Category Archives: Zoe

Sunday 13th October 2019 – I SAID YESTERDAY …

… that I was hoping to have a really good sleep last night. And to be honest, I said it without too much conviction.

So consequently, having closed my eyes at some time rather like 22:45 or thereabouts last night, no-one was more surprised than me to notice that when I reopened them, it was … errr … 09:45.

Out like a light, totally painless, didn’t feel a thing.

Even more surprisingly, all of my old good humour, positive thought and optimism had reappeared too. That led me to the conclusion that the deep depression in which I have found myself over the last … I dunno … seven or eight weeks and which affected my sea voyage around the High Arctic so much was caused by nothing more than good old plain and simple fatigue and exhaustion.

That’s certainly borne out by the facts, where in the latter stages of that journey I was existing on about three hours of sleep each night and being kept running by nothing more than adrenalin.

So this morning, with it being a Sunday, everyone else was having a lie-in too and no-one surfaced much before 11:00. The breakfast brunch ended up being much later than it usually is but it was delicious all the same.

After lunch I took Zoe down to her house in Woodstock. And by the time we got … “ohhh not again!” – ed. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I used to hire a Dodge Caravan I had a mattress that I used for sleeping. Almost new, it didn’t have much use and so when I emptied my storage locker I brought it back and gave it to Zoe for when she has visitors round at her house.

We went back up to Bob and Ellen’s afterwards to drop her off for a Thanksgiving Dinner. On the way we called at the tyre depot and a mammoth search around the premises turned up my missing notebook for which I shall be eternally grateful.

Ellen made me a coffee and we had a little chat, and then I wished them all goodbye. They wished me a pleasant voyage back to Europe, which was nice of them.

When I returned, everyone was out tidying up the yard. I was put on fire duty, in charge of the rubbish burning. We ended up with fire everywhere except where it was supposed to be, but armed with a big metal snow shovel I was able to deal with the matter before the house burned down.

I ended up smelling like a fire myself, so a shower and change of clothes was called for.

Some more stuff disappeared out of Strider too – into the garage downstairs.

Thanksgiving dinner here tonight. Rachel was cooking lamb for everyone so I made stuffed peppers for our little visitor and me. They were quite delicious. As a special treat I had saved two of the vegan muffins and the two of us ate them to celebrate our own Thanksgiving.

Plenty of carrots left over so the plan for tomorrow is to make a carrot soup using coconut milk, ginger and bay leaves. Meanwhile, I put the lamb bones in some water with some sage, thyme, rosemary and olive oil and I’m boiling them down to make some lamb stock. Not for me, I hasten to add, but for the basis of the weekly work soup for the carnivores.

But it did remind me of the story about when the BBC closed down the children’s programmes on radio and went to sell off all of the assets
“How much did we get for Larry the Lamb?” asked the BBC’s accountant.
“Three and six a pound” was the reply.

Rachel and I are chatting right now as I’m typing, and I’ll be off to bed in a short while. Desperate for another long sleep tonight (without the alarms because it’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow) but who knows?

And I need it too. Tomorrow is going to be a very long and painful night and I won’t be having much sleep at all.

Saturday 12th October 2019 – IT’S THE FIRST …

… day of the Bank Holiday today and I have celebrated it by doing absolutely nothing at all.

And that is just as well because I had a horrible night last night. Lying in bed watching the clock go round and round as I tried – not very successfully – to go to sleep.

Yet sleep I must have done at one point as I awoke at 05:45 without the benefit of an alarm. Raining again, and there’s the metal roof of a trailer right underneath my bedroom window.

The alarms went off as usual but quite frankly I couldn’t have cared less about them. I went back down the bed. But Rosemary rand me up at about 08:00 and I spent a pleasant hour or so talking to her. That fired me up to take my medication and to go and make myself a coffee.

Liz was on line too so we had a chat on the internet too – a chat that went on in a kind of desultory fashion all throughout the day. And that included the news that Strawberry Moose will be going on another journey not long after he returns home.

Having had my coffee I was in no real mood for breakfast so I did without. And my fast, such as it was, went on until about 15:00 when I made myself some toast.

In between the coffee and toast I had been sorting out all of my stuff, throwing some stuff away, sticking some more in Strider and taking some stuff out of Strider to take home with me. I found a lot of stuff that was missing but to my great dismay, I can’t find my notebook now.

I’ve already lost one in my jacket in Calgary and to lose a second will be a disaster. So if you gave me your e-mail address on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, then send it to me again using the comments link on the blog.

I shan’t publish the information, but at least I’ll have it for when I return home and can sort out the photos that I’ve promised you.

Once I’d tidied up and had my toast I spent a few hours playing on the bass. Working out a few more bass lines, in particular to a few tracks by Counting Crows off their Recovering The Satellites album. That, by the way, is another album that is guaranteed to reduce me into a state of depression.

A couple of the lyrics are quite meaningful (well, they all are, but in different ways). One in particular reminds me of an incredibly lengthy chat that I had with someone five or six weeks ago, quite late one night
Gonna get back to basics
Guess I’ll start it up again
I’m fallin’ from the ceiling
You’re falling from the sky now and then
Maybe you were shot down in pieces
Maybe I slipped in between
But we were gonna be the wildest
The Wildest
The Wildest
People they ever hoped to see
Just you and me

But as Peter Townsend would tell us, it’s all about Time and Chance, isn’t it?

Very similar to when I used to be repairing my old farmhouse, I reckon. When I had the time I didn’t have the money. And when I had the money I didn’t have the time.

Zoe came into my room later, wondering why I wasn’t coming out to be sociable. I suppose that I ought to be more sociable than I am, so I told her that if she made me a coffee I would come out and drink it. So she did, and I did.

Rachel and I cooked tea tonight, stir-fry vegetables and rice in soy sauce with vegan spring rolls. Delicious it was too. There was some apple crumble left over from last weekend, but there isn’t now.

We all chatted for a while and then like The Knights Of The Round Table we all went our separate ways.

Now I’m back in my room, wondering what tonight is going to bring me. Sleep, I hope, if I’m lucky. I could do with a pile of that. But something extra would be nice too. And right now, I’m listening to Jackson Heights and their album King’s Progress, and in particular the track “Insomnia” where Lee Jackson sings
The whole world’s still sleeping
Kept warm by their dreams
Wrapped up in their loved ones
How peaceful it seems
Lay your head on the pillow
How weary it seems
You would give a small fortune
To get back in your dreams

Those are sentiments with which I concur whole-heartedly.

Thursday 10th October 2019 – I DON’T UNDERSTAND …

… why, but I am just totally stressed out right now to an extent that I didn’t know was possible.

There has been an “incident” (which I’m not going to relate) that not only is nothing to do with me, but doesn’t even relate to me at all and doesn’t even affect me in the slightest, but for some reason it has got deep under my skin.

One thing that the doctors told me is that in order to prolong my life as much as possible I have to avoid all kinds of stresses and strains and any kind of emotional impact.

With having such a low blood count as I do, my heart is having to beat twice as fast and i have to breathe twice as fast to provide enough oxygen to my vital organs. It’s only because I have a coeur de champion that I have kept going for so long, but if I keep on going like today my days are definitely numbered.

I need to get a grip.

And that doesn’t apply just to this particular incident either. Despite an early night, and despite sleeping right through the alarms this morning, it was still 07:20 before I surfaced.

All of the rubbish needed taking down to the street for the dustmen so I took it down before breakfast.

Another leisurely morning and then I went up to the tire depot. Things weren’t quite so busy today and rather like my namesake the mathematician, I did three fifths of five eights of … errr … absolutely nothing. I ended up sleeping for most of the day and that is worrying me intently.

Well, I didn;t actually do absolutely nothing. I taught Zoe to use the new tyre comparison program that I uploaded, and even found a few new features on it too.

Another thing that I did, which ought to have made my blood boil but didn’t, much to my surprise, was to give someone a piece of my mind down the telephone.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I ordered a chip for Strider to deal with his excessive fuel consumption. It was sent back to the supplier because “insufficient address”. A week or so ago I telephoned the supplier, amended the address slightly and so they posted it again.

Only to have it returned a second time.

I telephoned the maildrop place in Mars Hill, just across the border in the USA to ask why they keep on returning it.
“But you don’t have an account with us”
“What do you mean ‘an account’? We’ve been having stuff sent to you for as long as I can remember (which is at least 18 years) and we’ve never needed an account”.
“Well, you do now since we’ve taken it over”
“So if that’s the case, why didn’t you ring up and tell all of your customers that the procedures have changed? And why did you refuse my parcel when my phone number is on the address label and you could have invited me to come over and open an account?”

No answer.

But the suppliers are very understanding and they are sending it now by post direct to Canada (which is what I should have done in the fist place), and it’ll arrive after I’ve returned home of course.

Trying to save pennies here and there is ending up costing me a fortune. It’s false economy.

And people complain about a recession and how things are tight. That guy in Mars Hill has just lost $7:00 because he’s too lazy to pick up the phone and make a phone call.

Later on I gave Darren a hand with the one-tonne Dually which he drove home while I took the post to the Post Office, and then I drove him back to the garage to pick up the three-tonner.

And if you are wondering whether that means that we finally have all of the cars and trucks (except the two twenty-tonners and the artic tractor of course) back at home (first time since I don’t know when) then Rachel’s Golf has had to go to have an exchange driveshaft exchanged once more. Nothing seems to last like it did, but even so, 18 months for a driveshaft is rather extreme).

Rachel cooked a lovely meal for tea and then I helped with the washing and drying. Now I’m sitting in my bedroom not doing all that much right now.

Except to listen to the music. It has a very calming influence on me, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and Tinsley Ellis’ “Mystery To Me” is about as good as gets. I’ve been teaching myself to play the lead guitar break (the one from 03:10) on the bass as a way of organising myself.

Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. The only thing wrong with today though was my attitude and I need to do something about that.

Monday 7th October 2019 – JUST LIKE OLD TIMES!

Just pulling into the yard this evening with Amber after picking her up after cheerleading practice when Rachel stuck her head out of the door
“Could you go down to the tyre depot and pick up Darren?”

So I dropped off my passenger and headed off to my next job, musing that I ought to fit a meter under Strider’s dashboard and a taxi sign on the roof. When I sold my taxi business in 1989 I thought that I had put this kind of thing well-and-truly to bed.

But no. It was just like old times.

However, if anyone thinks that I’m complaining or that I’m unhappy about it, then that’s far from the truth. I was actually enjoying myself being out and about, especially with some decent music churning away on Strider’s hi-fi.

Actually, one of my old Mancunian acquaintances had made an appearance on my playlist. And as I listened to the words, I realised that they are really quite appropriate to the situation in which I have found myself these days as I struggle with my illness and events associated with it all.

The killer lives inside me: yes, I can feel him move
Sometimes he’s lightly sleeping in the quiet of his room
But then his eyes will rise and stare through mine;
He’ll speak my words and slice my mind inside
Yes the killer lives

Angels live inside me: I can feel them smile…
Their presence strokes and soothes the tempest in my mind
And their love can heal the wounds that I have wrought
They watch me as I go to fall – well, I know I shall be caught
While the angels live

And I too, live inside me and very often don’t know who I am
I know I’m not a hero, but I hope that I’m not damned:
I’m just a man, and killers, angels, all are me:
Dictators, saviours, refugees in war and peace
As long as Man lives…

Because, make no mistake, I am starting to struggle now. I had a really miserable afternoon yesterday and even though I was in bed early and had (for once) a really decent night’s sleep, I wasn’t feeling much better.

Luckily the girls had a lift into school so that I could take things easy this morning. I was in no hurry to surface. I had some food for breakfast, and a coffee, and then a play around on the laptop doing some stuff.

Zoe had told me when she left that she hadn’t been able to find Cujo the Killer Cat, so before I left I tried to hunt her down so that I could put her in one of the rooms where there’s no alarm sensor.

45 minutes I spent trying to find that blasted cat and when I went to the front door to accept a huge parcel delivery, there she was sitting on the bonnet of Strider. Outside all the time!

For most of the day I’ve been running around western New Brunswick fetching parts. It’s been really busy at work today. What added to the confusion was that just as everyone had something important to do, we had a delivery of 72 winter tyres and they all needed sorting and stacking.

Not only that, I’ve been doing my salemanship efforts today. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m something of an expert in Ford Cortina Mk III, Mk IV and Mk V, having made my fortune with them when I ran my taxi company. There are one or two in North America and someone posted on a forum that he couldn’t find any tyres anywhere to fit them

This place where I’m working right now is like an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures dating back years so I had a good look around. And sure enough, there are a handful just the correct size stuck down the back of the depot. And so I put an advert on the appropriate forum.

Back here, still in the driving rainstorm, i went to the Post Office on the way home to post the letters and then came back for tea. Plenty of pasta left over from the weekend, and rice pudding left over from last week. A meal fit for a king.

And then out taxiing until late. Just like old times.

But that’s enough for tonight, I reckon. I’m going to bed and I’m hoping to sleep. I need to pull myself round if I can but then again it’s been almost four months since my last blood transfusion, which I’m supposed to have every four weeks.

But do I care? Of course not. I’ve had a good time. And who wants to lie in bed at home to sit and stare at the bedroom ceiling anyway?

Sunday 6th October 2019 – IT’S BEEN …

… another day that has been somewhat … errr … less-lively than the others.

Sunday is a Day of Rest as we all know, and resting until about 08:30 flat-out with hardly an interruption during the night is as restful as it gets.

I did manage to leave the bed though round about 09:15 for a trip down the corridor and on returning I found that the place in my nice warm bed had been taken by Cujo the Killer Cat, so I had company for a while.

The Taylor Breakfast Brunch was of the usual high standard, although it was rather later than usual because Strider and I had to run to the shops for some milk as we had run out.

I was summoned to the telephone too, and that took about 20 minutes to deal with.

After breakfast we chilled for a while and then I ran Darren back to the tyre depot where he was going to spend the afternoon working on the one-ton truck. He needs to have that running because we are going to take off the dump body from the old one-ton Ford that we brought down here the other week to fit on the new one so that we can haul grain sacks around with it.

Back here, I emptied out Strider and tidied him up some more. I gave a pile of stuff to Zoe and there’s some more for Darren too.

The pace though had rather overwhelmed me and back in my little room I had a doze for an hour or two – despite my lie-in this morning. But I livened myself up with a shower and a change of clothes. I look almost human now!

Rachel made a lovely tea, a kind of hamburger mash with baked potatoes followed by apple crumble. And I loitered around to chat to her and Zoe for ages.

But now I’m off to bed. Worn out too and I don’t understand it because I’ve had a quiet relaxing day. I always seem to be more tired when I’ve not done anything.

Thursday 3rd October 2019 – I HAVE HAD …

… one of the best Indian meals that I have had for quite a while in North America. Outside Montreal, of course, because nothing can improve upon the Indian cafe that I discovered at Cote Vertu in Montreal.

It seems that a family of Indians – “those” Indians, not “those Indians” = have recently taken over a motel in Woodstock (a phenomenon that I first observed about 15 years or so ago) and converted the restaurant into an Indian restaurant.

I had a vegetable biryani and it was excellent, as indeed was everyone else’s meal. The service unfortunately did not match the food, but I’m sure that it will improve.

And I felt like a good meal tonight too because I’ve had a harrowing day. It all went wrong during the night where I reckoned that I had hardly slept at all. Three dictated files on the dictaphone told a different story but nevertheless that was how I felt.

There was no school run either so I hitched a lift up to the office with Rachel so that I could pick up Strider. But then we had an urgent phone call. The boy who was taking Amber to school failed to turn up so I had to dash home. Amber isn’t a fan of Strider but she had no choice in the matter this morning.

Quite a few stresses and strains at the tyre depot today. It seems that everyone is having weekend blues a few days early. But at least the cashing up was no problem tonight – we were $0:90 over so we decided to Spend Spend Spend!

At lunchtime though I’d come home for a shower and a change of clothes, and also to salvage the Note-Tab clipboard libraries from the old computer – a task that I had forgotten. But that’s now accomplished. And I do have to say that the old computer now that it’s “fixed” seems to be working better than it ever did.

We all went down for an Indian meal tonight, all seven of us. And on the way back Rachel, Zoe and I went to visit one of Rachel’s friends who is on the point of leaving for the winter.

But now I’m set up in my room on my way to bed. Let’s hope that tomorrow will bring us some happiness. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that my writings ground out round about the 16th July for a short while after my elderly Acer laptop expired before I could upload to it the entries that I had made on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

However, the more astute, cunning reader will have noticed that there is now an entry for 17th July 2019.

And if you aren’t careful, or aren’t quick, you might even find some subsequent ones.

Last night I had a very late, disturbed night because I was working. And working quite hard too. Not only have I finally succeeded in firing up the old Acer, I’ve even managed to salvage all of the data that was on it.

Those two years that I spent studying for my Diploma in Computing back in 1998/99 have proved their worth and I’m surprised that I could remember as much as I did. But then again, having one’s back to the wall is a very good way of concentrating the mind.

So the result of all of this is that we might be completely back in business sometime soon.

So with having had a very disturbed night, with one or two nocturnal voyages thrown in for good measure, I wasn’t in very much of a mood this morning.

There was also the school run too, but only for Amber because our little visitor is feeling under the weather. I think that the strain of life in New Brunswick is proving too much for her.

After dropping off Amber, I headed on down to Woodstock for my gearchange arm, and by the time we got … “you said that yesterday” – ed

They hadn’t unpacked the deliveries when I arrived so I had to loiter around for a while. There’s a huge Amish community in the region so I spent some time watching their horse grazing on the grass verge while they went to the shops. I went to the shops too – for a few bits and pieces here and there

Eventually I returned to the garage and compared the old arm with the new one. The old arm had rusted and worn away to just a fraction of the thickness to I reckon that it was about time that it was replaced.

Mind you, it’s not made the gearchange any more precise, so there must be plenty of wear elsewhere. But I’m not going to strip down the column change mechanism. I’ll go with what I have.

Having said that though, regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few years ago the overdrive unit was taken out and repaired. I’m disappointed that the people who did it didn’t replace the mechanism – it must have been pretty bad even then.

Back at the tyre depot I’ve been labouring in the workshop, answering the phone, dealing with customers, all this kind of thing, and then I went to pick up Amber from school. She’s been staying late because they have a cheerleading competition coming up and they are rehearsing.

Later this evening I went out with Zoe. She’s recently bought a little house in Woodstock so I bought her a housewarming present – a water cooler for her kitchen. And then we spent an hour or so doing some tidying up in her house to make some room.

On the way back we had a moment or two of excitement as I screeched to a halt to let a family of raccoons stranded in the middle of the road escape to the verge out of my way.

So now I’m off to bed. I had a rough night last night and I need to catch up with my beauty sleep. And looking at myself in the mirror, I need quite a lot of that.

Wednesday 18th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to Strider!

Here we are, sitting in a dingy room in a dingy motel in rue Sherbrooke Est. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap. But that’s enough about me, let’s talk about the motel room. And you’ve guessed it. Old, tired, dusty, tatty and cheap.

In fact, in all honesty, you have to consider that it’s a motel in Montreal right by a metro station, with ample free parking and all conveniences (even a guitar shop, in which I’ve already made my presence felt) not a cock-stride away. And the fact that my three nights here are costing me less than $CAN 90:00 per night tax in, it’s a deal that I won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Even the local coppers won’t have too far to come to find me. They are in the building next door.

It’s the same landlady who was here last time I stayed. She didn’t remember me (which was a surprise) but I remembered her. The type who would have fought the Iroquois single-handedly out of this plot of land 400 years ago and she’s been here ever since.

Last night though was exciting. A reasonably early night (for a change) and a decent sleep, with no less than 4 dictaphone entries that I might not know anything about as yet.

Or maybe I do, because there is certainly one that is running around in my head and has been ever since I awoke. And I wonder if it’s on the machine. Basically, I was joined on my travels at one point by a person who has featured on my voyages on many occasions. And I’ll spare her blushes by not naming her because I have reason to believe that she reads these notes.

And you are going to ask me if I got the girl. And I shall say that after much perseverence and fighting off distraction, then I reckon. Not as intensely as I have done on some other occasions, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, but nevertheless. And what wouldn’t I have given to have had another half-hour’s sleep in order to make sure that it was nailed on completely and thoroughly?

But that’s the trouble with these nocturnal rambles. They go off at tangents at all the wrong moments.

One theory that we were working on during this project years ago was whether there was a subconscious trigger somewhere that went off to protect you from harm. And there have been several nocturnal voyages, including a few just recently, where such a phenomenon might be identified.

This led us onto another project – that about the “sixth sense”. Intuition, second sight, call it what you will, it was a vital tool when you were struggling to stay alive in prehistorical times. Those who had it were the great survivors and they bred children who would have an even greater perception. Und so weiter.

It’s fallen out of use now but it’s still there and we worked on developing it – like walking around a room in the dark and thinking about what was where in our way. Or staring at people walking past and watching them suddenly turn around. All of that kind of thing. And, more importantly, trusting your intuition and your instincts.

Strangely enough, a while back I actually had this talk with the heroine of last night’s voyage. Do you rememb

So we had the school run despite the fact that I misplaced the key to the Golf, and then came back and picked up Strider.

Down to the depot to say my goodbyes, and also to change my hospital appointment. The list of tasks is building up rapidly and I still have things to do on and after when I should be having my blood transfusion.

So I’ve put it back another week. Zoe is worried that it might make me more ill than I already am, but ask me if I care.

By 10:04 I was fuelled up to the brim and joining the Trans-Canada Highway at Florenceville. And just before 15:00 my time (14:00 Quebec time) I was pulling into the Irving Truck Stop at Levis at the foot of the big bridge at Quebec.

454 kms non-stop in just under 5 hours. So hats off to Strider who performed excellently. There was well over a quarter of a tank of fuel left too and that is even better.

Fuelling him up, having a pit stop and finding a Subway for a sandwich – all of that took about an hour (never been in such a slow Subway) and then back on the highway.

294 kms non-stop and here I am. And what pleased me more than anything was that I actually recognised the streets of Montreal where I was supposed to be. And that’s not something that happens every day either.

Pizza Pizza has vegan pizzas as I explained last year, and the Metro supermarket next door produced some food stuff and spruce beer (at long last) so here I am and here I’m staying. For a few days at least.

Tomorrow I have the painful task of throwing away the rest of my stuff in my storage locker here. I’ll be a little richer in cash but a lot poorer in spirit. it really is the end of an era.

Monday 16th September 2019 – STRIDER HAS BEEN …

… a busy boy today.

Back at the house after the school run, Zoe gathered up all of the glass, aluminium and plastic that she could find and we loaded it up into the back of Strider.

Then down at the bottom of the field by the lean-to we dragged the trailer out of the undergrowth. That was already loaded with a huge mound of stuff so we coupled it up to Strider’s tow hitch. Not for nothing did we fit a decent tow bar on him last year.

And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. A trailer that hasn’t moved for a year or so and there’s quite a weight in it too. And, of course, the electric connections needed to be cleaned off so that I would have lights.

On the way down the road we hit a bump and the back door of the trailer opened up. As I have said before, I seem to be leaving a trail of possessions all around the world these days. But this time we were quick off the mark and we had it all back on the trailer and the door closed before anyone noticed.

At the garage we loaded more stuff up and then went on a tour of a few places to collect more. Off then to the recycling centre at Bath to weigh in the whole lot of it.

On the way back (for by now it was almost lunchtime after all of that) we went to Tim Horton’s where Zoe bought me a coffee and where I left my bag behind and had to run back and pick it up. It had taken ages to unload it all and separate it, and I question the wisdom of putting heavy glass into cardboard boxes and leaving it on a trailer for a year in the rain.

And inside the back of Strider now smells like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom.0

The trailer door came open again on the way back (luckily there was nothing in it) and I stopped to pick up a sandwich. By now I was thoroughly exhausted.

And that’s no surprise either. I’d had another miserable night where I didn’t go to sleep until about 03:00 and then a fitful night of tossing and turning.

I don’t remember much of where I went but I remember three different segments. Segment 1, and then Segment 2 which was completely different and bore no resemblance to the previous, and Segment 3 where I stepped right back into where I was at the end of Segment 1. And if you think that that is confusing, imagine how I’m feeling.

And I do recall at some point the welcome return of a young girl who accompanied me on several voyages three or four years ago, and I wonder what has suddenly brought her back into the picture.

We had the school run of course and then the recycling, and then this afternoon I was hauling animal feed for a while, and then we replaced the rear brake caliper on the big Chevy truck that somehow manages to feature quite regularly on these pages just now.

As well as all of that, I’ve ordered my fuel economy chip and also made enquiries about my jacket at the hotel in Calgary.

Back at home I put back the trailer – and I do have to say that despite being out of practice I was totally impressed with my reversing skills – putting the trailer exactly where I wanted it (and in some tight corners too) every time, right on the button.

Not many of us here tonight so I made my usual vegan standby – stuffed peppers – for the two of us. And then I downloaded some more music. Two albums, both of which are vastly underrated.

Nektar’s album Down To Earth is a very interesting curiosity – am album by a British rock band that was totally ignored in the UK but became something of a phenomenon in Germany and eventually the musicians relocated there.

It’s one of these “take it or leave it” albums that I like to play every now and again but I can really live without it.

On the other hand, House On The Hill is a magnificent album. I’ve heard quite a few albums by Audience and was never particularly inspired but House On The Hill is another one of those that comes out of nowhere and stops you dead in your tracks.

It was one of the “Jackie Marshall cassette recordings” from the mid-70s and I bought a vinyl version in the mid-80s, probably the last vinyl album that I ever bought. And somehow I overlooked to purchase a CD version when I was modernising my collection.

As an aside, I’m only hunting down album tracks for albums that I already own and not for anything that isn’t already in my collection.

Now it’s bed-time and I’m hoping for better luck tonight when it comes to sleeping. I really can’t carry on like this and I’m back on the road on Wednesday.

Sunday 15th September 2019 – I MISSED …

… an exciting day today up in Grand Falls. Apparently they were having a drag racing afternoon.

Nothing more exciting than watching a bunch of men dash round a town while dressed in women’s clothes, but I had other fish to fry unfortunately and I was quite disappointed to have let the opportunity pass me by.

In fact I was out near Meductic moving furniture. Zoe has, as I mentioned earlier, bought herself a little house and she doesn’t have much furniture, but someone was disposing of a clean two-seater bed settee that transforms into a double bed and that will be just the thing.

And so having emptied out Strider, we set off for Zoe’s where she and a friend clambered aboard and then we all shot off southwards towards Fredericton.

Putting the bed in the back of Strider was the work of a moment and it was soon strapped in place. Back at Zoe’s, we unloaded the sofa and then I came home. Totally whacked. I just can’t do things like this any more.

Mind you, I don’t know why, because it’s not as if I had much of a difficult night. In bed comparatively early and apart from a brief foray down the corridor to ride the porcelain horse, disturbing our overnighters on the way, and a few interruptions to record things on the dictaphone (and I wonder what they are?) I had the kind of lie-in about which I have only been able to dream just recently.

09:00 when I finally surfaced, and just loitered around until it was time to go and deal with Zoe.

This afternoon, I’ve had a shower and, would you believe, a haircut, and I look almost human. As well as that, Rachel was having a marathon clothes-washing session and I’m now up to date with all clean clothes ready to leave here Wednesday morning for Montreal to clean out my storage locker and hopefully to go for a meal with Josee.

But having seen the fuel in Strider evaporate before my very eyes, I’ve been searching on the internet with Darren and we have finally found a performance chip which claims inter alia to offer an 8mpg fuel improvement.

And I tell you what – that if I could get an extra 8mpg out of Strider I will really be impressed. So tomorrow I shall be on the case.

For tea tonight we had baked potato – the carnivores with salmon and we vegans with a bean medley. Quite delicious and prepared with my own fair hands. And if I can find the time tomorrow, I’m going to make a curry.

But I’ve been a busy boy this evening. I’ve tracked down the complete digital tracks to two more albums that I own. The first one is Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy by Brian Eno. That was his second solo album after Roxy Music and was such a surprising album that it left me speechless when I first heard it, and that’s not something that happens every day, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

But it’s one of those albums that grow on you quite quickly and it’s always been in my top 100 albums out of the couple of thousand that I own.

The second one though is an album that means a great deal to me and for many reasons too.Warrior On The Edge Of Time features work that probably represents Michael Moorcock’s apogee as a science fiction writer, and several of the lyrics, adapted from works by Shelley and Wordsworth and set to Hawkwind’s space-rock music will penetrate deep into your bones.
“The golden void will speak to me
“Denying my reality
“lose my body, lose my mind
“blow like wind, I flow like wine
“Down a corridor of flame
“Will I fly so high again?”
Yes, what wouldn’t I give to be able to write meaningful lyrics like that after some of the things that I have done?

The album was thoroughly panned by the critics in the same was that A Passion Play was, and for the same reason too – that the critics didn’t understand what the musicians were trying to achieve.

The Melody maker wrote that Moorcroft’s poetry was delivered “with all the emotion of Davros being exterminated by renegade Daleks”, totally overlooking the fact that this was precisely the effect that Moorcroft and Brock wanted.

And when Lemmy wrote that ” ‘Opa-Loka’ was a lot of f***ing rubbish”, what he really meant to say that he didn’t play the bass line on it. It transpired much later that with Lemmy off on one of his little jaunts playing Hell’s Angels, Dave Brock refused to hang around and wait but played the bass line himself.

It’s quite true that Hawkwind has never ever recorded an album on which I have liked every track from start to finish, but “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” will be up there with the best of them.

But it has much more of a personal significance to me too. When the album was released I was dating Jackie Marshall. She worked at the Nantwich Library on Saturdays and used to scan the new rock albums that arrived, secrete them in a drawer, smuggle them out for me to record and then take them back next week. This particular album, she bought me for my birthday and inscribed a beautiful little message on the album cover which meant quite a lot to me – and still does.

But her parents hated me with a passion (like I said, I was a different person in those days) and so our fate was destined to unwind.

Strangely enough, I was driving a coach around North Shropshire a few years later and needed some cash, so on my lunch break I called in at Barclay’s Bank in Whitchurch. Who should be working there behind the counter as cashier but the aforementioned?

I had the briefest of moments to exchange pleasantries like you do, but not enough time to chat, so I determined that at the next opportunity I would go back.

And so I did – and on a couple of occasions too – but I never saw her again. We’ve often talked about TOTGA – The One That Got Away – but that particular girl was from a very different time and a very different era. Jackie was TOTGA from quite another epoch in my life and is probably the original one from which all standards are made.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.

Having had a play around on the bass, I’m ready for bed. The house is as quiet as the grave with everyone having retired and I suppose that I should really badger off to. But I’ve found the digital track to another album and I’ve made a start to re-record it.

But I’ll tell you all about that in the morning.

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.

Sunday 8th September 2019 – MY PHANTOM READER …

… is back again today (having had a day off yesterday) and at the time of writing has read just over 100 pages – that is, 1500 blog entries.

My hat goes off to you, sir or madam. That shows perseverence and determination that not even I, the author, possess. I wish that you would introduce yourself.

I was right about last night. 04:30 and the party was still going on. They had come in from the pool and were continuing in the basement, keeping us all awake. I managed to drift off into a very intermittent sleep but it wasn’t until the last body crashed out round about 08:00 that I finally went into a deep sleep.

In the meantime, for some reason that I don’t understand, I had been urging myself to rise up from my bed and take photos of the breaking dawn. It was certainly a persistent impulse and I’ve no idea what was going on there.

The noise started up again at about 10:00 as Amber’s friends made ready to leave. And once they had gone, I felt it safe to venture out into the open.

Everyone was getting ready to leave and we hopped into various vehicles and headed for the US border.

Of course, I had already had a valid temporary visa but it had been withdrawn when I left for Greenland, so I had to go through the process yet again. And as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, it was shift change time, all of the electrical equipment was down and they couldn’t find the key for the cash desk All in all, it took us well over 30 minutes for me to be processed.

The border guard gave me a lecture about “surrendering the card unnecessarily” but I didn’t want to prolong the matter by telling him about Greenland otherwise we would still be there now. Instead I replied rather meekly “yes, thanks, I’ll remember” and he let me go.

But it’s a shame when one is on the receiving end of a lecture for having obeyed quite rigorously the letter of the law.

And to my amazement, I noticed that my temporary visa is dated
2nd September 2019, not 8th September as it ought to be.

At the Oriental Pearl in Presque Ile everyone else was straining at the leash to get at the buffet and were quite relieved when we finally arrived. There’s very little on the buffet that I can eat so they made me steamed veg and boiled rice.

I picked up the bill at the end – it’s the least that I can do for being housed so hospitably and then we all went to Mardens for a browse, where I found some gelatine-free licorice.

Darren and the three younger girls went home afterwards but Zoe, Rachel and I went for a coffee. Then we attacked Walmart and then down to Mars Hill for the IGA supermarket, where the vegan ice cream and sorbet were sold out.

Crossing back into Canada was rather painless (I had half-expected the phantom reader to have found enough in what he or she has read already in the blog to have me incarcerated) and we came back. In the IGA I’d found some almond milk with real banana so I gave it a try. And delicious it was too.

Now it’s bed time. I have an early start. Due to various considerations it looks as if I’ve drawn the short straw and am doing the school run tomorrow. I need to be on form.

Saturday 7th September 2019 – I HAVE THROWN AWAY …

… a whole lifetime today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I travel around the world in some kind of peripatetic idyll, all of my possessions either on my back or in one of my trucks (Caliburn in Europe, Strider in North America).

But today, up at the mill, I heaved almost all of my North American possessions into a skip (dumpster to you North Americans) and put an end to my nomadic lifestyle.

It’s simply that I can’t do it any more and it’s no point pretending that I can continue. Watching the blood count slowly decline over the last two years down to the critical level (which it must surely have reached by now seeing as I haven’t had it checked for almost 3 months) and knowing that my days are numbered, it’s just useless weight that I’m dragging around with me.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be up in Montreal and I’ll be emptying out my storage locker. The only thing that I’ll be salvaging from there will be the amplifier and speaker for the bass and the remainder will be joining the rest of the travelling gear in that great camp site in the sky.

That’ll be the first time in Montreal this year. It’s not like me, is it?

But I’ll tell you something. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my mentioning the rather lively back end of Strider, how we travelled mainly sideways down a variety of gravel roads in Labrador. “Lively” back in those days had absolutely nothing on “lively” today, with almost nothing on the pick-up bed.

If I ever make it back to Labrador, we shall certainly be living in interesting times.

Having crowed about my really good nights just recently, it’s almost inevitable that they should catch up on me sooner or later.

And so it was last night.

For a start, we were still awake, the bass guitar and me, at well past midnight as I was picking away at various bass lines, unable to sleep. One thing about life on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour is that it has pumped music back into my soul.

But when I finally did manage to drop off, the dictaphone tell its own story. There’s a record on average about every 20 minutes over a three-hour period, and what I do remember from the various nocturnal rambles is that every single one of them concerned Castor pursuing me around the ship.

Not that I’m complaining of course. Usually, anyone pursuing me anywhere would be almost certainly brandishing the kind of offensive weapon that would paralyse a polar bear, so it makes a nice change to be pursued by pleasant company. What I don’t understand is why I thought it necessary to run away. I’m definitely losing my grip.

Once all of that was over I was up and about, only to find that we had run out of bread for breakfast. With Zoe not coming back last night, we hadn’t been to the shops had we?

Instead Rachel and I went straight up to the garage and made coffee, and slowly woke up.

Then it was that I attacked the emptying of Strider and that took me almost up to lunchtime. But lunchtime was late – there was a queue of trucks needing attention in the workshop and we couldn’t move one out until almost 12:45.

Zoe, who had by now put in an appearance, and I shot back to the house, picked up all of her belongings and, now that Strider was almost empty, whipped them down to her new house. And I’m glad that we had emptied Strider because by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and there wasn’t much room inside the truck.

Atlantic Superstore was next for a week or two’s load of vegan food so that I can eat properly, and also due to the fact that we are having another vegan messing with us for a while.

There’s a hurricane threatening here and out in the sticks a back-up generator is necessary. But believe it or not, in a household with 6 cars, three trucks, two heavy trucks and assorted 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, golf carts and Amber’s motor scooter, there wasn’t a drop of spare fuel.

Consequently Hannah had thrown a pile of empty fuel cans into the back of Strider and I came back from Irvings at Woodstock with 157.6 litres of petrol in the back of Strider. The rear end of Strider wasn’t bouncing around at all then!

Next stop was back at the garage. Darren had a rear wheel bearing, driveshaft oil seal, brake disk and caliper to change on the rear of a Chevrolet D5500 heavy truck – the one that I drove down to New Hampshire a couple of years ago to take that racing engine for repair.

It’s not difficult task but it’s heavy, dirty and complex, and four hands are always better than two working down a cramped inspection pit.

The task involved a judicious amount of heat and with an oxy-acetylene welding torch it brought back many happy memories. The last time that I did any welding on a car was the old Passat back in 1997 but that was with the mig-welder. With oxy-acetylene, the last time that I did any welding was stitching Nerina’s Ford Fiasco back together back in something like 1991. When I had my taxi company I was probably welding up one car or other almost every day.

We’d finished by about 18:00 and staggered off back home.

And I couldn’t resist a smile. Driving 20 miles with 157 litres of petrol floating around in the back of the truck and having to invent a makeshift stopper for one of the cans – getting out the oxy-acetylene welding bottles – crawling around an inspection pit in a garage taking driveshafts out of lorries and showering myself in Hypoid 90 – I thought that I had left all of that behind me more than 30 years ago.

You can take the boy out of Crewe right enough, but you can’t ever take Crewe out of the boy.

But then that’s why I like New Brunswick. It’s about 50 years behind the times and suits me perfectly.

Rachel came to awaken me later. It seems that I had crashed out for a while (hardly a surprise) and it was now tea-time. A chick pea curry which was delicious, and then we were descended upon by hordes of people. Amber is having a party and despite the rain and the winds, there are dozens of teenagers all attired in a variety of swimwear and heading for the hot tub outside.

I’ve locked myself in my room with the bass guitar and I am refusing to come out until the coast is clear. It’s a good job that it’s Sunday tomorrow and a lie-in is on the cards. I think that I’m going to need it.

Wednesday 4th September 2019 – BANE OF BRITAIN …

… strikes again!

Just about to board my ‘plane in Calgary when … “Blimey – where’s my jacket?”.

And I know exactly where it is. Hanging up on a hook behind the door in the hotel of course.

It seems that I am destined to travel the world leaving a trail of my possessions scattered behind me as some kind of trail marker for wherever I have been. For example, my geological notes are festooning a beach on Devon Island and my lens cap is somewhere in Cambridge Bay.

And now the coat is in Calgary.

But I blame the stress myself. I had yet another bad night last night with very little sleep and it’s a good job that I was awake because the promised alarm call never came. I had to scamper down the stairs at 04:30 where the shuttle bus was already waiting.

Hardly surprising that something was left behind.

Having checked in, I went for breakfast at Tim Hortons. A couple of bagels, coffee and juice. The first Tim Hortons visit this year by the way.

Security was pretty painless and I had something of a wait afterwards for the plane.

But once on the plane I had something of a surprise – something that seems to be happening more and more these days.

A couple with three little kids were sitting behind me and I heard them talking German. So when I got up to go for a ride on the porcelain horse I said something back in German.
“Do you speak German then?” he asked.
“Only a little’ I replied. “But I’m from Europe anyway”
“We live in Europe too – in Munich”
“Whereabouts?”
He told me a name that I didn’t recognise
“I visit Munich quite often. I have friends in Eching”
“Ahhh – that’s where IKEA is. Are you off back to Europe now? We are, later today”
“No, I’m off to New Brunswick. I have family and friends there”.
“Ohh! Whereabouts? I was raised in New Brunswick”
“Some small settlement north of a place called Woodstock”
“Woodstock? That’s where I actually lived!”

This world is getting far too small for my liking.

At Toronto I did something that I should have done years ago and rekindled my SKYPE account, so I can make calls from my phone at wi-fi points. I rang the hotel and they had indeed found my jacket. I told them to hang onto it until I could work out how to pick it up.

I had a very pleasant companion accompanying me to Fredericton, and once there, Zoe came to pick me up.

We had a nice drive back through the rainstorm and tried three restaurants before we found one that was interested in serving us. One had closed down abd the other one, despite advertising as open until 21:00 had locked its doors even though the staff was inside looking out.

We went to Murray’s instead. I had home fires with vegetables followed by toast and jam. Quite a change from the cooking on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

Rachel and I had a very lengthy chat here and now I’ve retired to bed. I know that this bed is comfortable so I’m hoping at last to have a really good sleep. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. Anyone who wants me will have to come and get me.

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.