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.


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


Proud of her two medals and second stamp





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.


Playing in the French River


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!


The Canadian “wannabe” from Oregon. 😉


Happy Canada Day!!


Roasting marshmallows while waiting for the fireworks


My parents, Dave & Deanna, enjoy their family


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



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

Christmas Adventure 2013

Driving from Truro, Nova Scotia, to Nashua, New Hampshire, in messy weather made the shortest day of the year feel like the longest day of the year.

This Christmas, rather than gathering more stuff, our family will be having adventures and creating lasting memories. We  are going on a trip that has been in the planning for six years. When our boys were seven and nine years old, we took them to Disney World in Florida during March Break, leaving their (then one and three year old) sisters at home with their grandparents. It was a magical trip; the boys were big enough that they had the stamina to explore the parks from open to close and master all the roller coasters, yet small enough to believe in all the magic. We promised the girls that we would take them to Disney when they were the same age.

Our family loves to travel and explore new places, so the decision was made that we would go to Disneyland this time, in California. Knowing we would need more than a week to go that far, and because we both teach and run a B&B in the summer, we realized Christmas gave us the most vacation time. My cousin Phil, and his wife Susan live in Portland, Oregon, so it was a no-brainer that while we are on the West Coast we have a visit with them as well!

Because Canada has some of the highest airport fees in the world, it saves us $3,500 to fly from the United States instead of Halifax. Being in tourism, I know we should be traveling from our own Country (for the good of our own economy), however,  we can do a lot of things while on vacation with that money!!  Our flights are booked out of Boston and we get the added bonus of visiting friends and family along the way.

We celebrated Christmas with my parents, brother Jon, and Auntie Ruth after school on the 20th, all the while wondering about the weather. We got up early in the morning on Saturday and got ourselves packed up and left the house at around 9:30, just slightly behind schedule. We had a couple of errands we had to do in town, and two trips back to the house for things we’d forgotten and hit the highway at ten.


Heading out in the fog, excited to be making new Christmas memories!

All was smooth sailing through New Brunswick with lots of fog, but little precipitation. Alex’s godmother Theresa texted us along the way and insisted we stop for a quick lunch at their house in Moncton. When we arrived, she had sandwiches, veggies, fruit, cheese, and juices all ready for us. We ate, had a bathroom break, quick hugs, and got back on the road.

We encountered some rain and texted with home to ask where the freezing rain and snow was. We made the decision to drive through Saint John to Saint Stephen. We got through the border with no issues and traded drivers. As soon as we started down Route 9, the freezing rain started. For those of you not familiar with Route 9, or “The Airline Route” it is a slower drive at the best of times: a secondary road with many hills, twists, and turns. About 20 minutes into our drive, we noticed that the trees were covered with ice. By this time, it was getting dark as well. Luckily, the kids were still excited about the start of vacation so the bickering was minimal, and we just kept driving. We eventually drove out of the freezing rain, and by the time we got to our destination in Nashua, NH, the sky was clear and the temperature was up to 11*C. What we thought was a nine hour drive took us eleven, with only the quick stop for lunch and a gas stop at the border.

We stayed overnight with D’Arcy’s cousin and his family and had a wonderful evening. We had a yummy meal of Chicken Picatta, rice, and green beans. And wine. We sat at the table and talked and laughed until far too late while the girls played with their cousins;  the drive was soon forgotten. What a delightful way to begin our holiday!


Cousins! Sarah, Caitlin & Olivia


A perfect Christmas setting – playing cards by the fire with Cathy.

A Special Celebration

Inviting strangers into our home each day, we have to be aware to remain neutral on some topics. Have you ever heard the adage, “don’t discuss politics, religion, or sex” with strangers? We try to live by that. We’re usually pretty good at avoiding these topics, although honestly? One of the most interesting breakfast conversations that’s ever taken place in our ten years of business was at breakfast in the summer of 2008 during the US election before Barak Obama was first elected. We had three couples staying with us and they all had breakfast at the same time. One couple were democrats from the East Coast of the US, one couple were republicans from the Southern US, and the third couple included a  Canadian doctor who had worked in both Canada and the US. Luckily, they were all very respectful of one another, and had some rich discussion.

Although this post’s reason for being has to do with religion, it is really about celebrating family, life, and traditions. I was at a teaching conference last week and the theme was “unity”.  In two days, the line  which resonated with me the most came from keynote speaker, Barry Lewis Greene. “To find unity, we need to celebrate our diversity.” (Paraphrased)

We are bringing our children up in two different churches with very different beliefs. Catholic vs. United Church of Canada. Confusing? Maybe. The “rules” of the two can’t get much further apart. However, we believe the church is the community we build around us; not a particular building, and not the particular “rules” which come from belonging to a certain faith. Both churches teach people to be kind to one another, and do what you can for others. That is how we try to live our lives everyday.

We celebrate diversity – even within our own family.

Yesterday, our daughter Sarah and her cousin Neil celebrated their First Communion at the Catholic Church. It was a special day for them – especially because they got to participate in the process together – and we were pleased to host all three sets of grandparents and both sets of godparents here for lunch afterward. When our boys had their first communion, it took place on a Saturday night and they were able to choose what they wanted us to serve for dinner. Alex chose ribs for his, and Evan (at the age of eight) chose bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin stuffed with scallops! 🙂

Sarah chose make-your-own sandwiches with salads for lunch, so we had ham and chicken, rolls and D’Arcy’s brown bread, and all the fixings: lettuce, cucumber, sweet bell peppers, tomato, black olives, banana peppers, dill pickles, cheese, etc. D’Arcy’s sister Erin brought grilled veggies, and we had a Greek couscous salad, Caprese salad, four bean salad, mango salad with shrimp & chicken (brought by Auntie K & Uncle Hug) and my mother’s famous orange jello salad which the kids request for every family meal! It was a feast!

It was a perfect afternoon. You’d never have known there were eleven kids in the house and outside, they all played nicely together with hardly a peep. The weather cooperated and temperature was just perfect. We had guests drop-in before we had finished the clean-up, but they didn’t seem to mind. After everyone left, we took advantage of the summery weather to run through the sprinkler, and enjoy the boys’ year-end band concert.

It’s all about diversity.

Some photos from our special family day:

Homemade egg, soy, and peanut/nut free cake.

Homemade egg, soy, and peanut/nut free cake.

Our beautiful Sarah, wearing a dress handed down from her cousin Erin, and the headpiece I wore at our wedding dance.

Our beautiful Sarah, wearing a dress handed down from her cousin Erin, and the headpiece I wore at our wedding dance.

Sarah with her godparents, Martha & Stephane. Trivia - Martha grew up in this home. We bought the house from her mother in 2002 and created our B&B.

Sarah with her godparents, Martha & Stephane. Trivia – Martha grew up in this home. We bought the house from her mother in 2002 and created our B&B.

Sarah & Neil, cousins and best friends.

Sarah & Neil, cousins and best friends.

Sarah with her proud parents.

Sarah with her proud parents.

Evan, Alex and Aunt Erin

Evan, Alex and Aunt Erin

The McDonahs

The McDonahs

Sarah and her godmother, Martha. (A much better photo of Martha!)

Sarah and her godmother, Martha. (A much better photo of Martha!)

Sarah and Neil with Grandma and Grandpa McDonah

Sarah and Neil with Grandma and Grandpa McDonah

Sarah with both sets of her grandparents.

Sarah with both sets of her grandparents – how lucky is she?!