The store reflects the diverse tastes of Shelly and Jenn the owners. It is also where you can pick up my husband Glen’s special MARBLE COLD PLATE FOR SERVING CHEESE, FRUIT, CHARCUTERIE, ETCETERA. The plate is made from re-purposed carerra marble from the façade of the Bank of Montreal, First Canadian Place, in Toronto (the 72-storey building is Canada’s tallest corporate tower originally built in 1975, and had 45,000 slabs or 4,000 tonnes of marble imported from Italy replaced over an 18-month period with 5,986 glass panels).


Tell us about your encaustic work: what inspires you? What is it like to have a studio at home, and where guests can stop in and see your progress?

The muses for my paintings are the lakes, fields and gardens that can be seen directly out of my studio window. The luscious red barns that have been painstakingly preserved and are sprinkled on the fields in the County also find their why into my work along with many birds and their nests. It should be noted that there are over 337 different species of birds on record in the County.

My medium is encaustic, which is an ancient wax based medium. The tools of this medium include not just your traditional paintbrush, but scrapers, spatulas, heat lamps, heat guns, blowtorches and a lot of melted wax and oil pigment.

Although the medium suits my impatient temperament as an artist, it does have one major drawback: you are tied to your studio. Plein air painting is just not possible without the likes of a very, very long extension cord or generator.

Having said this, I am happy to paint in my studio, mostly from memory. Although I will sometimes take a photo or make a quick sketch, I spend most of time on the land just looking, watching.  Remembering the exact shade of yellow of that canola field, or the slant of the birch tree’s trunk. Or the reflecting of the sun or moon on the waters of the lake or the pinks, oranges and purples of a summer’s fleeting sunset to the delicate softness of the falling snow. I like painting from memory.  Because I truly feel a part of myself goes into each and every work as you see the land through my mind’s eye.

I don’t endeavor to portray a realistic representation. I try and depict the act of seeing, not the object seen. I offer up in some cases an atmospheric suggestion of the possibility or the probability of the moment. It is what I don’t depict, the parts I leave out that is sometimes the most important element of my work. I like to leave what I refer to as “visual openings” in my paintings, which invite you, the viewer to somehow partake in my work and in some small way make it your own.

Guests to AWAY are welcome to peek into my studio, which is located on the ground floor of our home, and see my work in progress. My studio is typically not open to the public and visitors to the County view my work at Mad Dog Gallery just across the lake from my studio. So, for those interested in the medium and my work, this is an added treat. I am happy to lead a guest through the process of this time-consuming yet exciting medium. And it is not unusual for a guest to leave with wonderful memories from enjoying all the County has to offer, along with one of my paintings, either from my studio or from the work displayed on the walls throughout the B&B.


Visit SUSAN’S ARTIST WEBSITE to see some of her work and find out where you can purchase one.


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