Last full day in Nova Scotia – Wolfville

Wolfville is a cute University town in the northern coastline right on the Bay of Fundy. Now why would i mention that quirky name? Because, dear reader, the Bay of Fundy is the place of ‘the HIGHEST TIDES on EARTH’!! No kidding! Twice a day water sucks out of this enormous bay – 9 to 16 billion tonnes of water – more than the combined flow of all the rivers on earth.

I had to go and see it for myself! Nancy was just as keen. We drove to Hantsport to one of the viewing spots but timed the initial trip too late to see the high tide. Second trip more successful for the low tide exposed an immense land of sucking mud, reefs and the odd pool of water. I hope to see full tide tomorrow AND ride a bike along the dyke.

Watch this space.

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Nova Scotia so far

Not everyone is lucky enough to catch the same hurricane twice, but I did! After Orlando I went to Canada and by the time my friend Nancy and I got to Nova Scotia, we were in time to welcome Dorian again.

He hit some parts of NS badly and as we drove around on Sunday morning trying to find some area that still had power we saw signs of his passing everywhere. That second night at Beaver Bank our hostess was on pot, grew it out back, and left us to light candles and cope when the power went out in the night. It made for an interesting night, with the wind whistling around and the lake whipped up.

We found a fish and chip shop open and enjoyed some really good takeout.

Next morning we got away early and searched for breakfast, finding it in a family restaurant in Sackville, one of the pockets that still had power. Great wait for a table but a good breakfast eventually.

The rest of the day we drove around NS and ended up at Digby – power out – at a tiny roadside lobster shack running on generator. It was 1.5 hours before our little lobster rolls were ready, such was the wait. On the road bisecting the country towards the south we encountered many trees still down across the lanes, and with some relief arrived in Lunenburg unscathed.

I love this fishing village! Brightly coloured homes, jaunty shops, numerous fish restaurants with decks overlooking the sea – we enjoyed it all over the last two days. Our B&B was upstairs in a house and was its own apartment – overlooking some forest from which deer occasionally strayed.

Today Nancy drove around the coast below Halifax to Peggy’s Cove which is a village and lighthouse built on rock. En route we stopped at a Lebanese restaurant and were entertained and fed by the sole chef, manager, maitre de, shop keeper whose exaggeration and tall tales knew no bounds. The over-priced chicken wraps we got were good ($13!!) and it made for an experience for sure.

We are on the third floor of this stately house on main street of Wolfville, in our own apartment. Once more the beds are pretty hard but I think we’re so tired it won’t matter.

Hope I see a sea otter or moose before I leave!

Day 32: Orlando

7.30am update: From my hotel room it seems like any other windy cyclone – but obviously Dorian is a long way off coast. My flight has been changed twice, and right now is due to fly out at 6pm to get to Toronto by 11ish. I miss my ongoing flight. That’s assuming Orlando airport opens today. Watch this space.

Day 32 – Orlando

Having a quiet time of it riding out hurricane Dorian here in Florida. One entire channel devoted to watching the slow track of the storm – breakfast this morning, dinner in restaurant last night, tv screens keep up the momentum in case you forget.

Best thing: my room is the most spacious I’ve been in, the plane seemed fairly empty and I have NEVER gone through customs so fast, not even in NZ. I think I was 7th through, they took one look at passport, smiled and asked where I was going, wished me well and I was out of there – huh!!??

It has given me a day to linger in a time warp between where I need to be (Canada) and where I was (UK). And to consider the vast cultural differences most obvious – (and I love the UK!). My bed is one of two vast kingsize beds with soft mattress toppers and four pillows each. There is a fridge, microwave, coffee machine and pods, spacious bathroom. Restaurants within walking distance (not usual to have sidewalks). I’ve just left the Gatwick hotel which – to be fair – was not as good as the one in the terminal I stayed at last time. This time at Gatwick my bed was so narrow the pillow slid off a couple times, I had to crawl over toilet to squeeze into shower, but there was a kettle and tea bags.

I feel like just stepping out on American soil I can flex my limbs and stand up straight. There must still be bruises on my head from the low lintels and ceiling rafters that I didn’t see coming in UK. I’ve climbed up more narrow steep staircases than I can count, often with my bags, and crossed my fingers as I’ve sat on tiny toilets in awkward spaces. BUT – and it’s a big but – (yes! My butt too – don’t go there!) – we LOVE Britain because it has kept our history alive. My history – only the last few generations of my family were in the southern hemisphere – and the history of many Aussies, Americans and Kiwis is tied up in the UK, and I can return to that land and picture exactly how much of it looked for hundreds of years, give or take a house or two. The museums!! The literature! The castles and churches! I could go on and on. The little inconvenience of a lost pillow or having to constantly give way on tiny one-lane roads is nothing compared to the abounding joy of experiencing a land so steeped in wonders.

Now I am enjoying the lavish excesses of a generous and immense country, and grateful for them, and forgoing my love of a good cup of tea, but I am still fondly remembering the marvellous trip along the country lanes of England and Scotland. So many warm, funny and lovely people have welcomed me in my travels. Thank you so much!

I am spread lavishly on my bed gnawing at a bagel and with one eye watching the news and with the other the view from my 6th floor window. It’s a bit like the waiting room between worlds. I’m coming back here in 10 days to ‘do’ the adventure parks and go up to Jacksonville. God bless America!

Day 29 – 31 Off to Florida

My last few days in Bournemouth were a very happy mix of tripping to Dorchester, the New Forest, with friends. I saw Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave, befriended wandering horses, walked the thatched houses of Milton Abbas, and the last evening a whole bunch of us got together for dinner, games and skyping Auckland.

Now I am awaiting my flight to Orlando, FL which I was unable to change. Should be interesting flying in to a category 5 hurricane. In two days I fly to Canada from Orlando – I hope – and head to Nova Scotia with my friend Nancy. And before you ask, yes, I did try all available flight options. I’m not worried.

Until the other side …

Day 28 – Bournemouth and New Forest

Day 28 – Bournemouth and New Forest. First off a coffee from Peer Kaper! Today Nicole Rosine Henderson Schmidt took me to Minstead where we found another literary hero – Arthur Conan Doyle – buried in the churchyard beneath a huge oak tree. A curved pipe sat against his headstone.

After contemplating the delightful little village with its wandering cattle and horses, we set off for Lyndhurst and the grave of the real Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame, except that she will forever be in wonderland for me due to the line of traffic leading in to town.

Instead, Nicole and Delphi the labrador and I headed for Burley where the promise of Dorset Applecake awaited us.

Found an outside table and the promised cake was all it should have been. Even Delphi got some doggy treats on a plate from waiter.

All in all a successful outing.

Day 26 – Bournemouth

It was Anna’s birthday today so I took her over to the market town of Wareham – where the River Frome slides past and a busy kayak and boat hire business is doing very well indeed. Anna wanted a kayak, and I’ve enjoyed two previous trips here, and so we found ourselves gliding out into the current on the top of sit on plastic kayaks for an hour.

Perfect for the tail end of the heatwave that came suddenly upon the lower British isles over the last few days. Never have I been so happy to sit in a pool of water and be mere centimetres from the dark depths of the current.

After an hour we glided on to the pier and I gracelessly found my legs again and the two of us changed into dry clothes in the public toilets nearby.

Not much further along the road we found a new cafe which broke from tradition – NOT serving cream teas, soup, or sandwiches, instead offering smashed avocado on wholemeal bread with other toppings and their own wholesome smoothies. Delicious!

Anna’s Mum and niece were keen to join the birthday revelries and so we drove to the stately home of Kingston Lacy where we picnicked on strawberries and sipped champagne. Then we perused the four floors of this interesting ancient home, full of copious paintings (Titan, Van Dyck, Rubens, Brueghal) and artefacts, and richly decorated. There are gardens and extensive grounds as well but I’ll have to leave them for another trip.

Tonight I’ve caught up with two more beloved women who live nearby: Silke and Natalie, and am ready to face another, cooler, day in Bournemouth tomorrow.

Good night all.

Days 24 and 25 – London to Bournemouth

Yesterday was the long hot drive from Stratford to London, and I met my friend Hazel at the home she is staying at belonging to her friends. They are just off Gunnersbury Park, and a short underground ride to South Kensington (where the museum of Natural History is).

Best of all, in 30° temps was the sight of the swimming pool!

No blog last night because I was talking so much – and listening – and swimming. At the end of a long evening I slipped up to the attic bedroom Hazel had given up for me and slept on top of the bed under the fan.

This morning we breakfasted and farewelled. Me to walk to the Underground, and she to the train North to see family. I joined the vast crowd at Sth Kensington streaming in to the museum, and enjoyed the sheer size and variation of the displays. The minerals, precious stones, birds, fossils, and moon display! Most popular of course, the dinosaurs!

Sweating, tired and maxed out on crowds I tubed back to my car and today drove down to Bournemouth.

I’ve caught up with Anna and Matthew, and we’ve gone for fish and chips to Christchurch (Alexander’s) – which we ate around at the water’s edge. So good! Now I’m sipping beer in the delicious cool of a summer evening and letting my faithful readers know where I am. I’ll be here until I go to Gatwick on Sunday and fly to Florida.

Day 23 – A heatwave in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Bill Shakespeare and his wife and mother are now like family to me. I’ve wandered the empty space that was once his family home – not so empty since it’s filled with extensive gardens, sculptures, activity centres, but I actually stood on the spot he did much of his writing.

I’ve felt the sun beating down on my head as I’ve strolled his town, many of the buildings exactly the same.

I’ve mopped perspiration from my brow as I’ve strolled the market where I purchased a clever coin pendant with a ship cut out of its face.

I’ve sought out shade wherever I could find it: the huge oak (?) tree in the green that many sat beneath licking ice cream, a small tree in the Garden Cafe where I had Earl Grey tea and scone and cream, the overhanging lintels of the Tudor homes. In desperation I tried unsuccessfully once but later succeeded in slipping in to a canal cruiseboat, and just the sight of brown water sliding by was cooling. Enjoyed going through the lock particularly.

After seeing Will’s home AND his birthplace, I had circled the old town twice, my lower back was hurting and the sun was at its zenith. I made my painful progression back to my car and turning the ac to full blast headed to meet the man’s Mum: Mary Arden. Sadly, she’d passed on in Tudor times, but her family’s huge farm and outbuildings are behaving as if she left yesterday. Maids in aprons and mob caps feed chicken, weave, do dishes, and show off the Owl falcon and other birds of prey. Will would have collected chicken’s eggs for his grandparents here I’m sure.

After my second small tub of ice cream this day I drove to meet Anne Hathaway – his wife. Or her chocolate box of a thatched cottage. This rambling thatched building has been pictured on many postcards and souvenirs that I’ve seen over the years so it was wonderful to see it with my own eyes. The garden was at its very best – my favourite being the sprawling apple orchard laden with fruit. The house was cool (oh bliss) and full of interesting items: beds bequeathed to Anne and slept in by Will and her, the carving courting chair, the fabric and quills and kitchen items! I only bumped my head once – a miracle!

I went across the road to take almost the last cold drink from the cafe cabinet, and put the address of my next B&B in Apple maps. (My last in UK. I’m with friends over the coming week).

Just 15 mins out of town is Wellesbourne, and after some shifty manoeuvring I found myself upstairs in a small single room in full sun. Perfectly friendly hosts but even the fan did nothing much to alleviate the pounding oven-like atmosphere as I lay on that bed trying to rest. After an hour of gentle cooking and feeling a headache coming on I took myself down the road on the last burst of energy I had to the local pub. There I had a garden to sit in and a pint of cold ale to sip. Whew! Afterwards I enjoyed the best Sunday roast I’ve had in UK.

I’ve returned to chat with my host and take my book into the garden and read until the sun went down. It’s still hot and tomorrow, in London, will be the same I understand.

Day 22 – further south, to meet the Bard.

I left the odd hotel at Broughton – near Cockermouth – after another hearty breakfast and a comfortable night in a time warp from 1960s. The room I was in and indeed, the hotel, had received little style upgrade since then but the VIEW from the front window!! As I departed I noted the two peahens and a peacock I’d heard in the morning.

I had 4 hours to drive today, about my limit really, so I set my GPS and went for it. To my surprise the scenery was made up of a long dark lake with rising mountains (like sleeping mammoths) overlapping the landscape behind them. Closer up the tufty vegetation on them proved to be purple heather. I don’t know where I got the idea that the land was flattish in the Lake District; I was very wrong. And to make matters more spectacular the sun was out, the sky was blue and the day grew warmer the further south I went. It was a heatwave in Stratford-Upon-Avon!

I stopped twice at those service centres and was very pleased to find my B&B on one of the main streets of the town. First things first: my Kingsize bed is incredibly comfortable and soft! Thank the Lord!

There was a moment of near panic when I couldn’t find my passport and thought I’d left it in a drawer in Edinburgh but no, a rummage through small bag revealed it! The relief!!!!

After a cuppa and nap I set off on foot in some nice clothes to find Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I felt like I was pinching myself a lot as I basked in the sun, the gala atmosphere, the rooftop restaurant (already paid for) and finally the play ‘As You Like It’. Even walking home late it is as humid as midday and the Tudor architecture adds an exquisite pattern to the night sky. I can’t wait to explore tomorrow. It’s not the best Shakespeare I’ve seen, either the play or the director’s modern vision, but hey, it’s Shakespeare in his home town. Pinch me.