Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Over the sea for a road trip

We've been away on an adventure, a road trip of about 2000 miles on an island that's a 5 hour flight from London; west and a bit south of the UK; about the size of Gt Britain and Ireland together and with a population about that of Cornwall . . . have you guessed where we went to?

Jelly Bean Houses

The brightly painted houses in the capital, St John's have become one of the iconic features of


I'm told it should be pronounced to rhyme with 'understand'
New-f'nd - Land

 St John's Harbour from Signal Hill

We arrived fully prepared for fog, rain and chilly winds but the weather was hot and humid! We stood on the rocky headland high over the narrow inlet into the harbour that for over 450 years has been strategic to Britain's trade and naval history. Click on the photo to enlarge it and above the two red ships you'll see a white building with a red roof, this is Murray Premises, the hotel we stayed in.

 On the cliff at Horrid Gulch
Pouch Cove, Avalon Peninsula

I think this was the moment I relaxed and thought, 'I like this place', the day before we started our 'road trip' we ventured along the coast just north of St John's and sat on the cliff eating sandwiches and crisps. The Atlantic Ocean stretched out to the far horizon, blue and calm and as we watched we saw a puff of spray, and a Fin Whale gracefully surfaced, briefly showing its dorsal fin as it dived again.

 Heading West on the Trans Canada Highway

Newfoundland is big. Towns are few and far between and off the high way. Much of the next two weeks we'd see this view.
But the places we found along the way were astoundingly beautiful . . .

 The West Coast
Gros Morne National Park

I think this was my favourite walk, the Coastal Trail from Baker's Brook just north of Rocky Harbour to Green Point - if you're into geology look this up! 


Looking at the landscape of Gros Morne you notice a vast lumpy ochre coloured mountain that looks completely different from the forest covered slopes all around. Geologists get very very excited about this place called Tablelands, where the rocks have tipped and folded so that part of the earth's mantle is on the surface. The rock contains very high levels of metals and chemicals, so much that plants can't grow, it supports hardly any living things. And yes, that is snow you can see in the far distance.

 St Anthony
the Great Northern Peninsula

The top west of Newfoundland is a long narrow peninsula, one road snakes along the west coast, the east is only reachable by boat. If you've read 'The Shipping News' by Annie Proulx, this is the setting (the movie was filmed at New Bonavista near Trinity, we went there later on the trip).

 Whales and icebergs

Vast lumps of ice, some are kilometres long! break off the glaciers of Greenland and float south in what is known as 'Iceberg Alley', they take up to 2 years to reach the Newfoundland coast where they break up and melt. This is one of the last icebergs of this summer, we saw it on a whale watching boat trip from St Anthony. On the left edge of the photo you can see a whale blowing.

 The Viking settlement at
L'Anse aux Meadows

When I was about 9 years old, I read 'Vinland the Good' by Henry Treece, but I never dreamt I'd stand on the shore where Vikings landed and set up a camp and ship repair workshops 1000 years ago. The historical novel written in the 1960s was inspired by the most exciting archaeological find at the time - the confirmation that the Norse sagas telling of a land of plenty to the west of Greenland, were based on truth.

 Trinity, Trinity Bay

In the second week of our adventure we stayed for a few days at Trinity, Trinity Bay. This was once the most important harbour in Newfoundland, imagine the slopes around the harbour cover with racks of drying salt cod and dozens of tall masted trading ships at docks around the sheltered 3-armed harbour (hence Trinity).

Heritage buildings at Trinity

Now this is the tourist hot-spot of Newfoundland, many original wooden framed buildings were saved in the nick of time and are now museums in the care of the Trinity Historical Society. In fact the whole town is a 'heritage zone' and all buildings have to be constructed in traditional styles and materials. Trinity is the home of the Rising Tide theatre company and we arrived in time to see a production of their famous Pageant, an open air history of the town performed in locations all around the harbour, the audience walks between locations.

 St Johns harbour

Two whole weeks of almost constant sunshine but on the last day, back in St John's, we had a taster of some real Newfie weather! This is the view from our hotel at the north end of the harbour opposite the narrow opening to the Atlantic Ocean.

Newfie weather at last!

In a lull in the rain we ventured out for a last visit to Signal Hill, I'm holding on to that wall so I don't get blown into the harbour!

I'd love to share more about the beautiful animals and plants, the crafts - knitting and rag rugs, and the reason we chose such an obscure holiday destination ... but I'll save those for another blog post.

Now I have to pack for my stall at FolkEast next weekend, it's the best summer festival (not just my opinion) if you're coming along do call into the Art Marquee and say hello.



  1. What a lovely holiday! And such good weather, too.
    You've prompted me to re-read Treece.Thankyou.

    1. I've just ordered a copy of Vinland the Good from Amazon.

  2. It looks a stunning place, I'm glad you had such a good time. Hope Folk East goes really well.

    1. Thank you Su, it was so good to have a change or scene - we weren't prepared for such a treat!

  3. I know what a beautiful area of Canada that is having visited many years ago. Actually all of Canada is gorgeous and is one of my favorite countries in the world. Have you been to British Columbia (Vancouver) and Victoria? If not put them on your wish list Celia - absolutely wonderful.

    I can see you had a great visit and how nice the weather cooperated.

    Best as always - Mary (roasting in North Carolina where the heat index today is 110F - phew, that's really hot for those of us used to the British climate!).

    1. Yes, we've been to BC, Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Also Winnipeg and Churchill on Hudson Bay. We're now curious to explore more of Eastern Canada.

  4. Celia, I really enjoyed seeing this reporting of your trip to Newfoundland. You write so well, blending historic info with your very own recent observations. Having the excellent photographs just extends my appreciation of a place I have yet to see for myself.

    Now, you've got me looking forward to future posts about how you and Cliff decided to visit Newfoundland. Meanwhile...best wishes for a fine weekend at FolkEast! xo

    1. We had such an interesting trip, it's wild and remote.
      And thank you, FolkEast was great ... if a bit windy!!

  5. In Bristol we saw a statue of John Cabot who 'discovered Newfoundland'

    1. Hi Diana, yes we saw the Cabot statue at Cape Bonavista.

  6. What a fab photo with an iceberg AND a whale blowing! Have you read Malachy Tallack's book, Sixty Degrees North (I think)? Your trip makes me think you might like it. Hope you enjoyed FolkEast! x

    1. Thank you, FolkEast was fab as usual.
      I haven't read Sixty Degrees North, I'll find a copy. Although Newfoundland is actually not as far North as the UK so isn't in the Arctic.

  7. Sounds like a fantastic trip!

    1. It was, but it all seems a long time ago already. I'm enjoying putting the blog posts together and remembering where we went.

  8. Oh, envy, envy, envy! I worked in Canada for a year and loved the scenery and the whole way of life but never got to visit Newfoundland. Looks like you found some special places and I hope little snippets of other things will be reported on at a later date (especially rag rugs, so popular in the whole of North America)

    1. We've loved our holidays in Canada, and Newfoundland was really special.

  9. Oh we've been to Newfoundland too, about eight years ago now. It is a fascinating and beautiful place, not generally thought of much by people over here. What made you decide to go? Loved the blog, especially the icebergs!

    1. Isn't it great?! I'll tell you why we went in the next blogpost.

  10. love this post, what a fabulous place xx


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