For the longest time, I thought I hated maple syrup. What I didn’t realize was that what I thought was maple syrup was table syrup and there is a MASSIVE difference between the two. The first time I remember having actual maple syrup was at Sugar Moon Farm eating it after they had poured it over snow turning it into almost a hard candy. Life changing. Fast forward to living abroad it was put into Christmas and birthday packages and carefully stretched out for as long as possible.  Now home, it’s a staple for over night oats, marinades and of course pancakes – slathered with maple syrup and any fresh fruit I can find. 

There is something about the flavour profile of blueberries and maple syrup together that just sings. A couple of weeks ago we went to the Lunenburg Winery to pick countless buckets of fat juicy blueberries. On returning my mom came across an old recipe book called “Blueberries and Maple Syrup.” by the Nova Scotia Blueberry Association. One of those simple local cookbooks that everyone in the office probably went and asked their grandparents for their favourite recipe. Every recipe from savoury to sweet in it sounds delectable and all I want to do is slowly work my way through the whole book. So with a bottle of Sugar Moon Farm maple syrup happily waiting in my fridge and fresh blueberries dying to be used, I decided there was no time like the present. 

The first recipe I tried was Blueberry Grunt. For any non-Atlantic Canadian’s reading this; imagine warm tender maple sugar dumplings steamed nestled amongst a rich blueberry pie filling with cinnamon and maple syrup added for a bit of warmth. Served warm with cream or ice cream…yup. It’s pretty decadent and for me tastes like summers on the south shore. 

The second was my favourite.  Likely due to my love and appreciation of a good scone. Impossible not have after living in Ireland and England. On the page opposite to the blueberry grunt was a recipe for a blueberry maple scone that turned out to be tasty enough for high tea. Add a smattering of strawberry jam and a dollop of whipped or clotted cream and you’ll find yourself sitting on a picnic blanket, along the coast of nova scotia having afternoon tea in the sun. I’ve made this recipe twice now, and the second time I cut the amount of blueberries in half and added in that amount of dark chocolate chips. 

Blueberry Maple Scones

Preheat oven to 200C or 400F. 


50ml of sugar

750ml flour

5ml of baking powder

2ml of salt

125ml of butter (freeze it or just pop it in the freezer for a bit so it gets really cold)

1 egg beaten

175ml of buttermilk (blend or sour cream) 

250ml of fresh or frozen blueberries


  1. Sieve together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then add your maple syrup and mix together. It will make the texture go a bit like a fluffy sawdust.
  2. Grate in your butter. (I just learned this trick and it’s life changing. Up there with learning that table syrup and maple syrup are not the same thing.) Mix into your dry ingredients mixture quickly with your fingers. 
  3. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg mixture in a separate container using a fork. Then add it to your dry ingredients. Mixing until it comes together into a ball. I folded in the fresh blueberries at this point or half blueberries and half chocolate chips. 
  4. Form into a ball and put onto a floured surface. Roll out into one large square about 1 1/4 inch thick and then cut into smaller squares/triangles. You can also roll it rounds and cut it into wedges. 
  5. Place on a non greased baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until golden around the edges. 

Best enjoyed freshly made with cream and jam or plain yogurt with jam or just on their own.  Enjoy! You can also freeze them and then warm them up in the oven when you want them or for the next time you’re planning an afternoon tea. 

On my vision board for 2020 was to go somewhere new. I had actually meant another country or the West coast of Canada but Covid slightly derailed that option. However, taking it in stride I did what most Nova Scotian’s did this summer – explore our doorstep and what a beautiful one we have. I got to visit Briar Island in August for a too short two day trip. I definitely needed another full day to get in a few hikes along its rugged coastline. The island is only 6.5 x 2.5km in size and situated at the far end of Digby Neck in the Bay of Fundy with two ferries coordinated to get you there. It’s laid back, has a charming romantic old lighthouse or two, stunning sunsets and a few whales for good measure. 

The tall red and white stripped lighthouse on the Western side of the island sits staring over the Bay of Fundy with the sun setting directly in front of it. It’s also situated in a nature reserve that the seagulls have made home. I have never seen so many seagulls! All squawking “mine, mine, mine”. Their eggs, I learned, are especially good for baking and are worth two chicken eggs due to their size. 

The highlight of the trip though was the whale watching tour with Mariner Cruises. The day started drizzly but it cleared by the time we headed out to the bay. We were told there were no expectations of seeing whales but if we did we would likely see Humpbacks.  The water was pretty choppy on the way out but I loved every moment of it. I felt like a puppy soaking up the air whizzing past with their head stuck out the car window, except I had the wind and sea spray as we drove through the waves. We spotted puffins and petrels, both pelagic birds meaning they only go to land to nest. How those tiny birds live on the sea all year round through storms of all sorts amazes me. As we headed out, we scanned the horizons for spouts of water from the humpbacks blow holes, as we were told that was how we found them. Finally one was spotted and then another! We started to head over, staying far back. Our guide, Penny told us that whales are a lot like people. Some are curious and will want to investigate us, others couldn’t care less about you, while others will show off. We saw six humpback whales on our tour, one of which was a young one.  All were fishing for Krill and were not really interested except for one moment! Whether it was showing off to us or the whale it was travelling with I don’t know but it was incredible. There was a large humpback coming towards the side of the boat when it went under. All of us leaning forward to see where it would come back as if it would appear exactly where it went under and not miles away. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw this white mountain appear, I turned towards the front of the boat and there was this magnificent, enormous, graceful mountain of a whale breaching out of the water, right by our boat! It went straight up, out of the water, the ocean falling off of it, turned itself on its side and crashed back into the ocean  with a mighty blow! I was in so much awe I couldn’t move, my endorphins exploding through my body and my face stuck in a permanent smile for the next half hour. Obviously I missed the moment with my camera but it wouldn’t have done it justice. It was incredibly humbling and I feel incredibly lucky to have been to experience it For an animal so large they are incredibly graceful, majestic and powerful. 

We finally headed back to the mainland, took the next ferry back to Tiverton where we picked up Lilly, my friends puppy, who had been kindly looked after while we went and explored the bay of Fundy and watched the giants of the ocean at play and work. 

I want to put my feet in every ocean and every sea. I have always had that on my bucket list. What I didn’t know, but have discovered, that should be on my bucket list is to see where oceans and seas collide.  Over the past three years of my travels I’ve had the opportunity to stand at the edge of a point of land and watch two different bodies of water dance together.  At the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean meet, at Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand,  the Tasmin Sea and the Pacific Ocean join and lastly at Cape Leeuwin in South Western Australia.  Where our third day of the Southern adventure began. Here the Pacific and Southern Ocean dance together in a swirl of white caps, waves flowing in opposite directions.

img_7860It was the final day of my three day tour  and although the rain had stopped, the wind was out in full force. As it was an early start we had the place almost to ourselves, lending itself to great photos. Such as the life-size statue of a cow greeting you on route to the lighthouse It was part of the 2010 Margaret River Region Cow Parade. On arrival I was given a headset for the history and meandered past the old lighthouse keeper’s cottages to Cape Leeuwin lighthouse – a tall white elegant beacon, which has been watching over the collision of the Tasmin Sea and the Pacific Ocean since 1895.

From the lighthouse, we headed inland towards Margaret River’s limestone caves.  We were going to visit the largest and most easily accessible,  Mammoth Cave. It has a wide pathway through the cave and we were again given a headset for our self guided tour.  As we headed down into the heart of the cave, I couldn’t help feeling like we were going back in time, the temperature dropped and I expected a Fraggle to pop out and welcome me at any moment. It’s one of the only caves in the area that also contains fossils. As the temperature and humidity dropped we entered into a world of caverns filled with frozen icicles and elegant towers made of stalactites and stalagmites. Unfortunately, my camera didn’t do the cavern justice but you’ll just have to take my word for it, or go and see them for yourselves. They are quite spectacular.


It was lunch next, picnic style, on the banks of the Margaret River. The river was beautiful and lush, there were fish in the river and a parrot or two in the trees.  I was so excited to visit Margaret River. In my head it had become this picturesque little country town. The region is most definitely stunning but the town itself didn’t quite live up to my expectations however we did only have time to walk the main strip popping into the tourist and wine shops which line the main street. Our riverside lunch made up for it though. We ate a delicious smorgasbord of local cheeses and meats.

After a savoury lunch a taste of something sweet was in order so we stopped into the Margaret River Chocolate Company. It reminded me very much of the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Two large bowls of milk and dark chocolate chips tempted you on arrival I can happily report both were yummy. There were so many types of chocolates to choose from – mint, salted caramel, truffles of every description and chocolate body products such as soap or massage oil!

imag0803From there we continued the foodie trail heading to a place that sells what Margaret River is best known for – wine. Our stop was a small vineyard named Churchview Estate. A picturesque wooden showing room amidst the vines and roses complete with a fluffy moody cat. It made the perfect atmosphere for tasting a few glasses of their vino. My personal favourites were their Chardonnay and Riesling.

The end of the day and tour was coming quickly. Our final stop was Busselton, home to the longest Jetty in the Southern hemisphere. It marked the end of my travels with this fine bunch as I jumped ship to stay for an extra night. I immediately fell in love with the charming seaside town and the one night became two.  We said our goodbyes and they left me at Phat Sam’s Backpackers, the only hostel in Busselton, and they headed back to Perth.

Phat Sam’s was run by a lovely French couple when I was there who very kindly gave me the lay of Busselton – where to eat, what to see, and a map of the area. I was also lucky enough to arrive at the same time as a fellow traveller named Yves, a photographer from Switzerland, who was also hungry, wanted to see the surrounding area and capture the sunset over the pier. He was promptly adopted as my travelling buddy and fellow foodie for the next couple of days  exploring and soaking up my last few days on the South West coast of Australia.



Despite having slightly less ground to cover on our second day there was a million more things to fit in.  It was to be filled with cool stone formations, wickedly tall trees and some incredible honey ice cream. Our first stop was the Gap in Torgadirrup National Park, an important place for the Mirnang People. The story of the Gap reminds them of their connection to the ocean. It’s also geologically an interesting corner of the world. The rocks are made of Gneiss and through time, the ocean and earthly pressures the land has created a natural stone bridge and the gap.   

As we stood on the rocks looking out over the ocean the wind began to howl and sky began to spit. Wanting to beat the rain to our next destination we hurried back to the van and headed off to Green Pools and Elephant RockThankfully by the time we got there the rain had stopped but the wind was still gusting. But I love the wind and it only added to the beauty of the park  The Great Southern Ocean looked  moody, the colours vibrant against the grey sky and it filled the air with the scent of Manuka honey flowers. Almost a forerunner to our next stop. Green Pools and Elephant Cove is part of William Bay National Park in Denmark, Australia.  Elephant Cove is named due to the giant rock formations that stands out of the water in a little cove resembling a herd of elephants going for a swim. The largest of them, which also happens to the most visible as you approach the beach is definitely the leader of the herd and you can perfectly see the ears and trunk in the rock. 
  herdofelephantsThe Manuka filled air led us next to a perfect treat. Bartholemews Meadery.  Honey is one of my favourite things and this delightful Meadery makes the most delectable honey and flavours! Take you pick! There was cinnamon, chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla bean, chilli, darker honeys and lighter flowery ones. Then there was the mead itself – scrumdiddlyumptious and finally, as if that wasn’t enough, they used the honey to make their own ice cream. I had honey, date and mead ice cream in a waffle cone. I nearly died from happiness.    

From there we left the seaside behind and headed to the Valley of the Giants to walk amongst the giants of Southern Australia, the Tingle Trees.  The tallest in the park reaches nearly 70m! As you leave the visitor centre you slowly climb a metal walkway that at its highest is 40m and snakes through the tree tops for 420m.  It’s pretty humbling, getting a birds eye view of the ground or at the least a monkeys and walking amongst the tree tops.  Right next to the Valley of the Giants lies the Ancient Empire. 400 year old or more Tingle Trees with giant trunks that in some cases have opened up so much that you can either walk into them or through them. It’s enchanting. I have never seen anything like it except for pictures of the Giant Redwood trees in Western Canada.  

Our final tree stop was the Gloucester Tree.  This 58m tall Karri tree was originally used as a fire warden post before the introduction of spotter planes.  On arriving at the tree, my North American health and safety brain kicked in. To climb it, there are quite literally metal stakes snaking their way around the tree all the way up to the very top, that’s it! It was drizzly and there was no catch net and the space in between the metal stakes looked like I could have fit through. If someone was coming down it while you were going up or vice versa the only thing to do was to move to one side of the stake and imagine yourself invisible while the other person climbed down beside/over you.  Saying all that it was used as a fire post so the stakes are obviously secure and people make it up and down without a problem everyday and the view from the pictures I saw over the Karri forest were unreal!  It reminded me of the view when Bilbo is looking out over Mirkwood just before getting attacked by spiders. It would have been worth getting stuck up at the top.  I made it about ¾ of the way up and then my fear, and the slippery stakes got the better of me.  We stopped and sang Christmas Carols all the way down to keep our minds off the fact that we were climbing a very tall tree. In retrospect I wish I had done it. 

By the time we finished in the forest it was time to head to our hostel in Augusta.  We had the run of the place and treated ourselves to a not so amazing bottle of wine but a great BBQ. The only problem with small little trips is that you really only start to get comfortable with everyone and then its time to head back. The next day was our last day and I had decided I would jump off in Busselton and stay an extra day instead of going back to Perth. One of the best decisions I made but that’s an entry on its own and first we still had to see oceans collide, taste some wine along the Margaret River and eat too much free chocolate at a local chocolatier.

abridgeoverarockTrying to see the whole of South Western Australia in one weekend is about as possible as flying to the moon in a glass elevator. But that’s what I wanted to do so I was going to figure out how to do it and I had a day in which to do so.  After a bit of googling I came across a three-day tour through YHA.  It was with the group Real Aussie, pick up at 7:30 a.m. head to Albany, see the giant trees, Elephant Cove, Margaret River, taste wine, Busselton, which stole my heart, and then head back to Perth for 7:30 p.m. It was as good as I was going to find and it turned out to be a perfect tour for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time, a car and wants the world.

There were 11 of us in total plus our guide; a jumble of ages, abilities, and life styles all sharing the same desire to see as much of the South as possible. The weather wasn’t completely on our side as we headed South in our little white van and I was grateful for the extra layers I had with me from NZ. So much for a quick summer vacation before I arrived in the clutches of a Nova Scotian winter. 


There was a  lot of distance to cover that first day as we were staying in Albany the first night, which is along the Rainbow Coast in the South. Our first stop was a roadside lunch before we heading to Castle Rock for a walk in the Porongurup Ranges where giant boulders of granite rock stand teetering over the valley. Well, it looks like they are teetering but they’re pretty secure. I couldn’t move them.  At the highest point a metal-framed staircase and viewing deck winds its way around one of the highest rock crops.  I lean towards the nervous of heights category and my stomach did a few flips climbing up the ladder in the wind and standing on a gridded pathway looking high over the trees but the view was stunning and worth the nerves. 


After a sighting of Kangaroos, it was back into the van and straight to our hostel in Albany. We stayed at the 1849, Albany Backpackers.  One of the cosiest and most welcome hostels I have stayed in. It was originally a boarding house for sailors and since then it has been added on to and changed to a charming working hostel. The best part by far is the breakfast.  In the morning one of the owners, Danny, makes you his very own crepes with freshly squeezed lemon/orange juice sprinkled with icing sugar. Unbelievably moorish and he will happily chat away and make them until you can’t possibly have any more. They tasted like a warm summers day sitting in an orchard surrounded by orange and lemon trees. 
I would have happily planted myself there for a lday if I’d had the time and stomach to do so but day two of our trip was to be packed with sight seeing so we couldn’t linger. We said our goodbyes and thank yous for breakfast, packed old faithful and headed off to start the day at The Gap in Torgadirrup National Park

IMAG1645Tucked away off the main road in Mahone Bay lies a ten year old gem of a cafe called The “Biscuit Eater”. If ever I was to open my own cafe it would be akin to this. . The oldest building in the town, it’s a picture perfect old wooden home converted into a café and bookshop where you can choose to sit out on their patio looking over their garden,  in their small dining room or hidden amongst the books in a comfy chair tucked around the corner.  When they first opened, their homemade marshmallows were reason enough to visit Mahone Bay. Today, despite changing hands – the essence of the place hasn’t changed. It’s as charming as it was when it first opened and the food is just as tasty.

Mahone Bay is one of my favourite little places along the South Shore. It’s picturesque churches, stunning Victorian homes,  whimsical shops and galleries make it a great place to stroll around for an afternoon. There’s Amos Pewter, The Teaser, The Tea Brewery, The Northern Sun Gallery, Seamist Studio, and that’s just getting me started on the shops that one can get lost in, happily spending all your holiday money in. I hadn’t been down to Mahone Bay all summer so on my day off this week we decided to spend the afternoon window shopping and having a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in town. By the time we reached Mahone Bay our stomachs told us they were first priority.  As neither of us had been to the Biscuit Eater in ages and books and food are two of my favourite things we headed there.

IMAG1643It was too nice of an afternoon to sit indoors so we sat out on their patio underneath their terrace. It’s lovely! I’m not the best with plants so I quizzed my mom on what everything was in their garden while we waited for our food to arrive. Their menu is made up of seasonal flavours and it changes regularly. They were out of their smoke salmon BLT but there was still lots to choose from. My mom went for their Summer Pad Thai Salad – a take on the Thai classic with Rice Noodles, bean sprouts, carrots cucumber, red pepper and home made peanut sauce. I took, as always, longer to decide and offered to share so that I cheekily, could try the salad as well. Finally, I landed on their Applewood Smoked Ham and Brie Panini with crisp apple, rocket and grainy mustard with a side of their soup of the day- broccoli and cheddar. The sandwich stole the show for me, with the salad coming close second. My Panini was full of flavours, warm, crunchy sweet and salty. I could eat one everyday happily.

We finished our lunch and had a quick perusal though the books before heading off to explore the shops and getting dessert at Oh My Cod. The next place to try for lunch in Mahone Bay I think. They sell Central Smith Ice Cream which is from Ontario and it’s pretty tasty. We both went for Big Foot- vanilla bean ice cream with a chocolate fudge swirl and peanut butter cups. Scrumdiddlyumptious and even the sun came out at the end of it all to mark the ending of a perfectly lovely afternoon in Mahone Bay.


It was a weekend of new finds and culture – burritos, gingerbread, chocolate, the latest Star Trek film and a road trip to Sherbrooke Village for an outdoor theatre production. Not too bad for a few days off.


I was counting down the hours at work on until I could hop in Sarah’s car and we’d go catch the latest Star Trek instalment. Next Generation was a massive part of growing up.  Five p.m. in my house was Star Trek hour so these films allow me to embrace my “Trekiness.” The first stop was to get something to eat though. We didn’t have loads of time so we needed something quick and tasty. Sarah suggested the Gecko Bus that lives in the parking lot of the Kent Home Hardware Store in Bayer’s Lake.  I had never been, I had heard great things and it’s near the cinema so off we went. The Gecko Bus has been around since 2014 but it was new to me. It’s a converted school bus decorated on the outside totally green, complete with the head and tail of a Gecko decorating the outside and a small diner and kitchen on the inside serving up modern Mexican street food with a twist. It specialises in Tacos but make incredibly tasty burritos too! Sarah had their famous tacos and I tried their pulled pork Carnitas burrito with their homemade salsa. Everything is fresh and there are loads of options for you to choose from to make it your own. I’m a medium spice gal myself but if you like more or less spice its easy to adjust with four different salsas to choose from. It was easily the best burrito I have ever had and set me up perfectly for the film, which also didn’t disappoint. It was a slow burn to start but jammed with special affects, a stunning interpretation of an international space station, and once it got going it was full throttle till the end with edge of your seat excitement and classic Star Trek humour.


The next day was a day trip to Sherbrooke Village along Highway 102. It’s a long drive but a beautiful one filled with loads of picturesque views and some interesting art pieces along the way. I hadn’t been to the village since I was 8 years old and I will definitely have to go back to explore. We were there to see a walk around show that takes you through the streets and green spaces of the village so we didn’t have the time to visit any of the actual buildings other than their tearoom of course. Their freshly squeezed, perfectly tart and sweet home made lemonade solved my thirst within seconds of taking a sip. The lady across from us got hers first, exclaiming “mmm, oh my that’s good” as she took her first sip. I knew it was going to be just what the doctor ordered. For lunch Sherbrooke’s Gingerbread. It tasted slightly like Christmas in July and the lightest gingerbread I have ever had. Served smothered in their warm lemon sauce. It went down a treat and both lemonade and gingerbread are well worth popping into the tearoom for.

My last find this week was a gift from Sarah who had been out to Alberta and came back with Purdy’s Chocolatier for me to try. Her favourite and I can understand why. Firstly, they come in a little purple box tied with a purple bow. Secondly they are hand crafted – daintily pained or shaped into animals and thirdly they don’t have the normal amount of preservatives that so many of our large North American Chocolatiers seem to feel they need to put into chocolate – mainly wax. So they melt in your mouth the way chocolate should. I had four to taste. A lemon meringue, a lemon and blackberry ganache, milk chocolate caramel and my favourite – a praline hedgehog! You can buy them online, as I have checked, but I think it would be better to add it to the list of reasons why I need to explore Western Canada sooner rather than later.


Similar to Dublin and Melbourne, Halifax and Dartmouth is also divided by a body of water that since the birth of the two sister cities there has been a friendly rivalry between the two. North vs. South in Dublin and Melbourne, and here it’s the City of Lakes vs. the City of Trees. When I was growing up, Haligonians used to joke that the best part of Dartmouth was the view of Halifax. I remember walking up Ochterloney to Dartmouth Players when I was a teenager from the ferry and thinking, “it’s not that bad,” except for the house with the “beware of dog” sign with the dog sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. These days Dartmouth is the new up and coming neighbourhood. It’s grown into a trendy, forward thinking community with a downtown core that has a brilliant weekend market, a fantastic local art gallery called the Dark Side, a veterinarian’s decorated with wild animals, lots of new cafes, boutique shops, a brewery and one of the latest additions, Battery Park.

Battery Park, The Christako’s latest baby, opened up about 6 months ago and is the latest addition to their family owned establishments, Brooklyn Warehouse and Ace Burger. Both are equally well known and loved establishments in Halifax. Battery Park is part bar, part restaurant and is more relaxed than Brooklyn and a little more upstreet than Ace and they have hit it right on the mark. It was a beautiful evening out so we took advantage of their beer garden. Music, charm, cool, compact and cozy, it would be easy to camp there for an evening, which is exactly what we did. If you’ve been, it reminded me of Mr Scruff’s in Fitzroy, Melbourne, a hipster foodie haven, where half of Melbourne used to go for their Wednesday night half price burgers.


The next question was what to get both drink and food wise? I have begun a foray into local craft beers so I decided that as Battery Park hosts a wide variety of local brews I would be adventurous. It’s amazing the number of small or boutique breweries there are in Nova Scotia. When I worked at the Craft Beer Cottage Party this past March it was a huge eye opener. I couldn’t believe the size and vibrancy of the craft beer industry in the Maritimes and the seriousness of which people have embraced it. A bit like Melbourne and it’s coffee. Our two servers and George helped me along the way, describing and pointing out the ones I should try as I explained what I liked. North Brewery, Propeller, Nine Locks, UpStreet, Big Struce all featured on their taps. I first tried Meander River’s Dustry Road Cider and then moved to North’s Summer Saison and finished with George’s suggestion of a partnership beer between North & Stillwell called Juniper Gose. Salty and sweet at the same time with a citrus summery taste; it was very different but an enjoyably interesting conglomeration of flavours.


Food was a difficult decision. Their menu is a variety of shared platters, appetisers and a selection of pub style finger hearty main meals, which includes their famous burgers. In the end because we wanted everything we decided to share a few items –  their Kale Caesar and Pork Belly Taco’s followed by a local and East Coast charcuterie and cheeseboard. The taco’s only lasted moments after arriving at the table. Flavoursome, fresh with a bit of a bite, they were delicious and the Caesar salad didn’t last much longer. My new favourite salad I think. I was really excited about the boards. Not only because they are one my favourite things but that everything was local or house made. The Cheese Board featured Asiago sprinkled with a reduced balsalmic, a smoked cheddar and an Urban Blue, whose maker, Devon informed me, is a delightful lady who used to work for the UN and is based in the North End. She also makes fantastic cheese. There was so much on the Charcuterie Board it was brilliant and they were all house cured, smoked or raw meats. There was pork loin, a country paté wrapped in prosciutto, chicken and haskap roulade that were all delicious but my favourite, and the one I waited till last to eat was their house made Fois Gras. I haven’t had Fois Gras since Adrien, a friend and French chef, made some for New Years dinner in Australia and before that I don’t remember. They made theirs with Goose liver opposed to Duck but it was still very yummy and had the creamy melt in your mouth texture that a good fois gras has. All of this was served with a selection of breads from local bakeries- stout, soda bread and a scone that tasted like Ireland.


The sun dipped below the horizon and the temperature dropped and soon enough it was time to finish the evening with another trip across the harbour on the Ferry. Another highlight for a trip to Dartmouth and one that I will be making more frequently so as to broaden my Dartmouth horizons and more of what Battery Park has to offer.

Nova Scotian wine and peanut butter pie


If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to turn your brain off from work. I have to escape physically, mentally or a mixture of the two. A week ago, Sunday turned out to be a beautiful sunny, blustery day and my day off. The perfect day for escapism. When Sarah suggested a wee road trip to Avondale Sky,  a local winery and stopping by a small café in Windsor that supposedly sold the world’s best peanut butter pie – well who was I to refuse such an offer.


Turning off at exit four on the 101 it’s a beautiful drive through farms and old country homes with sweeping verandahs and picturesque red barns. Avondale Sky is along the Gloosecap Trail which starts just before Windsor. It isn’t greatly sign posted though and we did get a bit side tracked at one point. The winery and its vineyards are situated on rolling hills across from a quaint church about a two minute drive from the Avon River. The main winery is housed in a beautiful heritage listed renovated wooden church from 1844 that was bought by the two owners, Stewart Creaser and Lorraine Vassalo, for less than $2 from the town of Walton as it was going to be used by the fire department for a burning exercise. They floated it down the the river and pulled it up the hill to where it stands to day with as much of the original woodwork, doors and windows as possible. Even the old donation box still has a home. thewinery

We arrived just in time to join in on a guided tour of the vineyard. As she took us through their vines, I couldn’t help but be brought back to the time I spent table grape farming in Mildura and wonder about the similarities and the hard work which goes into cultivating grape vines. Our guide was so knowledgeable and so obviously enthusiastic about her job it was infectious! She told us how Avondale Sky had some of the oldest vines in the area although that only meant 10-30 years depending on the variety and explained the different wines and processes that they go through for each. This of course led to the necessity of doing a tasting and for $10 to taste five wines and get told about each, how could one not. Not to mention if you end up buying two bottles of wine after the tasting, the fee is wavered.

We were given a list of their wines and then asked if we preferred sweeter or dryer. Sarah went for the dryer option and I went for the sweeter. It couldn’t have worked out better if we had planned it. In the end we both tried about 10 wines, each sampling the others if we hadn’t tried it before. wine2 I started with their Rosé, the Lady Slipper. She told us that in their restaurant it’s used to make a summer spritzer. With its light summer taste it would be absolutely perfect for it. The middle three white wines that I tried were my favourite. There was Bliss, made with Geisenheim grapes, really very sweet but has a nice little fizz that tickles your tongue. To sip a glass on a summers eve as a dessert option without it being a dessert wine. Perfection. The next two are tied in my books and I wanted to bring one home with me but of course I took forever to decide. The first was their 2015 Tidal Bay which we were informed won the gold medal for best in it’s class this year and has pretty much already sold out. The second was the Cheverie. Also white and on the sweeter edge of things but not as sweet as the Tidal Bay. A little lighter citrus and floral taste. I remember being instantly drawn in by the aroma coming from my glass. We finished the tasting and wandered around the room taking in all of the local paintings on display while I made up my mind. In the end I landed on the Cheverie but am sure I will be purchasing their Tidal Bay from a local NSLC before too long.

peanutbutterpieOur next stop on the road trip was for Peanut Butter Pie from a little cafe in downtown Windsor called Lisa’s Cafe. It’s about as Nova Scotian as you can get. It even had liver and onions on the menu and a peanut butter sandwich for the wee one if their so inclined. Walking in its clear that it’s a local favourite with most of the tables occupied and everyone looking up to see if they know who you are. The place may require a bit of colour thrown into the earth toned decor but it’s charming, clean and after eating there I understand completely why it’s a local haunt and Sarah raved about their pies. I started off with a grilled chicken and spinach salad with homemade dressing. It was fresh, flavourful and the right size if one was going to devour a slice of pie afterwards. I of course ordered their Peanut Butter Pie which is akin to a peanut butter cheesecake with an Oreo crust but I have never had a peanut butter pie before so perhaps they are all like that. It came with whip cream and caramel drizzled over the top. Rich, creamy, and somehow very light it almost melted in your mouth. It was devilish and divine at the same time.

It was time to head towards home but we had enough time for a quick pit stop at the Mount Uniacke Estate and Park ; a very haunted old estate which you can go through with a network of walking trails around the grounds. We only had about half an hour to spare so we did a quick take in of the area closest to the estate. I will definitely be going back to explore the manor. The half hour flew and before I knew it we were back on the highway to reality after a perfect day of relaxation – trying some lovely local wine, my first ever peanut butter pie and a new place for a walk, picnic and a ghost story or two.





Five years ago someone posted on Facebook a set of photographs of these small adorably cute smiling furry little creatures proclaiming that they were the happiest animals on earth. They melted my heart. You couldn’t help but smile back at the picture of these little creatures smiling at the camera. I immediately googled to find out what they were and where I could find one. It turned out they were Quokka. A small marsupial that call a tiny island off the coast of Perth, Australia home. It was settled, visiting Rottnest Island and getting a Quokka selfie had to be done.

Western Australia was the bookend to my holidays before flying back to Nova Scotia. Rottnest was the first thing I did when I got there. My anticipation for my trip out to the island was only slightly quelled by the idea of being on a ferry in potential rocky seas and getting seasick. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad on the way over and at the end of the day the ferry was larger and had an outdoor sitting area so I plonked myself on the deck. No seasickness that day! If you go from Fremantle return including a bike hire for the day, the trip costs 99AUD. It was hands down the best 99AUD I have ever spent. The sun was out, I had a picnic lunch with me, my little red bike, a map of the island and my camera on standby for Quokka encounters. I was ready.

Now, there are a few routes you can do around the island. I chose the longest one which circles the whole island. They explain that to make the most of your trip you should bike clockwise around the island so the wind is at your back. Murphy’s Law, the wind thought it would be amusing to be in full force and blow in the opposing direction that day. I must say it made me love the hills all that more. Despite the wonderful wind, which made going up those hills equivalent to peddling in an oven; I must admit it did make going down the hills and the last flat stretch a lot of fun. It took a lot of effort not to throw my hands up in the air. I didn’t, I have about as much grace on a bicycle as a bear on a unicycle, probably less so.

I had been prepared for the cuteness and my excitement of seeing Quokka. I hadn’t been prepared for how ruggedly beautiful and peaceful Rottnest island. At times, it felt like I had the whole island to myself. The main lighthouse and Western Australia’s first stone one, Wadjemup, keeps watch over the rocky shores standing like a sentinel over the island. They built a second one though in 1900 after the waters claimed the City of York and her eleven crew so that sailors could better judge where they were situated amongst the dangerous shoals.

Turquoise waters, coral reefs, jagged rocks, twisted trees knarled from ocean winds with sparrows performing death defying twirls in the air surround you, leaving you constantly lost for words. And the Quokka chilling out on the side of the road or hoping over to check you out are the added bonus.

I stopped for lunch and a swim at Parakeet Bay. A small bay with golden sand and birds playing in the surf. Minus one gentleman at the other end and a few seagulls hoping for some of my sandwich I was alone. Floating in the Indian Ocean, relaxing after a good morning cycle, the outside world melted away.

Whether my lack of ability to get a quokka selfie is due to my general uselessness at taking selfies or my over excitement of having one that close to me or a mixture of the two I don’t really know but I never managed to get a selfie with one. It is amazing how little fear they show though and how inquisitive they are. Although they are definitely hoping you won’t follow the rules and possibly offer them some food. One had found a piece of sweet potato and was happily munching away and this girl, cruel or nature lover I don’t know, ran at the poor thing so that it wouldn’t eat the human food. The little Quokka looked so confused and upset. I felt so bad for the little thing. Everywhere you went people sat beside them trying to get a selfie it was all a bit odd.


5:00 came and it was time to get back onto the ferry to Fremantle for a look around and a catch up with an old friend. So I, a little too sun kissed, looking like I had just walked out of the sea with my hair in every which direction and in a happy dazed bubble that only a day of exercise, sea air and a bit of Quokka madness can do I returned my little red bike and took my seat over looking the ocean and said goodbye to Rottnest Island and the happiest animals in the world

“Please sir. I want some more.”

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