In the Greening

Most recent trip to the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia where I saw my final uncommoncommonart.  Another great day.  If the summer hadn’t have been so dry the rush of water in the stream would have increased the full sensual experience.  

The location was perfect and a wonderful end to the art and nature treasure hunt.


This could be haunting at dusk and closer to Halloween.  It looked and felt  like an abandoned civilization.


The above photos are of Gaspereau Vineyards first as seen after the gloaming. 

Then Luckett’s Vineyards with their wonder views of the sacred Cape Blomidon.  They also have a British red phone box in the vineyard and you can call anywhere in North America for free.  Look for it in the first photo.

It was too crowded for lunch that day but I instead went to Troy in Wolfville and forgot to take a picture of the vegetarian platter until it was too late.  Oops!  Yum and very shareable.

See resto below-nice Turkish decor.   



Luckett Vineyards.  There is some green in this pic.  

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June

And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days. James Russell Lowell
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It’s June in Northeastern North America and this year we have had some warm and hot days before official summer begins.  It is hit and miss depending on the whims of the North Atlantic.  There will always be random clouds darkening the sky and fog mystifying everything just when you thought it was safe to sit outside.  The wind whistles at will and blows your books, newspapers and drinks right off of the table at times.  There will always be the weather and its whimsical ways.  Recently I have noticed multi-cloud days.  Skies with ribbons and reams of clouds floating off to nowhere.  Thousands of them it seems.  One riffing off the other.  These clouds above are far less foreboding than some I’ve seen.  Under a mackerel sky.  A sign of good times to come.

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If you are one to challenge ominous weather you might just find you may win as the huff and puff often turns out to be nothing much but the sky doesn’t make you feel like being outside.  Just when it seems gathering clouds will yield up rain, the sun shines through   I should go out more often.  That said with official summer less than a week away it promises to warm up and be sunny soon.  That is when the Atlantic stops her fretting.

Beyond that we are in the midst of the June bug infestation.  From time to time you will hear a twang on the screen or a bang on the window as one tries to see the light.  Open your window as I have finally done and hear one buzzing to get in.  No make that ten.  Seems to be a bumper crop this year (2015).  My camera seems to not be working or there would be pictures.   They are very similar to flying cockroaches.  Or beetles.  I didn’t think I would get a picture because of their nighttime routine and my fear of them but but I found one in the garage.  I wish I had pushed it out but due to what happened in the past I may have done something different.  This year which is a year since I first wrote the above we haven’t had so many and in fact many came early in May.

Open the door and beware of being hit in the face with a buzzing brown bug.  Everyone’s nightmare.  Let’s go back to an earlier time.  I’m not sure how old I was but let’s say sixteen.  By then I had heard the urban legend of the girl who had gotten a bat stuck in here hair.  It was June and I had made the mistake of going outside for a while.  I came in to watch TV or something and it seemed to be at least a half hour later that I touched my hair and finally realized that one had become stuck there.  They can be motionless and sticky too.  I was instantly repulsed and fought it off.  Somehow I finally got rid of it as the whole incident was a blur that still creeps me out to this day.

As I write they are buzzing at the screen and I pray for no entrance points.  I wonder how I will shut the window.   I turned out the light.  They are still there.  Why would anyone choose to have a June wedding?

But let’s not forget the forget-me-nots that I saw  blooming on a recent walk in Reservoir Park in Wolfville. While most are light blue, some are also pink and white  There are many theories on their name.  In Greece they begged God not to forget them as they didn’t have a name yet.  In Germany they were worn so as not to be forgotten by their beloved.

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There are also the lilacs.  Oh the lovely lilacs.  Many are purple but in my childhood backyard we had the white ones.  What white flowers lack in color they generally make up for in scent.  Mainly I see the purple ones and lately they have been ready to break out.  A backyard wedding with the sweet mellow scent of lilacs makes sense.  Just get away before the June bugs appear.  Lilacs come early to mid June.

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This year there have been some very warm days but you never know with June  You can always count on June bugs, lilacs and black flies when the wind dies down.  It is tricky to get the right combination of elements.  What you can love is that it is only the beginning of great things to come.  It is a Thursday.  Sometimes when I used to go out I would pick Thursday night.   Busy but not too busy.  A decent crowd with a life who were just getting a jump on the weekend and were not out nearly every night.  You could beat the crowds and get a little pre-weekend cheer.  You look out and everything is lush and fresh.  Let’s not also forget lupines with their purple, pink and white stalks of buds designing the roadsides.

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July and August are like Friday night and Saturday.  In somewhere like Europe many would tell you to avoid it during these months though I have been there then.  The last time I was mostly in Eastern Europe during those months so maybe that was a good plan that only happened by chance.  September in Italy wasn’t too bad and the pool at the hostel was already empty just like it would be in Canada.  In southern Spain the hostel was closing October 1st even though I had just gone swimming at the beach the day before.  Weather or not it is time to move on by then.

Since crowds aren’t too bad and weather is at a premium I would definitely recommend July and August here.  There will be festivals and things.  You can still have beaches almost to yourself if you choose wisely.  Depending on the current you may even be able to get in to the water.  June is nice on the good days.  I saw people swimming in May though I’ve never gone in before June.

But in June or late May you will also see apple blossoms which I finally saw at the end of my hike in Reservoir Park.  Around this time there is the Apple Blossom Festival complete with parade and a crowned princess.  This is a time full of hope and promise.

But here Sunday which is September in my example is often quite nice with that melancholy feel of that day as you have peace and quiet and slanting sun but the sense that the weekend(summer) is nearly over and some things are closed or limited.  You can have a nice harvest meal at that time.  Let your weekend linger and savor the changing leaves and cool air signalling the end of it all and back to work and regular life.  October will be more chill and darker earlier yet with a smorgasbord of color surrounded by the constancy of evergreens.  The end has happened but it is pretty, spectacular and bittersweet.

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I’ve been trying more Nova Scotian wines lately and I am usually quite impressed.  Many types are specific to this area only though they are beginning to plant more European varieties like Riesling or Chardonnay.  I personally am a big fan of New World wines.  Nova Scotia, South America and South Africa specifically.

 

Annapolis Royal – Beginning of Us All

http://samueldechamplain.ca/index.html#about

See the above link about the Order of Good Cheer started by Champlain and the alcohol it has spawned.  I have never noticed it in stores but wasn’t looking.  I like the idea of the Order and how it started things off on a positive note.

Port Royal began here in 1605. But many died from the conditions in winter when they stayed on a nearby island the year before.  Samuel de Champlain was here and founded one of the first settlements in North America.  As said he started L’Ordre De Bon Temps which consisted  of celebrating and feasting which helped them make it through the hard times.  Later he went on to discover Quebec.

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Years later many are enamoured of the place. Engish, Germans, Americans and other Canadians have gone there on vacation and come back to live there full or part time.

Today, May 11th there was a story in the Chronicle Herald about Tina Taylor who was brought up in Hollywood by a mother who was in Elvis Presley films. She found this place by chance and she and her daughter are touched by the place. Tina finds herself drawn there more and more.  She got it in the divorce.  Nova Scotia is like that. There have been other stories in the paper especially about this place causing people to pick up and move there.  People will say they have travelled a lot but this place has a special magic.  I could say the same.

I haven’t been to Annapolis Royal for a few years but remember going in June when they have a festival of short plays. Many things were closed on Sunday but I had a memorable feta and watermelon salad at a corner restaurant that I have since recreated.  It was here and the menu board even advertises it with a raspberry balsamic reduction.IMGP1328

There was bakery owned by Germans with many sports cars in the parking lot for some reason.001

I saw Fort Anne but didn’t go there.

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I did visit the garden. This area has a very good growing climate which is better than the rest of the province.

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I also investigated Port Royal in nearby Granville Ferry the following year in July and saw  the conditions the original settlers had to endure.

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People from everywhere have come here.

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This is so how we picture early Canada.  So rustic and simple yet with a hint of romanticism.  The bare essentials and so esoteric.  It will be hard to pare down the photos.

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I see things like Rhubarb Syrup written on those jars.  We have lost some of these recipes.

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Some had a very simple life here.

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Great light.

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Go ahead and fall for the place like many have.  Nova Scotia has magic.

Tina Taylor who was mentioned above said she has travelled a lot but Annapolis Royal really has her heart.

Nearby is Bear River which is a small artsy place that has buildings on stilts. There are two vineyards in this area which I haven’t yet visited but hopefully will this summer. So much to see.

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Lunenburg County -Winery, Waterfall & More

This September day started out in Mahone Bay with a sandwich at the LaHave Bakery.  It is not the original which I’ll feature in a future post but a small outpost that takes advantage of this very busy tourist town.  I often just buy day old bread and bagels there which have no preservatives and must be immediately frozen but taste so real.  This time I  bought a sandwich comprised of cheese and hot peppers with carrots on the side though you could get a less healthy side.  It was a lovely warm day for sitting outside which is nice as they don’t have much space inside.

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I was hungry and then realized I should take a picture.  What was left.

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Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

Francis Bacon

 

Nearby is the Tea Brewery though their building is for sale.  I hope they will stay on with different owners of the space.  I have some great Lavender Earl Grey tea from there.  Maritime Morning is another good one.

Mahone Bay is known for the view of three churches and also has some nice restaurants and a pub.  It is often crawling with tourists.  Another favorite place of mine is Eli’s Cafe for a pastry and coffee when the weather is warm enough to sit out on the front deck.  There are always interesting characters to be  seen and some famous people have signed the wall inside.  Some have made a movie in this areas.  Service is variable and the price can be a bit much depending on what you get but I have liked my fancy Kicking Horse coffee and chocolate croissant.  My travel mate always has some kind of pastry with apple.

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In the fall there is a Scarecrow Festival featuring some famous people such as royals and other creations to be seen.

Next I headed to the Lunenburg County Winery which is known for wines made out of various fruit.  On highway 103 at Exit 11 you head the other way instead of the direction of Lunenburg.

Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

 

It had an overgrown vine feel to it along with barking dogs.  I was told it was popular in August and early September when people come to pick blueberries.  There seemed to be some ignored fruit trees with ripened fruit falling to the ground in this fertile place which seemed far away from everything.

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At a small local liquor store I was surprised to find their wines of many fruit including blueberry, peach and pear.  I thought it seemed more of a spring, summer, fall thing but jump started that and tried a blueberry one.  It was light  and sweet and yet delivered a small punch.  Good for when you don’t want a heavy wine.  Easy to sip and hey, blueberries are very good for you.  There is a peppery taste too.  You don’t need food with this one.  Good for an early happy hour in the sun.

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Nova Scotia is kind of the blueberry capitol of the world.  We export many.  Lots of healthy things grow here.  Another Lunenburg County company is doing well with the haskap berry which has many health properties.  They have lots of products.  Here is an interesting website about the features of the area.  I haven’t been to the haskap farm but it is LaHave Natural Farm in Lunenburg County and the haskap berry has great health properties.   I have tried a nice spicy chutney at a market  but it can be a jam and juice as well.  Here is what it looks like.  It has many anti-oxidants and is valued in Russia and Japan.  It is like a long blueberry.  They have a shop in Mahone Bay.

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I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/744534

Further down the road I found Indian Falls.  As usual the sound of rushing water was a balm to my soul.  I took a short hike in this area and saw some wonderful sights.

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On the way back there was a steep incline and after taking some photos  I wasn’t paying attention enough and almost didn’t grip the handrail on the way up.   There was even a sign warning about steep slopes and poor footing.  I hate to think what could have happened but am reminded of tragic tales of selfies gone wrong or just people trying to get that special shot.  When you are in this mode you are too creative and spacey and must become more aware of the details of your surroundings afterwards for your own safety before you move on.  Be sure to get out of photo mode before getting into hiking mode if the area is difficult to navigate.  There was even a sign warning about steep slopes and poor footing that I even took a picture of.

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It’s hard to see but on the right side near the shore there is a bird that didn’t seem to notice me due to the noise of the water.

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Wrap around root. Like a tree hug.

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Another popular Canadian tea shop is David’s Tea where I get my loose leaf tea.  I especially like green tea such as Sencha, Genmaicha, Gyokuro Yamashiro or Dragonwell.  With tea or red wine some great accompaniments can be found at the Superstore.  Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds or Dark Chocolate, Pecan, Mango and Chili Flavour Bark.  Kind of healthy too.

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As said don’t have this wine with dark chocolate as it is not heavy enough.  Maybe with light crackers and chutney and mellow cheese.  The haskap chutney may work well here.  There are lots of great things to eat and drink and see in Lunenburg County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Bridge Vineyard – Annapolis Valley

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Not far from Wolfville, Nova Scotia is Benjamin Bridge Winery.  There are many wineries in the Annapolis Valley and in other locations doing great things but this one has gotten great accolades.  Here are young vines in June with lupins in the foreground.  So far you can only visit by appointment only so it is the only one in the area that I haven’t seen up close as I often travel on the fly.

The picture above makes me think of the promise of hopes fulfilled at the end of a long road travelled.  A longtime dwelling thirst is finally quenched and dreams begin to float upwards towards fruition.

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Wine is bottled poetry.    Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

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I have enjoyed Nova 7 a few times.  Once was a very special occasion.  It shows up at the liquor store infrequently and then promptly sells out.  I remember a fruity microcosm of apricot, grapefruit and peach dancing lightly on my tongue tantalizingly untouchable.  Like the picture of the winery there is a fresh hope of something new.  There is a sense of lightness and fresh starts.  Maybe we can find what we are looking for, even in the dark.  This drink will light the path.   The closest I have come to drinking liquid gold except Gold Schlager.

The alcohol content is closer to beer than wine so it is nice for a slow, quiet evening or the beginning of a late summer afternoon.

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This winery’s products are getting rave reviews from  a blogger in San Francisco who rates its bubblies as being among the best in North America and comparing favorably with champagne.  See the review on vinography.com.

I don’t buy sparkling wines that often but this post has inspired me.  It could be just the thing to perk up a late January evening.  The full moon is coming on Saturday.  Maybe some howling under the stars?

In early February there will be Icewine Festivals and bus tours in Nova Scotia.  See Grape Escape Nova Scotia Wine Tours.  They do frequent tours from May to October.

Famous Champagne Quotes

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” Dom Perignon

“Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of Champagne; knowing him was like drinking it.” Winston Churchill

“Champagne is the one thing that gives me zest when I feel tired” Brigitte Bardot

“Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?” Noel Coward

“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne.” Bette Davis

“Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life” Charles Dickens

“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad.” Lily Bollinger

“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.” Madame De Pompadour

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” Mark Twain

“Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.” Graham Greene

“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne” John Maynard Keynes

“I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not” – Coco Chanel

“The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love is like being enlivened with Champagne.” – Samuel Johnson

“Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the Champagne. The Champagne definitely improves the orange.” – Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

“In a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening.” – Willie Gluckstern

“Champagne…it gives you the impression that every day is Sunday.” – Marlena Dietrich

“Pour the Champagne and let its mousse rise,like thousands of sparkling smiling eyes.”- Jared M. Brown

“There is nothing more beautiful than a sunset, viewed over a glass of chilled Champagne.” – Jared M. Brown

“Champagne, King of Wines and Wine of Kings.” – Prince Orlofsky

“Champagne should be cold, dry and hopefully, free.” – Christian Pol Roger

“Pleasure without Champagne is purely artificial.” – Oscar Wilde

“If life brings you troubles, drink some Champagne, then your problems will just become bubbles…” – Unknown

“He who doesn’t risk never gets to drink Champagne.” An old Russian proverb.

Shelburne and Graves Island and the Halifax Jazz Festival

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Outside the Birchtown museum.  Some people have been looking for a place to be happy and free for a long time.

I took the weekend off because everything seems to happen the second weekend in July for some reason. There were festivals I can’t even remember but my aim was the Women’s Music Festival in Lockeport and the Mackerel Snappers Picnic on Grave’s Island.  There was the jazz festival in Halifax and something on the North Shore too I believe.

I needed to get psyched despite the great weather.  I wasn’t in a driving mood but somehow got into the fourish hour drive.  It seems it should be closer but was a good two hours one way.  I went to Shelburne last year but didn’t really fork out for the museums but this time I did.  There were three.  The first was the most interesting which was a store and the girl was from the city and seemed to wish she hadn’t taken up this distant post but she couldn’t find any similar jobs closer to Halifax.  She seemed very jaded for her young age.  She must have been bored with the social life there.  She said some people came there only for the summer or even a few weeks  despite owning places which sat empty for the rest of the year.  This happens all over the province which must be because of cheap rural properties.

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She gave a tour of the Ross-Thomson House and Store Museum and mentioned that there could be ghosts in the store as well as people had mentioned seeing  them.  She hadn’t but seemed fearful at the prospect.    I immediately felt a presence in the first room we entered off of the store.  Also in the main bedroom upstairs.

Maybe if I had to spend a night in a haunted room I would be scared but mainly I think ghosts are harmless.  It would be cool to see a rocking chair rocking but of  course I wouldn`t want to see something flying through the air at my head like in a horror movie.  I believe that if there are ghosts there is not much they can do.  There could be the odd one that has some power but I`m not sure how much and what they would actually do with it.

Once just after landing in London on the red eye I was sleepily walking down a street and a dead branch on a tree almost fell on me.  Hmm.  I`m sure that is a place that could have many ghosts.  I thought I felt the presence of a dead cat before but that was a pleasant thing.  Who knows.

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She said the Cooper’s Inn had ghosts as did many houses.  She seemed creeped out and bored at the same time.  She wondered why there were ghosts  but since there were so many old houses it made sense that in those days people would die in them and be laid out in them.  Maybe they were also very unhappy with their lives not to mention their deaths.

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The rooms in old places were built quite small and usually for shorter people as that is how many were in those times I suspect.

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There was a basement area for the help to work the kitchen.

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Some of them may have been the black people whose story we heard about in the nearby place of  Birchtown with a new museum  just opened this year.  It had an old church and nice view of the ocean.

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In this area  there was also the Boxing Rock Brewery which is one of many craft breweries cropping up in the area that are doing well.  It is a nice new building with leather seats within its tasting facilities.  I have had Vicar’s Cross which was much stronger than I expected when I bought it (note to self – read the label on craft brews) but not bad and Red Temptation which wasn’t bad either.  They were very busy when I was there and partially sold out so choice was limited.  Good for them as it was nearly the middle of nowhere.  If you build it (or brew it) they will come.

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On the way back we managed to make it to the Mackerel Snappers Picnic on Grave’s Island which was about 36 years old except for when they didn’t have it last year due to lack of volunteers.  It was hot and sunny like two years ago as the second weekend in July often tends to be.  I heard people say it wasn’t doing so well this year after one year off.  They sold rolls and pies off for cheap at the end but unfortunately we were too late to get them as we we were busy eating during the announcement which followed the pretty bad country music that they generally have playing there.  Like they are distorted and out of tune and on steroids but they don’t seem to know that.  Joys of the small towns and villages.

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We arrived late but managed to get the meal of battered fried mackerel and many boiled potatoes and a sweet creamy cucumber salad with a roll and pie.  The mackerel wasn’t as good as before.  The view from the island of the fancy houses was nice.  It was warm and comforting to eat on a picnic bench with the sun in your face for a change . Then we were directed across the short and thin bridge back across to reality which was a drag after a warm day aloft in history and pleasure.

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There wasn’t enough time for Lockeport but I usually plan too much and after the store in Shelburne we saw the regular museum which even had pics of Queen Liz’s mom and pop who deigned to come there for some reason.  The guide thought she was Queen Elizabeth the first but she was just Queen Elizabeth even though the interlopers often tend to do better than the born and bred.

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There was also a dory museum though the builder was not there that day.  It was the weekend and we went to the market too but were told that actually weekends were less busy than weekdays for some reason.   The dory museum had pics of Charles and Di when they visited the area so it is that kind of British Loyalist place.  Not that it really got them anywhere to have that visit.   In fact being any kind of British Loyalist just gets you stuck with a big tab when they come to visit and deign to wave at you while eating the best of your plunder.

In that book I saw pictures of Diana visiting various places in Nova Scotia including one picture of here in an off white dress with light brown trim.   It reminded me of when I took photos of her too in this dress when I saw her on the commons on a tour in Halifax.  Those photos have since been lost and most of them had people blocking the view of her.  Just over 14 years later I was having breakfast at a diner on the edge of those same commons not far from where I saw her when I was told about her sad end.

Strange how one place and time can cause you to remember another one.  And on it goes.  If you leave home and stay away I suppose this doesn`t happen.

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In the craft shop she claimed it was in the banana belt and didn’t get all of the storms in winter.  I had heard that claim made about Lunenburg too and wondered if it were true.  It would be nice especially being so remote.

Coming up are some pictures from last year’s visit.  This is the place where historical movies have been made including  The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore.  I’m not sure if there were planters here too as seen in previous posts about Liverpool and Grand Pre.  They are an important part of the history of Nova Scotia that I never about learned in school.

It is interesting that many New Englanders came here in the 1700’s because they got free land in my favorite locations of the Annapolis valley and the South Shore.   How lucky were they.   Farmers and fishers were given boons it appeared.  In Grand Pre it was due to the ousting of the Acadians..  There are times in history when populations luck in to great situations.  This hasn’t happened lately for Generation X and beyond but before that things were fortuitous for a while too.

During Prohibition the Rum Runners up the coast also built nice houses due to their sneaky importations.   Money making often does best under temporary conditions and sometimes you have to move to take advantage of best case scenarios.  These things never last.  I got in on the end of the Japan boon but it is not so great these days for example.

 

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The market takes place under this Shakespearean building.

There were visitors in the visitors books from Eastern Canada and Northeastern US plus Germany though a few  Mid US show up as well.   In other books I have seen California or England.  License plates show a lot of Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey people are visiting here.  A few from Maryland as well  They are on to the cooler temperatures, ample space, less people and cheaper prices with the dollar exchange.  One NJ summer resident mentioned the great beaches and parks plus the nice people.  He forgot the local food especially in season produce as it is in the summer.  What more do you want?

A Maryland resident said he now flies up as driving through Conneticut and Massachusetts is too stressful.  We don`t realize how good we have it here.  Even with too many single lane roads there is still not much traffic.

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It was warm enough to sit outside and we ate at  Charlotte Lane. It was nice but though the chowder that got me another stamp in my passport(see previous posts)  won an award I was slightly underwhelmed with the mini shrimp and average fish content  with veg.  No high quality shrimp, lobster or scallops.  It did have maple syrup which was OK.  My salad wasn’t bad.  The place has a good reputation but last year’s swordfish was bland so something is lacking though the location is nice.  My travelmate had a meat sandwich was was OK but again nothing special.  They have the bare bones but need to pump it up a notch.

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Maybe next year for the festival in Lockeport.   Here is a picture from last year.

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Also Blue Rodeo was playing that weekend in Liverpool but I didn’t see that.  I did make it to the Jazz Festival in Halifax but found the bands mostly so so and the tent was not up to speed.  There was much less seating and a bandstand in the sun.   A drive to another part of town also found OK music with no seating so I didn’t get too much out of it.  About a band and a half but at least they were free.  Things change and often for the worst.  Happiness and freedom are a life long quest.

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Liverpool – Privateer Days

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God damn them all! 
I was told we'd cruise the seas for American gold 
We'd fire no guns-shed no tears 
Now I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier 
The last of Barrett's Privateers.

Barrett's Privateers - song by Stan Rogers

So it was I found myself at the end of June heading to Privateer Days.  I had heard of it but I had never been there.  In recent years I had taken a fancy to Liverpool and Queens County where it is located.  Next to Kings County in the Annapolis Valley, it was my favorite.  Long live the King and Queen.  Where Kings County has farmland, vineyards, rivers and red cliffs on a bay, Queens County has white sand beaches, lighthouses, quiet rivers and windy coastal towns with lots of seafaring history.  Lunenburg County is next door and also nice.  I’ve had more luck with sun there but it could just be chance.

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I had heard of privateers but didn’t even know what they were.  They appear to wear cool outfits.  They seem to be government approved pirates I found out.  I wondered if the governments would also wash their hands of them if they got into too much trouble.  In today’s social media I imagine they would spin negative brown yarn to positive shining gold threads if they could.  They would spin it in a way to make the government look good.  If not they’d become scapegoats in a hurry.

If they could get away with things it was fine, the government would take the plunder and give the privateers their cut.  If they were found out by the general populace the politicians of the day would call them pirates and claim no connection.  I wonder what the modern day equivalent of a privateer is.

Often when I used to go out to Halifax pubs I would hear the song Barretts’ Privateers by Stan Rogers.  It was like a provincial anthem and many knew the lyrics to it.  It was just a song you would expect to hear sometimes when you were out.  Again I was never sure what a privateer was.  Now I know and I found out that Simeon Perkins was a hero too.  Previously I had been to his house there.  Liverpool has a rich history involving the British and Americans.  It was an important port once.

Liverpool is an area of waxing and waning fortunes.  Although strategically located in the past it doesn’t have much to bolster it at the moment.  It is a nice little place with some great old houses and a central park with a main street that has a theatre and shops and restaurants.  There are some museums and a river along with an old lighthouse.  I have often thought it would be the perfect location for a university or college.  It needs something lasting to keep it going.

The more I look into its history the more interesting it is.  I’m not sure what the modern Privateer Days has to do with the past.  Besides the Privateer fire hydrant I found across the street from the event (see above) there was not much more indication of anything of that era.  Perhaps some skull and crossbones jewellery was supposed to evoke it but I’m not sure.

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A wander around the park showed me hand woven baskets, T-shirts, batik type dresses, iron decorative items in various shapes.  Privateers are glamorized pirates.  It’s all in the uniform.  I had to like the wooden furniture in mushroom shapes and rectangular or square things that looked like they would have been used in the Flintstones future wood episodes if they had happened.  There were a lot “pet rocks” which were just painted rocks.  I saw multi-colored knit purses and painted postcards.  One person was selling old vinyl and video games next to 3 D animal pictures jumping out at me.  It was a retro style fair.  Perhaps there were mood rings but I may not have seen them.  There were in fact dream catchers perhaps made by Indians from say Bear River I’m guessing.  I don’t always ask too many questions of vendors for fear of being roped in though at these events they are usually low key.

Luckily I don’t need one of these at the moment.  From time to time I have shocking dreams that wake me in the deep dark but usually they are stupid and predictable from the day’s events and I awake thinking “Spare me.  I’m going back to sleep now.  Is that the best you can do?”  I hardly ever get the 3am terrors.

Meanwhile they were selling doughnuts, fish and chips, coffee and beaver tails had just pulled up.  I have never had one but they look fun for the calorie carefree crowd.  A beaver tail shaped piece of dough full of all kinds of ooey gooey stuff.  Then there were the 75 flavours of an ice drink.  Dill pickle looks fun as well as well as Tiger’s Blood and Pimp Juice.

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I enjoyed music in the tent ranging from country to jazz while I was there.  It was free by day.  I left the jazz a bit early because the weather was a bit windy and I had left my coat in the car ( Lesson #1 bring layers, Lesson#2 don’t leave layers in the car)  but also I wanted to go to the Farmer’s market across the street and get fresh strawberries before they sold out though it turned out they were prepared for the demand.  What a nice change from frozen bagged unsweet ones or the hard, tasteless things that generally come all the way from California bred for the long journey and often on the verge of mold by the time they arrive here.  These were soft and sweet.  They yielded to my tongue and dripped their sweet red juices at my touch.  I also got radishes and beet greens.

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Across the street I found the Hell Bay Brewing Co. which is owned by four young people.  One I spoke to said he had to this shore six years ago yet he seemed to have lost his British accent.  I said that Brits should know about beer.P1020062P1020065

I wondered about the name as my map indicated a Hell Bay near Cherry Hill which I had just came from.  He said that is where it started and I mentioned seeing a “Brewery” sign on a barn over there and he said that was where it used to be.  Near that was Voglers Cove which had an old General Store and a few other buildings along with  dark islands on a scenic grassy coast.  It was the kind of place where I had to wait for tractor on the main road and the lake had a beaver’s dam in it.

I had gone to Cherry Hill to see the beach that I read about in a new book I bought called Beaches of Lunenburg Queens by Vernon Oickle.  I have explored this coast a lot but I had never heard of this beach.  As I started out on this journey in late June with summer only just starting I felt on a high with the sun rising in the blue sky and me at the wheel cruising the open road on a day off.  I got to this beach and read about the plovers.  These are cute birds with not the skills to nest out of harm’s way so they depend on human help for their survival.  I would love to see one and when I saw the signs indicating their nests my five year old self wanted to go look but my much older self reigned her in.

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No doubt the babies would be young now (or still in their shells) and it reminded me of tales of people finding a nest and touching the baby birds or eggs and tainting them for the mother.  With plovers (rhymes with lovers) you apparently just need to come near and scare them off and that is enough.  So I didn’t.  But the sign said that off leash dogs were doing damage.  I hope people read and learn.

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So just as I got to this beach the brilliant sun ducked under cover of some perilous dark clouds but I continued my walk down the curve of the crescent of light sand empty of anyone life except birds and prints of humans and dogs.  There were seagulls and other birds like swallows that flew low and seemed like they were trying divert me from their nest. They were either overly friendly or trying to lead me astray.  I heard cheeps and chirps.  Of course there were some waves but the tide was low and it looked a long way out to get fully wet.  I walked in and thought that perhaps I could stand getting completely covered.  It would be refreshing on a hot day but of course there were clouds and wind here.  After so many months cloistered inside with the worst winter in recent memory it was nice to feel the warm, massaging sand beneath my feet that were craving some contact with nature.P1020027

Down the beach I spied something odd that spurred me on to walk nearly the full length of the beach.  What was it?  With the darkening clouds as I walked closer and the emptiness of the beach I felt trepidation with each step yet felt compelled to continue on.  Seeing something oddly placed in nature makes one think of things like alien pods.  There once were sightings further down the coast.  Or perhaps I would get to a large shell that would have a large flying lobster jump out at me.  I didn’t know what it could be.  Onward I went only to find that it was a large plastic container.  Probably something from a boat that holds their catch.  Yet the incongruity mixed with the dark cloud sky still scared me.  Nature is nurturing but signs of man once again cause me fear.  It was a beautiful beach and at the end by the parking lot once again I only saw women.  Men seemed to be out fishing.  This was similar to my Gaspereau experience.  On the way out I saw beautiful irises in the boggish water.

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Finding a beautiful empty beach in Nova Scotia seems to happen often.

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After the beach and before Liverpool we made our way to Mill Village which is a small place situated on a lively river.  The main draw seems to be the general store and restaurant.  It was quite busy and we just had tea and a cookie but the food looked good and people seemed to be happy with it.  I plan to come back.  It is a lovely spot on a rolling river near a bridge.  One time in the past I took a long road in, next to the river which was nice but time consuming.  This time I took a shorter route coming across the highway directly from the Voglers Cove road.  They had the panninis that looked good and came with some sweet potato fries.   I heard someone order cheesecake.  The washroom came with a view of the river though  I don’t think anyone could see me from across the river.  It would have been only a side view.  I do love a washroom with a view.

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That would be a theme on this trip.  For lunch I went to Lane’s Privateer Inn which was my usual stop in Liverpool.  I split a wrap once again but had the chowder which had a tang and very small bits of seafood mixed in with potatoes.  Some are creamy and you can really sink into lobster or shrimp or scallops.  I’m not sure what was in this but it was tasty enough.  I earned my first stamp in my Chowder Trail passport.  For the first time I noticed that besides the chairs and couches there are also pews here.  I asked a server and she said that they came from a church in New Brunswick that was being demolished.

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The same happened when I purchased some ale at the Hell Bay Brewing Co.  I got a stamp on the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail Passport.   On both passports you only need three stamps for a chance at winning something.

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I had consumed their cream ale in a pub previously(review upcoming) so I got the English ale which had a craft brew bite that I’m not used to.  It reminded me of Propeller Ale.  I tend to prefer Garrison.  Still anything is nice once and it was not too bad for this light beer drinker.  After a few sips I warmed up to it like you would to a person who seems obnoxious at first but becomes better after some banter or is it just be the brew’s effects that make that person seem more palatable?  Yes there were notes of citrus too.  That bitterness that masquerades as almost sweetness.

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After more music at Privateer Days and walk through a moveable museum of Canada’s involvement in development around the world I went to see old pictures of the city at the Astor Theatre Building.  There are many nice houses and buildings from their former rich times as privateers or even rum runners.  Times can change places from rich to poor and back again.  Many things that were made or done there are now obsolete or done elsewhere. There are interesting museums and old homes here.  Again I found a windowed washroom.  This time I think I must have flashed the building across the street.  Well they wouldn’t know who it was if so.  It is interesting to have washrooms with a view I must say, even if that view is of you.

Driving back I came into the sun and the light again.  I had left the sunny county for the cloudy one but it was a fun and enlightening trip nonetheless.  One day I will hit the beaches of that area with the sun shining upon me, I’m sure.  I’ve been there before when the cold downer fog has lifted and everything changed  The light shone upon me and I almost felt like it happened just because I arrived.  Other times rain in other places will hold off until I get home  It’s part of the challenge and game here.  At the end of June you will see the roadside garnished with lupins in purple, pink and off white.  They are the best roadside garden of all that will come.  It is early days and there are more good things to come.  The lupins herald the beginning of the good.  Fruit and vegetables, plants and festivals, they will all come on schedule though I still have the memory of the worst winter ever in my mind and I still can’t believe things have come up mostly on time.P1020103

Meanwhile cloudy days tend to make for better pictures.  I met some cute and friendly people and besides the time warp of seeing pet rocks and old records’ I even saw a woman in an aging poorly lit supermarket with curlers in her hair.   You don’t see that every day.  Another had a scarf pinned on like you do when you haven’t washed your hair in a while.  A trip can take you to many places all at once if you just pay attention.

NS. Red – Wine Review

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“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” – Paulo Coelho, Brida

You know how we often think the grass is greener somewhere else or perhaps the wine is redder there too.  Well I decided to try out the local wine of Nova Scotia today after often thinking about it but generally snobbing it by drinking something from somewhere else.

Being this far north, this area is not renowned for reds as whites do better here but I tried the NS.Red from Domaine de Grand Pre in the Annapolis valley which is an area of lush farmland that creates a bounty of fresh produce and wonderful wine intertwined with lovely people and sweet views encompassed within a relaxed vibe.  This is the area dramatically described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his epic poem Evangeline about the expulsion of the Acadians to Louisiana.

This wine describes itself as being a “medium body red wind with spicy, rustic notes and flavours of blackcurrant and blackberry.  It offers light, elegant tannins with a long finish of black cherry and dark chocolate.”

I may have vaguely tasted the dark chocolate but there definitely were berries.  Overall I felt the soft taste of red velvet massaging my tongue mixed with liquefied red candy but not in a sweet, syrupy way.  It is very easy to drink.  I would have it with light meats and maybe salmon.  It didn’t go so well with dark chocolate which I generally like to have with wine.  It would be overpowered by spices.

It is so light you could drink it while lying in a field of dandelions watching the clouds shape shift in the azure sky and not even notice you had finished the whole bottle even if you are normally more of a beer drinker.  It is only 12%.  There is a type of wine for every situation.  Take time to explore as many as possible.

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