The Blogging Life: Catching Up.

Sometimes we need to just stop and catch our breath.

After an insanely busy term 3 at school, which included directing and producing  five shows of ‘Les Miserables’ over two weekends, I’ve really enjoyed the two week term break.
I’ve caught up on my rest, on grading papers, and on some writing that I really wanted to refine before I could consider it finished.

Today, I’m catching up on my photo blog at yeeehawimacountrychick! which features photos from various parts of Australia that I visit.

I started this blog because my friends and family overseas often wanted to see my pictures, but I wasn’t always available to show them. Since then, it’s gained a wider following, which is really encouraging for this very amateur-level hobby photographer!

Feel free to take a look, and follow that blog if you’re interested in seeing my part of the world from my point of view.

 

I don’t post there every day, or even every week, but I do try to keep it updated.
All the photos featured there are my own, and remain my intellectual property.

The Islands of Lake Champlain, Vermont. 

Lake Champlain is North Anerica’s sixth-biggest lake. Within  the lake, on the Vermont/New York side of the Canadian border, lie a number of islands that were first seen by European eyes in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain led an exploratory expedition through the area. 

   
   
The islands are joined by bridges and a causeway which make touring the islands very easy.  The scenery is gorgeous, and there are lots of interesting places to explore. Tourists can explore military history, gourmet food and wine, walking or cycling paths, and number of towns seeking to attract tourists with different places to stay and things to do. 

On the Causeway to Grand Isle is an American flag and a monument to the victims of 9/11 and to the American veterans of foreign wars. 

   
   
From this point, you can look west and see the shoreline of New York State and the Adirondack Mountains, and you can look east and see the Vermont shoreline and mountains in the distance. Further north, the lake crosses the Canadian border into Quebec. 

 

It’s no surprise, then, that Isle La Motte, South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Valcour and the remaining islands all served as important vantage points in battles between American and Canadian/British forces during the War of 1812. 

If for no other reason, the Islands are well worth a visit just because it’s a really pretty drive along the lake shore. 

   
   

Isle La Motte, Vermont.

On the Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain, Vermont is the site of the Fort of St Anne, the first European settlement in Vermont which dates back to 1666. While the French under the command of Captain Pierre La Motte built the fort for defence against the Mohawks, the Jesuits built the altar and sanctuary in honour of Saint Anne.   

 
Today there is still a shrine to St Anne and an outdoor Stations of the Cross which is visited by many people for prayer and reflection every year.
   
    
   

While the fort and it’s defences are long gone, it’s easy to see why this place was chosen 350 years ago for both defensive and spiritual reasons, and why people continue to visit today. 

It’s a place of worship and reflection, which is something visitors should keep in mind, both in dress and behaviour. 

Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Occasionally, I like to throw caution to the wind and do something dangerous. Intrepid and adventurous, that’s me. Completely aware of the perils ahead, I put my sassy pants on and set out for an adventure that has long been on the bucket list for this holiday. 

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company makes hand-crafted, fully customisable teddy bears that are unbearably adorable.

   
 
The bears all carry the trademark labels and eyes which distinguish them from other bears. The eyes have “Born in Vermont” imprinted in the iris. Too cute. Being from Vermont, the Bears all have a chubby tummy that is known at the company as “the belly that Ben & Jerry’s built”. 

   
   
There are hundreds of different outfits that can be purchased for the 15″ bears, reflecting seasons, occupations, sports and significant life events. Most of the bears have brown eyes, but can be customised with blue, green or hazel eyes. Paws and outfits can be customised with embroidery. 

   
   
The factory tour is fun and entertaining for all ages. I was really pleased to see the tour being led by a delightful guy who has a disability but is obviously living joyfully despite it. 

The bears are very reasonably priced in comparison to other top-quality, hand-crafted collectible bears, such as the Charlie Bears which I also collect. 

All in all, I had a wonderful day here. I made the experience complete by adopting a 15″ Maple Bear with blue eyes. It’s fair to say that he had a pretty good day, too. 

Abbey of St-Benoît-du-Lac. 

The abbey of St-Benoît-du-Lac is nestled among the rolling hills of southern Quebec near the town of Magog.

  

The abbey was founded in 1912 by Dom Joseph Pothier, a Benedictine abbott who came to Quebec from the Abbey of St Wandrille at Frontenelle in France. 

The architect of the abbey was Father Paul Bellot, who oversaw the building of the Abbey between 1939-1941. 

  
The impressive looking building is home to about 50 monks who live according to the rules of St Benedict. The decorative brickwork and mosaic tile floors of the foyer and hallways contrast with the peaceful serenity of the church and the smaller private chapel.  

  

  
 
The church also boasts a magnificent pipe organ, situated between the congregation and the choir.  
 

Just outside the church is a stone from the ancient abbey of St Wandrille, in France, which dates back to the 14th century.  The stone has been carved into a maple leaf, symbolising the continuing heritage and bond between the two abbeys. 

This is a beautiful place to visit.  It was disappointing that some of the tourists who were visiting at the same time as me did not show respect for the quietness requested by the monks, nor for the reflection and prayer that was obviously being sought by other visitors. 

Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

South-east of Montreal in Quebec, there is a collection of small villages and towns known as the Eastern Townships. is at its most beautiful in the Autumn. Rolling hills are covered in colours that draw on every shade from green to deepest red in nature’s palette. Streams gurgle over rocks and along roadsides, pouring into larger rivers it into lakes nestled between the hills, surrounded by forests with houses dotted among the trees. Even grey clouds and occasional misty rain can’t dampen the ‘pretty party’ that the earth is throwing around here.  

  

  
 
One such lake is Lac Memphremagog, which stretches for miles south of the town of Magog. 
   
  

     

Another lake which deserves a mention is Lac Trousers. 

Yes. Lac Trousers. 

I saw this sign and thought, “What on earth??”

  

 
  A quick consultation with Google Maps answered the question. 

  

Given that the province of Quebec also boasts towns named Chapeau (hat), Drapeau (flag), Mayo, Asbestos and St Louis de Ha! Ha!, I guess it’s not so surprising. 

The Eastern Townships are just gorgeous, especially in Autumn. It’s a parade of prettiness, everywhere you look. 

   
   

Postcards from the past #1

Last weekend I found myself in an antique store in Summerside, PEI. 

I commented to my friends that it was a very good thing that I had to fly home, so that I could not buy all the lovely things there. I did pick up some old postcards, including a couple that depicted places that I had recently visited. 

The first card I chose was an old black and white picture from Port Dalhousie, Ontario. It clearly depicts the part of the beach where Sean and I sat and ate our picnic dinner a couple of weeks ago, and the carousel which we rode. 
   
I was so excited to find this lovely memento from the history of a place that I so enjoyed. 

There is no date on the card, and the postmark is incomplete, so at first I thought there was no way to know when it was written. 

 
Then I had a thought: the stamp! Surely that would give me a time frame, at the very least.

   

This is a George V Scroll stamp issued between October 1928 and April 1930. This places my Port Dalhousie beach card as most likely dating from somewhere between those dates. 

Of course, it’s possible that someone might have posted it with an older stamp, but given that these were the years of the Great Depression, it does not seem likely that one would spend money on a stamp that was not going to be used right away. The handwriting certainly does not suggest someone with an expensive education, given that penmanship was still highly valued back then. 

It may just be an old postcard to most other people, but for me this is part of the real history of a beautiful place, and it’s very exciting to have it among my souvenirs. 

Vermont.

Vermont is one of those places that is stunning everywhere you look, at any time of year. We drove south across the border of  Quebec at Morse’s Line hoping to see some Autumn colours and to see  some ski trails on the mountains.

We saw some absolutely breathtaking colours and scenery.  We headed through Enosburg and Montgomery, enjoying gorgeous scenery with beautiful mountain backdrops.     

  

  

 

From there, we headed to State Route 58 and into Hazen’s Notch. Incredible colours ranging from yellow-green and gold to deep red danced with the sunshine along winding gravel roads, with the scenery opening up to reveal whole mountainsides covered with vivid colour. 

  

  

 

After Hazen’s Notch, we turned at Lowell and headed up to Jay Peak, where the ski runs were lined with magnificent trees in every shad of Autumn.

   

 

We headed up to see where the Von Trapp family moved after leaving Austria. Looking at the mountains surrounding their lodge, it’s easy to see why they chose this part of Vermont. It’s safe to say that these Vermont hills are alive too! 

 

We then circled back to Montgomery and, from there, turned toward the ski resort town of Stowe via State Road 108 and Smuggler’s Notch. 

Smuggler’s Notch is even more stunning than Hazen’s.  The same kind of winding roads and trees team with rugged mountain cliffs and enormous boulders that have fallen from them to provide stunning scenery that reminds you of your relative insignificance in relation to the size and forces of nature. 

   
 

Stowe is a very attractive looking town, but you can tell it’s a playground for those with lots of money. There’s nothing about this “resort village” as it calls itself that says ‘budget family holiday’. The hotels are enormous and the condo blocks are fancy. Glossy red gondolas leave the centre of the town and carry people up the mountain. In all honesty, I was glad we drove straight through because I much preferred the surrounding scenery than the town itself. 
   

 

Vermont is blessed with a wealth of majestic scenery. It’s one of those places where there is natural beauty everywhere you look. 

Lower Bedeque School, Prince Edward Island. 

While sharing lunch with my friend in Summerside, PEI, sour server mentioned that we were not far from one of the schools where Lucy Maud Montgomery had taught in 1896-1897. 

We decided to go by and see the school house, which now serves as a museum. It wasn’t open, but we did peek in the windows as well as taking photographs of the building. 

   
  

  

How delightful to see another part of Montgomery’s own history on PEI. 

The story of her time here is quite poignant. While teaching at this school, Montgomery boarded with the Leard family. 

Lucy fell in love with the eldest son of the family, Herman, but he ended the relationship because he was less educated than her and believed she could do better. 

Montgomery’s grandfather died suddenly and she left Bedeque before the school year was finished to return to Cavendish and take care of her grandmother. 

When Herman Leard died of influenza in 1899, Montgomery was distraught, even though their relationship had long been over.