Hello once again and welcome as always to this next post in the series about my 2014 “Summer” trip to the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in Canada.
I was in a campervan / RV called Betsy who was a venerable 33 years old with my dear friend Lynne and it is more than my life is worth to tell you how old she is! Shall we just say, she is considerably younger than me, aren’t I a lucky boy? Actually I am as it was a superb trip, one of the best I have ever had.
If you are new to my blog, firstly you are very welcome and I thank you for reading this and secondly, if you want to know the story of this particular “ramble” from the beginning then you can do so here.
Regular readers will know that we had gone to bed in the early hours of the 5th July in the knowledge that we were directly in the path of the rapidly approaching Hurricane Arthur and if you wish to know what happened next then please read on.
Arthur was coming and I suppose we felt a little like a foreign force in the face of that probably mythical British King. We knew he / it was coming but we didn’t know where, when or how strong he / it was. OK, the weathermen were predicting all sorts of mayhem but do you really believe weathermen? We had no idea how much potential death, destruction and damage was possible although the media were certainly preparing us for the worst (as usual).
I suppose we had unspokenly agreed that, if we were going to die in this horrible maelstrom, then we might at least die happy and so we took into Betsy’s rapidly diminishing hold to further deplete our cider supplies. I know that sounds melodramatic, and it was meant to be. In truth, it just felt like a bit of a stormy night.
Having retreated from Halifax on the advice of the local TV weatherman (see previous post for details) we were ensconced in an RV that I could easily have pushed my fist through at any point bar the engine block and we had nowhere to go. You can’t outrun a hurricane so nothing to do but sit it out. Little seemed to be happening except a bit of a breeze and we retired to bed.
At this point, I would love to tell you all sorts of heroic stories about Betsy being blown over and me crawling into the wreckage to rescue Lynne but it just didn’t happen. Sorry.
It is certainly not the most restful night I have ever had but it equally certainly wasn’t the worst, fearful as I was of Betsy’s resilience. Yes, we woke up a few times when the old girl started to “rock ‘n’ roll” a bit but that was it. At no point did I think she was going to tip.
There was rain, a lot of rain and I was so glad that Lynne’s father and I had rather crudely “re-pitched” the roof when we were re-furbing. Obviously, neither of us were expecting a hurricane as we worked because this was supposedly far too early in the season but we did and it stood up. Cheers, Ron.
The morning came and I woke up (yes, I was asleep) so I jumped up sharpish to inspect the carnage. I went outside and checked Betsy over to find she had no appreciable damage and we didn’t have any of the appendages like satellite dishes that most of the big, fancy new rigs have so that was not a problem.
At this point I am going to do something unusual for me and my regular readers will know that I usually do unusual things! Whilst writing this piece I was looking for something else to show you on my YouTube channel and found that I had posted a clip from the day before which I think shows far more graphically than any words of mine what it is like waiting for a hurricane. Here it is.
I have to apologise for the almost incomprehensible voiceover but I was using a tiny little Canon Ixus camera which was literally the size of a cigarette packet so it was never going to be great. Quite honestly, even if it had been flat calm, I doubt that more than 50% of my audience could understand my thick Northern Irish accent anyway! You can, however, see dear Betsy (she is the liitlest rig with “Glendale” on the back and the black, recently pitched roof!).
This was our new exposed pitch away from the potentially fatal “Timbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer” situation of a falling conifer and I hope it gives an idea of how things were building up when Arthur was coming to visit.
Yes, I could go back, re-write my previous post to include this link etc. but I see no point in that and so you are getting this a day late, or more accurately seven years late at time of writing and who knows how many years to come?
Isn’t it strange to think that everything we write on our respective blogs may be read years or centuries from now like old manuscripts that turn up in unexplored attics and give us a glimpse into our past these days? I am not even going to go down that path or you shall die of boredom, dear reader.
Back to a slightly blown about Shubie campground on a post-hurricane morning. I have consulted my extensive library of books on the subject of etiquette and found them distinctly lacking in advice upon the subject of what to do in such circumstances. Ah well, we are just going to have to make it up then.
What we decided on was a bit of wave-watching as there were still warnings about rough seas. Hurricanes are caused by extreme low pressure and it obviously throws oceans about a bit. Oh, and by the way, Lynne had promised me the best seafood dinner I had ever had. That sounds like a plan, so we jumped in the cab and took off.
At the risk of repetition, RV living is so brilliant in that respect, it is a case of, “Want to go somewhere, there is X,YZ to see”. “Right, give me five minutes to do the dishes and batten down the hatches”. You can literally get out of bed, have a wash, make breakfast and eat it at a table and then start driving without even opening the door. I love it but you probably know that by now.
When we were on the road I asked Lynne where we were going and she answered “Eastern Passage”. OK, sounds like the complete antithesis of what Columbus had attempted when he re-discovered the Americas in 1492. He was searching for a Western passage to the lucrative spice regions of Asia but what was Eastern Passage?
In truth Eastern Passage is nothing much, just a tiny dormitory area for the Halifax / Dartmouth area and, in typical Nova Scotian style, it is well-kept and tidy but nothing to see here so Lynne stopped to allow me to take the short piece of video you can see here and which is thankfully devoid of my commentary.
I have to be totally honest here and say that the so-called stormy seas were pretty tame really, I have seen much worse at home. Sorry Arthur, you really were a bit of a non-event so we headed back towards Dartmouth. Lynne had promised me the best seafood dinner ever and I have more or less promised you the same by proxy so let’s go. Again, these are my original notes.
Legendary, and rightly so.
“I dislike the words legend / legendary as I find them much overused by lazy journalists trying to spice up a headline. Why then would I use it in regards to a small eatery in the sleepy suburbs of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia? I’ll tell you, it is simply because this place deserves the accolade.
I was travelling there recently with my dear friend Lynne and she had simply raved about this place and told me that no trip to that excellent Province would be complete without a meal in John’s Lunch.
She lives in Alberta which is about a five hour flight away and she used to deliberately time her flight so that when her Father picked her up from the airport in Halifax this place would be open so they would eat here before driving home. That was fair enough recommendation for me but it didn’t end there.
We coincidentally happened to visit on the day Hurricane Arthur hit the locality. Yes, the weather was appalling and still, when we turned up, we had to queue for a seat! I was getting the idea already.
The delightful server told us it would be a while for a table for two but we could sit at the counter if we wanted so that sounded like a plan.
Having pitched ourselves up my companion told me I had to have the clams, which I had never had prepared like this before i.e. battered and deep-fried. In the end I plumped for the clams with haddock tips accompanied by fries (chips in proper parlance).
I have no idea what haddock tips are, possibly the offcuts from the (extremely) local pier where they source their produce but they were gorgeous.
I had a look round whilst waiting and saw an absolute plethora of awards on the walls. They are all well-deserved, I can tell you. The wait was not long and after a short time our orders appeared. The image show that it is a basic place, no fancy nonsense. but the food…………
I have been lucky enough to have eaten in some very good restaurants and paid for it. That is great in it’s place and I do enjoy it but what they served me here was worthy of any Michelin starred chef who would have been proud to offer it. They even have rootbeer! You don’t get that in an Alain Ducasse restaurant.
I don’t actually know why they call this place John’s Pizza as I didn’t see a single one served. I didn’t even see a pizza oven! I am sure they do them but that would seem to be very secondary to what people actually come here for which is the fish / seafood I don’t have the words (unusually for me) to describe how good the meal was here. I had never tasted anything like the clams before, the haddock tips (whatever they may be) were succulent, the batter was fresh as you like and the chips (fries) obviously at least double if not treble cooked. I have rarely eaten a better meal in my life.
If you are on a budget, it is not expensive. I think my meal ran to about $16 CAD. which, frankly, is a small price to pay for the quality of what I ate.
If pushed to a one line definition of this place, I suppose it would have to be “haute cuisine on a cheap white plate”. This place is not merely recommended, it is an absolute requirement if you are in the Dartmouth area. If you don’t, you will have missed out on something really, really special. This place genuinely is the best.
As I said earlier, I do not have an adequate grasp of the language to tell you how good the food is here. Just go for yourself and find out, come back, and I defy you to tell me I’m wrong.”
As you can probably tell and, even by my verbose standards, I was “gushing” when I wrote that report but nothing in the intervening seven years has changed my mind. If you are in Dartmouth and have not eaten here then you have done yourself the greatest disservice.
Well that was a bit if a nothing day but, with large swathes of the Province without power and the poor adjacent Province of New Brunswick (which we shall visit soon) under six inches of overnight rain and half of that Province cut off from the grid, I suppose we had no right to complain.
We headed back to the campsite via Ceilidh’s Bar, as previously mentioned and I include a previously used image here just to brighten up this page.
I fully appreciate that this page is fairly devoid of any visual stimulus bar the YouTube links and I can do nothing more than apologise but I really have no images to share with you, there was nothing to see.
I think the best thing to do now, as it was then, is to draw a line under this day and promise you that there is lots to see when we go exploring Halifax in the next post, including the sainted Lynne as Speaker in the local Parliament building!
If the thought of that interests you, if you just want to see Halifax or even if you just want to see what the Hell I get up to next then stay tuned and spread the word.