To ramble is to walk for pleasure, typically without a definte route or purpose. R&R do a lot of that, which is one reason why our seven year old automobile has just turned over 100,000 kilometres (62,137.119 miles). Another is the fact that Ruth is an on-line, stay-at-home worker. As a noun, the word ramble implies ambling through the countryside. The Old English origins of the word are interesting. Of course moseying about can also provide an opportunity for introspection.  It is said that "tourists see what they come to see." On the other hand, a vacationer has been described as engaged in a vacation rather than a prearranged avocation, One sage explains that this breed is withdrawn and defines vacation as "...what you take when you can no longer take what you have been taking." Vacationers are recognized by their vacant expressions and goofy smiles. Vacation and vacuum are cognates.

Rambling implies some disassociation, but rarely leads to jaywalking behaviour which endangers both hostages and hosts. Constraints of age mean that we ramble together and tend to retrace familiar, inhabited local terrain. The old insular paint-on-site days are long gone and never were a ramble. Illustration: Ronald Searle (ca 1972).

There was a time when "artists" took to plein air in groups to paint landscapes under changing light conditions. In the last few decades they have morphed into competition, auction and art festivals.Theoretically such "wet paimntings" have to bne started and completed outdoors. Here is Ronald Searle's satirical take on that! For the average painter this is a means of paying for a couple of days in someone else's community. It is no ramble and neither restful nor a holiday; neither is it a tour or vacation, but a carefully choreographed collective event. The constraints of repeated local rambles means that walkers of all ages do lust after different outlooks.

That is why the motor car becomes a supposed "necessity,"
and sometimes a cause of guilt.   Henry Ford made that private, as well as public conveyances, affordable. Those years were not known as "The Roaring Twenties"  just because of the increased musical noise levels and devil-may-care attitudes. By the end of that decade, cars had become sexy although roads were not. The Great Depression was heralded in 1929 and the "Dirty Thirties" followed and employment did not improve until 1941. Ever since the transportation trend has shifted from railroads to highways and byways for motorized vehicles. There is no public transport, excepting taxis, connecting Mahone Bay with any other part of Nova Scotia.

Passenger train rails were removed and turned into bicycle/ walking trails decades ago.  There are commercial airline connections between Sydney, Cape Breton Island and Halifax on the mainland. Other private airports  are not geared to a low-cost commuter trade. Thus, for many rural Nova Scotians it is cars, cars and more cars, electric golf carts and All Terrain Vehicles if you want to travel faster and further than a walk.

Notwithstanding, we are reasonably civilized.  The hills are alive with the sound of motorized RV's. A quick go with a calculator says this is an inefficient, costly road to introspection, peace and civility.  The cost of a paid -off compact car with good mileage, added to B&B or motel charges, works out at less per visit, unless one has the leisure time to camp out at one location for months on end.

German wanderers are said to be the equivalent of English ramblers. At its most extreme this pastime involves camping out, which requires mental and phyical stability and a strong back to support essential equipment.  Hostels are a better choice, but these tend to be sparsly accommodating, and it is a good idea to travel prepared for all eventualities.

After middle age, inns, hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts take on an attractive glow in spite of higher overnight costs. R&R have learned how to pack lightly in small knapsacks, sometimes carrying a cooler full of pre-prepared food where a late arrival at a destination is anticipated. If once can forego the need for massive mirrors in chrome and black leather interiors, there are many traditional places in Nova Scotia which are an extremely good vale no matter what ratings may say. Ronald Searle visited Canada in the days when the flag it flew was a red ensign based on the Union Jack. He had his visiting Brit say, "Don't they realize that Victoria is no longer queen?"

As for "sunshine shetches," sometimes things go terribly right even in Nova Scotia. In entitling this essay, we bow to humourist Stephen Leacock who explained that his fictional Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town named Mariposa is an amalgam of seventy or eighty small Ontario towns in times long past: "The inspiration of the book,--a land of hope and sunshine where little towns spread their square streets and their trim maple trees beside placid lakes almost within echo of the primeval forest,--is large enough. If it fails in its portrayal of the scenes and the country that it depicts the fault lies rather with an art that is deficient than in an affection that is wanting."

Even poor beleagured Pictou County is beautiful and often experiences the sun of better times. That's another story; this brief sketch is chiefly about the Annapolis Valley. I have allowed for ret breaks for pit stops and popcorn.

The Annapolis Valley is a lowland valleyIt is located in the western part of the Nova Scotia peninsula, formed by a trough between two parallel mountain ranges along the shore of the Bay of Fundy.The Annapolis Basin drains a large portion of this region. Geologically, the base rock here belongs to the Meguma Terrane. Most of the land mass to the north of the Minas Basin is based upon the Avalon Terrane to which it became sutured in times long past. Most of South Mountain is part of a massive batholith made of intrustive Devonian granite. North Mountain by contrast is basalt which solidified at the earth's surface in Triassic times. Annapolis sandstones are mostly quartzite with mud content. It is believed that basalt flows accompanied the early opening of the Atlantic Ocean at what is now the Mid-Atlantic Rift.

These are Canada's Maritime Provinces. Prince Edward Island is the smallest of ten provinces, while Nova Scotia takes second place.  It is very nearly an island, and has been just that in the geologic past. It consists of a mainland and Cape Breton Island a land are of 55,284 square kilometres To that one must add 21,300 sq miles of costal islands, not easily seen on this small scale map. Ontario is the most densly populous province, but Nova Scotia with a population of 923,598 is second at 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre. Here is the other factor which makes it a destination for visitors: No place in Nova Scotia is more than 67 km (42 mi) from the ocean. Since the province is almost surrounded by the sea, the climate more maritime than to continental except in the interior. The winter and summer temperature extremes of the continental climate are both influenced by the ocean.

Communities are close to one another in Nova Scotia and tourists, tied to an itinery, can cover a lot of territory in a single day. The initial Friday road travel part of our three day outing in early October commenced at Mahone Bay (M). We passed through Caledonia (C) situated near Kejimikujik National Park (N) and stayed at an inn at Annapolis Royal (A). The second day saw us rambling about that community until afternoon when R&R checked into an oceanside suite for a stay at Digby (D). The next day was completely unplanned but we returned eastward over Highway #101, visiting Bridgetown (B), Greenwood Air Base (G), Berwick (Be) and Kentville (K) before taking the road home across the province through New Ross (M). Not much driving time!

It is quite easy to extropolate this travel time on Friday to other parts of the trip. Ruth estimates that the travel time from Mahone Bay to Annapolis Royal would have been less except that a group of vehicles ended up quayed behind two slow-moving vehicles on that winding road past Kejimikujik. An alternate route through New Germany is a bit longer.

There are at least two places named Paradise, one in Pictou County, the other in the Annapolis Valley.  Neither quite matched the billing, but then no community is completely with it! Mahone Bay has its good and bad aspects and the tourist season, which has been long and profitable here this year, has not entirely wound down as of Friday, October13.  We had spent more than a month resettling from self-storage after a stint at the family cottage. A change of place was in order and we had talked for months about the possibility of a trip to The Valley. The weather report was unsettling when booked in at Hillsdake Inn on October 4 and it did shower at dawn on October 6, but the die was cast, cancellation not being an option.

Ruth worked early on, but by mid-afternoom, showers  started as promised and it was decided to try to beat the storm as it moved in toward the north west. In the morning we had loaded knapsacks and loose clothing into the car and a insulated metal food hamper full of goodies now
went into the trunk just prior to rain.

We left Mahone Bay for Highway #103, the main connector with Halifax by way of Blockouse and the Cornwall Road. Needing gas we stopped for gas at an Irving pump house,  a Petro-Canada stop featuring the "Happy Cooker," a couple of years ago. The new menu looks to be fast food. Still raining here although you can only tell from those raindrops of yjr dide window. Leaving the north side, we re-entered the main road westward which terminates at Yarmouth.

There are there are two exits south to Bridgewater, the largest town in the county. The takes you there if you turn left, and so does the second Wileville exit.  This is Wileville on the rural route entered after making a right hand turn to the north.

At the Wile's Lake Market & Plant Norsery we found pumpkins arranged in animal forms, but did not stop to admire them.

The rains ceased. From Caledonian on, the trip across the province was made painfully slow by this recreational vehicle, which finally turned off at the National Park.

Here we are decendining into the Annapolis Valley from South Mountain.  At this date, the leaves had not quite changed colour in a dramatic manner.

From the higher ground it takes about ten minutes to drive to the outskirts of Annapolis Royal. This town of about 500 people was formerly known as Annapolis. It evolved from the 1605 French settlement of Port Royal (briefly Charlesfort), renamed in honour of Queen Anne following the Siege of Port Royal in 1710 by Britain. The town was the capital of Acadia and later Nova Scotia for almost 150 years, until the founding of the City of Halifax in 1749.

Following the British success in 1710 they created Fort Anne. The garrison of 200 men was far outnumbered by Acadians who laid seige but with no heavy artillery they had no success in retaking their former property. In 1724, the town which was eternal of the fortifications was razed and this resulted in the creation of three blockhouses in other areas. Between 1774 and 1776 there were four unsuccessful seiges. During the Expulsion of the Acadians 225 people were deported from Annapolis Royal.

In a 1686 plan of the French Port Royal, the area  east of the Fort Anne is shown as empty fields. By 1707 three homes are shown there and one was sited here. The essential bones of the house appear to be Acadian in age, but this gambrel-roofed structure is generally taken to be a later frame construction of English origin. One distingished occupant was Col. Stephen De Lancey along with his family. He is remmebered among some as the daring leqader of attacks against revolutionary forces in New York in the 1770s. Resettled as a Loyalist after the war, he moved to what was described as this "more modern house" from the "Lower Town."

Today the fort looks like this LImestone was used to build that powder magazine in 1708, but nothing of the original earthen works or buildings survived being built on sand said "apt to tumble down in heavy rains." The English did reinforce the walls with twelve-inch squared timbers" and from 1794 through 1798 Edward, Duke of  Kent, made repairs and added new buildings, but in the end all was lost to the forces of nature. Since 1917, Fort Anne has been a National Historic Park. The street fronting the Anglican church is the one on which the De Lancey house stands, and the inn where R&R found accomodation is between it and the fort.

Hillsdale House, created as an inn 150 years ago, is essentially unchanged today. It has thirteen rooms, four in a coach house wing attached to the main building. The street is not as quiet as it was at the turn of the last century, but aside from that the advertising applies.

It was an overcast day and we were bone tired from shifting furnture in Mahone Bay so we made an immediate entrance into the hallway. The place is, of course, outfitted with Victorian furniture. Having been here before Ruth knew the drill and picked up the hallway phone to announce our arrival. Check in is at that sideboard at the back of this spacious hallway.  We were late making a reservation and took the only room available. On the second floor, straight head at the top of the stairway.

This room is less lavishly appointed than the others we have sheltered in and the smallest and the least expensive. This hardly matters when one intended to be "early to bed and early to rise." We ate a lunch brought from home, read the Chronicle Herald, watched a small screen TV briefly and they collapsed.

The following morning we ate a very hearty breakfast and then drove off down St, George Street by-passing the historic gardens and that national historic site since we had earlier on decided to look in on the Farmer's Market, this being its final day of outdoor operation. It is oermanently located in and outside open air structures located between Drury Lane and Chapel Street in the downtown across from the public wharf. While this place has half the population of Mahone Bay, it has  at least three times the services, a reflection of the wieight of anearby rural poulation. There are two banks, a theatre, a large grocery store, a liquor store, an eye-care centre, large pharmacy, a dentistry, natural food store, library, law offices, photographers, architects, bakery, a building products outlet, etc. Google annapolis royal businesses.

9:10 am and foggy at the Town Hall when we reached the right angled turn in St. George Street.

Ruth went shopping across the street while I took a few snaps.

On the grounds of Fort Anne just to the left of that town hall.

This parking place and the bend in St. George Street was the closest we felt we could get to the market which began setting up at 8 am. The town hall is just barely seen at keft. On a clear day the Annapolis Basin can be seen beyond these down town buildings.

Annapolis Royal is suffering from downtown ennui as much as most places in Nova Scotia. Mahone Bay is unique in not having box stores nearby. The right half of this building held an internet cafe the lastr time we were in town. That dowdy look of a vacant building developes soon after rent-paying tenants move on.


The left hand side of this building has lost retail space to a real estate company. When services aimed largely at come-from-aways move in... That cafe is a good bet for an inexpensive, satisfactory breakfast and pit stop when the public washrooms are closed as they were this morning.

Ruth made quick indoor surveys of some of these outlets without purchasing anything.

We dropped back a block east of St. George Street to approach the market from the back so as not to interfere with a few vendors who were still unloading.

At this hour it was quiet as well as persistently damp and foggy.

The Valley is a great agricultural district which generally beats Lunenburg County in the size and quality of produce.

Because this event draws crowds police and ambulance workers are always a presence.

The lack of frost except in low-lying areas has extended the harvest season this year.

This market has developed into a tent town.

But some wares, such as these antiques, are protected from the elements.

And some are partially shielded by stall.

There are happy faces, and that is a big part of the fun in visiting here. Smiles really are contagious.

That is not IT visiting the antique shop in its' baby barn.

The Annapolis Town Crier spoted near the podium.

The fear of clowns and scarecrows has not penetrated the rural Nova Scotia, but then it is Harvest Home time, eh!

This raised platform opposite the town wharf and landing is always the location of musicians who earn bread-and-butter by way of freewill cash.

We already have a winter's supply of $10 woollen socks for me.

The closest local pub is situated in that brick building but is not openen as yet.

Ironworks Distillery is located in the Town of Lunenburg, but they have a presence at most markets in the region. Ruth is getting the lowdown on lavender. The vendor puts this plant aside for later pickup.

Seen across St. George Street left of the wharf.

Small towns often veer away from the expected. In Mahone Bay, local attorneys featured two scarecrow-like black crows above their door for several years at festival time. Here is another law office idea of exterior decoration. We were on a fory to the bank for money to buy the lavender.

"Art and antiques," a mix we never consider. That's new as is the service business next door.

This restaurant has been recommended at Hillsdale Inn.  It is very good, has ambience, and is expensive.

"The Lion" across the street is a cheaper choice!

Returning from the Royal Bank on St. George Street. Sinclair Inn, later the Annapolis Royal Hotel, hosted the first Masoic Lodge held in Nova Scotia in 1738. This was the stage coach stop on the road from Halifax from 1828 until 1869. Empty for many years it is now a museum.

This building, far removed from the street, purveys vintage household items.

Lunenburg Old Town has an Opera House, but it is not as often used as this building, which has support from the general population.

Here is how the market is seen on a walkabout down St. George Street.

The antique shop from that street. Plastic bottles filled with sand are used to anchor tents and hold open doors in place.

The exchange.

There  are a lot of back-to-the-land folk resident hereabout.

Paleo? "If a caveman didn't eat it, neither should you. ... When you are following the Paleo Diet, you can eat anything we could hunt or gather way back in the day – things like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds. Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go!"

Ruth spent $2 here!

There is fast food for those who love to be blade runners.

Here's looking back at you!

The pub in the background with vacant public bilding beyond.  It is not a complete rose garden in this little town, and the sun had yet to emerge.

What is needed to warm a cool day?

That it! samples! We did not sample.

The product was popular at $6 and $7 a bottle.

Perhaps a warm throw or jacket instead?

Perhaps these sequential pictures will give some sense of this market, but cannot inpart sounds and motion.

In small towns traditional media are not the only source of news. We had heard that the town crier was making an announcement at 10 am.

Seems that something was auctions off for a good cause.

And this was the winner.

Then the music commenced again!

Aboriginal handcrafts are part of most markets.

There is a shipyard lift to the right of the wharf where work goes on in the open air.

Without this long wharf as a parking area...

There was a time when we used to scurry away from an accommodation immediately after eating. These days we like to leave a motel, inn or B&B at check out time, so that a brief rest stop can be made before moving possessions to the car. At Hillsdale that time was 11 am.

St this hour the market had a way to go but we began the trek uphill to the car.

Shrouded view of Fort St. Anne.  Since admission was free all this year we started to make an entrance and then decided that would squeeze the rest stop and went back to there.

So farewell for 2017.

This year our room overlooked the octopuses garden in the west lawn.

Departing snapshot of the hallway outside the room.

We have yet to make use of this formal living room.

Over the years we have refined the time of leave-taking. The east side of the house.

The west wing taken from here across the hallway.

At this time parking was full up and so was the inn, with guests for a wedding in a nearby church.

NEXT: Act Two: Our visit to Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens.
Having seen Port Royal Habitation and Fort Anne on numerous ocassions we opted for plant life, which changes with the seasons.