You can’t beat pulling up the bedroom blind and seeing the sea right there. It was a gorgeous blowy morning with big sunshine and we sat outside for breakfast, milk blowing from our spoons every time we took a mouthful of cereal.
The Ovens, you may recall, had a bit of a gold rush in the 19th century and you can still pan for gold on the beach today. We loaded up the mule with salt beef and whiskey, and went out to strike our claim in Lister gulch, with the aid of some pans that we rented from the nice girl in the shop. She told us that one chap is a regular and has made more than $3000 from the gold he’s found on the beach. Someone else found enough gold to make himself a wedding ring. So Tom was convinced that a mere thousand dollars worth of gold was a pretty reasonable target, and was somewhat indignant when walnut sized nuggets weren’t tumbling from his pan at first dip. But fairly quickly we did strike paydirt with literally several pieces of iron pyrites which took no more than an hour to swill out from the beach. But also, glittering in the bottom of my pan were the tiniest flecks of real gold. Philippa insisted that we put them in a little bottle and take them with us which we did, though they were so small we couldn’t separate them from the rest of the gunk, so I’m not giving up the day job.
|What do you mean you can’t see it?|
Today we had to cross Nova Scota from the Atlantic shore to the Bay of Fundy so we headed North West, stopping for lunch at a Provincial park in Dayspring on the banks of a river. The woods had a soft brown floor of pine needles the trees were evenly spaced and all the underbrush had been cleared. they were the tidiest woods I think I have ever been in and ideal for hide and seek with a seven year old. Even if he can never quite resist peering out to see where you are and giving himself away. Every time.
Once we resumed the journey we found ourselves on fast, tree-lined roads with more or less the same view for a couple of hours. The villages were small and agricultural, with occasional signs for fresh peas or rhubarb, but mostly there were trees.
We finally emerged in the grandly named Annapolis Royal, founded in 1605 and the oldest continuous European settlement in North America, after St Augustine in Florida, which the Spanish established forty years earlier. It was once the capital of Nova Scotia but Halifax stole its thunder in 1749 and its now a quiet little town with some well preserved historic buildings. We stopped at the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens which date all the way back to 1981, when they were created to help revitalise the town. So, not very historic then and strangely it doesn’t mention any of that in the leaflet. But to be honest that doesn’t really matter, because it has been planted very prettily to create a network of different gardens each of which reflects some different aspect of history or garden design.
One of the most magical parts was a trail which goes outside the garden and along some of the dykes which were originally built by the Acadians in the early 17th century to create farmland. They fell into disrepair by the early 1900s and in 1940 the government embarked on a twenty year re-building programme to ensure that Nova Scotia maximised its available farmland. Rushes and reeds swished waved in the wind and crickets chirped around us as we walked.
Back in the gardens they had built a replica of an Acadian house from traditional materials, complete with a bread oven and wooden clogs set out on the hearth. Everything was done with great care and we all enjoyed it. We also enjoyed the pastries and iced coffee from the German bakery next door. The family had come from Saxony in 2002 and the lady baker still had a deep Churman accent as she showed us over her blueberry slices and raspberry pastries and apfelstrudel.
Fifteen minutes further north is Parker’s Cove and a terraced grassy campground looking over the Bay of Fundy and a (slightly) heated pool. It is apparently the only four star campground in Nova Scotia and is rather pleased with itself, to the extent that it is unnecessarily expensive. So we all had a go in the pool, despite the grey skies hovering overhead threatening rain. It hasn’t fallen yet and hopefully it won’t tomorrow, when we have a surprise treat for Tom. Not far from here is an old fashioned amusement park where we plan to have some old-fashioned amusement.