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.

Friday, August 28, 2020

a historic rental in the heart of charlottetown

For our second extra long weekend, we decided to head to Prince Edward Island. We took the ferry, though you can take the bridge. For the same cost, we'd much rather take the ferry and be able to get out and enjoy the water. It's about an hour and it breaks up the four hour drive to the island nicely. Because we were catching the last one for the day, we boarded just as the sun set. It was a beautiful night on the water.

We decided to spend the first two nights in Charlottetown, the capital, and then make our way around the island, spending a few nights on the opposite side. Whenever we are staying anywhere, I always try to find a reasonable home to rent first. Often they're a little more than a hotel stay, but for us as a family of six, having our own space is so much more relaxing. Especially if we're staying in the same place for more than one night. Because we booked last minute, this historic, three story town house, right downtown in the historic district, was significantly discounted. It had everything that we could have wanted. The kitchen was well stocked. There was a charming little backyard area, as well as a large second floor balcony. The beds were very comfortable with hotel linens and towels. They even had set out everything we could have needed for our littlest, from baby gates to a high chair and toys.

While all of that is important, the best part of this home was the character it had. Being over two centuries old, the house simply oozed character. The floorboards were warped and creaky, and the treads on the stairs had been worn thin in the centers from decades of inhabitants climbing up and down. And what's more, the owner had furnished it with some lovely antique pieces, like this stunning wardrobe in the front entrance. How I would love to find a cabinet like this...

There was a cheerful dining room that overlooked the sidewalk just out front. The sun streamed in windows while we ate breakfast and because the house was set right at the sidewalk, and downtown being only a block away, people we always walking past. Beyond the dining room was the kitchen, which was dated and quite cramped, but still functional. And then beyond that, a few steps up, was a small sitting room and doors to the back yard. It wasn't a large yard, but rather a small deck and a patio area with a grill, perfect for dinging outside. It was just what we needed. There was also a very long, narrow front hall that led back to the kitchen from the front door, along the staircase. At the end of it was a tiny little powder room tucked under the second floor landing. The boys absolutely loved these little details. This, as well as the tiny little desk build into the kitchen cabinets with a stool and mounted radio. They took turns playing DJ while I flipped pancakes, and joked that if they were Harry Potter, the powder room would be their bedroom.

As I mentioned, the kitchen was very well stocked. There was a full spice cupboard, wonderfully sharp knives, a good variety of pots and pans, and a large collection of plain white china (much to my pleasure). They even had thoughtfully provided coffee and a French press, as well as gourmet hot chocolate and a couple snacks. This was particularly convenient as we had checked in long after the grocery stores had closed. Another reason we can justify the cost of a home to rent is because even though the accommodation might be more expensive than a hotel room, we're able to make meals at home, which for us is much more cost effective. After enjoying coffee on the balcony the next morning, I popped out to grab groceries and then came home in time to make breakfast for the boys.

The second floor had a small den at the top of the stairs. Here they had a sofa bed made up for the two little ones. They were beside themselves with the giant television mounted on the wall, as it meant they could watch cartoons in bed the next morning. And there was a tiny, half-sized door that you climbed out of to reach the balcony. It felt very New York!

Here you can see the upper balcony over the small patio area, as well as the attached neighbors.

At the other end of the hall, looking out the front of the house, was a small bathroom, and the master bedroom. I absolutely loved the natural light in the bathroom!

Then, up in the attic space of the third floor, with it's wonderfully high ceilings and exposed beams, there was a bedroom for the two older boys, as well as their own bathroom and small little sitting area with a chair and desk.

Their bathroom was the perfect little bath, with it's antique claw foot and cozy feel. 
After arriving late the first night, when we had finally managed to get four very excited boys settled in bed, I climbed the two flights of stairs with my book and a cup of hot chocolate, and sunk into the tub with my book. I had lots to see in town the following day, but at that moment, I was just thankful for this little space which felt so much more like home than a hotel room.