Gee! I’m Glad I’m No One Else But Me!

One week ago today, my mother and I took Sarah and Olivia to Prince Edward Island (PEI) for the day* to see “Anne of Green Gables”, the musical. It’s something I (we) have been waiting to do for many years.

 

I am a voracious reader. According to personality tests, my number one strength is “input” – information. I read books, blogs, magazines, cereal boxes, etc. The best part of being on bedrest when we were having babies (I did the equivalent of a full year in bed during those eight years) was all of the uninterrupted reading I got to do. We didn’t have a laptop in those years, so my mother would bring me – literally – bags of books from the library which I would devour.

 

I started reading the “Anne of Green Gables” series by Lucy Maud Montgomery while I was  in elementary school and have read every book in the series multiple times. I watched the CBC television series as a teenager and saw the play at the Charlottetown Festival when I was about ten.

 

Earlier this summer, my mom asked about the possibility of a girls trip to the Island to see the musical; we both knew it was the right year to do it as Sarah is 11 and Olivia is nine; perfect ages. We watched the weather and decided last week would be the day! We were lucky – the show was close to sold-out, but we were able to get tickets to the matinee.

 

On Tuesday, my mom sent them a message inviting them, so they would have some time to get excited and anticipate the adventure.

 

We left our house as D’Arcy was about to serve breakfast to the guests and drove via the Confederation Bridge. It’s almost exactly two hours from our door to the other side of the bridge, and an easy trip. One of my favourite moments during the drive was when my mom had asked what Sarah was reading, to which Sarah replied, “Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse”. My mother declared that this was one way she and Sarah are different – she would never have read a book like that when she was that age. Sarah immediately looked at the copyright date in the front of the book and said, “Well, that’s because it was published in 2008 – it wasn’t written when you were my age, Ginna!”

 

We stopped at the village at Borden-Carleton in PEI for a bathroom break and to explore the gift shop where Sarah & Olivia convinced their mother to buy them sunglasses (which they had neglected to bring). I also bought new trivets for the table and a pair of potato scrubbing gloves. (The texture is the same as you would use to exfoliate your body!)

 

After, we headed straight for Charlottetown where we were fortunate to find a parking spot directly outside of Province House. My mom had packed a picnic for us, which we ate in the stands while watching the Confederation Centre Young Company’s “Voices of Canada” production. (Free weekdays from 12:45 – 1:00 until August 20, 2016.)  We had seen it a couple of years ago, but Sarah declared this year’s a more enjoyable production.

The Anne matinee began at 1:30, which was perfect timing. We went in and found our seats. I told my mom and the girls to watch out for my friend, Amanda, who was also supposed to be attending the show. Amanda & I grew up together in Truro, and she has stayed involved in music and now lives & works in Chicago after many years in New York City. Imaging our surprise when she, her huband, daughter (Anne!), and mom sat directly in front of us!! We spent so much time chatting (and because I had turned my phone off in the theatre) that we didn’t get a photo.

The show was amazing. Wonderful talent, songs I know every word to, fabulous sets, and wonderful choreography. I must admit, I shed tears a couple of times.

 

After the show was over, we walked to our favourite pub, the Gahan House, for dinner. It was as good as always with safe food for Olivia, attentive service, and good beer. My mom & I each had fish tacos made with halibut, Sarah had a hamburger, and Olivia had a club – no mayo, made in a tortilla, with veggies on the side. My mom commented during the meal that she could certainly understand why we always eat there while in Charlottetown, as they were so good about Liv’s allergies.

 

We went for a walk after supper to try to find the “2016” statue which the girls were disappointed to discover is no longer on the waterfront. We walked back up to Province House to at least get their photos taken on the 1864 statue before walking back to the car and heading home.

Along the way home, we stopped at the cave by the train bridge in the Wentworth Valley to examine it.  Of course, Sarah & Olivia both declared that was the best part of the whole day! All in all, our first girls’ day was a success and one that I hope our girls remember with nostalgia when they are mothers.

*We left our house in Truro, NS at 8:15am, and were back home by 8:30pm the same day.

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

 

Province-wide restrictions on activities in wooded areas

The Nova Scotia government issued the following news release yesterday (August 8, 2016) which goes into effect today at noon:

As fire crews battle three wildfires in Nova Scotia the province is announcing measures to prevent additional fires.

Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines announced that beginning at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 9, all travel and activities within the woods is restricted. This includes hiking, camping, fishing, and the use of off-highway vehicles. People can still access beaches and provincial parks, but trail systems will be restricted.

“We recognize these restrictions pose an inconvenience for Nova Scotians and visitors, however, our top priority has to be safety,” said Mr. Hines. “Conditions in some regions of the province haven’t been this dry in 15 years. These restrictions are being put in place to reduce the risk of additional fires.”

These restrictions also apply to forestry, mining and any commercial activity on Crown land. Those who conduct commercial activity on Crown land will require permits which can be obtained at local Department of Natural Resources offices. Hunters and fishers will also require travel permits.

Mr. Hines thanked forestry companies who have moved work to nighttime hours, which is between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. He encourages all companies and private landowners to take this approach.

“Our industry recognizes this situation requires the co-operation of everyone who uses our province’s forests,” said Jeff Bishop, executive director of Forest Nova Scotia. “We’ve asked our members to shift work to overnight to do our best to prevent any wildfires.”

Wildfires in Maitland Bridge, Annapolis Co. and Greenfield, Queens Co., are now totally contained and mapped at about 21 hectares and five hectares respectively.

The fire burning at Seven Mile Lake, Annapolis Co. has not been contained and has grown. All available resources, including planes from other provinces, continue to fight that fire, which is about 140 hectares.

“On behalf of all Nova Scotians, I’d like to thank our dedicated firefighters who are working around the clock to fight these fires,” said Mr. Hines.

The province will continue to provide updates, which can be found at www.novascotia.ca/nsfire.”

Unfortunately, this ban on activity includes the trail system in Truro’s hidden gem, Victoria Park. As of noon, access in the park is limited to only the lower area (pool, playground, and bandstand.)

With no rain in the forecast until the weekend, the risk of additional fires is just too great.

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

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…

“Who We Are”

who we are

Our son Alex has been rehearsing with Spotlight Theatre, a local community youth theatre group, for the upcoming production of “Who We Are”. This musical was written and is being directed by local talent, Margot Begin-Gillis (also director of the Truro Dance Academy where our girls dance). It features songs from a number of different musicals as the characters explore many challenging life issues. The show will be performed on July 19th at 7:00 pm, and July 20th at 2:00pm. and 7:00 pm. Tickets ($17) are available at the Marigold Cultural Centre Box Office. We hope to see you there!

Who We Are Promo Video (Did you spot our son, Alex?!)

 

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

 

Orca gives Whale Watchers Unusual Thrill in Bay of Fundy

 The following article was originally published in The Chronicle Herald, the Nova Scotia Provincial newspaper on Thursday, September 20th. Written by Staff Reporter, Clare Mellor, please click here to link to the original article. Special thanks to Penny, of Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, located in Briar Island, Nova Scotia, for the fantastic photo!

Photo credit: Penny, of Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, Briar Island, Nova Scotia

 
“Orca Gives Watchers Thrills
 
It was like hitting the whale-watching jackpot.

An orca, or killer whale, not commonly seen in Nova Scotia waters, put on an hour-long show Tuesday for a whale-watching tour boat off Brier Island.

“It was a pretty amazing sight to see,” Roy Small, who captains the Island Link for Welcome Aboard Whale Watching Tours on Brier Island, said Wednesday.

“Everybody was just ecstatic, including (the crew). It was a very, very, good day.”

The last reported orca sighting in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia was about two years ago, Small said.

“This is the very first time I’ve seen one,” he said.

Small, his crew and roughly 10 passengers had been on the water for three hours Tuesday and had already been treated to sightings of several humpbacks, a fin whale that was surface-feeding, a minke whale, dolphins and porpoises.

The boat was about 12 kilometres northwest of Brier Island watching a group of about six humpbacks when a passenger spotted an unusual fin nearby.

Crew member Tania Campbell was up on the bow when she heard Small shout.

“All I heard was, ‘Holy smokes. I think it’s an orca!’” Campbell said Wednesday.

Small said an orca’s dorsal fin is very distinctive.

“It is about three feet high,” he said. “There is no mistaking it.”

He said the male orca measured 7.5 to nine metres and was travelling alone.

Small, who has also been a lobster fisherman for 22 years, said he has not done much reading on orcas and wasn’t sure what to expect.

“He was really friendly. I was really surprised,”

he said.

“He came right to us. He made a close approach to us a couple of times. We watched him from a distance and he’d come over and check us out, go around the boat and underneath. He’d roll up on his side and look at us.”

Hal Whitehead, a biology professor at Dalhousie University who specializes in the study of whales, said orcas are not often spotted in Nova Scotia waters but are more frequently seen off Newfoundland and Labrador.

“They are pretty rare around the Maritimes in general, but they are seen from time to time,” he said.

“They come by from time to time. We don’t know quite why or what they are up to.”

Campbell said she felt a little shaky when the orca made such a close approach.

“It was a slightly different feeling, just that really tall dorsal fin,” she said. “It is just a different sort of presence — I think, I guess, maybe because it is a toothed whale.”

The orca breached, or leaped out of, the water three times, and Campbell was happy that she managed to snap a photo of the unusual sight.

Small radioed another whale-watching boat nearby so its passengers could also have a chance to see the killer whale.

“I think the other boat got a pretty good show too,” Campbell said.

Small said it seemed a shame to finally have to call it a day.

“Nobody wanted to go in. We all wanted to stay and keep watching it.

“The weather was starting to deteriorate so we had to go.””

(cmellor@herald.ca)

The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast Website

Surf’s Up in Nova Scotia!

Last  March, when our son Evan went on a school exchange to Brazil, one of his favourite, most memorable activities, was the surfing lessons he took. Proclaimed “a natural”, he was anxious to continue surfing in Nova Scotia. We warned him that surfing in Nova Scotia would probably be much different than surfing in Brazil, but he was keen to try.

His 14th birthday coincided with back-to-school for D’Arcy and me, so we promised him that we would treat both him & his brother, Alex, to surfing lessons before the end of the season. Last weekend, with Hurricane Leslie approaching up the Atlantic Seaboard, the waves had been churned up and conditions would have been too wild for our beginners.

This weekend, Saturday dawned bright and beautiful and calm. I made a call to Nico at the East Coast Surf School to see if there might be a possibility of lessons for the boys at the last minute. We had a full-house on Friday, so arranged the lessons for 2 p.m. which would give us enough time to get the rooms changed over. We called my parents and they were happy to come over to welcome guests until we returned. D’Arcy, who is very comfortable in the water, growing up sailing and being a certified scuba diver, was slightly disappointed I hadn’t booked him into lessons as well!

The weather was beautiful and the tide was coming in.As it turns out, the water on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia is warmer now than it is in the summer – we’re spoiled by spending most of our summer water time in the warm waters of the Northumberland Straight on Nova Scotia’s northern coast. The boys were provided with wet suits and Sam took them out for their lessons while we played with the girls on the beach. Sam also declared that the boys were both “naturals” but Evan was frustrated that it was not as easy to surf in Nova Scotia than it was in Brazil – the waves were more powerful…

They had a great afternoon, trying to master the art of “hanging ten”. The best part was that when their lesson was over, they had the use of the boards & wetsuits for the rest of the afternoon. D’Arcy even tried to surf a couple of times while Evan was taking a breather…  I can see that we’ll definitely be trying this again next year!

It’s only a 1 hour and 22 minute drive from Truro to Lawrencetown Beach where there is year-round surfing – an easy day trip from the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast.

Heading into the water at Lawrencetown Beach

The girls kept themselves occupied while their brothers were at their lessons by playing in the surf.

Almost…

So much fun to watch – even more fun to do (from what I’ve been told)!

Regrouping…

Alex is trying to get up…

Wipe out!

Sam shows Evan and Alex how it’s done…

The girls have fun burying Dad in the sand.

‘Return to the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

The Impact of Heritage on Local Economies

Last week was a very busy week here at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast. School activities are wrapping up while tourist season is in full swing. We’ve been attending recitals, concerts, and parties. Thrown into the mix was the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Conference, in Sydney, of which I was asked to be a panelist. Our topic? “The Impact of Heritage on Local Economies.”

The Conference ran from June 12th – 15th, but NSCC Graduation was on the 13th and I chose to be on stage to hug my eleven Tourism Management graduates on their big day. After the graduation was over, I hopped in the car and left for Sydney, Cape Breton, which is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Truro, depending on which road you take. I was booked into the beautiful Colby House B&B, my third stay there.

Colby House B&B, Sydney

I was exhausted after a long day, and the beautiful bed was calling my name. I chatted with Bev for a few minutes, then set to work tweaking the slideshow for my presentation the following morning. There are many things I enjoy about staying at Colby House B&B – it’s a beautiful property for starters, immaculately kept! Bev & Gordon are wonderful hosts, and their attention to detail is superb. The first night I was there, they had a full house, with couples from Germany, Saskatchewan, and Vancouver. We had a great chat during breakfast.

The beautiful bed, calling my name in the MacLellan Room at Colby House B&B.

I could see the home that D’Arcy’s father grew up in from my window. Gordon mentioned the connection to the other guests at breakfast and we had a great chat about D’Arcy’s great-grandfather, a Sea Captain.

The conference was very interesting and I was disappointed I had missed the previous two days – especially dinner at Fortress of Louisbourg, and the Sydney Ghost Walk! The panel I was on included Dan Coffin from Destination Cape Breton, Cheryl Chambers of Chambers  Guest House B&B, and Stan Munroe of Port Morien Rectory B&B. Dan led the session, discussing market research which shows that most people traveling to Nova Scotia are looking for authentic cultural experiences and will visit at least one heritage site while here. We know from experience that there are many people who stay in Bed & Breakfasts for the duration of their entire trip for just that reason. You don’t get a much more authentic Nova Scotian experience than staying in a Nova Scotian home! (B&B’s in Nova Scotia MUST be owner-occupied.)

By preserving our heritage home and welcoming people into it from all around the world during the past ten years, we have had a huge positive impact on our local economy. In addition to the obvious taxes we pay at all three government levels, we are certain to send our guests to locally run restaurants rather than chains, we shop at the local Farmers’ Market during the season, we use and recommend local companies for gas, we recommend gift shops run by locals rather than encouraging guests to shop at the malls. Even when doing our renovations last month, we used companies with a connection to our area, and chose to install the solar panels that were built in Dartmouth, rather than in the US. By having local knowledge, we are able to tell our guests about events going on in our area, hopefully keeping them in our area longer. We have such a long and rich history here in Nova Scotia, and we sometimes forget that the western half of the country is much younger than we are – one of the points which had been made at the breakfast table by the couples from Saskatchewan and Vancouver at Colby House!

That evening, we had dinner and “A Taste of Celtic Colours” at the Sydney Cruise Ship Pavillion. What talented artists performed. We enjoyed guitar performances, Gaelic storytelling, singing & fiddling. It was a toe tapping great time! Back at the B&B, I chatted with Bev & Gordon until much too late! Bev was one of our “regulars” for many years here at Belgravia in her former career, so we always have lots to chat about!

After another delicious breakfast, I said my goodbyes and headed for home via Guysborough. It was a road I hadn’t driven in a long, long time and I wanted to check out the DesBarres Manor Inn and Rare Bird Pub which I have heard so much about. It was a beautiful drive, and I landed at the pub in time for lunch on opening day. They didn’t have their craft beer on tap yet, but I was driving, so wouldn’t have been able to enjoy one anyway. I sat by the window,overlooking beautiful Chedabucto Bay and had a delicious lunch with attentive service. I would love to go back and take D’Arcy sometime.

The Rare Bird Pub

I arrived home mid-afternoon, just in time to get the girls ready for their Highland Dance Recital and welcome favourite guests from the UK, staying with us for the third time. I do love exploring our beautiful province and am grateful for our rich heritage! I am happy that we chose this home to raise our children and build our lives. One of the nicest comments we had when we started this adventure ten years ago was from former owner, Mary Shephard. She had come to visit when we had our initial renovations complete and wrote in our guest book: “I’m so happy that this house is full of life again!”

Belgravia Best B&B Third Year in a Row!

Last night the Truro & District Chamber of Commerce held the 2012 Best of Colchester Awards. We at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast were honoured & delighted to be awarded the title of “Best B&B” for the third year in a row! Unfortunately, D’Arcy has been off his feet since last Sunday due to what the doctors think is a ruptured Baker Cyst, so he wasn’t able to join me. Instead, I took my parents, Dave & Deanna, as my dates! We had a lot of fun at our table, sitting with Donnie & Janice  of Eagle’s Landing B&B and Lisa & Leigh from Masstown Market.

D’Arcy & I and the whole Belgravia Bed & Breakfast team would like to extend a huge sincere “THANK YOU” to everyone who supported and voted for us! We are so grateful!

D’Arcy & Anne, before Best of Colchester 2012.

Receiving the award for “Best Bed & Breakfast”

The winners of the 2012 Best of Colchester Awards, presented by the Truro Chamber! Congratulations everyone!

Our awards from the past three years, on the dining room mantle.

To see the full list of 2012 award winners, please click here!

Lobster vs. Starfish

One website that we find particularly amusing and informative is the Nova Scotia Webcams site. By clicking on the webcams, you can get a live view of what is going on all around the province – from the 12th hole of the Highland Links Golf Course in Ingonish, to Cape Forchu Light station in Yarmouth.  We’ve been able to watch the waves in the effect of hurricanes at Peggy’s Cove and the reconstruction of the Bluenose II.

This week, however, our we were captivated by altercations between a lobster and some starfish in the “Lobster cam” located in Halifax Harbour.

Who knew that lobster, in addition to being so much fun to eat, are also fun to watch!