Unexpected Bonus: The Bay of Whales Gallery


After a crazy-busy Christmas and New Year “silly season” followed by some medical events with my father, we managed to get away for a few days to one of our favourite destinations.  It’s a little caravan park (aka ‘trailer park’ in American English) nestled into a bend on the Surry River on the south-western coast of Victoria, just down the hill from a small hamlet named Narrawong.  

Many people might drive through Narrawong on their way from Warrnambool to Portland and suspect that there’s not much there. 
They’d be wrong. 

This area is full of surprises. We’ve been spending part of our January here for years, but we are still finding new things to do and see. 

This year’s unexpected bonus was a visit to the Bay of Whales Gallery, where wildlife artist Brett Jarrett creates and exhibits his amazing realist art of all sorts of animals and birds. 

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Peggy’s Cove.

A year ago today, Sean and I travelled down the coast of Nova Scotia from Halifax to Peggy’s Cove, and then across the province to the Bay of Fundy and the tiny township of Hall’s Harbour.
It was such a magical day for us both – dreams realised, memories made, and lots of laughter and surprises along the way.

I decided to re-post the blogs from that day, just to share with even more people how special the day was.

You’re welcome.

An Aussie Maple Leaf, adrift on the wind...

I’ve seen Peggy’s Cove in photographs and books many times, so it was an obvious addition to my bucket list for my visit to Canada.

We set out this morning from Halifax in misty rain, but it didn’t dampen my spirits. I observed that moody skies and a bit of rain kind of suited this part of Nova Scotia, although I’m not really sure why.

We stopped at some picturesque places along the way, enjoying the scenery provided by little bays and inlets and the vivid Autumn colours of the trees along the road. Little white churches, boats, rustic cabins, ponds and rocky outcrops provided stimulus for plenty of conversation as we drove.

As we drove into Peggy’s Cove there were so many delightful things to see that it was hard to know where to start.

We almost overlooked a stunning view over the Atlantic Ocean, but I was so…

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Toodle Pip!

Today, I bid my sixteen-year-old cat, Pip, farewell. She was old, losing her mind, and her time had come.

Pip was quite a nice cat, if you could get past the fact that she hated being cuddled, peed on the floor – and only occasionally, the kitchen counter – out of sheer, deliberate vengeance if she was displeased, and frequently left fragrant landmines outside the bedroom and bathroom doors of any visitors that she didn’t like much.

She had a cracking case of the condition known as Resting Bitch Face, in which she could look at you like she wanted you to die while she sat on your lap, purring like a Volkswagen Beetle and drooling on your clothes.

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Pip had a penchant for tidbits of ham and tasty cheese, and had various members of the family trained to feed  her off the kitchen counter or table when they were making lunch or a snack.  She used to sit on the kitchen table beside my father-in-law as he made his sandwiches for lunch, and tap him on the arm whenever she thought it was time for him to hand-feed her again. She wasn’t afraid to use a claw or two when you were slow to feed her or pat her.

She used to run into the bedroom when she heard the alarm go off in the mornings, and wake me with a firm pat or two on the cheek with her paw. It wasn’t wise to ignore her – if she thought it was past time for me to be out of bed, she would put a claw up my nostril and pull on it to make me sit up. It’s hard not to feel loved by a cat that is so careful to make sure you get to the dairy on time, just so she can sleep in the warm spot in the bed that you’d left behind.

She did love a good rub behind the ears, and loved to “boop” my finger tip while sitting on my lap. That made her purr and drool more than most things.

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Pip hated going outside, and actually managed to avoid it for several years at a time. It was only in recent months that she started to venture out of open doors, only to look very surprised when she realised where she was, and bolt back inside to the safety of her comfort zone as quickly as she possibly could.

Pip loved sitting on my desk while I worked. She’d hang over the edge of the desk, hoping that my fingers would rub against her ears while I typed. She would occasionally swipe me for a pat or some attention – it couldn’t possibly be all about the students, or my deadlines. Seriously.

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She loved chasing the red dot, bits of ribbon or string, and flashes of light on the floor or walls made by sunlight reflecting on a watch face, cutlery, or a mirror. We didn’t let her chase the red dot too often, as it made her kind of psychotic and jittery. She’d walk past my study and jump two feet in the air because she thought that dot was going to pop out of thin air and get her.

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Over the past few months, Pip got really skinny and started looking like her best days were behind her. She started sitting like a statue and watching us for hours, then walking in circles around the same piece of furniture before sitting down and licking her paws like there was nothing wrong. She started walking funny, hunching her back a lot, and she started to get incredibly skinny.

Last night, she sat in my study looking unhappy and uncomfortable. The red blanket that she loved to sleep on was on the couch, so I pulled it down onto the floor for her. She crawled onto it and curled up, but didn’t sleep. I knew she was unhappy and in pain.

This morning I took Pip to the vet, who concurred with my decisions about her health and her pain. We agreed that her time had come.

I tried to cuddle her and say goodbye, but she pushed away from me like she always did. I rubbed her ears and stroked her from the top of her head to the tip of her tail, just as she liked me to do. I said goodbye, and I cried.

She was a strange creature, but she was mine, and I loved her.

It’s weird sitting in my study without her sleeping on the couch nearby.
Pip will be missed…just probably not by my other cat. They were never friends.



Just now,  LMC and I had this conversation. 

LMC: “You’re a nut.”

Me: “No. You’re a nut.”

LMC: “Nutty’s a nut.”

Me: “No, Nutty’s a squirrel. I’m a genius.”

LMC: “Because you’re wearing jeans?”

Me: “Yeah. I have a jean-y arse.”
She cracked up again. Honestly, she laughs at the littlest things. 

Nothing up my sleeve…

So, I forgot to tell the funniest part of last night’s fart story. 

After she finished laughing, she asked me, “Is that all you’ve got? Or is there something else up your sleeve?”

And I said, “That wasn’t up my sleeve, honey.” 

Riotous laughter ensued yet again. 

Illusions of familial bliss. 

Yesterday afternoon, I went to meet LMC at the corner as she was walking home from school. I needed to go to the supermarket, and I didn’t want her to walk all the way home when I was in town anyway. 

I waved as I saw her walking toward me, and she broke into a run.  Then she threw her arms around me and said happily, “Boy, am I glad to see you!”

Before she had a chance to explain why, two ladies who had just walked out of the bank and stopped nearby  both smiled at what they saw and heard. They probably thought I was her mum, and that she just loved me that much. 

One said, “Oh! How beautiful!” The other said, “That’s so nice to hear! Just lovely!”  

They both beamed at LMC and then at me, as if I had performed some kind of child-rearing miracle. 

As LMC and I walked away, she explained that she wanted to go to the supermarket, and she needed to work out what to wear for a disco-themed out-of-uniform day for school. And could she have something special for an after-school snack?  It wasn’t so much that she was happy to see me: it was rather that it suited her hopeful plans for me to be there at that time. 

Even so, I’m glad she didn’t blurt that out in front of those ladies. It would have been awful to shatter their illusions of our idyllic family life almost as quickly as they were created. 

Bay of Fundy.

After visiting Peggy’s Cove, I wanted to cut across Nova Scotia to see the Bay of Fundy, yet another of my bucket list items. 

We had discussed having dinner at a restaurant with a patio on Halifax Harbour, but we had also discussed how we liked to support “Mom and Pop” businesses. While I was investigating where to go to see the Bay, I noticed a place called Hall’s Harbour that had a lobster house restaurant right on the pier. 

Fort George.

Fort George is an historic fort at Niagara-On-The-Lake in Ontario. It dates back to the early 1800s, when the border between America and Canada was ‘settled’ and the Canadians had to hand over Fort Niagara because it was on the opposite bank of the River. 

Fort George has been carefully restored, using photographs and drawings from the time to make sure everything was accurate and authentic. The only building that is original is the gunpowder magazine. That building has stone walls four feet thick, so it’s no wonder that it’s still standing. 


The buildings all reflect what military life was like in the early 19th century.




There are guided tours, or you can wander around and see everything at your own pace. You can also see a demonstration of the use of the Brown Bess musket, the weapon of choice in 1812. 

You can see a video of the actual demonstration here.

Niagara Falls: Canada v America. 

When. I posted some of my pictures from the Clifton Hill entertainment area near Niagara Falls, Ontario, one of my American relatives posted a response saying that he really appreciated the American decision to make the area surrounding the falls a national park so that the area would not become commercialised, as the Canadian side of the falls had done. 

I agreed with him. It’s lovely that there is parkland surrounding the falls area, and that people are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of the falls. There is a small wooded area where one cat watch the squirrels and chipmunks play, and monuments to various historical events and figures that are significant to the area. It’s really very nice indeed. 

On reflection, though, the two sides are not so different. On both sides, people can enjoy the scenery without directly encountering any kind of commercialism. There is parkland for sitting, having a picnic, or just taking some time out. On both sides, without walking too far, people can find a gift shop, a casino, and various other opportunities for dining and retail therapy. Both casinos and their advertising are quite visible from the falls. Both sides have a Hard Rock Cafe, and I have visited and eaten in each of them. Both are excellent. Both sides run a cruise on the river that takes people right up close to the falls to witness their power and grandeur face to face. Both sides are fantastic, and I encourage everyone to visit both so that their experience of Niagara Falls is complete. 

 Clifton Hill is actually several blocks’ walk from the falls themselves, and doesn’t overwhelm one’s perception of Niagara Falls as one of the world’s natural wonders at all. You can visit Niagara Falls, CA, without going anywhere near there. There is lots of fun to be had at Clifton Hill if one is so inclined, and it’s also possible to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area without spending any extra money. Yes, it’s commercialised to a greater degree than the area surrounding the falls in New York State, but there is commercialism on both sides. 

When it all boils down about which “side” is better, my decision isn’t based on opportunities for dining, gambling or any other entertainment. It’s quite simple, really. The view from the American side is impressive, but nowhere near as stunning as it is on the Canadian side. Even the American side of the falls looks better from Canada.  



I declare Canada the winner, eh.