The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo


The term tattoo derives from a 17th-century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”) a signal to tavern owners each night, played by a regiment’s Corps of Drums, to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour.[1] With the establishment of modern barracks and full military bands later in the 18th century, the term “tattoo” was used to describe the last duty call of the day, as well as a ceremonial form of evening entertainment performed by military musicians.[

The first public military tattoo in Edinburgh was entitled “Something About a Soldier” and took place in 1949 at the Ross Bandstand in the Princes Street Gardens.

– quoted from Wikipedia.

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The twenty-minute walk up the hill to Scotiabank Centre, the venue for the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, reminded us we are not as fit as we used to be! We were slightly out of breath and in need of water, but it turned out to be well worth the effort.

I know I can’t begin to describe this show with only words, but I’ll do my best to make you want to see it for yourself, or at least look it up online.

When we arrived at the Scotiabank Centre, a large sports stadium, there were many people milling around, chatting, enjoying drinks and popcorn, and buying 50/50 tickets. When we entered the arena, there were still many empty seats. We were surprised. But as we watched and waited, we chatted with a couple of ladies behind us who turned out to be from…yes, Ontario!

It wasn’t long before the MC, Peter Anthony, appeared on the floor below us to make some announcements and tell a few jokes, while preparations were still being made. Peter is a Canadian Comedy Award winning comedian who appears on many popular comedy stages throughout Canada.

Soon the seats were nearly filled and the lights were dimmed. The spotlight was on the centre of the floor where a group of Mi’kmaq singers (pronounced mikmak), known as Eastern Eagle, was seated in a circle performing the opening entertainment in Native Powwow style.

Several minutes later, they disappeared as the spotlight shifted to the end of the arena where the sound of bagpipes and drums could be heard. The International Massed Pipes and Drums swept across the floor.

Opening Mass Bands

I can’t say why, but most people, including me, are very moved by this big music production. Having played a snare drum in a pipe band for a few years, in another life, I had experienced marching in such a massed band a few times, on a smaller scale.

German Army Band at Bottom

From that moment on, smooth transitions were made, from the mass bands to highlight individual bands, such as The German Army band from Neubrandenburg, and the Jordanian Armed Forces Band, that included their own breed of bagpipes, as well as brass instruments. While these bands played, a slide show of them performing in their own country was shown on an overhead screen.

The Tattoo International Highland Dancers performed several dances in perfect unison wearing a variety of costumes to match the music.

But it wasn’t all about music. The floor was cleared more than once to make way for other forms of entertainment.

The Soldiers’ Race pitted members of the Royal Canadian Navy against the Canadian Armed Forces in an obstacle course, one team at each end of the floor. When each group had completed the course, they carried away the obstacles. The Navy came out the winner that night.

Then, long silk scarves of bright pink were lowered from the ceiling and we watched in awe, often holding our breath, as Anastasia performed acrobatics on the scarves, climbing high, using only her hands and feet to twist her body, swing up-side down and suddenly drop, stopping herself just in time.

The German Bicycles, a group of young Germans who rode sometimes in singles, sometimes in pairs on two-wheeled bicycles around the floor, balancing on one hand or one foot, riding backward and forward and spinning around, also gave us cause to gasp at times. Sometimes it was just comical.

More comedy was provided by the Flying Grandpas, a group of men of varying ages who ran, jumped and bounced off and on a trampoline with near misses, while allowing the preparation for the second half of the show to be completed.

High Flyer RB3 also had us clenching our teeth when she jumped and turned from hands to feet on a narrow, bouncing, balance beam, being held by two very strong male assistants.

There were historical scenes, this year focusing on the bravery of The No. 2 Construction Battalion, formed in 1916, two years after being told World War I was a “white man’s war” and they were not allowed to enlist. When things weren’t going well, the formation of this all black battalion was approved. Many of their descendants were in attendance in the scene that night. Another tear-jerker.

When MC Tom led the Tattoo Choir and the Children’s Choir in a compilation of Beatles Tunes, the audience was singing along, waving their phone flashlights in time to the music.

A Clip from the Beatles Medley with Children’s Choir and MC

The second half of the show was much the same as the first, with different music. Throughout the whole show, three young women singers gave beautiful renditions of popular British songs.

The Finale Fanfare had all the participants together in one massive band, marching back and forth, crisscrossing and dividing, bringing the audience to their feet, with their flashlights again.

The Finale Mass Bands

What a Show!

A Visit to Peggy’s Cove


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

I had a difficult night the previous night, and my shoulder and neck pain was really acting up, but when I got up at 8:00 a.m. Jim had plans for the next two days. When at home I would first try using a topical pain relief medication, use my electric massager and as a last resort, take one Tylenol and one Advil for arthritis, with coffee. Unfortunately I had neither the topical pain medication or the massager with me. There was coffee available in the kitchen though.

The plan was to go to  Peggy’s Cove this day. We stopped at the local pharmacy, where I got the topical pain medication, before we left Halifax. I slept most of the way to Peggy’s Cove.

I guess my memory of Peggy’s Cove from our trip there sixteen years ago was vague. To me it felt much more commercial this time, with huge tourist buses driving through the narrow street that led to the main parking lot. There was a big gift shop and dining area near the lighthouse. The streets were crowded. Jim insisted they were all there the last time we were, except for maybe so many people, and I later learned he was mostly right when we compared the picture of the fishing docks I’d taken back in 2007 with the view this time. The only discernable difference was the replacement of one fishing boat with a Tourist Expedition one.

It was lunch time when we arrived and I was really hungry. Frequent meals is another thing that helps my pain,  but instead of first going to one of the two eateries available, we wandered around, stopping many times to take pictures. We walked through the Gift Shop and took advantage of the washrooms. I was glad to see social distancing was still being enforced.

One thing that is definitely new is the wooden walkway, with railings, leading over the once open, often wet and slippery rocks where the iconic lighthouse sat. I was thinking it just added to the commercialization, but some claim it is an overdue safety necessity. People wandering on their own over the rocks sometimes refused to heed the warnings about getting too close to the slippery edge. The new walkway offers protection to only one ocean-side area and perhaps a greater warning to these adventurers. If a person slips off the cliff into the ocean, even the trained lifeguards can’t help them. The water moves so fast, a tossed safety ring would flow away before it could be grabbed, as would any lifeguard who jumped in to try to save them. Four lives have been lost during the past twenty years, according the records kept.

At the higher areas along the path, there are spots where colourful Adirondack chairs are grouped on the flatter rocks, a place to rest and maybe eat lunch. Hint, hint. Jim didn’t take the hint.

A man dressed in Swiss style clothing entertained tourist with tunes on an Alpine Horn, a very long horn that touches the ground.

We finally made our way back to the upper parking lot, where we’d left our car. We headed up the road, away from the Cove, in search of a restaurant Jim had noticed on our way in. He thought we could find some lobster rolls. We found the restaurant – there was a long line to get in – and ordered, not lobster rolls (way too expensive), but a bowl of muscles. They were good, but it wasn’t a very big meal.

After leaving there, we toured a number of dead-end roads that took us into little fishing villages. The scenery was spectacular. I wonder if any of these were devastated by Hurricane Fiona that hit the Maritimes a few weeks later.

Once back on the road toward Halifax, we stopped for gas and I asked for muffins and iced coffee to quiet my rumbling stomach, and help keep me awake.

When we arrived back in Halifax, Jim thought we had time to wander along the boardwalk that skirted the harbour. I was getting really tired by then. I suggested we pick up something for dinner at one of the many food trucks, and take it back to our suite to eat and relax. We found lobster rolls in a couple of places, but were shocked by the price. What we’d gotten in any restaurant on our last trip for about ten dollars each, were now twenty-two dollars!

“I guess we’ll go find a restaurant,” said Jim.

We eventually settled on a burger place, not far from our apartment. We got big burgers and fries for only twenty dollars each (yes, I’m being facetious), and sat on the outdoor patio watching the city life roll by. It was 7:30 when we climbed up those stairs to our suite again.

I turned in early and slept well in the big comfy bed, fortunately, since the next day’s planned adventure involved a lot of bicycling, walking and attending the Tattoo.

Touring Halifax by Bicycle


Sorry for the delay in completing this journey

Thursday, June 30, 2022

This morning we made our way past the Warf parking area, further past the Halifax Harbour, where ships were being unloaded, and finally out to a point where we found Point Pleasant Park. We unloaded our bikes in the parking lot and headed off along the trails. It was a beautiful morning – warm and sunny. Birds were singing. The trail we followed lead us beside the inlet to the harbour and eventually to within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, before turning right, into the tall stands of trees. The paths were all light gravel, and well-maintained, making the ride pleasant. There were some hills where we made use of our electric assist.

Somewhere in the middle of the park we came across a round, stone fortress. At least it looked like a fortress to us. We stopped to read what it was and why it was there.

Prince of Wales Tower, Halifax, Nova Scotia

We learned it was the Prince of Wales Tower Historic Site, now belonging to all Canadians, but managed on our behalf by Parks Canada, an agency of the Government of Canada. The site is part of a family of National Parks, National Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas across the country, administered by Parks Canada.

In 1794 Prince Edward, son of King George III, was appointed Military Commander for Halifax. Under his command the tower was built by British army engineers to assist in the defence of Point Pleasant. Upon its completion in 1798 Prince Edward named it after his older brother, George, the Prince of Wales.

The round design of the tower was inspired by a small, round, stone tower at Mortella Point on the Corsican Coast, which had effectively resisted a joint British naval and land attack for several days in 1794. The  Prince of Wales Tower had a long life as an element in the over-all Halifax Defence System. In 1866 most of the Point Pleasant land was leased to the City of Halifax for use as a park.

The morning had slipped away and it was almost time for lunch, so we found our way to one of the park exits. Along the way we met up with two other friendly Ontarians who were on foot, trying to follow a map of the trails. We chatted for a bit, shared some of our travel stories, and exchanged email and website information before we left them to explore. We returned to the car.

“Instead of taking the car back to the Warf and paying for parking, why don’t we leave it here where it’s free, and ride back to find some place for lunch?”

“Umm, okay.”

I led the way and surprised him when I made the right turns. I lost him a time or two when he stopped to take more pictures of the ships being unloaded at the docks.

We found an interesting restaurant on the Warf, The Bicycle Thief. It had a wrap-around outdoor patio so we could sit at a table with our bikes parked beside us, just an arm’s length away. We weren’t taking any chances with that bicycle thief! Lol

We were  thrilled to find lobster rolls on the menu at a lower price than any others we’d seen. They came with a small salad and a tin cup of French fries. We both ordered iced tea.

Then our server said, “And what kind of  water do you want? We have lime, watermelon or just plain sparkling.”

It sure sounded like it was included in the total price, so we ordered plain sparkling.

“I’ll bring you a bottle to share.”

I cancelled my iced tea.

The lobster rolls, fries and salad were delicious. We each drank one glass of the sparkling water.

Enjoying lobster roll lunch

When the bill came, we were a little annoyed to see the charge of $6.00 for the water! We knew then how they could sell the lobster rolls for less than the competition.

By the time we finished up there and were on our bikes again, the walkway was becoming very busy. Jim wanted to go the rest of the way down the Warf, where we hadn’t been the day before.

E-bikes are much heavier than regular pedal bikes, and I find mine harder to balance when riding slowly, so riding through crowds of people made me really nervous. I had my feet down most of the way; at one point I got off and walked it.

We did see some beautiful yachts docked in the harbour. The biggest, Jim learned by doing a search of its name, Majestic, is owned by the Money Investment Manager and principle owner of the Miami Marlins, Bruce Sherman. It’s valued at over $70,000,000! Sigh. I  won’t share my thoughts about that.

We rode back, through the crowds, to the street and on to the car, where we loaded up our bikes and returned to our apartment. After a little nap and a second lunch of sandwiches we made, we got changed, ready for our walk up the hill to see the Tattoo.