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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Letters from the Americas 2005 (part 8) - Canada Prince Edward Island


"GOD DAMN THEM ALL, I WAS TOLD WE'D CRUISE THE SEAS"

The last place we visited on Cape Breton was a picturesque town called Baddeck, think white picket fences, pleastantville USA, it was also the home to Alexander Graham Bell. That little fact blew my mind. The man changed the face of history. How long can you go without a phone, eh? Although, if I'm perfectly honest, despite my teenage years which were spent glued to the phone, I now hate making calls, I hate receiving calls, in fact, my worst nightmare is seeing that I've an answerphone message. I should set up an anti-communications company with the slogan "don't call us, we won't call you".

Don't get me wrong, I like people and I like talking (a lot) and I would probably be gutted if no one ever picked up the phone to me again :o(

Prince Edward Island (PEI to its friends) is mostly famous for being the setting of Anne of Green Gables. Which by the way is a superb book for young girls, I loved it when I was a kid. That and the Noel Streatfeild 'shoe books', I can't remember anything about them now (probably all those unnecessary phone conversations over the years have addled me brain!) but I do remember that I loved them when I was a nipper. Back to Anne, despite being a fictional character we did manage to visit her 'house' and even spied a disheveled looking middle aged red headed pig tailed 'Anne' crossing the road erratically in Charlelottetown pushing a shopping trolley! (the booze must have got her).

We visited an Irish theme pub in Charlelottetown, as the guide pointed out, despite being called Ye Olde Dublin Pub, there was nothing old or Dublinesque about it. However, it did have a live trad band which allowed myself and Sharon to break into stereotypes and join them in belting out rousing renditions of Irish Rover etc, much to the amusement of our gathered international travellers. I heard Barrett’s Privateers for the first time that night and it has shot straight in to my Top Five Fav Sea Shantys of all time. It's sung accapella and will leaving your jaw hanging mid sentence and rivet you to the spot, it’s friggin outstanding. It's sung at the end of the night in most Nova Scotians drinking establishments and is about a legless man sitting on a pier in Nova Scotia lamenting the loss of his sea mates, oh and by legless I think it's meant in the missing legs sense rather than the Irish fall down drunk sense.

We did a 12km bike trail across the Homestead Trail in PEI, it was one of the highlights of the whole trip. You can barrel along at your own pace and traipse through such a variety of scenery, from beaches, to forest, to green fields. Do beware though cos the north americans, not content with driving on the wrong side of the road, they also like to swap the brakes around on the bikes, so to start with the Irish, the Aussies and the English were all unintentionally screeching into BMX skids and random wheelies just in an effort to stop the flippin contraptions.

When leaving PEI we crossed the Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge in the world (or some other outrageous claim like that). It meanders along with slight curves, the reason being, if it was totally straight for that long length drivers would apparently have some sort of freak attack and plunge off the side (hhmm, Canadians).

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