Tag Archives: walmart

Tuesday 20th October 2020 – AFTER ALL …

… of the exertions over the last few days I failed miserably this morning.

Never mind the third alarm – it was 07:20 when I left the bed – more than an hour of the day wasted.

And when I listened to the dictaphone I recoiled somewhat too. All of these notes to transcribe. I was running the taxis and there was Doreen, Nerina and mme running the taxis on Saturday night. A job came in to go somewhere way up north and I Do mean way up north. In the end they decided that I should go, and go on a motorbike and that some other driver should come in. I went on my motorbike all the way up to the far north of Scotland to drop off this package and came all the way back. By now it was starting to get light next morning. I’d arranged to pick up Percy Penguin up after work so I guessed that she would still be asleep in her shop. I tried to ring her but my mobile phone wouldn’t work so I just went on round there anyway and she let me in. By now she had transformed into an old black woman who was going to come home with me to the taxi office. She had a couple of big bags of shopping and it ended up with me having to carry them. I was pretty much weighed down. When I got home Doreen was still there. She said that she was glad that she sent me on the motorbike because they’d been really busy throughout the night and had a really good night working non-stop. I had a quick glance through the sheets and saw that there was some ROF work there. I thought “did we have a contract with ROF these days? We used to”. She said “oh no, that’s some tuition that Nerina and I have been doing. We’ve been teaching some people from there”. Later on I was walking home through the streets of Brussels. There was a motorbike shop. It was pretty late at night/early in the morning type of going home but this place was open so I went in. I had a little sit on a Honda 50, a play-around and it transformed itself into a big motorbike. We ended up a group of us talking about motorbikes. Someone prepared some kind of soup and someone drank it. But someone warned “no, no, don’t drink that soup” but she drank it and transformed into soe kind of evil persona. We had to be very careful about what we’d do. But then a couple there said to another woman “come on, we have to go down to the Isle of Thanet to do something”. So they took her away. When she came back she was about 12 feet tall and her upper part was like a metal rod with a metallic design like a hollow shield for a head and also quite evil. It turned out that almost every one of these people had been transformed into some kind of evil thing through a drink or through a soup. So I started throwing the soup on the floor and drinks on the floor to break the bottles so they wouldn’t have to drink it but these people were laughing saying “Oh God it’s far too late now. You’re all going to be absorbed”. It led to a bit of a chase around this place. There was something too about a cake in an oven. I was eating a cake, the type of fruit loaf bread that I make. Meantime I was putting something else in the oven. People were wondering about that and having a laugh but someone else said “Eric? Ohh yes he really does bake and his baking is really quite good” which shut a few people up. But this battle thing with these weird people carried on until in the end there was only me and I couldn’t find anyone else who was sane. It was going to be a really stressful kind of situation. It’s no wonder that I awoke in a feverish sweat yet again.

But there was much more to it but I can’t remember any more now. And after all of that it’s probably just as well.

It left little time for any revision of my Welsh and as a result the lesson was something of a disaster. And I wasn’t the only one either. We were given part of a sample test paper for our exam and we all made a right mess of it. Mind you, we went 1 hour 50 minutes before we stopped for a break and my head had long-since turned to jelly by then.

Mind you, that’s not a surprise. There’s something – and someone – on my mind today. And it brings back memories of three late night evenings in, of all places, on the deck of a ship in the High Arctic where I changed the habits of a lifetime.

As Kris Kristofferson once wrote, “I’ll give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday”. And I will too!

But enough of my being all maudlin now of all moments. I won’t get anywhere dwelling on the past like this.

At lunch I finished off the last of the bread and the last of the hummus so it looks as it it’s going to be another food-making day too tomorrow morning. One thing that has also finished a long while ago is the ginger and lemon drink. That’ll have to be something else on the list too.

This afternoon I’ve had an exciting task.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I bought a new computer in something of a hurry in North Dakota last August when the little travelling Acer gave up the ghost. It was a sale item from Walmart heavily reduced but it came with Walmart’s splash screen and everything else on it that annoyed me but which I didn’t have the time right them to fix.

As I went along, I patched it here and there but it still wasn’t satisfactory so being fed up and having nothing better to do I did a “system restore” to “factory settings” and that involved deleting everything off the hard drive and starting again to reinstall everything.

And when I say “reinstall”, I say that advisedly because after about 6 hours of work it’s done about 88% of the operating system, never mind anything else.

repairing roof rue st jean Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn the middle of all of this, while the computer was festering away, I went out for my afternoon walk.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago in the Place du parvis Notre Dame we saw them set up a series of scaffolding in order to repair a roof on a house there. Today, they are attacking the side of the house that’s in the Rue St Jean.

And they aren’t using any scaffolding either apparently down the side of the house. All of the material seems to be being lifted up by the big machine there and that’s going to cause a few problems if something big comes down there.

Wednesday and Thursday we’ve been promised storm-force winds here (as seems to be usual these days). I don’t fancy being up there on a roof when they are lashing about. And I don’t fancy walking underneath where the guys are working either when there’s a wind blowing all of their stuff away.

peche a pied Plat Gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallThere were crowds of people wandering around today taking in the air and I ended up chatting to one of my neighbours at the viewpoint in the Rue du Nord.

After he had gone I had a look down onto the beach to see what was going on. The peche à pied is still in full swing as far as the tourists go. There were several more out there in amongst the rocks scavenging for what they could find.

As well as that, we had people milling around, walking their dogs, playing sports or even just taking in the air. After all, although the weather was cold and windy, it wasn’t unpleasant.

Marité Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallThe crowd had thinned out by the time that I reached the Square Maurice Marland so I had a good run across to the other side to rack up a bonus run.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that yesterday the harbour was empty – of water and of boats. Today though we have the water back, and also the boats. Marité has returned and is moored in her little corner again.

So I carried on along the walls and as there was no-one in the street I ran on home again. I may as well clock up some extra metres on my way around when I can.

Back here I carried on with the laptop and then had a break when Rosemary rang me up. While I was in the Auvergne in July I had set “certain steps” in motion and, much to my surprise, they had actually come to fruition . That means some more outlay and I have to do it because it involves several other people.

Tea tonight was veggie balls with steamed veg and vegan cheese sauce – thoroughly delicious. And the other half of my apple turnover was even better. It’s the best one that I have ever made and I’m really impressed with that.

Trawler English Channel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallMy walk this evening was something of a surprise.

Well, not my walk, but my run. I was feeling much more like it tonight, much looser, and I ran on past my mark on my first leg with some comparative ease. Down to the clifftop and there was a trawler way out to sea with its bright lights blazing. Too good an opportunity to miss even though it won’t come out well.

It’s probably 5 miles out to sea as well so all in ill it’s not bad at all seeing as it was the f1.8 50mm lens. I’ll settle for that.

Fishing Boats Unloading Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallNo-one around at all, except for a couple of kids on the car park so I could do my third leg in peace.

At the viewpoint over the harbour where I stop to recover my breath, I could see all of the activity going on at the Fish Processing Plant. The fishing boats are starting to come back into harbour and there were already two of them down there unloading, with a couple more on the way.

One had carried on into the harbour but I missed her. Presumably she’s going to unload at the other side. But never mind. This one has come out OK so I’m not disappointed.

Chantier Navale Port de Granville Harbour Manche Normandy France Eric HallIf I turn my head to the right I can also see into the Chantier Navale.

And here we have a change of occupant yet again. The new little boat that arrived a couple of days ago has now gone but we have been joined instead by a large yacht that bears a striking similarity at this angle to Spirit of Conrad, the boat on which we went down the coast a few months ago.

Of course in this light, it’s not possible to say with any certainty. I’ll have to wait until it’s light and have another look.

And so I ran on the rest of the way home, doing it in two legs as usual but even did an additional lap of honour round the building to push up the total even more.

Now that my notes are written and I’m off to bed. But before I do, just a quick “hi” to someone who made a dramatic reappearance this morning. I’ll be in touch as soon as I can organise myself, whenever that might be.

Friday 20th September 2019 – I’VE HAD A …

… bad day today.

Back here in mid-afternoon with nothing accomplished of what I had hoped to do, crashed out on the bed where I stayed for about three hours.

My exertions of the drive up from New Brunswick and the day spent walking around the city yesterday took their toll on me today.

And it all started off so good too. Four sound files dictated on the dictaphone during the night. And one of them – the last one – is of particular interest because it steps me back right into the exact spot where I left an earlier nocturnal voyage. And not the previous one, or even another one of last night’s journeys, but one from a couple of nights ago which I had briefly mentioned at the time.

And did I get the girl? Not ‘arf I did! Not quite with the same intensity of that which occurred to the well-known inmate of a certain religious establishment situated in a province of the modern-day Czech Republic but it was pretty damned near. What wouldn’t I have given for another 15 minutes of sleep on that occasion?

As I have said before, and on many previous occasions too, the life that I lead when I’m off on one of my nocturnal voyages is much more interesting and exciting than any kind of life that I have led in the real world and I wish that I could stay in that state rather permanently. In fact, several of my friends would certainly offer to help me in this respect.

Despite the alarms it was a struggle to leave the bed as I desperately tried to go back to sleep to carry on where I had left off, but to no avail unfortunately. So I left the bed and did a few things around here that needed doing.

At 10:00 I went off to find an adapter for the camera charger. And the price of carelessness and thoughtlessness worked out at just over $20:00 at Walmart. As I have said, I don’t ever make mistakes. I just learn some very expensive lessons.

The housekeeper chased me out of my room at midday which was just as well as the camera battery was now properly charged, and I took the metro to the Andrignon Metro terminus – the last terminus I had to visit on my tour around the Montreal Metro.

With it being a beautiful day I had a good walk around and eventually found a supermarket where a couple of bread rolls, a couple of tomatoes and a tub of hummus (on special offer) fell into my sweaty little mitt for lunch.

I took my supplies down to the Parc Andrignon and sat on the grass by the lake watching the ducks and feeding my face. A little walk afterwards and that was when I crashed. Not an ordinary tiredness but one of these deep intense ones that I have every now and again and which I haven’t had for a while.

These days I can recognise the symptoms so I fought them off as best as I could (which wasn’t very efficient) and caught the metro back here. And here I crashed out for three hours. Totally and completely. And I haven’t done anything of what I really intended to do.

Later on I took the Metro back to town. I wasn’t all that hungry – just a little snack would see me right. I alighted at the Baudry Metro station and walked along the rue St Catherine Est to see what was going on. There seems to be a new Mexican restaurant, the Tacos Frida, open and it served snacks too so I went in to have a try. I’ve had better food than this, but I’ve also had worse, and the price was quite realistic, which is important.

Mind you, their idea of piquant and mine are quite remarkably different.

The journey back was not without its moments, due mainly that the Papineau Metro Station does not have an entrance in the rue Papineau but in another one and that confused me for a while.

No Epinette in the supermarket next door now. I had the last bottle.

Now I’m making plans to move on. Fate awaits me tomorrow as I shall head off further west to Ottawa. “Travelling Eternity Road – what shall I find there?”, as the Moody Blues once sang. It’s been a while since I was in Ottawa but this time it’s not for tourism. I have other reasons to be there and I need to be on my best behaviour.

But let’s go to sleep first. Who knows where I’ll end up tonight? I imagine that my phantom reader from Celbridge in Ireland is gripping the edge of his seat in eager anticipation.

Saturday 14th September 2019 – FOR THE FIRST …

… time in I don’t know how long (you can scroll back for yourself to see) I actually had a decent night’s sleep last night.

In bed by about 22:30, on the internet for a short while, and then away with the fairies.

A brief awakening and a trip down to corridor at some point during the night (I’ll have to cut out these evening tea-drinking sessions with Rachel) and that was that until the alarm went.

A look on the dictaphone showed me that there are two tracks on there that weren’t on there when I went to bed so clearly I had been on my travels during the night. But as for when and where and who with, you’ll have to wait until I find the time to transcribe them.

For a change I was up and about quite early which was just as well because I had work to do. Rachel had a stall at a craft fair at the ice rink so I went along to carry her stuff and mind the stall.

And among the interesting things to take place there was a woman from the Netherlands so I spent a good few minutes talking in Dutch (well, Flemish in my case) to her. I’m back in Leuven shortly for a blood transfusion so I need to keep up with my Flemish and practise it when I can.

We were hit by a torrential rainstorm, as I discovered when we went to reload the cars afterwards. A really miserable day in fact.

Strider and I went on down to Woodstock afterwards to Sobeys for some more shopping. By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong so it was rather crowded in his cab but we managed. And now we have enough food to make vegan pies and pizza as well as piles of other stuff – including some mixed fruit vegan sorbet.

Back home I crashed out for an hour or so and then made a lentil, pepper and mushroom spaghetti for the two of us vegans here. I made some home-made vegan garlic bread too, so our little visitor can’t complain that we are starving her.

Later that evening the two young girls went off to a friend’s for a sleepover, and Darren and Rachel had visitors over. Consequently I’m in my room working and playing guitar.

And I’m in luck! Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I bought this laptop it had the stupid Walmart IPOS splash screen on it that I was unable to move and Walmart was of no help.

You might recall that I was in BIOS mode the other day, so this evening I had another look deep into the bowels of the computer and, sure enough, the password that controls it is only recognised and functioning on the Windows interface.

Consequently, in BIOS mode, I could simply delete it without needing to know the password. Well, delete a few of the more important files such as the password files and then go back into Windows and use the “uninstall” function to remove the rest.

And it seems to have done the trick too, which is a big surprise to everyone, not just me. Anyone care to guess why the “techies” at Walmart couldn’t tell me that?

Tomorrow Strider and I have a settee to move for Zoe so, for a Sunday, it will be an early start. I’m hoping for a good sleep so that I’ll be on form.

But two good nights in a row is being rather optimistic, especially as Rachel and I have just had another cup of tea. Tomorrow, if I were a Native American, you would probably find me drowned in my own teepee.

Monday 9th September 2019 – WITH HAVING TO …

… go to bed early last night in order to be on form for today, it goes without saying that I had another bad night last night.

Still awake at 01:30, and when I finally did drop off, it was just in 20 minute segments where I was off on various travels. When I unwind the dictaphone at some point in the future I can tell you all about them, but what I can say is that at one point Castor and I were joined just for a change by Pollux.

Is it the first time that the aforementioned has accompanied me on a nocturnal voyage? I shall have to check

And it was one of those nights where I kept stepping back into the voyage at exactly the same place that I had stepped out. That’s something that I’m noticing is happening more and more frequently these days and when I was having similar situations back 15 or so years ago, I found myself able eventually to move onto a third plane, and that’s when it all became exciting.

That was during the period that we were researching dreams (that lasted from about 1998 to 2006 or so) for someone’s PhD at University and so our individual research was never individually published. But I still have the notes somewhere and I’ll have to look them out when I’m back home.

The spell was however unfortunately broken round about 04:00. The batteries in the dictaphone went flat at an inopportune moment and, determined not to miss a moment, I left the bed for a spare set.

They were flat too so I had to find some more and in the meantime find the charger to charge up the flat ones.

Unfortunately this meant that by the time that I was organised and went back to bed, I’d missed my spot and ended up going off somewhere else instead and isn’t that a shame?

When Amber banged on my door, I’d been up for quite a while. Before the third alarm in fact and that’s a rare deal right now. So we went outside ready for school.

Amber doesn’t like the idea of travelling cramped up in Strider so she had negotiated use of her mother’s car for me. It was cold, damp, misty and foggy outside and I had to clean off the car before we could go anywhere.

We negotiated out way through the queues at the covered bridge (the highway is down) and much to my (and everyone else’s) surprise, the St John River valley was clear of fog and mist. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that’s usually the place that GETS it first.

The girls clambered out at school and I drove back to the Co-op for apples (seems that we have a little fruit-eater amongst us) and to Tim Horton’s for bagels for me for breakfast.

At the tyre depot the morning passed quickly. There were lots of people around there and we were quite busy. I sorted out some paperwork and then, grasping the nettle, I telephoned the hospital back in Leuven.

They offered me a blood transfusion on 11th October on a “take it or leave it” basis. And so I took it. After all, chemotherapy and mapthera didn’t work as we know and the product that they are trying out on me is still in the trial stage so it’s not licensed as yet in North America.

And with having missed already three of my four-weekly transfusions, heaven alone knows what my blood count might be like. It was knocking on the “critical level” back in June.

Nevertheless, I’m going to try to see if I can push it back a week or so. I have may things to do that are as yet undone and there are many opportunities waiting to come my way and that won’t be accomplished if I’m not here.

After that I went to see Ellen. She’s quite ill too and doesn’t look anything like the woman that I remember. It’s a shame but I reckon that we will both be stoking the fires of eternity together, and quite soon too. But I kept her company for an hour or so and we had a good chat.

At lunchtime I took Rachel’s car back home and picked up Strider. Then went to the Irving for lunch. Afterwards I hopped off to pick up my mail from my mail box but SHOCK! HORROR! the whole battery or mailboxes out on the River du Chute road has been flattened.

A brief drive enabled me to find another battery of mailboxes but my key didn’t work. Off to the Post Office then, where she explained that the boxes have been moved and I needed a new key. She confirmed my Canada address and gave me a new key to a different box

But even more SHOCK! HORROR! It seems that my new licence tags for Strider haven’t come through. They expire at the end of the month so I need to chase them up before I go off to Montreal and Ottawa.

And I forgot to add that with the road up there being as it is and with Strider being as he is, it was an exceedingly lively drive. Next time that I go to Labrador I shall need to take with me a change of underwear

This afternoon there was yet more work to be done. Darren needed to take some heavy springs down to the welders in Woodstock so I went along to help. By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong but in the big Chevrolet lorry there was plenty of room.

Having brought the petrol back on Saturday it was the turn of the diesel. But this time, now that the lorry is mobile again, we had a proper licensed fuel tank to move the stuff about.

I have deliberately refrained from mention the world’s worst customer service that I have ever received – service that would knock Belgium’s legendary incivility to its customers into a cocked hat.

I rang Walmart in Fargo about the splash screen on my laptop and after repeating my story 7 times to 7 different people the best advice that I was given was to “reformat your hard drive and tough s**t for your data”.

That’s advice and assistance that I can well do without.

There was a major issue trying to reconcile the cash account this evening on closing so we had to stay behind to resolve the problem. Eventually, at about 18:30 we suddenly twigged – payments received after closing on Saturday lunchtime, credited though on Saturday, had been put into the till on Monday instead of being added to Saturday’s pouch.

Of course, neither I nor Rachel had been there at close on Saturday or opening on Monday, had we?

It meant that we weren’t back home until 19:00 and, much to our surprise, the girls had cooked tea. I went for a shower afterwards and then tried some of Rachel’s home-brew ice coffee, which was delicious.

Now even though it’s early, I’m off to bed. It seems that the school run is required for tomorrow (the school bus arrives too late, what with the issues on the bridge and Amber has already been cautioned once by an unreasonable Principal, and she can’t take a passenger on her scooter) and once more, Yours Truly has drawn the short straw.

And a big hello to my new readers from Montreal and Mississauga.

Sunday 8th September 2019 – MY PHANTOM READER …

… is back again today (having had a day off yesterday) and at the time of writing has read just over 100 pages – that is, 1500 blog entries.

My hat goes off to you, sir or madam. That shows perseverence and determination that not even I, the author, possess. I wish that you would introduce yourself.

I was right about last night. 04:30 and the party was still going on. They had come in from the pool and were continuing in the basement, keeping us all awake. I managed to drift off into a very intermittent sleep but it wasn’t until the last body crashed out round about 08:00 that I finally went into a deep sleep.

In the meantime, for some reason that I don’t understand, I had been urging myself to rise up from my bed and take photos of the breaking dawn. It was certainly a persistent impulse and I’ve no idea what was going on there.

The noise started up again at about 10:00 as Amber’s friends made ready to leave. And once they had gone, I felt it safe to venture out into the open.

Everyone was getting ready to leave and we hopped into various vehicles and headed for the US border.

Of course, I had already had a valid temporary visa but it had been withdrawn when I left for Greenland, so I had to go through the process yet again. And as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, it was shift change time, all of the electrical equipment was down and they couldn’t find the key for the cash desk All in all, it took us well over 30 minutes for me to be processed.

The border guard gave me a lecture about “surrendering the card unnecessarily” but I didn’t want to prolong the matter by telling him about Greenland otherwise we would still be there now. Instead I replied rather meekly “yes, thanks, I’ll remember” and he let me go.

But it’s a shame when one is on the receiving end of a lecture for having obeyed quite rigorously the letter of the law.

And to my amazement, I noticed that my temporary visa is dated
2nd September 2019, not 8th September as it ought to be.

At the Oriental Pearl in Presque Ile everyone else was straining at the leash to get at the buffet and were quite relieved when we finally arrived. There’s very little on the buffet that I can eat so they made me steamed veg and boiled rice.

I picked up the bill at the end – it’s the least that I can do for being housed so hospitably and then we all went to Mardens for a browse, where I found some gelatine-free licorice.

Darren and the three younger girls went home afterwards but Zoe, Rachel and I went for a coffee. Then we attacked Walmart and then down to Mars Hill for the IGA supermarket, where the vegan ice cream and sorbet were sold out.

Crossing back into Canada was rather painless (I had half-expected the phantom reader to have found enough in what he or she has read already in the blog to have me incarcerated) and we came back. In the IGA I’d found some almond milk with real banana so I gave it a try. And delicious it was too.

Now it’s bed time. I have an early start. Due to various considerations it looks as if I’ve drawn the short straw and am doing the school run tomorrow. I need to be on form.

Saturday 24th August 2019 – TODAY I HAVE BEEN …

… learning to play the ukelele. And furthermore, I now know four chords (C, G, F and Am) and can play two songs. And if Status Quo can tour the world for 50 years with just 3 chords, I can do far better than that.

Last night I was wide awake again just before 04:00 and it took an age to go back to sleep again. Mind you, I comfortably beat the third alarm out of bed.

As I intimated yesterday, all events are cancelled for today. There had been talk of going into a couple of fjords in order to spot wildlife and the like, but there’s a howling gale raging on Baffin Island right now and while it’s not enough to cause us many problems out here 25 kilometres offshore, it could be devastating in a narrow and uncharted fjord. We are going to stand to offshore until it all subsides and head on north as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Consequently we had a series of on-board workshops. This morning I attended the photo-editing workshop during which I came to the conclusion that not only is my technique rubbish but the program that I use is even worse, and both must be improved when (ever) I return home, if not sooner.

After lunch we had a lecture on polar bears, during which I fell asleep and then made a fool of myself by asking a question that had been covered during the time that I was away with the fairies, and then the ukelele session that I mentioned just now.

I also took advantage of the computer technician who has now managed to stop (but not remove) the Walmart splash screen that has been annoying me, and I also went to see the expedition leader about a project that I have in mind.

Tea was with the photographer and I had a curry that had been specially made for me by the chef. Later, I finished (hooray) editing the photos and now I’m up-to-date for the month of August. But they are all going to have to be done again as I’m far from satisfied with the output.

But not tonight though. I’m off for an early night. Everything starts back up tomorrow if the storm subsides.

Monday 5th August 2019 – I’M BACK …

… in Sheridan again tonight.

Not at the same motel as last time though. At probably the cheapest in the town and certainly the cheapest in which I’ve stayed.

“So what’s it like?” I hear you ask.
“The cheapest motel in which I’ve stayed so far” reply I

But seriously, it might be old and dated and worn but it’s clean and everything works. The shower is good too, and what more can any man desire?

The air conditioning is much quieter than last night’s motel (although that’s not saying a lot). Last night it was a case of “turn off the aircon and lie awake sweltering” or “turn on the aircon and lie awake because of the noise”.

But I did manage to drop off a few times.

Much to my surprise I dropped straight back into exactly the same place where I had left a nocturnal voyage the previous evening. And even more interestingly, after I went back to sleep after an awakening, I stepped right back into where I had left it a couple of minutes earlier.

And I did get the girl too. Not ‘arf I did!

It was a struggle to awaken as you might expect and I vegetated for quite a while. I made it into breakfast (a couple of rounds of toast with jam but included in the price) then came back for a shower.

By now it was time to phone the bank and I’ve no idea how much it’s going to cost me but my card is now unblocked and I can use it.

Heading into town I went to look at the “exhibition” locomotive where the railway station used to be. It’s a 4-8-4 “Northern” steam locomotive and, rather like “Big Boy”, who we met in Southern Wyoming in 2002 it’s in pretty miserable condition, slowly rotting away – a stain on the character of the town.

And it might not be there long because they have now “discovered” that it’s full of asbestos.

From there I went shopping in Walmart (my card does now work) where I found some vegan cheese and broke the weighing scales at the check-out.

From there I headed north, stopping every 10 minutes or so to photograph a locomotive. I’m in the deep open-cast coal mining area and they run merry-go-round trains to move the coal. Most of the locomotives are Burlington Northern and Santa Fe outfits although I was taken by surprise when a Kansas City Southern locomotive went rattling past, miles out of its territory.

Eventually I reached the Little Big Horn battlefield where the miserable bar stewards refused to give me the senior citizens’ discount. “That only applies to US citizens” – the first that I’ve ever heard of that in a National Park. I had to pay the full $25:00.

But I was there for hours. I had a good walk down to the deep ravine where the final deaths took place as the native Americans mopped up the surviving troopers, a good walk around Last Stand Hill, the cemetery and the Native American monument, and another good walk around Benteen’s final hold-out position where the survivors hung on (and there were survivors, despite what people think. It was only the troops with Custer, about half of the 7th Cavalry complement) who were lost.

The drive between the various points was interesting, and the trail of bodies along the route and down in the Deep Ravine only goes to confirm that apart from a couple of isolated actions, it was basically a panic-stricken rout. Why else would 41 troopers be running down the hill TOWARDS the native village if they weren’t running away from the fighting up on the ridge?

That took all afternoon so I set out to find a motel. None in Busby, which really is a miserable one-horse town so I headed for the mining town of Decker.

Nothing there either so calling at the site of the “battle” of the Rosebud (which I’ll be visiting tomorrow) to say “hello’, I came back here.

In my room I noticed a “do not place anything on the heater”. I don’t recall having been here before, have I?

But the room is cheap, old and worn out. But then again so am I so what’s the difference? It’ll do me until tomorrow and then I can think again.

Thursday 1st August 2019 – HERE I AM …

… holed up in a dusty motel at a dusty crossroads in a dusty town in Montana called Broadus. Yes, I’m in another State that I had yet to visit although I did cross over a corner of Wyoming (which I visited in 2002, whenever that was.

All this dust explains very well why this area is called the “Powder River” country. Because of all the dust in it, the river is said to be “too thick to drink, but too thin to plough”.

Last night was a beautiful night’s sleep. I went to bed, thoroughly exhausted, before even 20:00 and despite awakening on several occasions during the night, I didn’t finally show a leg until the alarms went off.

There was plenty of time to do everything, including a shower and general spruce-up. Make myself look nice. I even managed breakfast too.

So then packed and off into the sunset looking for the Walmart that I glimpsed yesterday evening. And that took some finding too.

‘Twas a good idea for a good clean-up because the lady at the check-out told me “ohhh do talk some more. I just LOVE your accent”. She didn’t knock anything off the bill though.

At a suitable petrol station in the vicinity I fuelled up the Kia. And it’s not as economical as you might think – 11 US gallons (about 40 litres) to travel about 610 kms.

It had been cloudy and overcast earlier but as I headed into the Black Hills it started to rain. Not enough to dampen my spirits (I was in surprisingly good form today and I’ve no idea why) but rain nevertheless. It didn’t detract from the journey and the beauty and I even wired up the dashcam so that you can see it later.

Round about midday I arrived at Deadwood and headed for Mount Moriah cemetery up in the hills. There I found, lying side by side, the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. And listened excruciatingly as a Septic tourist guide explained to his tourists slowly, in words of one syllable (and they were Septics too) that he is NOT the same person as Buffalo Bill.

I despair.

After a while looking around the cemetery and the scenic viewpoint there I headed into town where I was waylaid. This time by a motorcycle restorer who allowed me to catalogue his exhibits.

Pride of place without any doubt at all must go to the Indian 4-cylinder in-line from 1939. Rare as hen’s teeth, which is hardly a surprise as the torque on that motor rotating in the same direction and the heat at the rear cylinder would have made for a very brief riding experience.

Nevertheless I would have taken it home in a heartbeat.

Main Street was nothing to write home about. The parking fee was horrendous so I didn’t stop. I filmed it instead for posterity. Nothing of the original seems to remain. The place has been swept by fire on several occasions since the Gold Rush.

For the first time since Toronto (whenever that was) I had lunch. A butty with hummus and bread followed by a banana. And then I pushed on for almost 140 miles in the now-glorious sunshine across the corner of Wyoming and into Montana.

Reaching Broadus I found a motel. And I’m glad that I did because it’s here that I need to be. It’s in the Powder River Valley and all long here for 50 miles north and south are the sites of skirmishes and fully-fledged battles between the Native Americans and the US Military farces.

Everything about this motel is very 50s, except the landlady who looks old enough and stern enough to have fought the Indians out of this plot of land single-handedly back in the 1880s and, of course, the prices, which are very 21st-Century.

But there’s no other motel for at least 60 miles and it’s right slap-bang where I want to be so it’s not all bad news.

My neighbour is friendly too. Another motorcyclist on his way to the Sturgis motorcycle rally. We had a good long chat about bikes and all sorts of things.

The filter on the air conditioner hasn’t been cleaned in donkey’s yonks though, and having let it run for a couple of hours, my room now smells just like my socks did before I washed them earlier. Yes, I’ve done the laundry, and washed myself at the same time.

Two showers in a day! Whatever next?

The landlady lent me a soup bowl so I’ve had tomato soup (with some pasta) and bread for tea. Three meals today. I hope that it’ll stay in today. And plenty of vitamin drink to keep up the health even though I’m not eating much.

Tomorrow I’m off on the war path so now I’m off to bed. Another night like last night will do me the world of good.

Monday 29th July 2019 – JUST IN CASE …

… you were wondering what has been happening just recently, I didn’t die (although I just smell like I did) I’ve had yet another in a long series of equipment failures.

Yesterday morning it was the turn of the portable ACER laptop that has been my constant companion for 5 years to bite the dust. I mentioned that it seemed to be taking an age to load up. Well the truth of it was that it just never loaded up at all.

But it’s no big deal because it was rubbish when I bought it and it’s gone from bad to worse over the years, creaking and groaning its way along hundreds of voyages into different parts of the world.

The only surprise is that it’s kept going as long as it has.

All that has been lost is about 10 days worth of work and that wouldn’t have been lost had I had the space to back it up so it’s no big deal. And anyway I’m not yet convinced that it’s gone for good … “and it wasn’t either – it was all later reovered, every last bit and byte of it” – ed.

And there is a bright side to it, more of which anon

So having gone off to bed depressingly early last night, I was awake on several occasions right up to the alarm. I had the medication and then some porridge, followed by another sleep.

For a change I awoke in time to pack everything up and hit the road, heading for the Walmart across the State Line in North Dakota.

First though I found a pawn shop so I stuck my head in to see what they might have, but one look at the customers and the staff behind the counter made me change my mind.

At Walmart in Grand Forks they had a laptop that might have done the trick but the staff there was so unhelpful that when they eventually told me what I wanted to know and they they didn’t have one in stock anyway, in the traditions of the best News of the Screws reporter, I made my excuses and left.

Down the flat featureless highway to Fargo, the biggest city in North Dakota. The land here is flat as a pancake for miles around with no feature to break up the relief. Luckily it’s not as monotonous as it sounds with a few trees here and there and different crops, and piles of railway lines exploiting the various produce of the region.

My eye did once rest on a hill, but closer inspection revealed it to be Fargo’s waste disposal facility

At Fargo I put some fuel in and asked the girl at the counter if she could direct me to Walmart. There are a couple here and I’m grateful that she sent me to the one that she did for I struck gold.

After looking for a while at the various items on display my eye fell (don’t ask me why) on q Lenovo Ideapad 330, 1TB hard drive, 4GB RAM and an Intel Core 13 processor, reduced from $349 to $279. Cheap as chips.

I drew the assistant’s attention to it and she said that it was out of stock. And so I asked if she would do a deal on the display model.

It turns out that the box was damaged, all of the accessories except the power cable were missing, and no-one in the shop could work out how to delete the Walmart splash-screen advertising screen-saver.

So after very much debate and discussion, I walked out of Walmart with it under my arm for a mere … wait for it … $125:00. I really can’t believe my luck. It makes losing 10 days work quite palatable.

Leaving Fargo, I went west, like my old computer. Another flat featureless road heading in a straight line, through one of the longest road repair section I have ever seen (we had to wait hours).

Eventually we started to hit the hills. I found Standing Rock, an old native American spiritual site which seems to be a menhir stuck into the ground, and then a scenic byway took me down the valley of the River James, the world’s longest non-navigable river, so they say.

It’s a huge historical site dating back to the early settlers of the 1880, old abandoned farms of the period and everything, and piles of old abandoned cars everywhere.

Eventually, finding an old nuclear rocket and a stern-wheel paddle steamer at the side of the road in Lamoure, I noticed a motel at the side of them. It’s rather early for me but here in the sticks a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush especially as there was a free room.

It’s seen better days, but then again so have I. And I’ve paid much more money to stay in far worse places than this.

In Walmart I found some vegan protein-broth so I heated some up to eat with bread. But although I’m feeling better, my stomach wasn’t quite up to this.

So another early night. I hope that I shall feel better in the morning.

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.

Thursday 30th August 2018 – I WISH …

… that banks would stop employing cashiers who wear low-cut tee-shirts. When this one today leant over the counter to give me my US dollars in a fashion so that we could count them together, I was totally distracted and I have no idea how much she gave me.

It’s definitely bad for my health, all of this.

Last night was slightly better. I slept all the way through until the racket from the fridge and the air-conditioning awoke me at about 04:00. But I soon went back to sleep until the alarms went off.

Breakfast for some reason didn’t start to be served until 08:00 so I had plenty of time to attack the notes from yesterday, and I’d even finished by the time that they opened the dining room, which is always encouraging.

Afterwards, I had a shower and washed my clothes from yesterday. I’ll be washing myself away at this rate if it keeps on like this.

A little later, I went out into town, stopping off for a bottle of water and to explore the shopping mall just down the road.

And why is shopping in North America so boring? Well, when you’ve seen one bunch of shops, you’ve seen a mall.

I’ll get my coat.

bibliotheque archives national de quebec montreal canada august aout 2018Down the road at the foot of the hill by the Parc Viger is this beautiful building.

Dating from the early years of the 20th Century, it was formerly the Montreal Technical School but today it’s the BANQ – the Bibiliothèque and Archives National de Québec.

I’ve taken shelter there from the rain once a few years ago, but I’ve never actually visited it. However, it is my destination for this morning.

bibliotheque archives national quebec montreal canada august aout 2018While you admire one of the most beautiful interiors that I have ever seen, let me tell you my story.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few years ago I wrote a pile of stuff about the Chemin du Roy, the road that was built by Pierre Robineau de Bécancour and Jean Eustache Lanouiller in he early 18th Century to link Montréal and Québec

I wrote at the time that I would one day have to visit the National Archives to find the original maps of the route, because much has been lost in the subsequent 300 years.

So here I am.

bibliotheque archives national quebec montreal canada august aout 2018But I’m in for a massive disappointment.

There are indeed record of the route, that’s for sure. But they are held at the archives site in Québec, not Montreal. So I need to go there instead.

And where are the BANQ archives in Québec? Why, on the campus at the University of Laval of course.

Ring any bells?

track layout gare viger montreal canada august aout 2018But all is not lost. It wasn’t a total waste of time.

I’ve been wondering for years about the track arrangements at the Gare Viger – how the platforms were actually laid out in relation to the buildings, and here I struck gold.

On the wall was an exhibition of the area, and one of the exhibits was a map of the area 100 years or so ago which showed everything that I wanted to know.

train sheds gare viger montreal canada august aout 2018The station was subsequently modernised and extended, and this meant that the track layout needed to be changed.

And while I wasn’t able to see a plan of how the station layout was configured afterwards, there was a handy aerial photograph hanging on the wall that showed at least some of the train sheds.

So I might not be any the wiser, but I’m certainly better-informed.

gare dalhousie montreal canada august aout 2018The Gare Viger dates from the turn of the 20th Century. But before this, there was an earlier Canadian Pacific railway station in the eastern side of the city – the Gare Dalhousie.

It was from here that the first trans-continental train set out in 1886 (and we’ve all noticed that, once again, the Maritime Provinces have been totally ignored by the official Canadian History. According to them, there’s nothing except eskimoes and indians east of Montreal and they don’t count for anything)

After the opening of the Gare Viger it became a freight depot and then an industrial warehouse. However it’s recently undergone a programme of renovation and they have done a good job here.

It’s now a circus school, and seeing as it was formerly a Canadian Pacific building, that is quite appropriate. Clowns should feel right at home here.

gullwing port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018Down on the docks Oakglen is still there, as we might expect, but we have another bulk carrier down at the far end.

She’s the Gullwing, a Maltese bulk-carrier of 39000 tonnes and was built in 2011, although you might not think it.

She’s come in from Quebec after an exhausting tour around the Pacific, and were I going to visit my friend Rhys I would hop aboard because according to the port authorities her next stop is Charleston in South Carolina.

msc alyssa port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018Also in the far end of the harbour was a huge MSC container ship.

No chance of reading its name from here unfortunately but according to the port records, there’s an MSC Alyssa in port and she seems to fit the bill.

She’s of 61500 tonnes and has arrived from Liverpool. And were I to want to go back to Leuven for my next hospital appointment I would immediately leap aboard, because her next port of call is Antwerp.

kids pirate ships port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018The brats still aren’t back at school yet in Montreal, and so the children’s entertainment is in full swing.

I was impressed by the pirate ships, and even more impressed by the fact that the kids were being allowed to swing on ropes and slide down zip wires and all of that.

Can you imagine that in the stupid nanny-state UK where the ridiculous Health and Safety rules are such that you even need a fire safety certificate to wave a flag at a football match.

But I haven’t come here to waste my time.

seabourn quest port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018I had it on good authority that there was a cruise ship in town ready to do a voyage down the St Lawrence and the Eastern seaboard of the USA, and so I went for a look.

And here we have the Seabourn Quest, all 32,500 tonnes of her and built as recently as 2011, which is quite modern for a cruise ship. We’ve seen some thoroughly ancient and disreputable ones in our time.

Unfortunately the quay was heavily guarded so if Strawberry Moose and I want to nip aboard, we’d have to buy some tickets.

juno marie port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018The little tender alongside her is the Juno Marie.

She’s officially described as a tanker, and being small like this, her task is very likely to be to fuel up the larger ships in the docks as they arrive so that they are ready to set sail as quickly as possible.

There are a few of these little tankers in port and we’ve seen at least one of them before.

ursulines place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018When I was here last October I’d finally managed to make it to the real centre of the city where it all was happening back in the 17th Century but I didn’t have time to go far.

One of the places that I hadn’t seen was the old Ursuline convent, or what remains of it.

This organisation of the “Grey Nuns” was founded here in Montreal in 1737 by Marguerite d’Youville and they ended up over time with quite an impressive range of buildings here.

ursulines pace d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Their claim to fame is that they were the first female religious organisation to undertake the full range of social and charitable aims.

There had been many people engaged in these tasks before, and we’ve talked in the past about people like Marguerite Bourgeoys.

But they just had their little niche of interest, not the whole range.

ursulines place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018There was a large hospital on the site too, as well as a very large and impressive church, if the old drawings are anything to go by.

But as the city expanded northwards and eastwards away from the river, and as the port of Montreal expanded along the banks, it was deemed necessary to make a new road network connecting the two.

And so the Ursulines had to go, and so did some of their buildings.

ursulines place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Luckily, not all was demolished. There are still some remains of the impressive buildings that are now classed as Historical Monuments.

And if you look very carefully in the roadway, you’ll see lines of granite setts – there are a couple in the photo here.

When they were doing some roadworks a while ago they came across the foundations of the old walls that had been demolished. They have marked them out on the road with the granite setts so that you can see the extent of the former buildings

grand trunk building rue mgcill montreal canada august aout 2018As I was making my way round to the Place d’Youville I noticed this building in the distance.

Whilst the building itself is impressive, the exciting thing about it is that over the door is carved the legend “Grand Trunk”.

This was one of the earliest of the main-line railway companies that was involved in the “railway wars” in Canada at the end of the 19th Century.

This was their magnificent Head Office in the Rue McGill, built 1899-1902.

Unfortunately it didn’t last long. The Grand Trunk was one of the biggest losers in the Railway War and it was coming back from a very unsuccessful fund-raising trip in Europe in 1912 that its president, Charles Hays, was drowned on the Titanic.

The company quickly went bankrupt and was taken over by the Government, forming part of the Canadian National rail network.

place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Montreal these days is basically a very large island, but back in the 16th Century it was several small ones.

The original settlement was on a small island bounded by the St Lawrence River and the Riviere St Pierre.

That latter river was eventually built over, and today, it’s the Place d’Youville, named for our friend Marguerite.

place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018When we were here in October last year, you will remember seeing the excavations that were taking place just here.

This was the site of the city’s first indoor covered market which later became the Parliament Building for the country.

However the building was destroyed in 1849 in the riots that followed the passing of an Act emancipating the rebels of the 1830s and was never rebuilt. The Government of Canada moved elsewhere, much to the chagrin of the Québecois.

fire station place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018A fire station was erected here in 1903 – 54 years too late to save the Parliament building unfortunately.

Today the fire brigade has moved elsewhere and the building is now a museum. I would have liked to have gone for a look around but I was rather pushed for time.

I still have quite a lot to do today and it’s late.

street washer montreal canada august aout 2018While I was standing by the side of the road taking photographs, I was interrupted by a street washer.

Mind you, he didn’t let me interrupt him, and carried on with whatever he was doing.

As a result, not only did I have a complimentary shoe-wash I had a complimentary ankle wash too and that certainly different. And it wasn’t just me either. Several other passers-by were in the same boat.

diesel locomotive 4707 port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018Further interruptions were the order of the day too.

While I was a-wandering a little further on (which is rather better than walking by St Paul’s), I heard the familiar wail of a diesel locomotive siren in the distance so I legged it rather rapidly down the street.

Not rapidly enough, as it happens. I was defeated by the pair of locomotives, 4707 and his friend, disappearing into the distance down towards the dock.

And when I return home and have access to myJane’s Train Recognition Guide I’ll tell you all about them.

stele place d'youville montreal canada august aout 2018Instead, I went back to the Place d’Youville and to photograph the stele. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that last year when I was here it was all fenced off and it was impossible to take a proper photo.

So having done that, Bane of Britain wandered away from the site, without actually going over there to read the plaque to discover what it says.

I really don’t know why you lot pay me, honestly I don’t.

You DO pay me, don’t you? All you need to do is to click on one of the links at the side and make your next order from Amazon that way. I receive a small commission on your orders, but it costs you nothing at all.

fire engines montreal canada august aout 2018I’m not sure at all what was going on here.

There I was, standing on the edge of the kerb and three or four fire engines pulled up, one after the other. Their blue and red flashing lights blazing away.

They performed some kind of danse macabre in the street and I’ve no idea why. There was nothing like any emergency that I could see in the vicinity and they didn’t seem to be in too much hurry.

old customs house port de montreal harbour canada august aout 2018I turned my attention to the building that I had come here to see – the old Customs House.

Ideally situated at the exit to the harbour, nothing could come into port without paying the appropriate duty to the Government and this was where they did it.

The Customs people aren’t there now- they’ve moved on down the road into a new modern building that is 10timesasbig, even though trade in the port has declined.

By now, my stomach was thinking that my throat had been cut and I needed to organise some food.

Not round here though as I still had some important things to do.

So onto the Metro at Victoria-OACI and off to Namur (the Metro station, not the town in Belgium) and the big Walmart there. But leaving the metro station was really difficult. The way that the doors are positioned there was a howling gale every time someone opened one of them and it was something of a struggle to pass through.

It all seems to have changed there. New buildings and the like and I couldn’t at first get my bearings. But there’s a Subway at the bottom end of the shopping complex so I installed myself there.

The restaurant next door had a free wifi service so I was able to patch in there and pick up the news.

It was a long hike to Walmart from there – longer than I remember it being – and it was something of a disappointment when I arrived. It seems to me that there are fewer and fewer items on the shelves these days and the place is looking rather untidy.

There weren’t all that many customers there either and I’ve no idea why.

There wasn’t as much choice as I was hoping but I managed eventually to kit myself out with the remainder of the articles that I need. Whether it’s all suitable I really don’t know, but I can’t do any better than this.

bulk barn namur montreal canada august aout 2018But here’s a shop that I hadn’t seen before, even though the staff tell me that they have been here for four years.

It’s called the Bulk Barn and it’s very reminiscent of the old “Weigh and Save” shops that we had in the UK in the late 70s and 80s.

And I’ll make a note of this place because they had everything in there that I could possibly use, including dehydrated vegetables for travelling purposes.

I’ll have to check to see if there are any of these places anywhere else on my route around Canada in the future.

traffic jam decarie montreal canada august aout 2018By now it was rush hour and time for me to be heading off.

I was lucky that I was on the train because had I been in a car I would probably still be there now judging by the amount of traffic on the Boulevard Decarie.

Total gridlock and that’s the kind of thing that makes me glad that I don’t live in a city these days. How would I cope with all of this.

Back at my hotel I organised my suitcase yet again to take into account my recent purchases. This suitcase is becoming rather uncomfortably full.

There was some work that needed to be done, so I caught up with that, and then decided to go out for tea.

mcgill students partying rue st catherine est montreal canada august aout 2018I walked the entire length of the rue St Catherine Est from my hotel almost all the way down to the bridge and I was not alone.

Apparently the students from McGill University are having their induction week this week and it’s party, party, party. Hordes of them freaking out all over the place.

It made me feel quite old to watch them. These days they don’t look anything like 18 year-olds at all and that’s all very confusing.

But the big surprise for me was the pizza place that was advertising vegan pizzas – yes, vegan pizzas! I’ve never ever seen vegan pizzas advertised in a mainstream pizza place before so I went in to give the place some support.

And delicious it was too.

That was me organised (such as I can be) for the day. I retreated to my hotel and decided to have an early night. I need it too after all of this.

Thursday 31st August 2017 – AND IF YOU THOUGHT …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then I headed off into the doom and gloom.

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

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

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

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

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

Next thing to do was to organise accommodation for tonight.

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

Off I went to the shops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heaven knows I need it.

Monday 28th August 2017 – I WONDER IF …

saint jog=hn 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.

Sunday 20th August 2017 – NOW HERE’S A SURPRISE!

Despite having had an early night last night and despite having crashed out for a while during the day, I slept right through until the alarm went off this morning.

I don’t even know why I had an alarm seeing as it’s Sunday – but there we are.

But a nice early start gave me an opportunity to catch up with a couple of things that I had let slip over the last few days and prepare myself for brunch.

Toast, beans, hash browns and home fries with plenty of coffee – what a way to start the day. But then we had work to do. With Ellen being in hospital, Bob is finding it difficult to manage and so while he was out visiting her, Rachel, Amber and I had a major blitz on his house for a couple of hours.

And we would have done much more had we been able to find some vacuum cleaner bags and stuff like that. But imagine me cleaning someone else’s house! I have enough problems cleaning my own!

That having been organised, the three of us set off for Woodstock. And by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong … "here we go again" – ed … so it was pretty crowded in Rachel’s car.

The vegan range of food products in Sobey’s has expanded even more so I bought a fair bit of stuff to keep me going for the next week or so until I hit the road. After that it was the Walmart but there was nothing there that I needed.

By now it was supper time so I invited Rachel and Amber for a meal. Still a dearth of vegan food in the restaurants here but one place rustled me up a couple of vegan wraps and more home fries.

Not exactly what I would call “adventurous” but at least it shows an awareness and a willingness which is more than you can say for some places.

More tidying up here when we arrived. Last night a bear had attacked the dustbin and there was rubbish strewn all over the driveway. Amber and I attacked that and cleared up the mess while Rachel put the shopping away.

Another surprising thing is that back in Europe the broadcasts of the Welsh Premier League are blacked out for those living outside the UK. But here in North America they aren’t. I don’t understand that. So I took advantage by starting to watch yesterday’s TNS v Bala Town match.

But after about 15 minutes I was obliged to give up. And 5 minutes later I was flat out on the bed. I crashed out for a good 90 minutes, and crashed out completely too.

Now of course I can’t go back to sleep.

I just can’t win, can I?