Friday, October 30, 2009

Friends of Taylor Head Prov. Park Society - Beyond the gate

Many of you already know that one of my favourite parks in this province is Taylor Head. I am not alone.

Summers were spent there as a kid. I remember when the park was became under provincial jurisdiction. As early as 1975, I remember the community meetings at the church hall, the new gravel road, the new boardwalks, the parking lots (eliminating the long line of cars parked along the road). Finally, this piece of heaven was easier to assess but only when the gate was open.

One time, Taylor Head was only open from May - October. Thanksgiving weekend meant a drive "down the head" for one last time before the gate was locked for the season. One time.

Now the gates to Taylor Head park are now open until early December. Thanks to the efforts of eleven people back in 2007, the Friends of Taylor Head Provincial Park was officially formed as a non-profit society in 2008.

"The society is about making Taylor Head Park a better place to visit and enjoy", says Warren Parsons, President of Friends of Taylor Head Park Society, whose connection to the park also goes back to his childhood. "The Province has been very good and welcomed us as a participant in the future of the park. Our crowning achievement has been the opening of the gate for an extended period of time in the fall."

The friends organize programming in the park during the summer months. From watercolour clinics to guided bird walks to astronomy nights, this dedicated group is creating opportunities to learn more about the park's environment. "We will continue to organize activities and see what works and what does not", says Warren.

It's important to note that the park is not officially open but as long as the friends collect garbage and clean the toilets - the gate remains open.

At this time, the friends are negotiating a long-term agreement with Parks and Recreation on how they can work together in the future. All are hopeful and the friends appreciate the cooperativeness of the Province.

So this fall as you drive through the open gate at the entrance of Taylor Head Provincial Park, it's the result of a dedicated group of people. Thank you!

The friends would like to increase their membership. My family and I attended a membership drive/bbq on Labour Day weekend where they were serving hot dogs and yummy chocolate chip cookies. For a nominal fee, it's $10 for an individual membership, or $20 for a family. Get involved and stay in touch with upcoming events.

Membership form for Friends of Taylor Head Park Society

For further information, please contact Warren Parks(

Location of Taylor Head

Download a Taylor Head Prov. Park brochure

Read my previous blog posts on Taylor Head:

Cranberries and Inukshuks
Swimming at Taylor Head Prov. Park
Eastern Shore boats and buoys

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creepy Witch Fingers recipe

Here's a recipe post from last Halloween, just have to share it again:

Last night I made Creepy Witch's Fingers, an annual tradition that grosses many people out. They are yummy sugar cookies, with a hint of almond extract.

While you are savouring these cookies, the garlic will help fend off vampires.

Creepy Witch's Fingers

1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp (5 mL) almond extract
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2-3/4 cups (675 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) whole blanched almonds
1 tube (19 g) red decorator gel (blood for fingers)


In bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla; beat in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Working with one quarter of the dough at a time and keeping remaining dough refrigerated, roll heaping teaspoonful (5 mL) of dough into finger shape for each cookie.

Press almond firmly into 1end for nail. Squeeze in centre to create knuckle shape; using paring knife, make slashes in several places to form knuckle.

Place on lightly greased baking sheets; bake in 325°F (160°C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until pale golden. Let cool for 3 minutes. Lift up almond; squeeze red decorator gel onto nail bed and press almond back into place, so gel oozes out from underneath. Remove from baking sheets; let cool on racks. Repeat with remaining dough
Servings: 60

Credit: Canadian Living Magazine

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Joe's Scarecrows Roadside Attraction

Joe's Scarecrows, near CheticampSo here we were driving along outside Cheticamp, glancing back once in awhile to say good-bye to the mountains in the distance when out of the blue, we see scarecrows. Lots of them. They were hilarious! We actually had to turn around because they demanded our attention.

The place was Joe's Scarecrows just 10 minutes outside Cheticamp in a community called St-Joseph-du-Moine. Here you can meet members of the royal family, political figures, music stars etc They all are dressed up with a caption written on a piece of cardboard that introduces who they are and their name.

There is a table with a donation box set up so you could help the owners dress for next year. Nearby you can buy a burger, fish & chips, meat pies, ice-cream and home made pastries.

Joe's ScarecrowsJoe Delaney originated Joe's Scarecrows.Mr. Delaney, who passed away in 1996, enjoyed a good laugh. The story of how it all began was back in the mid 1980’s when Mr. Delaney put up scarecrows to keep crows from eating vegetables in his garden. Joe, being a huge fan of Mi-Carême , put up two scarecrows dressed in funny costumes and masks. Right away, this created a road-side attraction that just kept getting bigger. I imagine the idea of having a garden was scrapped because I didn't notice a garden (then gain, I was distracted).

Joe's ScarecrowsMi-Carême literally means the middle of Lent; the third Thursday of the forty days of fasting and penance before Easter. This day was reserved to give everyone the opportunity to celebrate and escape their Lenten duties. Brought to North America by French settlers, la Mi-Carême has survived in only four Canadian villages. For over 200 years, this celebration has been kept so strong in the Chéticamp, St-Joseph-du-Moine and Margaree region that instead of one day, people of this area have made it last a whole week.

Today, his family carry on the tradition of dressing up the scarecrows for the thousands of visitors every year who stumble upon the attraction.

Information on Joe Delaney

See more pictures from Joe's Scarecrows on The Right Coast NS's Flickr web album

Map location of St-Joseph-du-Moine

View Larger Map

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Red Shoe Pub

Red Shoe Pub entranceA month ago, my sister had her vacation and had every intention of going to The Red Shoe Pub but didn't get there. I did the perfect "naa, naa" when I texted her to say that I was there (I know, I am a brat). It was the last day of our family vacation around Cape Breton and we had to put the brakes on while driving through Mabou, Inverness County. BTW, there should be a bumper sticker handed out at Cheticamp saying "I break for The Red Shoe Pub."

Once inside, the place was busy, but then again, it was lunch time and we happened to nab the last four seats. This place is a mecca to The Rankin Family- their career and early family years. Mabou is where this musical family group were raised and is featured in their songs. One quickly realizes that this pub was designed for musical entertainment with a piano, Piano at The Red Shoe Pubspeakers and audio equipment along the middle wall of the establishment. Musical entertainment is every night of the week featuring local artists providing suppertime music and ceilidh's.

While living in British Columbia, listening to The Rankin Family kept me connected to Nova Scotia. Their first self-titled CD (released in 1989) brought me happy memories of "back home". I'm certain that a lot of east coasters living away can relate.

There is a large sign that reads "Beaton Building", this original sign was part of the 150 year old building. After an extensive restoration, it was sold to Rankin sisters Raylene, Heather and Cookie and it's been a popular spot ever since. At the back corner of the pub, I noticed an elderly local man wearing a green hat with a plastic grocery bag at his table. He sat alone. Suggesting to those who walked in the door as to where to sit. Nobody noticed him but I was fascinated watching his quiet gestures. It made me wonder who he was. An old family friend of the Rankin's? A local who liked to people watch? I think people like him add flavour to a place such as this.

Red Shoe at The Red Shoe PubThere is an interesting story on how the pub got it's name "The Red Shoe". An adventurous shoemaker Angus D. MacEachern of Glendale, Cape Breton had stained his handmade shoes a bright crimson with Sherwin-Williams paint. Johnny Gillis of North East Mabou, came up with the name 'Red Shoe' as a tribute to Cape Breton fiddler Dan R. MacDonald who had contributed a lot to Cape Breton's music culture. Do you know why shoes were painted red?

Enough about that. We actually went there to eat! The food was fantastic. Loved the Nova Scotia inspired menu and beer and wine selection. Particularly how the menu suggested wine pairings. I only wish we were there during dinner time, when there is live music.

If you go:

The Red Shoe Pub is a seasonal operation open from June 1st to mid-October.

Red Shoe Fan Club on Facebook

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Skyline Trail - Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Skyline Trail startEver see a TV commercial or magazine ad of Cape Breton and wonder, "where is that place?" Well, I found the place. It's called the Skyline trail.

The trail is #7 on Parks Canada's Cape Breton Highlands visitor map and judging by the packed parking lot at the trail entrance, this 9.2 km (5.7 mi) trail is a popular one.

Cabot Trail, Cape BretonSince it was 26C, we packed a lot of water for the hike. We stopped for a quick break to see a presentation on moose delivered by two Parks Canada interpreters. This info was helpful because we did encounter a moose on the trail, busy eating grass while hikers quietly watched and kept their distance. While driving up MacKenzie Mountain that morning, we also encountered a moose who was oblivious to the dozens of people with cameras.

As we were hiking along the relatively flat trail, once in awhile you'd get a blast of refreshing ocean air. You could listen to the vehicles climbing or descending nearby French Mountain (455 m).

Cabot Trail from SkyLine TrailOnce we reached the end, the landscape opened up and we were rewarded to a breathtaking panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. The trail led to wooden stairs - we counted 278 steps to the lower observation platform. As we soaked in the view and were cooled by the ocean breeze, we took a lot of pictures and picked wild blueberries that were growing just a short arms-length away from the platform.

Unfortunately it was time to go and hike back to the car. Although the trail map said that hike was 2 - 3 hours round-trip, we hiked it in 1 1/2 hours.

Helpful links:

Link to all the trails in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada.

Skyline Trail description

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Broad Cove Campground - Cape Breton Highlands

It was 8:20 p.m. when we pulled into campsite #189. We were in Broad Cove and it was the first night of our three day tour of Cape Breton.

Cabot TrailMinutes earlier we entered the Cape Breton Highlands Park and paid our family rate (2 adults, 2 kids) of $19.60 / day at the ticket gate. After driving about five minutes, we arrived at the gate for Broad Cove campground where we were pleased that they had one campsite left but (to our kids disappointment) there was no fire pit.

The light was beginning to fade so we quickly set up camp and ate dinner. After quick showers, we crawled into our sleeping bags. No reason to stay up because there was no fire to watch- the kids made sure that we took note of this.

Somewhere between the woodpeckers and the crows my REM sleep was interrupted. I generally don't mind crows but a nylon tent does not make a great sound buffer.

Fishing at Broad Cove BeachBefore packing up to leave we walked down the beach where the kids played in a brook that flowed into a beach. The beach had a couple broken up lobster traps that were left over from a storm. Nearby a man wearing waders fished for mackerel and trout from the beach.

My husband headed back to the campsite while the kids and I explored the brook and beach. When we returned, everything was packed up and we were ready to go. This was awesome and the kids and I planned this perfectly ;)

Broad Cove BeachNext stop? Many. It was the Cabot Trail and who knew what what around the corner.

See photos from our Cape Breton trip on Flickr

For more information:

Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada

Information on Broad Cove and other campsites in the park

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to the Future at Fortress of Louisbourg

IMG_4224On a foggy day in Cape Breton, my family and I stepped back in time to the year 1744. Actually, we drove there - to Louisbourg. After parking the car we went to the Parks Canada info centre where we jumped on a bus that took us to the largest re-constructed 18th century town in North America. Our curiosity was piqued on the bus ride for what was beyond the fog and then the town slowly appeared into view.

At the gate, we were greeted by an armed soldier who questioned the intention of our visit. This playful interpreter asked us what was the purpose of our trip, if we were English or French, even if we were spies (I'll never tell). Fortress LouisbourgI still think my daughter thought the soldier was serious.

Once on the other side of the gate of the fortress, it was clear that you could spend a day at this impressive site. Friendly costumed interpreters smiled for pictures or said hello as they walked by. They also welcomed onlookers to watch them do tasks such as making fishing nets.

In 1744, the fortress was an important seaport for France. A thriving fishing industry and trade made Louisbourg a stronghold in what is now Atlantic Canada. At that time the soldiers' rations over four days were: 4 oz of salt fish, 4 oz of vegetables, and 6 pounds of bread. Fortress Louisbourg National Historic SiteThese men worked a 24 hour watch (usually without any sleep) and then had 48 hours off. During their free time they'd hunt or fish (probably for more food :)) As many of the soldiers were criminals, Louisbourg was a lot better than prison in France. To these men, life as a soldier was better than prison. At least as soldier they had a roof over their head and food to eat. If they stepped out of line, they had to sit on a wooden horse with their hands tied and sacks tied to their legs. This was a form of humiliation because they'd be in clear view of everyone.

By 1760, Louisbourg lay in English hands and its fortification, destroyed. Fortunately, the French were meticulous record keepers because when the fortress was being re-constructed beginning in the 1960's, there were 750,000 documents to sift through. The re-construction was a massive undertaking which included archeological digs etc to re-build everything as a carbon-copy of the original. Cape Breton miners were enlisted in the project for their valuable skills.

IMG_4243It was time well spent in this 18th century town. By late afternoon we had to jump into the car and set up camp in Broad Cove but we all said we'd like to go visit again someday.

See more pictures of Fortress of Louisbourg on Flickr.

Related links:
- Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site
- The Louisbourg Institute of / L' Institut de Louisbourg de Cape Breton University
- Destination Cape Breton
- History comes alive

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to pick mussels

There are many places along the coast of Nova Scotia to pick your very own mussels.

Growing up along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, picking mussels was one of my favourite pastimes. Some like to keep their mussel patches secret. One wouldn't want to give away too good of a good thing right? So I'll explain the "how to", for now.

Blue mussels can be found in cold and warm waters all over the world, however many of them are found along the coast of Nova Scotia. They are a member of the clam family and are somewhat similar in appearance-except for the blue-black coloring.

Mussels can be picked at low tide. Unlike clams, they grow above the sand amongst seaweed around rocks. One can tell that mussels are in the area by noticing how many empty mussel sheets are lying around. If there are lots of empty shells, then walk to the waters edge, move aside the seaweed around the rocks, and have a look. There is no need to remove the seaweed, it generally stays where you want it to stay. Rocks can be slippery so be careful. If you notice a cluster of mussels, grab one and tug (they can attached themselves firmly to a rock).

In summer-time, mussels' capacity to filter small particles makes them accumulators of the deadly red tide organism, Gonyaulax. Please check with the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture before mussel picking to make sure your area is safe: Don't plan on pickin' until you get the thumbs up!

Once picked, take your bounty home. Wash them well in the sink with cold water and gently tap two together at a time.  If they stay tightly closed, they are good to eat. Discard the ones that don't close and stay open. Now, try this fabulous recipe.

The difference in colour of the meat has nothing to do with a difference in taste. I'm told that the orange meat is a mature female mussel, whilst the pale cream meat mussels are males (or immature females). Yummy.

Blue mussell photo is Courtesy of Sean MacNeill.

Here's a yummy Curry Cream Mussel recipe

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A & K Lick-A-Chick

A&K Lick-A-ChickIn Bras D'Or (outside Sydney) is a restaurant called A&K Lick-A-Chick. After hearing about this place as the "best tasting fried chicken on the island", we just had to stop in for a bite.

It was lunch time and judging by the number of people waiting in line, my husband and I knew we were in for a bit of a wait. We found a booth and with ticket stub in hand we passed the time listening to the locals, looking at the merchandise (taking note of the hats in individual plastic bags over the counter) and watching the traffic rush by. When our number was called, my husband and kids had to wait another 10 seconds while I took a picture of our delicious crispy chicken and fries. Then we ate like beasts from an episode of "Wild Kingdom."

IMG_4198This place is such an icon that there are over 4300 fans on Facebook. A discussion item on the fan page asks "what is your favourite menu item" and it appears to be a toss-up between the 3 piece chicken dinner and the chicken fingers. A person named Sha wrote that "chickens don't have fingers."

After a satisfying lunch, we were back in the car and on our way to Louisbourg. Thinking that we should've drove across the street to Lick-A-Treat for an ice cream but, then again, we had one earlier that day in Baddeck.

Directions to A&K Lick-A-Chick.

See more pictures from our visit on Flickr

Monday, August 17, 2009

A visit to Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

It was day one of a whirlwind three day tour of Cape Breton. My husband is one of those drivers who doesn't like to make pit stops at leisure. As a "cultural explorer", it is sometimes painful to drive past something worth stopping for (at least in my eyes).

IMG_4170That being said, imagine my astonishment when I said to my husband 5 km outside Baddeck "hey, let's see the Alexander Graham Bell centre" and he said "yes". As a kid, I always wanted to visit. Partly because growing up, I remember my parents had coasters with an exterior photo of the centre.

The centre is managed by Parks Canada and it is here where you'll find artifacts, audio-visual programs and photographs that tell the story of Alexander Graham Bell. This remarkable inventor and humanitarian, Bell taught deaf people to speak, transmitted sound to graphophones, created man-carrying kites, airplanes and the fastest boat in the world. Oh, and he invented the telephone.

IMG_4172Inside the centre, our daughter was handed a Seek and Find activity where you matched items to those in the exhibit and then circled them. After a 25-minute talk about his life and accomplishments, it was clear that this lifelong learner loved children. In fact, the exhibits painted this family-man as one who was inspired by them. On display were early models of phones, kites, the original record-setting hydro-foil boat (HD-4), and original parts of The Silver Dart airplane.

IMG_4186By this time, my son was intrigued. When asked what impressed him he said that he liked how Dr. Bell experimented with air conditioning. My daughter liked the talking tube. My husband and I liked the tectrahedron (a triangle) that Bell considered the perfect structure. Bell used this shape in his kites and there was an area in the exhibit where kids could make their very own tetrahedron.

Across the Bras d'Or Lake, is Dr. Bell's family estate "Beinn Bhreagh" meaning "beautiful mountain", it was here where Dr. Bell and his wife Mabel spent much of his last 37 years.

Back in the car we went, after stopping for ice cream (our daughter was handed a coupon when she passed in her Seek and Find activity). Next stop, Louisbourg.

See more pictures of our visit on Flickr.

Useful links:
Parks Canada Alexander Graham Bell site

The Flight of The Silver Dart

The Village of Baddeck

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One year of The Right Coast Nova Scotia

Happy Anniversary!
It's been one whole year since you were created. The name "The Right Coast" was how I described Nova Scotia in Cover Letters to identify that I was a "come from away" applicant. My sister-in-law came up with "the right coast" and it stuck.

I wasn't really a "come from away" but your typical person who, after graduating university, moved out to the west coast to find work. It took 11 years to come home to the other coast.

So, as I re-discover Nova Scotia as a wife and mother a blog was born. You see, since the age of eight I've had a journal. Thus, moving to an online journal, is a natural progression. But this journal would be read by anyone and not hidden under the bed.

To celebrate one year of The Right Coast Nova Scotia, here are a few of my favourites:

My favourite posts:
Lavender Jelly was my very first and favourite post
Between a rock and a soft seat: Economy, Nova Scotia
Paradise, Nova Scotia: This was fun to write, after the sting of paying the speeding ticket wore off.

Most read by readers:
How to pick mussels: Yum!
Canada's Best Smoked Salmon: Willy Krauch's
Making Nautical Wreaths: Recently a reader asked where you could buy one, this stumped me. Anyone know?

Most comments from readers:
Melmerby Beach Provincial Park: A spring time visit got a lot of comments.
Destination Guy's Frenchys
Everything you wanted to know about Nova Scotia

My favourite pictures:
Because I love taking pictures and have a tough time picking which 2 or 3 go into a blog post, I've just started a Flickr account where you can see more. The pictures on Flickr are the more recent ones (July'09 onwards).

Most importantly, thank you for reading this blog and giving me ideas for new posts. Time is short for us all and I appreciate how you take a minute out of your day to read these posts.

I am excited to be a blogger for Nova Scotia's tourism website: and The Right Coast NS is also on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ferry Boat Tales

Ferry Tales 038A few weeks ago I met up with a girlfriend for lunch. She works in Dartmouth and I work in Halifax so I agreed to hop on the 12:15 ferry from Halifax to meet her at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. I had read about a new summer program on the Metro Transit ferry system where actors tell tales of Halifax's rich seafaring history.

Ferry Tales 030 So, on a Tuesday afternoon I paid $2.25 (made sure I got a transfer ticket for the trip back) and caught a Dartmouth-bound ferry. It was a beautiful sunny day so I sat on the top deck to soak in the view and the rays. Minutes after leaving dock, out jumps Jack Tar and his friends. Jumping from seat to seat and telling a story about a battle near Sambro, ferry passengers (once the surprise settled in) soon realized that they were in the middle of an reenactment.

Ferry Tales 027Here we were, in the middle of Halifax Harbour receiving an entertaining history lesson where the harbour itself has been the topic of text books, movies, conversation and so on. Another cool thing was traveling on the oldest salt water ferry service in North America.

It was perfectly choreographed and the length of the story was the exact length of the ferry ride. I didn't want it to end but I knew my friend was waiting for me and I was hungry.

Ferry Boat Tales is presented by the Halifax Regional Municipality in association with Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Produced by Heritage Explorers and performed by DaPoPo Theatre.

If you go:
July-August - Tuesday to Saturday

To Dartmouth
(Halifax waterfront at the foot of George Street)

12:15 pm 2:15 pm 7:15 pm

To Halifax
(Dartmouth waterfront at Alderney Landing)
12:30 pm 2:30 pm 7:30 pm

Free with transit fare: $2.25 Adult; $1.50 Senior/Child

See more pictures on The Right Coast Nova Scotia's new Flickr account.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Whirlygig Factory


Isn't it fun to pronounce? Besides that, they are also fun to look at. When you are driving along the Lighthouse Route between Mahone Bay and Chester, you can't help but notice the flurry of whirligig's at The Whirlygig Factory. So many that they'll make your head spin.

As I type, I can't help but wonder why my spell check is picking up whirlygig with a "y". I'll come back to that later but first, what is a whirligig?

Wikipedia describes a whirligig as "wind-powered hanging art"- big contrast for what they were used for in ancient times as spinning torture devices. Now these lawn and garden ornaments is considered folk art. A visit to The Whirlygig Factory is where you can get your fix of these quirky and fun ornaments.

It was here where I met Barry and Kara Coutts, owners and creators everything whirligigish. They'll custom make your piece or choose from many designs either on display or on their website.

When I arrived, Barry was the first person I met. Busy in his workshop, he was working on one of his "Tit-il-ating Mermaids". These lovely ladies make you giggle at first and then you realize that these beauties are works of art. Found throughout the property reading in hammocks or playfully posing in a flower garden. It takes 400 feet of copper wire to make the hair, 5 hours to strip the wire and fashion it to the head. Their jewelery are fashioned from glass beads and sea shells.

The Turner Collection was inspired by Bunny & Pat Turner of Nova Scotia who wanted an old traditional whirligig reproduced. Barry was then motivated to create their own line of true "folk" whirlygigs, the one pictured here is "Musher". Also part of the collection is "Harvey the Hunter", "Wanda the Wash Lady", "Charlie the Chopper", "Peggy the Pump Lady" - all wind powered, colourful and entertaining.

As to why there is a difference between whirlygig and whirligig? A quick phone call to Kara said it's merely for phonetic reasons because that's how most people would spell it.

Helpful information:

Location of The Whirlygig Factory

The 10th Annual Whirligig & Weathervane Festival September 19 & 20, 2009 in Shelburne, NS

The South Shore region

The Lighthouse Route

Friday, June 19, 2009

Swimming at Taylors Head Provincial Park in June

Taylor Head Provincial Park, Spry Bay, Nova ScotiaIt was a glorious Sunday morning.

It was the morning after a family gathering where we dined on lobster and potato salad. The sun was strong and the wind was weak. The black flies were either sleeping in or the bug spray was really working.

It was the perfect time to take a drive "down the head" - that's Taylor Head Provincial Park. It's a gem of a park along the Eastern Shore known for it's white powdery sand and scenic hiking trails.

It's also known for it's cold water. In fact, I can only count on one hand how many times I swam in the water as a kid. One time I was told by a camp counselor that helicopters dropped ice cubes into the water. Why? I never asked. Perhaps my lips were shivering too much to ask.

As my father, sister, cousin, and friend where walking along the beach, my sister out of the blue said "I'm going in!" We said in shock and horror "where", she said "there!", pointing to the water. Before you could say "I dare you" she was running toward the water and jumping in. Clothes and all. You know that happened next? We proceeded to jump one by one into the water as my daughter looked on.

You know what? The water was nice. Then again, I was fully clothed.

Additional info:
Taylor Head Provincial Park brochure and directions

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pink Lady's Slippers: To pick or not to pick

There is a trail behind our house and recently I discovered various patches of Lady's Slippers. Actually, it was a woman taking a picture of these flowers that first caught my eye.

What are these puffed up flowers all about? Well, here are a few interesting facts:

- they are a wild orchid (Cypripedium acaule)
- also known as the moccasin flower
- can cause severe dermatitis if touched
- it's the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, since 1965
- it is the only flower with a lip (slipper)
- they prefer poor, acid soils (around pH 4-5) and do best in light to moderate shade.
- growth is slow, and it may take several years to flower
- they are fragile and do not transplant well, in fact, it's discouraged
- should not be picked or used in floral arrangements

People tell me that information about Nova Scotia's conservation of the Lady's Slipper is available but I cannot seem to find anything. Send a comment if you know and I'll happily post it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

HRM Bike Week 2009

I love my bike. Last summer I even did a tribute to "My new love". The challenge of climbing a hill, the thrill of screaming down. Gearing down, gearing up.

Biking to work can be tricky. Halifax streets can sometimes be tough to maneuver but the reward of arriving to work on pedal power feels nice. Coffee tastes better.

So when I heard that HRM Bike Week 2009 is May 29th to June 7th, my pulse quickened like I was biking up Quinpool Road from the Rotary.

There are all kinds of interesting things planned. Like ride your bike to participating small businesses and receive discounts or board any Metro Transit Harbour Ferry or MetroLink bus (certain routes apply) with your bicycle and travel for free during Bike Week. There's even a Family Picnic on the Commons that's free from 12:00noon – 2:00pm for people and kids who enjoy cycling in Halifax and those interested in cycling as a family.

Here's the full schedule for HRM Bike Week 2009.

Watch for the 2009 Edition of the HRM Bike Map - Bicycle Routes and Trails

See you on the street!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NS Eastern Shore boats and buoys

I grew up in a small fishing village along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. There where four fishermen in the bay, Guy Boutilier, Jackie Borgel, Guy Power and Peter Connors. Just as the buds on the trees are a sign of spring, so was the launching of the fishing boats in the bay. Men from our community as well from the neighbouring bay were called to help launch the boats from their winter berths to slide down the wooden ramps into the water. Another season had begun.

As kids, we'd set the alarm for 4:30 a.m., head down to the government wharf to meet the fishing crew. My first time was when I was 12. It would also be my last time. I was never so sick in my life. An appreciation for the life of a fisherman was gained that morning as I thought to myself "this must be what it's like to be near death". Guy Power was a kind man who thought if he stopped the boat and let me jig mackerel awhile, that I might feel better. Nope.

Driving along the gravel road to Taylor Head Beach lobster buoys dotted the rocky coastline. Locals could tell which buoys belonged to whom by their colour and number.

Two fisherman have since passed away (the two Guys) and younger men have taken on the livelihood. Now there are only two boats and they exclusively lobster fish.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

April Showers Bring Mayflowers

The Mayflower (Epigaea repens) or Trailing Arbutus, is the provincial flower of Nova Scotia.

mayflowers in Nova ScotiaEarly spring you can find these tiny pink flowers in many areas but they are very hard to find. It seems like you have to know where to look for them and when you do, you need to move away the foliage to see the flowers. My sister and I always go to the same place where we are guaranteed Mayflowers because it was where our mother went to pick them.

As a child, early May meant that Mayflowers would be arranged in a bouquet on the kitchen table. Their sweet aroma can really fill a room. I remember one time my parents heard on TV that Mayflowers were good to eat. Soon after wards, I'd pop a bloom or two into my mouth. One time I polished off an entire bouquet (except the leaves).

mayflowers in Nova ScotiaThe name comes from early American settlers, after their ship which carried them to North America in 1620. It was the first flower of spring to welcome them after a long, cold winter.

They grow along the east coast of North America and I've always seen them in wooded areas or cemeteries.

Friday, May 8, 2009

2009 Summer Camps in Halifax

Do you have any plans for the kids this summer while you are at work? Are you a bit like me and panic at the thought of "what am I going to do?" Well, since I don't have the benefit of an 8 week vacation, here are ideas I've gathered and am sharing with you. BTW, this format is similar to one I put together for 2009 March Break Camps.

If I am missing any camps, please let me know and I'll add it to the list:

Halifax City Soccer Club
Mini Soccer Skills Camp (U6yrs, U8yrs & U10yrs)
Soccer Skills Camp(U10yrs & U12 yrs)
Full day and half day camps at Wickwire Field
Contact: Halifax City Soccer 453-0741

Canadian Parents for French - Nova Scotia
Camp du Soleil - CPF-Dartmouth
Registration info:
Camp Grenouille - CPF-Eastern Passage / Cole Harbour
Registration info:
Camp Lac Chocolat - CPF-Halifax Peninsula & Mainland South
Registration info:
Camp Joli - CPF-Bedford/Sackville
Registration info:
Residential camps are being held out of town.

Halifax Recreation
These camps fill up super fast.

Pier 21
Walking the Line
Choose from morning or afternoon (or both) half day camps. Multicultural crafts, games and activities from the hottest countries near the equator.

YMCA Day Camps
Sports, games, and outdoor activities to creative art and special events. Weekly themes add a special touch
Phone: 902-425-9622 ext. 235

Dalhousie Summer Camps
Their recreational camps have been expanded this year to include a variety of climbing camps in addition to the favourites: Aquatic Adventure, Mini University and Shakespeare by the Sea theatre camps. Spaces are limited.
Phone: 494-2002 or 494-2049

SuperNOVA at Dalhousie
I like how these popular science and engineering camps give you their registration status (i.e. 75% full)

Armdale Yacht Club

Youth Sailing Programs
Phone: 477-4617

Saint Mary's Camp of Champions
Summer Camps for boys and girls
Phone: 420-5429

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Summer Art Classes
Students can attend week-long sessions of full or half-day classes. Organized lunch time supervision at a nominal fee is provided for students attending full days.
Phone: 424-7542

Artech Camps at Dalhousie

State-of-the Art fun and high-tech creativity! For kids and youth from 5-16 years old. Choose from adventure camps, video game design, robot camps, animation/ claymation and Flash animation camps.

MSVU Athletics and Recreation
From Holiday Hoopla to Ready, Set, Get Wet!
Phone: 457-6420

Unicorn Theatre
Summer Drama Camps
Campers will take part in numerous creative activities, and will perform in one of two musical plays for parents and friends each Friday afternoon.
Located at Head of St. Margaret's Bay
Phone: 857-2121

Discovery Centre
Hands-On Science Camps
Your kids will not only have fun but get a funky yellow bucket hat!
Phone: 492-4422

Mad Science Summer Camps

Calling all Junior Scientists
Phone: 454-0863

Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron Youth Sailing
Junior Sailing Programs
Phone: 477-5653

Bedford Basin Yacht Club
Youth Sailing Program
White, Bronze, Silver Sails
Phone: 832-2292 or 835-3729


Summer Camps
Week-long camps include 3-themed ceramic, pottery projects that inspire fun & teach a variety of pottery painting techniques.
Phone: 443-6300

Maritime Conservatory of the Performing Arts
Summer Music Camp
Music Theatre, Young Ensemble, Chamber music, flute, musical mischief, voice, the joy of singing and much more.
Summer Dance Camp
Art and Creative Drama, Dance Intensive, Beatrix Potter Ballet and lots more.
Phone: 423-6995

Camp Fusion
Presented by Green Choi Kwang Do- a self-defense focused martial art. Camps also include swimming, yoga, crafts and games.
Phone: 441-3469

Centre for Entrepreneurship Education & Development (CEED)
Break Into Business Camps
Held in Hammonds Plains, Cole Harbour Place, Spryfield Library and CEED office, Halifax Shopping Centre
Phone: 209-4504

Alderney Landing
Children's Fine Art & Theatre Camp
Art Camps - The Creative Ocean and Pirate's Week
Theatre Camps-Stage presence, voice props, and all aspects of theatre.
Phone: 461-8401

Euro Futbol for Champions Soccer Camp
An elite soccer training camp in HRM this summer. They are affiliated with the world famous AC Milan soccer club of Italy and their coaches come directly from Milan to deliver their training technique and philosophy to the youth of Nova Scotia.
Phone: 832-1470

Let's keep this list growing, send your additions and I'll add them to the above list. Thanks!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Melmerby Beach Provincial Park

"The warmest water North of the Carolinas" - Melmerby Beach is located along Nova Scotia's Northumberland Shore. Along the Sunrise Trail and minutes from New Glasgow.

Ever wonder why the water at this mile long beach is warm? I set out to find the answer and after some digging, here's what I found. Wikipedia says that the Northumberland Strait is shallow in depth and that likely explains why water in some areas can heat up to 25C in the summer months. "It's just like bath water," we'd say as kids.

Here are a few pictures from a recent visit:

Melmerby Beach Provincial Park

Melmerby Beach Provincial Park

Melmerby Beach Provincial Park

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jost Vineyards

"Wine is bottled poetry."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

The welcome area at Jost Vineyards in Malagash, Nova ScotiaI love wine. That's why, when my sister suggested that we take a trip to Malagash to visit Jost Vineyards, I got excited. I've heard great things about visiting this winery, especially in the summer when they let you stomp grapes in a barrel. In April though, this visit would be purely sampling wine and visiting their showroom and gift shop. Fine by me.

One time I asked a manager of a wine store in Halifax did he have a wine that was his personal favourite. His answer amazed me. He said, "Any wine made here in Nova Scotia." When I asked why? He said, "Because I can taste the soil, I can taste Nova Scotia." Neat response eh?

I can't say that I've tasted salt water or blueberries but I'll keep trying :)

Jost Vineyards IcewineBack to Jost, since moving to Nova Scotia from Germany in 1970, Hans Jost and his family have been gaining a lot of success. In 1999, Jost's Vidal Icewine received accolades at the All-Canadian Wine Championships as Canada's Wine of the Year. Jost Vineyards was the first winner outside of Ontario and British Columbia since the competition began 20 years earlier. Also, in 1999, the Vidal Icewine won the Andy Brandt Trophy for Best Dessert Wine.

When traveling around Nova Scotia, stop into one of the many wineries and have a taste of Nova Scotia.

Winery Association of Nova Scotia