Category Archives: Canada

Thursday 17th October 2019 – WHEN I WAS LOOKING …

… at my flight and trying to reserve a seat, I remember looking at the rows and rows of seats available and thinking to myself “this must be a flaming big ‘plane with all this room on it”

And much to my surprise, when i was walking down the ramp I noticed on the side of our aeroplane “Boeing 787 Dreamliner”. Boeing’s new flagship aeroplane, and I don’t recall ever having flown on one of these before. My luck seems to be in, for once.

The cabin crew were super-efficient. Although we had had a long wait, we were ushered in, seated and we were off taxiing down the runway in a matter of just a couple of minutes. Quickest loading and departure I’ve ever had.

Just two of us on a row of seats meant for three. My companion was a Francophone Canadian woman in her 40s I reckon, very friendly and with a good sense of humour. We got on quite well although she was a “mobile” passenger, needing to get up and move about on regular occasions, usually just after I had dozed off to sleep.

Mind you, there wasn’t much opportunity for sleep. That was a flight that I will remember for quite a while. I don’t think that I have ever encountered such astonishing turbulence over such a length of time. We were being tossed around like corks and at one time I think even I was praying to Mecca (it’s the first flight that I’ve ever been on where Mecca was shown as a destination on the flight direction screen). My poor travelling companion felt the worst of it too.

Vegan meals on offer too and that was quite pleasant. I’m rather wary of some flights – I’ve had far too many failures in the past. But my ratatouille and rice was quite acceptable. I turned down the coffee though. I’m having enough sleep issues as it is.

I suppose that I must have dozed off here and there because I was awoken by the arrival of breakfast. Bread and jam (with coffee and orange juice) and that filled a nice little hole.

Eventually we touched down – in Casablanca, Morocco!

And I bet that you are all wondering just WHAT I’m doing in North Africa!

The fact is that with having left my booking for the return flight rather late, the “direct” prices are just totally absurd. And with it being merely a “one-way” booking, there’s an opportunity to look around all different companies and sites to see who has the best deal on connections on scheduled flights. There was a whole batch of them too at prices that, while not exactly a bargain, were much less expensive than the direct price. And it’s not as if I’m in any particular hurry.

And so I had a good look around to see whether there was a connection proposed at anywhere exotic or anywhere where I had never been before.

Sure enough, Casablanca looked a good choice to me, so here I am.

We had to pass through Security, and then a four-hour wait. But that time passes quite quickly, especially when you are tired and close your eyes for … errr .. a short while. But close them I did.

Our plane back to Brussels wasn’t particularly full so we could spread out at the back. I had rice and veg for lunch too and that was delicious.

The flight was uneventful and we touched down in Brussels bang on time. And all in all, I’ll fly with Royal Air Maroc any day of the week. I’d had good service all the way from Montreal.

The joys of flying in on a scheduled flight from North Africa is that I was the only passenger in the “European Union” queue so I was straight through. I had a fight with the railway ticket machine and then collected my suitcase. Just as I set foot on the platform a train for Brussels pulled in so I piled on board and headed for the city.

For a change, I’m in a new hotel. I’ve never stayed here before but my regular one is booked up. This one is clean and modern, but cheap with no lift (so the receptionist had to carry my suitcase upstairs – all 19.7 kilos of it). I’ve stayed in many worse hotels than this, and for much more money too, although the internet is rubbish. And the huge damp patch on the wall behind the shower is rather worrying.

Back to the Delhaize at the station for a salad and now I’m ready for bed. Hospital tomorrow. I wonder what they are going to tell me.

Wednesday 16th October 2019 – SO HERE I ALL AM …

… not exactly sitting in a rainbow but sitting in one of the departure lounges of the worst airport in the world, with the rudest staff I have ever met. I hate this place with a passion that cannot be measured on any scale that is known to Mankind but here I am. I’ve decided that it’s time that I was moving on before I put down roots.

And roots indeed. The last time that I slept in my own bed was on 26th June – that’s 16 weeks or so ago and while I’m not going home just yet I ought to be getting a little closer to it.

A lot of water has passed underneath the bridge since 26th June, that’s for sure.

Talking of passing water, I had another bad night last night. A whole succession of cramps in the calves and shins and it kept me awake for an eternity. I took advantage of the wakefulness by going down the corridor, but I would much rather have had a decent sleep instead.

I suppose that I must have dropped off at one point though. Or maybe more because there are several recordings on the dictaphone that I don’t remember making. Anyway, at about 07:15 I was wide-enough awake to push on with things.

No breakfast though. I repacked the suitcase and bunged another pile of stuff into it (and it registered 19.7 kilos at the airport’s weigh-in machine so I’m clearly getting back to normal) so that the backpack is at least manageable.

At 10:30 I set off for a walk, leaving my baggage behind for a moment. All the way up to the top of the town where I met Josee. I had done a little research in the area and discovered a little Lebanese restaurant in the basement of the shopping precinct so I took her there for a meal. And it turned out that she was well-known to the proprietor.

Later on, I had a leisurely stroll around the town and visited a few buildings that I had seen on my travels in the past. The big one near rue Sherbrooke that I had seen on several occasions is in fact the former hostel for the Deaf and Dumb of the city.

Eventually I rescued my suitcase and by 17:00 I was on the 747 bus to the airport. And it was then that I realised that I had left behind my raincoat and my aniseed balls. The objects and items that I have abandoned behind me on my travels could have filled another suitcase.

It was a good idea to go early to the airport because the traffic was horrendous. It’s a working day of course so we had the rush hour to deal with and there were queues everywhere. Our bus even lost a mirror against a lamp-post trying to squeeze past a queue of traffic turning right.

The departure check-in wasn’t open yet so I had a sandwich at Subway and then handed back my card for the USA. I won’t be going there for another while unless something quite dramatic happens.

Security is always extremely stressful here so I don’t propose to talk too much about it, even though I’ve had much worse passes through airport control than this. Now I’m sitting quietly waiting for my flight to be called.

But before I go, let’s talk about music. For no reason at all a track suddenly popped into my head out of nowhere. It’s Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams and regardless of how apposite the lyrics might be vis-a-vis my own personal circumstances and how I have lived my life, then just as Colosseum Live reminds me of almost every late and lonely night that I have ever spent on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, this particular track reminds me of just one particular night that was later than most and which I didn’t ever want to end.

I wonder if it means anything to anyone else.

That brings me round to the music that I am listening to now. Tom Petty has come round on the playlist and I have Into The Great Wide Open going full-blast.

Not a good idea right now of course. Far From it, in fact.
I heard you singing to no one
I saw you dancing all alone
One day you belonged to me
Next day I just wouldn’t know
One day all the rules will bend
And you and I will meet again

“One day all the rules will bend and you and I will meet again”. Nothing is more certain than that. You just have to believe.

“How could I get so close to you, and still feel so far away?”

Quite!

Tuesday 15th October 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about it being a very long day today. And I felt almost every minute of it too.

The Orleans Express bus was due to leave Riviere du Loup at 01:15 and much to my and everyone else’s surprise, it was bang on time, pulling into the bus depot at 00:50 ready to load up.

It was crowded, as I expected too. I had to share a seat so I wasn’t at all comfortable and I felt every jolt and bump at least as far as Sainte-Foy. But I did manage to drop off for a short while afterwards and awoke again as we were pulling off the highway at Longueuil.

After we had pulled into the bus station at Montreal bang on time at 06:15 I performed my usual task of disappearing for a ride on the porcelain horse for a while to catch up on my beauty sleep, such as it is, and then repaired to the cafe for breakfast.

At about 09:00 I wandered round the back of the bus station to my hotel. The room wasn’t ready at all, which was no surprise, but the guy on duty made me a coffee and I watched a TV programme about the treasure of Oak island amidst a wave of serious fatigue.

A little later I went for a walk down to the old harbour, along the canal and then back up rue Peel to the rue St Catherine.

Lunch was taken at the Subway in the Complexe Desjardins in the rue St Catherine. And I had to explain to the “Sandwich Artist” not once, not twice, not three times but FOUR TIMES that a “vegetarian with no cheese” really DOES mean “no cheese”.

I really don’t know where they find these people.

But I tell you what I DID find in a Dollar Store were some sweets that passed very well for the aniseed balls of my youth – when I eventually managed to buy them because the whole queue was held up by some guy arguing with the girls and the manageress at the check-out.

By now my room was ready so having fought my way in with this stupid key and stupid door lock, I could have a shower and wash some clothes.

And to … errr … catch up on some more beauty sleep.

Later on I took the metro to Cote Vertu for some bananas and grapes at the wholesaler’s, and then across the road for the Indian cafe.

No I’m back, and it’s bed-time. No alarm in the morning because it’s going to be another long and painful night tomorrow.

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”.

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.

Friday 11th October 2019 – REMEMBER YESTERDAY …

… when I wrote about the evil (because there is no other word to describe it) humour in which I found myself?

Today I was rather hoping that I might have been over it, put it all behind me and moved on. But looking back over some of the stuff that I had written in an internet debate this morning, that’s clearly not the case because much of what I wrote, even though it reflected my true feelings, can best be described as “incendiary”.

It’s no surprise either because there was that much turmoil going on in my head that even at 01:30 the thought of going to bed hadn’t even occurred to me. I spent most of the night wide-awake.

There was some sleep of some kind though, because there are one or two items on the dictaphone. And when I get round to listening to them, it should be extremely interesting to say the least.

The alarms went off at the usual time but I didn’t. 07:15 again for me and this is getting monotonous. The school run too this morning and for a change I had Hannah’s Golf diesel.

So that’s now everything around here that I have driven at one time or another, and my favourite is still Rachel’s Golf estate, although the VWs are far too low for me and difficult to get out of.

Rushed off our feet again today. The place is closed for the weekend and on Monday so everyone wanted their supplies and work done today. I ended up shunting cars around, hauling bags of feed about and going to the bank.

And I’m right about tiredness too. Despite my dreadful night I kept on going all day with only a brief pause, not like yesterday when I was stark out. I was expecting to be much more exhausted today.

Excitement up on the railway line at the back of the depot. The old station was formerly a tractor-pulling venue but it’s up for sale. It seems that the fixtures and fittings have been sold and there were people up there dismantling the grandstand in order to move it to Grand Falls.

This evening there was just Darren and me. He had an omelette and I found some leftover vegan meatloaf in the fridge, followed by apple crumble.

later, I was reviewing some postings from my Arctic voyage. A few (well, one particular) memory came flooding back to me and so I decided to listen to some music to distract me and to soothe my fevered brow. It wasn’t a particularly good choice though. I played Colosseum Live, which will forever be associated in my brain with late, dark, cold nights on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour in the High Arctic, and that is exactly what I’m trying to put out of my mind.

Yes, events in the High Arctic have scarred me somewhat and I can’t chase them out of my mind. It’s all very well listening to Joachim du Bellay and that I should be “Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage”, I’m more inclined right now to the words of the Duke of Marlborough who, on his way to fight at (thinks) Malplaquet, said “God knows I go with a heavy heart, for I have no hope of doing anything considerable”. Or even John Major’s legendary “When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight”.

On that note, I’ll go to bed, I reckon. I’ve had a hard couple of days now that demons whom I thought that I had laid have now come back to haunt me. I have to remember, I suppose, that today I really should have been in hospital having a blood transfusion – having already missed three. Bit I’m missing this one too.

Who knows what state I’ll be in when I finally return home?

Perhaps I need some more music
All of the sudden she disappears
just yesterday she was here
somebody tell me if I am sleeping
someone should be with me here
I wanna be the last thing you hear when you’re falling asleep….

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.

Wednesday 9th October 2019 – WE’VE HAD …

… another tremendously busy day down at the tyre depot.

This morning, with nothing much to do although everyone else was rushing around, I filed away all of the bills, invoices and charging sheets. And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve been very busy just recently and done a lot of work.

This afternoon involved even more of an effort on my part. I had to go off down to Bristol and the auto spares shop for parts for not one but two jobs that were ongoing in the garage.

And then we had an extremely complicated enquiry about tyres.

Someone has a pick-up with tyres on it that have long-been obsolete and reliable heavy-duty ones can no longer be obtained – except at some kind of silly astronomical price for “specials”. We managed to source a set of wheels of a different diameter and then we had to hunt down a set of tyres for those wheels that would have exactly the same circumference as the original tyres on the original wheels.

It was a good thing that I made the old laptop work yesterday because I could sit down and hunt for a tyre conversion program on the internet – and in the end I found one – and having downloaded and installed it, I could get it to work it gave me a choice of half a dozen different tyre sizes.

And this will please the guy intensely because one of the sizes of tyre is a much-more mainstream size of truck tyre, and even with the cost of new wheels for his truck, he’s going to come out ell on the right side.

I ought to be on a commission.

But that wasn’t all the excitement. yesterday as we were closing a guy came in for a new wheel that he had ordered and to have a tyre fitted on it. All in all, there wasn’t much change out of $1000. When it had been done, he just threw it into the back of his truck.

“Aren’t you going to strap it down?” asked Darren
“no” replied the guy. “It’ll be fine in there. Its own weight will hold it in”.
So Darren shook his head and came back in.

This afternoon the guy came back for some other things.
“You know that wheel and tyre that you sold me yesterday afternoon?”
“I do” replied Darren.
“Well, it’s in the river”.

Luckily he managed to rescue it otherwise that would have been very expensive.

Last night, with having not felt so good, I was in bed something-like and even though I heard the alarms go off, it was still 07:15 when I finally surfaced.

The girls had a ride in to school and so I had another leisurely breakfast followed by a nice stinking hot shower which made me feel so much better.

Plenty of time to make my lunch and then head off to the tyre depot. And I’d noticed that we were low on bread so I stopped to buy some another couple of loaves. Only to find up at the office that Rachel had also noticed that we were low on bread this morning and had already bought two on her way in to work.

Later this afternoon I fetched Amber from her cheerleading practice after school and brought her home. Rachel had gone to Fredericton so there were just us at home. Our little visitor had told us a while ago that she had a really good recipe for a vegan chili so we set her to work in the kitchen this evening.

And I’ll tell you all something for nothing – and that is that it really was excellent too. So much so that Darren, who isn’t usually a fan of exotic vegan cooking, helped himself to a second full helping.

I made a second visit to the pan too and decided that she can cook again for us!

So it’s bedtime now, and I’m looking forward to another decent sleep. I certainly need it. So goodnight to everyone, including my readers in Celbridge, Ottawa and Montreal. One day you really will have to introduce yourselves and say “hello”.

Meanwhile, I’m saying “goodbye”. Until the morning.

‘.

Tuesday 8th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… Mr Computer Repair Man again today.

having revelled in my triumphs a few days ago about getting my old Acer Laptop up and running after it crashed out on me in the USA and being able to salvage all of the data, down at the office today Rachel bunged another old laptop at me to see if I could raise that one from the dead too.

I spent a couple of hours working on it and, as much to my own surprise as anyone else’s, it’s now up and running again with not only all of the data still intact but all of the programs too.

It’s an old 2009 Lenovo with a 1.3ghz processor running Windows 7, but now that it’s working again it’s quite sprightly for its age as long as you don’t try to do anything too ambitious with it, but for taking down to the storeroom to do an inventory (which is why it was here in the first place) it’s just the job.

And talking of the storeroom, I’ve checked again and we do have indeed a large supply of 165/80 x 13 and 185/70 x 13 tyres for Ford Cortinas, as well as several other obsolete sizes too for other makes, so I’ve been posting the info on various North American classic car groups to try to drum up the sales.

All in all, I’ve had quite a busy morning.

A relaxing morning too. Although I heard all of the alarms go off, it was about 07:00 when I finally managed to raise myself from the dead. And with no school run this morning I was able to have a leisurely start to the day.

Not to transcribe the dictaphone notes though. There’s a couple on there from during the night and I’ll have to copy those over as soon as I can.

For once, Cujo the Killer Cat co-operated with me so I was able to leave the house pretty much when I wanted to without having to hunt her down.

This afternoon was more running around. Taking the cheques to be posted (it’s that time of the year) mainly.

But I had another task assigned to me which I managed to accomplish. In the garage is a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up with a major electrical problem. With my little home-made testing apparatus I can tell that there’s a live feed reaching the relays at contacts where no live feed should be. This points to a short circuit in the fuse box somewhere and these are impossible to repair.

The easy answer is to replace the fuse box but, to my amazement (or maybe not, because I’ve long-since ceased to be amazed at the antics of modern motor manufacturers) the part is “no longer available” from the manufacturers.

Consequently, with the repaired laptop (and I’m glad now that I repaired it), I’ve been scouring the scrapyards of North America and I’ve eventually tracked down a rear-ended Dodge of the correct year and model in a scrapyard in Colorado.

A photo of the part on that truck looks identical to the one here, and so that’s now winging its way northwards in our direction. And who knows? We might even be able to make this Dodge start properly without having to hot-wire it all the time.

Fighting off waves of fatigue yet again (and I’ve no idea why) I went to pick up Amber from cheerleading practice after school, only to find that our little visitor had stayed behind too. Never mind the crowded cab when we have half-a-million strong therein by the time we get to Woodstock, it was pretty cramped in there with three, but we managed all the same.

Everyone was out this evening so I made myself some potato thins with onions, carrots garlic and assorted herbs with some vegan sausages, and it was delicious. Especially when followed down by one of the vegan muffins from the weekend.

Later this evening after tea I retreated to my room. I’m not feeling myself at the moment … “and quite right too” – ed … so some peace and quiet will do me good. I’m beginning to feel the strain and I really need a couple of days in bed to haul myself up again, but I doubt whether that will happen any time soon.

Looking at my schedule over the past three and a half months, it would have been pretty hectic for a younger person in good health. For an older person who is slowly dying, it’s been taxing to the limit and beyond.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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.

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.

Friday 4th October 2019 – TODAY WAS A …

… little more optimistic and hopeful than yesterday. Helped quite considerably by the fact that someone who had annoyed us intensely yesterday and who was the cause of everything going wrong kept well away from the premises and we could all concentrate on what we do best.

For my own part, I had a much better sleep last night. Awake once or twice during the night to dictate stuff onto the dictaphone, not that I remember too much about anything. But what I do recall is that judging by recent conversations that I’ve been having with myself during the night, it seems that I’ve managed to lay a couple of demons that have been haunting me for a while.

And having read that final phrase back to myself, I realise that I could have expressed that much better too and in a different way, otherwise my readers in Kugluktuk, Celbridge and Cahors will have completely the wrong idea of what I’m trying to say and that might lead to complications.

This morning the two kids managed to have a lift to school with the neighbour’s boy (he remembered to turn up today) and Rachel was in a hurry, so I had a leisurely start to the day.

A hot breakfast followed by a little relax and then I edited and uploaded another blog entry from my voyage on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour. This concerned my visit to Hvalsey, one of the three important places in Greenland that I had really wanted to visit.

Up at the tyre depot I found everyone submerged in work. It’s the middle of the potato harvest but the torrential rain overnight had made digging impossible. Consequently every farmer and farm labourer in the whole of New Brunswick had sorted out all of the jobs that they had put off doing and dashed down to have them done right now.

Added to that, one of the printers, the one that we use most often, ran out of ink. And as the Accountancy program and the inventory are old Dos-shell based programs, the print manager wouldn’t change over the default printer in these programs to the reserve printer. I had to go through and change every single page by hand, and when the new ink arrives next week, I shall have to go back and change them all back again.

Mind you, it could be worse. They could have been GEM (Graphics Environment manager)-based programs and I haven’t worked in GEM since 1998.

And that reminds me – I have a computer that runs on GEM somewhere around.

After we finished work I went to the Irvings to fuel up Strider. Just on a quarter of a tank left and he’s done 479 kms. That’s a dramatic improvement on what has gone before, and I hope that when his new chip arrives, it’ll improve even more.

With everyone being out this evening I finished off the pasta from the other night and then watched the football. Cefn Druids v Bala Town in the Welsh Premier League. Bala were the better team in the first half and the Druids were somewhat aimless, but the score of 0-3 to Bala, and having two other goals disallowed for offside, was rather flattering. But a couple of substitutions for the Druids at half-time brought a much more stable team out for the second half and they actually played with a shape and with a purpose. But no more goals were scored, even though the match was quite entertaining.

That left me with a short time of not much going on, so I added another page to my voyage. I’m now at Brattahlid, home of Eric the Red and a second one of the three places that I desperately wanted to visit.

But unfortunately we didn’t make the third. Gardar, home of the Norse Catholic cathedral, was not accessible to us on this trip. I shall have to go back, but not tonight because I’m off to bed.

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.