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!

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.

Mount Rushmore, Mount Crazy Horse


Originally posted on August 13, 2010

Day 8 (Wed)

I was a day late, but I finally managed to call Mom to wish her a Happy 96th Birthday, before riding into Sturgis for the pancake breakfast sponsored by one of the churches (still haven’t got the grocery shopping done). We returned to the RV to take care of a bit of business, and then we got on the bike and took off for the day.

We had to go to Rapid City to mail a package, but after that we put troubles behind us, riding up the twisty road towards Mount Rushmore. It was a beautiful ride.

We stopped at the Gas Light Bar & Grill in Rockerville for lunch. I had one of the best salads I’ve ever had – chicken, walnuts, cranberries, shredded cheese and lettuce with raspberry vinaigrette. It was huge. I felt badly when I couldn’t eat it all. Jim managed to finish off most of his seafood salad, which he thoroughly enjoyed as well.

The only modern convenience in the town

Rockerville is a ghost mining town containing partially-preserved old, wooden shops, a bank and a few homes, located in an area just off the main street. Other than a few occupied homes, the Gas Light is pretty much all that’s there, nestled in the valley between the north and south sides of Hwy 16. We wouldn’t have found it if it hadn’t been recommended to us by a fellow biker who’d shared our table at breakfast.

Next stop, still along Hwy 16, was Keystone, a wonderful town whose historical downtown has been preserved in the manner of the gold rush days. It too was packed with bikers. We spent an hour or more poking through the shops and taking pictures before carrying on to Mount Rushmore.

The climb through the mountains was amazing, the sheer rocks naturally carved into some interesting works of art. And then the famous faces of the four Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, came into view. Awesome!

We spent another couple of hours touring the National Park Information Centre and taking pictures.

From there, we had to go see Crazy Horse, an on-going sculpting project commissioned by the Lakota Indian tribe back in 1948 as a monument to Chief Crazy Horse. The original sculptor is dead, but his wife and kids are carrying on the dream, all paid for by donations, draws and sales at the commercial outlets and museum. Government funding was turned down by the family. It will be many more decades before the project will reach fruition. The contributions made by the thousands of bikers who would visit this week, would make a big difference, as acknowledged by the “motorcycles only” designated parking.

It was after six when we left there. We opted to take Hwy 385, stopping in Hill City for dinner. Here the entire downtown business part of the main street was closed to all vehicles except bikes, and bikes there were! The sun was setting when we left and the reported 100 degree Fahrenheit temperature earlier in the day was quickly dropping.

Watching for long-horned mountain sheep, we saw some scaling the rocks to our left and stopped to take pictures. They seemed curious and began to descend towards the road. Just as curious were other bikers and people in cars who began to stop too. There was some concern then that the sheep would cause an accident when a couple of them scurried across the road in front of a car and a bike. As we drove off, we warned approaching vehicles to slow down.

It was dark by the time we reached Deadwood, so after a quick tour of the main street, which was busy with biker activities, we continued on our way, arriving back at the camp at 9:45 pm. It was a great day, but exhausting, especially after I stayed up late posting pictures to Facebook.

Before we left on this trip I’d just finished reading a book by Nora Roberts called Black Hills. It’s been interesting seeing The Black Hills that she writes about and the area towns, like Deadwood.

So Much to Do; So little Time! Scottsdale Indian Festival


It was a very busy month! Jim had his 80th birthday and on the day his daughters were flying in to surprise him, he decided we should go to Scottsdale to the parade and festival in the park – The Indian Festival! It was a lovely day, and I could give him no reason why we shouldn’t go. I just had to make sure that we didn’t stay too long.

I’m glad we went; I’m sorry that his daughters weren’t able to go with us. The parade was long, but one of the most interesting parades I’ve ever witnessed – colourful costumes representing the many tribes of Arizona; many school bands and cheerleaders; local representatives in various vehicles from the past and the present. And horses! Lots of horses! And dogs! I won’t tell you how many pictures I took, but I knew that I couldn’t capture it all in words, so I hope you like the shots I’ve chosen to share and take you along.

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It was well past lunch time when the parade came to an end and the streets were crowded. We finally found the restaurant we’d visited the last time we were in Scottsdale name but there was an hour wait! We settled on a bench and chatted with other patient customers until a table was at last cleared for us. We invited another couple to join us and during another half hour of waiting to be served, we shared stories of our life experiences.

It was 2:00 pm when we left the restaurant. Jim wanted to listen to the Mariachi Band that was playing on the street and check out other performers along the way back to the park, where there was a ring of vendors’ tents set up, and more entertainment along the walking paths. But I knew his daughters would soon be arriving at Mesa Regal, so I made an excuse why we had to get home.

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We were just getting into our car when I got the text that they’d arrived. They were happy to enjoy the sun while waiting for our return, and Jim’s annoyance with having to leave too soon vanished when he realized it was them, sitting on the couch when he walked into the RV.

A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo


Over the last seven years we’ve visited many, many places of interest within our local area, but there are still a few on our Bucket List. One was the Phoenix Zoo. On Saturday evening, we went. As you will see, it was a different kind of Zoo that we saw that night!

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There was a long line up at the gate when we arrived, just before 5:30 pm. We got into it and all the way to the entrance before we realized that, since we hadn’t purchased our tickets online as most people had, we had to go back to the ticket booth and then to the end of the line! Fortunately, it didn’t take too long, before we were following the crowd through the brightly lit canopy of lights, above a wooden bridge over a stream.

The lit-up giraffe was just a hint of things to come.

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An elephant on top of one of the many Food Stands on the grounds

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A few more on the Ground

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Take a look at more of these lighted, moulded animal sculptures in  this slide show. They are amazing!

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Some of them were animated, like this crocodile.

While most of the live animals were stabled for the night, we did see a few – a huge Porcupine that was hidden in the shadows and on the move too much to capture by camera, a few Reindeer and a few Camels.

And then there were the lights! Lots of lights around trees, and globes, reflecting in the pond, and forming outlines of more animals and bugs! Not as easy to capture, but here’s the best we could do with the equipment we had.

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After nearly two hours of wandering, we were tired and hungry. We made our way back to the Savannah Grill that we’d seen near the entrance. There we enjoyed the delicious Aldo burgers and fries, before walking back to the car. Needless to say, we were asleep early that night.

Wrapping up Another Year


Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been too long since I’ve written a new blog post, I know. I’ve just lacked inspiration I guess, possibly because we’ve been staying close to “home” (motor home in Mesa, Arizona) so far this season. I’ve been busy with pickleball, and sometimes I join Jim at his ukulele classes and jams, but arthritis in my thumbs is beginning to make long stints of playing too painful. I did get a few stories edited and submitted to some writing contests though, and that felt good.

Here are highlights of how we ended 2018. 

For three days during the first week of December we were involved in the Annual Steve Judy Pickleball Tournament here in the park, not as players, but as volunteers. Since I am the new Pickleball Club Board Vice-President and Webmaster, I was busy mostly taking photos for the website, while Jim took a turn of driving a golf cart to transport visiting players between the courts and parking areas.

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Men in Action
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Ladies’ turn to Shine
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Our MCs Added a Little Fun

Between attending three Christmas Parties and a Birthday Party, we managed to get in a couple of trips to Tempe on the Light Rail, once to wander the many-blocks-long Fall Arts Festival, and another time to watch the Annual Christmas Light Parade.

Interesting Items at Arts & Crafts Festival

Everyone and everything in the parade was lit up, including dogs.

On December 29th we took the Light Rail again, this time all the way to Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl Parade. It started out as a very cold morning so we dressed in layers and I packed snacks and hot chocolate, but by the time the parade started we were looking into bright sunshine that warmed us up. I wasn’t in a good spot for picture taking though, so have only these few.

The ride home was livened up when there was a bit of a ruckus that brought eight security guards into our car. The culprits were removed.

The weather here has been much colder than usual at this time of year, especially during the night and into the morning, so we’ve spent way too much time indoors with little exercise. New Year’s Eve day I decided to do some inside renovations, and cleaning. We are starting the new year without the dust-collecting valances an mini-blinds on the bedroom windows. By ten that night I was exhausted and neither of us saw the new year in here in Arizona, but we watched the ball drop in Times Square in New York before turning off the television. Yesterday we got in a walk and some pickleball.

This all sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? I resolve to write and post more often going into 2019 and I hope it will be more interesting. If we aren’t being tourists, I’ll entertain you with more memoirs, or maybe explain the game of pickleball.

Always Experiencing Something New – Through the Smoke in Kelowna and Kaslo BC


Other than having my carry-on bag inspected because I’d inadvertently packed one tube of facial cleanser that was a little over the size limit, my flight to Kelowna was very pleasant. The plane was newer, but had more leg room than usual. It wasn’t full, so the friendly woman in the outside seat and I shared the empty space between us. And we arrived twenty minutes early!

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Somewhere over the Prairies?

It was hot, dry and smoky when my friend, Judy, picked me up at Kelowna Airport, but that didn’t stop us from chatting all the way to her home in Vernon, as long-time friends tend to do. I stayed with Judy and her husband until the next leg of my trip by bus began the next afternoon.

During a trip to the Vernon Library, we came across this lovely little park and caught the last beautiful song from a young woman performing with her friend or husband, who accompanied her on guitar. We were sorry we arrived too late to catch more and to get a better picture, maybe even a video clip.

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Music in the Park

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Next to the Vernon Court House

While Judy and I waited at the station for my bus the next morning, a police officer came in looking for someone named Ernie. He approached an elderly man who was sitting behind me and asked if he could speak to him. We heard the officer say that someone was worried about him. The man was tall and frail-looking. He carried with him only a small shaving kit and a brown manila envelope. Neither the pockets of his plaid cargo shorts, nor those on his shirt showed any sign of a wallet. They took their conversation outside and then eventually left together.

“I hope he can get a refund,” said a man sitting two seats over from me. “He bought a ticket to Swift Current (a destination hundreds of miles away). I thought that to be doubtful, but it reminded me of the man who was reluctantly about to celebrate his 100th birthday at an Old Age Home, in the book The-100-Year- Old- Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. I recommend it for a fun read.

Soon, I was riding the Greyhound Bus to Nelson, where my daughter Sarah picked me up, while observing the clouds of smoke and areas of blackened forest that had succumbed to the fires last year. We arrived in Kaslo just in time to say good night to my two grandchildren.

Like last year, large portions of the days in Kaslo were spent at the beach. The cool breeze off the lake made the temperature bearable, but the other shore of the lake was obscured by the smoke, even that far away from the nearest wildfire.

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Smoke across Kootenay Lake

The next morning I was introduced to a sweet dog named Leté. Sarah had gotten a call telling her that one of her friends, who had recently been acting very strangely and who Sarah suspected was having some sort of mental breakdown, had been admitted to hospital. The neighbour who was calling was looking after the woman’s dog, but because of some physical restrictions she was unable to take her for long walks. She asked if Sarah could do that. So she and I and my granddaughter, Skylet walked down the hill and took Leté out. She enjoyed running along the beach.

Long story short, Leté ended up living with us for the next two weeks until her owner returned home. We all grew very much attached to her.

On Saturday morning I went to the diverse Kaslo Outdoor Market, where Sarah did quite well selling her popular pottery.

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My Daughter the Potter

Other vendors

By mid-afternoon, when we returned all of Sarah’s market equipment and unsold pottery back to her studio, the temperature was very hot. We drove back down to spend the rest of the day at the beach with the rest of the family. I was hot enough to actually venture into the lake for the first time, but it was cold. I got only to my waist!

Sunday there was a celebration at the lower bridge along the River Trail. It was there that I pulled out my camera for the first time, only to discover that I’d apparently left the memory card at home in my computer! Thank goodness for my smart phone, which provided pictures for the rest of my visit, but I hadn’t taken it with me to the trail either!

That evening the males of the house went fishing and my grandson, Callum, came home very excited about the Rainbow Trout he’d caught – big enough to feed us dinner the next night. That boy loves to fish!

The rest of the week went quickly with several trips to the beach and a trip to the Riding Stables to watch Skylet taking her horseback riding lesson.

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Skylet on her Horse

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Annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival

During my second weekend in Kaslo the population of the small town, about the size of my home town of Hastings (pop. 1200), swelled to probably triple that as people came from all around the Kootenays and beyond for the Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival.

Sarah and I spent Friday at the Market again. There was a different crowd and some different vendors, and it was another successful day. Ten-year-old Callum took his un-tuned violin to the main street and, despite not having practised in several months, managed to earn $25 for himself to spend at the Festival. I was wishing I’d taken my ukulele!

Saturday and Sunday Sarah and I joined the others for some great concerts and a variety of food at Kaslo Bay Park.

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The top Headliner of the event was Buffy Sainte-Marie. She was amazing! Unfortunately the heavy bass prevented me from witnessing her from close to the stage, as it did unpleasant things to my heart rhythm.

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The day closed with the sun reflecting off the mountain tip.

By 9:00 Sunday night we were all exhausted. For me, Monday was a bit of a lazy day, doing my laundry and helping with a few household chores while Sarah prepared her Studio for the kids Clay Camp she was putting on for the next four days. I had agreed to be her assistant for that. I had to rest up!

Tuesday and Wednesday there were both morning and afternoon classes, two different groups doing two half-days each. The kids were young and excited and needed some guidance, which, after listening carefully to Sarah’s instructions, I was able to provide. I enjoyed it.

The pre-teen/teen class was on Thursday and Friday mornings. I listened and observed and made a pinch pot on Thursday morning, but my assistance wasn’t really needed, other than to help clean up at the end of the day. I took the whole family out to the little (and unusually crowded) Front Street Pizzeria for dinner, thanks to a donation from Jim. The food was great, but because of the extra tourists in town and some restaurants chose to close early, the wait time very long.

On Friday I opted to do some laundry, both mine and family, and get organized for my departure the next morning. We drove to Duncan Lake in the afternoon. Despite there being so much smoke that we could see only half-way across the lake, and at some point we noticed ash falling onto our clothes, it was a fun family time on another beach, and the water was warm enough for me to get in and swim!

Smoke across Duncan Lake

Smoke across Duncan Lake

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When Sarah took me to catch my bus in Nelson the next day, we discovered that the shut-down of the Greyhound service was already in progress. The terminal was no longer open on the weekends. I had to stand outside under whatever shade I could find to wait for my bus. Next time I go, there will be no Greyhound bus at all.

I spent Sunday and Monday with Judy. Sunday we drove to Salmon Arm to visit my cousin George, after the smoke cleared a little. The sun never made it through the haze that day. Shortly after noon on Tuesday, after another bag search that didn’t pass inspection this time (more on that later) I was flying high above the smoky clouds, looking forward to home and a break from the smoke.

Warkworth by Night – Food, Music, Dancing, Puppets and Lanterns


This past weekend we went yet again to the Town of Warkworth. It seems they have some sort of festival nearly every weekend throughout the summer. This time it was something new to us – the Second Annual Warkworth by Night Street Festival.

We arrived in time to chat with friends and admire the beautiful costumes some people were wearing,

Lovely costume made from paper

Lovely costume made from paper

before the first entertainers began their performance, The Starlight Belly Dancers.

Next, a brother and sister from Brampton, but originally from India, had fun showing us some Bollywood dancing, and later gave instructions to an enthusiastic audience.

A Costume Parade

Was followed by a Giant Puppet Parade.

Once the sun had disappeared we were treated to a Parade of Lanterns.

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The final performers, the Polky Village Band hailed from Toronto. They are a group of young Polish immigrants who taught us a bit about Polish music and dance, which especially thrilled me, since my son has recently moved to Poland and I hope to visit him there one day.

Polky Village Band

Polky Village Band

What a beautiful night!

We finished the evening off with a cup of “adult” chocolate drink from the local Chocolatier. She assured us that it was called “adult” only because it was a drink made from fine, dark chocolate rather than chocolate milk or hot chocolate that are kids’ favourites. It was yummy, as you can see from the empty, environmentally friendly, heavy-paper cup and straw.

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Warkworth Lilac Festival


After a busy week, today we finally got out to do some touristy things. It was a beautiful day to visit the Opening Day of the Annual Warkworth Lilac Festival, just a twenty-minute drive from our home.

In this little artsy town, there is a beautiful trail, aptly named Millennium Lilac Trail, along the meandering Mill Creek. Over a number of years many varieties of lilacs have been planted by local groups such as the Girl Guides, and sponsored by many local businesses. Volunteers will give group tours with explanations of the age and types of lilacs you will see. The Lilac Festival lasts for 30 days, but during the Opening Weekend there are many events and the whole town gets involved.

From the entrance to trail off of Main Street, it is a bit of a wander before you’ll see many lilacs, but Mill Creek provides a very peaceful introduction.

 

 

Unfortunately, some beaver decided that lilac wood might be a good addition to their home.

 

 

 

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Many Beautiful Colours of Lilacs

A Victoria Tea was offered in a decorated Gazebo, a nice break from the heat

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While a harpist and a flute player entertained.

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Vendor tents offered items from books, to jewelry and wood products.

 

Bees were busy collecting pollen for lilac honey

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In 2017 the Festival was winner of a Canada 150 Garden Experience Award.

Back on Main Street the shops and restaurants were all open and decorated.

We shared a table at lunch with some people from Oshawa and Deb from Campbellford.

There was a Photo Contest on the porch of one of the Victorian homes, and a Lilac Flower Arrangement contest for visitors to cast their votes.

 

A couple entertained us with music outside the ice cream parlour. We had to indulge.

 

A Visit to the Historic Brockville Railway Tunnel


Here’s something many of you may not know:  the oldest railway tunnel in Canada still exists under the downtown core of my home town, Brockville, Ontario, located on the shores of the St Lawrence River at the eastern edge of The Thousand Islands.

Until the waterfront area at the bottom of Market Street was revitalized and turned into a venue for various family activities, I too was unaware of its existence, and even then doors to the entrance were always closed. Both the northern and southern portals have been upgraded and maintained by the City of Brockville, since the tunnel was acquired as part of a waterfront land deal between the City and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Several years ago a short portion at the southern entrance (about 80 feet) was upgraded and opened to the public during the day as a sort of museum.

In 2011 a committee of Brockville’s City Council was formed with the goal to open the tunnel end-to-end for residents and visitors and to eventually see the tunnel and its north gorge area connected as part of the Brock Trail system. Renovation construction started in August of 2016. On August 12, 2017, as part of the City’s Rails to Trails Festival and its Canada 150 celebrations, the renovated interior of the tunnel was opened to visitors to enjoy during the summer months.

This past Saturday, a beautiful autumn day, Jim and I joined my son and my brother, and his friend on the walk through. We were very impressed. The atmosphere has been complimented with music playing and sometimes the sounds of train wheels turning and whistles blowing. The strips of every changing coloured lights passing through the tunnel give the impression of train lights approaching and reflect off the stalagmites and dripping water on the walls.

Unfortunately, while packing to go to Brockville the day before, I neglected to check my camera. When I tried to shoot some photos, I discovered that I had left my SD card in my computer at home!  I had to rely on my cell phone. Next time I go I’ll make sure I have everything I need, including a tripod, but for now, here are a few shots.

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Southern Entrance

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Inside looking out

Some History

The tunnel was built between 1854 and 1860 to allow the fledging Brockville and Ottawa Railway to connect the Brockville industrial waterfront area to the outlying areas lying between the St Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.

On December 31 of 1860, the first small train, a wood-burning locomotive and two coaches came through the completed tunnel and the tunnel was officially open for traffic. The tunnel is arch-shaped, measuring 14 feet 9 inches from the top of the arch to the ground and 14 feet across. The overall length of the tunnel is 1721 feet in length and passes right under Brockville City Hall.

To learn more, click here: History of Brockville Railway Tunnel