I had waited my whole life to come here. Like many, it’s the appeal of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (image from the tv-movie starring Megan Follows, pictured above) that drew me to this far away land, but I’ve also always perceived Prince Edward Island to be some kind of heaven: and as the wind gently echoes across the green fields, quaint colourful homes and sparkling ocean I am pleased to share that I was right.
The Gentle Isle, Prince Edward Island
It wasn’t looking so good to start with though. I’ve been planning this pilgrimage for a while and each turn to get here since leaving London was plagued with one problem or another. We missed the summer season by one week, and consequently quite a few of the shuttles and bus services that would have made the journey on and off the island simple are closed for another six months.
The longer I investigated journeys in and out, the higher travel costs became. Note to prospective travellers – PEI is absolutely worth the trip, but organise yourself early and book flights in and out of Charlottetown to avoid any hassle.
The complications continued to the very end when our train from Montreal was delayed by two hours overnight causing us to miss the last connecting bus to the island, and then the following day there was a delay with our transport on arrival into the island thus drastically reducing our limited window of exploration time. I was quite distressed by this point, really feeling like I wasn’t meant to get here – what could go wrong next?
Fortunately the bad luck subsided, and I’m here! The weather has been stunning, accommodation in our little cabin at the Anne Shirley Motel & Cottages fabulous, locals friendly and helpful, and the island itself simply stunning. Prince Edward Island is much bigger than I had expected. It’s a vast space of land consisting of rugged beach front, rivers, lakes, bays, lighthouses, pastoral land, small white churches with tall steeples, deep-sea fishing boats, and scattered townships and cities including the capital where we landed initially, Charlottetown.
Regardless of it being larger than I had imagined, the maritime province is still the smallest in Canada, but it is significant as being the ‘birthplace of Confederation’. This is marked by the famous (and loooong) Confederation Bridge which links PEI with Moncton in New Brunswick, the place where we were stranded the evening before arrival.
Pockets of civilisation were founded throughout the area from the 1700s, and it’s obvious from where founding fathers (whether by original land discovery or through spoils of war) hailed – examples of township names include New London, New Glasgow, Cornwall, Kensington, Stratford, Greenwich, IIe Saint Jean and Irishtown.
Visiting Green Gables was obviously a highlight. It’s straight out of a storybook! What I didn’t realise is that the building is historical, not just a film set. In real life (back in the 1800s), the farm was the home of the Macneill’s, cousins to the famous author L.M Montgomery. She grew up nearby with her grandparents but was always inspired by Green Gables and the surrounding woodlands which she named Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Wood, as depicted in the fictional Anne of Green Gables series.
Green Gables is just one of many beautiful examples of quaint homes and gardens across Prince Edward Island though. When driving around it is easy to be captivated by the scenery, but the houses are just as striking! Gorgeous triangular roofed homes – colourful, well-kept with beautiful gardens, huge farm barns, and often matching dog houses out in the large back yards. In fact, my initial impression of the island was that it is so picturesque that it’s almost like a country version of the Desperate Housewives set! Similar architectural styles exist whether located in the ‘middle’ of the island across sprawling green countryside surrounded by cows, sheep, horses and dogs, or on waterfront property bordered by boats bobbing in the breeze.
The locals are simply divine too, with several going out of their way to help, guide and chat to us. The folks at Anne Shirley’s Motel were more than helpful, and today we even met a real life Anne Shirley, a lovely lady who was indeed named after Montgomery’s character, and who in the 50s used to own a hair salon and visitors used to ask for her autograph – cute!
Prince Edward Island is the magical land I’d always imagined it to be, perhaps thanks to L.M Montgomery, or Maud as she liked to be called, and her vivid descriptions of her truly beautiful homeland that she wrote about all those years ago. Over the past day and a half on PEI we’ve met two lovely people who both said their lifelong dream was to visit our home, Australia, all the way across the other side of the globe. They said they probably won’t get to travel the distance though, which makes me sad for them, but also makes me realise that I am very lucky to have been able to see this place − so far away but always on my mind. I’m very lucky and grateful indeed.
Getting to PEI:
Try Air Canada, ViaRail and Acadian Bus Lines. Read more here
Anne Shirley Motel & Cottages anneshirley.ca
You’ll need a map of the island and a car – we hired from Enterprise Car rental (Charlottetown) enterpriserentacar.ca. Alternatively, there are cycle lanes surrounding the island so hire a bike and go exploring.
It’s customary to try a ‘Lobster supper’ on Prince Edward Island, and some of the best are allegedly located in New Glasgow.
**More useful information at tourismpei.com
If you have visited Prince Edward Island, please do drop a line in the comments and let me know if you loved it as much as I did x
I adore it in this part of the world.
Just this morning I was pondering what we would do now; what would we talk about? This time a week ago we had the big, romantic wedding and street parties all around. Then the weekend was topped off by the news that Osama Bin Laden had finally been captured and killed.
Ironically enough, I stumbled across quite an amusing editorial in The Daily Telegraph by Hannah Betts which proved I wasn’t the only one thinking along these lines. It really was such an amazing event: “For a few hours we came together as a country in a way that no sporting activity, or religious celebration could muster. In a multi-media age, where the populace rarely views the same subject matter, we united on a single theme“. Am sure quite a few of you will, with a knowing smile, agree…
Have you fallen into the arms of post-wedding-day blues?
After celebrating the royal wedding our nation is left deflated, says Hannah Betts.
Look deep into your soul and ask yourself: do any of the following symptoms sound familiar? A wistful longing for romantic conviction; the feeling that one might be a tad chubby or lacking poise; an overwhelming sense of drabness; an indignant rumbling to the effect: “Where’s Monday’s bank holiday gone?”
One week on from what the nation is still rapturously referring to as “The Wedding”, a certain post-nuptial depression would appear to be afflicting the collective female psyche. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Great Wedding Wobble.
Personally, I am no ardent monarchist, without being a republican; I am not looking for Mr Right; nor do I believe in marriage. Nevertheless, my own wake o’ nuptials malaise set in last Friday at 4pm prompt.
What, no more watching royals motor about the capital? No further tittering at Beatrice’s titfer? No more fashionable nose-upturning at the former Miss Middleton, who – even former naysayers must concede – pulled an absolute blinder? How could we be expected to wean ourselves off the eye candy so quickly? Surely the couple had a responsibility to fulfil their role as reality television stars to topple Essex’s finest and commit their wedding night to the small screen?
The male commentator who described the wedding as the “World Cup for women” didn’t come close. For when has the outcome of a football match made anyone question their quality of life? The introspection – ye gods, the introspection! I may not want to get hitched, but the couple’s beatific happiness (after 10 years!) reduced me to a gibbering heap. Theirs was a radiant certainty that I have yet to feel about anyone or anything.
Happily – unhappily – I am not alone. Legions of otherwise sane women would appear to be suffering post-nuptial angst. For those enduring separation or malcontentedly single, the wretchedness is palpable.
Said one 38-year-old divorcee: “I couldn’t help but reflect on my wedding day and the confident assumption that my life was complete. And yet here I am living alone in a bedsit, with unhappy children and an incandescent ex. The pair’s tangible warmth crawled beneath the armour I had used to protect myself, causing me physical and emotional symptoms.”
Another friend, awaiting her prince just shy of 40, admits: “It’s the first time we’ve seen a royal couple so genuinely in love and, once the excitement had passed, it was so deflating – and a stark reminder of where we are not in our own lives. It was all so damn effervescent and now life’s the opposite. To be honest, I’m a little green. They’re 10 years younger and have a happy road ahead, whereas they’ve left me looking backwards.”
The image of the oh-so fragrant Duchess of Cambridge has led to some particularly self-lacerating feminine critique. As one staunchly sensible career woman bemoans: “I am (secretly) jealous of everything: her poise, having so many amazing pictures of her big day, that incredible mane of hair. I found myself in Prêt the other day thinking: ‘Well, I won’t buy the Caesar salad because Kate wouldn’t get that. Mind you, nor would Kate have that second bottle at lunchtime or go to bed with her slap on.’
“Her stellar performance has made me look at my own existence and find it wanting. Moreover, without any desire to get married, I’ve started thinking: ‘A dress with a 9ft-train really is the minimum.’”
The incredulity with which such confessions are expressed cannot be exaggerated. From our Slough of Despond we wail: “Is it only a week since Blighty thrilled to cartwheeling vergers and pirouetting plods?” For a few hours we came together as a country in a way that no sporting activity, or religious celebration could muster. In a multi-media age, where the populace rarely views the same subject matter, we united on a single theme.
A self-confessed pessimist remarks: “I had a strange sense during the wedding of losing all cynicism – and that so had much of London. There was a genuine air of camaraderie. For once we had good news – and on an epic scale.” The sense of jaundice and ennui that marks the comedown from this delirium would appear to be universal, even among those who like to be modishly countercultural.
And late 30- and 40-somethings – who prefer to imagine themselves as young – remembering Diana’s first-born crawling around in his romper suit have felt dispiritingly middle-aged. And all of us have had to face the end of that stretch of sunlit loafing born of consecutive bank holidays. “There’s simply nothing to look forward to,” comes the lament.
A nation mourns, or rather, sulks. Zara Phillips, take note.
While we wait in nervous anticipation of this awful cyclone that is going to slam into my home of North Queensland, at least some good news in the papers…
A cute little goss snippet from The Gold Coast Bulletin, February 2, 2011 (thanks Regina and Peter) x
(alternatively view here)
Well it has finally turned cold – and wet, and rainy. It is a Monday morning in mid-November as I sit in the warmth of Starbucks (I know, they should sponsor me!). This time though, I am at a Starbucks in east London, sipping on a much-needed latte before work. My relationship here is now such that they know my order without me having to ask for it. ‘The usual, please’. I even have another ‘regular’ friend here – a lovely elderly gentleman who is always reading biographies in his same seat by the counter each day. But I digress…
Christmas carols and festive menus are now everywhere, brightly contrasting to the grey skies. In fact the awning outside nearly flew off, and it dumped water onto an innocent passer-by, how annoying.
I scored a job (lucky in this current economic climate) and have been working for about four weeks. It is good to be working, and the team is great. The workload, particularly admin, is immense and it is proving to be quite tiring. Am working in London and freelancing to Australia simultaneously, which is rewarding but rather busy. However, it is as I’ve heard – you work hard and play hard in the big city. I think how much I’ve learned in the few months we have been here, as I navigate my way between suburbs on trains, tube and buses. It’s quite extraordinary. All my friends are commenting on seeing Eat Pray Love (the film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book of the same name) – they’re all ready to jump on a plane and go adventuring across the world, and I must admit that it’s nice to not be on the envy side of that equation for once. It is fulfilling to be doing and experiencing life, regardless of the challenges associated with stepping out of ‘the norm’.
The weekends here are really fun. Cooper and I now have kind of a date night on Friday, where after work we go and eat and drink in local bars until way past our usual bed time. We can walk everywhere so getting home is not a trial. We particularly like Bayswater, Notting Hill, Gloucester Road and Shepherd’s Bush. On Saturdays we do some exploring – like jumping on a ferry to see areas along the Thames, we go shopping in different suburbs to explore places we haven’t been to, catch up with friends if they are around… There are also amazing trade shows and experiences, like the Conde Nast Luxury Travel Show or the Discover Dogs expo at Earl’s Court. Love it!
Sunday morning is usually ‘errand’ time – washing, shopping, work then maybe a dvd. We are just enjoying ‘being’ in London. Saving has begun for trips to Europe and America, but with the exception of still missing Harry the Dog, life is full on, but ok in the big city. We’re meeting more people and making friends on and offline. All in all, we’re lucky and happy.
Time for work now, will check in later, SB X