Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saturday 15th May 2010

After a rare sunny day, and approx 230 miles, riding gently along the south shore, from Halifax, through some very pretty coastal villages such as Lunenburg the home of the Bluenose Schooner, and Mahone Bay we ended up in Yarmouth, at the southern end of Nova Scotia. As is often the case, when you arrive knackered after a long ride, all the places to stay go into hiding. Nevertheless after turning up a side street we saw a dubious looking Motel with a few shady characters hanging around outside. Just as we resigned ourselves to a night in a hostel for the homeless, we spotted across the road a rather imposing property advertising B&B. A quick toss-up and I jumped off the bike to find out how big a mortgage we would need to stay there the night. Not that it mattered, it was 19.30h and we were desperate. And so we found ourselves in the very splendid Guest-Lovitt House B&B in Yarmouth courtesy of our hosts Twyla and Bruce. A quick tour around the rooms on offer and we, or should I say I, chose the Queen four-poster bed, complete with foot stools from which to launch ourselves onto said bed. Apart from the opulent decor, I cannot describe the anticipated bliss of a night without sleeping in my Merino wool leggings and top thermals and Icebreaker socks, Rab jacket, for those extreme conditions, and hat, and having warm toes. You have no idea. I clambered up onto the bed, wriggled around a bit, just to check it met my expectations. No time to dally though. With David's stomach grumbling like an old drain in the background it was time to eat. The Nova Scotians are not known for their raucous late night revelling, the eateries close at 20.00h out of season, so to avoid going without food we headed off to the local hostellary Rudder's Seafood Restaurant and Brew Pub for fish and chips and a Rudder's Red beer. We know how to live it up! By 21.30h we were diving into that scrummy bed. Pure unadulterated heaven!!

The following morning after a wonderful breakfast feast of fruit salad, cereal, poached eggs and thick wholemeal toast with lashings of butter and preserves, we eyed a plate of freshly baked homemade muffins, a piƩce de resistance proudly gracing the middle of the table. Hunger defeated, we asked if we might take one with us. Without further ado, Twyla enthusiastically loaded them all into a small parcel for us to take away to enjoy for elevenses, twelvses and oneses! Back in our Queen size bed room, we piled on the motorbiking layers, and resembling Pilsbury dough men, we set off into the rain heading back along the north shore to Halifax. But not before Twyla & Bruce took a photo of us and printed it off as a post card, which was a lovely gesture. It's difficult to look feminine dressed like a biker bloke with helmet hair!! Not sure the lipstick helped!

Back at the campsite and the harsh reality of a travelling motor-biking camper. In the cold and damp we cooked our frugal fayre of pasta and cheese sauce with of all things salad, topped off with yet another lovely Twyla muffin and hot tea. Then we heaved ourselves into our respective sleeping bags, wearing pretty much every item of clothing we possess-apart from our helmets and boots. Another night to test my endurance. Meanwhile David is in motor-bike heaven.

As a footnote, David has planned and executed this trip with the precision of a finely tuned engine (motorbike of course). I am not sure what I add to this adventure apart from companionship, and on a good day the attributes of female company, but the rest of the time merely indecision, fickle behaviour, and a sense of profound disengagement, causing deep frustration, such that I need constantly directing, prodding and cajoling to go in the direction I'm supposed to be going in. There is more to travelling than being here in body. The spirit has to come along too. Right now the only spirit I can muster can be found in a strong Gin & Tonic, or increasingly a glass of full bodied red wine (not too fussy which), sitting somewhere or anywhere (where the sun is shining and it is warm) in the South of France, accompanied by a bowl of plump olives and a fresh baguette (and David of course), soaking up the riches of a culture suffused with the bounty of good food and wine. So far Canada sadly does not do it for me. But it is a large expanse to explore-lots of trees (many half dead) and lakes (cold and grey), complete with swarms of black flies, that as son as you lift your visor, fly up your nose and in your mouth: a few hardy people dotted about amongst the trees, with varied ancestoral beginings from the Vikings to the Irish, French, Scottish, Dutch, Danes, indeed anyone who has a particular yearning for cold, wet grey weather. Though why come here and name your new land after Plympton or Plymouth, or even Truro or Liverpool escapes me. In fact we are not in Canada at all, we are just touring the UK :). But perhaps who knows there may be lurking somewhere a sense of who the Canadians really are and the joys to behold in this so far bleak land. Onwards and upwards Montgomery!!
Thurs 13th May 2010
Well it's bloody freezing here! Night time is so cold you risk finding any part of your body not covered up, lying beside you in the morning having falling off with frostbite. We had a short reprieve yesterday and today which we took advantage of, and visited Peggy's Cove, a local beauty spot with amazing granite rock formations, and today Halifax-which is rather dull apart from the waterfront, which has had lots of money thrown at it and is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Oh and of course Garrison Brewing where I enjoyed a very palatable award winning Garrisons Irish Red beer. Can't find a decent coffee though unless you are into Tim Hortons (dotted around like a bad case of chicken pox), vanilla, mint or hazelnut!! And oh boy do these Canadians like their sweet food. Even bread is sweet.

Now we are mostly recovered from our respective bugs, we are gradually ramping up the sightseeing, which is not before time having spent our first week merely eating, sleeping and beating a path to and from the pharmacy and doctor. We are now carrying more pills and potions than clothes!! A sign of advancing years me thinks.

If the weather holds we are off to Yarmouth tomorrow. But not before a big bowl of David's speciality of steaming hot porridge to warm the cockles of our hearts.

Judging by the cost of food will be either living off gruel or back home by June!! If you fancy sending us Red Cross parcels do feel free. Address on application.

Woodhaven Campground is basic but friendly, and we are assured does an amazing Lobster to order, for impoverished campers like us. The tent is holding up after some god awful rain. And it is just as well our noses are still blocked because it is too cold to shower!! Good bear repellant! The downside is that we are surrounded by RV's which resemble apartment blocks. We rarely see any inhabitants because I am convinced they have their very own shopping malls inside!

Well it is pitch black sat outside the tent wearing all my motorbike gear, updating the blog, and my fingers have lost all sensation, so I am off to bury myself in my sleeping bag fully clothed of course-it is not for the faint hearted this camping lark!!

With a bit of luck and warmth, we will be back....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Arrived at the start -Wednesday 5th may 2010

Well we made it to Canada!
Had a goodbye party on the 1/5/10 at the house which was lovely to see everybody and was rather moving. They all turned up again at 1000 to wave us goodbye as we headed off to London to stay with my Aunt Gillie. Went to Kew Gardens the next day and Jill started not feeling too good. The next day I set off for air Canada to check the bike in. Jill was feeling very rough so stayed in bed. Only took an hour to pack the bike in a crate and sign all the paperwork. Everything went very smoothly and I caught the tube back into London. Air Canada then rang to say that they needed to x-ray the panniers and do some tests on the petrol for a dangerous goods licence. They very kindly sent a car and I was back at the cargo terminal unpacking the bike crate which had been beautifully raped in cling film. Air samples taken, petrol samples taken, all luggage x-rayed and I was given a lift back to Gillie's. Couldn't be more impressed with Air Canada cargo who despite having to call me back did a wonderful job and all for £653.
Plane left at 1005 on the 5/5/10 and was an uneventful flight. Watched the film 'Invictus' about South Africa which was very inspiring. Had first night booked into a Quality Inn at Halifax Airport and having dropped Jill off there ( she by this time was feeling very ill, not breathing properly and with a very bad sore throat) went back to pick up the bike. 1 1/2 hours later, having got customs to stamp what they had too, I was free on the Canadian roads just in time to take Jill to a walk in Medical centre as she was feeling terrible. Armed with antibiotics and a more powerful puffer we are still in the Quality Inn as it said on the bottle 'not to be taken with camping'. The things Jill will do to stay in a Hotel! Jill looking much better but by tomorrow with the threat of the tent things could get a lot worst again, but we will see.