Road Trip to Cape Breton, Part 2

Fortress Louisbourg from across the bay

We’ve decided to base ourselves in Sydney, Cape Breton for two nights. Sydney is only a short drive of about 30 minutes or so to Louisbourg where the restoration of the French fortress is.

Saturday September 23, 2017

The Fortress Louisbourg was established by the French in the name of King Louis in the early 18th century. While it was primarily there to watch over the lucrative cod fishing trade, there were military stationed as well, just in case, since there was always and inevitably another war just over the horizon. This was always a commercial town, with few farmers. It was filled with soldiers, fishermen and merchants and their families. There was a contingent of support with religious, medical and domestic servants, slaves and the like. There were inns, taverns, butchers, bakers, forges, all the services you need to contribute to a living community.

Bastion Reenactor maleThe site that’s there now as a National Historic Site represents the fort as it would have been in 1744, one year before the first time the British invaded. It changed hands between the British and French several times over the next couple of decades until it ended up with the British. They destroyed it in 1760. The current site is only about 20 percent of the original site. I didn’t know that before and it must have been enormous! There were five bastions for the army with barracks etc., 2.5 miles of wall surrounding and protecting the town and many, many merchants and businesses. Parks Canada began restoring the Fortress in the 1960s.

The park today employs seasonal workers who all dress in period costume in various roles and are very interesting to talk to. They all really know the history of the fortress and of the characters they play. They have events all summer, they have walking tours and special tours. There are often demonstrations of various types of things from cooking to crafts to musket fire and military drill. It’s pretty neat to step back 300 years in time.

View from the Bastion battlements over the town of Louisbourg

We arrived mid morning and at this time of year, near the end of the season, we could park right next to the site. Normally, you park by a visitor centre a couple of kilometres away and are bussed in. It was actually fairly busy because I believe there were a lot of tourists from a cruise ship in Sydney. We parked and headed to the visitor centre to get a map and off we went. We decided to investigate the King’s Bastion first, where the soldiers would be quartered as well as the unmarried officers. This one also included the Franciscan chapel, a jail where the prisoners would be shackled to the bunk, the governor’s quarters and a court. Graham and Malc walked around up on the battlements for a while leaving me to look into some of the other nooks and crannies and rest my bones in the sun as well.

Officers quarters coats

In the Officers’ quarters at the King’s Bastion, Louisbourg

We probably spent a good hour in the bastion and were starting to get a bit hungry. We made our way down the main street, looking into various buildings and listening to some of the staff talk. We got to the café but all it offered was tea, coffee and buns so we went to the main restaurant where you sit at communal tables and eat 18th century style with a pewter spoon and dish. That’s it. No fork or knife. The food they offer is all easily eaten with what you have. I had a really tasty piece of fish with vegetables and a vegetable soup to start with. Malc had French toast which he said was really, really good and Graham had chicken in a mushroom cream sauce, and pea soup, also really nice. I also had a small cup of French style drinking chocolate which seemed to be bitter unsweetened chocolate grated and melted in a bit of water or maybe milk. Different, anyway, very chocolatey.

Onward. We wandered around the site looking here and there, taking lots of pictures of course. If you take the time to talk to the various re-enactors, you can really steep yourself in the history of the fortress and the era it depicts.

Our feet finally gave out and we made our way back to the car. We stopped in the town of Louisbourg to have a look at the old train cars at a museum which was closed and we drove out to the old lighthouse as well. The original lighthouse on the site was erected in 1734 and destroyed in 1758 during the second seige of Louisbourg. The current lighthouse dates to the 1920s.

Tonight, we decided on an Indian meal at a fairly new restaurant I found while searching the area on Google, called Mian’s. It seemed to have good reviews but in the end, it was another disappointment, this time it was mine. Graham enjoyed his meal and Malc liked his. The samosas we started with were superb but my beef was dry and too chewy. Apparently the coffee was awful and they didn’t have milk for the tea, only cream. Unimpressed.

It’s back on the road tomorrow for home, stopping at a Highland Village open air museum on the way. A successful road trip indeed, with mostly spectacular weather!

Sunday September 24, 2017

The Black House Barra

The Black House, Highland Village, Cape Breton

The sun is up and shining and we are hopeful for another nice day. We are going to immerse ourselves in more history today.  This morning’s drive took us along the side of one of the lovely lakes though we mostly only saw it a bit through the trees.

The Highland Village Museum, part of the Nova Scotia Museum network, is high on a hill in Iona overlooking Bras d’or lake and gives you the experience of the Scottish immigrant to Nova Scotia between 1770 and 1830 and then the life of the community and Scottish Gaelic culture over the next 100 years or so as well.  Its staff are all dressed in period costume and talk to you of their lives for the period they represent. There are 11 period buildings on the site.

The first one was in a little “black house”, which is a stone shieling type of dwelling with a thatched roof. The woman there was very much into character and was really good. She told us lots of information about why and how the people in Scotland left home for a new life and what life was like in Scotland for these various clans in the western Hebrides islands. She’d speak partly in Gaelic and then in English which enhanced the experience.

Church and school view 1

Church and schoolhouse, Highland Village, Cape Breton

We climbed up the gravel paths slowly and talked to a few others in the next couple of homes and then it was all downhill. We were also overtaken by several groups of tourists bussed in from another cruise ship so we felt a bit flustered and rushed at times. Most of the buildings were brought here from other sites around the island to create the village and they often have demonstrations of various crafts and cookery.

I have a friend who told me that her late husband’s father and grandfather were ministers in the church, originally located in Malagawatch, that is now located here. He spent many a Sunday listening to long sermons in it! They have a general store, a school house and a forge as well as residential homes represented. The visitor centre gift shop has a good selection of nice things and there’s a small coffee shop on site. The whole village is very well done and informative and very much worth a stop.

Village view

Highland Village, Iona, Cape Breton

We started to lose the sun and from there, pointed the car in the direction of the Canso Causeway. We stopped in a market type place for lunch in Whycogomah and had another leg stretcher near New Glasgow and got home about 7. Brilliant few days on the road!

Mid 19c farmhouse matron hand spinning

Louisbourg Harbour lighthouse and the ruins of the original one, which was the oldest in Canada

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Day Trip: Sherbrooke Village

Sherbrooke Mercantile Pano 1

The Mercantile

One of our day trips was a drive up the eastern shore of Nova Scotia to the village of Sherbrooke where there is an open air “living” museum, called Sherbrooke Village. It’s right in the centre of the village and it was very easy to find. We parked in a lot in the centre of the village but since it took well over 2 hours to get there, we were ready for lunch first. There are a few cafes along the main road and we picked the one that had the best name, Beanie’s Bistro! They were only offering Sunday brunch but it was excellent.

Fully fueled, we’re off to Sherbrooke Village, ready to step back in time to the 19th century.

Sherbrooke is an old settlement and by the 19th century it was prosperous, with farming, fishing and timber filling the coffers. But in 1861, gold was found nearby and for the next 20 years, the town was booming. The mining industry had ups and downs after that, but for the most part it died out, leaving timber as the main industry of the area with salmon fishing bringing in the tourists. The restoration of a village to what it would have been like in the late 19th century was began in 1969 and is ongoing. There are about 2 dozen buildings that are open to the public and are staffed by people wearing period dress who can demonstrate crafts and skills of the era and tell you all about what job they represent.

The weather is in and out but overall, a good day for walking around because it didn’t get too warm and it didn’t rain. We walked the circuit of the two streets where we saw a print shop, a blacksmith, an apothecary, a pottery, a courthouse, a general store, a school house, a church, the home of someone that would have been a business owner and houses that would belong to everyday people and more.

Sherbrooke apothecary Red Ball

Apothecary red ball, traditional “sign”

All of the houses and buildings are original and the fancy house, the part owner of the general store, that actually stayed in the family for a number of generations. I think we were told that there is one house that still has someone living in it, someone who works on the grounds somewhere.

They have a team of horses pulling a buggy if you need a ride to ease your aching feet. Pity we didn’t take advantage of that! If we’d been there earlier we could have taken in the show in the courthouse, a Gilbert and Sullivan one act liberetto, Trial by Jury. We heard a bit of the end of it but didn’t go in because they did ticket the event. Even though we would only have caught the tail end, you don’t barge in while a performance is ongoing, ticket or not! Sounded good, though. Watching a woman work the printing press was very interesting. She later showed us how she puts together a plate for it, including any text or a metal-carved plate for graphics. Pity the blacksmith wasn’t in that day, I would have liked to view him doing something on the forge. The young man in the apothecary shop had lots of interesting things to talk about including a big glass ball filled with red fluid hanging in the window, a traditional symbol for the chemist. I never knew that!

Sherbrooke Street

One of the two streets in Sherbrooke Village

It took a few hours to peek into all the buildings that were available to see. We had to stop to talk to anyone that happened to be there such as the woman in the pottery, another one working a loom and a lady in the exhibition building who had been sewing a huge quilt entirely by hand. That was the Temperence Hall which is actually owned by the Canadian Legion. Since they can’t sell alcohol in a Temperence Hall, they have a couple of tables of Legion and Canadian souvenirs to help raise money for the Legion!

We trudged our way around and got to the end/beginning where we collapsed in the tea room for a brew. I think they do some light meals there and definitely had sweets on offer but I resisted that. We stopped into the gift shop and staggered back into the village, more than ready to hit the road. We should have driven up to the parking lot right at the entrance but we didn’t think it was that far. It wasn’t, not really, but further than we thought it was and it wasn’t a big deal going in. We were dragging our backsides going back to the car is all!

It’s a fair distance to go for a day trip from Halifax but I think it’s definitely worth it. They close for the season either near the end of September or very early October though they do open for two weekends near Christmas and have seasonal events and markets on. That would be quite nice to see if the driving is ok.

Sherbrooke QuiltWe had an unexpected adventure coming back, though and not a pleasant one. Rather than come back the same way we went out, along the coastal Number 7 route, we decided to go cross country to New Glasgow to pick up the Trans Canada 104. Sounded good in theory. But the road that we picked up was absolutely the worst road I’ve ever driven on. The pavement was in horrific condition and the road kind of twisty in a lot of places. It was kind of scarey and you couldn’t drive very fast or you’d take out the undercarriage of the car if you weren’t careful of the pits, holes, and broken up paving. If we’d gone straight on the number 7 route, we would have ended up at Antigonish and could have picked up the 104 from there, a bit further away and I think that road would probably have been ok, too. You can’t tell from the map what kind of condition the road is in and we thought it would be ok going the way we did. Might have been scenic. It wasn’t particularly.

I was never so glad to get anywhere but off that road! We thought we might try to find somewhere to eat in New Glasgow but it was raining, Sunday night, and it is an unfamiliar place. We couldn’t see anything and it was raining so we managed to get back to the highway and high-tailed it back home, getting a take out meal instead.

Other than that, the day was quite nice. If we ever go again, we’ll stick to Highway 7 there and back, I think. It’s also not too far to stop off and visit if you are driving to or from Cape Breton Island. Be sure not to turn off and head there until you get to where the 7 meets up at Antigonish, though. Trust me on this.

Here are a few photos.

Sherbrooke village is part of the network of Nova Scotia Museums. You can get a yearly pass and drop in to any of their museums all over the province.

Travel Theme: Transport

This week’s challenge from Where’s My Backpack is Transport. I give you some examples from the Lakeland Motor Museum, in the south part of the Lake District in England.

LLMBicycles

Motor Bicycles

Penny Farthings

Antique Bicycles and Pennyfarthings

Corgi Scooter

Corgi Scooter

Vincent Black Knight

1950s Vincent Black Knight motorcycle

Garage

Reproduction of a Garage from the 1930s

 

Go inside the British Museum with Google

Closeup of an Egyptian Sarcophegus, British Museum, London

Closeup of an Egyptian Sarcophegus, British Museum, London

Google has done it again. They’ve sent the Google camera inside the British Museum and now you can use the Street View feature in Google Maps to visit the museum without leaving your house. It’s pretty cool, too. You can “walk” through the rooms or jump from floor to floor.  I think it would help if you had a map from the British Museum’s website, though. You can drop the little gold “man” onto a place on the museum map and there’s a series of numbers on your right that says what level you are on. If you click a different level, you find your self in a different room or gallery but you might also find yourself in a hallway or in a staircase, in which case, that map might prove useful.

Google map of the British Museum, London

Google map of the British Museum, London

It’s also possible to read a lot of the large information signs on the walls by the various displays. I think this is a great thing. I hope a lot of the major museums and sites in the world will be mapped out like this. They’ve done Machu Picchu as well. I think a site like Pompeii would be another good one to do with Street View and please, Google, do some more of the major museums and galleries in the world like the Smithsonian, the Vatican, and the Louvre.

This first photo is a screen grab from Google Street view of the Egyptian gallery with the mummies and sarcophegi. Below that are a few photos I’ve taken in the museum on visits in the past. (The photo at the top of this post is also mine, a closup of one of a sarcophegus)

British Museum Egyptian Mummies, London

British Museum Egyptian Mummies, London

Neried Monument, British Museum, London

Neried Monument, British Museum, London

Greek Helmet, British Museum, London

Greek Helmet, British Museum, London

DP – Extraordinary

In my travels, I see a lot of things that impress and astound me, things that move me and make me go Wow! Many are items in museums but other things that I love are buildings/architecture, or a spectacular view as we drive over the crest of a hill. When trying to decide what to choose for the Daily Post challenge, Extraordinary, I was spoiled for choice and I could have picked quite a few things.  I chose these two.

This first is a shot I took out the window of a tour bus while traveling through the Scottish Highlands. It’s near Rannoch Moor and I couldn’t believe my eyes, a rainbow in the mist *on the ground*, rather than a arc overhead. I’ve been told that it comes out this way due to a few things, including the height above sea level and the angle of the sun at that time of the day (late morning). What you are seeing is the top of the rainbow arc, apparently. I took the chance at a few photos out of the window of the moving bus and captured it enough that you could tell what it was. The photo was taken on film, through a window,  has deteriorated some,  and scanned a long time ago so the resolution isn’t great.

Rainbow in the Highlands, near Glencoe.  The "Hail Mary" lucky shot through the bus window

Rainbow in the Highlands, near Glencoe.
The “Hail Mary” lucky shot through the bus window

This is an illuminated copy of two pages of the Canterbury Tales along with, underneath in the case, another plain undecorated copy, both from the 15th century. Seen in the John Rylands Library, Manchester. The decorated sheets are from the Oxford Manuscript. The other book is a 1476 first edition. It’s amazing that something so fragile is still preserved. The Ryland Library also has a fragment of  the gospel of John, dated to about 200 A.D. written on papyrus.

Canterbury Tales, Illuminated and plain, below it.

Travel Theme: Detail

This week the travel theme from Where’s My Backpack is Detail. I visited the Tower of London last year and we spent most of our time in the Armoury museum. It’s more than just suits of armour for men and horses, there is a whole cache of weaponry as well. Some of the details on the armour and other items was extremely intricate and I always enjoy taking photos of details as well as overall photos.

Spanish helmet

Closeup on Henry Stuart’s armour

Dragon made of armour

German saddle

A Word a Week – Transportation

This week’s Word a Week challenge is Transportation. I thought about finding some of the odder examples I could find in my archives but decided to post some photos from the Lakeland Motor Museum in the Lake District, England.

Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7, similar to the one that crashed and killed him

Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7, similar to the one that crashed and killed him. It’s a raceboat

LLMPennyFarthings

Penny Farthings

Lakeland Motor Museum

Lakeland Motor Museum

Vincent Black Knight motorbikes

Motorized Bicycles

Mini car!

TVR Cerbera Speed

Travel Theme: Closeup (Say Yes to the Dress)

Ailsa’s theme over at Where’s My Backpack this week is Closeup. When I take photos of places and things, I also like to get a close up view of details. It might be a building, or a flower, or something else. It may not be super-close like a macro shot but it will show up an interesting feature that adds to the overall feeling.

This dress, dated to the  Elizabethan era, was on display in the “great solar”, a bedroom with a wardrobe, bed, working desk and area and fireplace, of course. How could you not get up close to the exquisite details? These were taken at Ordsall Hall in Salford this spring. You can read more about that visit here.

Sleeve

Back of the ruff at the neck

The bodice front

 

Off with their heads

The White Tower, Tower of London

The White Tower, Tower of London

The weather gods were not favouring us today, our last day in London. It was gloomy and forecast to rain a lot. It’s too bad we couldn’t have switched the British Museum tickets for the Tower of London tickets and gone to the museum today. That’s the chance you take pre-booking things online. And because we had tickets, we didn’t want to waste them and there is a lot to see indoors at the Tower.

Today’s mode of transportation is the Underground since it’s quite a way to go by bus. We got there (and have I mentioned lately how many damn stairs there are in this city????) and it was raining very lightly. It was before 11 a.m. but the crowds were already thronging. It’s Easter Sunday and that’s part of the reason. The other part is that the Tower of London is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Combine the two and you have epic crowds even on a rainy day like today. I can’t imagine how bad it would have been on a sunny holiday Sunday!

Because we’d had our tickets, we didn’t have to queue up to buy them. But the queue to actually get in was tremendously long. Still, that didn’t seem to take too long. Down through the gates, stop to have my handbag checked for security and we’re in. Where to start?

Waiting to get into the Tower!

Waiting to get into the Tower!

We wandered a little, had a look at the Traitor’s Gate leading out to the Thames and took in a small display on Torture machines. We went into a gift shop to escape the rain for a bit. Graham saw a couple of little souvenirs he wanted but we didn’t linger too long as it was a little too warm and a lot too crowded. Back out into the rain and we decided to head for the central White Tower, the oldest part of the complex.

When William the Conqueror and the Normans took over England, William built an intimidating wooden palisade on this spot and it was later rebuilt in stone. It was the monarch’s residence, or one of them, for centuries. The walls we see around the tower now were added over the years subsequent to William’s reign in two concentric circles around the White Tower, with guard towers and gates at various points around. The Tower has been, in addition to the royal residence, a prison, a mint, and even a menagerie/zoo.

The Crown Jewels are currently on display in one of the other buildings in the compound and the queue for that was unbelievably long. Even though this was Graham’s first visit, he was not inclined to stand in that lineup in the rain! Even though I’ve been here before, I haven’t seen the Royal Armoury in the White Tower and we were both enthusiastic about that.

Up more stairs on the outside of the White Tower to the entrance. The armouries did not disappoint! It is chock full of armour and weapons from eras as early as the 14th century forward. There are a couple of suits of armour that belonged to Henry VIII and several other monarchs. There were displays of armour for horses and even children and a dwarf. Some of it was very intricately decorated and all of it was polished to a gleaming shine. This first room was, unfortunately, not that large and with all the displays taking so much room, it was really crowded.

Up even more stairs, now we can see the “great hall” and some old Norman fireplaces. There are more displays here, more armour and weapons and lots of information boards. I really liked the Elizabethan era armour. In one area there was a display about the Executions in the Tower and it turns out there really haven’t been that many considering how much you’ve heard about it. Most of them took place from the mid-16th century to the end of it. You only had the privilege of being executed inside the walls of the Tower in relative “privacy” if you had royal blood or were particularly important. Some people that were imprisoned here were executed outside the walls on Tower Hill.

TowerArmoury ExecutionerMask

The executioner

One of the most chilling exhibits was a case featuring a “block” with a carved out nook for your head, an axe and a black metal mask that an executioner would have worn rather than a black hood as you see in films. It might not have been something they all wear but someone obviously did and the creepy thing about it was a skewed mouth with white teeth painted on it in a horrifying grimace.

Yet even more stairs led to the top floor. There were lots of weapons here, some more modern and international items. There were also some interactive hands on displays for kids. Oh and one really neat display was a huge dragon made from various bits of armour and weaponry, with gleaming red lights for eyes! Very impressive.

At the end, you have to go back down many, many stairs in a spiral staircase. There are a few more steps up and then you’re outside and must climb down to the ground. Are we tired yet? We found our way to the chapel but it seemed to be closed and we couldn’t go in and have a look there. We stopped into Beauchamp Tower where there was graffiti carved into the walls. I didn’t see it but there is apparently some authored by Guilford Dudley, the husband of Jane the ill-fated 9 days’ Queen (the one between Edward VI and Bloody Mary I)

Tower BloodyTower 1225We also had a look into the Bloody Tower, most famous as the place where the two young princes disappeared and were likely killed during the reign of Richard III. They also had Sir Walter Raleigh’s quarters set up in the Bloody Tower as well. He was imprisoned three times, finally meeting the axe in 1618. They also had a room up a narrow winding staircase where the Princes were held. Graham went up there and said it was just an empty room. He had to go out of there onto the walls to come back down so took a few photos while he was up there.

On the ground, I spied a parade of the Beefeaters in their scarlet and gold coats coming towards the corner of the green where I was waiting for him. Looked like some sort of changing of the guard except they weren’t dressed like the military guard who was standing by the guard post by the Queen’s House. That’s a half-timbered building at one corner of the Tower compound. Shortly after that, we saw another line up of a group of veterans being inspected as well.

Brightly uniformed Beefeaters

Brightly uniformed Beefeaters

Here’s a few more of our photos of the Tower and the armoury.

By now we’d had enough of being damp and wet and chilled and decided we’d seen enough for one day. Our feet agreed. We had people to meet and a pub to go to. We made our way out the exit which is along the river and facing Tower Bridge.

The pub we are heading for is called the Doric Arch, a little pub just outside the Euston train station. You must go upstairs from the ground level, though. And the toilets are down stairs from the ground level, meaning you have two flights to go down and back up if you need the loo. *sigh* Anyway, our friends arrived a little later and we had a lovely few hours in the nice, warm pub. They didn’t have pear cider but they did have Kopparberg apple cider so I had that and it was very good, as well. The food there was really wonderful. My beef pie was hot and full of big chunks of meat and mushrooms with lovely hot gravy.

Finally it was time to leave. We said goodbye to our mates and caught a bus two stops up Euston Road to Warren St. Station next to the hotel, picked up some sandwiches in Tesco for later on this evening and tucked up in the hotel where it was warm and dry! We made tea and coffee and spent our last evening together.

Monday was an early start. I had booked an airport transfer service for 7:30 so it was too early for the hotel breakfast, which started later on weekends and holidays. Graham headed to the train station and I to Heathrow where I got breakfast after I checked in, amazed that my suitcase wasn’t overweight! Picked up a few items in duty free and waited for my gate to open. The Luggage Gods favoured me and my bags arrived with me.

Another holiday ended and another one always in the works to be planned.