When I awoke this morning, bright and early, I went out to grab the cereal and soya milk from the back of Strider. And by heck, I wish I hadn’t!
Winter has definitely arrived, that’s for sure. Just look at this lot outside. It’s just like back home in the Auvergne isn’t it, with the hanging cloud, the cold and the freezing fog that has blanketed the Appalachian Mountains round about here on the edge of Kedgwick.
I had had a bad night last night despite just how comfortable it was in my nice big bed in my nice big room.
I’d crashed out by about 21:00 but I was tossing and turning all over the place and was really uncomfortable. Somehow I was tired and completely fast asleep and somehow I wasn’t, and I’m not sure that you’ll understand what I mean. But anyway, I was wide awake at 01:00, with the radio still playing, so I turned it off and this time I managed a decent sleep, until about 05:00
I’d been on my travels too, with the welcome return of Nerina, who hasn’t set foot in these nocturnal rambles for quite a while. We were at my house, in its usual state of papers all over the floor and we were looking for some papers that really ought to have been there but weren’t and this was all becoming far more complicated than it ought to have been. At he same time, Zero was at the kitchen sink doing the washing-up. She was being her usual cheerful self and we were discussing smoking. She said that she had tried a cigarette once, so I smacked her bottom for her.
When I sat down to breakfast I found that I had forgotten to fetch the spoon so I ended up eating my breakfast cereal with a fork and trying my best not to crash out again. I’m clearly not well at the moment.
Still, I can’t sit around here all day moping about the bad weather. I need to be moving on despite the fog. And this time, I didn’t forget to go and take a photograph of the night’s lodgings just for the record.
I’d been low on fuel too last night and there was an Irving’s next door – one of the reasons why I had stopped here – so I went off and fuelled up. I now have 97 Air miles after that – isn’t that good?
When I was on my way in the other direction 10 or so days ago, I’d stopped at the supermarket in town where I’d discovered baguettes on sale at half-price. I popped back in there on the way past this morning to see how the land lay and, sure enough, baguettes were on sale again. And so with what I had bought yesterday at Matane, that was lunch organised.
On the way through St Quentin the other day I’d noticed that there was a railway station in the town, on the old abandoned Canadian National railway line between Campbelltown and St Leonard.
There were a few railway artefacts on display outside, and so I’d pencilled the station in for a visit on the return trip and so here I am.
The little locomotive had caught my eye and I wondered if it really was a narrow-gauge locomotive that had been rescued from a mineral line somewhere. But in fact it was built in 1985 out of scrap and recycled materials by a couple of Canadian National employees from Campbelltown.
That wasn’t the only thing to catch my eye either. What do you reckon about this?
It’s a platelayers’ trolley but enclosed (a necessity given the severe winters around here) and with a petrol engine rather than a pump-action handle, which is a bit of a cheat. They were used by the track maintenance crews during their duties, which included fire-watching because sparks from the steam locomotives setting the forests alight was a real problem.
So much so that it will come as no surprise for any regular reader of this rubbish to realise that the station building here at St Quentin is not the original one. That, just like any other building here in Canada, caught fire and burnt down.
However, the most exciting exhibit here at the railway station must be this weird machine.
I’m not sure of the proper name by which this machine might be known, and I certainly have never seen one of them before, but I think that it’s magnificent and I definitely want one of these.
There were lots of other stuff actually inside the station, which was by the way not only a museum but the local tourist information office and the offices of the local Chamber of Commerce.
There was some kind of collection of railway wagons here too and so I went for a browse.
This caboose caught my eye – and not just because it’s a caboose but because of the message that’s on it. It reads “Dessert tout le Canada” which, crudely translated by Yours Truly (and if there’s any “crudely” involved, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”) as “serves all of Canada”.
However, that’s clearly a spelling mistake. It should read “Désert tout le Canada” which means “Abandons all of Canada” – which is certainly true these days.
This is why I have to mess around on buses and rely on Rachel to pick me up in Florenceville when there’s an abandoned Canadian National railway line that passes at the bottom of her garden and an abandoned Canadian National railway station right next door to the tyre depot.
By now the hanging clouds had gone, the sun was out and I was coming out of the Appalachian Mountains. It was a beautiful day now so I headed to St Leonard and the Saint John River to find a place to eat my butties.
I found a nice place to park up for my lunch – the car park for the Rendez-vous des Artistes in St Leonard. It was closed up so I didn’t think that anyone would mine.
What appealed to me about this place was that it had a good view over the river and right by one of the few remaining railway lines in New Brunswick. And I thought that I had heard a locomotive whistle too and so I prepared the camera, but nothing came by while I was here.
That over there across the Saint John River is the town of Van Buren, which is in Maine, USA. I was sitting right by the border crossing on the Canadian side of the river admiring the view and taking advantage of the beautiful weather.
And I wasn’t alone either. They say that there’s one in every village, and the one in St Leonard sought me out for a chat. He was speaking French and what with his accent and a speech impediment that he had, I couldn’t make out one word in every ten that he was uttering.
Nevertheless, we put the world to rights for half an hour and then, in the words of the reporters of the long-gone and long-lamented “News of the Screws”, I “made my excuses and left”.
Back up the hill and I hit the highway southwards, and aren’t I grateful for speed limiters and cruise control? I set the speed to 108kms and settled down for the drive back to Centreville, and it was then that I noticed in my rear-view mirror a County Mountie slowly closing up on me. But with the speed limiter I didn’t have too much to worry about in the normal run of events. He eventually passed me, having a good glance as he went by, but with the cruise control in operation he had no reason to pull me over and he eventually pulled away in front.
I was having visions of David Crosby and his
“It increases my paranoia”
“like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car”
“But I’m not giving in an inch to fear”
“‘cos I promised myself this year”
“I feel like I owe it to someone”
and reckon that it applies to me – I certainly owe it to myself, that’s for sure after all that I’ve been through this year.
I tracked down my mailbox too. And talk about a local postal service – my mailbox is about 7 or 8 kilometres from my plot of land. It’s astonishing. How I’m supposed to go and get my post in the middle of winter is totally beyond me.
But there was some really good news for me. Regular readers of this rubbish might recall that the motor insurance on Strider was cancelled about my head last year when we had the driving licence issues. There was a cheque in my mail box for the refund of the cancelled policy, minus the time on risk value, and this was not far off the total premium of the new policy. The cheque had timed out and so I took it back to the brokers in Florenceville and they wrote out a new one.
Waving that around in my sweaty little mitt, I went to the Scotia Bank and paid it in. I did a few more financial manoeuvres … “PERSONoeuvres” – ed … there, and now I reckon that I could keep on going over in Canada for a good while if necessary.
Back at the tyre depot I met up with everyone, had a coffee and a chat, and then we went back home to Rachel and Darren’s. Rachel made a lovely tea and we had a good chat, and then I crawled off to bed at some really early, ridiculous time.
This six weeks gap between treatments is evidently too much, but I’m not complaining. Despite the health issues that have now caught up properly with me, I would never otherwise have come here and I wouldn’t have missed my trip to Canada for the world.