Today we left the cottage and drove back to Charlottetown some 50 min all together. We had lovely weather and what a nice, quiet vacation we had. Now it is back to too many cruise ship some 5 this week. Far too many people walking about aimlessly in a small town. Oh well Summer is almost over and the tourist season is ending.
Some last photos of the cottage, the beach, and the cliffs of Cape Tryon.
The weather has been typical of this time of the year, after the 15 August everyone knows that we are slowly but surely going into fall season despite the fact that Summer is not yet over. We have had to return to Charlottetown for urgent matters, it is only 45 minutes away on quiet roads but nonetheless we had to. In the next few days friends are arriving from Ottawa to stay with us here at French River and other friends are coming to visit us at the beach.
Last night we went to North Rustico to the Watermark Theatre to see the play Drawer Boy by Michael Healey. This play premiere in Toronto in 1999. It has won several awards as a play and we really enjoyed it a lot. North Rustico is only about 20 minutes from French River and we go through Cavendish which is a tourists trap at this time of the year. North Rustico is a fishing village which features many good seafood restaurants. In Winter most people have places in Florida, so the area is very quiet until the fishing/lobster season starts again around end of April.
We drove back to French River and the rural roads are pitch black at night. You need your high beams all along, luckily there is no traffic but you have to be very careful and can’t drive fast or no more than 50Km.
Today late afternoon at the beach, there are no jelly fish this year, none at all. On the other hand, for the first time on the North Shore where we are, sharks and great white sharks have been sighted. Climate change and warming waters are pushing them north along the seacoast.
Well we arrived at our rented cottage on Cape Road in French River and the weather was hot and glorious. The view is perfect from dawn to sunset and so quiet, a luxury this quiet and peace. Left Charlottetown just in time, learned this morning that on our street about a block away there was a botched attempt at a contract killing, hit and run style, the police caught the guy red handed, a drunk Ontarian. Then apparently someone was spraying people with bear spray in the area of the pubs. Not surprised the tourist crowd is getting rowdier by the Season and no amount of complaining to the Mayor or the Chief of Police will achieve anything, you just get ignored.
The drive out of town was fast as always down HWY 2 to Kensington and to the right to Cape Road. This area is the actual birthplace of author Lucy Maude Montgomery and you can visit the house in which she was born, it’s very small but cute and her grandparents home and farm where she grew up. Mother died when she was just a few months old and father left for Western Canada, so grandparents took care of her.
French river is an actual port for fishers who got out to sea for lobster and also an area for mussel farming.
Love walking the beach here, it is very quiet, you meet neighbours who live around the area. Very few tourists, nothing here to attract them. Farms also, milk cows, beef, hay, potatoes. Lots of very old protestant churches 1760 era, mostly presbyterians and anglicans.
It has been a hot week again and lots of sunshine, I was at the farmer’s market past Saturday and it was extremely busy, I have not seen it this busy since 2019. Parking was chaotic, lots of tourists from other provinces who park here and there like they have never seen a parking lot. Being Mid-August now there is lots of vegetables and flowers on offer. It is very nice to see all the variety and the lower prices given the abundance. Lots of nice garden tomatoes that actually taste sweet and full of flavour. One farmer had fresh sage, it looked like velvet, she uses bunches of it in her kitchen as a fragrance and for cooking of course. I really love going to the market, it is staffed by real farmers who have working farms, they are known and have a reputation to uphold. Same for the butchers, like Larkin or the coffee bar who buys and roasts all his coffee. Bakers also offer a range of European breads, pastries, cakes and then the mustard lady Sabine who is German, she makes an incredible number of mustards at her home in Murray Harbour. There is also a group of caterers who prepare home made dishes for foodies and they are very popular, all of them have a chef who is well known like Gallant’s seafood or Makena with her Kenyan dishes. All are very small operations and you may have to wait about 10 min for your food but it is a pleasant chatty atmosphere.
What is also nice about the Farmer’s Market is bumping into all kinds of people you know. People are relaxed and there is a good vibe about the place. Of course it is always better to go very early around 8am it gets super busy by noon time and then closes at 2pm.
I have been to other markets, Montreal has a very well known one, Jean Talon Market, it has a solid reputation with Chefs from great restaurants for the freshness of what is on offer. Toronto also has a great market. Ottawa used to have a good market unfortunately some 20 years ago it all went south and now you have maybe 4 farmers and the rest are people who buy from grocers and sell on the street. It is a problem and the atmosphere is very tourist trap like.
However the best markets with the freshest produce was in Rome in our neighbourhood. Opened early and closed by 2pm. Incredible quality in all products.
Must start thinking about what to take to the cottage in 8 days. It will be very relaxed, we are at the beach after all. Nice neighbours in French River waiting for us. We are also booked for next year. We like the place.
I also followed the Trump search of his home and how very sad this is for the USA. To think that a former head of State would take with him sensitive secret documents, some of them with nuclear secrets, to do what exactly? To sell them off to the Chinese or the Russians? Trump must not be allowed to escape justice, he is not above the law, being an ex-president does not give you special rights. I am also dismayed by the GOP for being partisan and forgetting about the good of the country and siding with Trump on this matter.
As a Canadian looking at this from afar, I worry for what might happen, listening to PBS NewsHour on Friday and the comments by Capehart and Brooks, this is really scary. Will politicians wake-up and realize the danger or continue to play games thinking that it is not that serious. There is also the fringe fanatics or lunatics who support Trump and there has to be a crackdown on such people. Sometimes extreme measures are required to protect the greater good of the Nation, half measures and wishful thinking simply will not do.
Not that we do not have our own problems in Canada with partisan politics and protests from the extreme-right, we do. We are at risk, in a divisive way. Reading on the French Civil War of 1789, many politicians at the time thought that you could turn on the violence and turn it off when suitable. Is this what we are seeing now in the USA and elsewhere? Once the flood of violence is turned on it is nearly impossible to stop it and turn it off. In France the revolution ate its children, same in Russia, same in China, it is always the same. The fear now seems to be that if Trump is arrested riots may erupt, this is where leaders must crack down hard on rioters. Napoleon said has much and he put an end to the riots of the revolution by using cannons on the crowds in Paris. He mused that if Louis XVI had done the same he would still be king.
Today is the 15 August, Ferragosto which was created by Emperor Augustus, the month is named after him. He designated 1 August as a holiday to celebrate the end of the harvest, so everyone could rejoice and enjoy a holiday, feast and games. Then it was called the The Catholic Church changed the date to 15 August for the feast of the Assumption of Mary to Heaven. It remains the date of the start of vacation all over Italy and in other catholic countries in Europe. Life comes to a standstill as everyone goes to the mountains or the beach for several weeks. I loved that time in Rome and we too went on vacation to Pesaro on the Adriatic to the Rossini Festival, it is his home town.
Central square on the Adriatic in Pesaro, lovely place at any time of day.
Today I drove Nick and Nora to the groomer in Kensington about 40 minutes from Charlottetown down Hwy 2. They go to the groomers every 3 months for coat stripping and a good bath. It is stressful for them, so it is a long day. On the way down they sleep on the back seat in their blankets with the air con going full blast, they like it.
The groomer lives on a big piece of land surrounded by woods and fields, the road is call 19 and it is a very simple turn off from the Hwy. like any intersection. She lives there with her mother who has her own house about 300 feet away. She has a ton of budgies and 8 huskies who have tons of land to run around. Of course when we arrive down the long driveway they start to howl and Nick and Nora do not like this one bit. Nora wants to kill them and Nick wants to protect Nora, quite the comedy.
Kensington is a small community, the police is known for being very strict about speed limits, so you do not date go more than 40Km. They are also known for their sense of humour which makes the news on the Island. About 3 years ago, they would arrest people and bring them to the police station all the while playing very loudly music by the rock band Nickelback. Apparently this was a deterrent to bad behaviour.
In the Summer when we are at the cottage at French River we come to Kensington about 10 minutes away for grocery shopping or lunch in the former train station. It was when we had trains on PEI a famous station, like Petticoat Junction.
From Kensington after dropping Nicky and Nora at the groomers, I went on to Summerside which is about 9 Km away to have lunch at Samuel’s, a very nice coffee shop in an old bank building. Summerside was until the 1990’s a big Royal Canadian Air Force Base. It was also a sea port and it has a famous light house way out in the harbour called Indian Head. Summerside is in section a very beautiful town and at the same time can be a bit of a mishmash with an area of big shopping malls for the region and other modern parts with nondescript architecture. The town did burn down 3 times in 90 years which is very unlucky, however a big effort to reclaim the bay shore area as a park and beautify the area around the city hall and the old armoury makes for a pleasant town of about 16K. Life is also less expensive in Summerside. The big industry in town is Agro-food Cavendish Farms (potato) owned by Irving Oil.
In Summerside one big attraction is the boardwalk area and Holman’s Ice Cream shop which is located in the former mansion of the family built in 1855. The Holman family are well known for their big department store both in Summerside and in Charlottetown. The department store is gone but not its building which sits on Water street and is now offices.
The family home was to be demolished a few years ago and a business man came to the rescue and renovated it and repurposed the building keeping all the woodwork and its beautiful garden full of flowers and sitting across the street from City Hall a building of similar period.
In PEI you probably heard plenty about COW’s ice cream which is a big industrial concern. I for one do not care for it but it is flagged to the tourists as the best. I much prefer Holman’s, it is made daily and the flavours change constantly, they even make flavours customers will request. However once the flavour of the day is gone, that is it. So on any given day they offer 15 flavours and yesterday at the shop there was a lot of people. They did not have pistachio but I bought sugar free Blueberry swirl and it was very good.
So this morning we went out to York to see about buying a small fern in a 4 inch pot. This is pretty much the end of the season to buy flowers for the garden and they did not have anything like that in stock. So up the road is Jewel which is a farm/market store with 6 huge green houses with an incredible selection of plants and flowers and we did find that miniature fern with the help of the staff because there is so much it is a little overwhelming. It is so beautiful to look at in all its variety.
Today the Chief Medical Officer had some very good news for Islanders, given our high proportion of vaccination at 85% and climbing fast, and the fact that we have 1 active case now and no new ones for quite a while, it will no longer be mandatory for people fully vaccinated to wear a mask. Though she did say that everyone should evaluate their personal circumstances and health status.
It also looks like people from other provinces will be able to come to PEI if they are vaccinated and seek permission to enter much sooner now than previously thought. The situation in Canada is good now and as a country we lead the world in vaccination. Good job on the part of the Government of Canada all around. The economy is also doing very well and job growth is strong.
The house is in order and we are leaving tomorrow afternoon for French River. The post tropical storm Elsa is a non-event it did rain but really not much and it was not heavy. It has stopped raining now and there is some clearing. According to the radar it will have past us by noon time tomorrow and then its sunshine.
The babysitter will stay home with our little ones, so this is a vacation for us. I do not know how much I will blog while at the beach. The photo shows our beach and the little lighthouse of New London. A very quiet and pleasant area, with the French River and the South West river emptying into the sea.
Gee the weather is cold at 14C and it is raining non stop, it is suppose to rain all week.
A terrible start to July, meanwhile out West it is too hot for words. We are going from a Pandemic to a climate disaster.
Will is now fully vaccinated and I will be on Wednesday and so happy for it. Some 17 months have gone by and frankly I am happy that we can see the end of this tunnel.
Here are some pictures of me at the BBQ at the Club.
We had fun and I enjoyed organizing the event. More events to come including the Golf Tournament. But in the coming days we are going fishing as they say, not in the literal sense but in the figurative sense. Looking forward to leaving town for a couple of weeks. Here is a photo of the area where we are going. Our neigbours at the cottage tonight told us that the surf was quite dangerous, high winds and driving rain and cold. But this is all changing by the time we get there. One strange thing we had to put the heat on in the house here in town today because it was a little raw. I have never done that in July. This is the New London Rear Light House on Yankee Hill Beach, it is our view and the sea is on the right.
We drove up to Kensington on HWY 2 to go to the groomers for our two puppies, being wirehair Dachshunds their coat needs to be stripped not shaved. Our groomer does a very good job. Since we were in the area we decided to drop by the cottage at French River at the end of Cape Rd. where we are going in about 3 weeks. The place is just as lovely as ever and today being a beautiful sunny warm day, it was just perfect.
We then went for lunch just down the road to SouWest which is a restaurant with a very nice terrace on the water where you can see oysters and mussels being harvested. Nice quiet place and good food, had a nice chat with the staff. The roads in the area are country roads and you rarely see another car, lots of nice farms and homes. Historical old churches mostly protestant and ancient graveyards. There are a lot of good restaurants in the area, given the proximity to water, fish and seafood dominates. You will find some art galleries with local artists, the theme of course is about the sea, beaches and maritime atmosphere.
We also stopped at St-Mary’s Church at Indian River which is a decommissioned church built about 130 years ago by the famous Island architect William Critchlow Harris, who was a musician. His churches are all wood inside and the sonority is wonderful, some say it is like being inside a violin. This year is the 25th anniversary of the Indian River Festival and we will attend the concerts. The church has kept all of its furniture and decoration in a style called Canadian Gothic. It’s steeple has life sized sculptures of the 12 Apostles. It is located in an area surrounded by fields.
We collected the kids from the Groomer, they were happy to see us and get the hell out of there. Any visit to the groomer is always stressful and we gave them liver treats and drove home, upon arrival they had a lot of water and then promptly went to sleep.
They got up to have their dinner and a little walk, only to return to have a cuddle and fall fast to sleep.
We are looking into planning what we will bring to the cottage, liquor and food, there is a nice big bar-b-q and of course we will go to some restaurants. Will made a fresh batch of Colette’s Cocktail and we will call our butcher for some nice cuts of meat.
Also last night Will suddenly remembered that this will be our 14th Wedding Anniversary, we have been toghether 43 years all together. The appropriate gift for 14 years of marriage is Gold, lucky me, I can only wear gold and I have my favourite jeweller BULGARI on speed dial. Though in November for 43 years together would be travel. Gee we have travelled so much in our life time, but then again if some kind hearted friends said, come visit us we are sending you First Class plane tickets to Palm Springs, gee that would be nice.
We finally did a major clean-up of our wardrobe and gave away bags full of shirts and other items. All good and clean but well they all shrank while in the closet and no longer fit. I wonder if some scientist is working on this problem or maybe the Fashion industry is conspiring to prevent any research in order to sell more and more clothing.
On the Health News, now that the population is vaccinated to 70% on PEI and we are in fact approaching the 80% mark, no cases at all of Covid and only a handful of new infections in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the bubble of Atlantic Provinces is re-forming and travel will be allowed next week for all persons who apply for a PEI Pass to enter PEI by the bridge or by the Ferry service, you will need a certificate to prove vaccination and submit to a test at the border. Other Canadians will be allowed to come from 28 July under similar conditions. As for USA citizens an announcement is expected by Monday. So part of the Summer Season may be salvaged. All good news.
I would like to bring a little perspective into my previous post where I was quite despondent on the situation in Canada. One blogger I follow for some time now and who lives in British Columbia on the other side of this country in the beautiful rocky mountains, https://palliserpass.ca/author/underswansea/ always has wonderful pictures of nature around him and of his wirehair Dachshund Willow. He provided a perspective which I found helpful to understand what is going on today in Canada. Though the author is a younger fellow than me by about 10 years, is comment left me with the feeling of even handedness and with some wisdom. Basically things are getting better bit by bit and we have to look at this in the greater context if you look at the last 60 years, progress is achieved. Also not listening to the media report which have a knack to bring out the most negative outlook without nuance or context, call it lazy journalism. We seem to have a lot of it in Canada.
As we are now in Mid-June, we spoke to day with the lady who owns the cottage where we are going in a month to spend 2 weeks at French River, so looking forward to it.
Will is making another batch of his cocktail that takes a month to cure, a recipe by the French Author Colette. He made a batch with lemons, with orange and now he is doing mandarins and another one with Strawberries. These cocktails are potent but so refreshing in the Summer, served very cold. The base is fruit and white wine, in the second phase you add brandy. We are also looking at what to bring in terms of food, there is a nice gas bar-b-q on the deck.
There are also lots of nice little restaurants in the area, all serving seafood, oysters, mussels, lobster. The most popular is the lobster roll, everyone appears to have a recipe for it. Basically its 4oz of lobster mixed in with other ingredients.
The beach at French River is very nice and this year I will try to get across to the big sand dunes which are part of Cavendish beach. You need a boat to get there, cannot swim it, the current is far too strong. At low tide it looks like you could walk across but no, the channel in the middle is too deep.
We hope that the nice couple who live by the Cousins Cemetery will be there, they live in Nova Scotia but with the closures they have not been able to come so far this year. They have a lovely house and a great view of the water and the New London rear Lighthouse which is about 100 feet from their front door.
Almost everyone now on PEI has been vaccinated what is left is mostly small children under 12. On 27 June we are suppose to enter a new phase with even less restrictions and this will make a big difference. What everyone is waiting for is the Atlantic bubble which would allow all to travel from one province to the other in our region.
Well we returned yesterday from our week at the Beach House Inn at French River near New London PEI where we rented a cottage. It was delightful and sooooo peaceful compared to the noisy Capital. Surrounded by woods, fields, red sandstone cliffs and the beach. Only the birds and a family of Foxes for company, we were the only guests on the property. The birds are interesting, from eagles to hawks, cormorants to blue jays, swallows, robins, warblers, quite the variety.
The Fox family was a mother and her 4 kits, very tame and unafraid of people though they always keep a respectful distance. The property was beautiful and very well maintained, the main house had 7 mature Linden trees on the West side, a big marsh full of water reeds on the East side of the property and on the hill the famous Cousin Family pioneer cemetery known as Yankee Hill. The Cousin family were French Huguenots who fled France ended up in the American colonies and at the revolution came to PEI fleeing again the chaos. The were probably wealthy if one looks at their elaborate white marble tombstones. In September 2019 the hurricane Dorian came to PEI and devastated the area around Cavendish where 70% of the trees were damaged. This old burial ground is in a forest and many of the poplars toppled. Luckily none of the 200 year old tombstones were damaged, a miracle of sorts. Across the road to the beach stands another old cemetery called Simms, this one is dedicated to the 200 sailors who died in the historic storm known as the Yankee Gale in October 1851. Our view was the sand dunes and the beach and it’s small lighthouse, the New London Rear Lighthouse nowadays surrounded by a large marsh. It is automated like all light houses. The waterway is treacherous, large ever moving sandbanks at the entrance to the South West and French River, both leading to small fishing harbours. The surrounding countryside is picturesque, lots of farms cultivating wheat, potatoes, mustard and corn. The area was settled after the Acadians where deported and their land confiscated by the British around 1755. The new settlers were stern Protestants, Presbyterians and Anglicans. Some of the Acadians did come back after 1763 and settled further West on the Island.
This year of the Pandemic there are virtually no tourists, the only people who can actually come to PEI are from the other Maritime provinces and they do not need to isolate. Anyone else would be automatically forced into 14 day isolation upon arrival and people are watchful.
Some good seafood restaurants and art galleries in the area. The beaches are very clean and quiet. We could actually walk from our home to Cape Tryon and its Lighthouse an 8 Km treck along the cliffs, very beautiful scenery. It was a good staycation just to get out of the noise of Charlottetown.
The Linden Trees at the Beach House Inn. We could say we were unter den Linden.
Sunset on the cliffs at Cap Tryon, with the lighthouse. In terms of direction looking out into the Gulf of St-Lawrence, towards Anticosti Island and Newfoundland.
Truly peaceful away from it all. You come to appreciate the silence.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown