(Apologies for writing this a week ago and then forgetting to post it – some of these events have now been overtaken and an exciting update will follow in the next day or two…. Apologies also for no pics – they will come next time.)
Well, after our marathon drive, eight overnight stops, mostly good weather along the way, some great hotels, and a few grab-and-go meals more than we’ve had in the past several years, we’re now settled into the rental cottage just outside Annapolis Royal. The first couple of days there was an icy wind that sent Peter scurrying to the nearest outdoor clothing store for a toque (woolly hat), as he’s the one who always takes the dogs for their first morning walk. Now, however, it’s settled into a balmy (for NS), 18 to 20 degrees each day, although it’s been grey and damp. Great news for Jenny, however, as she’s discovered ‘puddles’! Can’t wait to take her to a beach for the first time when it’s warm enough for her to swim.
So, met with our realtor last week having compiled a list of properties that looked ‘interesting’ online, and he pulled together an appointment schedule to view six last Thursday. Since we arrived, we’ve also been learning a few things about ourselves and our priorities with any new house that may just be our rocking-chair home. While there are some fabulous properties in more remote, even small oceanside towns – ‘small’ can be an exaggeration as the details could just as easily read ‘small – aka non existent’. Do we want to drive miles to pick up a forgotten bottle of milk? Nah ah! So, one place that appeared perfect on paper, with a garden backing onto a five-kilometre beach, was scrapped from the outset. I’m sure it’s wonderful for six months of the year, but not for us.
We are also learning the essentials of reading between the lines in property-speak! The problem is what realtors omit from details, and how their inventiveness works overtime to produce a spectacular image in every potential buyer’s minds-eye. So, to offer a very brief run-down of last week’s limited offerings: #1 – Likely owner built (16 years ago), with some finishing work still not finished (ill-fitting baseboard and window framing, wonky stair treads, no hand rails on stairs – usually a requirement for an occupancy certificate), and spectacularly over-priced thanks to a distant Bay of Fundy view! #2 – Century house (yep, early last century), built on rock, with water literally running through the basement – otherwise quite charming! #3 – Our favourite, should we decide to stay in the Annapolis Valley (more to follow below), and definitely a keeper, apart from some much-needed change of décor in a rather scary man cave – complete with a vast selection of hunting rifles; #4 – Seven acres and a dog’s idea of heaven, but a very unloved modular-looking house with no redeeming features architecturally; #5 – Now here’s a sense of irony. It’s been one of our favourites in the months since we starting planning our return to Canada, although we couldn’t understand why a three-year-old house, finished to a very luxurious standard, with a couple of acres, has been for sale for two years. Now we know. The house was built in what resembled the middle of a farmyard, with mud, manure, an over-wintering cow shed less than 50 yards away (anathema to vegetarians), with a smell that clung to clothes and that still made my nose twitch two days later.
Certainly, the one house ticked all our boxes, although I expected to feel more excited when we found what we hoped might be ‘the one’. Maybe my house-buying mojo has stalled, or our property-buying perspective changes as we get older, or it really isn’t ‘the one’. Or, the fact that another hot favourite – a converted barn – was sold just last week as we headed north, so obviously wasn’t meant to be. But, as we don’t want to be renting for too long, timing is also an issue that is perhaps clouding my thinking. And the fact that we’d already decided we wanted to investigate the South Shore (the Halifax side of Nova Scotia) before deciding on our preferred location.
So, Friday morning, bright and early, we set the GPS for Lununburg – a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site – to start our Atlantic foray. Hah! Around 30 kilometres from the cottage, our old gal’s respiratory system (her exhaust) started to wheeze noisily and ominously, so we immediately turned around and headed back. Being Good Friday we didn’t expect to find an exhaust centre open anywhere, the local Enterprise office was closed because there were no rental cars to be had, so we’ve been involuntarily gounded over the weekend. Thankfully, after trying several places that could only provide a replacement exhaust in two weeks, Peter found a garage – recommended to us by the local Dodge dealer (who could only give us a date in May) – that’s fitting us in at 10:30 tomorrow. Phew!
At least the dogs are getting very loooong walks and we’re discovering all the abandoned railway tracks that have been converted to prepared and maintained trails for hiking and biking, as well as cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing in the winter. A fabulous NS resource that runs for hundreds of kilometres throughout the province, and having walked miles in the past two days we’ve never seen another soul!
Some things never change: Arriving home late on Thursday evening after the house viewings, we decided to stop at a local Chinese restaurant offering take-aways. Ordered four dishes (CAD$40 – yikes – not Mexican prices, that’s for sure), but there was so much food that we ate well for three dinners – so not that expensive after all. But I have to wonder, as Chinese people are generally quite small, do they only ever eat a fraction of what they prepare, or are the portions they sell a perception of how much everyone else eats?
As a postscript to my usual nonsense: While I’ve been sitting typing, a sidebar on my computer screen was flashing up trivia, and an item caught my eye: Did you know that ‘LOL’ – short for ‘laugh out loud’ – was added to dictionaries in 2015!
Hugs to all