Glorious weather tempered by a cold wind whipping up the waves hampered our whale watching so we walked up on to the north-west side of the peninsula where the dramatic cliffs held small numbers of black guillemot, kittiwake, gannet and other auks.
At various places around the cape can be found “bread ovens” which reflect some of the history of the west coast which is predominantly of French origin. During the summer, bread rolls are baked around midday and anyone can help themselves with a small tip for the students manning the stall. The stall we went to had 5 students in attendance, all spending their summer working for the company that provides this service. They were unclear why this is done, but perhaps it’s a way to maintain the heritage of the area.
Moving on along the peninsula we came across Mainland, opposite Red Island. The village, the sun, the flowers all combined to make this one of the prettiest places we’ve seen, with the added bonus of seals frolicking in the surf. We stopped at the tearoom, which served a variety of cakes, sandwiches, a wide range of different teas and had a huge pile of locally grown lettuces for sale. This building doubled up as a heritage centre for all the different nationalities living in the area from French to the Mi’kmaq aboriginal people. We quickly found the people to be far more out-going than elsewhere in Newfoundland, always keen to ask where we were from and then tell us about their relatives, mainly from the UK or France.
Moving on to Lourdes, location of the only food takeaway on the peninsula (the significance of this will become clear). We went in, purely in the hope they’d be selling something other than fried fish / burger / chips and spoke with the girl behind the counter whose sister lives in Leeds, and a punter who’d come in to order his daily ration of deep fried something. He spoke at length about his French mother and his 17 siblings and how proud he was of his French heritage, before completing his order…..it seems as though cuisine was the first casualty of the move to Newfoundland! Large families are a common theme in Newfoundland and we were told on various occasions about being 1 of 13, 1 of 15 etc. I’m not sure where they all are as the population of the province remains constant at approx. 500,000. 98% live on Newfoundland and the other 2% on Labrador.
Completing the circuit we drove past the huge mineral extraction at Lower Cove and then stopped at Sheaves Cove for an hour to contemplate the sea before returning to the cafe we ate at the night before.
Our final day was to be a washout from 2 perspectives. It rained all day and the nearest restaurant was closed, making food a real issue since the nearest take-out was 45 minutes in one direction and had already been ruled out the day before and the nearest open restaurant was probably the same distance away, but in the other direction. A day for catching up on admin, planning the next few hotels and eating chocolate. Dinner consisted of something out of a tin from the local general store. Roll on breakfast tomorrow and our pre-ordered selection of real food!