Welcome to The Belgravia B&B!

 

Please stop in often to find out what is new at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, in downtown Truro, the Central Nova Scotia Area, and around the Province of Nova Scotia! Please click here to find out all about us or here to read guest comments and reviews.

Photo credit: Portraits by Johanna

Summer is Here!

Ahhh… The first day of summer vacation.

Epic photo of Summer 2015? Perhaps. Canada Day fun in the pool together.

Epic photo of Summer 2015? Perhaps. Canada Day fun in the pool together.

After a stellar year for the four McDonah kids (I’d be bashful to list all of their accolades and awards this year for fear of sounding like I’m boasting, but they worked HARD and it was noticed!) and a challenging year for each of their teacher parents, summer vacation couldn’t come fast enough.

The first day of summer vacation is probably our family’s second favourite day of the year, behind Thanksgiving.

We spent the day together as a family. Two-thirds of our guests were returning guests which was fun. After the day’s cleanup was finished, we did some gardening before all going to a neighbour’s house for a family-style celebration. We arrived home in time to welcome our new guests, and then had a swim to cool off. I rarely get in the pool as I chill easily. After much tormenting and teasing when I sat on a towel to take the family photo and wouldn’t get in with them, (There are guests coming in… It’s too cold… Somebody needs to be dry and dressed…)  I surprised them all by uncharacteristically cannonballing in while still wearing my clothes. They couldn’t believe it and that action probably won’t be something they’ll soon forget- the first lasting memory of summer!

After supper, we had a fire outside, which my parents and Alex’s girlfriend joined us for. We played “Telephone” and “Truth or Dare” and then roasted marshmallows while waiting for the Canada Day fireworks. Some of our guests joined us.

As we settle in to our new routines of later bedtimes and unstructured days, I’m starting to feel myself relax and unwind.

I have made myself a number of promises for the next two months:

  • spend at least one hour outside every day
  • read for fun at least one hour every day, outside if possible (two birds, one stone?)
  • take and post at least one photo on Instagram every day BelgraviaBB
  • get back to blogging regularly
  • start running again – or at least go for daily walks
  • use all of the goodness growing in our garden

I think that’s enough… it is “vacation” after all!

An Unexpected Accolade

This year, the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce brought back their Best of Colchester Awards. We had won as “Best B&B” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. With the return of the awards came new categories which – at first glance – we didn’t see ourselves fitting into until someone mentioned to me in passing, “I voted for you as ‘Best Home-based Business’ in the Best of Colchester awards.” Best home-based business? Upon reflection, we realized that category couldn’t fit much more perfectly!  In Nova Scotia, a B&B must be owner-occupied; Belgravia B&B is our home.

We were surprised to learn last week that we were finalists along with new local business, Leggo my Leggings, and we attended the ceremony on Thursday night. Since we are not what I first think of as a traditional home-based business, I assumed others would be of the same perception and did not expect that we would win. I was shocked when our names were called. As a result, I had to come up with some remarks on the spot which came from my heart.

I acknowledged the entrepreneurs in the room. When we first started our B&B in 2002 (this season will be Lucky #13!) I did not think of myself as an entrepreneur; I was just a young mom who was looking for an opportunity to spend more time with her children. Starting a “home-based business” was a way for me to fill that need while remaining involved in the Tourism industry in Nova Scotia.

Over the years, I have come to a new understanding of what my definition entrepreneurship is. To me, the word “entrepreneurship” means thinking creatively, recognizing and fulfilling needs, creating new opportunities, and taking risks. Someone with a home-based businesses is an entrepreneur just as much as someone who creates a business which employs 100 people. Entrepreneurship includes intrapreneurs and social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a verb as much as it is a noun. I am, it turns out, an entrepreneur.

This change of thinking for me has taken place over a number of years. Back in 2002, that young mom never dreamed she’d  eventually end up teaching Applied Entrepreneurship – encouraging others to follow their dreams and create their own opportunities!

One year ago, the One Nova Scotia Commission released the report, “Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians” which recognizes that it is entrepreneurs who will lead the change to rebuild our economy. How energizing it was for us on Thursday night to be in a crowd filled with entrepreneurs of all types. We are grateful that the Chamber organizes the “Best of” awards each year and were pleased to be recognized with all of the other business owners, leaders, and supporters in the room that night.

Thank you to all those who took the time to vote for us!

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Change of (email) address

As we sit here, buried under mountains of snow, our thoughts turn to warm weather and escaping to other destinations. We know that others are doing the same thing because we are finding inquiries and bookings in our inbox and the calendar is starting to fill. We have been experiencing some difficulties with our Eastlink email account; receiving emails, but having difficulties sending for some reason. As a result, we have made the decision to change our email address, something we have contemplated for a very long time. This will be a gradual process, as we’ve been using our Eastlink email on all of our marketing materials since 2002. We’ll be checking both, but our replies will now be coming from: BelgraviaBB@gmail.com from now on. Once we are certain the transition is complete, we will cease using our Eastlink address, so please update us in your contact list!

Not kidding about being buried under a mountain of snow these days...

Not kidding about being buried under a mountain of snow these days…

Family Literacy Day 2015

Although Family Literacy Day is on Tuesday, January the 27th each year, we celebrated early. D’Arcy is scheduled to have surgery this year on the 27th and when Sarah heard, her first comment was, “Oh NO! He’ll miss Family Literacy Day!” We have been celebrating annually since 2007, the year Olivia was a baby. Each year we have a slightly different format, depending on what is going on at the time. We’ve celebrated at lunch, at dinner, on the weekend, on a week-night, at our house, or at my parents’ house. The constants are that we all attend along with my parents, share books/magazines/newspapers, stories, and food. Sometimes the books we receive are new, sometimes, they are new-to-us, and there have even been years when books were borrowed from the library.

Family Literacy Day has become an event as special and highly-anticipated as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter at our house!

This year, we combined our Family Literacy Day celebration with a celebration of Auntie Ruth’s 86th birthday, and included Mirelle, our guest from Brazil. As the children have gotten older, the day has evolved to include questions that you must answer before receiving your book. “What are your earliest memories of visiting the library?” (My first visit was to story-time at six days old, but I don’t have a memory of that! ;-) ) “Where is your favourite place to read?” “What was your favourite book as a child?”

We had many laughs as we ate munchies, then assembled sandwiches from a recipe. We celebrated Auntie Ruth’s birthday with “Mud Pie” and discussions about technology.

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Mirelle’s new book about Nova Scotia. She can take it back to Brazil to show her friends and family.

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Auntie Ruth answers her question before opening her book.

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Some sister-love for Evan. “What’s the most awesome thing to ever happen to you?” “My siblings.” <3

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Olivia and Beanah

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D’Arcy reads his book while Alex answers his question, “Is there a book that you’d like to, or feel you should read?”

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Sarah answers her question, “What was the best thing to ever happen to you?”

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Sarah took forever to open her book of trivia.

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Auntie Ruth chose the book for Ginna

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Some time to enjoy our books between courses.

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Family Literacy Day 2015

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Happy 86th birthday, Auntie Ruth!

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Fun together

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Happy Birthday!

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The perfect gift!

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The whole family 2015

Evan drove us home, much later than we had intended, and way past bedtime. However, nobody wanted the evening to end.

For me, I’ll be reading my book, “The Blue Tattoo” by Steven Laffoley, a novel about the Halifax Explosion, on the actual date of Family Literacy Day while D’Arcy is in surgery. I’ll be happy to have a story to occupy my thoughts and help me pass the time. He’ll be happy, I’m sure, to have some new books to read during his recovery.

We’d love to know about other people’s Family Literacy Day traditions. Please tell us in the comments!

Practice makes perfect!

As anyone who follows our blog knows, our youngest daughter, Olivia, has anaphylactic food allergies. We save up her expired epi-pens (now Allerjects) and use them for practice on oranges each year. This year each child in our family was able to practice with two devices. The video depicts Olivia setting off her expired Allerject for the first time. You can sense the nervous energy as she wasn’t sure what to expect. I also love that her “child” is allergic to “peanuts, potatoes, and salmon”. Olivia is allergic to peanuts, eggs, and soy; we told her about friends’ child who is allergic to potato, and the child in the waiting room when Olivia was challenging Macadamia nuts was allergic to salmon. She obviously recalls what we tell her. I love all the facial expressions and deep breathing after administration!

We will reiterate to all kids that you do not need to use the new ten-digit dialing system when using 911!

p.s. Her “treat” after each needle/appointment is duct tape rather than food. You can see she is sitting on her beautifully decorated chair!

Merry Christmas 2014 from the Belgravia McDonahs

christmas card 2014

Our Christmas letter, written in early December:

It has been a large year in the McDonah household. At this time last year, the countdown was on for our west-coast trip, gathering memories rather than things. It was a magical Christmas, spending time with each other and avoiding all of the franticness that goes along with the season normally. The kids discovered they did not miss the afternoon gift-opening and enjoyed hiking a dormant volcano before a peaceful Christmas dinner instead. We’re committed to the less-is-more philosophy, incorporating a family gift and an afternoon of naps, reading, and playing games in front of the fire. The themes of 2014 in our home were travel and education. In addition to our Christmas trip, which saw travel through 11 states in 13 days, D’Arcy and Alex travelled to Brazil for two weeks in March, Evan went to Quebec on a class trip, and I went back to New York to finish my certification at Cornell. We managed to get an overnight in Cape Breton while my cousins were here from the States this summer, and a night in PEI while taking the boys to Curling Camp in August. Evan turned 16 in September and has been learning to drive. He anticipates being fully licensed in a few weeks. He has transitioned to life as a high-school student with ease and continues to curl on Team Spinney with Alex and two other boys six days each week. We were proud when he won an award for co-operation and sportsmanship at the end-of-year banquet. Alex, now 14, had an adventure-filled year, with a lead in his school’s musical, major awards at the Truro Music Festival, an opportunity to sing “O Canada” at NSCC convocation in English, French, Mi’kmaq, and ASL, and a two week adventure to Brazil; he is vice president of his school’s student council and a top student. He moved outside of his comfort zone this fall and joined the cross-country running team, improving with each race. Sarah has turned 10 and continues to march to the beat of her own drum; we hope this never changes. Her personality has changed dramatically, and she is flourishing. She sings, plays the trumpet and piano, dances highland, jazz, and ballet, and curls. She played baseball this summer (much to her mother’s dismay) but proved to be a natural! She loves doing crafts and wants to be a scientist when she grows up. She recently got contacts, which took some getting used to for those of us who look at her. It was an amazing moment when she saw her bare face for the first time and declared, “Now I don’t have to look down when I do the sword dance; I can just move my eyes!” She still puts her glasses on to go to sleep so that she can see her dreams. So sweet. Olivia, age eight, keeps up with her older siblings. She also sings, plays piano, dances ballet and jazz, and curls. She is an animal lover and social butterfly, always wanting to be around other people and is thriving in French Immersion at school. She continues to outgrow her allergies, and her list currently rests at just peanuts, eggs & soy. She will challenge Brazil nuts after Christmas, which we are confident she will pass. I had many successes this year, earning the internationally recognized credential of “Certified Hotel General Manager” which earns me the letters CHGM after my name. In June, I completed my Certification in Strategic Management from the Hotel School at Cornell University – a bucket list moment for me! In August, I earned my Community College Education Diploma, which was the final step to becoming a permanent employee of the Nova Scotia Community College! D’Arcy & I are both permanent employees at schools in Pictou County and enjoy our daily commute together. We are thankful to my parents who keep the after-school activities running smoothly while we are out-of town. We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month and can’t believe how quickly the years have flown. D’Arcy received his 10-year pin from Scouts Canada in June, and recently took a workshop to become a curling coach. He is has just organized a spelling bee at his school, and will be the lead when six Brazillian students arrive to Nova Scotia in January. As I write this letter, he is working stage-crew at the girls’ production of The Nutcracker (it’s dress rehearsal). We were happy to host 44 people at this year’s annual McDonah family Thanksgiving Dinner, and look forward to seeing everyone on Christmas Eve at D’Arcy’s parents’ home. Both sets of our parents are well and stay active. A highlight for us this year was when we were able to get to know my cousins from the States and form new bonds. The B&B continues to thrive and 2014 was one of our busiest years yet. We welcomed many returning guests and new friends too. We hope this greeting finds you and your loved ones surrounded with peace, hope, joy, and love. From our home to yours, we wish you happiness in 2015. Blessings, D’Arcy, Anne, Evan, Alexander, Sarah, and Olivia

Happy New Year!

First day of School 2014: Evan Grade 10, Alexander Grade 8, Sarah Grade 4 Immersion, Olivia Grade 2 Immersion, D'Arcy Grade 7/8 Teacher, Anne NSCC School of Business Faculty

First day of School 2014: Evan Grade 10, Alexander Grade 8, Sarah Grade 4 Immersion, Olivia Grade 2 Immersion, D’Arcy Grade 7/8 Teacher, Anne NSCC School of Business Faculty

I always find the new school year to be more of a fresh start than January 1st. Since D’Arcy & I both teach, the first week of school is always a big transition; the B&B is still running at full capacity, and we are juggling the responsibilities and stresses of getting ready for our students. This year, for whatever reason, it seemed to go more smoothly than normal. For the next six or seven weeks while it is still our busiest time, we will get everything ready for breakfast before we leave for school, and my parents, Dave and Deanna, along with our helpers Lori and Amanda, will be here to serve breakfast and entertain. We are a great team, and D’Arcy & I certainly appreciate their help.

While I’m not really ready to say good-bye to summer (we had a busy and fun one), I have enjoyed meeting my new students and first impressions tell me we’re going to have a great year. I do still intend to blog about some of our summer adventures when we took day trips or overnights around the province, to give our guests ideas about things they can do while here. As the leaves change, the days get shorter, and the nights get cooler, it will be fun to reminisce about this summer, and plan for next…

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With our cousins from Florida, Oregon, and Alabama at the end of the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton. We saw a black bear eating a moose carcass along the way!

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With the Florida cousins on a chilly July day at Peggy’s Cove – the weather certainly didn’t dampen our fun!

Lobster in the backyard with our American cousins

Lobster in the backyard with our American cousins

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The crew after Tidal Bore rafting and mud sliding on the Shubenacadie River in an extreme tide the day before a “super moon”.

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A wonderful visit with a school friend I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Raina and her husband, Matt,  were here from Virginia for a family reunion.

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Our family took some time to go canoeing on the French River in Tatamagouche.

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We took a night off to camp in Tatamagouche. D’Arcy enjoyed doing the dishes in a more serene setting than normal.

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My cousin Chad, and his bride Koren, got married at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax after a ten year courtship. It was a wonderful celebration!

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I graduated with my Education Diploma from NSCC in August!

Gigantic lobsters fresh of the boat from Pictou with university friend Karen, visiting from Yellowknife, NT

Gigantic lobsters fresh off the boat from Pictou with university friend Karen, visiting from Yellowknife, NT

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At Basin Head Beach in PEI

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We ate lots of seafood – bacon wrapped scallops for Olivia at Alex’s 14th birthday dinner at the Gahan Pub in PEI

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Three session of swimming lessons at Victoria Park Pool had our girls completing Red Cross swimming levels 6 & 7. Sarah also participated in summer swim team.

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Our boys spent a week at Whitecap Curling Camp, living in residence at UPEI

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An “all about me” quilt for Alex’s 14th birthday, made with love by his grandmother.

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2014 was a great summer!