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!

Summertime in Nova Scotia

We had a bit of a whirlwind start to our summer vacation here at the Belgravia. The last day of school occurred on June 28, while I was still at Cornell. I arrived home late (2 am) on the night of June 30 and my cousins arrived from Portland, Oregon, a few hours later. Phil & Susan are the same cousins whom we spent this past Christmas with. His younger brother, Richard, arrived with his wife, Aletha, from Mobile, Alabama, the following day. They stayed with my parents, and on July 5, Phil’s daughter Lori, her husband Adam, and their four children arrived from Florida for a week. The next few blog posts I make will attempt to chronicle our travels around the province while they were here. Because we are usually working full-out at the B&B, we don’t often get the chance to explore our backyard at this time of year.

We started off on Canada Day with a trip to Pugwash, to the Festival of the Gathering of the Clans where our daughter, Sarah was competing in the highland dance competition. This is an interesting competition which takes place in a beautiful setting, on a wooden stage with the water in the background. There are street vendors, a midway, and a parade throughout the day. It was fun for me to run into a number of my childhood friends who were also visiting. Sarah danced well, winning a 1st place ribbon for her Highland Fling, and 2nd place for her sword dance.  Afterwards, they rode two rides on the midway and got some cotton candy before we left to drive along the Sunrise Trail to Tatamagouche.

The dancers line up, waiting for their turn on stage.

The dancers line up, waiting for their turn on stage.

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Sarah, #201, awaits the music for the Sword Dance

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Proud of her two medals and second stamp

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Scrambler!

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Scrambler!

My maiden name is Clark and the Clark family homestead is located in Tatamagouche, which is a beautiful little town on the Northumberland Strait, along the North Shore of Nova Scotia. Between the cousins, we still have somewhere close to 100 acres of farm and wooded property along the French River, which is the perfect place to picnic. One thing you should know while traveling in Nova Scotia is that certain parts can be buggy on certain days. If the wind is breezy, they usually aren’t too bad. On Canada Day, however, there was little breeze and we all had to use bug spray and put up a mosquito tent to avoid being bitten while we picnicked.

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Playing in the French River

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How many people does it take to set up a mosquito tent?

 

After we had a late lunch, we stopped in at the newly opened Tatamagouche Brewing Company and picked up a couple of growlers of their Hippy Dippy Pale Ale and Butcher Block Red to take back home. Phil and Susan had to be at the airport to pick up Richard & Aletha at suppertime, so we drove straight home.

We ordered pizzas for dinner, I got in the pool for the first time this year and everyone came back to join us around the fire for the evening. We climbed out onto the roof to watch the Canada Day fireworks – even my mom!

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The Canadian “wannabe” from Oregon. 😉

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Happy Canada Day!!

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Roasting marshmallows while waiting for the fireworks

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My parents, Dave & Deanna, enjoy their family

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Our American cousins – Phil & Susan from Oregon and Richard & Aletha from Alabama

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We were lucky to have our family in town for almost two weeks, and took the opportunity to travel around the province a bit with them while they were here. I will chronicle these travels in my next few posts.

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

On the Road Again!

I’m writing this post from Bangor, Maine. We are taking a “working vacation” this year.

I was approved to go back to Cornell University this summer to earn the next course in my Certification in Strategic Hospitality Management. This year’s course is called, “Strategic Marketing for Restaurants and Hotels.” I am fortunate to be participating in this Executive Development Program through the overwhelming support of TIANS/NSTHRC and ACOA. There are ten or eleven Nova Scotian Tourism Industry leaders who will be furthering their education at Cornell this month. Since my course is offered during the first week of July, D’Arcy and the kids have tagged along and will explore Upstate New York while I’m in class each day.

As luck would have it, D’Arcy was chosen as a Nova Scotian representative to mark a National Science Exam in Ottawa during the second week of June. After my course is over, we’ll drive back into Canada through Niagara Falls, visiting with friends along the way before arriving in Ottawa where Evan & Alex will have the opportunity to stay with their cousins and we’ll explore the Ottawa area while he works.

Yesterday morning, as soon as the guests left, we kicked into high gear: cleaning, packing and doing laundry. We had originally intended to leave early this morning and drive straight through from Truro to Boston, but two nights ago decided to leave on the 1st instead and make it as far as Bangor on Day 1.

My plan was to leave at noon, but that was ambitious! We actually pulled away from the house at about 2:00. We aren’t camping this trip, instead staying either with friends, or in suite hotels along the way. Without packing the tent or camp stove, and without the burden of equipment that young children seem to require, we appeared to have more room than usual. It almost felt like we were forgetting something!

Ready to go – room to shop?

Our first stop before we left town was a visit with Ruth & Gerry of Suncatcher B&B. Gerry had surgery last month, and because the girls & I had had colds, we hadn’t had a chance to see him since. Because Gerry makes all kinds of beautiful stained glass creations, the kids each designed “stained glass” looking get-well cards. Sarah was especially excited to write, “Bonne sante M. Mailloux. Je t’aime, Sarah” on the back of hers! We had a good (but short) visit getting caught up. By the time we ran a couple of errands on our way out of town, it was 3:30p.m. when we left Truro for Maine.

We are lucky that our kids are really good travelers. We were on the road for about 7 hours before arriving at our hotel at 10:30 p.m. our time.  About three hours into our drive, Olivia asked, “When are we going to get to Canada Day?” She was sure that we were on our way to the International Gathering of the “Clams” in Pugwash, which we’ve done the past few years.  There is a highland dance competition there that Sarah has participated in. When I told Olivia that we’re not going to get there this year (it’s actually being held today, on the 2nd, or we might have stopped along the way), she responded, “So I wore my Canada shirt for nothing?” We laughed and explained that it was still Canada Day, even if we didn’t get to Pugwash!

This is the Sarah & Olivia’s first time in the United States. We had a sweet Customs’ Agent when crossing from St. Stephen into Calais. She asked each of us the normal questions and asked the girls where they lived. “5 Broad Street!” “Belgravia Bed & Breakfast!” They told her all about our trip – where we were going, what we’d be doing, and who we’d be seeing. She commented that it sounded like a lot of fun and Olivia responded, “You need to quit your job and come with us!” I think she realized that we couldn’t possibly be hiding anything with her along, and we sailed through!

The girls oohed & aahed over the scenery, which isn’t really much different than that of rural Nova Scotia. We were surprised  to see how many motels, gift shops, restaurants and campgrounds were closed and boarded up on this side of the Border. It was a sad and forlorn sight. We had bit of rain in the early evening, and spotted a beautiful rainbow- which reminded me that we didn’t pack raincoats! (That accounts for some of the extra room – hope we have better weather than we did in Newfoundland last year!) We were exhausted by the time we arrived at the Four Points Sheraton at the Bangor Airport, but snacked on crackers, cheese, bread,ham, fruit, carrots,etc. before bed.

Rainbow along Route 9

Maine sunset

We gained an hour when crossing the border from Atlantic time to Eastern time. It felt good to “sleep in” until seven! After breakfast and a swim, we will be on our way to Boston to visit our friends (and former B&B guests), Willem & Kate, in their new home. Kate met me in New York last year when I was attending Cornell, but we’re excited to have our two families together to visit this year.We have about a four hour drive from here, and will stop in Freeport and New Hampshire along the way. We’re not big shoppers, so this is our only scheduled shopping day for the next two weeks.

The weather is beautiful so off we go on another day of adventure!! Thank you to my parents who are looking after the Bed & Breakfast for us while we’re away!! We’ll give you a vacation when we get home – we promise! 🙂