Category Archives: Hannah

Monday 14th October 2019 – SOMETIMES IT’S VERY HARD …

… to say goodbye to people with whom one has been associated for so long, but today is the day that I hit the road, Jack (or Jacques, seeing that I’ll be heading towards Quebec).

4th September I arrived in New Brunswick and apart from 10 days or so clearing out my storage unit in Montreal and visiting family and friends in Ottawa I’ve been here ever since.

If I’m not careful I’ll be putting down roots next, and that will never do. I was born under a wandering star, as the old song went, and I’m destined to wander for the rest of my life until, making reference to a certain posting 6 or so weeks ago when I was still aboard The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, Charon ferries me across the River Styx.

With it being Thanksgiving (which reminds me, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian family and friends and new readers, et Bonne Action de Grace a toute le monde francophone Canadien) we had another lie-in this morning. Nothing like as dramatic as yesterday’s. Not quite so early in bed, a small disturbance during the night, and raising myself from the Dead round about 08:45. But still, I’ll take that over almost any other night that I’ve had for quite some considerable time.

Eventually there was some noise coming from the rest of the house so I went in to join the (af)fray. We had a reasonably heavy brunch, nothing like the legendary Sunday one but a good one nevertheless, and then hung around chatting for ages. Everyone seemed to be in a very sociable mood today.

With me heading for the hills, I managed to make the printer fire up so I could print off all of my travel documents ready for the trip. Another task accomplished.

This afternoon people had tasks to do so I busied myself packing and having another play around on the bass guitar before I put it away in Strider where it will live for the next foreseeable future.

A curry was on the agenda for supper so for a change Hannah and I attacked it. For some reason that I don’t understand, it didn’t taste anything like as good as any previous one that I have made. I hope that I’m not losing my touch!

But as for my carrot soup, well, what more can I say? All of the leftover carrots (because there were tons of them) steamed slowly to warm them up, with bay leaves for added flavour, and then simmered gently for a while in coconut milk with ginger. Finally the bay leaves were removed and the whole lot given a ride around in the whizzer.

Totally delicious.

Finished packing, and leaving a few things behind such as my spare clothes and my deck shoes, because I seem to have acquired a Tupperware microwave fryer and a pile of CDs somewhere on my travels and it won’t all fit in, and then Rachel took me down to Irvings in Florenceville and the Maritime Atlantic bus.

21:15 it was scheduled to arrive, and at 21:15 arrive it did. And remind me never to travel on a Bank Holiday or thereabouts because it was packed and it was a struggle to find a seat. What I did find though was a backpack under the seat, apparently left behind by someone who had alighted earlier, so I took it down to the driver.

We eventually arrived at Riviere du Loup where we all change buses. It was cold, miserable, wet and rainy but nevertheless I had a chat to the driver. He comes up all the way from Moncton, sleeps in the hotel next door, and then drives all the way back the following day. Reminded me of my days with Shearings when I used to do an overnight run every Friday night from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh and return the following day.

And while I was chatting, someone came around “has anyone seen a black backpack?” so I passed him on to the driver.

So now I’m sitting on a seat in a draughty windswept crowded waiting room here waiting for my bus to Montreal to arrive. I’m reaching the end of this phase of my journey and who knows where I’m going to end up next?

As Winston Churchill once said after the British flight from the Germans at Dunkirk, “this is not the beginning of the end. It is merely the end of the beginning”.

Saturday 5th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today.

And that’s hardly a surprise because I had, for the first time since I don’t know when, had a really good sleep last night and I’ve not yet set foot outside the house.

A few items on the dictaphone, although what there is I really don’t know. And I was up and about by 06:40 too.

Rachel and Amber went to work this morning so I decided on a day off. A leisurely breakfast and a long chat with Hannah and our visitor and then I cracked on to work, with just a brief interruption for lunch.

During the course of the day, people were coming and going but I paid no attention whatever and by the time supper was served, I’d finished all of the blog entries for July (including the missing one when I was ill) and most of them for August too. There are only three or four that need to be added, I reckon.

And those that are there make interesting reading. As Kenneth Williams once famously said, “I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance”.

Or, as the Duke of Wellington once remarked about the Battle of Waterloo and which sums up my voyage completely – “By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there”.

But now Amber is down with the dreaded lurgy. It’s doing the rounds here so I’ll probably catch it the evening that I’m due to catch my bus back to Montreal.

A brief interruption though. US Granville’s match against C Chartres Football was televised this evening and I managed to catch the second half.

Hannah and her friend Journee made tea tonight. For we vegans, she made a stir-fry tofu in a creamy vegan sauce with pasta, and it was absolutely delicious. She followed that up with some vegan muffins that she had found in the Atlantic Superstore and which I will be visiting again.

So it’s bedtime now. No alarm and a day of rest. I’m going to be attacking the rear of Strider and empty out some of the stuff that I fetched back from Montreal. Some is for Darren, some is for Zoe and the rest is for filing under CS.

See you in the morning.

Monday 30th September 2019 – IT’S BEEN …

… a pretty rough day for me today.

What didn’t help matters was that I couldn’t sleep last night. 01:30 and I was still struggling away trying my best to drop off.

At some point I must have done, I suppose, because the alarm awoke me at 06:00. Just in time to catch the vestige of a nocturnal voyage disappearing out of my head, so I grabbed the dictaphone and dictated it before I forgot. The only one from last night, apparently.

For a change, I remembered the medication and then I grabbed a quick breakfast so that I could take the kids to school. And then down to Hartland to take Hannah the lunch pail that she had forgotten.

Back at the tyre depot there wasn’t a great deal to do today. In fact, I just mauled around a few sacks of feed when customers came a-calling. My new gearchange cable is a Ford main agent part and won’t be in Woodstock until early tomorrow morning.

At lunch-time I went off to buy a sandwich from the Irving garage by the Trans-Canada Highway and then went back to the garage. Where I fell asleep not once but twice.

That was the cue for Rachel to send me home as I was clearly in no fit state to do anything.

Once I’d regained my second wind I made a start on adding the blog entries for the second leg of my voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. To see how far I’ve advanced, you can go to THIS LINK and work your way forward.

There were just Hannah, our visitor and me here for evening meal so I made thin-fried potatoes with carrots, onions, garlic and chili with herbs, and vegan burgers on baps with cheese. And it was all so delicious, especially when followed by one of my chocolate soya desserts left over from Montreal.

Talking of Montreal, I have (rather regrettably) booked my bus back to Montreal, Much as I dislike the idea, I suppose that I ought to think about going home some time soon.

As well as the bus, I booked a room in Montreal for the night that I’ll be staying there before I fly out. I saw the ideal place – and for $20 CAN too. A bed in an 8-bed dormitory in a hostel for women. But they wouldn’t let me reserve the place.

Instead, I’ve booked a room at one of my previous haunts in the rue St Hubert at the back of the bus station, seeing as there was a place on special offer. But then I remembered that that’s the place that doesn’t offer breakfast, by which time it was far too late.

So that’s that. My route from here as far as Brussels is now arranged, for better or for worse. And I’m going to be having a hard time leaving, I reckon. One thing that I’ve always been wary about is putting down roots, especially in places where it’s clearly impractical, if not impossible.

And emotional attachments are the worst of them all.

But onwards and upwards, hey?

Saturday 28th September 2019 – IT’S REALLY EASY …

… to see what’s going on when you have a lead-light, the correct facilities and the correct tools.

We managed to move Strider this morning by climbing underneath with a light and a spanner and manually putting him in neutral. Then I started him up and Darren (who is braver than I ever imagined) climbed back underneath while my foot was on the brake of course, and with the spanner knocked him back into second gear.

Like that, I could drive him into the workshop and straight over the inspection pit where we had a closer look from a much more comfortable position with a proper inspection light.

And sure enough, everything seems to work exactly fine as it should, except that we could see that the plastic clip that (in theory) holds the cable onto the pivot is no longer there.

In principle, we could quite simply wedge the cable in place with some kind of Heath-Robinson invention, but there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary solution, I’ll forget about it, and it will let go when I’m somewhere in the depths of darkest Labrador 300 miles from any kind of help, in the middle of a snowstorm.

May as well do the job properly first as last, and I’m not so desperate for transport right now, so there will be a new gearchange cable and clip coming on Monday.

Last night despite an evening rather later than I had hoped, I had a decent night’s sleep. But still tons of stuff has mysteriously found its way onto the dictaphone during the night. So I wonder what that’s all about.

I didn’t have much time to lounge about though because I had to hitch a lift up to the tyre depot with Rachel who starts work at 08:00.

Just settling down with my morning coffee and my bagel for breakfast when Rosemary rang me up. She’s in the UK right now watching the chaos as the UK sinks beneath the waves. It seems to be quite exciting there right now, but I’m not in a hurry to find out.

We were quite busy today and it wasn’t until about 11:45, 15 minutes to closing time, that we could deal with Strider.

For a change I came home with Darren in the big Chevy lorry, bringing my bass with me. High time I had another run up and down the scales.

The girls all left to go shopping so I made myself some sandwiches and then knuckled down to work.

What I’ve been doing today is to start to add into the blog the missing entries from when I was on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. I had hoped to wait until I was back home when I could deal with the photos as well, but my fans are clamouring to know what I got up to while I was away and I can no longer resist the pressure.

At the moment I’ve just come back from visiting the Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland and by the skin of my teeth I’ve managed so far to avoid too many faux-pas like treading on the bombe surprise, whistling on board ship or knocking someone base over apex out of a zodiac.

But it’s early days yet and there is plenty of time for me to get into mischief. If you start here and work your way forward, you’ll see how far I’ve come to date.

Another thing that I’ve done is to book my flight in the general direction of homeward. And, sad as it is to say it, my regular hotel in Brussels is booked up so I’m having to go to another disreputable cat-house somewhere.

God help me!

Tea tonight should have been a flatbread pizza but could I ‘eck as like find them. That is, until I was halfway through cooking something else when I put my hand straight on them. They will have to do for another time now.

So now it’s late. Darren is asleep, Hannah is back but the others are still gallivanting about somewhere. And why not? Tomorrow is Sunday, a Day of Rest with the wonderful Taylor Breakfast Brunch that brings visitors from miles around.

High time we had a few luxuries around here.

Wednesday 11th September 2019 – EVEN THOUGH …

… I promised myself an early night last night, it didn’t quite work out like that. Just after I had finished writing up my notes, the heavens opened and we were soaked in a torrential downpour.

There are many advantages of tin roofs over the old-fashioned shingle roofs, but soundproofing qualities is not one of them, especially when there is a metal trailer roof parked right underneath my window.

As a result it was long after 23:00 when I finally nodded off.

we had what seemed to be the usual wake-up round about 04:00 and we must have been on a voyage at one point or another because there are some files registered on the dictaphone. No idea what’s in them yet but, as usual, I’m keen to find out.

The alarms went off as usual but I hid down the bed until Amber banged on the door. It seems that I’m doing the school run again today. Not that I mind of course – I have to make myself useful here and earn my corn.

The last time that I took the girls to school we had a thick fog and mist. Today we were having a torrential rainstorm. The next time I take them it will probably be a plague of locusts.

At the shop there were errands to run. I ended up having to go back to the house, rescuing a couple of pushbikes, bringing them back to the garage and overhauling them. It’s a long time since I’ve had to do that – I’ve not had any real involvement with pushbikes for almost half a century I reckon.

Once they were done I had to wait until lunchtime and then go back to Amber’s school to take her some money for the cinema tonight and to deliver the bikes (good job that I have a truck).

While I was at Amber’s school we had a delightful conversation –
Amber – “some boy called me a dumbass in class this morning”
Our Hero – “really? When’s his funeral?”

This afternoon we were having printer issues. The accounting program wouldn’t permit any printing so Yours Truly was required to look into the situation.

Eventually, after much binding in the marsh, I worked out that it seems that the program had performed an automatic upgrade at midday and for some reason that I have yet to understand it had created a clone of the accounts printer and was sending instructions to the clone, not the veritable one.

When I tried to transfer printers over, it still refused to accept the change – it simply stopped sending out any printfile instructions.

Finally, after about an hour, by going way back in my mind as far as 1998 and what I could remember about BIOS settings, I managed to make the program recognise the letter printer on another port and it’s now printing really satisfactorily from there.

But there have been so many printers connected up to that setup over the years that if it were me, I’d go through and delete every printer and device that is no longer active and go for a leaner, fitter machine. But it’s not my business, not my company, not my set-up etc.

This afternoon I was hit with another wave of fatigue. I’d been on the ropes once or twice during the morning but this was serious.

But what I couldn’t understand is that I had been swinging myself in and out of the back of Strider like I might have done before 2014 with no pain or effort whatsoever. Past experience tells me though that whenever I feel really well and really energetic, it usually means that I’ve had a substantial drop in blood count and that there has been a release of adrenalin ( as if there hasn’t been enough adrenalin released just recently). And still at least 30 days (and maybe more) until my next blood transfusion.

We were away from here fairly early tonight and back here Darren and I fixed the door (it has become unhinged since I’ve been here and who can blame it?) while Rachel fixed tea. Another one of her delicious herb-laden vegetable stir-fries in olive oil. Hannah lent a big hand to the mixture so there was plenty of garlic.

And I’m well-impressed (as always) with Hannah. She’s just had her annual appraisal at work – the end of her first year’s employment. “Above and beyond expectations” was the result.

Now I’m in my room with the bass guitar, hoping for another early night. Rachel is cooking chicken soup so the whole house smells of food, Zoe is doing Hannah’s fingernails (she’s off to Wisconsin in the morning) and the other two are out at the cinema.

But searching around on the internet I came across one of the albums of the days of my youth, featuring a bassist who I admired greatly.

Long out of print now, my album is scratched and damaged beyond all recognition these days (two years of living in vans and various squats in my youth didn’t help matters) so I hunted down a file ripper and downloaded the tracks.

That took an age but converting them to *.mp3 was quite quick. Now I’m up and running, over an hour later than I had intended.

So I’m off to bed. I’m not sure what the plan is tomorrow but I’ll work it out as I go along.

Friday 6th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to whoever has had the patience (or maybe it’s the motivation LOL) to sit and read their way through 29 pages of my website followed by no less than 55 pages of my blog.

I know that what I write is right riveting stuff but with 15 blog entries on a page, that’s 825 days’ worth of entries – not far short of 2.5 years and that calls for a lot of persistence and determination.

Either someone has nothing better to do with his or her time, or it’s someone else collecting evidence for my incarceration LOL. But just remember the Hispano-Roman rhetorican Quintilian who once famously said (with paraphrased lines much-later quoted by people such as Richelieu and Laubardemont) something along the lines of “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him”.

But no matter what – I admire your persistence. Hats off to you.

Last night was another excellent sleep and I was off on a voyage or two during the night. High time I started attacking the dictaphone notes so that I can see where I’ve been.

Slept right through the alarms yet again and finally managed to crawl out of my stinking pit at about 10:30.

It took a while to come round but when I did, I made a start on going through the suitcase.

But, as usual, I was sidetracked. Since I had awoken, I had had a couple of lines of a poem going around in my head – something that I must have had going on during the night on a voyage somewhere.

These things usually escape me but for some reason or other, seeing as it was something rather emotional that related to something intense that happened on one of my voyages, I determined to write it down before I forgot.

By the time that I had finished, I’d ended up with a poem of seven verses and I’m working on an eighth) and a chorus, and by the time I’d read through it a few times I had a beat and a rhythm going on in my head.

There are a couple of 6-string guitars around here but could I find them? Could I ‘eck as, so I turned to the piano. The piano is not my forte so I dashed outside to Strider and rescued the perishing bass.

Two years since it’s been out and about and much to my surprise it was still in tune (these mobile phone apps are quite good) so I picked out a bass line, a rhythm and a lead break.

It needs more work of course, but I’m impressed about how it worked out.

By now Amber was back from school so we had a chat. And it looks as if I’m going to resume my duties as a driving monitor at some point. She’s spent her summer shop wages on a car – a VW Jetta diesel – and now she needs to put the hours in. She shouldn’t have any trouble though – she’s been throwing around a 3,500hp tractor for the last two years so a Jetta should be child’s play.

And I’m still wondering who it was who took Strider down to the garage that day just over two years ago when it needed the gearbox linkage adjusting. Amber was the only one here but she was only days past her 14th birthday. She wouldn’t have done it.

Rachel came in and went out again, then Hannah came in later. We exchanged a few words and then she and Amber went off to do girly things down in Woodstock.

I waited for Zoe but she never turned up, so I went to make myself some beans on toast – only for the tin opener to hold onto the lid and drop the can and all of the beans all over the floor. Last tin of beans too.

It’s not my day, is it?

Darren and I had a chat about trucks and his plan for the new tractor-pulling season and then I went off to my room.

There’s a lot to do tomorrow. I’ve made a conscious decision that I’m not ever going out roughing it in Strider (or anything else) again so I’m going to throw away all of my gear – stuff that I won’t need any longer.

There’s a skip at the mill right now so I’m going to take full advantage of it.

So I need to gird up my loins and gather my strength.

And if my phantom follower is still out there, then good night to you, sir! Identify yourself and I’ll buy you a beer.

Thursday 5th September 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the bed in here.

It took me a while to settle myself down but once I’d gone, I’d gone for good and I had the best sleep that I have had for at least two weeks.

Off on a few voyages too, for the first time for a week, and I’ll tell you all about them once I’ve organised the dictaphone.

During one of my voyages, I heard one of the participants call my name, so I sat up bolt-upright. I’ve not had a moment like that for several years and when I did it was usually a plea for help or for me to get in touch.

For a fact, I know that Castor was in one of my voyages, and so, when I heard the call, I wondered if it was she. But who knows, and this is not the moment for me to find out, I reckon, even if, to paraphrase the words of Adolphus Greely whose expedition came to grief on Cape Sabine, “I know of no law, human or divine, that was broken …”.

If Castor wants to get in touch with me then she can. She has the means or if not, she can find them. But it’s not the moment for me to be taking any initiative.

For once I slept right through the alarms and it was 10:30, when the telephone rang, that I awoke. I wasn’t quick enough to answer the telephone though.

Instead I carried on with a few tasks that needed attention – I still wasn’t in work mode – then round about 14:30 went for a shower and a clean-up.

Back in bed afterwards until Hannah came home and we had one of our lengthy chats. I’m glad to see her doing so well after her spell at University.

She’s been offered a chance to study for her CPA but she’s not sure. I was explaining to her the benefits, particularly if someone else is paying for the course.

Darren came back later and we had a chat while Amber made tea. And even though it’s only 21:45 I’m off to bed.

I have a lot of sleep to catch up on.

Friday 28th September 2018 – BANE OF BRITAIN …

… strikes again!

And in spades too. The kind of thing that only I can do, and I’m pretty good at it, having had years of practice.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves right now. Retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

Having extolled the virtues of a really good night’s sleep yesterday we returned to our customary habits by being wide awake at 01:45, for a reason that I can’t fathom, save as to say that it disturbed me.

From there on in I drifted in and out of sleep until the alarm went off. And then I dashed out of bed because I wanted to see Hannah. It’s homecoming weekend at St F-X so she’s off to Antigonish to meet up with her former colleagues and do a little celebrating.

And quite right too. It’s a kind of end of a long goodbye to an important period in her life. She’s graduated (with distinction, I’m proud to say) from the best University in Canada with enough certificates to cover her bedroom wall and she’s ready to move on into the big wide world.

But she needs to say goodbye in this one before she goes.

She’s like a typical young University graduate – torn between home and family on one side and what the big wide world has to offer on the other side, and so why make your own mistakes when you can listen to the mistakes that other people have made?

And as a result we had a good chat for several hours. After all, no-one has made as many mistakes in their life as I have in mine.

I hadn’t bought her a graduation present because, after all, what do I know about people’s tastes? I gave her some cash and told her to choose a really nice piece of jewellery that she likes, and wear it for me. And then I bunged her a bit more cash to go and have a party.

With having had a bad night, I was ready to go back to bed for half an hour or so. And that turned out to be a couple of hours or so. I still can’t shake off this health issue. I might be feeling better than i was earlier in the week, but that’s a long way from saying that I’m well.

Once I was back in the Land of the Living I had a shower, packed my suitcase and had a very late lunch. Following which I leapt aboard Strider and we went down to the office.

Zoe was there, telling us about her wedding plans. She’s Rachel’s eldest daughter and decided a few years ago to make her own way in the world. She’s finding it tough going and struggling along, and this wedding is proving to be quite a problem.

She’s seen a wedding dress that she absolutely loves and which is apparently beautiful, but she has to pay a 50% deposit to secure it and have the fitting done, and she can’t rustle up the money.

No girl should ever have to settle for second-best on the most important day in her life (a comment which will have made Nerina’s eyes pop out on stalks wondering how she managed to end up with me) and so I gave her her wedding present in advance. Tomorrow she can go and sign up for her dress.

There were a few of us down there this afternoon, with people coming and going, and we ended up having quite a chat.

So much so that we were down there long after closing time, which was just as well because quite late on, someone phoned up with a speculative enquiry about tyres to solve a crisis, and we could actually help out.

Tea was, basically, everything that was left over from earlier in the week and you would be surprised at how nice you can make stuff like that when you have a good imagination and some culinary talent. I certainly enjoyed mine!

Time to hit the road now and so I said goodbye to Darren and Amber. And not wishing to leave Amber out, I slipped her a little present so that she could go shopping. I also had a little word or two in her ear about something or other.

Rachel and I trundled off to Florenceville and the Coach Atlantic bus. Plenty of time to wait and so I started to search my pockets to see what I had forgotten to leave behind.

I found the pot of glue that Darren had given me to look after, and then I boarded the bus.

We stopped at quite a few places along the route, and at the coffee pause at Edmundston I realised that I hadn’t continued the search of my pockets.

And so I did – and found the keys to Strider and Rachel’s spare front door key.

D’ohhhh! That’s really the kind of thing that only I can do, isn’t it?

At Rivieère-du-Loup where I change for the Orleans Express bus to Montreal, I had a chat with the Coach Atlantic driver. She’s doing the return to Moncton tomorrow afternoon and, as luck would have it, is having to call at Florenceville on her way down.

So I negotiated an envelope from the guy in the ticket office, put the keys inside and she dropped it on the dashboard of her bus.

And I settled down ready for the next stage of my journey.

Thursday 27th September 2018 – I’VE BEEN FEELING …

… much better today.

That is of course a very long way from saying that I’m feeling good, or even well, but it’s certainly an improvement over the last three days or so.

And one thing that I have noticed is that these spells of ill-health are becoming more frequent, deeper and lasting longer than they did before;

of course, I knew all about this because I have been told. But it’s still rather disappointing to see myself sliding slowly into the abyss. Getting ready to see my forebears, I imagine. And we’ll all be stoking the fires together. But at least I’m more fortunate than Goldilocks. She only had three.

I did know that I would be feeling better though – my sleep could have told me that. Deep and intense, turning over slightly whenever I heard a noise, and then going back into my deep sleep until the alarms went off.

There had been an interesting voyage too. Being short of money I’d gone to see what work was available at the local pub and they had offered me three nights a week as a pianist. I took it of course, even though I couldn’t play, and it wasn’t until I was due to start that I reckoned that I really ought to withdraw. The pub itself was set in a large, kind-of abandoned quarry, well-worn down and surrounded “up on top” by cheap local authority housing.
A little later, I wanted to take a shower, but the bath was full of dirty clothes. I mentioned it to Rachel but she told me to go ahead and just walk on them. That’s how I take a shower when I’m on the road anyway, washing my clothes in the shower around me.

It took me a while to organise myself, which is no real surprise, and then having done all of the preparation, I was off. Strider and I haven’t been on a voyage so far this year, so we hit the road and headed to Fredericton.

Not for any good reason, but because it was there, it was a place to go and I couldn’t think of anywhere else.

Once Strider warmed up, he ran really well. But our persistent misfire has come back and the fuel consumption has deteriorated again. I suppose that he’s getting old like I am. 10 years old now, he is.

First stop in Fredericton was at the Value Village. I’ve talked about these places before. In Canada there aren’t Charity Shops like there are in the UK.There’s just one big one and everything is centralised.

My treat today was a pile of books, some of which I’ll bring back to France and the rest I’ll leave in Strider for if I ever return. I dunno.

After that, it was Home Depot but since I no longer live at the farm there’s nothing there that excite me these days. Princess Autos came up with a circuit tester for the new tow hitch. Need to make sure that Strider’s electrics are up to the job if I’ll be towing trailers.

Scotia Bank next, where my account took a substantial hit. And for a couple of good reasons too, but I’ll talk more about those in due course.

I called at a Subway for a rather late lunch and a rest, and followed that up with a coffee at Tim Horton’s, as I was feeling a little under the weather by this time.

There was still time to go to the Bulk Barn. I’d noticed in Montreal that Gram Flour was really cheap there and I can’t usually find it in France. So I bought myself a kilo and I’l smuggle it in at the border if I can.

On the way back, I came by the scenic route, across the Saint John River and along the north shore, where the roadworks that slowed up Rachel and me last year are still going on.

Roadworks everywhere in fact and it took an age to get to the cheap petrol station at Keswick to fuel up.

On the way back I stopped off at Mactaquac to photograph the dam there but instead was greeted by a car fire, with various fire engines, police and ambulances around trying to look busy. Rather sad, that was.

From there, the return was quick enough but I still hadn’t finished because I had to run up to Centreville for some whipping cream.

Hannah was the chief architect of tea tonight. They had all kinds of fishy things and I had a pasta with veg and tomato sauce. But Hannah excelled herself with the falafel. A mix out of a packet but delicious nevertheless.

We watched TV for a while until everyone decided to watch this anatomy programme. And once they started talking about surgery and operations I beat a hasty retreat to my room. I can’t be doing with any of that.

Now as tomorrow, I wonder if the improvement will continue or will I have a relapse? I’m on the road to Montreal tomorrow night so I’m hoping that it will be good.

We shall see.

Wednesday 26th September 2018 – WHAT AWOKE ME …

… this morning at 06:30 WAS the sound of a couple of potato wagons roaring by (it’s THAT time of the year already!). And I found that the bedroom light was still on and the laptop still running. That’s the kind of state in which I ended up last night. Totally hors de mon assiette as they say back home.

I’d been on my travels though. I noticed yesterday evening that somebody had been searching my blog for details about Longport in Stoke on Trent and there’s only one reason why anyone would want to do that, and that is for McGuinness’s Scrapyard.

It must have been playing on my mind somewhat because I ended up in a scrapyard last night, sitting in an old Ford Transit pickup watching the world go by. And I ended up talking to the owner of the place about all of the good stuff that I had had from there, including my purple 1982 car transporter and trailer. Someone mentioned that the best vehicle that I had ever owned was another vehicle and how that came from a different scrapyard but I shut them up. Walking back to my car, three girls who worked in the place came over to start to talk to me and besociable, but as for what and why now, I can’t remember.

Being awake is one thing – being up and about is of course something else completely. And even though I managed my medication, it was a good few hours before I was in any kind of position to think about breakfast.

But breakfast I did and even managed some lunch, although it was a struggle.

In the afternoon I went down to the shop in town to chat to Rachel and Hannah. I only managed to fall asleep twice which is good news, and apart from that I began to feel a little better.

Later on after everyone had gone home I helped Darren replace the brake pipes and bleed the brakes on a one-ton pick-up. It took a while to do it correctly and it was about 19:30 when we left and headed for home.

Almost running into a County Mountie who was doing something or other at the side of the road.

Tea was mixed vegetables and vegan sausage, and I managed to chat for 20 minutes with everyone.

But of course it didn’t last. I was soon flaked out and headed off for the comfort and privacy of my little room.

Today was an improvement on my health position, which is always good. But I’m still going to try for the early night.

Sunday 23rd September 2018 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that I have given endless amounts of grief to all kinds of Border Patrol, immigration and security services in the past, and on occasions too numerous to enumerate.

And so I take my hat off to Officer Allen of the US Immigration Service who saw me today at Bridgewater, Maine today. If every Immigration Officer were as friendly, courteous and helpful as he, travelling from one country to the next would be an absolute pleasure.

Yes, I’ve been out and about on my travels today. But it was touch and go at one point.

What didn’t help was that, despite it being Sunday, I forgot to switch off the alarm and so that’s guaranteed to get me off on the wrong foot.

I was in the middle of the High Arctic too, doing a guided tour in, of all things, Bill Badger, the old A60 van that I had in the 1970s. When the tour was over, two people – a couple – came over to offer me their services and while I took down their details I knew that I wouldn’t ever be using them, for the least of the reasons being that there are only two seats in the front of the van.

With it being early, I loitered around for a while and then when others started to move around I joined in, had my medication (I’ve found it now) and a coffee.

We all poured out of the house where Amber’s boyfriend was waiting for us, and we shot off down the road to the border. I need a Green Card to cross over, and so I had my pleasant encounter, and then off to Presque Ile in Maine.

It’s my custom when I’m here to treat everyone to Sunday lunch so the Oriental Pearl Chinese buffet was the place to visit. They all tucked into the buffet while the chef made me a vegetable stir-fry with rice.

Next stop was Marden’s.

That’s like Noz only bigger and with more stuff, and many of the tools in Strider have come from there in the past. But today, I bought nothing. Strider and I won’t be going far so I don’t need much.

Back here I hit the wall again and I was gone. Three hours this time, and isn’t this becoming ridiculous? I dunno where I’ll be going with all of this and if I don’t sort myself out soon I won’t make my bus back to Montreal on Friday night.

But later on I came round and surprisingly, had a new lease of life. I could even manage a sandwich. George was back from Winnipeg so he came round and we all had a chat.

But now I’m off to bed. I need to be on the road tomorrow and I have a lot of things to do.

But first I need a good night’s sleep.

Friday 21st September 2018 – I MADE IT …

… outside today.

Strider and I were reunited at long last and we went for a good blast up the road.

Mind you, I didn’t feel much like it. Another miserable night waking up several times and each time the nocturnal ramble in which I was travelling disappeared into the ether before I could grab the dictaphone.

I vaguely remember ships but that’s about all.

With Ellen now being supernumary it means that Rachel has to open up the office at 08:00. I didn’t realise that of course so when I finally drifted into the kitchen at 07:50 Rachel was on the point of drifting out.

And so I drifted back to bed again, but having first checked the availability of the shower. And Hannah told me that there were some new products to try.

10:30 is a much-more realistic time to raise myself from the dead and so coffee and toast brought me round somewhat. And then I went for my shower.

In the shower I find the coconut (because I love coconut) shampoo, the strawberry (in honour of my Recent Travelling Companion) shower gel and the vanilla (because it was nearest) soap for shaving.

I now smell like a rather bizarre dessert – something that brought a great deal of ribald comment from some (erstwhile) friends.

But I suppose that it’s better than smelling like a badger.

Hans suggested a topping of whipped cream. He would gladly do the whipping, and I replied that it would be OK as long as he found someone nice, young, friendly and female to lick it off me afterwards.

Rachel had ordered on-line the licence tags for Strider but they had never arrived. I bet my mortgage that they were in my mailbox up on Mars Hill Road so I took Strider off for a drive. And on a few occasions I forgot just how light his back end is.

And Strider has acquired not only a block heater but also a really good and new tow bar and attachments.

Arriving at the battery of mailboxes I had a nervous 5 minutes when I couldn’t remember which box was mine. I ended up having to empty out Strider until I found my mailbox contract.

The tags were in there, as was a letter telling me that I had been pre-approved for a life assurance policy, without a medical. If only they knew …

Back at the mill I had a chat with Rachel and Bob and then Strider and I headed off to Woodstock.

And by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong so it was pretty crowded inside Strider, I can tell you.

First stop was Service New Brunswick. I pay my property taxes on Mars Hill by direct debit but I had received a bill. Turns out that there had been a revaluation and a subsequent refund, but they had refunded the wrong amount. So I needed to pay some back.

Subway for lunch and then Atlantic Superstore and Sobey’s for supplies. I’m running out of stuff in Strider. I remember emptying him out last year.

Tim Horton’s for a new coffee mug and a coffee, and a very bizarre conversation as I tried to explain to at least four people what it was that I wanted and somehow they didn’t understand.

Back here I had vegan hot dogs and beans for tea and then we all settled down to watch TV. First programme was one of these medical ones where they cut people open, so I bid a hasty retreat back to my room.

The air in here is rather gloomy today. It’s my father (Rachel’s grandfather)’s funeral today back in the UK and Rachel thinks that I should be upset by it. But Rachel didn’t have the childhood that we had.

All I ever wished for was that his end would be quick and he wouldn’t suffer – I wouldn’t wish suffering on my own worst enemy – and in that at least he was lucky.

Whatever else I was intending to write, I’ll keep it to myself.

No reason to inflict my problems on you lot.

Thursday 20th September 2018 – AND SO …

… after the vicissitudes of the last three weeks or so, I crashed out good and proper at some kind of unearthly hour yesterday evening in the busom of what remains of my family.

But not for long.

My guilty conscience was clearly pricking at me again because I was wide-awake at about 03:00 and again an hour or so later. And what was remarkable about all of this was that not only did I not remember any particular nocturnal ramble, on the latter occasion I was totally disorientated and had to recycle myself back through the last four or five weeks in order to work out where I was.

It was all rather short-lived though.

Next thing that I remember was that it was about 10:00. Everyone here had gone to school or to work except for Cujo the Killer Cat who still remembered me and came for a really good cuddle and stroke.

There’s a new cat too, called Oscar. Hannah adopted one at University and brought it back when she graduated. Cujo is definitely not impressed.

Four pieces of toast and three coffees later I was tempted to jump into Strider and go in search of food but I was in no condition to move. I had a go at starting to update the blog with the missing entries and managed one and a half.

This is going to be a very long job.

Amber came back from school and we had a chat, and then I went back to bed for another three hours.

When Darren came home I had a chat with him and then also with Rachel and Hannah. But I was pretty-much done and that was that.

I went back to bed where I shall sleep for the next 100 years. This has taken so much out of me

Wednesday 19th September 2018 – WE FINALLY STAGGERED IN …

… to Lester P Pearson Airport quite early – as in something like 02:20 or whatever. A far cry from our intended 20:00, wasn’t it? And then the interminable file through customs, immigration and baggage collection.

I was well on my last legs right now and so I was rather glad that no-one crossed my path.As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I don’t really become tired when I’ve had a very long day. Instead of tiredness it’s my irritability that increases and I’ve had some interesting and exciting encounters after a 36-hour working day.

At the Sheraton Gateway hotel, check-in was easy and I departed to my room. By now I’d gone beyond the threshold of tiredness and couldn’t sleep. It was 04:00 when I finally tucked myself up under the blankets and waited for dawn to come.

Sometime during the night I must have gone to sleep because the 08:00 alarm awoke me. The 08:08 and the 08:19 alarms also awoke me. I was having a bad morning.

Something like 09:30 when I hauled myself out of the stinking pit into the shower. And then we had the dramatic search for the clean clothes which I was convinced that I had put into my rucksack, but apparently not. In the end, the dirty clothes had to do.

Breakfast finished at 10:00 so I made it with 30 seconds to spare – only to be told that it wasn’t included in my booking and that I would have to pay extra. I dropped my coffee and orange juice as if I had been scalded and legged it quick.

And then had to leg it back equally quickly, for I had discovered that I had left my camera back at my pseudo-breakfast table.

I went off to Tim Horton’s instead and made contact with the rest of the world. A mere 91 messages on my social networking site awaiting my attention. I dealt with about 5 and discarded the rest.

The coffee, orange and bagels did their best to cheer me up, and so I went for a walk around to see the sights. And there I bumped into Aaron and Deanna doing the same. We had a little chat and then just like the Knights Of The Round Table, we went our separate ways.

Checking in the suitcase was reasonably straightforward. I could even fit a few more bits and pieces into it to make my rucksack more manoeuvrable. The “security” was interesting too, with a few more of these jobsworths who don’t have a clue about what they are doing, trying to make themselves look important.

Having bought bagels to eat for lunch, I was surprised to encounter a “Subway” inside the security area. I bagged a footlong vegetarian to eat, and I can save my bagels for later

Our ‘plane to Fredericton is a Bombardier Q400 R003 – a much-more modern version of the Dash-7 that we had to go from Yellowknife to Baffin Island. Clean and tidy and comfortable (although the leather on the seats was showing its age).

I forgot to note its registration number so if I can see it on the photo I can tell you all about it in due course.

The flight attendant had a weird sense of humour – “if you don’t like the on-board service, there are four emergency exits …”. That’s the kind of humour that I appreciate.

It was something of a shock to arrive in Fredericton. It had been warm and sunny in Toronto but here it was wet and windy – and cold. In fact the cold was more of a shock than anything else. It had been cold of course in the High Arctic but a different kind of cold and it didn’t feel half as bad as I was feeling right now.

Rachel and I drove back into town where she picked up some things that she had ordered from Kent Hardware. I fuelled up her car for her and then we went for a coffee at Tim Horton’s, where she told me that while I had been away, my father had died.

I think that she was expecting me to show more emotion than I did, but the fact is that I ran out of emotion about my family a very long time ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Anyway, I shan’t bore you with my problems.

We drove back here and Rachel rustled up something quick to eat. Meantime I had a chat to Darren, Amber and Hannah. It’s been a good while.

And then I staggered off to bed. It’s been a very long day with lots of interruptions and I’m thoroughly exhausted.

Monday 9th October 2017 – HAPPY THANKSGIVING

And everyone around here is celebrating and giving thanks – for tonight I’ll be on the bus back to Montreal – always assuming that it doesn’t forget me like last year.

I’d had a really early night again last night – alone again, as it happens, and I’d been off on my travels again. back in Virlet as it happens, and everyone was poking fun at me, although there didn’t seem to be any reason why. But I approached the Secretary of the Commune and she explained to me that I was wearing odd shoes. I had a look, and it took quite some doing, even on a close inspection, to see that they were different. How anyone else had noticed from a distance away at a casual glance was beyond me. I asked which “pair” she preferred, and she replied that the “dark blue” shoes were preferable. However they looked the same colour to me and while it might have been dark blue in reality, on my travels last night I reckoned that they were black. So off I trotted back home to look for a matching shoe, but instead found a pair that were a real pair, but were black, and nothing like as highly-polished as the ones that I was wearing (because they really were highly polished). And so, do I ignore the catty remarks, do I carry on hunting for “the other shoe” or do I put on the black, dirty shoes and if so how would everyone else in the village react?

When my alarm went off I went off to ride the porcelain horse, and encountered Cujo the Killer Cat on the way back. I went back to bed seeing as no-one else was stirring, and she stayed there with me for a while before disappearing off.

Eventually, the clatter of dishes from the kitchen told me that Rachel was up and about so I went to help her prepare the breakfast brunch. Famous the whole world over, as I have said.

My share of the breakfast was the beans on toast with hash browns and one of my vegan burgers.

In the afternoon, Amber’s boyfriend came round and we all chilled out and did precisely nothing at all. Round about 14:30, Hannah and her friend left to go back to University at Antigonish and the rest of us, having said goodbye, carried on chatting.

Tea for me was the rest of the vegan burgers, the rest of the beans, and some left-over potatoes from the Thanksgiving meal, followed by rice pudding ditto. Then I went for a shower to wake myself up.

At 19:45 I took my leave of everyone and Rachel drove me to Florenceville and the bus stop. We were an hour early which I preferred after the dreadful performance last year that inconvenienced just about everyone except the bus driver.

We weren’t alone either. One of Rachel’s neighbours was there, putting her son on the bus back to Montreal where he’s at University studying aero-engineering.

maritime coach atlantic riviere du loup quebec canada september septembre 2017We were there quite early, as I have said.

And so, as you might expect, the bus was late arriving.

And Coach Atlantic is spending its money too, so it seems, because this was a modern, clean, comfortable coach, which makes a change from one or two that we’ve travelled on.

Not to say that they were ever dirty or uncomfortable – far from it. But they were starting to become rather long in the tooth. This one was brand-spanking new, with wi-fi, but, alas, still with no power points.

And no data tracker too. Most buses and coaches these days have data trackers fitted so that you can go to the website of the company and see where the bus or coach is. Once Coach Atlantic fits these to their coaches, there won’t be any of this “missing the bus” or waiting around for well over an hour in the pouring rain.

Because pouring rain was what we had had all day. I’d never seen anything like this rain. Heavy, yes, but not persistently so all day.

So having dozed all the way to the St Lawrence, I’m now at Riviere du Loup waiting for the bus that’s coming from the Gaspé that will take me on to Montreal.

It’s always a long night on the overnight bus but at least I don’t have far to stagger from the bus terminal to the hotel where i’ll be staying until tomorrow evening.