We launch Betsy.

Greetings once again to one and all and my customary greetings which I assure you are not mere platitudes, I really do appreciate all the lovely comments.

This is followed close on the heels by my usual little spiel for the benefit of those who may have arrived on this page by some odd route which I know must infuriate the usual band of suspects who inhabit this site.

What follows is a post regarding a roadtrip I went on in the alleged summer of 2014 in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and I say alleged because I had arrived in what was virtually a monsoon and there was much, much worse to come, believe me. It will make a lot more sense if you read the whole story from the beginning which you can do here and if you have any interest in what happens next then please read on.

I should say at the outset of this post that it is the fourth I have written in one session, an unprecedented event for me. I don’t know what my insomnia may do to my health although it does not seem to have any ill-effects, but it is doing wonders for my productivity.

Presumably you are not here to listen to my medical woes but rather to hear about the maiden voyage of Betsy, our 33-year-old Glendale campervan / RV which we had spent a bit of time trying to make fit for habitation. It is probably slightly odd to refer to the maiden voyage of a vehicle with 98,302.9 kilometres on the clock which is over 61,000 miles in real money but it was our first run in her. I can state the figure with such accuracy because I took an image which you can see above.

I am actually being technically inaccurate as we had taken her for a short spin into town and back for Lynne to get used to her but now we were going properly on the road and I was as excited as a child on a visit to a funfair, I don’t mind admitting it. This was a lifetime’s dream coming true for me and I couldn’t wait.

With Captain / Engineering Officer Lynne at the helm and Navigation Officer / Ship’s Cook / Cabin Boy / Sergeant-at-Arms Fergy also on the bridge we took our leave of Ron, Lynne’s wonderful Father, and the good ship Betsy slipped slowly away for far horizons, well, Greenwood 26 miles along the 101.

In truth, it was not that much of a leap of faith as we were unlikely to be too far from her Father’s place if anything went seriously pear-shaped plus which Lynne is in the CAA (a motoring recovery organisation), what could go wrong? Let me tell you.

I wish to put it on record here and now that Lynne is an extremely steady driver, we were on well-surfaced roads and we weren’t doing any great speed. We couldn’t do any great speed as Betsy could manage about 60 down a steep hill with a following wind but what did for us was turning. A few miles down the road we had to make a turn, very gently, at which point all Hell broke loose, the noise was like an outbreak of war.

When we had done our litle test spin Betsy had not been fully loaded with crockery, cutlery foodstuffs etc. but she was now and one of the doors popped open depositing everything onto the deck. Oops. Fortunately there was no damage as we had opted for plastic “crockery” as you may have seen in previous images and that was a blessing which leads me to my first top tip of the day.

Top Tip.

Do whatever is necessary to secure everything in an RV. I cannot remember if we had them already or bought them but bungees are excellent for the purpose. If we had been stowed with best porcelain it would have ended up like, well, a bull in a china shop but without the bovine influence.

It was going to be a steep learning curve certainly but no harm done and on we went on our merry way to Greenwood. I have already told you that I never plan anything, much to Lynne’s general annoyance but there is an excellent RCAF Museum there which we both wanted to see so that seemed like a plan. As usual I shall rely on my original notes here.

“The first thing you notice are the large number of aeroplanes and helicopters outside the building which you could go and view without going into the Museum proper and very impressive they are too. Also outside are a number of memorials to aircrew who have sadly lost their lives in the course of their duties as well as stones commemorating now disbanded units that served there.

If you decide to do the full tour, and I do suggest you do, admission is free although a donation is suggested and it is well worth it. Being midweek and not high season we had the place to ourselves and the very friendly young lady on the desk told us to take as long as we liked to look round.

There was certainly plenty to look at with exhibits ranging from old uniforms right up to the fully kitted out fuselage of a recce ‘plane complete with it’s crew of mannequins (pictured). I think this was my favourite exhibit in the Museum.

What I particularly liked about the place was the way they humanised things. Instead of just displaying the exhibits there were numerous photographs and potted histories of people who had worked in the base, both military and civilian. It rather brought it to life for me and I thought it was very well done.

Should you wish to have a souvenir there is a well-stocked gift shop where the prices are very reasonable. I purchased a Snowbirds T-shirt which I rather liked and, if you have not heard of the Snowbirds, they are the aerobatic display team of the RCAF. There is also a pleasant little caf although be aware that it closes at 1600 hours. Let’s have a look round shall we?

The image above is of a Canadair CP-107 Argus Mk. II and it was interesting as Lynne is from an Army family and remembers travelling on an aircraft like this as a child moving from one base to another.

This image shows a Canadair CT133 Silver Star. Initially used by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951, they performed a number of roles, predominantly training.

These images show a Boeing Vertol CH113 Labrador Search and Rescue helicopter which was in service between 1962 – 2004 and is featured in my tip on the Museum. I wonder how many lives were saved because of this aircraft and it’s brave crews.

This next beauty is a Douglas CC-129 Dakota, in service with the Canadian forces at Greenwood from 1946 – 1968 although they remained in service with the RCAF until 1989. Indeed, such a reliable old crate is the Dakota that there are many still flying all over the world today despite having first flown in 1933, a staggering 80 years ago. The example here is in Search and Resue livery as this is one of the major functions of this base.

As you can possibly tell from the markings this plane is from the USA and is on loan. It is the only aircraft of it’s type on display in Canada.

Although undergoing necessary maintainance at the minute I make no apology for including the image of this wonderful ‘plane, one of the most iconic aircraft of World War Two, the Lancaster bomber or to be more specific the Avro Lancaster Mk. 10 MR. This particular aircraft, designated KB 839 was of a type only manufactured in Canada and this is the only Lancaster still in that country that shows battle damage.

This exhibit commemorates a very interesting man named Gaynor P. Williams who was born in Alberta in 1921.

At the age of only 19 he enlisted into the Royal Canadian Air Force and was quickly promoted Flight Sergeant. After a period of convoy escort he was posted to Lough Erne in my home country of Northern Ireland and it was whilst there that his Catalina flying boat spotted the infamous German warship Bismarck.

The crew followed it for an age, constantly relaying it’s position and eventually returned to base some 20 hours after takeoff. The ship was sunk by the British Navy the next day.

Williams was later posted to New Delhi as a navigator to Lord Louis Mountbatten who was Allied commander in Asia. You will see in the image that he has been painted wearing a slouch hat which he adopted as protection against the fierce Indian sun.

Slouch hats were most definitely not RCAF issue but he explained later that he got away with it because he was the only Canadian on the base and the Commander had no idea what standard RCAF uniform consisted of! After India, he finished off his war service as an instructor back in Canada. He must have been some character and I should have liked to have met him.

Well that concludes my tour of the Military Air Museum and I do hope you have enjoyed it but I have one last treat for you. Ordinarily I would have linked the official website at the start of the piece but I wanted to save this for you.

What do you think would be the most appropriate way of seeing an Air Force Museum? From the air obviously but I am not talking about the outside, I mean the inside. Have a look here, it is brilliant and shows the place off so much better than my stills.

We reluctantly left the place, primarily because it was closing, and by now it was most definitely beer o’clock but we decided to put a few more miles behind us. We had done a whole 26 miles and staying locally would be a bit like camping in the back garden when you were seven. There was only one way to go really and that was to continue on down Highway 1 which we were now on.

In may respects your route in Nova Scotia is very much determined for you as there are a series of roads that criss-cross each other like snakes in a pit but all effectively follow the coast. The interior is very rugged, much of it the Kejimkujik National Park (try saying that with a mouthful of toffee), and very few roads traverse it so it was onwards to the Southwest.

We only got about ten miles, as far as Middleton. I told you it was beer o’clock and I wasn’t on overtime. Here are my contemporaneous thoughts on the town and bar.

“Middleton is one of the many places that we just sort of drifted through. We only stayed long enough to determine that it was a clean, tidy and fairly typical small Nova Scotian town and to have a bite to eat and a drink in an excellent bar. The small amount that follows was gleaned from internet research.

Middleton, a town of less than 1800 souls, sits on the North bank of the Annapolis Rver in Annapolis County and it’s position has given it the soubriquet “Heart of the Valley”. The name Middleton probably derives from the fact that it is the midpoint between Halifax and Yarmouth and it was originally settled by New Englanders who had moved North. It was founded in 1810 and incorporated in 1909.

Other than that I can tell you very little except that it is a pleasant place to have a wander round should you feel like stretching your legs on your journey along Highway 1.

A wonderful bar.

I suspect this is the only bar in town and If that is indeed the case then the locals are well-served as it is a beauty and it is called the XXXX Capitol Bar.

It is deceptive from the outside as it is really rather large inside although it does not look it externally. It is a converted theatre / cinema and this theme is prominent, including a rather good mural of film stars on the back wall.

It appears that most people come here to eat as well as drink and there is an extensive menu featuring all the local staples. It was here that I was introduced to the delights of the dill pickle spear which I had never heard of but grew to love quickly.

It is effectively a pickled gherkin quartered, breaded and deep fried and served with some sort of dipping sauce. In the UK such pickles (colloquially called wallies around London) are invariably eaten raw and I had no idea what they would be like cooked but they were absolutely gorgeous.

The chap sitting beside me was served a plate of food that looked delicious and consisted of a serving that would easily have fed three men. During a conversation I had with him he informed me that he ate there twice a day every day which must tell you somethiing. Had we not had to be moving on, I should have liked to have eaten there.

I mentioned having a conversation with this complete stranger and I had another good conversation with the two barstaff who were also very pleasant. I have very quickly formed the impression that Nova Scotians are an extremely sociable bunch and the Capitol, whilst boasting pool tables, gaming machines and the like, is a place I felt totally comfortable in and indeed would have happily brought my maiden aunt to, did I actually have a maiden aunt!

They have a beer on special every day and the locally brewed Oland was on offer at $5 that day (which is cheap by local standards). It was very pleasant although I personally prefer the darker beers.

There are also daily specials of food and my new-found friend told me that he usually went for that as they are very good. He told me that everything is freshly prepared from scratch in the kitchen so none of your freezer to table nonsense here. As well as the daily specials they have special nights every weekday like Monday is steak night, Wednesday all you can eat pasta, Thursday wing night and so forth.

The day I visited was during the 2014 football (soccer) World Cup which was being shown on the large plasma screen TV and it was a pretty decent match which added to my enjoyment. I believe they have regular live music here as well and so this appears to be the scial centre of town and it is definitely recommended”.

As it was our first night on the road, Lynne said she would be happier if we booked ahead so we had and drove the 25 Miles along the 1 to the small settlement of Granville Ferry. Again, here are my thoughts on Granville Ferry and the venue.

“Most people seem to consider Granville Ferry as nothing more than a suburb of the nearby and much larger Annapolis Royal. Whilst in the modern day it probably is on some respects, in others it is a completely distinct entity, a pleasant if somewhat sleepy little place but with a fantstic amount of history attached to it.

Originally a hunting ground for the native Miqmaq tribe, the area was settled and became an important shipbuilding centre during the Golden Age of Sail due to it’s position on the Annapolis River. Today it is a fairly scattered semi-rural community where the pace of life seems quite relaxed.

Apart from the many historical points of interest, it is a decent place to go for a bit of a drive round should you be passing.

A great introduction.

Rather foolishly and for various reasons, we had not done what most publications recommend i.e. a “shakedown” trip which is effectively a short trip staying close to home, or even in your own driveway. This is so that you can get to grips with how everything works. This folly was compounded by the fact that we were in a 33 -year-old wagon that was basically held together by rust, gaffer (duct) tape and the power of hope.

Still, we had pre-booked and although we arrived pretty late in the evening we were greeted by the very friendly woman who runs the place, registered and allocated our site.

Not having had a “shakedown” of course we didn’t know that the small household plug we had on the hook-up was totally the wrong size for the electrical socket but that was no problem (nothing was a problem for the wonderful staff here) and she supplied us with one free against a small deposit.

Top tip.

Do a “shakedown” and check your kit!

The site was very well-equipped with two and three way hookups (water, electric and sewer) and it had a small swimming pool (not open as it was still a bit cold), a meeting hut, well-stocked shop and a cafe that boasts a monstrous burger for breakfast. I decided to pass on that one.

Although it was pretty dark by the time we had eaten I took a bit of a walk anyway. Lynne was tired and didn’t fancy it but I wandered down to the water which was about two minutes walk from Betsy and just stared for a while out over the flat calm waters of the Annapolis River although I actually thought it was a lake at that point.

I just stood there in the quiet, breathing in the beautifully fresh, crisp air which is a blessing in itself if you live in London, trust me. I was thinking that it had been such an interesting and fun day notwithstanding the crockery incident, no major mishaps and Betsy had steamed along nicely. We had done 60 miles which is nothing really but that was never the point, why just keep driving all day and see nothing?

I reckoned that if this was a taste of things to come it was going to be a brilliant trip and it is no spoiler to tell you that I was right. If you want to find out exactly how right I was then stay tuned and spread the word.

Author: Fergy.

Hello there. I am a child of the 50's, now retired and had been enjoying travelling pre-virus. Now I am effectively under house arrest. Apart from travelling, I love playing music (guitar, vocals and a bit of percussion) as the profile pic suggests and watching sport, my playing days are long over. I read voraciously, both fiction and nonfiction I'll read just about anything although I do have a particular interest in military history of all periods. I live alone in fairly central London where I have been for over 30 years since leaving Northern Ireland which was the place of my birth. I adore cooking and I can and do read recipe books and watch food programmes on TV / online all day given half a chance.

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