Category Archives: Tourism

Friends I’ve finally met!

Today I read the last of the poems in #ThelmaAnnBrennan’s collection entitled #EarthCarriesSpirit published in 2014 by #ChapelStreetEditions in Woodstock, NB. It made me think about the lady who wrote the contents in this anthology and what her words meant to me. I like to think that now she is a friend.

I met #AnnBrennan on my recent trip to Ireland with #GerardCollins and the Go and Write Ireland expedition. Ann was one of the participants, new friends all as we got acquainted with each other. But there was something about Ann – a kinship I felt immediately but couldn’t define.

Ann became our de facto tour guide as a few of us ventured out to explore Dublin. A prolific writer herself, historian and lifelong learner, this wasn’t her first trip to the Emerald Isle. As we roamed the streets, Trinity Library, the parks and the pubs, she regaled us with the history of the places, development and stories of her adventures.

Checking out the lunch menu

Ann’s gentle manner drew us all in as we learned to appreciate her unique viewpoint on Dublin, Ireland and the world in general. In turn, she keeps herself firmly routed in rural New Brunswick.

She’s a Leo

After our stay at Clontarf Castle, we headed to the west coast of Ireland. Again, Ann’s extensive knowledge of both the history and the mythology kept us intrigued.

Bundled up against the stiff breezes at the Cliffs of Moher

Ann’s passion for the faeries of Ireland drew us all in as we explored Poll na Bron – a portal to somewhere, or perhaps some time, else. Standing beneath a faerie tree she told us tales of the wee folk and their powers of regeneration or rebirth of the spirit and the land. And she left tokens to mark our passing through to thank them for their hospitality.

Under the faerie tree

Participating in an adventure like Go and Write Ireland yields unexpected benefits. New friends. New perspectives.

Thank you, Ann, for the gift of your friendship, the copy of your book, and the chance to follow your adventures around the world through your words and rhythms.

Ann Brennan with her Lion at Clontarf Castle


Also posted in BLOG, Travel, writing Tagged , , |

Magical time in Ireland

Spring arrives earlier in Ireland than it does here on Canada’s east coast. The flowers were beginning to bloom and the trees had fresh leaves – no doubt providing hiding places for all of the “little people” that the country is famous for.

Trinity College Library, Dublin

No trip to Ireland would be complete, for a writer, without a visit to the famous Trinity College Library. Standing in that massive hall gazing up and beyond over the thousands of books displayed was not unlike a religious experience. Did these authors share the doubts that we neophyte writers feel? Probably. But to see so many books of such historic significance was awe inspiring. I could have just sat there all day soaking it in.

Grafton Street

Just around the corner from Trinity College modern life exists in the vibrant centre of the city. Local residents and tourists alike roam the streets shopping, listening to street entertainers, hustling from place to place and, of course, dropping in to one (or more) of the ubiquitous pubs! Life in Dublin isn’t all about history!


After five days in Dublin, attending workshops, site seeing, getting coaching from #GerardCollins and writing we headed out for a tour of the west country. The first stop was in Sligo for a quick walk about and a pub lunch. Narrow streets, ancient buildings and charming people made for an interesting, if short, time.



17th century Parkes Castle on the banks of Lough Gill

An intriguing site to roam around and explore. Once we’d done that we headed out for a tour of the Lake aboard the #RoseofInisfree – known as the subject of several poems by Yeats.

The thatched-roof blacksmith’s shop within the castle walls.


Parkes Castle as seen from the lake.

Thank goodness for photos that allow us to remember at least some of what we saw on our whirlwind tour of western Ireland!

Also posted in BLOG, seasons, spring, Travel, writing Tagged , |

In My Backyard – Again!

Safe harbour in St. Martins on the Bay of Fundy

Safe harbour in St. Martins on the Bay of Fundy

Two years ago I was getting ready to travel to Brazil on a two-week equine photography expedition. I needed a gift for my hosts – the owners and operators of the various breeding ranches that we were going to visit. So, I created a small book, called In My Backyard (see link below), full of photographs and some general information about the area where I live – southern New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. It was a hit!

In a couple of weeks I’m going on an adventure up the Acadian Coast of NB along Northumberland Strait stopping at places like Parlee Beach near Shediac and inside Kouchibouguac National Park. Hopefully I’ll collect enough photos and stories for another edition – In My Backyard II.

Stay tuned!

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography Tagged , , , , |

Trail Guide Evaluation 2014

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, GALLERY, horse photos, nature, New Brunswick, photography, spring, Travel Tagged , , |

The (friendly) invasion has begun!

Every year, on the week-end after Labour Day, my home town plays host to hot air balloon enthusiasts from around the world. It is the annual Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta. The event officially starts tomorrow, but conditions were good this morning (minimal wind) so, although it was grey and cloudy, several of the 30-odd balloons in town for the event took off.

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Perched out on my deck I saw the first of them rise over the hills by the Plumweseep area a few miles to the west of town.

_L2H6433 - Version 2Before long, several others appeared and the show was on!

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Some geese took offence at having to share their air space and took off in a loud, protesting, huff!

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But the balloonists were undeterred.

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Riding the air currents, the colourful crafts rose and fell as they quietly passed by over the fields across the road.

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And then they were gone.

Here’s hoping for some sunny, windless mornings and evenings so they can enjoy their flights – and so can we.

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, New Brunswick, photography, rural living Tagged , |

Neutering North America



I spent six hours yesterday driving from Picadilly, NB to Augusta, ME, the majority of it on four lane highways. Truthfully, if it weren’t for the exit signs, I couldn’t have told you where I was, or even if I was in Canada or the USA!


Because big highways or interstate highways are designed to move large volumes of traffic quickly from point A to point B with little thought to the surroundings being passed.

This morning I decided to explore some of the roads less traveled on my way to meet up with my friend Lauren Blackwell at her brother’s place in Richmond,

Driving in the rain through the dark awning created by the intertwined branches of roadside trees I could easily understand what might have inspired Stephen King’s more frightening scenes. The roads twist and turn and you can’t see what is around the next bend. Hidden driveways lurk beneath many of the overhangs, twisting away into someone’s yard, I assume.

The small town of Richmond exudes charm, if not wealth. A few small shops populate its main street and a charming public park, complete with free public wifi, gives everyone access to the rivers, one for boating, one for the river of information on the internet. Two men launched their boats and, after a short and friendly conversation, started their motors and sailed off in different directions.

Three young girls amused themselves by jumping off the boat dock into the river water, screaming from the shock of the cold water, and then laughing hysterically, having a great time on a now-cloudy Saturday afternoon,

An elderly couple drove their van down to the dock’s edge, windows open, to chat, enjoy their ice cream cones and the time together,

Such is real life off the beaten track!

Also posted in community, opinion, rural living, rural living lifestyle, Travel Tagged , , |

Attitude Matters

On the West Coast of Canada, by mid-April, the trees are already laden with beautiful blossoms.

And, every street boasts a canopy of green…

A leafy green canopy shaded every residential street in the area

Every garden already offered a plethora of blossoms, common and exotic, to titillate the senses making every breath a sensuous experience.

Arriving in Vancouver after a 12-hour trek from the still-chilly Maritimes, finding Spring in full swing was a delight. Weary from the trip itself, I was refreshed by the warmth, colours and scents.

Normally, when I make my annual trip to Vancouver to see my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, I camp on their hide-a-bed couch in the living room. But, since this year’s trip was to be a full ten days (less two travel days), I decided to splurge and stay at the Greystone Bed & Breakfast. This would accomplish two things – I could retreat and rest in comfort, peace and quiet (thus beginning each day refreshed and ready to go), and my family wouldn’t have the additional strain of having ‘Mom’, ‘the MIL’, Gramma underfoot 24/7 for 10 days in an already full apartment. The idea worked well.

My hosts at the B&B, Graham and Lee Laxton, were gracious and accommodating. Their 100+ year old home exuded charm and old fashioned comfort. Breakfasts were generous; the gardens gorgeous. My room was both cosy and efficient. The B&B is located in a quiet, residential neighbourhood making it ideal for my purposes – and only a pleasant, five-block walk from my grandkids!

The door to gracious living

A peaceful respite before, or after, a busy day

Charming from any angle, inside or out

Each room uniquely decorated. Mine was built around a ‘frog’ theme

The room across the hall sported a bright, floral and teddy bear theme

A comfortable home away from home

With these details out of the way, the scene was set for a great vacation in Vancouver. Previous trips had begun with unrealistic expectations about my role in the lives of my grand kidlets. I expected (and hoped) that they would respond to me with affection and enthusiasm. So I was sadly disappointed when this didn’t happen exactly as I had dreamt.

On this trip, I set out with an adjusted attitude: I was going to Vancouver on vacation – and that vacation included visiting the kids and grandkids – to relax and have fun. To my total surprise, and delight, it worked! I spent time with the family, some time with the grand kids both with, and without, their parents, time with friends, time exploring the city and time alone – all of it good. As a result, I was probably more relaxed around the grandkids and consequently we had fun together and perhaps built a bit of that bond that, as a grandmother, I crave.

Being “East Coast Gramma” (as the kids now call me) is tough. I’m too far away to be involved in their daily lives; too distant to be called upon to help or babysit; too far away at the end of too expensive a trip for them to come and visit me. So we have to define a slightly different relationship – one punctuated by an annual visit, cards and gifts on appropriate occasions, and periodic webcam visits via the internet.

How did distant grandparents cope before the advent of the internet and cheap long distance telephone rates? It is beyond my imagination!

We don’t connect often. The time difference and busy schedules at each end of this too-vast country makes it difficult to find a mutually convenient time. But we do connect one way or another.

Bi-coastal grandparenting is challenging at best – but it can be done and it can be satisfying when approached with the right expectations and a solid attitude adjustment.

Also posted in belonging, Canada, creativity, emotions, family, gardening, grandchildren, gratitude, happiness, happy images, life, life changes, lifestyle, parental responsibility, parenthood, rain, relaxing, spring, time management, time off, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , |

The sun shone on the last day of the month

Also posted in appreciation, photography