… having had a reasonable night’s sleep last night, it took the alarm to summon me out of my stinking pit this morning.
But I’d been on my travels last night too. There had been a court case and this big gorilla of a man had been found guilty of several violent offences and sent to gaol. He was accompanied from the van by a policeman and a policewoman, neither of whom could be called “powerful” by any means and the inevitable happened – that he broke away from them. We then had this stand-off in that he couldn’t run away but they couldn’t lay hold on him and they were dancing around this car park for quite a while.
A little later I was in my house and I had visitors. Someone knocked something through the window (we were only 6 floors up) and I asked what it was. “A stuffed toy thing” was the answer. When I went down to let them out I picked up the stuffed toy – a stuffed cat as it happens – and began to stroke it, and it transformed into a real kitten. I went for a walk around the town, which was similar to the “old town” of Granville, all the time stroking this animal that I had against my shoulder. Under the archway where people were passing, they suddenly closed it off and a group of schoolchildren led by a teacher came there. He was giving them a talk about the history of the place but they were all distracted by me and my cat.
Saint John is quite an important port, not just for bulk carriers and containers, but also for oil tankers due to the presence of the huge Irvings oil refinery on the edge of town.
I was quite optimistic that we might have a good ship-spotting morning here today as I went on my errands.
And I wasn’t wrong either.
This is the MSC Kim, all 41,000 tonnes of her. Built in 2008, she’s 265 metres long and 32 metres wide. She’s come in from a tour around the Gulf of Mexico, last stop being New York.
Her claim to fame is that when she was unloading in Antwerp a couple of years ago after a trip from Ecuador, Belgian police discovered almost half a tonne of cocaine in her cargo.
While the Silly Brits are busy selling off their heritage in order to raise cash to pay off the massive debt that the country has, other countries are happily snapping up the bargains.
Here on the quayside recently unloaded is a fleet of AEC double-deck buses to add to the ones that we have seen parading around the streets of Montreal.
Won’t be long before the Brits have nothing left to sell, and then the fun will begin.
The way that the Canadian government works, railways are a thing of the past in the country. Seeing a Canadian train is a rare event.
And so no-one was happier than I was to catch a train of three locomotives, two power cars and a partridge in a pear tree go clanking through the port pulling a load of oil tankers
From there, I went off to pay the insurance for Strider. And here we had some bad news – and some worse news.
It seems that I’m not entitled to a No-Claims Discount, having a foreign driving licence. That’s pretty miserable.
And secondly, there has been a substantial (and I do mean substantial) hike in insurance premiums over the last 12 months.
I bought Strider because it worked out cheaper than hiring a car for two months – and it still is, but the gap is narrowing rapidly again. I need to think of another plan.
Licking my wounds I went off to Service New Brunswick to join the massive queue for the new licence tags. Luckily they haven’t increased in price – that’s the only consolation that I can offer.
The insurance company offices are close to the Irvings refinery and I’d seen a tanker unloading there.
She’s the Palanca Luanda from the Marshall Islands where they have more ships than people (due to the 3% Corporation Tax rate). 11,000 tonnes and built as recently as 2012.
She’s come in from a trip down to Baltimore and Wilmington.
Having had a dismal morning I wandered off.
I stopped for lunch at a petrol station on the way to Moncton. In the gorgeous sunshine and warm weather I had a little snooze too, and then fuelled up.
Strider’s fuel consumption has improved a little, which is good news, but only to be expected after he’s had his overdrive fixed, but not enough for me to ever recover the money that it cost me.
But then, off to Moncton.
Missing my turning into the Value Village car park so turning round in the Costco car park up the hill and not being able to find the (only) exit, which then decanted me back the wrong way and I had to turn round again.
But at least I had some luck. A tin opener, a knife, fork and spoon, a proper pyrex microwave bowl and a couple of books.
But nothing at the Salvation Army shop, nothing at Home Depot and I didn’t even bother with Princess Autos.
On the outskirts of Memramcook I found this beautiful girder road bridge, so I stopped for a photograph.
There’s a vestige of the extant Canadian railway network behind it too – the line from Halifax to Montreal which runs passenger trains a couple of times per week.
And here we have a calamity.
The motel where I had chosen to stop – it’s now private flats and apartments. Two others were closed down, one in Sackville wanted me to buy the building, not stay for the night (I didn’t pay that much in Labrador!).
So I moved on to Amherst.
The cheapest place was fully-booked, and the only rooms on the town were, well, even worse than in Sackville.
But then this is what I have a mobile internet connection for.
A room was available at a slightly less ridiculous price at Pictou – only 90 minutesdrive down the Trans-Canada Highway. But at least it’s in the right direction so equipping the ship for silent running, off I set.
90 minutes later, I was there or thereabouts. But the motel wasn’t where the satnav said that it was. And so I spent another half an hour doing some detective work and I eventually arrived there, beaten, bedraggled and bewildered.
And I know now why the room was free. A genuine 1950s design, with furniture, decor and musty smell to match. Had I not been thoroughly exhausted, I would have walked away.
But at least we had a microwave so once I’d figured out how to use it, I could cook some of the pasta meal that Rachel had prepared for me.
And grateful I was too.