Tuesday, 19 August 2014

What to do on a rainy night and day in Woody Point.



by Keith and Heather Nicol    
       Despite the forecast of cloud and rain we headed to Woody Point in the afternoon of August 18 to see the last “Charlie and Mena” show of the season.  The “Charlie and Mena” concert features Charlie Payne on various accordions and singer Mena Lodge on guitar and is part of Gros Morne Summer Music.  They were joined by guitarist Darren Vincent and they put on a fine performance featuring Newfoundland music. It was held at the Heritage Theatre in Woody Point which is a great old building that Charlie Payne carefully restored. Before the show we ate at the popular Loft Restaurant and enjoyed a halibut supper and fisherman’s platter, both delicious. Then it was show time and Charlie, Mena and Darren played lots of lovely nostalgic Newfoundland songs as well as a few fast paced jigs and reels that got everyone’s feet tapping. That evening we stayed at the Blanchard House Bed and Breakfast (http://www.crockercabins.com/Blanchard_House.htm) which is a perfect place to stay in Woody Point since it is comfortable and central to everything.  The house was built in 1904 and has many furnishings which add to the historic nature of the house. 
Check out the historic Blanchard House Bed and Breakfast in Woody Point
     The next morning the rain was still falling in earnest. After a filling breakfast prepared by Ruby Sharpe at the Blanchard House we asked her about what we might do on a wet day in Woody Point and she gave us a map and pointed out many craft shops and art galleries.  We never knew there were so many artists in this community and many have their own shops which display their work. If you are interested in prints and paintings,  check out the Christine Koch Studio or the Sorensen’s Studio of Fine Arts. If you lean toward fibre art then the Molly Made Fibre Art Studio is well worth a visit. They even sell kits so that you can make your own hooked rugs. Aunt Maggie’s Homespun sells wool and owner Margaret King makes a wide variety of sweaters, slippers and caps. The Galliott Studio on the waterfront is another place worth checking out. Jennifer Galliott makes pottery, weaves and paints and she has combined this with a cafe so you can sip a coffee while you view her art. If you want to see an antique display, then head across the street to Aunt Janes Bed and Breakfast. Or if you are after interesting gifts and other crafts then the Old Loft Craft shop, Seaside Souvenirs or Hunky Dory Folk Art and Things have beautiful and unique selections. And once you have visited all of these locations then you can always head to Parks Canada’s Discovery Centre which is just outside Woody Point. They have interpretative displays on numerous topics like geology, glaciation and vegetation , their own art gallery (which is definitely worth a look) as well as a gift shop. So if you get caught on a rainy day in Woody Point you should definitely be able to see and learn lots.
The Molly Made Fibre Art Studio is just one of the many galleries and craft shops in Woody Point

     

Friday, 8 August 2014

See "The Known Soldier" for dramatic theatre at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival



by Keith and Heather Nicol
      “The Known Soldier” is one of 6 performances that the Gros Morne Theatre Festival (GMTF) is doing this summer in Cow Head. On the 100th anniversary of World War 1 it is fitting to produce a play about one of Newfoundland’s heroes of that war- Tommy Ricketts. And “The Known Soldier” was written and directed by the talented Jeff Pitcher, GMTF’s artistic director! What is significant about Tommy Ricketts is that he lied about his age when he signed up (he was just 15 at the time) yet in just a couple of years he had earned the Victoria Cross, the Britain’s highest award for valour. His sprints over open fields in the heat of battle are legendary. Yet when he returned to Newfoundland he avoided the limelight and didn’t like to talk about the war.  The cast of Adam Brake, Jennifer Furlong and Craig Haley do an impressive job of telling his story from his early days growing up in Middle Arm to his war years and then returning to Newfoundland. The simple set allows the actors to move quickly around the stage and is transformed into trenches for the war scenes.  “The Known Soldier” is fine dramatic theatre and is it is an appropriate play to see on this centennial of the beginning of World War 1. For more information on TNL’s Gros Morne Theatre Festival schedule or to book tickets to a show see- www.theatrenewfoundland.com or call 1-877-243-2899. 
Jennifer Furlong (left) and Adam Brake perform in "The Known Soldier"
      Looking for moose is a big past time for people visiting Gros Morne National Park (GMNP) . After all GMNP has some of the highest moose densities in the world so visitors think they should be everywhere. But come summer time they are often hard to see since they aren’t often at the side of the road where most people might see them. We have had most luck seeing moose on some of the hiking trails that cross the coastal plain. For instance, on a recent hike in late July on the Baker’s Brook Falls trail we saw 3 moose and 2 were quite close to the trail browsing in the forest. Although we couldn’t get a clear photo of them we could easily see the rack on the large bull. And last summer we had luck on the Western Brook Pond trail where we saw a moose that had been laying down in the tall grass about 15 meters in from the trail. At that point it was not visible to hikers but for some reason it decided to get up just as we walked past and we got some good photos of it. So head off on a hiking trail and you might see a moose. 
A moose near the Western Brook Pond trail

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Be sure to try this traditional Newfoundland dory fishing tour



by Keith and Heather Nicol
     If you want to go cod fishing from a traditional Newfoundland dory then you need to contact Darren Park. Darren is a top notch guide and operates 2 Newfoundland dories for tours of the Goose and Penguin Arm and is based in Cox’s Cove at the end of the North Shore highway (highway 440) near Corner Brook. His dory fishing trips are unique in the province and are very popular during the recreational cod fishery which runs until August 10 this summer.  When we phoned to book our trip he told us that all of his groups have caught their limit so far this year and that the largest fish caught was a 15 lb cod. “Perfect” we said “mark us down for the Tuesday, August 5 in your evening time slot.” When we arrived Darren said he was having a great year and that he only has a few spots left in the summer cod fishery season. “I even have several bookings for the fall fishery from September 20-29, 2014 and most of these are with repeat costumers” he grinned.  
Heather has a big smile after catching the first cod
We set off from the beach in bright sun at 5:00 pm and there was a moderate breeze blowing from the west. “A couple of hours ago it was flat calm and now this wind has come up” Darren told us. “But this won’t stop us from getting our fish “ No sooner were we in position than we had  tugs on the line and we began to reel  in the catch. “That is a nice 5 lb cod’ Darren said as he scooped it up with a net. Although the wind would gradually blow us off the small bank that we were fishing on, Darren expertly repositioned the dory and we were soon back catching fish. In just 40 minutes we had our quota of 10 fish which included 9 cod and 1 redfish. Heather as usual had the distinction of catching the largest cod which Darren estimated weighed in at 6 lbs . Another big bonus is that Darren fillets the fish for you when you get back to the beach so you can take your catch home all ready to cook . Darren runs boat tours through the summer and fall and they include a mussel boil up at his seaside cabin and then fishing or sightseeing in season. So far this season he has seen eagles, dolphins, whales, and moose on his sightseeing tours. You won’t get a better guide than Darren and he can be reached at 709-688-2125 or check out www.fourseasonstours.ca
Not only do you catch fish but the scenery is awesome
 

Monday, 4 August 2014

“The Beauty Queen of Leenane” is one of many plays to check out in Cow Head



by Keith and Heather Nicol    
      We recently were fortunate to see “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” which was written by Martin McDonagh and directed by Jeff Pitcher. This is one of 6 performances performed at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival  this summer in Cow Head in Gros Morne National Park.  What we like about Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s (TNL) philosophy is that they either perform plays about Newfoundland and Labrador or plays that have a close connection to the province. Although “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” takes place in rural Ireland its theme of isolation certainly could resonate with residents of outport  Newfoundland. This black comedy was first produced in 1996 and was nominated for 6 Tony awards (it won 4) for its 1998 Broadway production. The play takes place in a shabby kitchen of an isolated house in Leenane, Ireland in the early 1990’s. We loved the set with its working stove and sink and we thought all 4 actors, Claire Hewlett, Jennifer Furlong, Evan Mercer and Mark Bradbury did a fine job portraying how closeness can create its own contempt. The plot is full of deceptions, secrets and betrayals and expectations are raised only to be dashed.  “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” is first class theatre. For more information on TNL’s Gros Morne Theatre Festival schedule or to book tickets to a show see- www.theatrenewfoundland.com or call 1-877-243-2899. 
Jennifer Furlong (left) and Claire Hewlett play daughter and mother in "Beauty"

 While you are in Cow Head be sure to leave time to hike to “The Head” using the Lighthouse Trail. This has become one of our favourite community trails in Gros Morne National Park since it has loads of variety. There are magical sections through the wind sculpted forest, lovely grassy meadows, rugged wave washed limestone cliffs and coves and even a couple of lookout platforms. And did we mention the lighthouse that the trail passes by. It was built in 1909 and was restored in 2002. To reach the start of the Lighthouse Trail take the road across the isthmus and take the first left turn up to a parking lot where you will see an amphitheatre. The trail starts at the side of the parking lot at 21 U 0441609 E 5530037 N and follows a broad 2 km loop back to the parking lot. There are short side trails to the Steering Island lookout and Spring Beach which we recommend doing as well. Also there is a longer 1.5 km (return) trail to the Point of the Head and this is also a must do if you have the time. The scenery at the Point of the Head is superb and it is a great lunch spot. If you want a map that provides information about the Lighthouse Trail be sure to pick one up at the Dr. Henry N. Payne museum in Cow Head. The museum is also well worth a visit and if go to it on Wednesday afternoon’s from 1:30 – 3:30 pm you can try your hand at rug hooking. 
The scenery at the Point of Head trail is spectacular





Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Music legend Pamela Morgan and the Stephenville Theatre Festival



by Keith and Heather Nicol
     Newfoundland music star Pamela Morgan is heavily involved in this year’s Stephenville Theatre Festival and we recently had a chance to speak to her about some of the shows she is involved in.  First some background-from 1976-1995 Pamela Morgan was lead singer, guitarist, and arranger for Canada’s pioneering “Celtic” band, Newfoundland’s Figgy Duff, who brought the traditional Newfoundland music to a global audience.  Since 1995 she has created several albums and toured extensively in Canada, the US and in Europe. More recently she has overseen productions of two of her original scores for live theater; her own folk opera, “The Nobleman's Wedding”, and Figgy Duff's score for Shakespeare's "Tempest". For the Stephenville Theatre Festival she told us that she has reworked “The Nobleman's Wedding” creating a full length folk opera in the process. “This has been an incredible amount of work writing the story, creating and arranging the music, learning to play the pieces and now as musical director teaching it to the rest of the cast. The story is based on a song that I initially learned in Stephenville in the 1970’s and so it is fitting that this full length musical production is being performed here for the Stephenville Theatre Festival.” We saw the “The Nobleman's Wedding” and we really liked Morgan’s folk opera and how it was performed by the band and singers. 


Pamela Morgan spoke to us about her extensive involvement in the Stephenville Theatre Festival

Pamela Morgan is also the musical director for two other performances at the Stephenville Theatre Festival- “Music from Home” and “The Country Show”. “Although I have been around music professionally for all of my adult life, being a musical director is not a role I usually have so this has been a new experience for me. My philosophy is to have the performers select a few songs that they think might fit the programme and then I work with each performer to make sure the songs they end up singing for the show are well suited to their voice and style.” 
Pamela Morgan will have her own show at the Festival on August 6, 2014
     We have been lucky enough to see both of these shows and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. Pamela Morgan will also have her own show on August 6, 2014 at the Stephenville Theatre Festival .  She told us that it will feature music from her recent CD “Play On” as well as some of her earlier music and that some special guests will join her for that performance.  For tickets to any of these shows contact:http://www.stephenvilletheatrefestival.com/