Boxwood Festival

Workshop at Boxwood Festival

The Boxwood Festival is a hugely popular musical festival (with a huge focus on flute) that takes place in three select areas worldwide: Waipu, New Zealand; Williamsburgs VA, USA; and (you guessed it) Lunenburg, NS, Canada!

As mentioned above, the large focus of the festival is on the flute (what a magical instrument … though I guess I’m a bit biased having played it myself while I was growing up in Halifax), but there are also many other musical things going on as well: loads of othe rinstruments, vocals, percussion and dancing. There are workshops, classes and shows headed up by world-reknown experts in their own demain, with the emphasis on traditional folk music.

To quote them directly: “Boxwood shares and explores of the roots and branches of musical traditions in a holistic approach that integrates music, dance, language and crafts in educational outreach programs for adults, kids and professionals.”

For a truly unique experience for people of all ages, Boxwood Festival is something to come along and take part in. There are workshops for children to adults, beginner to professional.

And what better place to take part in this amazing festival, than here in Lunenburg where New World History is everywhere you look. The folklore in Lunenburg is oozing from the buildings, drifting through the morning fog, and in the very air you breath.

With the Tall Ships visiting us on the 25th and 26th of July; the Lunenburg Wooden Boat Reunion on the 28th & 29th of July; and the Folk Festival only a few very short weeks away NOW is the time to come. Boxwood Festival in Lunenburg Nova Scotia starts on July 22 and runs until the 28th.

Come for Boxwood and you won’t be able to leave with all the festivals and events going on at the moment … you’ll need to book your accommodation right away and, of course, a backpacker hostel is always a great way to do it. The Kip & Kaboodle hostel can be rented like a cottage – have the whole building to yourself for the cheapest sleep in town. If you aren’t into hostels there are plenty of other accommodation choices in and around Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and Mahone Bay. Take advantage of long-stay discounts and book a few tours with the local tour company Kiwi Kaboodle, who offer hiking, cycling and sightseeing tours of Nova Scotia.

Gorgeous Wee Hike in Lunenburg Nova Scotia

Apron Falls Lunenburg Nova Scotia

Shani sitting at the Apron Falls 'rapids'

So if you are thinking of heading to Nova Scotia, or if you live here but feel the urge to explore your province a bit, then you probably know that there is a plethora of tour companies out there. When Kiwi Kaboodle started, back in 2001, there were very few indeed. Now, though, the province is bursting at its seams with companies (licensed and un-licensed) all wanting to drive you here, there and everywhere. We, of course, offer all of those tours. Of course we do. We, however, offer more as well – here, there, everywhere, and someplace different. And not just van tours, but cycle tours. Hiking tours too. And that’s what I’m on about today – a hike I went on with my family last weekend.

We actually heard about this hike from a tourist who was trying desperately to find the trail which nobody around here seemed to have ever heard of. Apron Falls, it’s called, and it’s lovely. We drove for about 30 minutes out toward New Germany way. You’re supposed to park by a bridge .. we looked for a Bridge (capital B) and couldn’t find one. They really did mean bridge. It’s an overpass, really. A little small nothing-at-all with a dirt trail next to it leading down into the woods. Being me, I said “no, no, this can’t be it” and made Greg drive a bit further til we found someone to ask, who was able to confirm that yes that indeed was the place, so back we went. I hate being wrong.

When you finally park your car, there is this really well-worn, obvious trail to hike along, along which we immediately started hiking. We could hear the waterfall beyond the trees and the sound got louder & louder & louder .. and then, somehow, quieter & quieter & quieter. The inevitable arguments ensued where I said “This is the ONLY trail, so of course it’s right” and Greg said “But we can’t even hear the water anymore so it HAS to be wrong” and the kids said “Just keep moving there’s too many blackflies!!” … and eventually even I had to admit something was amiss (I think it was when the trail became impassable even by foot), and so we headed back. After a bit of scrounging around through the woods we saw yet another, albeit less clear, trail heading into the woods and in a more waterly direction. So off we went once again, amid plenty of grumbling and complaining from the kids (yeah, okay, me too – I just really hate being wrong, particularly when it means my husband was right). Well, after climbing some not-very-big-rocks, and crossing a not-very-rapid-nor-deep-stream we can rather quickly to the waterfalls! Very quick and easy hike – none of the kids needed any help … and neither did I! Small waterfalls – I guess these are actually the rapids. Beautiful though! Just gorgeous. The sound of waterfall is just so relaxing, don’t you think? It was perfect – and better yet, there was a bit of a breeze to keep away those pesky blackflies that were pestering us deeper in the woods. One of the kids had enough at that point, so I stopped there with her, and the other two forged ahead with Greg, all the way to the end of the trail where the water is falling from water-worn rocks – the water has sliced a hole right through the rock and the area is pristine and absolutely drop dead gorgeous. That magic I was talking about last day is here in force. They walked for perhaps another 15 minutes, climbing rocks at times, and wlaking through forest at other times, but the whole hike was an easy one I’m sure you could do. And you really should. There are so many off-the-beat-path things to see and do here in Nova Scotia, if you just take the time to look into it before you get here you’ll keep yourself busy for a year and a day. It takes some looking, though, because a lot of the mainstream people you ask for advice don’t actually know about all of these places and all of these things. VICs are awesome and we’d be lost without them, but don’t rely simply on them for your information … there is so much more out there for you to discover than they can possibly know.

We’ve gone on some other hiking trails, and plan to do more — all the ones worth visiting will show up here once they’ve been hiked by us. Actually, I guess the ones not-so-worth-it will as well, so you don’t waste your time on them. If you happen to be from here and know a trail we shouldn’t miss I’d be grateful to hear about it, because we’re always looking for places to see and things to do with the kids.

And if you aren’t from here and want to see them, you need to come to Nova Scotia – and make Lunenburg County your first port of call. www.hypersmash.com

Nova Scotia’s South Shore & Lighthouse Route

Gorgeous wee waterfall

Okay, so the plan had been to chat about Apron Falls, but that can come on another day. I was out on the weekend snapping shots of some of the amazing things that there are to be seen around this little corner of heaven, and it occured to me that some of my shots are bloody amazing (in my own humble opinion). I have a friend called Peter Zwicker, and his photos are .. well .. they are gobstopping. You look at his photo of a chilly day on the ocean, and despite the fact that it’s 30 degrees celsius outside you suddenly feel you need a sweater and a hot cuppa joe. It’s true: his photos are that .. imagination grabbing. He snaps it, you feel it.  So my photos aren’t remotely like that. But they are pretty darned cool, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing when it comes to taking a photo.

So it occured to me as I was browsing though my photographs: you know, it’s really hard to take a bad photograph of this area. It can be done, of course, but not without effort and for the most part all of the photos I’ve seen are lovely (not Peter lovely, but lovely nonetheless). And I’ve seen a LOT of photos by a LOT of different people – running a backpacker hostel, we are often shown the photos people take as they are out and about in the area. Whether it’s sunny, cloudy, foggy, snowy, windy, rainy, day, night, forest, ocean, buildings .. whatever the heck kinda weather there is, whatever the time of day, and whatever you can’t help yourself capturing on camera .. it turns out, well, pretty darned awesome.

Little House Boat

A view from Lunenburg's golf course

So I wondered a bit about why that was. Is it just that the ocean side is That Magical? I have a very special spot in my heart reserved for the ocean and all of its folklore (perhaps stemming from my Faroese heritage)… and the forest when it is lush and mossy it, too, seems to be hiding fairies under each leaf… I can easily get lost in my imagination while I’m walking through a quiet, green forest or strolling along a loud & crashing beach. So is it my love for the ocean and forest in general that make me thinks all these photos are brilliant?

No. No, I don’t think that’s the answer. Because I’ve been to other oceans and other forests in other cities and provinces and countries, and I’ve managed to take pretty darned ordinary photos there. I’ve been to some truly fantastic places where I’m practically drooling it’s so gorgeous, and yet my photos somehow make it look remarkably un-remarkable. So why are there so many fantastic photos of this part of Nova Scotia taken even by two-short-plank people like me?

Well, I think I’ve decided that it is because the area itself holds the magic. Not the ocean, not the forest — this very part of Nova Scotia. The history of this little niche is incredible! Pirates, werewolves, ghosts, witches … music, art, dance … and yes, ocean, forest, lakes & rivers. I think it’s the magic of this whole area, the magic in the air that we are ensconced in 24/7 that makes photos taken by the world’s worst photographer look good. Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, New Germany, Riverport, LaHave (that’s with a long A in ‘have’ … like the word haven, but you take off the n), BlueRocks, Aspotogan Peninsula .. oh my do I need to go on? Indian Falls, Gaff’s Point, Apron Falls, Green Bay, Indian Point .. it’s so beautiful here. It still takes my breath away every time I drive into Mahone Bay, and we’ve been living here now for 8 years …. I wonder if it will ever just get ordinary to me? I really can’t see that happening.

 

So really, you should come here. Come to Nova Scotia, and come to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Test my theory. Your scrapbook will make your friends and family jealous …okay, maybe not, but your photos will be awesome, and it will plant a seed in all of those people who see them. Once that seed takes root, they’ll be here too. Because this place is just too magical to keep away from.

Lunenburg’s Bluenose Academy

A piece of Lunenburg's History

The foyer in the new Bluenose Academy in Lunenburg

Over the past year things have been pretty darned busy around Lunenburg Nova Scotia. Why? Well, once upon a time there were four schools teaching the children of the Town of Lunenburg and surrounding areas: The very famous Lunenburg Academy (P-5), Riverport Elementary School (P-6), Centre Consolidated (P-9) and Lunenburg Junior Senior High School (6-12). Over the past couple of years these schools have amalgamated, and a brand new modern school was built in Lunenburg to house the P-9 kids. The cool thing about the school is that the kids were able to have some input into the whole project: the school’s name, the mosaic on the floor in the entranceway (which I helped to build .. how very, very cool it was to be included on that project – I enjoyed every minute of it!), each student in P-9 that was enrolled in the schools while the mosaic was being built also had an opportunity to lay some of the tiles as well. They picked the school colours, the school’s mascot .. they are currently designing Bluenose Academy anti-bullying t-shirts. So the kids have been very involved. Sadly, they didn’t get to pick its location – the one real bone of contention… well, the only bone of contention that nothing can be done about … the other bones that come with any huge big sweeping change like this are quickly composting, and will soon be sprouting fresh, new, happy life.

The school itself is unlike anything on the South Shore. Very modern, very green .. and by that I don’t mean the colour green, I mean enrivonmentally friendly. Lights that turn off automatically if there is no movement in a room for 15 minutes (or some similar amount of time); toilets that use recycled rainwater; green (and this time I DO mean the colour .. grassy) roofs … as well as all the modern computerised equipment you can imagine in each classroom. Even entering the building is a modern big city rigamarole, which we aren’t really used to around here, being quiet, lazy Lunenburg. But we parents are quickly adapting.

The playground is open even to kids who do not attend the school (after school hours anyway), which is very cool because the playground is very cool indeed. It looks quite skeletal – like the skeleton of a huge stegasaurus .. or so says a young expert around here that anyone who knows ME will also know.

The reason I want to write about the school is because everyone has this idea about Lunenburg: slow, sleepy Lunenburg, where pedestrians have the right-of-way and shops close early so everyone (EVERYONE) can enjoy the gorgeous evenings and entertainment, steeping themselves slowly in the folklore that is dripping from the buildings, the trees – the very air they’re breathing. But in the midst of this step-back-in-time is a truly modern, top notch facility which is educating our children at a level at par or better than many schools in the modern cities around the world.

Yes, Lunenburg’s got it all.

Wow – Is there anywhere nicer than Spring in Nova Scotia???

So it’s hard to believe, but we’re back into the full swing of things and a year has gone by along with a whole lot of non-blogs. The good thing is we have been travelling the province looking for new and unique things to write about that maybe not all of you have heard about a million times. Easy hikes so very close to where we live that I never knew about! All those hidden gems … I’ll be filling you in on all the details as the days and weeks go by, and we get closer and closer to another summer in paradise.

I had quite the shock last weekend when I drove into Mahone Bay and saw the crane there — it’s one of the signs of spring here in Mahone Bay. We’ve got spring peepers, waking bears, baby fawns, daffodils, robins, hummingbirds, and The Crane. The huge, graceful, long-necked beast who crawls slowly into the Mahone Bay wharf and situates itself just perfectly to start plucking the many boats, one by one, and laying them ever-so-gently into the water so the very excited owners can hop inside and go park up their boat for the summer. The Bay is full and with the coming of the crane comes the excited anticipation of another season with visitors from all around the world.

Not just Mahone Bay, of course, but Lunenburg too now has a full front harbour including a rather magnificent looking sailing boat which is parked up there at the moment. Sadly the Picton Castle has left us once again, and it was sad to see her leave. If you are headed this way you really need to keep an eye on the Bluenose — she’s being rebuilt (have you heard?) and she’s very nearly done. What happens once she’s done? The launching of course! An historic moment here in Lunenburg and you should be there, I know I will be.

So with spring bursting out all over I realise it’s time to sit down and fill you in on everything that’s happening here. A daunting task, as we really are a very busy little place, but I’m ready to take it on!

Come back soon. I think tomorrow I’ll touch quickly on the new Bluenose Academy, and then later this week I’ll show & tell our latest hike — to Apron Falls.

Brier Island … Something you Simply Should Not Miss

I know, I know. This was first meant to be a blog about why you should stay with us in our hostel. It then morphed into a blog about why you should stay in Lunenburg County … well, today I’m just going to go right ahead and smash down that final barrier and say you should visit Nova Scotia! Because today (well, yesterday) we spent the day in Brier Island, and I can’t even begin to explain what an incredible experience it was.

It was our intention to get up super-early and get going, however with garbage day and visitors in the hostel we didn’t end up getting away until nearly 9am. Still, we made it to the Island by noon, and even stopped a couple times on the way.

The drive through the middle of the province was winding and lovely — if we were going to take it easy we would have checked into Caledonia House Hostel for the night and spent the day in Kejimkujik National Park. Sharon & Dan run that backpackers hostel, and they are lovely hosts … and so close to Keji! It would have been perfect. Sadly, we are on a pretty tight budget for time, as there were people staying in the hostel, so we just plodded on passing through so many quaint little communities – I really would have loved to have stopped. We stopped briefly in Digby to grab some motion sickness pills for our 4 and 9 year olds, and a quick bite to eat from Timmies (yup – there’s a Tim Hortons pretty much everywhere) and then on to the first of two ferry rides.

The first took us to Long Island (… pity we couldn’t stop for an ice tea :) ). The boat ride was super quick, and Long Island was lovely. Little homes dotted here and there, the balancing rock (well worth the hike to see), shops, a school, cafe … a busy little island which we didn’t really have time to stop here though because our final destination was Brier Island, and we were hightailing it. The second ferry took a bit longer (like 7 minutes instead of 5) and we were there.

The first thing I saw was a local riding his lawn tractor down the road. Lawn tractors, 4-wheelers, golf carts … part of the regular flow of traffic on Brier Island. I was instantly in love. With the Island, not the local.

Our first stop was at Brier Island Backpackers to see Wally & Joyce. What an incredible hostel they have there. Colourful rooms, huge big kitchen & common room .. and the view? Absolutely breathtaking! Gorgeous!!

There was no time for chitchat, though, as Wally & Joyce bundled us up in the special wet-weather-flotation-gear and packed us into their zodiac. We practically flew out into the open ocean … and there? It happened.

Whoosh! A big spray of water up into the air and seconds later WOW the stinkiest smell … whale breath (glad I didn’t have to kiss one!). We found a whale who did some lovely dives for us. We sat and watched for a while and them zoom! We were off again and .. wonder of all wonders .. found a mother and her calf. Whale, not cow. We’re in the middle of the ocean, right? It was absolutely magnificent. They put on such a show for us – swimming along the top of the water for ages, blowing, rolling over, diving and showing us their massive great tails and, la pièce de résistance, the full breach. Two times. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t breathed.

Our three hours on the water passed far too quickly and we headed back (mostly, I think, because our 4-year old had had enough). We visited the lighthouse and the stunning beach. Ah! There was so much unexplored but we were running out of time :( . We had a delicious dinner at the Cafe there next to the Hostel — truly delicious: fried and yet completely ungreasy fish & chips. We met a very cool little puppy named Seven and Wally gave some dog treats to the kids to feed the sweet little guy. We watched a man drive his lawn tractor to the gas station and fill up with $1.87 gas and then drive off back home again. We caught the 7:25pm ferry to Long Island and began the treck back home. We got home at around 11pm.

So yes, please, come to Lunenburg and stay with us at our hostel where we have campfires and marshmallows every night the stars are out, and we are as relaxed and comfy and friendly as can be. Do it, because you’ll love it here. And it’s cheap .. even better, right?

But if you’re coming to Nova Scotia you simply have to make the trip to Brier Island. And if you’re coming to Nova Scotia and planning to go whale watching? Don’t do it from anywhere else. Brier Island is right there .. right at the open ocean. The Atlantic is surrounding you — it’s only a quick drive. You get to spend all your time watching one of the greatest creatures on earth. And if you’re going to Brier Island, you’ve got to stay at the hostel there. I mean, there’s an “upper class” lodge you can stay at of course. Which, I am sure, is incredible. But seriously – why go to Brier Island and not spend the night? It isn’t a day trip — there’s too much to see and do. Me? I could live there quite happily. But it’s worth at LEAST one night, but more likely two or three. It’s heaven!

What an Amazing Ride

Summer has been such an incredible one. It’s been quite perfect for me, because I’m someone who loves a bit of sunny hot weather to be followed by a bit of cool rain, and then more hot sun. We’ve certainly had more rain this summer than I ever remember, but so many hot sunny days mixed in it’s been the perfect combination. The farmers’ markets will be overflowing with fresh produce, and if you’re into eating meat then all those grass fed animals being sold will be chubby and absolutely delicious.

Summer is quickly coming to its end, and my regular old life is waiting for me just over the next Waxing Gibbous. Autumn is my absolutely favorite season of all —- the gloriously warm & sunny days; the cool, crips nights; the storms, when they come, are big & powerful; the leaves start changing … our whole world finishes and comes to a close, and who knows what the next season will bring. Anticipation of lots of snow for tobogganing; dread of all the many snowsuit days; the happy fire crackling each and every night in the woodstove to keep us toasty & warm …. and a regimented life where I know I can find time to write here, each and every day.

I’m thinking big changes are on their way — hopefully for the better.

Now hasn’t this been an odd little blog about Lunenburg and Mahone Bay ….

Our little hostel has been having a little campfire each and every night (when it isn’t raining) — marshmallows and homemade roasting sticks. Sometimes the kids join in for a while, sometimes not… their bedtime is fairly early, though, so most of the night is yours.

… And our toilet garden is blooming magnificently… now which of you isn’t filled with curiousity over THAT little statement ?? .. why not come see it for yourself

Top 10 Getaway? You BET we are!!!

So you think Lunenburg is out in the boonies? Nobody’s heard of it?? Take a look at this website (http://news.cheapflights.co.uk/2011/08/top-ten-getaways-for-parents/) … cheap flights .co.uk have Lunenburg as their second top getaway for parents … and that’s not some namby-pampy Nova Scotian company trying to get people here, they’re in the UK. You want to know one reason I have always thought Nova Scotia is an excellent getaway for Europeans? The flight from London is about 5 hours. Seat sales can get you here for practically nothing, and once you get here your money is worth so much more than ours it’s a dream … and that’s before you take into account how much cheaper everything is here anyway! Seriously: Nova Scotia is a great cheap vacation idea if you’re sitting in Europe wanting to do something completely different. Cheap direct flight from London – who could ask for more?

Cheap Flights are actually suggesting you leave the kids behind with the grandparents and come away for a romantic trip away. We have spas — three of them — and you can get all the pampering you want. Romantic places to dine, live music, so much for couples wanting a quiet break.

The only issue I take with the top 10 listing is that this area isn’t just for parents wanting a trip away without the kiddies – it’s kid friendly too. My kids love it here, and we LIVE here.

Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot…

we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.

So it seems I can hardly avoid the weather. It’s sticking its nose into my business every time I turn around, so I feel it is crying out for some attention. Not just the idle chitchat you hear from people – tourists and locals alike – but some serious, written in cyberstone attention that will remain, forevermore, in cyberspace.

Nova Scotia is a peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean. For anyone who knows anything about the ocean, you’ll be saying “Ahhh. Okay, I get it.” For those of you with less oceanic experience, let me just say that while weather changes everywhere all the time, coastal areas are ever so much much more prone to the changes, because that ocean is having a huge impact on our weather. And boy, she changes a lot around here!

Nova Scotia (and other chilly coastal areas) are quite famous for their remarkable colours in autumn. It’s .. well … impossible to explain. And as much as the colours are gobstopping here, up in Cape Breton is it even more so. One of the things affecting our beautiful colours is our changeable weather. From hot to cold, wet to dry. All of this is being registered by the tree and once we get that rain in September where the air just feels different afterward? That’s when the trees start their song. It builds slowly with the voice of one, lone, red maple leaf (why red? why maple? Because that’s what occured to me. I don’t actually claim to know which leaf turns what colour first.). The tune quickly spreads and to the red song come the yellow and orange harmonies. And then .. huzzah! Our whole arboribus world sings a heartstopping song … I’m off topic again, aren’t I. It’s like an addiction with me.

So yes, our weather is ever-changing. Sometimes you need a sweater in August. Sometimes people are playing golf over the Christmas holidays. No question but that you’ll need a raincoat in Spring … not that it’ll rain every day (although it kind of felt that way this year), but it will rain. And it might rain in summer as well. And autumn. And winter. You might get hail. Hurricanes (not like the kind down south, just our milder & gentler version). Snow. Fog .. ahh definitely some fog which is perhaps one of my favorite kinds of weather… it’s so mysterious, don’t you think? Adds to the whole pirate, ghost, haunted feeling I’m always looking for and finding fairly often when I can be bothered to look hard enough.

Despite the bad rap our weather gets, we also get gloriously hot and sunny days where people are complaining because it’s just too darn hot. 35 degrees (100 for all of you south of the border) is not at all uncommon, and it gets hotter than that as well, although not regularly (thank goodness).

Our backpacker hostel is on a well, which it shares with our house and a little cottage we rent out year-round. The rain is good for us. I’m always happy to see it, so long as I get a sunny day as well. Which we do. But that’s my purely selfish reason for liking the rain.

If it rains while you’re on vacation, all that means is that you have a day to look around the museums and art galleries without having to be distracted by the call of the sun .. calling you to one of our numerous beaches .. to the park .. to the back deck (if laying in the sun is what you’re into) .. to the campground. Tomorrow that bit of rain will look like a whole new world: the trees, plants and flowers will all be bursting with green .. looking lush and lively (say that 10 times fast!). The bird poop on the picnic table today will be washed away tomorrow, so you can sit down and enjoy a feed without fear that your child will think it’s a yoghurt covered raisin and pop it into his or her mouth. The veggies that our local farmers are growing and hoping to sell at the Farmers’ Markets will take a huge leap in growth so that instead of one bag of fresh beans you can buy 2 .. plus peas, carrots and some new spuds. All because of rain.

I know you want your holiday to be perfect, but really: Nova Scotia is all about changing weather. It’s part of what makes us .. us. If you got absolutely no rain or fog or storms or anything but sun when you were here, could you really say you experienced Nova Scotia?

A little bit of rain never hurt anyone … and summer rain is when you can run outside naked (okay, I guess we aren’t quite that liberal minded in these parts ..) you can run outside in your bathing suit and get a good soaking straight from the clouds. Remember doing that when you were a kid? Do it again on your holiday. Really. You’ll feel 15 again.

Books .. Ahhhhhh yes. Books.

No vacation, holiday or, indeed, life is complete without books … and a good powerful load of them at that. I am ridiculously addicted to books, and apparently am raising three like-minded children.. particularly the eldest.

So maybe you’re visiting this spectacular little area of Nova Scotia’s Bluenose Coast/Lighthouse Route and it’s a stunning day … the sun is shining so brightly it looks like we’ve paved our streets with diamonds, the ocean is sparkling like the stars at night (speaking of the night sky, have you seen the night sky here? Try it .. okay not just here, anywhere away from the city. In a word? Remarkable.) .. so, right. You’ve got the picture forming in your head. Lunenburg Town is wonderful .. everything you imagined and so much more, and you just wish you could just let it all absorb into your soul for a little bit … so that, mid-winter, you can open yourself up and relive the experience and escape the cold/snow/rain/whatever. What better way to do this than to walk up UNESCO Fresco (the banks are lined up on your right, and an array of beautifully coloured restaurants, shops and accommodations are on your left) until you get to the War Memorial. Pay your respects and then head off to your right past the bandstand. If you’re lucky, there’s live music, but if not ahhhhh .. a piece of heaven. Lay down on the grassy hill overlooking the busy-ness of town and read. What do you call a good read? There’s so much. At the moment I’m particularly enthralled with Nancy Farmer’s Sea of Trolls (ha – play on words there … en-thralled .. ha) – magical books, they are.

But what for the people who haven’t a book with them? I have an answer to that question, I do. Stand up, stretch your legs… your arms.. your back … deep breath in of fresh sea air, and then head back down the street you just walked up (it’s quite short, don’t worry). Turn left at the bottom, onto Montague Street, and just a few doors down you’ll find one of the most remarkable books shops you’ll ever be likely to find. Mixed in with all these modern, fancy schmancy, designed-to-attract-tourists shops is Elizabeth’s Books. It’s a small and unassuming shop run by Chris, who is always happy to have a chat. Don’t bother heading there in the morning, though – he’s an afternoon & evening sort of man and so is his shop. Romantically, he named the shop for his wife. I love that he did that. It’s … I don’t know.

When you walk into his shop it feels something like taking a step back into history. New books are there, yes. But the second hand books are all there, whispering to each other about the places they’ve been .. the people’s hands who have turned their pages. The shop is never completely quiet. Not that it’s noisy, because it simply isn’t. It’s just alive. And if you are overwhelmed at the sheer number of books you needn’t waste one bit of energy worrying about it. You simply walk up to Chris and say “I would like to have a book about [please insert subject]” and he’ll say “Oh yes, of course.” and get it. He knows where everything is, and he can probably tell you the books story too …. and by that I don’t mean the storyline, I mean the where and when and why: How that book ended up in his shop. I love visiting Chris and so do my kids. It feels like entering a magical place … there was only one time he didn’t have the specific book I wanted, and within a few days he had found it for me. Incredible. The first time I went he was so genuinely pleased to meet me, and the second time he remembered my name (something I find mind-boggling because I have such a hard time remembering names).

Right. So, suffice to say, if you are in Lunenburg .. or Mahone Bay .. or anywhere in Nova Scotia for that matter, and you like/love books of any sort, a trip to Elizabeth’s Books is ……. well, it isn’t really a suggestion .. not even a recommendation .. it’s quite simply a necessity. You can’t miss it.

The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television. ~Andrew Ross