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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bucket List Update - St. Andrew's and Ossie's

Bucket List Progress:
1.  The Zoo (Progress: a petting farm, an aquarium)
2.  Kings Landing
3.  Eat at Ossie's Lunch
4.  Make Pickles
5.  Playgrounds (Progress: We're up to 4!)
6.  Uptown Self-Guided Public Art Tour
7.  Farmer's Markets (Progress: We've been to 1! Queen Square)
8.  Visit St. Andrews
9.  Buskers Festival

I made some progress on my Summer Bucket List!

This weekend, we took a (quick) trip to St. Andrews. I think St. Andrews may be one of the most beautiful towns in New Brunswick. It seems to live and breathe heritage. I bet it's stressful living there, because the heritage bylaws are probably strict, but my goodness, the care and pride that they take in their community shows! Just beautiful. 

We decided to start our visit with a trip to the Community Playground, aka the massive super awesome playground. I had only been there once before, with a group of students, and remembered it being really fun. It was even better than I remember. It was built 21 years ago, and recently went through some improvements, like composite boards where foot traffic is heavy.

Really, it's a kid's dream. It looks like a castle with towers to climb in. The walkways are narrow and "kid-sized" and there are lots of hiding spots. There are also many extras hidden throughout, like a chime you can play made of pipes, a plinko type board that you drop balls down, and a big kaleidoscope. It's also a parent's dream, because there are wood chips at the bottom of slides, rubber on the ground under the swings, and the composite boards make splinters less likely.

Slides were slid down, swings were swung on, towers were climbed and wood chips were (thankfully) not eaten. It was a good time.

Wood chips by the slide. (They look fresh.)


A little "extra" - every so often,
you'd see a little carved creature
in the wood. I liked the
whale the best.


Lots of places to climb your way through.

Lots of baby and mini swings!

I loved all the art work too! (I'm a huge fan of
public art, and since kids (literally) had their hands
in this, it's even better!)

More artwork - I liked the kids names in clay.

I swear, you let this kid have time
on a swing each day, and
he'd be in heaven!
After a good time at the playground, we headed off to the Huntsman Discovery Aquarium. I haven't been there for MANY years. They built a brand new building a few years ago, and I've been eager to see it. I always loved seeing the seals, exploring the touch tank, and seeing all the fish that are normally found swimming well below the water's surface.
When we walked into the building, I was immediately impressed. It seemed big and open. I was a bit shocked at the admission though. For myself, my husband, and C. (who was free) it cost $28! I thought that was steep, but since it was new, I figured that there must be a lot to see and do. With admission, you can come and go as much as you want throughout the day. We weren't able to take advantage of it, but it would be a bonus if you were in town for the day, so you could catch multiple feedings - salmon, sea horses, and seals.

It was almost time for the seal feeding, so we quickly headed there. We passed a smaller scale feeding. Can you tell these fish know where their food comes from? They looked hungry!

The seal pool seemed small at first, but it was definitely bigger than it seemed.  I think the interpreter said it was the legal size for six seals, but they only had two. I can't imagine six in there, but it was great for two. As they were feeding the seals and giving their talk, I couldn't help wonder why I always liked seeing the seals. They are very common in our harbour -  so common that our QMJHL team is named after them! (The Saint John Sea Dogs) I see their little heads poking out of the water on an almost daily basis while driving across the Harbour Bridge, and yet I was mesmerized! Maybe it's the fact that I can get much more up close. I'm not sure, but I love them!

We were just in time, so we had to stay inside and watch through the glass. This explains the fuzzy pictures, too. Outside, there were balconies to the left and right of this pool.



 
Later on, we went downstairs and were able to see the seals swimming below the surface. C got a kick out of them swimming, his head moving back and forth, following their moves, and his hands touching the glass to try to get closer.
 
 
A view from a balcony outside

There were also a couple tanks you could get close to  by the upstairs seal pool - a touch tank and a skate tank. There weren't many people around, but even if there was, the touch tank was big, so I don't think you'd have to wait too long. That was a definite improvement over the old building.
A starfish - C. was very careful!
He also liked the rocks. Ha!
I think he just liked the cold, salty water.
 
Recently, they added a salmon tank and a seahorse tank. The salmon swim round and round and round. I wonder if they ever get bored. Do fish get bored? The seahorses have the same toy holders that Little C has!
 
 

Here are a couple of pictures from two of the other tanks. I don't know how the numbers compare to the old aquarium, but there seemed to be fewer tanks than the old building. (I could be wrong though.)
Grumpy fish

One of the bigger tanks - it's hard taking pictures
through the glass.I need to read up on how to do that.

There were also a few displays with pictures and write ups, and some rooms that I assume they use for their kids camps. I think there is also a theatre, although I didn't see one. There were a few doors that were closed, so it was probably behind one of those. There was a little area with a boat that kids could sit in, but it was occupied, so we didn't get to see that.

Overall, I'm really glad that we visited, but I was a little disappointment on the size and number of displays for the price we paid. C. loved the seals and had a great time,  so I'm satisfied, but I can't see us going back any time soon. I would say that if you were going to go, make sure that you can come and go throughout the day, so you can see all the feedings, or try to visit on a day when something special is happening.

On a side note, I have visited the New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre, in Shippagan, NB, many times. It is definitely larger and more affordable. Our family would have cost $17, and the visit would have been much longer. If you are ever on the North Shore of New Brunswick, I highly recommend it.

As a finale to our little mini day trip, we pulled off the highway at exit 45, to eat at Ossie's LunchI haven't been there in two years. It's been WAY too long. Since I was a child, it was a "must do" every summer, on the way back from a stay in Digdeguash. Everything is good at Ossie's so you won't be disappointed, but they're known for their fried clams. (I've mentioned before the Chef Michael Smith says they are the best in Canada!)  As far as I know, everything is fresh.  They were recently recognized for their use of fresh local products by Food Day Canada. I know I'm getting a little off topic, but I love them so much and want them to be around for many more years! With the new highway, they are easy to miss.  Don't miss them! (Exit 45 on the highway between Saint John and St. Stephen)

Ossie's is a bit old school. You walk up to the counter and place your order. They write it down, add it up by calculator (or in their head), take your money, and then you get a number. You can then choose a picnic table and wait for your number to be called.  When your number is called, you go back up and pick up your food on a bright red tray and take a seat at the bright red picnic tables. 

I got a small seafood platter, so I could get a little of everything - clams (yum), fish (yum), shrimp (yum), AND scallops (YUM!!!) It was all yum. C didn't have any of the shellfish off my plate, but probably ate half of the piece of fish (minus the batter.) Hubby had the clams. Everything was SOOOO good. They have a very light batter, so you taste seafood instead of just greasy batter. The thing I like the most is that most of the plate was filled with seafood and not fries. As an added bonus, they make their own tartar sauce - it's a dream - kind of dill-y and a perfect match for the seafood.
Some people may say that Ossie's is a bit pricey, but it is WORTH it! You're paying for fresh local seafood and a great experience. Don't miss out!

(On a side note, like their Facebook page - they are drawing for two free lobster rolls on Monday! - the link is above. You'll also get to see all the drool-worthy pictures of their food!)

So that was our mini-trip. I'm on my way to getting things checked off my list. I basically have three weeks left of maternity leave.  I hope I can get it all done!

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