Saturday, 30 August 2008

The End in Sight

Saturday 30th August
Pictou, Nova Scotia

At 15:08 Mave emailed: "We are at presently in the Tourist Office in Pictou, Nove Scotia, trying to sort our flight. I can't think about blogging at the moment but will do as soon as poss. I'll do a wee blog about the circumstances. See you soon, I hope!!!"
At 18:13 Mave emailed: "Flight booked at great expense. We are flying with KLM via Newark & Amsterdam to Glasgow. The flight leaves Halifax on the 3rd Sept at 3-15pm and arrives Glasgow on the 4th Sept at 1-35pm. It would be good if you could let the folk know as soon as possible and perhaps a wee bit on the blog.
Lots of love
Mave and Penny xxx"


The Sting in the Tail

Friday 29th August
Prince Edward Island

By early last week Mave & Penny had pretty well finished their great transcontinental bike ride. As a reward they decided to have a couple of days sightseeing and relaxing on Prince Edward Island. Whilst splashing about there in the Atlantic Ocean their dreams of free flight home this Thursday, along with great welcome home party on the 12th at the Cock Inn etc, were dashed when they heard the disastrous news of the collapse of Zoom Airlines who have been such stalwart supporters throughout. They must now find a new carrier to fly them from Halifax to the UK which, at best, is going to result in a delay of some days in their return. The latest heard from them was by email this morning, sent from Penny's Blackberry whilst on the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia (see album on the website for picture showing them looking somewhat down in the dumps). All we can do now is to wait to see how long it will be before their efforts to secure a new passage prove fruitful - hopefully with someone as generous as Zoom.....

Monday, 25 August 2008

Home From Home

18th August
Saint Leonard to Perth

Heat, hills, and head winds. The nightmare ahead was about to begin again. The wind had swung round from a great tail yesterday to a full on head to-day. It was hard but had to be done. We are cutting back on the kms as we have a bit of time on our hands and able to have a few more rest days. Although we enjoyed the countryside and little villages of Quebec, I was missing the friendliness of the Canada with which we were more familiar. It wasn't until we passed through Grand Falls that the land of true Canadian hospitality was evident once more. It was at the Robert Baird Memorial Park where we had booked in for the night that it happened. It began when we asked about an evening meal. Charlene Baird, owner, said that the restaurant was closed on a Monday night but she would see what she could rustle up. Hot steaming thick vegetable soup arrived follwed by cinamon rolls and coffee. We were later asked to join in a camp fire. I brought the camera and filmed the scene around the fire with Country Western Music playing in the background. Suddenly the rain came, pouring down on us. Penny made it back to her tent but I only managed to make it to a small cabin where others had gathered. There was Heidi, Scott, Alfred and Joe and we chatted over a beer. Scott told how in 1876 many people of Stonehaven, Scotland began to talk seriously of crossing the seas and establishing a Scottish Colony in this area of New Brunswick. They knew little of the new country but courage they had and bravely resolved to face the unknown. By perseverence and hard work, the sturdy Scots carved farms out of the wilderness and were growing small crops of grain and slowly acquiring animals to their pastures. The District of Kilburn still has its Scottish roots and the flag of Saint Andrews is seen flying in many places. Scottish nights, Highland games and Burns suppers are held annually. I retired to my tent thinking of the many Scots who had left their homes with so little to start a new life in Canada.

Shared Laughter

17th August.
Lac Baker to Saint Leonard.

Sun shining, and a tail wind - a cyclists dream. Found superb little camp site at a river spot and there we met three cyclists all going different ways. There was Guy, cycling alone, and Mike and girlfriend Esther, both doing PHD's in Psychology at university. We sat round a picnic table and had supper and laughed so much. Mike was a real fun guy with a great sense of humour. I tried to do a wee bit of filming but the falling about with laughter put paid to that.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

7th Province

16th August.
River Quelle to Lac Baker, New Brunswick

Now cycling into my 7th Province and, when I look at a map of Canada, find it hard to believe I have almost cycled across this vast country! We stopped at the Tourist Office in Edmunston and used internet to check e-mails but not enough time to blog.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Haute Cusine

13th August
Quebec City to L'islet-sur-Mer.
We were slightly worried about cycling out of the city but managed to find the bike track and were well on our way. We crossed the St. Lawrence River on the ferry and cycled through the lovely French countryside and villages. The count down started on the 9th and now we have 20 days to cycle. I can't believe it, I am so excited and can't believe I have cycled almost Coast to Coast! We arrived at a camp site beside the St. Lawrence River. We dined haute cuisine cooked by Randy, local fresh grown sweet corn with lobster salad and vin blanc followed by chocolate eclairs and a glass of the very best MALT.

14th August
Right up to date with the blog, hurray, hurray. It may be a while before another appears. This is Randy's lap top I am using in the camp ground but no internet access, so unable to read e-mails. Randy is cooking a gourmet breakfast as I type in the sunshine--pancakes with blueberries, yummie. Will close now.

From Vancouver: 6,200km
To Halifax: 920km

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

11th August
Batiscan to Quebec City.
We left our little haven to find the clouds were dark in the sky again. We hoped and prayed they would blow away as there was quite a strong wind and we did not want another day of rain. We cycled on to-wards Quebec City where we would be meeting Randy with his two sons, Oliver and Colin. The road surface was a cyclist's nightmare, full of pot holes with a high pavement. I was worried that the wall of the high pavement would rub against the panniers hurling me on to the road and to avoid the holes it would mean swinging round thus causing the traffic thundering down behind hitting me one mighty belt. It was a difficult choice so I chose the latter hoping the traffic would manage to steer clear of this slightly crazy Scottish Granny flying the Scottish flag and amazingly it did! Randy had booked us into Motel le Jardine, which we found without too much difficulty, and he joined us later with the boys and we all went to downtown to eat.

12th August
We were going to have a whole day of site seeing and we set off early to explore the Old City of Quebec. The City is celebrating its 400th anniversary and there was so much to see and do and not nearly enough time. At night there was a wonderful display of son et lumier on to the trade buildings across the harbour depicting 400years in the life of Quebec. There is so much history about Quebec and too much for me to blog so I suggest a book on it it for historians reading this but for a taste try

Lazy Day

10th August
Sun still shining and a perfect day ahead. A swim before breakfast and leisurely sitting around pool. It is all so French now and we are wondering if we are still in Canada. We want to stay here for much longer but know that, come the morning, it is up and off again!

Sunshine and Riverside Delights

9th August
Louisville to Batiscan
We came down to the most amazing breakfast; all Madame's home cooking. The table was groaning under the weight of the silver service and the light from the chandelier shone down on us. The sun,which had been missing for so many days, shone brilliantly and we were on our way. We are now on count down as we reckon we have about 24 days to cycle and I am so happy about that. It has been an amazing ride and when I look at the big map of Canada, I can't believe I have cycled so far. We crossed a bridge and found the most amazing spot to camp complete with bar and swimming pool. The forecast was good and we decided to have a day off at this magical little spot. The St Lawrence River was on our door step and the area was a yachtsman's paradise.

A Breath of French Air

8th August
Saint Jacques to Louisville.
Opened the front door to find puddles galore and rain belting down. On with the rain gear and off to face another gruesome day. Around about 11am we stopped at a very French bar for coffee and decided a cognac would be an excellent idea and cheer us on our way! The countryside was so different from the Canada I had been cycling across since May and, although it was throwing it down I was enjoying the Frenchness of the whole scenario. We needed another motel night and found a beautiful B&B full of Victoriana. Our chambre for the night was wildly different from the tents as we slept in the luxury of magnificent 4 poster beds.

Back to the Rain and Wet Tent

7th August
Montebello to Saint Jacques.
Packed wet tent, more filming and then au revoir to Randy and Colin, who will be returning in a few days. The rain battered down and it was hard to see the road ahead. We were pleased when the cycling was over for the day and managed to find a reasonable motel and booked in for the night.

Farewell to Ann

6th August
Ottawa to Montebello
Six sat around the table and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Ann had mentioned she felt she had no ties now in Scotland and probably would not be returning. I felt very sad about this when I left her thinking I might never see her again. She had been so kind. Off on the road again and, in a round about way, managed to find our way out of Ottawa. We cycled across the Alexander Bridge and out of Ontario and into Quebec. The change was instant. The signs were all in French and there was almost a different smell in the air. Cameraman Randy joined us and did some filming and at times his young son Colin took control of the camera. Randy would drive the car slowly along beside us and there was our young film maker pointing the camera on us as we cycled along. I wanted to laugh but knew I musn't. We were cycling along by the St Lawrence River where huge cargo boats make their way to Thunder Bay. We found a nice little town called Montebello and camped beside the river.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


3rd August
We had a leisurely day. Ann drove me around the area where she lives. It used to be called Gloucester but is now all part of Ottawa. Later, we sat in the garden enjoying the afternoon sun and the conversation was "Remember old so and so (teacher at Marr College). I got the belt nearly every day for talking. Old Dunt used to throw the wooden duster at me. Old Wilson took his cane across my backside" and so it went on. We agreed that would never happen now. The police would be involved and teachers would lose their jobs. We also agreed we had the best years.

4th August
Up and off early to sight-see around Ottawa We walked along the canal which is frozen in the winter and the whole city takes on a theme called Winter Interlude. It is a beautiful city with many magnificent buildings, too many to mention here.

5th August
Penny and I have decided to finish the bike ride in Halifax and forget going up to Newfoundland. ZOOM headquarters are in Ottawa, in fact not very far from Ann. Mark, who does an excellent job as head of Customer Relations, had written a very nice letter inviting us to visit when we reached Ottawa. Penny came down with her sister-in-law, Janet, from Gateneau and Ann and I drove up to the office. What a reception was waiting for us. I just keep thinking that I am an ordinary wee granny from Scotland but the ZOOM team made me feel like a celebrity. They gave us gifts, donation for Macmillan Cancer Support and some dollars for us to enjoy a coffee or two and they very kindly arranged to bring the flight forward for us without a problem and we are now flying back on the 4th September arriving in Glasgow on the 5th at 08-40am which is 10 days ahead of the original schedule. I read through the ticket form to find that we are flying under "Very Important Person" status - there may be a charge for autographs when I get home!We left the office on a high, thanking them for the lovely time, and drove back to Ann's. Penny had to go back to collect her bike and cycled to Ann's. Triple Echo Film Productions had arranged for Randy to come to do a bit more filming (thank goodness, as my filming is such an amateurish affair) and he arrived with his young son Colin. It was so good to see him again - the last time we saw each other was in Nelson, BC, 4,800km ago. Ann's grandson, another Colin, also joined the party so it was a full house for her who originally thought I would just be stopping for a night or two by myself - well done Ann and thank you so much.
I am now up to date and Penny is starting to worry about the short time we have left to finish the bike ride. I may only be able to blog now and again but will do my best.

Friendly Stranger in Ottowa

3rd August
Arnprior to Ottawa. 70km
Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and about 70kms to cycle! I am feeling good to-day and ' gearing' up for the last push to the coast. In coast to coast bike rides the tradition is to dip the rear wheel into the sea when you begin and the front when you finish. In all the excitement we dipped our front wheels as if we were about to cycle across the Pacific so I suppose we will have to reverse into the Atlantic - but we won't be setting off back! We had been told of a bike track, part way, which would take us into Ottawa avoiding the chaos of Highway 17. We would be parting company for a couple of days as Penny was off to stay with relatives North of Ottawa and I was going South to Ann's. We were at the 'Spider' a famous meeting point in Ottawa and apparently cost millions to build. We were not sure how to join the path again as we had lost it somewhere. We asked a passing cyclist who said he was going that way too. We parted company with Penny when we reached the point where she turned off and our companion stayed with me. He said he would accompany me to a point near Bank Street from where I was to cycle down to Ann's. He talked about the assaults on innocent victims that happen on the trail and I asked if it happened at night. "Oh no" he said "it can happen in broad daylight - just like now!!" I expected a knife or gun to appear from a pocket of his cycling top any minute. Who was this man - we had never met before and we were alone on a very quiet part of the bike track. Perhaps I should make a break for it break and beat it fast. My imagination went into overdrive but I decided this was ridiculous. He was a perfectly pleasant chap only trying to be helpful to a stupid old granny, hopefully! He finally waved goodbye with a cheery smile in Bank Street and I was on my way to stay with Ann for a couple of days. "What shall I take" I said to myself. "Perhaps a bottle of wine or fruit or chocs. would be nice." I settled for a bottle of wine and then a thought struck me. Perhaps she doesn't drink and she is a TT person! She wasn't and we had a great re-union. The old school photographs came out as we knocked back the whisky. The 1st XV rugby team of 1954 "Oh, I remember having a crush on him" I said to Ann "I remember my first real kiss with him" said Ann pointing to a stunner and so it went on. Lots of laughter and plenty of drachms!

Highway of Horrorsl

1st Aug
Griffith to Arnprior, 80 km
Packed wet tent. No more long haul camping ever - remind me just in case I weaken one day. Dennis had made toast and tea in the kitchen which we appreciated so much. We have not lit the breakfast camping stove for quite some time now and it's good to get away from all that. We knew we would be joining Highway 17 again which is the horror of all horrors! There is next to no hard shoulder apart from a couple of nightmare feet. The traffic is constant and it was also the start of the holiday weekend and every living soul in Canada was on this road! I wasn't happy on this road to death highway and told Penny I was off the bike and walking. She said it was more dangerous to walk than cycle but I said the traffic could send the bike flying but at least I wouldn't be on it. I moved to the gravel area and felt safer. I had about 8kms to walk and Penny had gone - ZOOM! When we met at the entrance to Arnprior she had already booked us into a very upmarket motel. A feeling of giving it all up was beginning to settling in around me. Penny was working away and e-mailing via her Blackberry. We dried our tents and Penny went in to shower. I was unloading my bike when it fell over causing Penny's bike to fall to the ground. Her mirror, which she cannot do without, broke from the handlebars and lay shattered on the ground. I was distraught. I wanted to go home. I asked at the office if there was a bike shop in Arnprior. They told me there was a Canadian Tire and they did bike things. Penny emerged from the shower and I told her the bad news of the mirror. I also said I wanted to go home. "Don't worry" she said " it won't be long now" I cycled off to Candian Tire and bought a mirror which was the best they could do but substandard to the one I broke. Penny attached it to the bike and it seemed ok. We hit the town and had an excellent meal complete with customary vin blanc - maybe it all wasn't so bad after all and I was pleased at the thought of a nice warm bed to sleep in and not my wet tent. When we finally got to it the the room had a double bed and when Penny had booked in she asked for two single beds! They only had the one room with the double bed but said they would bring a "cot" The cot turned out to be a mattress on the floor which Penny insisted on sleeping on. I slept well - Penny did not. She would much rather have been in her tent.....

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

31st July
Chandos Lake to Griffith 130km
We were both loathe to leave this little paradise and the wonderful warmth and hospitality of Jane & Jock, but the old bikes were calling and it was time to go. Our hosts ran us to our starting point and we were off. The hills were big and tough and it was very hot. When the cycling pace slowed on the hills, flies gathered around the face and it was hard to ride. We stopped at Griffith and went into the local shop to ask about camping. " There is no camp site here but you can put your tents up in my garden at the back of the shop" said Dennis, owner of the shop He came round to tell us about swimming in the river and that he would be around if we needed anything. We thanked him and swam in the river. Ottawa is 150km from here and I am excited. Excited because we are on the last leg of the journey and also to meet up with an old school friend, Ann Barnard, whom I have only seen once in the last 54 years!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Chandos Lake

29th July
Orilia to Jock and Jane's Cabin, Chandos Lake, Apsley, about 250kms west of Ottawa.
(After all those good resolutions this was a seriously long ride of about 160km but well worth it in the end by the sound of it)
Jock picked us up on the road to the cabin. He piled all our panniers and bikes on to the truck and off we drove. Jane met us at the door and this is a truly out of this world place. The path from the cabin runs down to the lake where they have their own jetty with boats and canoes all hanging around. We sat looking across the lake, gin and tonics in hand! Jane cooked a superb meal and we chatted long in to the night.

30 July
Relaxing by the lake
It is so good to sleep in a comfortable bed for a change. I slept well - first time for ages. The day dawned but unfortunately the weather had changed and heavy rain was falling with thunder storm following. However, it cleared and in the afternoon we went of across the lake in Jock"s power boat. We saw Mother Loon with her two Baby Loons swimming along beside us. She was turning and calling to the babies. The sound was magical. We stopped for a while to watch the loons and then sped across the lake to see the Osprey's nesting on the top of a disused telegraph pole, a mum and her three babes. Back to the cabin for a cup of tea on the jetty. It is such a wonderful spot, one day is not enough. Jane had cooked a fantastic rack of lamb with new potatoes and big stuffed mushrooms. Penny was tucking into this right down to the bare bone and I had to remind her that she was a vegetarian! Jock lit the big log fire and we settled back for a leisurely chat.

Good Resolutions!

Thornbury to Orillia
Cracking morning, sun is up and the day looks good. I made a few decisions. No more long distance bike rides, no more long spells of putting up tent and packing wet tent in the morning. No, life will not be "No Pain NoGain" that must end. Perhaps an odd challenge but no more ridiculous goals that I take on board. Prentice is ready in full Tour de France gear and we are ready for the off. He is going to join us for a short ride so we say goodbye and thank Denise and off we go down the mile long drive!! After a superb run on the old railway track we part company with Prentice, big hugs all round and off we pedal. Now, do you remember Jim White who piped at the Cock Inn Farewell Bash? Well his brother Jock and wife Jane live a days cycle from here, so I phoned Jock to tell him where we were and he said he would be delighted to see us and have us to stay at his lake-side home. My bum and shoulder ache like mad and I want to get off the bike as soon as poss. This will be a welcome break. We camped that night in Orillia and I could see Jock and Jane's log cabin in my dreams. Jim has told me all about it at back home in Scotland.

Proper Cyclists!

27th July
Wiarton to Thornbury
Bad night in camp site, noisy campers beside my tent and raining. Packed wet tent at 6-30am, on bikes and off to meet Prentice (Andreas Dad) and his cycling friends in a town called Owen Sound. The group were serious cyclists - Tour de France type thing. I think I am a disgrace to the cycling world. The serious cyclists wear the clip on pedal shoes - I wear sandals. They wear lycra shorts and vests - I wear normal shorts that flap about. My cycling uniform would have to change if I became a serious cyclist. I am a fun cyclist and just mosey along singing. We had a great morning. Denise (Prentice's wife) had taken our panniers so it was light cycling. Prentice invited us to their home for drinks. This turned out to be a J R Ewing Dallas type ranch - wow, out of this world with swimming pool and Lake! We sat on the terrace and drank beer. Prentice and Denise invited us to stay the night. They had been invited to a party but told us to make ourselves at home computer and all. So I BLOGGED and BLOGGED and managed to catch up. I worry a lot when I fall behind as I know family and friends are waiting for the next episode and I am missing you all. I hope it won't be so long until I can blog again but it's all in the lap of the Gods.
The Blue Mountains,_Ontario
Thornbury weather:

More Dream Holiday Destinations

26th July
Tobermory to Wiarton.
Some nights I sleep well in my tent but to-night I was tossing and turning and worrying about the blog. It is more than 10days since I last blogged and want to keep uo to date as much as possible. We were hoping to cycle to Owen sound but found a nice little town called Wiarton and decided to camp there. Andrea, you may remember I stayed with in BC near a town called Nelson, had e-mailed to say if we were near where her dad stayed, he would love to spend a morning cycling with us.

Manitoulin Island and the Ferry

25th July
Little Current to Tobermory.
Mave and Penny spent the night in Little Current ( on Manitoulin Island described as "A unique scenic region, where Native life and legend meld with European history to provide an unforgettable holiday experience. The island town of Manitowaning was the first European settlement, whilst Wikwemikong remains the only unceded Indian Reserve in Canada. Enjoy the Island's stress free holiday environment, where life moves at a slower pace and time and water flow gently together. Awaken to the awesome beauty of an island sun, rising over crystal clear lakes, warming azure waters and inviting you to enjoy our endless shoreline......." and, from what Mave says, I am sure that is no exaggeration! JRG
Catching the ferry to take us to Tobermory we spotted a bike parked by the terminal. It's owner, 50 year old Lauren, is celebrating her birthday by doing a solo Trans Canada - everybody's at it! She was meeting relatives and spending a couple of days with them. We had a great chat on the ferry and exchanged e-mails. She is a strong determined athlete and we were amazed at what she was doing. It was like a mutual appreciation society as she said she wants to be just like us when she is 7oyrs. We cycled off the ferry and Lauren met her very young Aunt and Uncle who were taking her off for a couple of relaxing days - something I think I have forgotten how to do! We said goodbye and off we went to find a camp site near Tobermory. As we were cycling through the town, a truck pulled alongside and an arm shot out. In the hand of the arm was a bottle of vin rouge." This is for you, a present from my Aunt and Uncle" It was Lauren and off they drove!!