Day 185 – Anne of Green Gables

Big item on the agenda today – visiting Anne’s hometown and exploring her house, well, the setting for it anyway.Cavendish is very close to where we are staying and there is memorabilia everywhere. First we visited Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace, a small cottage on the corner of a busy road that was being typical of the older houses in the area. Apparently she was born in the upstairs room and her mother died when she was about two years old.

Next we headed to her Aunt and Uncle’s house “The Wonder Castle of  my childhood”. Silver birch lined the driveway…. This was the house made famous in Anne of Green Gables and has been restored to match the descriptions in the books.After many photos of the outside we were invited in by the host. The house still belongs to Montgomery’s family and is carefully maintained to reflect her stories including the bookcase and piano she refers to. There were horse and cart rides available that took in the surrounding sights including Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Woods.  A dream visit if you have ever been a fan of the books. My kids had watched the movie before we came and so were able to recollect parts from it.  I enjoyed wandering the grounds and sitting on the swing in the peace and quiet as my family took in the gift shop.  I met a lovely Canadian couple who asked me to take a photo for them. They were on their honeymoon and keen to tell me stories of visiting New Zealand and how much they enjoyed it. Close enough.The afternoon was filled with more swimming, playing and relaxing on the deck back at our cottage. We went off in search of live lobster for dinner and had fun playing with them in the bath before we cooked them. Adam and I went for a walk out on the river (low tide) after dinner and found jellyfish with purple tentacles. skimming rocks were easy to come by as the cliffs are made mainly of red sandstone which flakes off and is large and flat. Discus style works well.

We have our token collection of PEI sand which we will not be able to take home but wanted anyway.

Goodnight beautiful people Jxx

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Day 184 – Finally made it to Prince Edward Island

We left our stopover hotel at Miramichi after a breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup to head to PEI. We and plenty of time so were keen to stop off at interesting places along the way. A turn off to Richibucktou promised the ‘festival of scallops’ so we followed the signs – scallops for lunch sounded good. Unfortunately no sign of scallops but we did find Tim Hortons which has become our favourite haunt.
After ‘checking in’ we were on the road again. Our ‘skittles’ game kept everyone amused for the next hour before we reached the Confederation Bridge which is a 15 min drive over to PEI. We immediately noticed the red sand on the beaches for which it is famous.
Our accommodation is at Stanley Bridge, close to Cavendish, and was a beautiful drive through the rolling green hills and picturesque countryside dotted with colourful cottages.
The Beach and Breeze cottages are managed by a lovely German couple, Barbara and Wolfgang. They couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming. The kids were just happy to see a pool and a trampoline with the beach nearby.
After settling in (putting the wine in the fridge) we went into Cavendish for supplies. There were lots of touristy shops and and an amusement park that the kids spotted straight away.
Back at the cottages the kids were in the pool in five seconds flat. It was even hot enough for me to join them. Plenty of other kids to play with and get to know. Now they don’t want to leave. It’s all about the people you meet not the place you stay.
Adam played with getting the camp fire going again after dinner and we were joined by another group of Canadians who soon got the party started. They wanted to know all about Australia and were keen to just hear us talk. This time we were told our accents are romantic. Good old ocker!
My children certainly have the fire bug and played with it all night. We toasted marshmallows and were introduced to s’mores, which are a Canadian tradition. You toast a marshmallow and then sandwich it between two graham crackers (thin sweet biscuits) with a piece of chocolate. Delicious. One of the mums staying next to us is a Disney fanatic so I picked her brains about the best places to go when we are there in august. She goes 2 or 3 times a year and recommended Magic Kingdom, so Olivia can meet Snow White, and Hollywood studios for the boys. She also said we should make it known that it is Olivia’s birthday because they will make a big fuss.
We met some really lovely people.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx.

Day 183 – Road trip to Miramichi

Our plan for today was to head to Edmundston, NB for lunch and then on to Miramichi, NB for a stopover before PEI.  It’s nice to have the freedom to take whatever time you like to get there and stop at whatever is interesting at the time. The highways are getting a lot of construction work and at times this slowed us down but overall not too bad. Canadians live with a cycle of roads being hampered by snow and ice in winter and then, just when you think you’re free of that, construction as roads are being resurfaced because they’re full of pot holes and there is such a small window of opportunity to fix them.Edmundston is a town that you might normally bypass when travelling this way but provided a well earned break for us. More colourful houses and abundant forests surround the centre which was quite busy. It seems that everyone’s priority is to stack wood piles while they can in preparation for the winter ahead.  Every piece is neatly stacked close to the house and grass is all perfectly mown. Truly a national past time.After Edmundston, the road through New Brunswick to Miramichi was rough and in desperate need of resurfacing. We dodged many large pot holes and some wild life. A doe and her baby had us pulling to a stop with one on either side of the highway. We saw plenty of racoons but none of them alive and a fox playing chicken in the middle of the road.We reached Miramichi by late afternoon and decided to try a local ‘homemade’ bistro for dinner. Portages has been open for the last 30 years and is family owned offered good, hearty homemade meals. Roasts, fish and chips and ribs were the order of the day. With full bellies we headed off to find a park to play at and walk off our dinner. The local school satisfied the kids needs and I got towalk around the streets and take photos of the houses and churches with their beautiful gardens. There are plenty of bed and breakfast places around but unfortunately none that will fit our family of five.Goodnight beautiful people Jxx

 

Day 182 – A return visit to old Quebec City

We were pleasantly surprised to find that our hotel provided a free shuttle bus to the Hilton in old Quebec City which made things a whole lot easier for us this morning. Armed with our camera we followed the advice of the driver and walked along the streets full of cafes and restaurants up to the city park and its historic monuments. The De Champlain Promenade is a large park on the bank of the St. Lawrence River. The park stretches nearly 1.5 Miles (2.5 Kilometers ) from the Cageux Wharf to the Sillery coastline. This landscaped park is a gift from the provincial government to Quebec City for its 400th anniversary. There were many exhibitions on and cranes taking down huge stage setups from a previous concert on the river’s edge. The kids had competitions running and rolling up and down the steep grassy slopes. It was fantastic to see the changes in the city in summertime compared to what we saw during the Winter Festival back in February. The Lawrence river was flowing freely and the ferries worked hard to make their crossing against the tides.

Adam and I took the path along the river boardwalk whilst Garry, Lachlan and Olivia went over the fortress above the old city. Artists were everywhere with their paintings and craft works. Musicians played and sang with the Chateau Frontenac in the background. We strolled around the shops and souvenir stores reminiscing our time here in winter. It was hot but nice not to have to be all rugged up in our snow gear.

We were now in the ‘historic part of Quebec City, which was founded in 1608.  The upper part, referred to as ‘Upper Town’ (Haute-ville) is walled with ramparts and makes Québec the only remaining walled city north of México in North America.  The lower part of the old city, referred to as ‘Lower Town’ (Basse-ville), contains the historic church Notre-Dame des Victoires  (1687) and lots of shopping in very old buildngs.  A few buildings are 17th century vintage and many buildings date from the mid-eighteenth century.  The prevailing architectural styles are British and also French, and in particular, representative of village architecture from western France (Brittany, Aquitaine, etc.)  during the same period.  There are not many cities in Canada that have an architecture as diverse as Québec City. No fewer than 11 architectural styles from the 17th century to modern times have been identified in Québec City. The stone buildings are enlivened by brightly coloured metal roofs and signs, not uncommon in cities that need coping with long, all-white winters’.
We found a lovely little café hidden at the side of the Rue De Tresor, which is full of artists work. It was sunny and quiet and had fantastic burgers. Very quaint French style setting which reminded us of Paris.The souvenir hunting continued after lunch as well as the search for the candy store we found last time with the dog in socks. I found my token shot glass to add to the collection. Every turn here provides a photo worthy opportunity. Shops, people, streets, buildings, cafes and art all add to the uniqueness. The history is everywhere. I would have loved to do a night time tour of the city and tunnels. We travelled back up the Funiculaire, a carriage up the side of the hill, to the Chateau Frontenac and watched the street performers until it was time to be picked up.

The kids finished the night off toasting marshmallows over the outdoor stove.

Good night beautiful people Jxx

 

Day 181 – Going to Quebec City

We left at 4 this morning to make sure we got through Toronto before peak hour. There were several stops at Tim Hortons along the way, just to use wi-fi of course, and see if the Timbits are the same in each county.Things got more interesting as we approached Montreal and had to start interpreting the signs in French. I only took one wrong turn in this crazy, hectic maze of thin roads. Half the time I held my breath and crossed my fingers. I think Garry may have left fingernail marks in the dash (or was that on the paintwork of the trucks beside us?).

Whilst most French speaking Canadians seem to speak English, which makes it easier for us, the signposting is strange. Why is it that everywhere you go in the other provinces all signs/notices etc are in English and French and yet in Quebec the road signs are only in French? Our lovely little GPS managed to get us to our hotel fairly easily and we were pleasantly surprised at the location and amenities of the Four Points Sheraton. 2 queen beds and a large flat screen were gold. We had purchased an air mattress from Walmart before we left as its hard to find a hotel that will cater for 5 in one room. The kids are taking it in turns and its a good bargaining tool for more skittles/Timbits . They had a 15 person hot spa and a smaller    waterfall pool downstairs which the kids made a beeline for and a gorgeous golf course to look over.With no cooking facilities and a budget to rely on we set off in search of a grocer store for dinner. Over here you can usually find a store that sells ready made meals and a café style eating area. Loaded with goodies we headed back and put together a pretty good meal. If only we had a microwave. Lachie has become our resident hotel scourer for freebies and any other extras and will readily get on the phone to order what we need. He managed to get us a bucket of ice for our milk and yogurt for breakfast. I am sure this will be good training for our kids if ever they decide to go backpacking.Goodnight beautiful people Jxx

Day 180 – Adam’s 16th Birthday

Today was our last day at home before our trip to the Maritimes. Olivia cooked Adam a lovely breakfast of egg on toast when he finally woke up. We gave him his cards and tickets for his birthday experience – the Toronto Open tennis where he hopes to watch his idol, Roger Federer, play. Adam was keen to have some of the neighbours kids over for cake in the afternoon so we went up to Fortinos to pick one out. Lachlan thought they were good but not as good as Aunt Sharon’s cake, because hers are made with love.Adam spent the afternoon showing the kids some NRL best moments in sport and cricket highlights. They loved it and asked him heaps of questions.Boston Pizza was the restaurant of choice for dinner. Adam was happy to also receive a gift card from Sportschek from his friends Jacob and Noah.Goodnight beautiful people Jxx

Day 169 – White water rafting on the Kananaskis River

Garry and I drove into Banff this morning to book our tickets for white water rafting. It gave us a chance to have a coffee together and do some grocery shopping while the kids lay in and watched TV. Suited all of us.
After lunch we drove East from Canmore to Nakoda Ranch and Chinook Rafting. Following a brief introduction we collected our wetsuits, booties, lifejackets and helmets. Lachlan came out of the men’s tent complaining that they were all getting naked. I’m not even sure why he went in there to change because he already had his swimsuit on.
The rafts were a short bus trip away. We met our guide, Muller from Peru, and were joined by another family from California. With a list of instructions and some practice in the shallows we set off. This tour contained class 2 & 3 rapids, not too taxing, and was perfect for the family. We all got completely drenched in the icy water and used our paddles to splash the other boats as much as possible. It was such a buzz.
Lachie and Garry were in front and enjoyed most of the drenching whilst Adam and I were behind. Olivia got to sit in the middle and stay protected. That is, until we reached Santa’s surprise, where she was told to climb in the front with the other two kids. Santa’s surprise was a rapid that completely soaked them and had them gasping for air. To be fair, they were told to keep their mouths and eyes shut.
We jostled for position with the other rafts all the way down. There was an opportunity hop overboard at one stage which the kids literally jumped at. We then had to haul them back in coughing and spluttering but all insisting they loved it.
The last test was a bridge climb. As we floated past you had to grab a hold under the bridge structure and haul yourself up so that you could stand and jump off into the arctic water. Any volunteers?
Lachlan’s hand went straight up so he was first to try. He got a hold, hung for a while and then fell in. Adam decided to give it a go. He was able to get up and walk across to the other side. I think it then dawned on him that the only way back to the raft was to swim. He jumped in and came up shaking and coughing. He’d gone a fair way under.
We hauled the raft up the river bank and then hopped on the bus for a ride back to the ranch. Hot chocolate and cookies awaited.
The grins on the kids faces as we left and all the excited recounts were all we needed to know they had had a great day.
Time to cook another BBQ Adam.
Good night beautiful people Jxx

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