September 27 St. Andrews-Hopewell Rocks

Good morning! This is your faithful chronicler, trying to stay awake long enough to see the blood moon/lunar eclipse on Atlantic time. We shall see. Today has been another busy and wonderful day with my fellow unruly travelers. I wonder if the group is simply very different from the groups that I toured with in France, or if being in a foreign country (not counting Canada as particularly foreign) and struggling with another language made us all behave a little more formally. Whatever.

So here’s an early morning portrait outside my balcony, looking at St. Andrew Bay. I know there’s very little to see here, but it was so fascinating to see how far the tide moved during the night.P1010798

For breakfast we met at the ungodly hour off 6:45 (after staying up past midnight to watch the Ducks lose an utterly miserable game) to walk to a restaurant for breakfast. It was the usual breakfast fare, but this time I had tea instead of coffee. I always drink tea at home in the morning, so it was a good call. Had a lovely walk back to the hotel afterwards, through the sleeping main street of St. Andrews by-the-Sea.

We cleared out of the hotel and were ready for our next adventure. Ideally, it would have been a walking tour of St. Andrews, conducted by the same person who gave us the talk the night before, but it was decided we had to be in the bus, so we cruised St. Andrews that way. It’s an amazingly beautiful village. Many of the houses are 150 years old, and still in fabulous shape. There didn’t seem to be any slums or rundown areas–everything was carefully maintained. The group still talked about buying a place for timeshares. Sounds good to me. Then Mary asked about the lack of kitchen gardens visible in the landscaping. This was about the same time I was wondering about the lack of raised beds–great minds, etc. We were told that in past decades every house had a kitchen garden and grew their own vegetables, but residents have just lost interest in it, and preferred buying their produce at the grocery store. Somehow, this doesn’t fit with my preconceptions of Canada’s sterling citizens at all, nor with New Brunswick’s unhappy financial situation. And no, I didn’t get photos of any of the houses. It was too hard as the bus was moving too quickly. Look in Google images. Or go visit there yourself.

We then finished up with a tour of the church. St. Andrews, the Anglican church whose parish hall was the scene of our lovely dinner the night before.

The church was exquisitely crafted. The carpenters who did such beautiful work on all the ships made in the St. Andrews region practiced their craft just as expertly for the church. The ceiling of the church, curving and arched, looks like one is looking at the bottom, from the inside, of a wooden boat.

The Anglicans were good loyalists, so there were interesting flags representing various parts of the British Empire. Chuck and Di visited the church in 1983, and there were photos of that , with the Welsh flag to commemorate it. I found an interesting plaque commemorating two sisters who died in late 1918, but didn’t provide any more information. I asked the guide if they had died of the Spanish Flu. She didn’t know, but a doctor in the group thought it possible. Sorry, no photos, but I’ll make up for it.

We then went to Kingsbrae Gardens, a fabulous and important botanical garden.

We had our own guide there, too. Even more impressively, we had a darling goat, Max, for an escort–he was learning to accompany groups. Here he is:P1010810 He was very comfortable around people, though he would have liked to spend a little more time munching on the landscaping than was allowed. There were other animals on the property, and here are some photos of them. No explanation necessary, but apparently the ducks are badly behaved. The cat, who perhaps wasn’t as well groomed as he could have been, fled before I could take his photo. For that reason?P1010807 P1010808 P1010809 P1010813

The gardens were on the former great estate of a resident of St. Andrews. I think the house burned down at some point, so the visitors’ center was constructed to resemble the house that had lost. The cafe was in a tent to the side. Here’s the building: P1010803

And the actual gardens. They were just amazing. I can’t really describe what I saw, but I just photographed what caught my eye. There were also quite a number of sculptures in the garden, which fit perfectly. They have a sculpture contest every couple years, and keep the winners and runners-up in the garden, and I got some photos of that. Just enjoy them.P1010815 P1010816 P1010814 P1010812 P1010811 P1010806 P1010805 P1010804 P1010802 P1010800 P1010799

Especially intriguing are the last two photos. Read the photo of the plaque first, then admire the tree itself. The guide said the tree would get bigger if they planted it in the ground, but they brought it in during the winter. Even putting it in a bigger pot would help. We noticed a couple cones near the top of the tree, so maybe they could plant some more.P1010817P1010818

Can you read most of the plaque? The guide told us the original owners of the specimen auctioned off the seedlings it produced, and an anonymous donor purchased one for the gardens.

For lunch, we drove into St. Johns, the largest city in New Brunswick, and had lunch at Lily’s.

It was one of those affairs where we had to decide on our entree several days in advance, and by the time the meal arrives, one’s tastes for the day might have changed. But whatever; the food was good, the company was excellent, and the bill was already paid. We talked politics at the table, and Tom, who wears a hearing aid, explained to me why I should be wearing mine, and it encouraged me to try.

After lunch, we went back on the bus to finish watching a very sad CBC documentary about the expulsion of the Acadians from land their ancestors had first farmed more than a century earlier. I fell asleep, and missed the end of the program, but was awake long enough to hope there was a special spot in hell for the officials who ordered and managed the operation.

Our destination was the Bay of Fundy to watch the enormous tides. But because of the tide table, we won’t be able to walk down on the ocean floor until tomorrow morning, during low tide. But it was great to look around the area, and see the acres and acres of ocean floor exposed by low tide. The ground looked like skin, leathery and damp. The photos don’t do it justice.P1010821 P1010820

We then had an extremely short drive to the motel we’ll be staying at tonight. That’s its chief recommendation, as the facilities are not posh, and the dinner they served us was extremely forgettable. Now I’ll get some more photographs of the eclipse, and sign off here for the night.


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