Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Fredericton: Yes, it's worth going... mainly for the art

We're home.

The kids were UNBELIEVABLY good on the long drive back, which we did over two days instead of the luxurious three we did on the way out. We stopped only once each day which is absolutely remarkable given that we had three kids with us under the age of 7 and an adult with a tiny bladder.

I'm looking at you, John.

Our trip was, overall, amazing. We had a great time. I was very tired by the end because Henry forgot how to sleep and learned how to whine while we were there. Apart from the supreme lack of sleep I had to endure, it was the adventure I was hoping for for our family.

The cottage we rented was perfect for our two families. It never felt cramped, even when we were all inside. There was a big wrap-around veranda that extended the living space as did the bunkhouse a.k.a. "the playhouse".

The cottage was in a group of cottages all of which sat on an old farm that we had fun exploring on our first full day there. The area was littered with old apple trees, blessedly all in blossom. We also found a lot of old farm machinery, much of it now being used as lawn decor. There was evidence of a long-ago perennial garden that has been completely taken over by shrub. It was fun to imagine what the farm once looked like and who looked after those forgotten sedums.

The cottage was about a 40-minute drive to Fredericton so we tended to break up our day trips in the area with days in between at the cottage. The only time we didn't do this was on the last day and I lived to regret it. Henry was reaching what I thought was his pinnacle of whinyness (hah! I hadn't seen anything yet!) and I thought that leaving the cottage might help. It didn't. Hindsight. 20-20.

So, when I last updated the blog we had spent a great day exploring New Brunswick's history. The next day we stayed at the cottage and the kids actually swam in the lake. I swatted black flies. It became a passion of mine.

On Wednesday we went into Fredericton to see what there was to see. Before you answer: "NOT MUCH... IT'S FREDERICTON!" I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's a sleepy town but the waterfront area is charming and the Garrison District is also fun to look around. Also, AMAZING yarn shop called Yarns on York. If you knit and you're in Fredericton, you know what I'm talking about. I bought myself the most beautiful skein of handpainted yarn which will become a stunning scarf.... someday.

My only complaint about Fredericton is that I wish that some of the usual summer stuff was going on there given that Congress was in town (and the reason we were there) - changing of the guard, the old officers' quarters open, etc - but it's not summer yet so we weren't too surprised. Still... with 6000 academics in town, you'd think you'd get something going on down there. Nerds and dorks like that sort of thing, you know. I should know, I would count myself as both a nerd and a dork.

We did manage to stop for ice cream at the lighthouse by the river. From there we walked to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Both Pam and I were keen to see it after reading rave reviews. It was everything we read and more and (gasp!) even the kids loved it. Of course, it didn't hurt that they were made honorary security guards by a very nice staff person who outfitted them with security badge stickers and instructions about how to be a great security guard (no touching, shouting, running and making sure other people obey these rules too). Seriously, it was brilliant and worked like a charm. These people have it going on.

We really loved the collection. It ranges from modern (currently a Dali exhibit as well as a very cool portraiture exhibit featuring video, photography and paintings) to Masterpieces (some dating back to the 18th century). The gallery isn't huge which I really appreciated. The staff, as I mentioned, is great with kids, including the security guards who accompanied us to each room (not surprisingly since we did have 4 kids plus one baby with us). If you're in Fredericton, I suggest making a stop at the Beaverbrook the top of your priority list. You will not be sorry.

That pretty much covers our day in Fredericton. Next post: A day at the Bay of Fundy!

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