Tag Archives: hanging cloud

Thursday 24th January 2019 – THAT WAS A …

… delicious tea tonight.

Potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Some vegan sausages that I bought, all nicely covered in a thick, creamy cheese sauce with pepper and tarragon. It was one of the best meals that I’ve eaten for quite some considerable time.

And I deserved it too, because I’ve had a difficult day today.

I mentioned last night that I crashed out at about 18:30 or so. And despite my saying that I would be up and about fairly soon to carry on, that was that until about 01:00.

And by 01:30 I was so wide awake that I arose and started to sift through the files on the portable laptop I was awake enough to do that but not enough to catch up with the outstanding work. That took me up until about 05:00 when I retired for a second time.

Some time during one of my periods of sleep I had been on my travels. I was back in the Auvergne last night in my filthy, rat-infested hovel trying in vain to bring some kind of order out of chaos and not knowing where to start. I was distracted however by a couple of vehicles driving along the path outside my house so I looked out of a window (that I don’t have) to see a black people-carrier type of vehicle driving there. I went outside to find that my house wasn’t where it should be but somewhere up on the main road by Montcocu and at the side of my house was a small airfield. I ended up chatting to someone and the name of a former schoolfriend came out in the conversation. Apparently things weren’t going too well with him. But as we were chatting I noticed some concrete hardstanding at the side of the house to the rear, and I wondered why the thought of not putting a caravan on there hadn’t occurred to me in the past.

After all of my exertions yesterday, 09:30 was much more like a decent time to leave my bed. A very late breakfast automatically followed.

First task was to have another quick look around for my passport. I’d thought of one or more places that might be possible. But no luck, as I was expected. That led me up to the unpacking and the putting-away of the items from my new rucksack. And that worked quite well, and will be even better when all of the pockets and zips are broken in.

Lunch was late. There was still some hummus left and that went down nicely on my bread.

First thing to do in the afternoon was to print off the form to report my passport as lost or stolen. No sense in leaving it because there is going to be a time limit on this, what with one thing or another. Luckily, I had all the details to hand. Long and bitter experience has taught me to scan all of my important documents and keep them as image files. All of the details are there and there are even things that you can print if necessary.

When I went for my afternoon walk, it was raining outside. Not enough to soak me but enough to make me want to complete my circuit quickly. There wasn’t anything that I could see, with a heavy mist hanging over the sea.

Back here this afternoon I had to reapply for my new passport. The original application had timed out. And sure enough, the form needs to be countersigned by a professional person. Why they don’t tell you that before you print off the form I really don’t know, because had I known I could have done this and taken it to the hospital for countersigning. Now, I’ll have to find someone else.

Rosemary rang up later and we had another mega-chat. She’s doing well after her medical visit the other day and that’s good news. She was quite cheerful too and that’s always pleasant to hear. I told her about a few of my future plans because, you can be assured, that I always have plans running around in my head.

The weather had cleared up this evening and it was quite nice outside; But there was no-one about at all. I seem to be the only nocturnal rambler around here.

So I’ll try for an early night and a decent sleep tonight. I need to get myself into gear and push on with my projects.

Wednesday 20th June 2018 – THE WORLD’S WORST BANK …

… strikes again!

Remember that letter that I had to fax them yesterday? It seems that I had forgotten something off it.

And yes, I freely admit that it was my error. No argument there.

The bank sent me an e-mail and asked me to rectify the omission. No problem there either.


I had to reply by fax yet again. I couldn’t do it by phone, and I couldn’t reply to their e-mail either. Even though they had referred to my request in the e-mail that they had sent me, that it would be clear that any reply that I sent would have been in reply to their mail, and that the information was information that they had requested.

So that was yet more wasted time.

Like I say, I’m not denying my responsibility. I’m just moaning about the bank’s procedures. Had I still have been in the UK they would have been kicked into touch a good while ago. But then, had I still been in the UK, I would never have had the issues that I’m having now.

Last night, I didn’t get to see my film. I ended up going to bed fairly early instead. I was hoping to have an early night, but waking up at 03:45 was no part of my intentions whatsoever.

So much so that after breakfast I sat down and ended up being … errr … away with the fairies for a good half an hour.

But I pulled myself through, did some more tidying up and even vacuumed the living room, as well as measuring up a few things here and there, because I’m having a day out tomorrow.

hanging cloud port de granville harbour manche normandy franceOr, at least, I’m hoping to, if I can find the road.

On my trip into town this afternoon we were lucky to see the harbour. We’ve been swathed in a hanging cloud all day and it hasn’t lifted for a minute. It’s even worse right now.

If it keeps on like this, I won’t even be able to find my way out of the building, never mind out of town.

Having dealt with the housekeeping issues for today (Friday is to deal with the kitchen and Saturday is to wash the floor to let it dry while I’m out at the shops) I went back to the blog again.

The current whereabouts of my amendments is the day that I left Leuven to travel to Oostende. That page is not quite finished (although it might be by the time you read this) but it’s all now done from there onwards.

I’m determined to bring it all up to date before I’m much older, having left it somewhat … errr … incomplete during my all-too-frequent bouts of illness.

No point in going out for lunch today in the hanging cloud. I stayed in and read my book in the peace and quiet.

And then I had to fiddle about with the printer in order to make it work. It’s an ancient Hewlett-Packard that I inherited from Marianne all those years ago. It had an enormous amount of use while she had it, and it’s done some work here over the five years that I’ve had it. So it’s quite temperamental.

house demolition rue du port granville manche normandy franceAnd so off into town.

We’ve seen the hanging cloud, but I don’t think that you have seen the workmen down in the bottom-right corner who have now started on another house down on the rue du Port.

It’s difficult to tell whether they are knocking holes in the walls to fit new windows, or whether they are trying to knock the walls down completely. I suppose that time will tell.

gravel tipping port de granville harbour manche normandy franceHaving seen my friendly newspaper shop owner and sent off the fax, I came back up the hill.

And over in the port, another gravel lorry had arrived and had tipped its load. And behind it there was a digger driver busily heaping it all up into a tidy pile on the edge of the quayside.

Not in the gravel bins, you’ll notice. So that can really only mean that another gravel boat will shortly be paying us a visit. And I hope that I’m here to see it.

But I learnt some bad news in the newsagents. Madame la Maire has finally published her proposals for the port. She wants to build another casino and another pile of restaurants down there.

That means, quite simply, that all of the empty shops in the town will immediately be transformed into the kind of expensive boutiques that you see in every other seaside town – vastly overpriced for two months of the year and closed, gathering dust for the other 10.

And the port, instead of being a working, industrial zone, will become a haven for luxury yachts for 2 months of the year and deserted for the remainder.

It will totally destroy the character of the town, but such is the price that one has to pay for a bit of egoism.

And it did not go unnoticed that the proposals weren’t published until after the series of meetings with the residents (one of which we attended last week).

So that was my afternoon walk, and I crashed out yet again for a while. A coffee soon revived me though, and I had a good 50-minute session on the bass guitar. I’m cracking on.

After tea, which was a frozen mushroom and pepper curry in coconut milk, I went for my walk. And managed 120 paces at a run (well, a sort-of run). And if there was anyone else out there, I wouldn’t have an idea in this weather.

So now I’ll do a few bits and pieces and then have another early night.

And I hope that it’s more successful than the last one.

Tuesday 27th March 2018 – AND THERE IT WAS …

crane gone gates port de granville harbour manche normandy france… gone!

Yes, if you compare this photo with one … "of the many" – ed … that we have taken earlier of this view, you’ll notice that the large crane working on the harbour gates has now gone.

I’m not sure if this now means that the work on the harbour gates is now finished, but I shall go down there in the course of time and take a butchers.

hanging cloud pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceI should actually have gone down this morning, what with it being Tuesday and the day when I try for a walk into town, but you wouldn’t even send a dog out in this weather.

As we know from past experience, hanging clouds aren’t only encountered back on my farm in the Auvergne, we have them here too. And they are good ones when they arrive too.

And this one brought with it a pile of rain and so that put paid to any plans that I had of going out.

I’d had a really good sleep last night (for once) and if I had been anywhere during the night I certainly don’t recall it. And when the alarm went off for the first time at 06:20 I was bitterly regretting the fact. So much so that when I felt myself drifting away into a little voyage I didn’t fight the temptation – and was still there when the second alarm went off.

We had the usual morning performance followed by the usual morning relax and then, much to everyone’s surprise, I did some tidying up and started to prepare for my next voyage to Belgium. I’ve decided that the small suitcase is too small for the winter when I’m lumbered up with an overcoat, so I’m taking the next size up.

And then I had plenty to do after that but someone with whom I wanted to speak was on line so we ended up chatting for quite some time. There are always other times for working of course.

After lunch I attacked some of the backlog of photos that I’ve been trying to sort, and then went out for my walk as you have already seen.

united ieland o'toole transport granville manche normandy franceThe weather had by now dramatically improved which was just as well.

And apart from the crane (or absence thereof), one of Plenty’s dad’s lorries (or trailers anyway) was parked up on the fish dock. Refrigerated trailers they are so presumably they come for some kind of shellfish.

Which they share with their friends of course because, after all, you mustn’t be selfish with your shellfish.

And if you notice very carefully, on the map of Europe there is no dividing line between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is there? It’s another one of these Quebec/ Labrador 1927 border issues.

This declaration from the Republic in 1981 or whenever it was that their dispute with the North was over is only so much lip servioe. And talk is cheap. Unless of course they are in advance of the situation post-Brexit when the North will choose prosperity and Europe instead of a leap backwards into the Dark Ages with the United Kingdom.

We had the usual session on the guitar and I was working on an arrangement of “Locomotive Breath”. It’s quite a simple track if you play it quite simply and so I have a cunning plan – more of which anon.

Tea tonight was the other veganburger and bap with vegetables and it was just as delicious. The strawberries were superb too and that really was a good plan to buy those.

place marechal foch granville manche normandy franceWith the change of hour on Sunday, it was still just about light when I went for my evening walk tonight.

And so here’s a (very grainy) photo of the Place Marechal Foch and the view stretching down to Donville-les-Bains in the dusk. Considering that it was a hand-held shot on long exposure, it’s ome out okay.

I took some others too but I have an idea about them. I have a 50mm f1.8 lens somewhere around here and I’m going to take that with me tomorrow night and see what that shoots like in the dusk. It did okay with my football photos so it might do some good around here.

The least it will do is to tell me whether this standard lens that I have is at fault, or of it’s the camera itself.

Monday 19th February 2018 – NOW WASN’T THAT JUST SO NICE?

:To be back in my own really comfortable bed just like that, even though it was cold. And having left the alarm call on for 07:20, I could – and did – have the Sleep Of The Dead. And I deserved it too.

I’d been on my travels too during the night – investigating a situation where one of the Maths teachers at this school was up to some kind of subversion and we had to examine their teaching techniques to see if we could discover who it might be. And yet before we could begin we were caught up in an incident outside the school which was clearly related to what we were trying to do – one of the teachers concerned may well have been working on the public at large and so our investigations had to encompass this kind of behaviour too, which immediately enlarged the scope of our enquiries outside the original boundaries and for which we didn’t have enough staff.

After the usual leisurely start to the morning, I attacked the tidying up. Well, sort-of. I’d bought a pile of stuff back from Leuven and this all needed sorting out and stashing away. And then there were a few things that I needed to catch up with, as well as finding someone on-line with whom I needed to speak – and that took a while.

And then I made an unfortunate discovery.

I hadn’t only gone away and left the water heater switched on (it’s on a timer so it’s not too bad) I’d left the fridge door slightly open. And so that had been running non-stop and the freezer compartment was iced up to such an extent that it had pushed open the door. That meant of course that I had to attack that so that I could close the door and calm down the fridge.

Onion soup was for lunch – I’d completely forgotten about the tomato soup that I had stuck in the freezer before I went.

This afternoon I had to download all of the files off the travelling computer (the little lightweight notebook) and copy them onto the laptop that I use at home. I hadn’t finished doing that when it was time for walkies, so I put that to one side and out I went.

The weather was downright miserable though. We’d had a hanging cloud all day and it was one of those clingy wet kinds of cloud that makes you feel all miserable.

dredging port de granville harbour manche normandy franceNevertheless, there were a few people out there walking, or, rather, sloshing through the mud, and you couldn’t see all that much away into the distance.

Peering through the gloom though I could however see that this dredging operation in the tidal basin was still ongoing. It looks as if they are going to be in there for the duration.

And I do have to say that I wonder what is the point of it all.

Back here, I had a coffee and some chocolate with the intention of sitting down and cracking on with the file transfer. That was at 16:30. But the next thing that I remember was that it was 18:45. I’d crashed out for over two hours.

Personally, I blame all of the effort that I had undertaken in Belgium. I left here on Wednesday and returned on Sunday. And on ever day I was well over the 100% effort on my fitbit. I’m not as young as I used to be, and my health is deteriorating as you know. I can’t keep on going like I used to.

And so having missed out on my session on the guitar, it was pizza for tea – and a good one it was too. And then my usual walk, where I spent a good 10 minutes giving a stroke and a cuddle to my long-haired furry friend in the old town.

Now I’m heading for an early night. I have lots to do tomorrow.

And don’t worry about the missing couple of days on this blog. I’ll finish downloading the files off the travelling laptop and then I can complete the entries.

Always assuming that I don’t crash out again, of course.

Tuesday 30th January 2018 – I KNOW THAT I SAID …

HANGING CLOUD pointe du roc granville manche normandy france… that I would be going out this morning. But one look at the weather once it started to become light persuaded me otherwise.

We all know about hanging clouds as a phenomenon in the Auvergne, but they aren’t the kind of thing that you expect to see right on the coast, but here we are.

In the photo, taken at 16:00 or thereabouts, it had lifted quite considerably. But round about 08:30 to log after lunch you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face out there. And it was wet too as you might expect.

Just for a change I had a better night’s sleep again, although there wasn’t all that much of it.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there are several recurring themes running through my nocturnal voyages. For a start, there’s a certain ski-slope that figures quite often, but another one concerns cars. And we were off again on that one last night. It actually started off with me having to dress myself one morning – and in women’s clothes too (and I’m not sure why either). This led to the obvious question of what do I wear?”. Dressing as a man, it’s always quite easy. Whatever is on th floor from the previous night – or week – or month.
But later on, Nerina and I were moving house and so we were packing. And this involved finding the cars. As some of you might recall, this recurring dream involves me having a pile of Ford Cortinas, some of which might be taxed and some of which might be insured and some of which might be MoT’d – but none of them with all three – parked up at random all over Crewe. And so with having to move house, we needed to round them up. Nerina managed to find one of them, which was an off-white coloured Austin Cambridge as it happened, but I couldn’t remember at all where I had put my brown Cortina 2000E (the one that’s actually in the garage in Montaigut-en-Combraille). And so off we went on another panic-stricken crisis search – something that seems to be a regular feature of my life.

Despite not going out today, I had a shower and cleaned myself up quite considerably. I look rather respectable now, which will come as a great surprise to anyone who knows me. And I spent all day on these photos – making another 23GB of space on my external hard drive by clearing away masses of duplicates.

waves crashing on sea wall port de granville harbour manche normandy franceI went out for my walk this afternoon in the drizzle seeing as the cloud had lifted a little.

And to my surprise, despite the hanging clouds, we had a mini-storm in the bay and the waves were crashing on the sea wall. Some of them were quite impressive but of course there weren’t any of those while I had the camera ready.

But that’s the story of everyone’s life, isn’t it?

bad parking pointe du roc granville manche normandy franceBut we’re back yet again on this dreadful parking that seems to be dominating our pages right now.

Here’s another car parked with two wheels on the pavement across the road from the school, blocking the pavement for the kids walking down the hill, and there’s an empty parking space right across the road from where she is parked.

It’s this kind of behaviour that really gets on my wick. There’s just no excuse for it.

Tea tonight was spectacularly good. With the rest of the bulghour stuffing from yesterday, I made some spicy kidney beans with yet more bulghour, onions, garlic, mushrooms, olives, tomato sauce and olive oil. And while a spicy rice was cooking itself with some peas and carrots, I rolled some of the stuffing into two tortillas and cooked them in the microwave.

Thoroughly, absolutely and totally delicious. And there’s enough stuffing left over for another couple of tortillas for tomorrow.

We had the usual walk this evening in the light drizzle and now I’m thinking about having an early night.

But not before I tell you about the experiments with the hi-fi. I need to move it to a more permanent place, and while I was measuring up (I need some more speaker cable and I have miles of it back on the farm of course) I tried to experiment by connecting the old speakers to it – the ones from the old hi-fi system that doesn’t work.

And the result was that it seems to be the speakers, not the hi-fi, that have given up the ghost. They were coming through muted and distorted like they did on the old set-up.

And so the next time that I’m moving things around, I’ll try the new speakers in the old hi-fi. And see what happens then. That was a very expensive hi-fi system and I don’t want to discard it lightly.

Sunday 17th September 2017 – THAT WASN’T …

motel manic 2000 baie comeau quebec canada september septembre 2017… a very successful night at all.

Nothing wrong with the room or with the bed – but there’s a light aluminium porch thing over the door to the room and the force of the torrential downpour that started at about 03:00 and cascading onto the porch put paid to any thoughts that I might have had about sleeping.

But I must have been asleep at some time because I was away on my travels again during the night. We were back with the cars again during the night, and back where we were a while ago with three cars all of which should not have been on the road for one reason or other. One of them was my green Vanden Plas 1300 with its collapsed floor, but worse than that, when you switched on the wipers and the lights, it took five minutes for them to warm up before they would work. And so I set out one evening in the driving rain, switched on the lights and wipers and, as usual, nothing happened. But the rain was teeming down so fast I couldn’t see, so I was obliged to stop at the side of the road. And with no lights, this was an extremely dangerous thing to do. It put the wind up me so much that once we were on our way I rolled it down the hill into town and left it there, and walked back to tell everyone what I had done. It hit me only then that leaving the car there with no tax, people are bound to notice it and if I go down to retrieve my possessions later, someone is likely to call the police to say that I’m stealing things, and this is all going to become very uncomfortable.

I was out of the motel fairly promptly and down the road in the direction of Forestville.

forestville quebec canada september septembre 2017The road down to the shore was closed for repair and so a diversion was posted.

And thanks to the diversion I discovered much more about the town. There were parts of the town that I certainly didn’t know existed – such as the church which I hadn’t seen before.

It’s a much bigger town than I ever thought before.

But here I had a disappointment.

There’s a ferry across the St Lawrence from here to Rimouski and it’s one that I haven’t taken before. But I won’t be able to take it today.

Today is the day that it changes schedule from three crossings per day instead of two, and the 11:30 crossing was cancelled. Next sailing is at 17:30 and I have far too much to do to wait around.

Instead, I went to the supermarket which was open for some more salad stuff and the like – stocks are running low here.

les escoumins quebec canada september septembre 2017Next stop on the road was at Les Escoumins.

I’ve driven through here on several occasions but I’ve never actually stopped for a look around. And this was something that I was hoping to put right today.

And so instead of the new main road, I took the older road that runs into town.

cross headland les escoumins quebec canada september septembre 2017Despite the miserable, depressing wet weather, I went out to the headland at the mouth of the river.

The cross that is there is quite significant. It relates to an event that took place in the early 17th Century when the earliest Christian missionaries arrived here amongst the Innu.

They found that a cross had already been erected on this spot. How it had come to be here was a mystery.

It is known that Jacques Cartier, on his voyages here in the 16th Century, erected crosses wherever he landed on the shore, but there was no record of his having placed one here.

les escoumins quebec canada september septembre 2017From where we had parked there was an excellent view across the bay to the town.

Or, at least, there would have been had the weather not been so gruesome.

But thinking on, I’d been lucky with the weather up to date. I can only remember one other day of miserable weather when I’ve been on my travels – that day in Western Newfoundland.

new road alignment les escoumins quebec canada september septembre 2017On the western edge of the town, the road has been realigned too.

You can see where the modern alignment goes, off up there to the right. The older alignment is over there to the left.

And I remember that we have been up there on one occasion and took a photograph of the view back down here. And the weather was much better then too.

waterfall river les escoumins quebec canada september septembre 2017There was just one more place to visit, and that was out at the back of town.

There’s a waterfall here and that’s quite attractive, but back in the olden days there was a mill here that made use of the water power.

The river is an important salmon river and so there was a salmon ladder and all that kind of thing here but since the mill has gone, so has everything else.

The river has reverted to its natural state.

saguenay ferry quebec canada september septembre 2017No prizes for guessing where I am now.

I didn’t get my ferry crossing across the St Lawrence earlier, and so that means that I get the ferry crossing across the entrance to the Saguenay Fjord.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have crossed over on this ferry on several previous occasions.

saguenay ferry quebec canada september septembre 2017And so we all pile aboard and await the signal to be off. The ship that we are sailing on is the Jos Deschenes.

Owned by the Quebec government, she was named after a Montreal taxi-driver who refused to accept a couple of English-speaking tourists and made them walk to the airport.

For this major act of defiance, he was honoured by the Quebec authorities.

saguenay fjord quebec canada september septembre 2017You are probably wondering why there isn’t a bridge across here these days, seeing that bridges have been erected almost everywhere else.

The fact is that the fjord is an important shipping lane and if you were with us in April 2012 as we drove up the fjord, you would have seen the sizeof the ships that go up there

And the site here is so constrained that it’s not possible for any bridge built here to have sufficient clearance for the larger ships to pass underneath.

st simeon quebec canada september septembre 2017I’m running incredibly late for my lunch. It’s well after 14:00 now in fact.

I’m heading for the docks at St Simeon – that’s my preferred lunch stop today. And as I round one of the bends in the road, I can see it over there.

And unless I’m very much mistaken, the weather seems to be clearing. If I’m not careful, I might even find the rain stopping in a moment.

st simeon quebec canada september septembre 2017We’ve been here a few times, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall. We’ve even stayed here a few times in the past.

There’s a beautiful quayside here with an excellent view of the town and it’s just the ideal place for me to sit and eat my butties.

I was right about the weather. The rain has eased off, but there’s still a roaring wind and there’s quite a rough sea running.

ship of the day st lawrence quebec canada september septembre 2017Talking of seas, when was the last time that we had a Ship of the Day? Goose Bay and the Fairlane if I remember correctly.

But today, steaming … “dieseling” – ed …down the St Lawrence towards the open sea we have an ideal candidate.

She’s too far out for me to read the name, which is a pity, but with the telephoto lens I can pull out a really good shot of her as she goes by.

port au persil quebec canada september septembre 2017On the way back round again I take a diversion off Highway 138 to go to visit the sleepy little village of Port au Persil.

I’d passed briefly through here on one of my many trips through the Charlevoix but I’d never actually stopped for a look around.

This was another one of the things that I wanted to put right today, even though the weather was not on my side.

port au persil quebec canada september septembre 2017While I was walking around the old harbour, I fell in with a couple of English people who had come here in a hire car from Toronto. We had a little chat while I admired the view of the little harbour.

I was right about the view of the place too. It’s a really pretty little village even in the miserable weather.

And I was lucky that the photos actually came out so well given the conditions. They could have been much worse than this.

By the time that I’d done the lap around the back of the Charlevoix, the weather had improved dramatically.

My first stop was at Baie St Paul, because, as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, we’d come here last time and witnessed a large building burning to the ground.

I was keen to see what had happened to the site.

hotel le germain baie st paul quebec canada september septembre 2017In actual fact, the site has been cleared and a huge hotel complex, the Hotel Le Germain, has been built on the site.

It’s an incredibly upmarket hotel by the looks of things – you can tell this from the noise that the hotel makes about its “free parking” – as if that’s something of a novelty.

Which it probably is in a hotel of this style.

And by the looks of things, the Charlevoix tourist train makes a call here too.

quayside baie st paul quebec canada september septembre 2017I’m actually looking for the sea – or rather river-front.

I’ve never actually made it to here and that’s another thing that I wanted to do, because I have a special reason for being here

But first, we can sit here and admire the beautiful day, because the weather has now changed dramatically and I’m in shirt sleeves now.

abandoned goelette baie st paul quebec canada september septembre 2017And this is the reason why I’m here.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we were here in April 2012 we had seen an abandoned goelette beached here.

We’d tried to reach it back then, but we were confounded by a high tide and a running river.

abandoned goelette baie st paul quebec canada september septembre 2017But this year, I’ve timed my arrival correctly and found another was across the dunes and the river.

And it looks as if my efforts are only just in time. Because there’s not all that much of her left.

Even in the five and a half years since I was here last, she’s taken some battering and there’s not all that much of her left.

abandoned goelette baie st paul quebec canada september septembre 2017Goelettes were small but very sturdy sailing cargo ships (although this one seems to have been motorised) and carried out the coastal trade along the St Lawrence.

The road network is comparatively recent in eastern Quebec and the only way to move about back in those days was by sea.

There were dozens, if not hundreds, of these goelettes going up and down the river from port to port delivering goods and transporting people, but today there wan’t behalf a dozen left.

cap tourmente quebec canada september septembre 2017Climbing over Cap Tourmente towards Quebec there’s the most incredible view behind me of a hanging cloud hovering over the valley where Baie St Paul is situated.

There’s too much traffic for me to leave the vehicle to photograph it, but by judicious use if the hard shoulder and the rear-view mirror I do the best that I can.

And I’m quite pleased about how this has turned out.

Just one more photograph before we arrive in Quebec City.

diesel multiple unit charlevoix tourist railway quebec canada september septembre 2017It’s quite out of focus and distorted but it was taken though the windscreen of a moving Strider of an object moving towards up in wicked light.

But it’s really quite an exciting photograph because it’s a diesel multiple-unit heading towards us on the Charlevoix Tourist Line.

So what’s happening here then? This isn’t what I was expecting to see at all.

motel l'aigle d'or quebec canada september septembre 2017Due to the loss of light and confusion at the road works, I’m at the wrong motel in Quebec.

This is the first one that I ever visited and where the story about Quebec showers comes from.

Nothing has changed either, and we even have the same landlady. But she’s done me an excellent price for the two nights that I’m staying here and there’s a fridge and a microwave in the room.

What with one thing and another, I’ve not yet bought an evening meal since I’ve been on the road. With the slow cooker for when there’s no microwave, I’ve been self-catering for all the time that I’ve been here.

And isn’t that a pleasant change?

Thursday 7th September 2017 – A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO …

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017… we went to visit the SS Kyle, the last of Reid’s famous “Alphabet ships” still in existence.

Today, we are going to visit another one of Reid’s Alphabet ships.

And if you are wondering how that might be possible seeing as I said that there’s only the SS Kyle left, then that’s the SS Ethie just there

Or, at least, all that remains of her, poor thing.

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017One bad night in 1919 she was running her usual route up and down the Strait of Belle Isle when she found herself in serious difficulty due to hurricane-force winds and ice build-up on the decks.

The weather was far too bad for launching lifeboats so the captain took a calculated risk of running her aground so that at least the passengers and crew might have a chance of saving themselves.

The captain’s decision doubtless saved the lives of many of the people on board, but it spelt the end of the SS Ethie

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017And here she sits, or rather, what’s left of her does.

98 years she’s been there, being looted and pillaged, tossed about on the waves and smashed to pieces on the rocks by the storms.

It won’t be long before there’s nothing left of her at all.

shipwreck ss ethie reids alphabet fleet newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Part of the Newfoundland folklore has it that a brave dog risked his life to save several passengers from the ship, but that’s never ever been substantiated.

In fact it was not mentioned as part of the story at the time and no eyewitnesses to the rescue remember the dog. It seems to have been something that was tacked on several years later.

Consequently, historians tend to discount it as being nothing more than a journalistic embellishment.

Meanwhile, last night I went to bed fairly early and slept the Sleep Of The Dead.

Not quite so dead that I didn’t go off on one of my nocturnal rambles, but I don’t remember very much at all about it.

I was with some girl and we were waiting in a van in a street that was very narrow but which broadened out quite considerable further down. We were actually outside a dingy hotel which was displaying its price in some kind of illuminated scroll sign like an old bus route display. The price was 29 of whatever the currency was and we knew that it changed to 39 every so often but on this occasion the scroll broke and there was just the light. We knew what happened of course, and we decided to go in for some reason. The bar was crowded and we fought our way to a table but almost immediately decided not to stay so we fought our way out. I was carrying a few bags and knocking people with them and this led to some very sharp words. Outside, I’d lost my partner so I thought that I had better hurry back to the van, but I needed to visit the bathroom. But did I have time? Was it better to go to meet my companion first? Should we get in the van and drive away first?

Of course it was then that I awoke. And no surprises as to where I went.

surprisingly, I actually managed to beat the alarm by 30 seconds too, which was good news. I’m becoming quite lax in my old age.

While porridge was cooking I finished off a few things that needed attention and after breakfast went out to attack the long-promised tidying-up session that I had been promising myself.

But no such luck today. We were engulfed in a torrential downpour the like of which I haven’t seen for quite a while. And to add insult to injury, I left the slow cooker out on the porch last night and the box was just a soggy mass of cardboard.

That’s upset me.

lush's cabins cormack newfoundland canada september septembre 2017In a brief dry spell, while the clouds had gone back to fetch more supplies, I nipped over to hand back the key.

The verdict on the Lush’s Cabins was that it was pretty expensive for one person, but a family of four, if they could have the same deal, would do well.

It’s old and tired, but everything works like it’s supposed to and that makes a change in a place like this.

You’d need to enjoy each other’s company though, because you aren’t actually spoiled for entertainment in the vicinity.

gros morne national park newfoundland canada september septembre 2017W’ve travelled down this road on several occasions so there aren’t going to be many photographs.

You’ll need to look for the entries for October 2010, September 2014 and September 2015 to see more of them.

But I didn manage to stop and take one or two, despite the lousy weather.

newfoundland canada september septembre 2017My route takes me northwards through the Gros Morne National Park, which is certainly one of the most spectacular places on the planet.

In the clouds and mist thought it looks quite unreal and mysterious like something out of one of these Gothic adventure films.

Hinging clouds are not a phenomenon that is unique to the Auvergne after all.

newfoundland canada september septembre 2017It was here though that I fellin with a yooungcouple whose footsteps were to dog me for most of the day.

I’d stopped here to take a photograph of the view up over the hill in the distance and so had they. And our paths crossed subsequently on several occasions.

But that didn’t explain the overwhelming smell of fish when I stepped out of Strider just here.

rocky harbour newfoundland canada september septembre 2017The road north hits the coast near the town of Rocky Harbour.

It’s quite a large town – or what passes for a large town around here, And it’s so surprising therefore that I’ve never actually visited it.

One day in the future I’ll have to spend a couple of weeks having a good explore all around the island.

newfoundland mountains st pauls canada september septembre 2017As I was driving by St Paul’s, the beautiful scenery grabbed me … whole attention.

We’ve stopped here once before where I tok a couple of photos of the river and the bridge, but I can’t remember if I took anything of the mountains in the background.

So just in case, I poked the camera into the gloom of the torrential downpour that was still going on.

daniel's harbour waterfall newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Just a few miles north at Daniel’s Harbour there are a couple of waterfalls that come cascading out of the mountains into the glaciated valley.

Having a play around with the depth-of-field on the new camera, now that I’ve found out how it works, I’ve managed to produce this photograph.

It’s come out just as I wanted it to and I’m quite pleased with this.

daniel's harbour gardening allotments newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But what struck memore than anything else is the amount of gardening taking place.

When we’ve been around here before, we’ve seen the odd plot or two growing some sad speciments of plant life, but today, there are plots everywhere.

A great deal of fertiliser has been used by the looks of things, and the plant growth is certainly luxuriant

bellburn newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Just down there is the small town or village of Bellburns.

This was where I stopped forlunch – did a small amount of tidying up inside the cab of Strider and threw away my tomatoes by mistake so I had to go and rescue them.

It’s the kind of thing that I do when I’m not paying enough attention.

coastal drift bellburn newfoundland canada september septembre 2017You probably noticed in the previous photograph the small river that ran through the edge of town.

Just here, there’s an excellent example of coastal drift in miniature.

The shingle beach is being carried northwards by the currents and winds and this has diverted the mouth of the river towards the north from its original course

port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Back on the road, I turn off the main road and head into Port Saunders.

First thing that I see is a ship repair yard so I call by to see if there is anything exciting happening.

There are a few people loitering around in the vicinity but nothing of any great importance seems to be happening today.

port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But from the previous photograph you can tell exactly what kind of town it is.

That’s right. You can’t move for fishing boats around here.

Like most places, fishing is the be-all and end-all of life on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. And how these places were hit by the 1992 cod moratorium.

lobster pots port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017And so like most places, the fishermen who used to visit the Grand Banks have had to diversify.

What we have here are rowsand rows of lobster pots. And everywhere, in everyone’s garden in the vicinity, there were lobster pots far too numberous to count.

And that’s one thing that puzzles me. It must take loads of patience to train a lobster to go on one of those.

beach port saunders newfoundland canada september septembre 2017Outside the town on the way to Port-au-Choix (we’re looking back to Port Saunders right now) there were some really nice beaches if only the sun would shine.

And much to my surprise, considering that we have the Labrador Current flowing down here direct from the Arctic, the water was … errr … not too unpleasantly cold.

Too cold for me to go swimming, but then I’m nesh as we all know. Other people might be pleasantly surprised.

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But Port-au-Choix is the place to be in this part of the world.

There’s a big “Foodland” supermarket on the edge of town, bigger than I’ve seen in many places

And not only that, there’s a Chinese restaurant here too, and isn’t that a novelty for North-East Newfoundland?

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But then, maybe it isn’t so surprising.

In the controversial resettlement programmes under which people were “encouraged” to leave the outlying settlements and settle in approved “points of growth”, Port-au-Choix was one of the places that was approved.

Quite obviously, if you are selling the idea of “resetlement” to people on the grounds that there will be better facilities in these “points of growth”, then you need to make sure that the facilities are there.

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017One of the things that Port-au-Choix had going for it was a big natural, sheltered harbour.

That kind of thing is very important in a maritime community and so naturally there’s a busy port here and even a modern fish-processing plant.

No sense in encouraging “resettlement” if the people still have to travel a distance to take their fish to the processing plant. They may as well go to live there.

port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017There was a rumour at one time that the MV Apollo – the ship that works the ferry between Newfoundland and Southern Labrador – would be replaced by a more modern ship (she is about 50 years old now) and that the new ferry service might sail out of here.

I duly went to the local Government Marine Patrol offices to find out what they knew, but they were … err … rather dismissive of my enquiry.

Wasting my time in fact.

burnt out barge port au choix newfoundland canada september septembre 2017But I can’t leave Port-au-Choix without drawing your attention to this oblect.

It’s some kind of barge or passenger ferry of some description, and by the looks of it, it’s been burnt out. And quite a while ago too, so it seems.

But I wonder what it was andhow it came to be here. And there was no-one around to ask.

I did think about asking the guy in the Marine Patrol office, but he had the air of having far more important things to attend to than to talk to me.

Going at full steam down the highway I overshot my motel and had to turn around. I upset everyone by going in the private entrance, which is always a good start.

My room looks like something out of the 1950s but the bathroom is modern and tidy. But first things first – before the shower I chuck some pasta, vegetable soup and tomato sauce in the slow cooker.

As for the internet – another night without it. You can’t expect too much here which is just as well, because that’s what I’m getting – not too much.

As long as the bed is comfortable, that’s all that I care about tonight.

Monday 28th August 2017 – I WONDER IF …

saint john river woodstock NEW BRUNSWICK canada aout august 2017… you can guess where the Saint John River might be.

That’s right – it’s over there where all of the cloud is. Late August and already we are in the cold early mornings,
the rapid heating and the resulting condensation.

It’s not looking good for the autumn – but then I say that every year and I somehow seem to manage.

hanging cloud lakeville NEW BRUNSWICK canada aout august 2017And it’s not just along the river either. Everywhere there was a patch of water there was a hanging cloud hovering in the vicinity.

Down there in Lakeville, for example, where there is, as you might expect, a lake, there was a large patch of it and I was drifting through patches of fog all through the morning.

I’d had a good sleep last night and even been on my travels but once again, I’ve no idea where to. And it didn’t take long for me to pack up the last remnants of my stuff and hit the highway.

Just Strawberry Moose and Yours Truly to start with but by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong.

international chevrolet reo speedwagon woodstock NEW BRUNSWICK canada aout august 2017Remember last year when I saw that old car here in Woodstock?

Well, we can do much better than that today because we don’t just have one old car, we have three old lorries.

And quite interesting lorries they are too.

chevrolet international reo speedwagon woodstock NEW BRUNSWICK canada aout august 2017The flatbed lorry on the right is an “International” and the pick-up in the centre is a Chevrolet.

And we’ve seen these Chevrolets before – out on the Outer Banks of North Carolina back in 2005.

The one on the left with the tyre issues is the most exciting though. That’s an REO Speedwagon.

It’s amazing what you find in the backs of the barns occupied by these old potato farmers you know. All kinds of treasures are in there.

At Fredericton I bought an entire Walmart – including a slow cooker because Brain of Britain has left his other one in the lock-up in Montreal. How clever is that?

The Value Village came up with a few odds and ends, but Home Depot and Princess Autos (there’s one in Fredericton now) had nothing of interest.

lunch stop highway 7 NEW BRUNSWICK canada aout august 2017From there I drove on towards Saint John and stopped for lunch at a convenient lay-by.

I was joined by a couple of locals who told me the legend of the maple Tree here but I didn’t pay too much attention. I was half-asleep with fatigue.

In Saint Johns I soon found a motel. Rather expensive and needs a good coat of paint but it had a microwave so next stop was Sobey’s and a bag of spuds.

I went to the Dollar Store for a microwave dish too and a few other bits and pieces, and cooked myself potatoes, sausages and beans.

But the beans left over from last year were nasty and found their way into the rubbish. I reckon that I’ll bin all of that stuff and buy some new.

So now I’m off for another early night. No need to go to the hospital as Ellen has now been expelled so I can pay my insurance and move on.

Wednesday 23rd November 2016 – PHEW! I’M WHACKED!

Yes, today was the day that I had to go to the hospital at Leuven.

And how difficult was it to haul myself out of bed at 07:00 to hit the road? You have no idea.

No breakfast of course, but what with having to wash and make myself pretty, it was 07:30 when I finally hit the road. Through the fog, the hanging cloud, the darkness and the drizzle to the motorway and then an uneventful drive all the way to Leuven. uneventful, of course, except for the tractor-trap in the suburbs of the city that slowed everyone up. It took me less than 2 hours all told.

Caliburn went into his hidey-hole and I walked up to the hospital to organise some breakfast. All done and dusted, checked in and in the waiting room long before the due time of 10:50.

I was out by 14:30 too. The highlight, or actually the lowlight of the day was the fact that they have stopped serving bread with the soup. That’s no good.

But apart from that, my blood has gone back up to 10.6 all on its own (although it doesn’t feel like it) and while my water retention has eased, my protein loss has accelerated. So – back in a week.

And as the professor is only there in the morning next week, it means that I have to postpone my eye test too.It’s a good job that I’m going back to stay in the hostel.

The drive back was even more uneventful.

There’s a Carrefour in Leuven as you know so I called there for bread and stuff but I was having a “fruit” moment so I bought a “reduced” fresh fruit salad thingy and a litre of 100% pineapple juice, and scoffed the lot on the car park. And there are grapes for tomorrow.

My route brought me back to Bouillon, which is a soup-er … "ohh, well-done" – ed … place and stopped to take a pile of photos in the dark, falling over the edge of the pavement and badly cutting my right knee.

There’s a falafel place in Bouillon so I had a decent tea as well.

And now I’m back here and seeing how tired I am, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the photos of Bouillon.

I’m doing nothing more!

Wednesday 16th November 2016 – HOW STUPID …

… can you be?

I need to leave Belgium for a while for various reasons, and so I checked all around the area of Sedan, which is not too far away from here but across the border, and I found a place that looked absolutely perfect from my point of view. Isolated in the countryside miles from anywhere up a mountain and probably swathed in fog. And bed-and-breakfast at the same price as my hostel.

And here I am gazing across a river and over the river is in France, and here I am, stuck on the Belgian side of it all in the Hostellerie La Sapiniere at Vresse sur Semois.

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

So why aren’t I heading back to my house then? The answer is that while my blood count has gone up slightly to 10:0, the protein loss in my body is accelerating slightly and that’s causing them some concern. As a result, they’ve changed my medication and they want me back IN A WEEK to see how I’m doing.

And not only that, they have some more appointments for me in the haematology department in two weeks time, and so I’m stuck here yet again. But I don’t want to be stuck in Leuven – I need a change of scenery;

But returning to our moutons as the French say, the trouble with going to bed early is that everyone else comes in later. And so even if you do drop off to sleep by 22:30, then at 23:30 you are wide awake as people come back into the building. and that’s rather annoying, so say the least.

So having had a disturbed night (for many reasons) I was awake quite early as the alarm went off.

And I’d been on my travels too. I had to visit a town that was “just across the border” in some kind of Spanish-speaking area. I’d found a bus that would take me there and so I climbed on board. It wasn’t a journey of 10 minutes either as I was expecting, but one of hours and interminable hours. A woman on board the bus, small and dark-haired, tried to help me out – every ten minutes or so coming to reassure me (although I couldn’t understand what she was saying) and then as we reached the border I suddenly realised that I didn’t know where I was supposed to be going or at what stop I needed to alight, and I had no way of asking either.

There were the usual hordes at breakfast this morning, and we had a major problem with the kitchen area being flooded again. The skylight had been left open and we were in the middle of a torrential downpour.

Still, I’d breakfasted and even showered and back in my room again long before 07:55. THat’s something of a record, isn’t it? And once I’d tidied up and packed my rucksack I set off to the hospital, braving the driving rain.

I wasn’t feeling so good this morning either. All of the joints in my legs were aching and I didn’t have the puff to climb the hill. I had to stop on four or five occasions to get back my breath. This is the worst trip to the hospital that I have ever had.

I was there and registered by 08:30 and sitting in the waiting room. I was seen a little later than my 08:50 appointment , and given all of the tests and the like. My weight was stable which was bad news – I want to lose it all and I can’t do this as it’s all to do with the water retention issues that I’m having and that’s one of the issues that I need to resolve – hence the new medication.

By 11:30 they released me from the hospital and that was that. I went down to Caliburn and we all, Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and I set off for the wilderness.

The weather was pretty miserable – with rainstorms and the like all the way down to the Ardennes. And once I started to climb up into the mountains I was encased in hanging clouds just like home. In fact it made me feel quite at home.

The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav couldn’t find the hotel, which was hardly a surprise seeing as I was looking in the wrong country. I had a beautiful drive through the Ardennes and ended up in Sedan in the driving rain. I took the opportunity to do a huge pile of shopping at the Leclerc – what with food prices in France being much less than in Belgium – and then tracked down the hotel where I’m staying.

It’s a very impressive hotel from the outside but it’s all very 1960s from the inside. And there’s no internet in the bedroom which is very depressing to say the least. I’ll have to sort this out somehow but I’m quite tired after my drive. I made a butty (because I wasn’t able to check on what the surroundings had to offer) and had an early night instead.

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.

Wednesday 5th October 2016 – BRRRR!

o'regal restaurant and motel kedgwick new brunswick canada october octobre 2016When I awoke this morning, bright and early, I went out to grab the cereal and soya milk from the back of Strider. And by heck, I wish I hadn’t!

Winter has definitely arrived, that’s for sure. Just look at this lot outside. It’s just like back home in the Auvergne isn’t it, with the hanging cloud, the cold and the freezing fog that has blanketed the Appalachian Mountains round about here on the edge of Kedgwick.

I had had a bad night last night despite just how comfortable it was in my nice big bed in my nice big room.

I’d crashed out by about 21:00 but I was tossing and turning all over the place and was really uncomfortable. Somehow I was tired and completely fast asleep and somehow I wasn’t, and I’m not sure that you’ll understand what I mean. But anyway, I was wide awake at 01:00, with the radio still playing, so I turned it off and this time I managed a decent sleep, until about 05:00

I’d been on my travels too, with the welcome return of Nerina, who hasn’t set foot in these nocturnal rambles for quite a while. We were at my house, in its usual state of papers all over the floor and we were looking for some papers that really ought to have been there but weren’t and this was all becoming far more complicated than it ought to have been. At he same time, Zero was at the kitchen sink doing the washing-up. She was being her usual cheerful self and we were discussing smoking. She said that she had tried a cigarette once, so I smacked her bottom for her.

When I sat down to breakfast I found that I had forgotten to fetch the spoon so I ended up eating my breakfast cereal with a fork and trying my best not to crash out again. I’m clearly not well at the moment.

o'regal restaurant and motel kedgwick new brunswick canada october octobre 2016Still, I can’t sit around here all day moping about the bad weather. I need to be moving on despite the fog. And this time, I didn’t forget to go and take a photograph of the night’s lodgings just for the record.

I’d been low on fuel too last night and there was an Irving’s next door – one of the reasons why I had stopped here – so I went off and fuelled up. I now have 97 Air miles after that – isn’t that good?

When I was on my way in the other direction 10 or so days ago, I’d stopped at the supermarket in town where I’d discovered baguettes on sale at half-price. I popped back in there on the way past this morning to see how the land lay and, sure enough, baguettes were on sale again. And so with what I had bought yesterday at Matane, that was lunch organised.

On the way through St Quentin the other day I’d noticed that there was a railway station in the town, on the old abandoned Canadian National railway line between Campbelltown and St Leonard.
narrow gauge steam locomotive railway station st quentin new brunswick canada october octobre 2016There were a few railway artefacts on display outside, and so I’d pencilled the station in for a visit on the return trip and so here I am.

The little locomotive had caught my eye and I wondered if it really was a narrow-gauge locomotive that had been rescued from a mineral line somewhere. But in fact it was built in 1985 out of scrap and recycled materials by a couple of Canadian National employees from Campbelltown.

platelayers trolley railway station st quentin new brunswick canada october octobre 2016That wasn’t the only thing to catch my eye either. What do you reckon about this?

It’s a platelayers’ trolley but enclosed (a necessity given the severe winters around here) and with a petrol engine rather than a pump-action handle, which is a bit of a cheat. They were used by the track maintenance crews during their duties, which included fire-watching because sparks from the steam locomotives setting the forests alight was a real problem.

So much so that it will come as no surprise for any regular reader of this rubbish to realise that the station building here at St Quentin is not the original one. That, just like any other building here in Canada, caught fire and burnt down.

railway bicycle st quentin new brunswick canada october octobre 2016However, the most exciting exhibit here at the railway station must be this weird machine.

I’m not sure of the proper name by which this machine might be known, and I certainly have never seen one of them before, but I think that it’s magnificent and I definitely want one of these.

There were lots of other stuff actually inside the station, which was by the way not only a museum but the local tourist information office and the offices of the local Chamber of Commerce.

caboose canadian national railway station st quentin new brunswick canada october octobre 2016There was some kind of collection of railway wagons here too and so I went for a browse.

This caboose caught my eye – and not just because it’s a caboose but because of the message that’s on it. It reads “Dessert tout le Canada” which, crudely translated by Yours Truly (and if there’s any “crudely” involved, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney, “I’m your man”) as “serves all of Canada”.

However, that’s clearly a spelling mistake. It should read “Désert tout le Canada” which means “Abandons all of Canada” – which is certainly true these days.

This is why I have to mess around on buses and rely on Rachel to pick me up in Florenceville when there’s an abandoned Canadian National railway line that passes at the bottom of her garden and an abandoned Canadian National railway station right next door to the tyre depot.

By now the hanging clouds had gone, the sun was out and I was coming out of the Appalachian Mountains. It was a beautiful day now so I headed to St Leonard and the Saint John River to find a place to eat my butties.

le rendez-vous des artistes st leonard new brunswick canada october octobre 2016I found a nice place to park up for my lunch – the car park for the Rendez-vous des Artistes in St Leonard. It was closed up so I didn’t think that anyone would mine.

What appealed to me about this place was that it had a good view over the river and right by one of the few remaining railway lines in New Brunswick. And I thought that I had heard a locomotive whistle too and so I prepared the camera, but nothing came by while I was here.

saint john river van buren maine usa october octobre 2016That over there across the Saint John River is the town of Van Buren, which is in Maine, USA. I was sitting right by the border crossing on the Canadian side of the river admiring the view and taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

And I wasn’t alone either. They say that there’s one in every village, and the one in St Leonard sought me out for a chat. He was speaking French and what with his accent and a speech impediment that he had, I couldn’t make out one word in every ten that he was uttering.

Nevertheless, we put the world to rights for half an hour and then, in the words of the reporters of the long-gone and long-lamented “News of the Screws”, I “made my excuses and left”.

Back up the hill and I hit the highway southwards, and aren’t I grateful for speed limiters and cruise control? I set the speed to 108kms and settled down for the drive back to Centreville, and it was then that I noticed in my rear-view mirror a County Mountie slowly closing up on me. But with the speed limiter I didn’t have too much to worry about in the normal run of events. He eventually passed me, having a good glance as he went by, but with the cruise control in operation he had no reason to pull me over and he eventually pulled away in front.

I was having visions of David Crosby and his
“It increases my paranoia”
“like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car”
“But I’m not giving in an inch to fear”
“‘cos I promised myself this year”
“I feel like I owe it to someone”

and reckon that it applies to me – I certainly owe it to myself, that’s for sure after all that I’ve been through this year.

I tracked down my mailbox too. And talk about a local postal service – my mailbox is about 7 or 8 kilometres from my plot of land. It’s astonishing. How I’m supposed to go and get my post in the middle of winter is totally beyond me.

But there was some really good news for me. Regular readers of this rubbish might recall that the motor insurance on Strider was cancelled about my head last year when we had the driving licence issues. There was a cheque in my mail box for the refund of the cancelled policy, minus the time on risk value, and this was not far off the total premium of the new policy. The cheque had timed out and so I took it back to the brokers in Florenceville and they wrote out a new one.

Waving that around in my sweaty little mitt, I went to the Scotia Bank and paid it in. I did a few more financial manoeuvres … “PERSONoeuvres” – ed … there, and now I reckon that I could keep on going over in Canada for a good while if necessary.

Back at the tyre depot I met up with everyone, had a coffee and a chat, and then we went back home to Rachel and Darren’s. Rachel made a lovely tea and we had a good chat, and then I crawled off to bed at some really early, ridiculous time.

This six weeks gap between treatments is evidently too much, but I’m not complaining. Despite the health issues that have now caught up properly with me, I would never otherwise have come here and I wouldn’t have missed my trip to Canada for the world.

Saturday 14th May – NOW …

… that was much more like it. That was the most comfortable sleep that I have had for weeks. It was a shame though that my room was on the ground floor on the outside of the building at the foot of the stairs because I was kept awake for ages by some family group chatting at the foot of the stairs before they went their separate ways, and badger me if it wasn’t them again in the morning waking me up again.

But when I was gone, I was really gone.

I was away with the fairies during the night too. The first part concerned one of these reality TV shows and in this case it was a group of people who were setting up a garage – how they had to clear out some derelict and abandoned place, sort out the stuff inside, secure some stock-in-trade and set themselves up to do some work. They had three or four front-ends of minis, complete with subframes and engines, up on a ramp leading to the upper floor. All of this seemed to be so familiar and I wondered if I’ve been here before on another one of my nocturnal rambles just recently.
A little later, I was interviewing some woman. She was a single mother who worked as a school bus driver out in the Macclesfield area and had been transferred to a different route which went higher up on the moors on the Derbyshire border and in the snow. I was interested to see how she was doing with the difference in driving conditions, but she said that she hadn’t noticed the difference.

Breakfast cost me €5:00 and I had my money’s worth too. And then afterwards, I had an hour on the blog doing some more updating – I need to keep on at it.

The journey down to here was uneventful, apart from the weather. Yesterday I was having 28.6°C in Leuven and its surroundings. This morning it was a mere 12.6°C at Melun and the weather gradually deteriorated. We had fog, hanging clouds, rain, all kinds of stuff and the temperature dropped as low as 9°C. Definitely not the summer weather we should be having.

I called in at the Carrefour at Moulins to do a pile of shopping – some tins to take back to Belgium next weekend and also some food to eat while I’m down here. I can’t nibble away at Liz and Terry’s supplies.

My house is totally overgrown with weeds and the like and it was a struggle to get in there. I really must do something about that sometime (although I’m not sure when). I had a scrounge around and rescued all of the washing which I’ll do tomorrow and give it time to dry out before I go back. I’m going back to chez moi a couple of times during the week to tidy out Caliburn and get him organised for the next round of visits.

While I was there, I sorted out the post. No bank card yet, but there was a nasty bill that my insurance should have paid but it seems that they haven’t. On Monday, I’ll have to get on the case.

In St Gervais d’Auvergne I bought the last loaf of bread in France and then came back here narrowly avoiding squashing a team of motorcycle scramblers out for a run around, and then crashed out for a couple of hours (no surprise here).

For tea, I’ve had baked potatoes, baked beans and veggie-burgers and it was gorgeous. Now I’m going to crash out again and I hope that I’ll stay in bed until Monday. I need a good, solid uninterrupted sleep.

Thursday 22nd October 2015 – AND AFTER YESTERDAY’S MEGA-LIE-IN …

… it was gone 02:00 when I went to bed.

And consequently no-one was more surprised that me to be wide awake at 05:30 and up and about eating breakfast long before the alarm at 07:30.

But I know that I had been to sleep (even although it may not seem like it) because I was on my travels again. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that back in the Spring a local family from around here made a few unscheduled guest appearances in my nocturnal ramblings, and here they were again last night. Three of them – mum and dad sitting together on a double seat near the back of a bus in which I was a passenger (not a driver) and daughter on her own on a double seat in front. I was slowly working my way backwards so as to sit next to daughter but mum and dad dumped their coats on the empty seat to prevent me sitting there (they were certainly alive to what was going on) but as if a couple of coats were ever going to deter me. And subsequently, the bus sank (ohh yes they do, you know) and we were decanted into the ocean. Many people were saved, but not daughter, even though it was known from aerial reconnaissance that she was still alive and swimming 28 hours after the sinking.

What was bizarre about this is that in the water sequence, although I was in the water, I wasn’t there with me (if that makes sense). I was up in the air looking down on all of this going on, seeing myself in the water, seeing this daughter swimming and so on. It’s not actually the first time that I’ve witnessed myself from a detached (usually airborne) viewpoint but it’s rare enough to be noted.

And there’s definitely a mouse in the attic because I surprised it when I came up here. So I’ve had a good clean around in the attic but I can’t find it. I’ve sorted out a mousetrap and I shall get after it. And then I’ll have to work out how it entered the room.

I managed to get myself into gear today and I’ve completed the Additional Notes for the next version of Radio Anglais. Tomorrow I’m hoping to do something about a new topic (we need one for the next series of programmes) and then I’ll do the rock shows. I have up until Sunday afternoon to do all of this, but you’ll be surprised just how quickly time goes.

I had a parcel delivery too today, having to go out in the driving rain and hanging cloud to rescue it as the Chronopost driver lost his way. I’m not telling you what’s in it yet as I’m not sure ready to keep it until Christmas. It’s not as if I really need it yet but we shall see.

I’ve sorted out the mousetrap, as I said, and I’ve also sorted out the gas heater. There’s a broken element on the heater, right at the first position, and I can’t remove one of the others to replace it so I’ll have to try to do the best that I can. But at least I’ll be something like warm when I go to bed, and when I wake up too if I remember to switch it on.

Tuesday 20th October 2015 – IT SEEMS THAT …

… I might be getting back to normal now. I was awake at about 08:30 (although it was about 09:15 when I finally crawled out of bed). And I was greeted by a typical Auvergnat hanging cloud. It’s good to be back home, isn’t it?

But I wasn’t at home during the night. I was in the USA driving a school bus taking a pile of girls to their High School. And after I had dropped them off and I was checking my tachograph there was a shooting in the school and half of my schoolgirls were mown down. It was a very sad sight in the school. So I parked the bus up after my journey and caught the plane back home in the UK where I lived, arriving back in the early afternoon (there’s a lot to be said about this long-distance commuting to work, which is perfectly feasible when you are on another plane – if you pardon the pun). I told everyone what had happened, because of course I had beaten the newspapers back to the UK. Once that was over, Nerina and I took the caravan (one a couple of sizes bigger than we used to have) off somewhere in the driving rain and despite the caravan being absolutely ancient, it was still good nevertheless to hear the rain beating down on the roof and not leaking through to the inside.

So with breakfast out of the way I had another relaxing day not doing very much. I really do need to get myself into gear and get going on the work that I have to do. But I did have a very long e-mail to write to someone who has contacted me about a couple of problems he’s been having.

I’ve also signed up for a course of Higher Education. As long-term readers of this rubbish will know, I have a little hobby of messing about with a 3D animation program but I’m not much good at it. I’m on the mailing list of a couple of on-line universities and one of the courses proposed for the New Year is “Explore Animation” – a basic course of Computer-Aided Animation. With nothing much better to do, I’ve signed up for it and we’ll see what we shall see.

I’ve cooked tea tonight too. I’ve not had a full three meals per day for ages but today I managed it and about time too. Now I’m going to wash up and I’m off to bed to see where I’ll end up tonight.