Jazz Hands on the Cape

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Our days in Nova Scotia were coming to an end; it had been two weeks since we landed in Halifax and we had one area of the province left to see – the previously mentioned, Cape Breton Island. Nova Scotia is a two-part province: the large mainland peninsula, and the Island of Cape Breton, attached by a short road causeway. I wasn’t really sure at first if this was an area that I wanted to explore, but after much research and a hearty recommendation from my sister, who is a frequent visitor to Nova Scotia,  it seemed like a must do on the itinerary.

Cape Breton turned out to be a hybrid of Scottish and French influence. Some towns are Acadian and the French language and customs are used. In other places, you will see people in Tartans carrying bagpipes. I’m told the whole landscape is distinctly Scottish; Highlands occupy the far north of the island with numerous lakes and trees. Almost all road signs are in English, French and Gaelic. It was the most wonderfully surprising place.

Even more surprising was Alexander Graham Bell. I vaguely knew that he had spent time in Canada, but it was in Baddeck on Cape Breton that he lived the later years of his life. There’s a museum there about his life and inventions (he invented a lot more than the telephone) and to this day the Bell family still own a swathe of land and a house that occupies the area around Baddeck. It was fascinating stuff, and I felt a little red faced that I didn’t know more about his life.

There’s a road that loops around the top end of Cape Breton called the Cabot Trail, named for the explorer John Cabot who landed in North America in 1497. The trail follows the coast, but rises and falls with the lush green hills and is dotted with hiking trails. The scenery on the Trail is utterly spectacular – and there were hardly any other cars. We had images in our heads of it being a clogged circular nightmare, but June is still considered low season, and we hardly saw another soul in some parts. Bliss!

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Some helpful advice from Parks Canada

On a completely unrelated topic, I was also very excited that after 14 years, I could watch the Tony awards broadcast on TV. In the UK, we have the Olivier Awards, which ITV attempts to air an abridged version at some off-peak hour when everyone is asleep, but in the US, the Tony’s are a huge deal on a national level, with loads of big names making appearances. As a ‘theatre’ person my jazz hands were out as I got a healthy dose of show tunes, sequins  and dance numbers. I may need to fly to New York to see Hamilton, the big winner of the evening. Not too sure about James Corden as host though.

We will say farewell to Nova Scotia soon, it’s been such a luxury to have the time to really explore the province – I’ve seen so many lighthouses and lobster traps, but the beauty of the place is what will stick in my mind.

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