Wednesday, September 2, 2020

a historic five-sided row house

The other weekend, we spent a night in the city. Halifax isn't too far from us, but with everything going on lately, we've sort of avoided going since spring. While we do have everything we need locally, the city is always an interesting change of scenery. So when we couldn't put off going any longer, we decided to give ourselves lots of time to explore. One of my favourite things to do is walk around and see the historic buildings. The British settlers arrived in 1749, so it's a city that has a rich history, and therefore an abundance of beautiful old architecture to admire. Of all of the old homes I walked past, 1597 Dresden Row was my favourite.

Built in 1835, the Bollard House is a five-sided home that was designed to fit the small, irregular plot of land it sits on. It's one of the oldest wooden houses still standing in the city and has become a local landmark. Bordering three streets, it faces Citadel Hill ( the old fort) and is only a few blocks from the Public Gardens. It's said that it's unique shape resembles that of the stern of a ship, which is fitting given it resides in the city who's port was known as the gateway to North America

I just think it's completely peculiar, and reminiscent of something you'd stumble upon down some cobblestone street in London. I can only imagine what it must look like inside. There's probably a triangular closet or a sitting room with five walls. I'm sure for years it's owners have probably fretted over sofa placements and trying to create symmetry where it simply wasn't possible. That, or they completely embraced it's uniqueness, and lived out their days in their cozy five-sided house on the corner.

Just look at that profile! It's out of a storybook.

There is a tiny garden around the back, completely with two large apple trees. There are three separate entrances, one with a charming little portico, and the other two, each with a pair of narrow doors instead of one larger one. There are plenty of windows, most of which open out instead of sliding up, and the two chimneys have the most beautiful brass flues.

While we did spend a decent amount of time walking around a few neighborhoods, there are so many other's that I'm looking forward to spending more time in. I'm sure there will be other homes I fall in love with, but I think I'll be hard-pressed to find one quite as interesting as this one!

Monday, August 31, 2020

a walk through green gables

Welcome to Green Gables. If you've ever read the beloved series, Anne of Green Gables, this white and green home probably holds a dear place in your heart. I does for me. I read the books and watched the series and fell in love with Anne's world and this beautiful place she so thoroughly described. Tucked away in my grandmother's night stand is an old piece of paper written many, many summers ago. My cousins and I, while spending our summer holiday at our grandparent's house, made a plan for our Green Gables. The three of us would move to Prince Edward Island, buy an old farmhouse, and live out our days together. We listed how many hens we'd have, which kinds of fruit trees would grow in our orchard, and I, sacrificially, agreed to be the one who married so that we would have someone "handy" around the farm for repairs. I've recalled that little piece of paper many times recently as I've been making our home here on the East Coast. Walking through the house, seeing details from the books in person, was wonderfully nostalgic, and for once, I was kind of thankful to be able to walk through quietly myself.

I've been through once before, but this time, I felt like I spent more time admiring more of the details of the house. There were so many well-curated details that I would have loved to have myself!

The bold patterns in the house are so striking - from the colourful floral wallpaper and green trim in the front entrance, to the dark green carpet throughout the parlour and the dinging room.

I really did love the green trim throughout. I also liked the simplicity of Matthew's bedroom, shown here. I mean that little commode with the ironstone vanity set and the perfectly simple wallpaper...

I also loved the laundry room with it's antique baskets and dry rack, the linen aprons and the rug broom.

And of course the pantry!

When I saw it, I immediately thought of fall tables! I absolutely love this painted hutch.

Anne's bedroom with the pretty floral paper. They did a great job of trying to add elements from the book to the decor. Marilla's room is plain and in the darker corner of the house. Matthew's bedroom is downstairs, off the kitchen, because of his heart condition. Anne's closet door has a dress with puffed sleeves hanging from it. In the kitchen cupboard there's a bottle of raspberry cordial and a bowl of plum-pudding sauce (no mouse though!).

You can even walk down Lover's Lane out back, or down the Haunted Hollow path which leads to the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery's home. Apparently, each day Anne and Diana make an appearance at the museum, but a lot of those details had been suspended for the time being.

I think it's important to note that while a lot of details in this whole area of the island had become very touristy, Parks Canada has done a good job trying to keep the property as best as they can, true to how L M Montgomery would want it. It's simple compared to everything else around it, and that makes it all the more special.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

weekend on prince edward island - part two

Prince Edward Island was a place that I, like so many others, fell in love with through the pages of Anne of Green Gables. The lanes of red clay, the shining lakes - her love of the island and the beauty she found there, made it somewhere you wanted to explore yourself.

Now, for those of you who are familiar with the beloved series, and maybe didn't know, Green Gables is actually a farmhouse in the town of Cavendish, that belonged to Lucy Maud Montgomery's aunt and uncle. I will share the tour of that separately, but I just wanted to make a couple comments on that aspect of the island. When you go to PEI, Anne is everywhere. It's very obviously a huge draw for visitors. And honestly, I'm not entirely sure if L M Montgomery would be thrilled to see the area now! It's taken on a very touristy feel - with fun parks and miniature golf and touristy boardwalks. The village of Avonlea, the fictional town from her books, is a small town-like attraction you can walk through, built in honor of the author. You used to be able to see live reenactments of famous scenes and the town in period-style. Now, save one smaller local artisan shop, it's all restaurants and souvenir shops. Basically, it all leaves you feeling a bit disappointed. 

But, having pretty much ruined the island for you, I'll say this: Anne's beloved island, and in turn, L M Montgomery's, is still there. You may have to loose yourself a little, and wind your way down some unknown red lanes, but it's there. The beaches are breathtaking and there are some lovely farming towns, but you have to explore. And even when it comes to the touristy things, we have young boys. At the end of the day, no matter how enticing I try to make it sound, they simply would prefer to play bazooka ball than walk through Green Gables. So when it came to planning our few days on this part of the island, while it was a little touristy, it did provide a decent selection of things to do for all members of our family. While I walked through the museum, the boys played in the waves at Cavendish Beach. And when they wanted to play bazooka ball, I walked with the little ones around Avonlea. Having a little cottage smack in the middle of the tourist section seemed completely unappealing, but being last minute, there weren't many options when it came to accommodations. Once there, it was fine because our children loved it. There were so many other children, and a pool and a whole playground area in the middle. They had so much fun! And that's important.

So, what I'm trying to say is this: Don't go to Cavendish to discover the beauty of the island and expect to find it like it is in the pages of those beloved books. Go to the island and discover that beauty in other places.

We first stayed in town for a couple nights (one full day), and then we took a few days to wander along the coast. It's a fairly small island, so you can do the whole loop comfortably in a couple days. Our time in the city was relaxed. The boys loved Victoria park, and while they played, I was able to pop out and visit a couple shops I had wanted to see in town. Then, during nap time later in the afternoon, I went out and walked around the historic district, which was conveniently only blocks away.

There were lots of lovely old houses in town to admire, a good selection of restaurants and cafes, and a very vibrant art scene.

The second evening we were there, we surprised the boys and took them outside of town, to the drive in. They happened to be playing the first Harry Potter movie - perfect for a cooler summer evening before school begins. Originally I had planned to stay home with the littler ones, but at the last minute decided to tag along. I'm glad we did because the littler ones ended up falling asleep anyway, and it was fun to enjoyed it with the older boys.

We made our way up one side of the island, stopping by one of the many shallow inlets to get out and explore. The red clay along the edge of the lake was so unusually spongy. It was so shallow you couldn't really swim, but pretty to walk around.

And yes, the roads really are red.

We discovered West Point Lighthouse and in turn, found the beach we had been looking for. The boys were thankful to finally get in and swim. I loved this lighthouse! I couldn't think of any other way to describe it, except that it's chic. It really is. With it's bold black and white stripes, and it's perfect green benches overlooking the dunes.

It was the best beachcombing on the island. I found so many shells with those hints of blue I love so much.

The next morning, on our way out to Cavendish, we stopped at Thunder Cove. It was a little unnerving trying to get down the steep dunes to the beach, but once down there, it was beautiful.

As mentioned, we stayed right in Cavendish, right in the middle of everything. (You could literally hear the roller coaster beside us!) The cabin, while small, was perfect for is. The kids were so entertained and really enjoyed being there. It may not have been our thing, but there was a hot tub at least, and a porch to sit on with a glass of wine in the evening, so we couldn't really complain.

Cavendish Beach was like a post card. It's a gorgeous beach. And what's more, it seems to have been recently renovated (it's a Canadian National Park), and had a beautiful board walk and stairs down to the water, with showers for cleaning off and even candy cane striped beach huts that we're so charming! Just the picture perfect beach.

Then, after popping back to the cottage to make lunch, we spent the afternoon at the water park next door to us. It really wasn't terrible. The boys loved it. And what's more, it was fairly quiet! They didn't have to wait in line if they wanted to ride the small roller coaster or spinning pumpkins. And the water slides were all in one small section, so we could see them at all times without having to actually stand with the older ones. There was even a small section for the little ones, complete with tiny water slides.


We went home tired and the boys crashed early. The next morning we got up and made our way home, driving the coastal route down on the other side to catch the ferry. I discovered a charming shop in Saint Peters Bay called Freckles & Porcelain, and come home with a few beautiful items. It was grey and raining, so we didn't make many stops, just for a quick lunch before catching the afternoon ferry home. I should also note, if you enjoy biking, the island has some beautiful trails.

The next time we visit, I want to try a couple places for dinner that we weren't able to get reservations to. One being the picnic basket dinner at Chef Michael Smith's beautiful Inn at Bay Fortune, and second, The Blue Mussel. I also have a very quaint little tree house flagged that looks like the perfect secluded place to spend the night, so I'm thinking maybe a romantic weekend away just the two of us next time.