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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.

Tuesday 1st October 2019 – A PECULIAR THING …

… happened during the night.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that occasionally (but far more frequently these days) I have sometimes awoken during the middle of the night and then gone back to sleep and re-entered a dream at exactly the same point where I left off.

But last night we had something completely different. I awoke in the middle of the night and went back to sleep again, stepping back into a dream not at the end where I left off, but right back at the beginning where I had started.

And furthermore, as far as I could tell, it went on more-or-less (as near as I can tell) exactly as it had the first time round.

That has never happened before, and it was certainly an interesting experience.

For a change, I was relieved of duty on the school run today so I was in no rush to start the day off. Instead, I had a lounge around and when Rachel sent me a text message to say that my gearchange cable was in, I went off down to Woodstock in her car.

By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong so it was pretty crowded in the Golf, but I found room for the cable and some shopping from the Atlantic Superstore, including more of the vegan sorbet that we like and some fruit bread for me for lunch today and tomorrow – on special offer today.

Having stopped off at home to put the sorbet in the freezer, I continued on to the tire depot and had a look at Strider.

After much effort and difficulty, we managed to fit the cable. But now we have found another problem. The operating arm has a piece broken off it (which is probably what caused the fault in the first place) and the new cable isn’t holding on as well as it might. No point in spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar, so I’ve ordered a new operating arm and that will (hopefully) be there at Ford’s tomorrow.

But while we were underneath it, we did manage to find an aperture through which we can pass a cable or two. That means that I may at last be able to run a live cable or two through into the cab of Strider.

Apart from that, I’ve been going for parts, carrying sacks of grain about and answering the telephone as well as entertaining the customers. It’s all go here.

Later on, I went to pick up Amber from school (so I wasn’t totally relieved of duty) and had to fight the torrential rainstorm back home.

Tea was pasta tonight, and then I had a play with the failed laptop. Much to my surprise I managed to make it fire up and I can access part of the Windows directory now. Not the part that I want, but it does show me that the thing is not as totally dead as I was imagining.

That means that back home, I may be able to salvage some of the missing data, and that will be good news.

So now it’s bedtime. No idea what I’m doing tomorrow – I shall make it up as I go along. But an early night never goes amiss.

But remember the old Ford 1-tonne that mysteriously moved the other week? The old 20-tonne Ford that was next to it has also mysteriously moved today. But not as far.

After 20 years of standing it fired up first time with some accelerant and a new battery but the accelerator cable is stuck. It’s a long time since I’ve used a hand throttle.

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.

Thursday 15th August 2019 – IT”S BEEN ANOTHER …

… very lazy day today.

Yet another decent sleep although I did wake up a couple times but that didn’t bother me too much.

And for a change just recently I leapt out of bed and within an hour or so I’d medicated, breakfasted and showered.

It took a while to organise myself and I left a few things behind that I no longer needed for the benefit of whoever needs them, packed the car and set off.

And then went back for my cap that I had forgotten.

First stop was the car wash. $27:99 for a wash and valet, and then I had to send it back because it wasn’t done well enough. It still wasn’t satisfactory after that but it was an improvement.

And I’m glad that it took so long because I went for a walk round and discovered the rarest of the rare cars – a streamlined Nash Airflyte of the late 1940s – the earliest of the models with the exterior fuel cap. It was sitting in a very sorry condition on a trailer in a compound full of other sorry-looking vehicles, close to the car wash.

From there I nipped to Bulk Barn for some gelatine-free wine gums, and then to the little park on the hill overlooking the railway line and the town centre, where I ate my butties.

The hotel today is under renovation so there were builders everywhere, and my room wasn’t yet ready. But I dumped my stuff anyway and took the car back to the Car Hire place.

I was sorry to see the little Kia go. We’d had a good time and I had enjoyed it very much. They didn’t say a word about the mileage (all 4000-odd miles of it) so I left and caught the shuttle bus back to the hotel.

Back here I had a shower and a clothes-wash, and then crashed out on the bed for an hour, musing on the fact that for the last 7 weeks I’ve been living in no more than 2 tee-shirts, 2 pairs of trousers and 2 sets of undies, washing everything as I’ve been going around.

Rosemary rang up so we had a chat, and then I caught up with some housekeeping chores.

Tea was my final tin of soup with the left-over bread, and then a walk down to whatever Atlantic Superstore is called around here for a look around.

An early night is on the cards. I’m flying back to Toronto tomorrow for part IV of my adventure so I need to be on form..

Monday 12th August 2019 – IF THERE EVER …

… was a day as uneventful as this I wouldn’t like to see it.

But it started off quite well with me having yet another Sleep Of The Dead in my comfy bed.

It wasn’t so nice when I awoke though. Teeming down with rain. So I pulled up the covers and had a little doze for half an hour.

After the usual matinal performance I packed up and left, only to find that I had forgotten the camera’s SD card, so I had to go back for it. Luckily I’d only gone just across the car park.

I found the Atlantic Superstore or whatever it’s called out here in Saskatchewan and bought a few bits and pieces and then hit the road.

A rather relentless drive with nothing of any interest or excitement at all.

A stop for lunch and also a stop for a kip for half an hour – it’s been a long time since I’ve been obliged to do that.

Due to a time zone change I lost an hour on the road, so with my late start and my kip as well I only managed about 350 miles.

In Portage du Prairie a handy Tim Horton’s came up with a free wi-fi connection and that helped me track down a motel. Rather expensive but it’s more luxurious than my place back home. And probably larger too.

But I’m exhausted so I’m going to eat my soup and then go straight to bed. It might only be 20:50 but who cares?

Friday 21st September 2018 – I MADE IT …

… outside today.

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

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

I vaguely remember ships but that’s about all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No reason to inflict my problems on you lot.

Thursday 31st August 2017 – AND IF YOU THOUGHT …

… that Tuesday night’s sleep was bad, you ain’t seen nuffink yet.

Because last night’s sleep beat just about everything. Wide awake at 01:30, tossing and turning and all of that. I really was having it all.

Nevertheless I did still manage to go off on my travels, but you won’t be interested in them, because such was the nature of my bad night that it will put you off your supper.

The torrential rainstorm that we had didn’t help matters much either. And it was so humid that the washing that I had hung up under the verandah seemed to be wetter than when I hung it out.

I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast, having had a good meal before going to bed (and don’t large packets of crisps go off with an enormous bang when you kneel on them by mistake in the dark?) and so I did some stuff on the internet;

Despite the pouring rain, I emptied out Strider and tried to sort out everything – but that was quite a maul and wasn’t the work of 5 minutes either, so I was quite exhausted afterwards.

bras d'or lake camp ground baddeck nova scotia canada aout august 2017Pausing only to take a shot of my cabin and the lake (which, due to the weather I was not able to enjoy) I went up to the office to hand in the key.

Free coffee was on offer there and seeing the expense that I had had to incur, I took full advantage. And quite rightly so.

And then I headed off into the doom and gloom.

The drive to North Sydney, beautiful though it is, is one that we have taken on many previous occasions so I didn’t stop to take any photographs.

And at the ferry terminal, my luck was in. There were still spaces free on Friday’s overnight long-distance sailing to Argentia. And so we are now booked aboard.

It might sound expensive to some (and it certainly did to me) but you need to look at it in perspective.

  • I would have to pay a ferry fee for the short (ie 9 hour) crossing anyway, and that’s not cheap
  • I would then have a drive 900 kms instead of 130 kms – and imagine how much extra fuel I would have to buy for a rather thirsty Strider.
  • I’d be looking for at least one, if not two nights in motels and you’ve seen what motel rates are right now.
  • I’d be whittling into the victuals along the way
  • I’d be quite worn out at the end of it all
  • And not least – this is a ferry crossing that i’ve been wanting to make for quite a while

All in all, it makes good financial and personal sense to travel this way.

Next thing to do was to organise accommodation for tonight.

I like the privacy of motels, but not at the price that they want to charge right now. So I phoned up the cheapest B&B in the book that I had picked up yesterday.
“Sorry, we’re full”
“That’s a shame. Do you know anyone else with a spare room?”
“No I don’t … ohh – wait a minute – if you just want a basic room with just a bed in it I can fix you up. Is $55 for cash with breakfast okay?”
Do bears have picnics in the woods?

Off I went to the shops.

As you all may remember from previous excursions, food in northern Newfoundland and Labrador is shockingly expensive, and if I’m going to be spending a week or two out there, I need to stock up.

The Atlantic Superstore, the Dollar Store and Walmart all did the business and for about $100 Strider is now full of tinned and packet goods to last a couple of weeks.

Bread will be an issue of course, but we have packets of crisps if we can’t find anything on the road.

But I made a startling discovery at the Atlantic Superstore. Their “own brand” od wine gums don’t have gelatine in them. There’s a few packets missing from their stocks right now.

I had a very late lunch on the car park by the ferry terminal, and then went for a coffee at Tim Hortons where, shame as it is to admit it, I fell asleep.

Rousing myself from a dangerous slumber I decided to head out for my digs. The address wasn’t on the SatNav but Josee’s mobile phone picked it up (that was a good move on her part to lend me that).

The street signs were confusing though and I ended up going three times round a roundabout before I fathomed it out.

The cheapest digs so far, and seem to be the nicest too. It seems that I have the room of a student who isn’t due back until tomorrow. So I’m not complaining.

I settled myself in and promptly crashed out again, only to be awoken by the aforementioned student who has returned unannounced a day early.

I would gladly have shared half my bed with her, but the landlady rather unfortunately rose to the situation by ushering her off to a spare bed put up hastily in the office, which rather disappointed me – but you can’t win a coconut every time.

So I’m going to have an early night and try to sleep the Sleep Of The Dead.

Heaven knows I need it.

Wednesday 23rd August 2017 – ANOTHER EARLY NIGHT …

… is called for tonight.

I’ve had a hectic day.

It all went wrong at about 04:00 when we had the most tremendous thunderstorm. That, I reckon must have awoken almost everyone in the neighbourhood. And the torrential rainstorm made it almost impossible for everyone to go back to sleep.

I was still awake when the alarms went off and at 07:00 I was up and about, breakfasting and making my butties.

We had a rush to get into work this morning but eventually everyone arrived there and for the first time for quite a while we had a full house (excepting Ellen of course).

And so I was something rather supernumerary so I carried on with a little project that I had started yesterday on the laptop as well as chatting to one or two customers who were waiting.

Apparently there’s a family of ospreys who have made a nest in the pipework of the cornmill and we were admiring their handiwork.

Later on this afternoon Rachel ran me down to Fredericton to pick up Strider where he was having some work done.

And that wasn’t as straightforward as it might seem. There were piles of queues on the roads, roadworks, a police stake-out, and eventually the road that we needed was blocked off by road works so we had to back up and go the long way around.

And all the time we were dealing with telephone calls from the office about accounts enquiries. No wonder we were all so stressed out when we arrived.

I went to the Atlantic Superstore for some groceries and then picked up some fuel at Keswick before coming back.

And my odyssey isn’t over because there seems to a be a shock absorber that has burst judging by the bizarre handling from the nearside rear that had me all across the road on a couple of occasions.

So now; totally exhausted, I’m off to bed. I”ll need my strength to sort out this rear end tomorrow.

Thursday 6th October 2016 – I FELT THE PAIN …

… this morning of the last two days on the road. It was a struggle to crawl out of bed and start out.

but I had to do it because I have a very long day tomorrow and so if I’m going to take a break, tomorrow during the day is the best time.

So we went off to the tyre depot, in another load of fog and hanging cloud, to say hello again to everyone and for a coffee. And once that was accomplished, there was work to do. Rachel had some deliveries that needed to be made in Florenceville. Everyone else was busy and so I volunteered to go. “Sing for your supper” and all of that.

Next stop was Woodstock, and so I set off down the road on the eastern side of the Saint John River. Not that I could see anything because the fog billowing off the river was blanketing everything.

By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong, so it was rather crowded in Strider. The fog was lifting too. I went into the Atlantic Superstore for some shopping for lunch, and here I hit the jackpot. Not only were hot-cross buns on sale, but there were a few packets reduced by 50%. As you know, I have a long way to go tomorrow night and also, the food is pretty miserable on Air Transat. The hot-cross buns will fill in the gap quite nicely.

river meduxnekeag woodstock new brunswick canada october octobre 2016There’s a grassy area and boat slipway at the back of the Council car park in Woodstock, overlooking the River Meduxnekeag, and this is one of my favourite places to stop for lunch. And here I am yet again.

In the sunshine, eating my butty, reading my book, chatting to the boaters and … errr … closing my eyes to relax in the beautiful weather with the glorious autumn colours on the trees on the opposite bank of the river, there’s nothing more pleasant than this.

river meduxnekeag woodstock new brunswick canada october octobre 2016Once I’d come back into the Land of the Living, I had work to do. Tomorrow, Strider is being laid up for the winter and so I need to have everything sorted out.

A huge pile of rubbish went into the bins for a start, and then I tipped everything out of the back, sorted and stacked it into the boxes where it will live for the winter (and threw away another pile of stuff) and then slid the boxes back under the bed.

Some of the foodstuffs won’t keep, especially as I’ve no idea when if ever I might be coming back, so I made up a box of all of that to give to Rachel. And then there was some stuff that I wanted to take back to europe with me.

On the way back I stopped at the car wash and gave Strider a good going-over with the pressure lance ready for putting away. And once I’d arrived back at Rachel’s, I took out everything that was to come out. There wasn’t anyone about though and so I settled down in the sun to read a book. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Darren came back and I had a guided tour of the garage. While I’d been away he’d tidied up in there and the place was looking quite impressive. It won’t be long before he’ll be in a position to strip down the engine on Perdy in the Pink.

Once Rachel and Amber returned, we had tea and then we chatted for hours about this and that. After all, I have to be realistic and say that I’ve no idea if ever I’ll be able to come back to Canada. This might be my last chance to see them.

But I was soon in bed. I hadn’t been up to much all day and by now my batteries were really flat. I’m struggling along now and I can feel everything – all the aches and pains all over the place.

Friday 30th September 2016 – THEY CALL ME TRINITY

baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Well, Baie Trinité actually, but never mind – it’s near enough.

We’ve been here before – in 2012on our mega-ramble down Highway 138 to be precise, but I’d only driven through the place without having the time to have a real poke around, and so seeing as it’s quite close to where I’m staying (a mere 37 kilometres – which is “right next door” over here on the North Shore of the St Lawrence River) I reckoned that I would come for a nosy around.

lac au rat musque baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016On the way out there, though, I encountered quite a beautiful lake. It’s at round about kilometre 831 and it’s called le Lac au Rat Musqué – Muskrat Lake – and I’d love to know how it is that some of these lakes and other natural landmarks earned their European names.

I didn’t take a photo of it in 2012 and I don’t know why. But there are lakes just about everywhere and I suppose that I was spoiled for choice.

rest area baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016First thing that you notice as you arrive in Baie Trinité is a rest area, right in the centre of what passes for the village and right by the shore. There are all of the usual facilities here, but it goes without saying that they are all closed up for the winter.

But anyway, it’s gone lunchtime, my stomach thinks that my throat has been cut and I have my butties to eat. I’ve run out of hummus but I do have some vegan cheese that I picked up in the Atlantic Superstore in Woodstock.

centre national des naufrages du saint laurent baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Baie Trinité’s claim to fame is that it is the home of the Centre National des Naufrages du Saint Laurent – the National Centre for Shipwrecks on the Saint Lawrence. This is a place that I would love to visit, but as you probably realise, it’s closed now until next season.

But one thing about it is that here you can “experience several major tragedies that have marked the history of Nouvelle France” but if anyone thinks that I’m going to experience a shipwreck at first hand just to satisfy my curiosity they are mistaken.

cannon centre national des naufrages du saint laurent baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016There have been plenty of shipwrecks along the coast as you probably know, and we’ve visited the sites of a few of them. And without any explanatory panel (which wouldn’t do you lot much good anyway because here in Quebec the Tourist Information is written in French only, just to spite the Anglophone tourists), I would say that this cannon is from a real shipwreck.

In 1690 a mariner by the name of Admiral Phips sailed up the St Lawrence in an attempt to capture Quebec from the French. He was unsuccessful, not the least of the reasons being that he lost several ships on the way up. And on Christmas Eve 1994 the remains of one of them – the Elizabeth and Mary – were found just off the headland at Baie Trinité.

baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016And as you might also expect, just like every other village in Quebec, we have a church here, built in 1939.

I forgot to go over and see to whom it was dedicated (I’m really forgetting myself these days) but as this place is called Baie Trinité, apparently because Jacques Cartier is supposed to have visited the bay on Trinity Sunday in 1536, it’s quite possible that this could be the Church of the Holy Trinity – l’église Sainte-Trinité.

beach fish packing plant baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016As we have said before, the beaches around here are magnificent, with all of the sand that has been deposited by glaciers as they receded at the end of the various ice ages.

I’m not a big fan of the beach here at Baie Trinité though. It’s right by the main highway and while it’s hardly the M25, you’d be surprised at the number of heavy lorries that go past here. It’s too noisy for me.

baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Instead, I’m going to head up the beach westwards. That’s far more sheltered behind the Tourist Information Centre and the church and where I’m less likely to be disturbed.

Except, it has to be said, by someone on a quad who decides to come for a ride out here as I’m walking along. Still, I do my best to avoid him and think pleasant thoughts instead as I take advantage of the beautiful sunshine.

rocks on beach baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016All of the beaches, shores and river mouths along here are littered with rocks as you have probably noticed, and they too have been brought down here by glaciers (and latterly by rivers) from their places of origin.

Geologists can and do have hours of endless fun tracing rocks back to their original source and thus plotting the paths of glaciers and rivers during prehistory. It’s a fascinating hobby, so I’m told.

iron ore baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016But this lump of rock on the beach is quite interesting. It caught my attention because it was glistening in the sunlight so I went over to photograph it. Unfortunately, the glistening hasn’t come out at all.

The rock is totally different from most of the others along here and to me (not that I would know very much about it) it closely resembles a lump of iron ore similar to what we saw when we tracked down the old iron mine at Gagnon last year.

There are many deposits of iron ore in the interior – Gagnon, Fire Lake, Mont Wright, Labrador and Wabush to name just five out of dozens, and it’s interesting to think that this rock might have come all the way down from there.

riviere baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016This river is called, rather unsurprisingly, the rivière Trinité and apparently it’s quite famous for the quality – and quantity – of the salmon that was caught in it.

It was quite popular with some first-Nation Canadians who used to live off the salmon from the river in the summer and off whales and the like from the St Lawrence during the winter. There was no reason for them to live a nomadic lifestyle.

hydro electric barrage baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Like most rivers out here along the North Shore, Quebec Hydro has become involved in it and has installed a little hydro-electric generating plant to serve the town and its neighbourhood.

There wasn’t very much by the way of detail to tell me anything about it but although it’s not a very big drop the force of the water makes it quite powerful so I imagine that there’s enough power here to run the village and its surroundings.

fish ladder riviere baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016“But what about the salmon?” I hear you say. After all, it’s quite a famous salmon fishing river and one time the fishing rights were owned by a club in Quebec, although control was soon wrestled back by the villagers.

In fact, when they built the barrage they also built a kind of fish ladder at the side of it so that the salmon could move upstream and downstream . I haven’t heard whether or not it’s as successful and whether the fish are a snumerous as before.

fish processing plant baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Meanwhile, I’m back on the beach again heading east. Right over there is the fish-processing plant that we visited when we were here in 2012.

Formerly, it was the forest products that provided the major source of employment in the village. It was quite a hive of industry, with a log flume and even a small railway network, but the 1960s put an end to all of that and the economy collapsed.

Nowadays, it’s fishing and the fish processing plant that provide most of the employment opportunities around here.

gas station convenience store baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016One thing that Baie Trinité does have going for it is that it has a fuel station and convenience store, and you can see it peering through the trees over there, left of centre.

I went in there for a wander around and to my great surprise they sold bread. Baguettes too, albeit frozen ones that need to be thawed out before I can use them. But it’s good news for me – it’s a round trip of just 78 kms for the bread instead of 116 kms.

Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Out on the western side of the village is the Pointe-à-Poulin. I tried to reach there in 2012 as you may remember but was blocked by the snow.

No such problems this year though. In fact I made it all the way down to the Anse de Sable – Sandy Cove – and not only that, I was chased all the way down the road by three Dodge Caravans full of people and that made me wonder what on earth was going on. It seems to be a popular spot this year and so I shall have to make enquiries as to why they are here.

Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016They all went over there to have a play on that big rock, that looked as if it might have been a plaque of volcanic lava. I went over to have a chat to them to see what was going on.

It appears that they were High-School students who were out on a field trip along the North Shore of the St Lawrence – and that made me wonder whether the young archaeologists whom I had seen at Godbout the other day excavating part of that cache of seashells were from the same group.

Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016But anyway, I left them all to it and went for a wander right out to the farthest extremity of the Point.

Or at least, what I thought was the farthest extremity of the Point because each time that I came to what I thought was the farthest extremity of the Point, there was another Point around the corner. I’d heard of a similar phenomenon in mountaineering when people climbed up to what they considered to be the summit, only to find another summit further on.

bed of lava rocks Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016having realised that I was likely to be out here all night at this rate, I turned round and retraced my steps somewhat, turning my attention to the rocks just offshore.

I went for a clamber about and a closer inspection thereof. I noticed that the rocks were not rocks at all but nice, black, smooth and shiny, so it seemed to me that these might also be plaques of lava.

bed of lava rocks Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016You might be wondering about the likelihood of volcanic activity around the St Lawrence, but it does appear to be a recorded fact.

The St Lawrence River valley is situated more-or-less along a geological fault line and there is evidence of techtonic plate movement along here as well as some evidence of prehistoric volcanic eruptions. Coming across outcrops of lava, and even lava fused into airgaps in other rocks, is by no means unusual.

bed of lava rocks Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016But talking of techtonic plate movement, there have been several earthquakes recorded along the St Lawrence in recent years – a score of 5 on the Richter Scale is not unknown. But this pales into insignificance when considered against the events of 1663

Many of you will remember the discussion that we had when we were at Les Eboulements. We mentioned that in that year there had been as many as 33 earthquakes along the St Lawrence, the largest of which caused an entire mountainside to slide into the river.

Anse de Sable pointe a poulin baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016So leaving the lava beds for now and greeting the students, who seemed to be having endless amounts of fun, I walked right back around the bay to the other end – the end closest to Baie Trinité.

I was hoping to see a shipwreck or two, or the remains of a shipwreck maybe, but I was completely out of luck.But it really was a beautiful beach and I had quite enjoyed my time out here. Given a few more degrees of temperature and bit less wind, I could quite happily have stretched out on one of the lava beds.

baie trinite gulf st lawrence river quebec canada september septembre 2016Anyway, I called it a day and leapt into Strider to take me back home.

But halfway down the road before I reached Highway 138, I came to a shuddering halt along the side of the road. That was because the view of the bay that I saw as I rounded a bend was quite stunning. Now this is the kind of beach upon which I could quite happily recline in the evening sun, except of course that the sun is setting behind the trees on the left.
And in any case, I was feeling quite tired by now so I was quite keen to return home to my little room.

I made myself a coffee and retired to my room for a repose and relax before I made tea. Baked potatoes, beans and hotdogs with mustard as usual (it was a good idea to buy that bag of spuds and those tins of beans) was on the menu. And then having done the washing-up, I retired foe the night.

I was pretty exhausted after my long walk around the beach. But at least I have my bread for tomorrow.

And you have 2105 words to read tonight. Serves you all right.

Friday 23rd September 2016 – I WAS OFF …

…so early and in such a rush this morning that I forgot to take a photo of my motel at Caraquet last night. I’d had a communication during the late evening to say that the lorry had been fixed and the tractor pull was on. It’s only about 350 kilometres from here to Centreville but it’s over some dreadful roads through the mountain and they were planning to leave at 15:30 so there was no time to hang about.

Not only that, the weather was dreadful. It was freezing cold and the gorgeous sunny day that we had had yesterday was now miserable, grey and wet with this freezing rain that was getting in everywhere. I wasn’t going to enjoy this drive one little bit.

But stil, the sooner we start, the sooner we finish and I hit the streets. Leaving behind me my breakfast cereal as I was to discover later. There’s always something that I leave behind me, isn’t there?

The drive as far a Bathurst was quite uneventful, apart from the dreadful weather, that is, and I found a cheap Ultramar service station where I could fuel up Strider. Shortly afterwards I found a huge Atlantic Superstore where I could stop to lay in supplies for the next few days, and where fuel was even cheaper that at the Ultramar – but then, that kind of thing always happens, doesn’t it?

mount carleton provincial park new brunswick september septembre 2016The road from Bathurst over to the Saint John valley goes right into the mountains and through the Mount Carleton National Park and some of the roads through there that we will have to take are quite dreadful.

It’s all up and down, through the rainstorms and the low hanging clouds and with a good length of dirt road that I remember driving on back in winter 2003 through the pitch black and the snow … "no you didn’t – you came a different way" – ed

mount carleton provincial park new brunswick canada september septembre 2016Further into the mountains and the weather hadn’t improved any. In fact I was beginning to wonder if we would be having snow any time soon – that was what it was looking like to me.

In fact I was starting to become rather worried. If the weather doesn’t improve any, we can forget all about tractor pulling and I will have had this long and exhausting drive for nothing. And after a good spell on the dirt road, Strider was looking disgraceful. He’ll be needing a wash.

Hitting the Saint John valley I drove along the old route of the Trans Canada Highway for a while and found a place to park for lunch right by the river, at the back of the seasonal camp site. And having demolished my butty I was back on the road again for Centreville, completely forgetting that I needed to go to the bank at Florenceville for some US money. I shall just have to do without, I suppose.

amber taylor perdy in the pink millinocket maine usa canada september septembre 2016We went back home and sorted out the tractor and Amber hopped into the driving seat to move it around.

It’s the first time that she’s actually been behind the steering wheel under power so Darren kept her under close supervision. After all, it’s a mere 3,500 horsepower so I was told, and it’s not every young girl of Amber’s age who will have the opportunity, never mind the confidence, to handle that kind of power.

She was doing really well too. She wasn’t just along for the ride

Eventually we set off and had the usual histrionics at the USA border. There’s an extremely long and complicated (and expensive) procedure to be undergone and as a result no-one has really bothered with it in the past. But a Canadian tractor-puller took his vehicle across into the USA – and sold it. And these things are worth hundreds of thousands – the engine is worth $80,000 on its own. And because the border crossing wasn’t registered he escaped paying the import duty and the sales tax.

As a result, the people at the border post had their derrieres very soundly kicked by Head Office and so now everything is done by the letter of the law. And it takes ages to do.

But we were soon back on the road and headed off down towards Millinocket, stopping off for diesel and also for some food. And as we headed south, the clouds blew away. By the time we arrived, the skies were clear and you could see millions of stars.

It was also freezing cold.

What might have been a major problem was that the raceway was all chained up and padlocked – there was no way in. But regular readers of this rubbish will remember from several events that have occurred in the past that a chain and padlock isn’t going to keep me out for long. Five minutes and we were inside, and no-one would ever guess how we managed it.

Darren set a methanol fire – about two inches of methanol in an old saucepan and he tossed a lighted rag into it. The liquid doesn’t burn – just the gases – and the evaporation is slow enough that it lasted for about an hour or so. We were crowded around it to try to keep warm and that wasn’t easy. After a while I could smell something burning, and I was shocked to realise that it was me! I had to move my chair back into the cold.

By now I was pretty tired and so I sloped off to bed. Darren is having the front seats of the lorry, Amber the rear and so I’m having the mattress in the trailer.

I’m glad that we are only staying for the one night.

Wednesday 14th September 2016 – AND AS FOR LAST NIGHT …

… while I was in bed and asleep early enough, I had to make a little trip down the corridor at about 00:40 and that was that until 04:45. Not the best night, but not too bad, is it?

I’d been on my travels again too. There was this wartime motorcycle, in yellow desert camouflage paint, and there were three of us on it – a woman driver, her young child as a passenger, and me bringing up the rear on the pillion. We rode, with her driving, quite some distance into Europe, and then she asked me to take over. This became rather embarrassing because I couldn’t make it move. It seemed that there was too much slack in the throttle cable so winding the throttle on was just taking up the slack. Some man came by and gave me some advice and lent me some rubber gloves to pick up the front end and pull it over a wall (I’m not sure how I intended to do that, with the weight of the bike) – and then the man had a flash of inspiration. He reckoned that this bike was a wartime European Army bike, and he picked up the telephone to call some kind of registry. It turned out that we had bike n°60, which was used by a Belgian by the name of Crabbe, from Liège. And he had died in 1960, so he was interested in how come this girl had obtained the bike.

Breakfast was rather late this morning and so while I was waiting I loaded up Strider with everything that I was planning to take to me, and once I’d eaten, I hit the road.

1937 Buick special woodstock new brunswick canada september septembre 2016I didn’t make it very far though before I shuddered to a stop. only as far as Woodstock in fact.

On the edge of town isn’t darkness – at least not at that time of morning, but a car body repair shop and here sitting in the parking area was this magnificent beast. We’ve not had a Car of the Day yet in North America.

It’s actually a Buick Special and dates, according to the guy in the garage, to 1937. The bodywork is in good condition and although the interior is rather worn and tatty, it’s complete and undamaged. I need to empty my suitcase to take this home with me.

I stopped off at the Atlantic Superstore in Woodstock in order to buy stuff for lunch – including some hummus of course but also some vegan cheese seeing as how the stuff that I have is a little bit on the old side (it’s at least a year old, you know). They had a new variety of vegan cheese on offer and so I decided that I would give that a try.

And that reminds me – where does a native American do his shopping?
Answer – in a Siouxperstore.

Now here’s something upon which the Brexiters can reflect for the next 50 years, and that is that the Canadian Prairies are the breadbasket of the world. More grain is produced here than almost anywhere else in the world and with the economies of scale that are practised here on the huge farms, the costs of production compared to a British farm are negligible. No-one can produce wheat as cheaply as the Canadians. And so the cost of a baguette here in a Canadian superstore is $2:89, which is about £1:90. In a French supermarket, it is €0:75 – or about £0:65.

Leaving the EU might save the silly Brits £350 million (which, the Brexit leaders have now decided, won’t be given to the NHS despite using that reason as a major plank of the Brexit campaign) but the European agricultural subsidies will go. And then listen to the Brexiters complain about the dramatic increase in the price of food.

The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy comes in for some severe handling in the popular press, but the writers and readers of these articles have never compared the price of food in the EU with the price of food in the rest of the developed world.

And so abandoning another good rant for a while, I drove on South-West.

At Fredericton I called at Value Village, the Co-operative Charity Shop. I managed to pick up a copy of Pierre Berton’s Arctic Grail. Berton was one of the leading Canadian historians and wrote his books in a very engaging style, although occasionally he did manage to slip into a little bit of polemic when he wasn’t paying attention. I’ve quite a few books by him now.

With all of the roadworks going on at the top end of Fredericton I missed the turning to Home Depot and ended up back on the bypass. So never mind – I’ll have to catch up with that in due course on the way back.

Halfway down to Moncton I stopped off to make my lunch. And this is where the rain started. You can tell that I’m going to the seaside for my holidays, can’t you?

As the rain came down heavier and heavier, I arrived at Shediac. This is where I’m going to be staying for a week or so.

And it was here that we had a major catastrophe.

Looking for a motel, I drove out through the town and not finding anything, I went to do a u-turn in a lane at the side of the road. And as I was turning round, the edge of the road collapsed under the weight of Strider and we slid irrevocably into the ditch.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t extricate myself from here. But I wasn’t alone for long. A woman driving by stopped, and offered me a lift down to a nearby garage. They came out with a breakdown truck and within 5 minutes, had lifted me out of the ditch. My stupidity cost me $60:00, but it could have been much worse, and you have to pay to learn.

The tourist information here found a place for me to stay. Seeing as how it’s now out of season there are some reasonable deals going around and I’m in a studio, with a bedroom, living room, bathroom and fully-equipped kitchen. It’s lovely and I would be quite happy to live here for good, I’ll tell you that.

Having installed myself, I went out into the rainstorm and down to the supermarket in the town where, for the first time since I don’t know when, I did a week’s shopping. And the lack of European food subsidies didn’t half hurt the pocket. And with having a freezer here, I could buy ice-cream (well, sorbet) and stuff like that. I could really become used to this kind of life.

And back at the flat I made myself a pizza for tea, and it’s been a while since I’ve done this too, isn’t it? And followed by some tinned fruit salad and ice-cream for pudding.

Now, I’m heading off for a reasonably-early night in my comfortable (for it really is) bed where I’m going to sleep until the sun comes back.

Thursday 17th September 2015 – AND SO TODAY …

… nobody managed to get in my way. But then again, I didn’t put myself into much of a position where I was likely to be interrupted or diverted (although anything is possible of course).

I had an excellent night’s sleep in the tent, which I reckon that I thoroughly deserved, and I was up early and at work by 07:30 with a mug of coffee and a pile of breakfast biscuits, and it didn’t take all that long to work on the 61 photos that I had taken yesterday. And then they all needed to be imprinted with the copyright logos.

Once I’d done that, I wrote up the blog for yesterday ready to upload as soon as I could find a wifi connection.

One thing that I did manage to do is the change the headlight bulb in Strider. I’d picked one up at Rouses Point when I was there a few days ago, and while I’d been looking for a paper for Strider yesterday, I noticed that there was a section in his handbook about changing the bulb. It looks pretty straightforward but it isn’t, mainly because I don’t think that it had ever been changed before and the clips took quite a bit of forcing with a pipe wrench to move them. But at least he’s all legal now.

I also took the opportunity to have a really beautiful and warm shower.

On the road, first stop was the Atlantic Superstore where I stocked up with food as we are running right low on fruit, veg and bread. And they also had a few other things on special offer. So I now have a full pickup and we’re (almost) ready for anything.

Tim Horton’s came up with an internet connection (they must have made a fortune on coffee since they started on the free wifi connections – I know that they have from me) and after all of that I went to my usual little spec on the boat launching ramp car park opposite the city for lunch.

Home Depot was the next stop, and there I bought all of the wood that I need to make the bed that I want for Strider. And so Strider is now all loaded up with wood. They also had the insulation that I want too, but that’s going to have to wait until I’ve done the bed. I don’t want to load up Strider with stuff that’s going to be in the way. I’m going to buy it as I need it.

canada new brunswick fredericton yoga session harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015And so off to the Festival, and at the Barracks Tent, which has now been erected, we were having a communal yoga session.

As I arrived, they were all going into the mass hypnotism session that they have usually right at the end of every session, and so I engaged in a conversation with the volunteer on the door. We were wondering what might happen should a marching band go storming past the tent at this particular moment

canada new brunswick fredericton tokyo valentine harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015The free stage has been erected at the City Hall, and the first band up on there was Tokyo Valentine. They are local, from Fredericton, and have only been together for a short while.

The vocals were a little, well, hit-and-miss, but musically there was nothing wrong with them and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, as did the audience.

canada new brunswick fredericton tokyo valentine harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015In fact, the rhythm section was quite impressive. The drummer was superb and I really enjoyed listening to him.

As for the bassist however, he was easily the best that I have ever seen at this level. And I’m certain that I’ve seen him before too. I don’t remember his face but I do remember his style of play and I’m sure that I’ve seen him before with someone else at a previous Festival.

canada new brunswick fredericton tokyo valentine harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015We had two female singers. One of them was sometimes on the keyboards and sometimes on the tambourine. And her vocals weren’t all that bad but her style wasn’t really a style that appealed to me.

But she knew how to interact with the audience and at one stage went off the stage to dance with everyone in the audience, who clearly enjoyed it too.

canada new brunswick fredericton tokyo valentine harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015The girl on guitar, who was really a mermaid apparently, kept it simple and basic and that’s all that you need to do. But she knew how to get an audience moving too.

All in all, I had to say, what a way to start the Festival. This was quite a good act to have on a free stage, considering some that we have had in the payable venues, and I approached their manager afterwards with a view to doing something with them on Radio Anglais.

But we shall see.

canada new brunswick fredericton tomato tomato harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015The Hoodoo House is now open for business too and we started off with Tomato Tomato, who come from Saint John. They’ve been at the Festival before but I don’t recall having seen them.

It’s a married couple, who have been together for 11 years, and the kind of music that they were playing was certainly different. It wasn’t jazz and it wasn’t blues either, but whatever it was, they put everything into it.

canada new brunswick fredericton tomato tomato harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015We had the guy on acoustic guitar and vocals (and by the looks of thing, banjo and a few other stringed instruments too) but it was the woman who interested me.

She was playing almost everything – the washboard, the cymbals, the tin can, and also the bass drum and the tambourine, which she was playing by hitting pedals with her heels.

That must have taken quite some co-ordination, but never mind. She managed it fine and it was really quite different

canada new brunswick fredericton kill chicago harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015I’d seen Kill Chicago last year in the “new faces” competition and this year here they are again, back in the Barracks Tent as established performers.

I wasn’t all that impressed by them last year. It wasn’t that their music was bad in any way, it was just that the style of music didn’t appeal to me that much. It’s something like modern pseudo-punk, high energy stuff.

canada new brunswick fredericton kill chicago harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015They were much more refined this year, having had 12 more months to work on their act, and the audience clearly enjoyed the music that they were hearing.

But as I said, it’s not for me and, in all honesty, I don’t know why it’s the kind of music that should feature at the festival. I don’t reckon that it’s blues, and it’s certainly not jazz.

canada new brunswick fredericton record company harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Now, this is much, very much more like it.

We’ve all seen these before. It’s the Record Company and they’ve been here at the Festival before too. Playing proper music with exactly the right number of musicians on stage for a change, and they made the most of it.

canada new brunswick fredericton record company harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015We had a bassist and a drummer and also a third musician who played guitar but also occasionally played mouth organ (without the guitar).

Now I’ve said on numerous occasions that I don’t like harmonicas in blues bands, but that’s because most musicians don’t know how to play it properly. But here, the musician certainly knew how to use it, and he was using it in a novel way as backing to the bass and drums., and that’s different.

canada new brunswick fredericton record company harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015He also played slide guitar and bottleneck guitar (with a real bottleneck and this isn’t something that you see every day), and all in all, this was a really good performance.

They have moved clearly into first place on my hit list, and I sent a message backstage to contact them about doing something for Radio Anglais. We’ll have to see about that too.

canada new brunswick fredericton old man luedecke harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Now this is an interesting duo, for sure.

We’ve not yet had an old traditional blues musician on stage yet – the kind that we always used to have back in the days when I first started coming to the Festival – but here we are at last, and about time too. And in the Hoodoo House, which is where I always used to spend my time back in those days.

canada new brunswick fredericton old man luedecke harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015This is Old Man Luedecke, and with a name like this, there has to be something about the blues in the performance.

He was accompanied by a mandolin … "PERSONdolin" – ed … player and between them they pumped out some good old Tennessee blues music during the time that I was there, and I would have stayed around had I not had other places to go and other people to see.

canada new brunswick fredericton keith hallett harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015A couple of years ago, I’d really enjoyed Keith Hallett’s performance at the Festival, and I’d had quite a lengthy chat with him when I encountered him in the street back then.

He and his band had led my hit-list for quite a lengthy period that year (was it 2013?) until they were overtaken right at the very end of the Festival by the 24th Street Wailers and then by someone else whose name I have forgotten.

canada new brunswick fredericton keith hallett harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015I was therefore quite looking forward to seeing his act this year, and when I noticed that he’d reduced his band from a four-piece to a three-piece (the right number of musicians on stage in any rock or blues band, in my opinion – lead vocalists may be extra) I knew that we were going to be in for a really good night back at the Barracks Tent.

And I wasn’t to be disappointed either.

canada new brunswick fredericton keith hallett harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015And here he is, with his well-worn and well-battered semi-acoustic guitar, belting out the blues at 100mph.

As you might have expected, he’s soared to the top of my hit-list now and he’s yet another one to whom I’ve slipped a little note to ask him to contact me about doing something for Radio Anglais. I’d feature an hour-long live show by him at any day of the week. This performance was special.

canada new brunswick fredericton michael franti spearhead harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Final act on stage (at least, that I saw – I’m not as young as I was and can’t keep it up like I used to) was Michael Franti and his backing band, Spearhead.

Franti is quite a well-known performer in North America with a string of hits behind his name (although he’s never made it across to Europe) and is one of the most popular live performers on the “circuit”. And it’s easy to see why from this performance.

canada new brunswick fredericton michael franti spearhead harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015His interaction with the crowd was stunning, to say the least. Just like Gord Downey last year, he knew how to reach out to the crowd, and that included going walkabout and having a dance on one of the refreshment tables in the middle of the hall.

And there’s no doubt whatever that everyone in the crowd enjoyed it. And going over to a woman in a wheelchair and giving her a big kiss was a piece of art.

canada new brunswick fredericton harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015The music though, was a long way short of the blues and that wasn’t for me.

But there was no doubt about the quality of it all because his backing band was superb. He had a young energetic lead guitarist, an old powerful bassist, a competent keyboard player and a wild, enthusiastic drummer, and they gelled together completely to belt it out for hours. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the concert.

However all good things come to an end and I headed for home. But I was interrupted by a vegan wrap from a mobile food stand. They are all here now, and there’s a much bigger vegan choice of food on sale than in previous years.

Things are looking up!

And talking of that, what have – or haven’t you noticed tonight?

Despite all of my whinging yesterday, we haven’t had any brass sections. That’s a big improvement as far as I am concerned. I hope that it keeps up.

And by the way …

the photos that I’ve posted for tonight’s acts at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival are only a small sample of the hundreds that I took during the evening. If you want to see any more of those that I took, you’ll need to contact me. Leave a comment and I’ll be in touch.

Wednesday 26th August 2015 – I HAVEN’T MENTIONED …

… the rain as yet. But every morning this week, at about 06:00, we’ve had a rainstorm for about half an hour, and then it’s gone off on its way. This morning though, it loitered around for most of the morning and at times it was quite wet.

After breakfast I went up to the shop for a while but then Strawberry Moose, Strider and I set off out to Woodstock, and by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong, so it was pretty crowded inside Strider.

The junk shop came up with nothing at all – no books or CDs – and I had to stop at Zoe’s shop to pick up her waste bin that was rolling around the car park, and then for a coffee at Tim Horton’s.

After lunch I went across the road to the County Planning Department to discuss my plans for Mars Hill Road. My friend Gerrit has moved on but the new guy was just as helpful and doesn’t see a problem. He gave me a great deal of useful tips and hints that should make the project go easier.

And there’s good news on this front too. 4 or 5 years ago, connection to New Brunswick Power for electricity was compulsory for a new-build, but today, it’s not. You have to submit plans and they are considered on their merits. If you have 110-volt electricity, it needs to be certified but if you have a 12-volt DC system with an inverter, you need a certificate for the inverter and an electrician’s certificate for the 110-volt system that you have installed from the inverter onwards. As for a DC circuit, he’s never encountered one, so he suggests just submit it and see what happens. But solar panels and wind turbines developing 12-volt is quite a common thing these days.

They are even encountering people who wish to live with no electricity at all. 5 years ago, that wouldn’t be tolerated (people equated lack of electricity with poor quality of life) but now, it’s not uncommon to receive applications where the details of electricity installations are described as “none”.

As for rainwater harvesting, he doesn’t see any problem at all with that, but a certified sewage disposal system is an essential and there is no way around it.

But to cut a long story short … "hooray" – ed … I’m giving serious consideration to going towards a 48-volt system with 12-volt lighting and 110 volt power.

At the organic shop across the road, the girl who runs it was very helpful. There are apparently three co-ops in the area where vegetarians and vegans combine every two months to place bulk orders for their supplies and she gave me their addresses.

And if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, Sobey’s has greatly increased its supply of vegetarian and vegan food and we now have several different varieties of vegan cheese, although vegan ice-cream is only available next door at the Atlantic Superstore.

In other worlds, even in fairly-rural Canada, things are looking very much up.

If that wasn’t enough to be going on with, I hit the jackpot at Canadian Tire. There’s a clearance sale going on there, and a big reinforced plastic tool box, a Flexible 3/8 drive ratchet with spark plug sockets and extensions, a big set of wobble extensions, two big sets of 1/2 impact sockets (AF and metric), a converter from 3/8-drive to 1/2-drive and one or two other bits and pieces – all of that came to just over $100 – or £50:00. Add that to the tools that I have already that I need to pick up from my box at Montreal and I now have enough for almost anything. And if I can make it to Marden’s in Presque Ile and see what they have too, I might well end up with a very decent tool kit. You can’t have too much of this.

So it was hardly surprising that I didn’t do all that I had intended to do today. It was 19:00 by the time that I returned and then after supper I helped Darren repair and service the lawn-mowing tractor (which is bigger than my Kubota) and we overhauled a fridge that was in the basement.

But I have made a decision – and that is that on Friday early morning, I’m moving on. I’m becoming far too comfortable here. I’ll be trying to Enter the Dragon and go southwards through the forest to the Hudson valley then back up to Montreal for my stuff.

Friday 16th September 2011 – IT POURED DOWN …

… all through the night and we had high winds too, but I slept right through it – didn’t feel a thing.

It’s overcast and cloudy but they reckon that it might clear so with a light heart and a spring in my step, I set off for Fredericton.

GIT numberplate fredericton new brunswick canadaFirst stop was the big Atlantic superstore on the edge of the city, and this caught my eye. Vehicle number plates go up to 999 here in New Brunswick, which is just as well.

They also go up to 999 in the UK so it’s also just as well that this combination of letters would never be issued over there, because 999 wouldn’t be anything like enough.

coffee cup holder kiddie's pushchair new brunswick canadaAnother thing that they would never dare sell in the UK would be a kiddie’s push-chair with a coffee cup holder like this one here.

It wouldn’t be a coffee cup that you would find in the cup holder, and it wouldn’t be an ice-cream holder that you would find in there either. In fact, it’s quite surprising the things that you find on sale here in North America that would never be sold in the UK – or maybe it isn’t.

justice building fredericton new brunswick canadaThat building over there has “Justice” written on it, so it’s probably quite appropriate that it’s hidden behind a pile of trees.

It also has two dates on it. The first one is 1878 and the second one is 1930, and so maybe the first one is the date that Justice began in Fredericton and the second date is the date that Justice ceased. I dunno.

But I will really have to stop being so cynical.

british army barracks fredericton new brunswick canadaThese are the old British Army barracks here in Queen Street. The British Army were here from 1784 to 1869, and was chefly known as the home of the 104th New Brunswick Regiment.

They were famous for a forced march of 700 miles in just 52 days to Kingston, Ontario through the snows of winter in 1813 during the war with the USA

city hall fredericton new brunswick canadaThis building that we have here is the old Fredericton City Hall. Built in 1876, it’s the oldest Municipal building in the Maritimes that is still in administrative use, and has been a Canadian National Historic Site since 23rd November 1984.

It’s quite rare in that it was built with a market hall underneath and which survived until as recently as 1951. Nowadays, the Tourist information department is housed there

george street blues project harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaBy now the weather had brightened up a little and the festival was under way.

On stage at the Officers Square was a local band, the George Street Blues Project. Too many musicians on stage for me, unfortunately. They can lose the harmonica player for a start as I’m not a very big fan of those. Every blues band believes that a harmonica is essential, yet very few harmonica players can play one properly.

george street blues project harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaThe guy at the front had an enormous amount of stage present and knew how to move a crowd, and they rocked along with numbers such as Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” and the Smokey Robinson hit “Get Ready”.

For an encore, they played the Kix Brooks number “Sacred Ground”, and that was that. I quite enjoyed that set.

Next up was an act called Christine Crowell, but the saxophones, trumpets and sheet music looked onimous and so I made my excuses and left. I had business elsewhere.

First step was to find the Canadian Government department dealing with commercial visas for people setting up businesses in Canada. After much searching and enlistment of the Fredericton City Hall, we eventually discovered that I need to speak to the Population Growth Secretariat (but why them I have no idea).

Kings Tower is where I’m supposed to be, and it has a shopping centre in it. Yes, a shopping centre, not a shopping mall. There’s hope for these Canadians yet.

Eventually I cut through swathes of red tape and blagged myself an interview with them. Her first question was, surprisingly enough, “how would your project help the growth of New Brunswick’s population?”
Never one to hold back when the occasion presents it self (as I have done so often in the past to my cost) I replied “if I told you that you would probably have me arrested”.
She tried again “we are trying to encourage the growth of young families here”
“Well”, I replied, “just because I look over the hill doesn’t mean that I am, and I still have considerable expectations along that line. If a suitable young woman were to present herself, I shall certainly try my best to increase the population of New Brunswick”.

And so she had another go. “You need to show some kind of proof of ability to invest $75,000 in your project”
“Well, I can put on the table proof of about $300,000 in cash” I replied. “Would that do?” Yes, I’ve just sold my apartment in Brussels, haven’t I, and I still have the cheque, which I haven’t deposited yet.

I picked up her pencil and notepad from the floor and handed it back to her, and I have to come back for my visa interview next Friday.

I popped round to the Festival Offices and had a chat with one of the girls there. And during this chat, the subject of “Radio Anglais
” came up. She asked about it, and so I told her, and then she asked me why I hadn’t applied for a Media Pass. Apparently I’m entitled to one, being the representative of a Media outlet.

So armed with my Media Pass, I went back to the festival.

chevrolet corvette 1978 fredericton new brunswick canadaI was however sidetracked, as you might expect, by an old and interesting vehicle.

This is a Chevrolet Corvette, from 1978 if the number plate is anything to go by, but it is certainly one of the later “3rd-Generation” Corvettes, judging by the rear lights. But it’s a little bit scruffy with a few scratches on the paintwork.

mike biggar harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaIn the Barracks Square tent was a guitarist called Mike Biggar. He comes from Rothesay which apparently is a suburb of Saint John.

He played a number that went something like “You Come To Me Like Sunset On The Water” or some such, that I don’t recall having heard before but it really was superb. I wish that I knew what it was.

24 pesos harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaOn stage at the Officers Square was a band from London – that’s the UK, not Ontario – called 24 Pesos. They had won some kind of competition, the prize of which was to come over here and play at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.

It was a sort of modern blues, not really my scene, but there was no disputing the quality of the band. Their music really was good.

lonesome line harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaI went back to the Barracks Square after that, and discovered a band called Lonesome Line on stage. They come from Edmundston up in Madawaska and so we had an interesting little chat in French.

I wasn’t convinced by the wisdom of having an acoustic double-bass in an act like this. It doesn’t work when you are backing a lead guitar solo as you have so far to travel and so you can’t react quickly enough. And you will have noticed that it’s the drummer doing the backing vocals.

barracks square fredericton new brunswick canadaA pause in the proceedings enabled me to have a good look around the Barracks Square. We’ve seen the Barracks earlier, and this is the rear of the premises. It’s a grassy lawn in the quadrangle that will produce an interesting situation for the spectators if we have heavy rain.

The ground floor of the barracks here is transformed into little boutiques occupied by craft artists and the like but there’s not very much of interest to me.

lonesome line winners of competition harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaApparently there had been some kind of competition between the bands that were playing in the Barracks Square, and the winners were Lonesome Line, those who we saw just now.

And I was outraged by that. Lonesome Line were indeed quite good but there was no doubt in my mind that Mike Biggar was 10 times better and should have won this competition by a country mile. Still, I’ve often found myself in a minority of one at this Festival, so no reason to suppose that today will be any different.

buskers with police interaction harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaThere were quite a few buskers here and there around the town, including this couple playing down underneath the footbridge at the back of the library.

As the police car turned down there and pulled up close to them, I prepared the camera ready to record an “interaction” between the farces of Law and Order and the musicians. After all, I’m from the UK

buskers with police interaction harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaAnd sure enough, the window came down, the hand went out of the car and then, much to my surprise, the fingers came out and started tapping on the door in time to the music.

Like I say, I’m from the UK. I was half expecting to see an arrest on “public order” issues, a knee in the groin and a truncheon across the back of the neck.

And that reminds me – that’s the third policeman that I’ve seen since the festival started. Just imagine that in the UK. Three policemen in a couple of days at a do like this. There would be thousands.

That is, if the event were to take place at all. The British Health and Safety Inspectorate would have a field day with what I have seen here this last couple of days and the event would be closed down in minutes.

I hope that the Health and Safety Inspecorate is never imported into Canada

fraser and the offspring irving steps harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswick canadaI encountered a couple more buskers around the corner. On the steps of the Irving Building in Queen Street. These are called something like “Fraser and the Offspring” or some such name – it was very hard to hear.

I’ve seen many an impromptu band like this and indeed I’ve played bass and sang in quite a few, and these weren’t all that bad at all. I quite enjoyed listening to them and so did the little crowd that had gathered around them.

From here I went off to watch Taj Mahal in concert. No photography allowed at the Playhouse Theatre, but not to worry – I’ll catch up with them again in a public venue.