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

A Brazilian Birthday Barbeque

Written by D’Arcy

After arriving in Sao Luis at approximately 3:10 am and then gathering our luggage to begin the journey to our Brazilian homes, Sunday was going to be a day of rest. It would be fair to say that we would probably sleep in as we did not get to bed until 4 or 5 am. However, being exhausted from the long travel did not dampen the excitement of these young travelers.  We were finally in Brazil and our first scheduled activity was a BBQ at the Georgia’s and Kristen’s homestay’s house. Georgia and Kristen are staying with Pietra Albuquerque Costa’s family and Pietra’s parents, Vicente and Eveline, gave us a grand welcome to Sao Luis and a beautiful birthday celebration for Georgia.

Much fun was had by all.  Muito obrigado to Pietra and her parents for having us at their house.

Fabiana, Gabriel and Alex.

Fabiana, Gabriel and Alex.

Swimming.

Swimming. Don’t worry, Alex is not drowning.

The Turtles.

The Turtles.

Awesome dessert table.

Awesome dessert table.

The BIG swim!!

Last week, I was lucky enough to have three of my dearest friends together for a sleepover at our place. We talked and laughed and drank wine. We even went to a nearby restaurant’s patio for a bite to eat – how civilized! Karen, Angie, Theresa & I all got to know each other while living together in residence at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) many years ago. (Actually, Theresa & I first met at Piano camp at Acadia University when we were in elementary school, but reconnected at “The Mount”.) Theresa was taking Public Relations, Angie was taking Business Administration, and Karen & I were taking Tourism & Hospitality Management. The four of us have been together through a LOT over the years: jobs, loves beginnings and endings, marriages, long distances (Karen married a pilot and has spent many years based in the Maldives and Sri Lanka), career changes, babies (Theresa & I were in the same hospital together when our Sarah and her triplet boys were born six days apart!), milestone birthdays, awards, the death & illnesses of parents, holidays, new houses, etc. We have the kind of friendship that always picks up right where it left off, and we know that we have each other’s backs – no judgments! Twenty years of friendship has seen a lot of water under the bridge! (Foreshadowing metaphor…)

Getting ready for a charity ball at MSVU; winter 1993.

Getting ready for a charity ball at MSVU; winter 1993.

Twenty years later - older and (hopefully much) wiser.

Twenty years later – older and (hopefully much) wiser.

As much as I love all three of these women, my “Vital Friends“, who each bring something different into my life, this post is about Angie. Three years ago, Angie left her high profile job with a major insurance company, sold her house and belongings, packed everything else she owned into her little car, and drove home to Nova Scotia. She applied to Dalhousie University to study to become an occupational therapist, and was recently valedictorian of her graduating class!! A number of years ago, she became involved with Camp Brigadoon, a summer camp here in Nova Scotia for kids with chronic illnesses, while it was still in the planning stages. In their own words, “Brigadoon is a non-profit recreational facility on Aylesford Lake in the Annapolis Valley. With our partners, we deliver camp programming to children, youth and families living with a chronic illness, chronic condition, or special need across Atlantic Canada. Brigadoon is a place where campers come to experience new things, meet friends who are facing similar challenges, and to just be themselves…not a patient, a chart full of symptoms, or a good little soldier.”

On August 4th of this year, Angie is swimming with 35 other people, across the Northumberland Straight – 14 kilometres – from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island to raise money for this deserving cause.

For the record, this woman does nothing half-way.

Angie’s friend Amanda, who will be her surface support, traveling alongside her in a kayak during the swim, created the following video, which is three minutes long, in anticipation:

For the record, Angie figures it will take her about six hours to complete her swim. Yikes.

Angie’s fundraising goal is $5,000 before she gets in the water, and as of our evening together, she was at just over $3,000. This is a camp that our daughter Olivia, would qualify to attend some day. Every $1,000 raised sends one more child to camp!

To donate, please click on the following link: Angie’s Big Swim for Brigadoon Camp.

Thank you!

Brigadoon Children’s Camp

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast