Tag Archives: minnesota

Thursday 20th January 2022 – DAY THREE …

… of my enforced confinement was very much like Day Two; with very little of any kind of note happening at all.

And seeing as I’m not going anywhere, doing anything or seeing anyone is hardly any surprise.

Although I just about beat the alarm to my feet this morning, it was a dreadfully slow start. But there was a reason for that. I’m suffering from a lack of football and my thirst was satiated last night instead of going to bed early.

It’s the Scottish Cup at the weekend and Greenock Morton, a team in which I have an interest since I wrote a newspaper article about the club and its controversial chairman 20 years ago, have drawn Premier League opposition.

In the past, Morton have had four major acts of giant-killing and last night someone strung together a video of the highlights of those four matches and broadcast them on the internet. So I stayed up to watch them – videocam recordings of old 405-line transmissions in the good old days of steam-driven television.

And worth is just to watch ANDY RITCHIE’S MARVELLOUS GOAL that dumped Aberdeen, Alex Ferguson and all, out of the Scottish Cup.

Anyway, having struggled out of bed and having taken my medicine, I came back in here to see how things were with the dictaphone. There was something on there from last night – and about 20 things from the previous few nights. And you can tell how lightly I’m sleeping these days with the volume of stuff that’s on there. This is no deep, profound sleep that I’m having.

But never mind the dictaphone for the moment. I had other things that needed my attention.

As it happens, I’m a member of an organisation that is fighting to defend the SNCF from the onslaught of privatisation that the right wing of the political spectrum is fighting to impose on the rest of the country. And I happened to post a couple of messages relating to a couple of things that related directly to me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … “hooray” – ed … the organiser of the campaign asked me for dates and times. And that meant going through about 18 months’ worth of blog entries. They were relatively unimportant, minor things so I hadn’t tagged them and that explains the time that it took.

Perhaps I ought to mention in passing that my journal is tagged and indexed. I keep it as a diary and as a reminder because my memory is hopeless, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. I can sing any number of lyrics of songs from the 1960s and 70s totally word-perfect, but ask me what I was wanting when I walked into the kitchen 5 minutes ago …

It also serves other purposes too, as I have probably mentioned in the past.

Then I could turn my attention to where I’d been during the night. As it happened, Nerina and I had another one of our arguments. This time she had a friend with her and it was pretty permanent so she stormed off, leaving me with the business and the dry-cleaner’s to run. All the people wanted assurance that I’d still be open at 09:00 on a Wednesday. I replied “of course”. Then I realised that it was going to be difficult because there was going to be a bus run that I normally did but I didn’t return until 10:00 so I could see that I had about 2 days to organise a pile of changes to make sure that everyone else was happy and that they could have their dry-cleaning when they wanted but it wasn’t going to be easy.

After lunch (I remembered today) I carried on with the entries from yesterday and was actually planning on doing a lot more but I rather sadly fell asleep. And to my surprise, I was off on my travels there too. I was with my brother and someone else. I can’t remember why now but I had some work to do so I set myself up in a room in some kid of village hall place to do it and they wandered off. However I couldn’t settle and when someone came in – a big ugly-looking man rather like Jack Elam, I lost my concentration completely. I went out for a walk to settle myself down. There, I bumped into my brother and the other person. They were angry that I wasn’t working so I invented a story that I was looking for a torch. The third person said that he had one and went to fetch it and they accompanied me back to where I was working while I tried to invent a story as to why I needed the torch. When we arrived back where I was, my brother bumped into this strange man and let out a gasp of surprise and shock which awoke me.

Later on I went for tea. I’m not feeling very hungry right now but I have to go through the motions. There was some stuffing left over from Monday’s pepper so I had a taco roll with some rice.

Rosemary rang me up while I was eating so I called her back and we had a chat. But not for long because my throat gave out.

But the question of food was rather interesting. Last time that I was ill like this was when I was in Minnesota in July 2019 (in the days when we could travel) and I lost 10kg in weight. If I can lose even half of that during this bout of illness I’ll be happy with that and I’ll have gained something.

So now I’m off to bed – at … errr … 02:05. Just as I was thinking of going to bed earlier, Help Yourself came onto the playlist, followed by Quicksilver Messenger Service with the magnificent John Cipollina, Roxy Blue (a vastly underrated band who could have been another Aerosmith or Bon Jovi and whose lead guitarist is now a dentist), followed by Kate Bush. And that’s enough to keep anyone awake, for all kind sof different reasons.

But now that Kansas has come round, I’ll clear off to bed because we’ll end up next with Lone Star (another vastly underrated band featuring Paul “Tonka” Chapman, later of UFO and Jon Sloman, later of Uriah Heep) and I’ll be here all night.

See you in the morning.

Sunday 21st March 2021 – I WAS RIGHT …

naabsa fishing boats fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall… about this fishing boats breeding or multiplying or whatever.

We started off with one moored at the Fish Processing Plant and abandoned to go aground as the tide went out and yesterday we ended up with four of them. That was when I mused that they must be multiplying and it looks as if I’m right because today there’s a fourth one down there that is going to be marooned by the tide in half an hour’s time.

The Fish Processing Plant seems to be all closed up so that fourth one hasn’t come along to unload and in any case it’s leaving it rather late to move.

So what’s all going on there then?

ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo prizes for guessing what’s going on here, is there?

There probably isn’t anyone who, having seen the beautiful weather that we had yesterday, would believe that it would continue for the rest of the weekend so nobody should be in the last surprised by the fact that the weather has closed in again today. It’s gone cold and the fog and mist are closing in.

So much so that I’m glad that I missed almost half of today. I might have been awake at 08:30 but no danger whatever of me leaving my stinking pit at that time on a Sunday. 11:15 is a much more realistic time for me to show a leg.

After the medication I attacked the dictaphone. I always like to listen to where I’ve been during the night and, more importantly, who has come with me. Even though I’ve been starved of good, pleasant, charming and erudite company just recently, what goes on on my travels during the night is usually much more exciting than anything that happens during the day when I’m awake, sad as it is to say it.

But not last night. I would really like to have some financial stability and I had some money invested in a company called Global Marketing. I’d had a whole pile of information from them that I was busy going through when suddenly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not Sunak but someone else turned up on my door. He was telling me of all his bullish plans for this and that and I said quite frankly “I don’t believe very much of this at all”. he sat down, plugged in a tape recorder and played a speech back. I said “that’s you speaking, isn’t it?”. He replied “yes it is”. I replied that I’d be much more convinced if it was the EU or someone like that speaking to me. He noticed the paperwork and he went through it. “Is this what you’re doing in your retirement? organising items for these?” I asked “don’t you know who these people are?”. He replied “no. I’ve never seen them until I saw these papers” so I was about to tell him who they were when I awoke.

After I’d gathered my wits (which takes an awful lot longer than it ought to bearing the reduced amount of wits that I possess these days – but then I suppose that they have more empty space in which to roam around) I attacked the photos from July 2019.

By the time that I knocked off I’d arrived in East Forks, Minnesota, USA where I spent a couple of very ill days. However, I had had a little drive around Winnipeg and been to see MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE – or, at least, the house where she lived during her very short marriage.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my great grandparents emigrated to Canada in 1906 and my grandmother, who was a music hall singer, married a musician from Winnipeg in July 1918. Their marriage lasted barely 4 months as he died in the influenza epidemic in November 1918.

When my great grandfather died in 1923 (we went to SEE HIS GRAVE 20 YEARS AGO) my great grandmother returned to the UK bringing the unmarried children (including my grandmother) back with her.

The married children remained behind and that’s how come I have family in Montréal and Ottawa (and probably elsewhere too).

Anyway, you haven’t come here to hear all of that nonsense. It’s time that I was clearing off outside to see what was happening.

beach rue du nord plat gousset donville les bains Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAnd the answer to all of that was that down on the beach there was nothing happening at all. Just one or two people walking around there.

And as I said earlier, I can’t say that I blame them either. You can see by how dark it is down there, just how depressing the weather was this afternoon.

Dark, depressing and gloomy. But that’s enough about me – the weather was just as bad. The mist is closing in yet again and it wasn’t very nice at all so I shrugged my shoulders and set off at a pace around the headland while the going was good and before the weather became any worse.

lighthouse coastguard station semaphore pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallAs you can see, I wasn’t alone out there this afternoon. There were quite a few people walking around on the footpath this afternoon braving the weather.

And they needed to be brave too. Just now I mentioned that I needed to push on before the weather deteriorated even more and if you look to the right of this image you can see a rainstorm approaching rather rapidly and I didn’t want to be caught out there in all of that.

So I pushed along the path, across the lawn at the end by the lighthouse and then across the car park to the end of the headland. There was nothing whatever happening out to sea as far as I could see (and I couldn’t see very far at that) so I wandered off along the path on top of the cliff.

microlight ulm pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallYesterday we were having something of an aerial day seeing as the weather was something of a plane-spotter’s delight. But no such luck today. The thick clouds that we were having put a stop to that.

But we did have one of these microlight powered hang-glider things floating around over my head as I walked along the path so I took a photo of it as it went by overhead, but that was my lot. I wanted to be home before the rain arrived.

No change in occupancy in the chantier navale and we saw earlier the fishing boats at the Fish Processing Plant so with nothing else going on, I headed back home again for my coffee. There were plenty of things to do.

One of the things that needed doing was the baking for today.

There isn’t much bread left right now so I needed to make a loaf. But not a big one because I’m off on my travels on Wednesday and there’s no room in the freezer. So just a small one would have to do. Consequently, immediately after lunch I’d made up 250 grammes of flour into a dough – using the wrong flour as you might expect.

At the same time, I’d taken a lump of pizza dough out of the freezer and that had been thawing out during the afternoon.

When I returned from my walk I have the dough its second kneading and shaping and left it to proof again this time in its mould. Then I kneaded the pizza dough, rolled it out and put it on the pizza tray and left everything to proof.

While I was doing all of that I carried on with the Central Europe stuff. There’s now another day finished and IS NOW ON LINE. Just 3 more days to do now, but one of those days is the one where I ran aground in the first place all those weeks ago so that isn’t going to be easy.

By now the dough was all ready so I bunged the loaf in the oven and assembled the pizza. When the bread was done I put the pizza in the oven to cook.

home made bread vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallHere are the finished products. The loaf is small but it looks and feels quite good. As for my pizza, it was delicious yet again.

No pudding this week as I’m not here to eat it. I’ll be taking stuff out of the freezer for the next couple of days. There are plenty of frozen pies and so on in there that need finishing. It’ll make more room in there for other stuff.

While I was writing up my notes I was listening to music as usual. There are certain tracks that I can only listen to when I’m in the right mood to hear them and that, unfortunately, isn’t right now, for a whole variety of reasons with which I won’t bore you.

So of course, it goes without saying that Al Stewart’s MODERN TIMES came round on the playlist, didn’t it? Hard to think that I was working out the chords for this earlier in the week and I could play it then. But not today.

That’s because the track that came up on the playlist immediately before it was GRASSHOPPER by Man. What was I doing the night of 1st/2nd September 2019 that I can’t even now, 18 months later, bring myself to write about and which I probably never will.

One thing about it though and that was that I was never the same afterwards. Mind you, I was never the same beforehand so it doesn’t make very much difference anyway.

Anyway, on that note (well, we are talking about music) I’m off to bed. I need my beauty sleep of course, but I need much more than this. I have a radio programme to do and I’ve nothing prepared for it. And it’s a programme of fairly new stuff and thse ones are always the most difficult to write.

It won’t be an 11:15 finish tomorrow, that’s for sure.

Saturday 27th July 2019 – THAT WAS HORRIBLE!

Probably the worst day that I have had in quite some considerable time.

Remember me talking about that awful meal that I had last night? Well, it well-and-truly wreaked its revenge on me and has been doing so all day.

The surprising thing is that I managed to do as much as I did and drive as far as I did without once soiling my armour, thanks to a judicious series of pit-stops at appropriate moments.

In fact, it was identical in every respect to my stay in Verdun two and a half years ago. But knowing now what to expect, I rode it out and refused to worry myself about it.

To spare your blushes, I shan’t go into any gory details. After all, you are probably eating your lunch right now. I’ll just say that I was awake at about 05:45, 15 minutes or so before the alarm, and I was first taken by surprise about 10 minutes later.

And so the story went on. Trying to pack my suitcase while being interrupted by a dash to the bathroom or to the waste-paper bin which I had conveniently stuffed with tissues.

Eventually I felt up to leaving and took the shuttle bus to the airport to pick up my car – a lime green Kia Soul (or Key Asshole as they are known around here).

It took an age to fathom out how it locked and unlocked and I couldn’t figure out the boot at all so everything went in via the side door.

First stop was a Walmart to buy water and drink and so on, and for a pit-stop. I couldn’t find any caffeine-based energy drinks but there were plenty of vitamin drinks and some grapefruit-flavoured sparking water, as well as 3 litres of plain water. The temperature was soaring and this was 11:00. Heaven alone knows what it’s going to be like later on in the afternoon. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Bulk Barn across the way failed to come up with my mint sweets, so I pushed on to look for the sites that related to my grandmother, Ivy Cooper.

The church where she had married in July 1918 was now a hole in the ground but I had more luck with the house where she lived – or where her parents-in-law lived.

That’s in Lewis Street, next to Clarke Street for the benefit of historians here, and is still standing – a narrow detached house of the period that extends a long way back with what looks like a second house built on behind. It’s in rather poor condition these days but it must have been magnificent 100 years ago.

Elmwood cemetery where her first husband is buried – finding it was one thing and finding the entrance was quite another – I must have done a lap all the way around Winnipeg to reach it. The Red River running right near the back of it didn’t help much.

I had a rough idea where his grave is, but the office was closed and I wasn’t up to walking very far, so I’ll have to come back again when hopefully I’ll be feeling better.

The Allen Theatre where she performed, even after the death of her husband which shows that she was still visiting the town at least, is still there. It’s now the Winnipeg Met. Parking was difficult there so I didn’t stop. I’ll have to come back here too.

So with that done, I headed south on my travels.But I hadn’t gone far before a “medical emergency” forced me to pull up at the side of the road. And then a pit stop.

Regular pit-stops were the order of the day and luckily my route south was lined with appropriate places. Even those in the the border post where I crossed into the Great Satan received a visit from me

On the subject of border crossings, this one here was probably one of the most pleasant that I’ve ever had in crossing into the USA and if they were all like that it would make my life so much easier.

There were plenty of things that I would have liked to have stopped and photographed on my way here but I was in no condition to go running around like that. In the end I crashed out for half an hour (in easy reach of a washroom) and that didn’t make me feel any easier at all.

Eventually I found my motel. The Plaza Inn in East Grand Forks, across the river from North Dakota in Minnesota. Two more states crossed off my list.

It’s blindingly hot so I was glad to call it a day.

The motel itself is cheap and tatty, but then so am I. It’s clean and comfortable which is more than I am and despite it being only 18:00 I’m crashing out.

I’m not well and I know it. But I’ve been here before and I know that it will improve at some point so I’ll have to grin and bear it. The toilet works and there’s a waste bin by the bed and that’s all that I’m interested in for now.

Saturday 19th September 2015 – SOMEONE IS ON A POWER TRIP …

canada new brunswick fredericton police blocking road suspicious package bomb harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015 … and, just for a change, I’m not talking about the farces of Law and Order either.
What we have here is a “suspicious package” in the middle of the festival, and everywhere is cordoned off by the police.

But what we do have is two of the Festival volunteers, pushing (and I DO mean pushing) people out of the way, yelling at everyone, and generally being on a major control freak exercise. I asked them what was going on and they told me that it’s “a police incident”. And so when I asked what kind of “incident” I was told that it was nothing to do with me.

And when I asked them how come, as festival employees, they were dealing with a “police incident”, they walked away. And so when I asked them if I could ask another question, one of them replied “yes, I DO mind. I’m not answering”, and carried on walking away.

canada new brunswick fredericton police blocking road suspicious package harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015And so I went 20 yards further on to a police officer, who made a full and complete statement without any inhibitions, even telling me that “no-one is taking it very seriously but we have to check it out just the same”.

But this kind of behaviour by festival employees, assaulting members of the public (because pushing someone is an assault of course and had it been me on the receiving end of it then the matter would not have rested there), being aggressive and abandoning their festival duties in order to go on a major power trip is something that is inevitably going to have repercussions as far as the festival is concerned.

And not only that, on the main street I counted at least two other “acts” that included backing tapes. Whatever is the festival coming to, that it is abandoning the principles under which it was founded?

canada new brunswick fredericton steve hill montreal harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015If you are a solo performer and need more than just a guitar, then this is exactly how you do it.

This is a guy from Montreal called Steve Hill and he’s playing guitar and singing. And not only that, if you have a closer look at the photo you’ll see that he has a bass drum, another drum, a hi-hat, a tambourine and a set of cymbals, that he plays by hitting them with some kind of extension fastened to his guitar.

canada new brunswick fredericton steve hill montreal harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015He had another guitar too, and that had a maracca attached to the end as well so he could shake his maraccas during the performance.

I was amazed to see that he didn’t have a mouth-truss and a gob-iron, which was what I would have expected to see in a solo performer, and I did have a little muse to myself that had he had a really good plate of baked beans for lunch he could have played the trumpet too.

But I’m a big fan of one-man shows and I have appeared in several, but these were usually named after the size of the audience.

canada new brunswick fredericton steve hill montreal harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015But joking apart, I do have to say that I really enjoyed his performance. He was certainly a very competent performer and he had quite a good voice too.

This is what being a solo performer is all about. Using backing tapes and the like is selling the public, and the festival, short.

canada new brunswick fredericton oland monteith nackawic harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Talking of mouth trusses and gob-irons, this is what I mean.

This is a guy called Oland Monteith and he comes from up the road in Nackawic, and he is an excellent representation of what the festival is all about – the old man sitting on the porch with the guitar and mouth organ singing the blues – in this case the Folsom Prison Blues.

canada new brunswick fredericton oland monteith nackawic harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015You might – or might not – have realised this, but this is the FIRST real old-man blues act that we have seen at the festival. And by the time that the festival had finished, this was the only one that I had encountered.

What a let-down from the days when I first came to the festival and we had raft after raft of old men singing the blues. Of course, I’ve not had the blues for years – ever since I started on the Prozac of course.

canada new brunswick fredericton north mississippi allstars harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015As for other unusual acts, how about this one?

This is the North Mississippi Allstars and if you look very carefully at the stage and the musicians, you will notice that they have one singer-guitarist and two drummers.

And that’s your lot.

canada new brunswick fredericton north mississippi allstars harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015You might think that the sound that they would be able to create would be rather limited, but nothing could be further from the truth.

They managed to put in a “complete” performance that certainly sounded as if there was nothing missing from the show, and it all went down rather well. Much better than I had expected.

And with all of the above, just WHY do you need backing tapes? And just WHY are you allowed to get away with it at the festival?

And so this morning I was up quite nice and early and had plenty of time to have breakfast and do the paperwork from yesterday without any interruptions.

But I did have an interruption while I was driving into town. However, this was something of a quite welcome interruption. You may remember that I’d sent a note backstage to Ross Neilsen during his performance yesterday, And this was him, ringing me back.

We had quite a lengthy chat, and the result of this is that he will indeed do something for Radio Anglais and that can only be good news. If what he sends me is as powerful as what he performed yesterday then our listeners really will enjoy themselves.

That’s not all either. At a Charity Shop, Strawberry Moose made a few new friends – a couple of girls aged about 8 or 9 were very keen to make his acquaintance while I was having a long chat with their mother.

canada new brunswick fredericton greensky bluegrass harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015And so to the music.

We’ve already seen a couple of acts, right out of running order. The first band that we actually encountered, in strict running order, was Greensky Bluegrass. They come from that well-known haunt of legendary bluegrass music … errr … Minnesota.

canada new brunswick fredericton greensky bluegrass harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Bluegrass is a long way from being my favourite style of music as you all very well know, but good music is good music, no matter what it is and where it comes from.

But this bluegrass music was so astonishingly good that I doubt if I’ve ever in all my life had a better time at this kind of concert

canada new brunswick fredericton greensky bluegrass harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015We media-types are only allowed to be there for the first three numbers but I was there for probably three quarters of an hour because one of their numbers seemed to go on for ever.

Not that I minded, of course. I could have stayed there all night and listened to them, if I hadn’t had so many other things to be dealing with.

canada new brunswick fredericton greensky bluegrass harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015There were five musicians on stage – and no drummer, which they didn’t need anyway because the guy on the upright bass was a stunning performer who kept perfect time.

They aren’t really suitable for a performance on Radio Anglais unfortunately, but I’ll be checking them out when I return home to see what else they can come up with.

canada new brunswick fredericton yukon blonde harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015On my way to my next venue I passed by the Barracks Tent. There was no performance scheduled for there, but there was certainly something going on.

One of the benefits of my media pass is to be able to enter venues when they are officially closed, and so I went in to investigate, and found myself face-to-face with Yukon Blonde doing a sound check.

canada new brunswick fredericton yukon blonde harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Yukon blonde’s bassist, as well as being a left-hooker, comes from the UK, which was evident when he shouted across the stage “there’s something the ma”er with your speaker” – not a trace of a ‘t’ between two vowels. I hope that he doesn’t sing like this.

But that apart, they were quite a good group too.

canada new brunswick fredericton yukon blonde harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015I doubted very much that I would be around for their act, seeing as it was timed for 23:00, long after my bed-time, and so I stayed around for the entire sound check.

And it wasn’t a wasted experience either because, as I said, they put out quite a good performance even if it was only a simple sound-check. A shame that their set wasn’t timed for earlier.

canada new brunswick fredericton raoul and the big time harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Down at the Mojo Tent, Raoul and the Big Time were due to come on stage and so I needed to get a move on if I wanted to catch the act.

This looked like something out of the 1950s, what with the shiny grey suit and pork-pie hat, and this was indeed what we got. Appearances were certainly not deceptive in this case.

canada new brunswick fredericton raoul and the big time harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Despite the presence of the mouth organ, this was another very good, competent performance.

It seems that Raoul, whoever he is, is something of a well-known performer on the music stage although I have to admit to never having heard him before. And to be honest, it wasn’t my cup of tea and so I wandered off elsewhere.

“Elsewhere” turned out to be tea. There was quite a big gap between the next performances and so I went off to find some food.

We’re overwhelmed by food stalls this year and vegan food is quite popular. Tonight I had 6 hot-vegetable samosas, for $7:00 – and they were totally delicious – and very filling too. I’m doing well for food at the festival and, to my surprise, it’s not as expensive as it might have been.

canada new brunswick fredericton amy helm and the handsome strangers harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015My wanderings took me back at the Mojo Tent (we’ve seen the photos of Steve Hill in the Blues Tent earlier) where Amy Helm and the Handsome Strangers was the next act.

Now let’s forget the music for a moment – let’s talk about Amy Helm, because she was well-worth talking about. She’s someone else of whom I hadn’t heard before, and so I went off to make enquiries.

canada new brunswick fredericton amy helm and the handsome strangers harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015
It turns out that she’s the daughter of Levon Helm who for many years was a member of the band “The Hawks”, which later became “The Band” and backed Bob Dylan during his “rock” phases and went on to have successes of their own.

This was another act that wasn’t really up my street as far as the music went, but there was no doubting the quality of the music, and no doubting the quality of the performance either, because Amy Helm really knew how to put on a show.

She was an entertainer from start to finish and not only that, she clearly had the air of thoroughly enjoying herself on stage.

canada new brunswick fredericton rah rah saskatchewan harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015At the Barracks Tent, I went to see a band called Rah Rah, who come from Saskatchewan apparently.

They were a five-piece band featuring a guitarist-vocalist, a bassist, a violinist, a drummer and a keyboard player who doubled on guitar too, and they produced quite a powerful act that I enjoyed very much.

canada new brunswick fredericton rah rah saskatchewan harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015The sound mix was all wrong however and I couldn’t hear half of the instruments, although that’s not surprising for us in the media pit at the front of the stage.

I was disappointed not to be able to hear the violin though, and I shall have to go around for a fiddle with the violinist later.

canada new brunswick fredericton Waylon Thibodeaux harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015Final act that I caught was back at the Mojo Tent where Waylon Thibodeaux took to the stage.

He’s a ‘cajun from down Louisiana way, and he and his back-up band played just like it too. It didn’t bother me too much because this kind of music is the kind that you can listen to anywhere on any occasion

canada new brunswick fredericton Waylon Thibodeaux harvest jazz and blues festival September 2015And if it’s played in the right kind of spirit with performers who enjoy what they are doing and are able to communicate with the audience, it’s usually a rip-roaring night.

And so this was what we got – a thoroughly enjoyable evening with a good bunch of performers and a lively crowd.

But I didn’t hang around too long. It’s my last night and I want to have an early night as I’m back on the road tomorrow. But today, I had a pile of interesting chats, including one with a cameraman from CBC and another with a young guy at the Rah Rah concert, to name but two.

It makes the time pass so much quicker and make things so much more interesting.

But I’m disappointed to see that the traditional “old-man blues” is no longer popular at the festival. For me, that’s what blues is all about and to legislate it out of the festival is a very sad thing as far as I am concerned.

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.

Thursday 11th November 2010 – I’M BACK …

… on the road again and tonight will be my last night in North America.

This morning was rather confused though. According to Casey’s temperature gauge its 14°C outside – yet again!

This gives the lie to this idea about severe winters out here in Freezing Cold Canada doesn’t it? it’s flaming mid-November – what is the weather like in France … "it’s just as " – ed.

Mind you it’s below freezing and its snowing in Labrador.

I have just seen now on the other carriageway of this highway – heading in the direction of Windsor a vehicle that I am absolutely convinced is one of the big Fiat 125s.

If it is, and I cant think what else it could be, it gives a lie to the old story about “Fix It Again, Tony”, doesn’t it?

And quite a bit later somewhere on the road to Niagara Falls I saw an XKE – an E-type Jaguar – heading towards me. This was one of the late-model hard-top coupé version, and when was the last time that I ever saw one of those?

It wasn’t a convertible, though. And when was the last time I saw one of those?

And it was round about this point that I remembered that I had forgotten to take a photograph of the Ambassador Motel where I’ve been staying just now. I’m not doing so well, am I?

My road took me towards Hamilton and the airport there. And, more precisely, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum based at the airport.

bristol fairchild bolingbroke canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaThe Museum tells us that its mission is “To acquire, document, preserve and maintain, a complete collection of aircraft that were flown by Canadians and the Canadian military services from the beginning of World War II to the present …”

Such as this Bristol-Fairchild Bolingbroke, which we Europeans know much better as a Bristol Blenheim.

This is a reconnaissance version, as you can tell by its elongated snout.

bristol fairchild bolingbroke canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaWhen I say that this is “a” Bristol-Fairchild Bolingbroke, I’m being somewhat economical with the truth. It is in fact “many” Bristol Bolingbrokes.

When they were taken out of service they were sold off for scrap and the shells were very popular with farmers as chicken coops and the like.

Even today, you can still find them on farms and in scrapyards, and a total of eight of these “wrecks” have gone into assembling this one.

supermarine spitfire Mk 16 canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaNo prizes for guessing what this one is.

It is of course a Supermarine Spitfire, and the cockpit and a few other bits and pieces tell you that it’s a late-model one too.

As I suspected, it is indeed a late-model – a Mark XVI from April 1945 but which never saw actual combat.

douglas dakota dc3 canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaAnother aeroplane in here that never saw combat – although it certainly was old enough to do so, is this one.

Again, no prizes for guessing what this aeroplane is. It’s a Douglas DC3 – the legendary Dakota.

It’s always been a civilian aircraft – not a converted C47 “Skytrain” like so many were. She first flew in 1939 and spent the war years flying for Eastern Airlines.

westland lysander canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaNow here’s an aeroplane that I’ve been looking forward to seeing.

It’s a Westland Lysander and you may be surprised to learn that I’ve never seen one of these “in the flesh” before.

Built for an Army Co-operation role, there was a mix-up over the specifications and it turned out to be totally unsuited to the task.

canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaHowever, its slow speed (stalling at only 65 mph), very short take-off and landing requirement and rather spacious interior soon found the aeroplane ideally suited for another role.

These were the planes that, painted black, used to fly out in the dead of night to land in lonely fields deep in Occupied Europe.

There, they would put down Resistance leaders, bring in supplies and pick up evading or escaping airmen and the like

north american mitchell b25 bomber canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaHere’s another fine example of military aviation – the very-much unsung B25 Mitchell Bomber.

Not very successful against front-line German fighter opposition, their deployment was much more common in the Pacific and Mitchells were the first Allied aeroplanes to drop bombs on mainland Japan.

This one didn’t though – it wasn’t built until 1945 and so missed the war. It was discovered on a airfield in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1975, patched up, and flew in to Hamilton under its own steam for a programme of restoration.

fairey firefly canadian warplane heritage museum hamilton ontario canadaI reckoned that this was a Fairey Fleet Air-Arm machine but wasnt sure quite what it was. Subsequent enquiries revealed that it’s a Fairey Firefly.

These were carrier-based fighters (hence the fold-up wings) and were two-seaters. They carried a navigator because it’s much more difficult to concentrate on navigation over the sea – with no reference points or landmarks that a pilot might immediately recognise.

Although dating from 1943, this one is a “peacetime” 1951 model and comes from Australia.

Loads of other aeroplanes here, but there was only really one that I was interested in seeing of course.

air museum hamilton ontario canada avro lancasterThe museum is the proud possessor of one of the very few remaining Avro Lancasters – and furthermore one of the only three that still flies.

My interest though was from another point of view entirely. I blagged my way in to see the assistant-director of the museum with the express purpose of talking to her about KB882.

Her response was frightening. “Ohhh – we could use it as spares for ours!”

air museum hamilton ontario canada avro lancasterThat is what I call sinister and that will be an even worse fate than that which it is currently experiencing. I rather wish that I hadn’t said anything now.

Don’t forget – KB882 flew over Germany on wartime missions – it has far more history than the one here.

I’m coming round more and more to the conclusion that the only hope for the future for KB882 is that if I put my money where my mouth is and buy it myself.

air museum hamilton ontario canada avro lancaster flight deck controlsI went off to seethe … "is this a typing error or a Freudian slip?" – ed … aeroplane and had a wander around inside it and a sit at the controls.

That has to be one of the highlights of the voyage.

It cheered me up a little – but only a little. I was definitely shocked to the core.

air museum hamilton ontario canada avro lancaster upper gunnerI actually felt quite sorry for the poor people who spent all of their air-time crouched over these guns.

It can’t have been very pleasant for anyone to have sat here behind your twin .303s watching someone with a couple of 0.5mm cannon and a barrage of 8x.303s coming swooping down towards you and knowing that you might as well just throw stones at them for all the good that your defensive armament will do.

air museum hamilton ontario canada avro lancaster tail gunnerbut the position which no-one wanted to occupy – unless he was a complete psycopath – was the rear gunner.

Night-fighters did most of their stalking from the rear and it’s inevitable that the rear of the Lancaster is going to be the first aiming point of the night fighter.

I don’t care what anyone says, the Mark I eyeball was never as good as the Lichtenstein radar carried by the nightfighters and the first warning that the rear gunner received was a fusillade of cannon shells and machine-gun bullets.

air museum hamilton ontario canada avro lancaster bomb bayThe museum was in a hurry to close (have I been here THAT long?) but I had just enough time to stick my head inside the bomb bay.

Just imagine one of Barnes Wallis’ Bouncing Bombs or 10-tonne “Grand Slams” stuck up there!

But I had to go. So much more that I wanted to see too but here they were, throwing me out.

But what a place it is, though. A museum curator who “knows the price of everything but the value of nothing” – that’s a harrowing thought.

Makes me wonder what else have they cut up at that museum that they are keeping quiet about?

And now for my last night in North America, which I’m at Fort Erie.

peace bridge buffalo new york usa fort erie canada Port Erie is just like Windsor – a Canadian city with a big American City just across the River Niagara there.

That’s Buffalo over there, and we’ve been there before – and it seems like 100 years ago now.

But here we have a railway museum, the start of the Welland Canal (that enables ships to by-pass the Niagara Falls) and a few other things too;

peace bridge buffalo new york usa fort erie canadaLike a big bridge – the Peace bridge of 1927 in fact.

Named to celebrate 100 years of peace between the USA and Canada, construction started in 1925 and was opened to the public on 1st June 1927.

At the time, it was the only bridge between Niagara Falls and Minnesota across the Canada-USA border that could take road-going vehicles.

peace bridge buffalo new york usa fort erie canadaAs you admire the colour changes, let me tell you that the bridge is built of 9800 tons of steel – of which 9,000 tons is in the structure and 800 tons as reinforcement in the concrete.

Altogether, it’s 5800 feet long, which is about 1.1 miles in real money and it spans a river where the average current is about 10 mph.

That’s actually quite a speed for a river.

canadian customs facilities peace bridge buffalo new york usa fort erie canadaSome of the most spectacular Canadian customs facilites are here too. That building down there never dates from 1927 – I promise you that!

It incorporates the toll plaza apparently and dates from 2005. There are 14 lanes for cars and special facilities for lorries, of which over 4,000 pass through every day.

As a result, the facilities are often overwhelmed and there is talk of some kind of pre-clearance facility similar to the European TIR idea.

I found a motel at a reasonable price and I put a tin of beans in the slow cooker before I went on my ramble.

On the way back I went to look for some chips to have with them but would you believe … in the whole of this town near where I’m staying where there are three or four fast-food places, there’s not a six of chips in sight.

And so I sulked off for an early night.

I’m off to Toronto where my aeroplane will await me at 20:50. And I’m already depressed about leaving Canada. I shall be inconsolable by the time I get back to Europe.