The smallest Province in Canada

I was born in the smallest province in Canada – Prince Edward Island, although we moved to Ontario when I was two years old we have always gone back periodically for visits to our relatives.  When I was sixteen, a friend and I travelled by train then bus to Charlottetown (cradle of Confederation) and couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was down there or talented for that matter.  All my cousins and their kids play some kind of musical instrument and sing.  I loved when we all got together and had old fashioned square dances or ceilidhs (kitchen party).  They are some of the warmest and happiest memories for me.

I feel it is my duty to give you a little taste of what life is like on the Island at least in the summer months, as there and elsewhere in Canada we are now moving into the snow season which lasts up till March, early April.  Here is the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of nuggets regarding PEI.

 

The floral emblem of PEI is the Pink Lady’s Slipper established in 1965.  This perennial orchid grows from a height of six inches to 15 inches (15-40 cm).  You can find her in early summer in mixed woodland and bog areas of the Island.  These are rare flowers and you are not allowed to pick them.  Other names for it are Whip-Poor-Wills Shoe, Stemless Lady’s Slipper or Moccasin Flower.  The Lupins or lupines above grow wild and populate the ditches and meadows unfolding a carpet of colour in early summer.

 

Showy Ladyslipper

This is the land of Anne (of Green Gables fame) and is a popular destination for the Japanese tourists who think of her as a role model who personifies virtues that they admire.  The musical play based on the book has been running in Charlottetown every summer since 1965.

Lucy Maude Montgomery published 20 novels, over 500 short stories, 30 essays, an autobiography and a book of poetry. Many of them are still read around the world.

Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 25 languages and the historic site of Prince Edward Island National Park, which is technically Anne’s birth place, sees over 125,000 visitors each year.

Province House

The birthplace of Confederation and the seat of PEI’s provincial legislature since 1847, Province House National Historic Site is Charlottetown’s most significant cultural landmark. A magnificent example of neo-classical architecture set in a beautiful and quiet garden you can learn about the history of the Fathers of Confederation and see how the house remains a centre of political life for Islanders today.  

Fun Facts about PEI  LOBSTER

 

  • The famous P.E.I red dirt actually gets its colour from the high iron content which oxidizes when exposed to air.
  • The Confederation Bridge, completed in 1997, connects P.E.I. to New Brunswick and it is the longest bridge in the world over ice covered waters!
  • Potatoes are big in P.E.I. as it is the number one crop in the province!
  • Ten million world-class Malpeque oysters are harvested annually.
  • PEI is known for it’s lobster suppers and homemade pies and internationally renowned mussels.
  • Seaweed from PEI’s famous beaches (Irish Moss) ends up in your shampoo, cheese and ice cream.
  • P.E.I. is so small that it accounts for only 0.1% of the total area of Canada!
  • Prince Edward Island’s flag was adopted on March 24, 1964.  It mimics the province’s shield, showing an oak tree and three saplings.  The Oak is known as the “Oak of England”  the saplings represent the three counties of the province:  King’s, Queen’s and Prince
  • Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island. In 2017 it had a population of 36,000 plus.
  • The Mi’kmaqs were the first people to live on Prince Edward Island. They called the island Epekwik – meaning Resting On The Waves.
  • The island was named Prince Edward in 1799 in honour of Queen Victoria’s father – Edward, Duke of Kent.
  • Charlottetown takes its name from Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.
  • The population of PEI is approximately 153,000. About 46% of the population lives in a city or town; the rest of the population lives in a rural setting.
  • Prince Edward Island is 220 kilometers long by six to sixty-four kilometers wide. There is no place on the island that is more than 16 kilometers from the sea.
  • The 273 kilometer Confederation Trail – is open to walkers, cyclists, runners and wheelchairs in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. It takes you from one tip of the island to the other on old railway lines.


    Stay tuned for some more information on the beautiful lighthouses that dot the countryside.  img232 - Copy

 

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is one of those cities that’s worth visiting simply because it’s so beautiful.  When someone mentions Savannah the image that first pops into my mind is the sight of all the moss-covered oak trees that languidly shift ever so lovingly in the southern breeze.

The second might not be overly familiar to some … but it is the Daiquiris drive-throughs where you can pick up your favourite concoction at the window a la Tim Hortons.  When we first walked in through the doorway (there was one across the street from our hotel so we didn’t need a car) there was a row of giant slurpee like machines where you had to make the difficult decision of what flavour you wanted your alcoholic libation in.  Daiquiri Drive throughSweet mother of …..I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.  What does MAAD think about all this?  One-eyed Lizzy’s on River Street also makes exceptional margaritas!  If you have time you should also make a trip to Tibee Island and have dinner at the Crab Shack.


A little background on Savannah – not that big, easy to navigate and very pretty squares.

The 22 squares in Savannah today provide locals and visitors alike with a little greenery amid all the businesses and historic houses. At one time there were 24 historic squares, but two were lost due to city development while others, such as Ellis Square, were redesigned and made even more appealing.

Savannah was established in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia.  Oglethorpe named the 13th and final American colony Georgia after England’s King George II.  Plus, Savannah is a port town so there’s also pirate history and … it’s haunted!   How much more can you ask for?

If you like architecture, you’ll really like Savannah, something visually noteworthy is pretty much everywhere you turn.  Forsyth Fountain.jpgThis is the fountain in Forsyth Park, which is definitely worth a stop.  You’ll enjoy a short walk to the fountain and those gorgeous live oaks along the way.

Forsyth Park in the historic district was laid out in the 1840’s. The land for the original space was donated by William Hodgson. In 1851 John Forsyth, the 33rd Governor of Georgia donated an additional 20 acres, bringing the total size of Forsyth Park to 30 acres. The Park was named after him and still retains his name today.

The Forsyth Park Fountain

Perhaps the most well known feature of Forsyth Park is the large fountain that sits at the north end. The fountain was built in 1858. It resembles a few other fountains found around the world, including fountains in Paris and Peru.  On any given day you can find many people, especially locals, lounging on the benches, taking in the scenery and people watching.

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day the city of Savannah dyes the water in the fountain green.  We just happened to be there at that time but it wasn’t planned.  The ceremony when the water is dyed is a popular event attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands of local ‘Savannahians’, many of whom are of Irish descent.


The Mercer Williams House

Thanks to the 1994 book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the Mercer Williams House has become one of those ‘must-see’ attractions for many people coming to Savannah. Even before the book came out the house was a beautiful fixture on Monterey Square.  The Mercer House was designed by New York architect John S. Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer, great grandfather of  the songwriter and co-founder of Capitol Records, Johnny Mercer. Construction of the house began in 1860, was interrupted by the Civil War and was later completed, circa 1868, by the new owner, John Wilder.

In 1969, Jim Williams bought the house and restored it. Williams was a noted antiquities dealer. He also enjoyed restoring old homes, the Mercer Williams House being one of them. It was in this house that Jim Williams allegedly shot Danny Hansford in 1981 killing him. Williams was tried four times, finally being found innocent of all crimes. Williams died in the house of a coronary brought on my pneumonia in the same room as Hansford.

Bird Girl
If you are looking for the statue of the Bird Girl from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, you could have found it in Bonaventure Cemetery prior to Midnight’s fame.  Now you can find her in the Telfair Museum.

 

There is much to see and do in Savannah and should be enjoyed at a relaxed and leisurely pace.  Visit www.savannah.com for more information or www.visitsavannah.com and receive a free guide.  I would love to visit the City again in the future but for the time being I think I will make myself a daiquiri and relive the time I was there.  Enjoy and explore.  Bon Voyage!

A peek at a few of the many castles in Scotland

Today, I came across a box I had set aside with trinkets and guides and photos from when my husband and I took a month-long trip to Scotland.  When we returned to Canada, his mother who had emigrated here in the sixties remarked that we had seen way more of Scotland than she had in her lifetime!

It was a fantastic trip even though it rained most of the time – a lot like Vancouver that way so we were kind of used to it.  Besides, a lot of the castles and museums and galleries and pubs were indoor; so when it started to rain heavily we just popped inside and when we came out – it was still raining, who am I trying to kid!  Never-the-less a great trip which we hope to repeat again in the future.

One of the many things I had been looking forward to were seeing some of the many castles in Scotland – after a few weeks however, I was complaining about turning a corner and wasn’t there another blasted castle in front of us.  Lesson in this, be careful what you wish for, Ha! Ha!

I am going to break down our trip for the moment and just concentrate on some of the Castles we did see and which ones were worth the price of admission – some were free!  In the future, I would like to re-visit some of these castles and take photos with a drone as they are spectacular seen from a height.  When we first visited all our photos were on film, can you imagine, so we didn’t have the luxury of taking 15 shots of a castle and then deleting all but that spectacular shot that you did get by having a digital camera.

I’ll start with one of the nicest – and more a beautiful country manor than a castle.  We headed out from Glasgow down to Ayr which is about 45 minutes depending on who is driving – so a nice day or afternoon excursion.   Please click on link below for synopsis of castles we visited.  I hope you enjoy and that you will plan your own excursion over there as it is a beautiful country and the people may appear standoffish to start but are very friendly when engaged  – especially about their history and culture!  If you incorporate a side visit to Wales and Ireland – even better!

Castles of Scotland booklet

A little slice of paradise!

Looking for an exotic oasis of freedom with crystal clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, warm weather all year round and authentic, friendly locals.  Look no further.  You can do as much or as little as you like in the Cook Islands.  Still largely undiscovered by North Americans, the Cook Islands are like Hawaii was 50+ years ago only with all the modern conveniences.  Made up of 15 islands, they are a mix of coral atolls and volcanic islands abundant with marine creatures, both big and small.

You will not find row upon row of high-rise beachfront hotels and apartments nor chain resorts as there are no buildings higher than a coconut tree.  You will not find chain stores or McDonald’s, even a stoplight is hard to find.

The Cook Islands are named after Captain James Cook who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777.  By 1900, the islands were annexed as British territory and included within the boundaries of the Colony of New Zealand.  The Cook Islands government is a parliamentary democracy with its own executive powers and laws (became independent in 1965) but carry New Zealand passports.  A seafaring people, Cook Islanders consider themselves descendants of Polynesians from nearby Tahiti, who first settled the area about 1400 years ago.

English is the official language and is taught in school.  The common vernacular is Cook Islands Maori, also called Rarotongan similar to New Zealand and Tahiti Maori.  Dialects vary, and in the north, some islands have their own languages.  Cook Island Tribal Tattoos These Meanings Of A Polynesian Tattoo Will Seriously Impress You

The Islands total 240 square kilometres or approx. one and a third times the size of Washington, D.C.  Rarotonga is the biggest Island but is only 11 kilometres in length.  The main road which goes all around the Island is 37 kiolometres so you can circumnavigate the Island in an afternoon.  Scooters and bikes are very popular modes of transportation but it was the buses that caught my eye.  They run in two directions:  Clockwise and Anti-Clockwise.  A simple and efficient means of getting around with some very entertaining drivers who will fill you in on the folklore and history for free!


Some interesting facts on the Cook Islands

  1.  The major industries are agriculture and tourism.  Rarotonga receives nearly fifty thousand tourists a year.
  2.   black-pearl-variation-600x400The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls.  Although they were named for the colour of the shell they are found in, the pearls come in hues of blue, silver and deep green.
  3.   The Islands are known for their wood carving, and many young people who live there are taught by older generations of wood carvers how to perfect those skills.
  4.   Rugby is the most popular sport followed by cricket and soccer.
  5.   Polynesian healers have used noni fruits for thousands of years to help treat a variety of health problems.  A cure all for the ages it is an important export
    Noni pulp
  6.   On Sundays the Cook Islands are buttoned up tighter than a clergyman’s collar.  Businesses shutter, the buses do not run and if you want a drink you’ve got to stick to your hotel.  Virtually all the people are Christian with 70 percent belonging to the Protestant Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) and 30 percent divided Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, or members of other denominations.  Everyone dresses up and wear intricate hats woven by hand.
  7. Though there are formal church cemeteries they are far outnumbered by private  burial plots on private land.  The spirits of ancestors live with everyone, are a fact of life, and nobody to be feared.  In some cultures, having a view on your parent’s grave from your living room window might be rather unsettling but it is commonplace here and treated with the utmost respect.  Family land runs from the coast to the inner hills of the island and cannot be bought or sold.  It stays with the family or is leased (one of the main reasons there is not so much outside development).  The large and sometimes opulent burial vaults found in front yards most often belong to the woman of the family who built the house.  Shoveling dirt onto a woman is a disgrace so the body is sealed entirely in concrete.  For sanitation reasons, this practice spread to everyone.

    burial plot in front yard.JPG

    Next time you are planning an exotic get away, give some thought to the Cook Islands – a little slice of paradise!  The Islands are renowned for its many snorkeling and scuba-diving sites

Halloween

Since this is the first post on the blog you might think it would be about something of immense importance and it is – what other day of the year can you dress up as whatever you want and go from door to door for CANDY!  When we were kids we would all head to this one particular place first because they gave out caramel apples and while we didn’t particularly care about the health benefits of the apple we sure knew how tasty that caramel shell was and she only made so many so you had to get there before they were gone.