Canoeing on the French River (video)

We acquired a second-hand Go-Pro camera from my brother this year, and the kids have been having a lot of fun with it. When we went camping in Tatamagouche last week, we mounted it on the front of our canoe as we explored the tidal French River in Tatamagouche. At around 2:20, you will see footage of our bald eagle, “Joe”. Thank you to our son, Alex, for editing all the footage to make this five minute clip. Swansburgs, this one is for you!

Real hands-on learning

One of the core values at NSCC is hands-on learning. Rather than just teaching the learners in our classrooms how to do something, we actually get them to do it. Last night was hands-on learning on a grand scale. Our tourism and culinary teams fed 292 people at a Tribute to the Honourable MP Peter MacKay, with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (or “Ben’s Dad” to some of the students) featured as keynote speaker. Tickets were $300 per plate and it was an event that many of them may never experience the likes of again.

One of the things we teach in our program is confidentiality, so I won’t go into too many details, but I will say that it was a lovely -but long – evening. The Final Touch in Stellarton did a beautiful job of transforming our campus gym into a ballroom, and the tourism class set the tables in blue & white. Attendees began the evening in the cafeteria where the volunteer fire department ran a bar and we served hors d’oeuvres with some live jazz setting the mood. Dinner was a mixed green salad with balsamic vinagrette, boneless cornish game hens stuffed with cranberry rice pilaf and a wild mushroom sauce served with tomato veggie baskets, then lemon meringue cheese cake with creme anglaise and raspberry coulis for dessert.

Some of us did get to meet the former Prime Minister (he came over to me and shook my hand!) and both Jamie Baillie and Peter MacKay were kind enough to join us upstairs in private after the celebration to chat and take photos. Each student will receive a letter from Peter MacKay to put into their Portfolios.

When people ask me what the best part of running a B&B is, my answer is always the people we host. We never know who we will have sleeping in our home, or having breakfast at our table. Over the past 11 years, we’ve had many interesting and accomplished people stay with us and we welcome each and every guest with equal enthusiasm. We had the conversation with our learners that regardless of their own political stripes, each guest needed be treated with respect and discretion. We needn’t have worried. The event went very well and the team rose to the occasion.

Hands-on learning at its best!

Nostalgia in Central Nova

Nostalgia in Central Nova

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The lights are up and Kelsey adds final touches to the tables before the guests arrive.

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Chef Gilles Godin oversees his learners.

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While tourism was prepping the dining room; culinary was prepping the food. (I couldn’t believe how calm it was in the kitchen – what a team!)

Margaret (Office Admin), Heather (Business Admin), Samantha (Office Admin) at the coat check. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Admin

Margaret (Office Admin), Heather (Business Admin), Samantha (Office Admin) at the coat check. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Admin

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Table settings before rolls, salads, dressings, menus, etc. were added. The culinary students made NSCC chocolate bars as a take-away favour for each guest.

Michaela, Tourism Management, gets ready to serve. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Administration

Michaela, Tourism Management, gets ready to serve. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Administration

Plating 300 desserts

Plating 300 desserts (Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau)

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Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, had to leave after his keynote address, but took the time to come and acknowledge us.

Part of the Tourism and Culinary team with Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Provincial Conservative Party

Part of the Tourism and Culinary team with Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Provincial Conservative Party and Senator Tom McInnis

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Most of the Tourism & Culinary team (along with Business & Office Administration volunteers) with the Honourable Peter MacKay, Senator Tom McInnis and his wife, Brenda. I made it into this one!

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Chef Gilles Godin and the Honourable MP Peter MacKay

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Chef Gilles Godin with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

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We are a learning facility. It’s unconventional, but we manage to get the job done. Students, faculty and the Academic Chair working on getting the dishes cleared! (The automotive shop became the dish pit!)

400 Years of History

The following post was written by Lorieann, the female chaperone on the exchange:

Thursday, March 13

Today, we all went to visit the Lion Palace. It is not only the residence of the governor (technically governadora who is a woman. Her father used to be the president but is now a senator) but where they would entertain any dignitaries who would visit. It was very interesting to see the articles (paintings, vases, wardrobes, etc.) which have been collected since the “palace” was open almost 400 years ago. You won’t be seeing any of those things though, no pictures and no touching the articles allowed. We also have to wear protective wear over our shoes to keep the floors from being ruined. This meant the beautiful wooden floors were INCREDIBLY slippery!

Palácio do Leão

Palácio do Leão

One of the lion statues in front of the Lion Palace.

One of the lion statues in front of the Lion Palace.

Heading upstairs for the tour.  No cameras allowed after this point.

Heading upstairs for the tour. No cameras allowed after this point.

After the tour was completed.

After the tour was completed.

After we were finished our tour we had a little free time so we were taken on a tour of the local art area. There were many very interesting shops with lots of different gift ideas. Some bought gifts and some bought gifts for ourselves.

Heading to the Market.

Heading to the Market.

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Checking out some shops.

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Moving along.

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Street scene.

That evening we experienced a “Tambor de Crioula” workshop. Tambor de Crioula is African drumming and dancing. Many of them took part in the drumming (both boys and girls were able to drum while girls could dance).  Not so many of the girls were brave enough to take part in the dance. D’Arcy jokes he would have liked to try the dance but was sad it was just for girls.

Tambor de Creole

Tambor de Crioula

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One of the teachers for our activity.

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Getting lessons.

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Dancing

Jimmy getting lessons.

Private lessons.

The girls also had fun and even by the end of the evening they were able to convince all the girls to try…

Emma and Hanna dancing.

Dancing.

Random Photos

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Bringing the Tourism Industry Together

At the end of last week, I represented the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association (NSBBA) at the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) annual general meeting (AGM). Each year the AGM is held at different locations around the province, and last year it was held in Truro. In fact, five of the B&B’s in Truro – including Belgravia – made breakfast for the 120 participants. 🙂  This year, the AGM was held at White Point Beach Resort in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

In November of 2011, the main lodge at White Point was destroyed by fire. The owners decided to rebuild, using as many local trades, crafts people, and supplies as possible. They consulted with their long-time guests regarding design, and let the world watch the rebuild through Nova Scotia webcams. The result is spectacular! They did an excellent job of maintaining the “feel” of the old lodge, yet were able to improve on many things. And with a setting like this, how can you go wrong?

View from the front porch of the cabin.

View from the front porch of the cabin.

We met for two days of meetings and socialization, trying to determine as an industry how we can improve our product for our guests. We are working on issues such as lobbying the government for an “open skies” agreement which would make airline access more plentiful, easier to access, and most importantly –  more affordable! Another important issue we’re working on is to have a ferry link between New England and Nova Scotia restored – the sooner the better! We also are continuously working towards improved signage and roads. What makes meetings like the TIANS AGM critical, is that we have all sectors of the tourism industry from B&B’s to large hotels to festival and event coordinators to tour operators to restaurant owners to winery owners, to the Regional Tourism Industry Associations, all working together with government. The new Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, Graham Steele, was present and was listening. Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency was doing the same. There is a real feeling of camaraderie as we all work together.

It wasn’t all work though – we shared some wonderful meals together courtesy of White Point. After dinner, we roasted s’mores (Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate melted together) over the fire in the main lodge. Since the rain held off, there was also a bonfire outside on the beach after dark.

As part of the business meeting, we said welcome to three new board members: Sheri MacKillop, Dean of the School of Business at NSCC, Carl Sparkes, owner of Jost and Gaspereau Wineries, and Andrew Alkenback, general Manager of Cabot Links Resort. Unfortunately, this also meant we had to say goodbye to board members who are finished their terms. Last year, when our terms were finished, Danny Morton of White Point and I were made “Tourism Senators” (that title seemed much more illustrious at this time last year!) and were each given an article of clothing made from Dress Nova Scotia tartan. This year, Danny & I were able to do the same for our three retiring board members: Earlene Busch, Chanterelle Country Inn, Grant MacDonald, Events Nova Scotia, and Tom Ruth, Halifax International Airport Authority.

Wearing our "Tourism Senate" attire.

Wearing our “Tourism Senate” attire.

It’s always refreshing and enriching to get together with members of the Nova Scotia tourism industry as a whole, and I was especially excited to get to experience the new and improved White Point. I am looking forward to going back with the family soon on our own Nova Scotia travel adventure!

We Need Your Help!

*Thank you! Thank you! Thank You! To all of you who took the time to vote for Belgravia as “Best Bed & Breakfast” we thank you! Voting has now closed and we will find out how we did at the Truro and Colchester Chamber’s Best of Colchester Awards on June 13th. We’ll keep you posted on how it all turns out! 🙂

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Winning the “Best B&B” award in 2011 at the Best of Colchester awards

There are only two days of voting left in the Truro & Colchester Chamber’s “Best of Colchester” awards. (Voting ends Wednesday, May 15th.)  We have been fortunate to have won this award for the past three years in a row. I hate to sound greedy, but we’d really love to keep the streak going…

In order to do this, we need your votes – it doesn’t take long and you don’t need to register. You just need to click on the link to the Truro Colchester Chamber of Commerce and type Belgravia as Best Bed & Breakfast. You can do this up to five times per IP address (computer or device). You do not need to vote in each category, but if you’ve been in the area and enjoyed a certain restaurant, shop, or other business, please take a moment and vote for them as well!

We strive to be the best at what we do, offering clean, comfortable, up-to-date accommodations, and abundant fresh, local, healthy food at breakfast. We pride ourselves on providing authentic maritime hospitality and recognize that we have tough competition! Thank you for your votes – it really means so much to us!

Please Vote Belgravia for Best Bed & Breakfast in the 2013 Best of Colchester

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast Website

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A Busy Fall

I was mortified this morning to realize that the last time I posted here was on August 23rd!  Needless to say, it’s been a very busy fall…

D’Arcy & I are each back teaching school.  He is at a new school, just a five minute drive from our home, across the Salmon River where guests go to see the Tidal Bore.  He is teaching Grade 7 & 8 Math & Science and seems to be enjoying it, despite having all new preps.  I am back at the Nova Scotia Community College, teaching the second year of the Tourism Management diploma program.  I am with the same students I had last year, and this semester they are taking Law for the Tourism Manager, Financial Decision Making, Service Marketing, Rooms Management, Human Resource Management, Ecology & Conservation, and Meeting & Event Planning.  It’s an intense program!

We continued to welcome guests straight through until the end of October, when things naturally slow down.  My classes are scheduled to start at 9:30 each morning which gives me time to serve breakfast to our guests before running out the door, leaving my parents, Dave & Deanna, to chat, give travel tips, and look after cleanup!  We are very fortunate that they live so close to us and are willing to help out!

We had a beautiful fall and hosted Thanksgiving for our families again this year.  It has become tradition!  This year, we were fortunate to host 36 McDonahs & Clarks at our table.  Our 33lb. turkey came from a local farm, veggies & cranberries from the farmers’ market and carrots from our very own garden!!  We do all the cooking ourselves and ask our family only to bring donations for the Food Bank.  It was a wonderful meal and we have so much to be thankful for.

A hot pepper in our garden!

Some of the carrots we picked for our Thanksgiving Dinner.

Cranberries from the Truro Farmers' Market, about to be made into sauce.

Our fresh 33lb. turkey, ready for the oven. The photo just doesn't do justice to the actual size of this bird!

A trip to the Pumpkin Patch for pumpkins. Doesn't everyone pick pumpkins in a shirt & tie?

The table, set for 36

Family

Cousin fun on the front lawn.

Anne's parents, Dave & Deanna

D'Arcy with his mom, Fran

Three of D'Arcy's brothers and a nephew.

Anne with our great-nephew, Phinn

Giving Thanks for our many blessings!

A hamper full of food for the NSCC Campus Food Bank!

The first weekend in November, we were fortunate to have a night away at the beautiful Colby House Bed & Breakfast in Sydney, NS, while attending the annual general meeting of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association (NSBBA).  Bev & Gordon were wonderful hosts, as usual, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I have been the marketing director for the association for the past six years, and stepped down at this year’s AGM.  Bill Monk from A Seafaring Maiden in Annapolis Royal has taken over my position and for that I am extremely grateful!  I haven’t totally stepped away – I will represent NSBBA on the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council which I have a great interest in.  Change is good!

The last week in November, we spent four nights in Halifax attending the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia’s  (TIANS) annual Tourism Summit.  I was luckly to be able to have my students attend this year as well. The conference was wonderful and deserving of its own post – I came home with many new ideas.  One of the many things I learned at the information sessions is that “Less is more”, so with that I wish you a great weekend and promise to update again more regularly!