I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Our Canadian Dream - Days 5 & 6 (Charleston Lake to Emily)

Monday 16th May – Charleston Lake Provincial Park to Emily Provincial Park

We left Charleston Lake to head over to Emily, a township north of the town of Peterborough.  I will never moan about the roads in the UK again!  You should try some of the Canadian roads ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

I had read about a very good farm shop which was north west of Charleston Lake and as we didn’t want to drive the main highway again we decided to make a visit – just our luck, it was closed on Mondays!

The landscape is littered with grain silos, and I mean that in the nicest possible way!  Some are quite simple and others more complicated.

One of the things we have noticed is that there are no lay-bys or, in fact, anywhere to stop off and have a coffee let alone lunch.  We to survive on crisps and diet coke during the journey.  

It started to rain as we got nearer to Emily Provincial Park and when we got there it was obvious that they had had a lot of rain. For nearly all our pitches on this part of our trip, I had chosen ones near to the water.  This turned out not to be a good idea!  We went to our pitch and it was muddy and our electric cable wasn’t long enough to reach the electric post.  We decided to give up on it and went back to the office and moved to one just up the road from the original one.  It wasn’t muddy and our electric cable reached but we were on a real slope.  Richard went to have a look round and found a warden who suggested a couple of sites, one of which was good.  The warden told Richard never to go for a walk without a site map as there was a man last year who walked around for 2 hours trying to find his pitch!

The township of Emily has some interesting history.  The first settler was Humphrey Finlay who arrived in 1820. In 1821, 400 Irish from Fermanagh settled in South Emily and Cavan, and in 1825, 700 of Robinson’s Irish immigrants settled in the northern part of the township. The village of Omemee had its beginnings in 1825 when William Cottingham erected a mill on Pigeon Creek. Before being renamed Omemee (Pigeon) in 1857, it was known successively as Emily, Williamstown and Metcalfe. Emily Township is named after Emily Charlotte, daughter of Lord George Lennox and sister of the fourth Duke of Richmond, Governor-General of Canada from 1817 to 1819.

Tuesday 17th May – Emily Provincial Park to McRae Provincial Park

As we were getting ready to leave we noticed paw prints on the bonnet! They weren’t very big but the bonnet is high off the ground!  Richard was/is convinced that it was a bear, but I think it was more likely a raccoon.  I think we would have felt a bear on the bonnet!  

Before we left the site we did a load of washing and drying – we need to keep on top of it for when there aren’t any facilities.  

I had learnt a lesson in Boston from Sandy who had a “magic phone”!  She would ask her phone where something was and the phone found it – magic!!  Of course it wasn’t magic, it was Siri (or whoever) but I had never used it.  So having learnt our lesson yesterday with nowhere to stop I asked the phone to find a car park near us and she said that there was one a few kilometres off the road ahead.  I set Google maps to take us there and what did we find?  A lay-by!!  We sat out on a picnic table and ate our lunch overlooking a rather stagnant looking pond!

We have often found railway lines going across a fairly main road with just some warning lights, however this time there was a train coming!  Two locos were pulling a freight train of double height shipping containers.  I kid you not the train must have been at least 2 miles long!  It went on for ever and being so long it was very slow.  We just couldn’t believe our eyes.

We needed shopping and it was then that we realised that we hadn’t passed any food shops in about 90 kilometres.  There were plenty of houses but nowhere to buy food other than a convenience store at a service station.  We did pass a Foodland store, but I hadn’t read very good reviews on the chain so again I asked Siri, and she took us passed our destination and round in a circle back to the Foodland store!  The store was lovely, clean, well stocked with good produce.  We shall be going to a Foodland again.

At McRae Provincial Park we checked in and found our pitch which was, thank goodness, a nice one.

Richard and his RV.

Our Canadian Dream - Days 3 & 4 (Charleston Lake, Ontario)

Saturday 14th May – Charleston Lake (Ontario, Canada)

Saturday morning was an early start as we had a taxi coming for us at 7.30am.  I was doing the right thing and checking in with 3 hours to spare as it was an international flight but the US don’t seem to count Canada as being international!  Anyway with such an early check in we had plenty of time for breakfast.  We then wandered to the gate and sat in the lounge listening to the fact that our flight was delayed by 20 minutes.  When it was time to board we were hustled onto the plane and took off in a hurry!  The flight was just under 2 hours and, even with the delay, we still landed in Toronto on time!  Toronto Airport was easy peasy compared with Boston and we were out, in a taxi and on our way to collect our RV.  I had gaily said that we would pick it up at 2pm and it was 1.50pm when we arrived.  

When we checked in to Canadream 5 day ago we had to watch a video which showed us how to do everything.  It was very informative and today we were given the written brochure of the same thing. We had to check the van all round agreeing with damage already on it!  It is a 2022 van with 17,000 kms on the clock so it is pretty much in pristine order.

We did a bit of unpacking then decided to leave the rest.  We drove to Walmart to do our shopping as I needed to get a Canadian SIM activated.  I had spent a lot of time trying to work out which was the best SIM to get and, thanks to another newly found cousin, Kathy, who lives in Vancouver it arrived in perfect time.  What I then discovered was that I couldn’t activate the SIM with a UK credit card so had to wait until I was in Canada!  We were in Walmart for an hour as the only guy on the electronic desk had a queue to deal with.  Anyway I got it done and we then had internet up and running.  

We set off for Charleston Lake, a 3 hour drive away.  In hindsight I would have stopped before Charleston but we all know about hindsight!!  Richard was finding the RV quite difficult to drive as the steering wasn’t very positive and he was getting a bit stressed especially as it started to get dark.  Fortunately the drive, except for the last bit, was all on a 3 land highway.  When we arrived at Charleston Lake the office was closed but as we had our pitch number we were able to drive to it and get ourselves set up.  As caravaners we are used to setting the caravan up, making sure it is level, putting the legs down, filling the water containers and finally connect the electric cable.  With the RV all we had to do was connect the electricity cable only Richard couldn’t find the electric post and said we didn’t have any electricity.  As usual it was obviously a man look as I found it, though it was in the woods!  I did a bit more unpacking and then gave up!  It was late and really too late to start cooking so we ended up with cereal.  
An easy first part to the day with a rather stressful ending!

As there is only one photo for today I will add a few more of Boston here.

Sunday 15th May – Charleston Lake

We woke up refreshed after a good night’s sleep, thank goodness.  I finished the unpacking and then we drove to Gananoque.  We parked up by the water and had lunch before deciding to go on a boat cruise.  We had 10 minutes to spare before the boat left but managed to get our tickets and run to the boat.

Gananoque is known for being the gateway to the 1000 Islands and is internationally recognised as one of Eastern Ontario’s most stunning waterfront communities.  The 1000 Islands are referred to by the Iroquois Nation as the “Garden of the Great Spirit”, the tranquility of the area belies a history of adventures, wars and rebellions.  

The 1000 Islands are an archipelago of, in fact, 1864 islands that straddle the border between Canada and the USA.  They stretch for about 50 miles downstream from Kingston.  The islands range in size from over 40 square miles to smaller islands occupied by a single residence, or uninhabited outcroppings of rocks. To count as one of the Thousand Islands, emergent land within the river channel must have at least one square foot of land above water level all year round, and support at least two living trees.  Our Captain told us that the Canadians have more islands than the Americans, but the American islands are bigger!!

From Ganaoque I directed Richard to Howe Island, but when he discovered that it entailed a ferry he decided that it wasn’t a good idea!  However I found a nice way back to the campsite and we discovered a lock on the Rideau Canal. 

The Rideau Canal connects Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, to Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston. It is 202 kilometres long. The name Rideau, French for "curtain", is derived from the curtain-like appearance of the Rideau River's twin waterfalls where they join the Ottawa River. The canal system uses sections of two rivers, the Rideau and the Cataraqui, as well as several lakes. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States. It remains in use today primarily for pleasure boating, with most of its original structures intact. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.  In 2007 it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We made ourselves a cup of tea and sat out at a picnic table in the sunshine ๐ŸŒž 

Back at the campsite we had dinner and then tried to see if we could connect my phone up to the TV – YES we could!  I had downloaded masses of Netflix programmes plus a few others so I was very grateful that it worked.  We started watching the second series of Bridgerton but only managed one episode!

Friday, 20 May 2022

Our Canadian Dream - Days 1 and 2 (Boston)

Thursday 12th May

After a pretty rotten night we were up fairly early and down for breakfast in the Yard House, the restaurant attached to the hotel, by 8.30am.

We had arranged to meet my new cousin, Sandy, and her husband Joe in the Yard House.  Sandy and I seemed to hit it off immediately we discovered each other and nothing had changed when we met in person ๐Ÿ˜  Sandy’s Grandfather and my Grandmother were brother and sister, which makes us second cousins.  Strangely enough I have found two other second cousins, also related through their grandfathers, one of whom lives in San Francisco and the other in Adelaide.  Maybe we can all get together some time!!

Sandy was a real star and managed to source a new power pack for my CPAP machine which needed to be picked up before 6pm.

We all had tickets for the ‘hop on hop off trolley bus’ and the nearest stop was just outside the hotel.  We decided to go round the route once and then go back to places that stood out.  We first drove down between the Public Garden and Boston Common.  The Public Garden was originally the first public botanical garden in America and was established in 1837.  In 1634 Boston Common was created as America’s first public park and was a site for Puritanical punishments, home to a whipping post, pillory and stocks.  Pirates, murderers and witches were hanged from a tree known as “The Great Elm”.  More than 1000 bodies have been unearthed there!  We passed the State House, sadly surrounded by scaffolding, and down to the Seaport District.  By this time it was cold and foggy and not very pleasant.  We went up to the USS Constitution which is the World’s oldest commissioned warship afloat and America’s Ship of State.  USS Constitution is noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five smaller British warships.  She was launched 1797.

Having said that we would go round the route once we decided to get off at stop 8 which is right outside the Cheers Bar, the exterior of which was used in the hit NBC sitcom Cheers, which ran between 1982 and 1993.  We had a quick coffee in Starbucks then walked up the hill to look at the State House which sadly is under scaffolding, so we couldn’t see much.  We jumped back on the trolley bus and rode round to the Waterfront – passing the place where the Boston Tea Party happened. The Boston Tea Party was an American political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty on December 16th 1773.  The target was the Tea Act of May 10th 1773, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes. Protesters, some disguised as American Indians, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company. The demonstrators boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into the Boston Harbour. The British government responded harshly, and the episode escalated into the American Revolution.

We were ready for lunch so wandered through Quincy Market where there were so many different types of food that we couldn’t make up our minds so ended up in the Hard Rock Cafรฉ!  We wanted to go into Faneuil Hall but it was closed which was a shame.  From there we walked and had a look at the outside of the Old State House, built in 1713, before walking to Paul Revere’s house.  You may ask who was Paul Revere?  I had never heard of him, but he is a hero to the Americans.  On April 18th 1775, he made the most famous ride of his life, in the middle of the night, to Lexington Concord, to warn patriot leaders in hiding there.  Revere’s house was built in about 1680 on the site of a former parsonage which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. A large and fashionable new home was built at the same location about four years later. Paul Revere purchased the house in 1770.

We then realised that we needed to get back to the hotel so that we could pick up the car and go and collect the new power pack for my CPAP machine.  We hot footed it to the nearest trolley bus stop and continued on the route back to the hotel.  As we got off the bus Sandy and Joe ran back to their car, leaving us oldies behind (!!) and drove to Castletown, they made it with minutes to spare!  I can’t thank Sandy and Joe enough for doing this as the whole holiday could have been spoilt as I would have had little sleep.

Richard and I managed to make it to 9.30 before going to sleep ๐Ÿ˜ด 

Friday 13th May

I had a good night’s sleep, the new power pack worked a treat.

Richard and I had breakfast in the Yard House again before being picked up by Sandy and Joe to go out of the city.  

Our first port of call was Lexington where the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) started.  

We learned a lot about the War when we visited the Minuteman National Park Visitor Centre and saw a great video. Tensions had been building for many years between residents of the 13 American colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. On the night of April 18th 1775, hundreds of British troops marched from Boston to nearby Concord in order to seize an arms cache. Paul Revere and other riders sounded the alarm, and colonial militiamen began mobilising to intercept the Redcoat column. 

American colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. On the night of April 18th 1775, hundreds of British troops marched from Boston to nearby Concord in order to seize an arms cache. Paul Revere and other riders sounded the alarm, and colonial militiamen began mobilising to intercept the Redcoat column. 

On April 19th British troops march into the small town of Lexington at about 5:00 a.m. to find themselves faced by a militia company of more 70 men led by Capt. John Parker. When the vanguard of the British force rushes toward them across the town green, Parker immediately orders his company to disperse. At some point a shot rings out—historians still debate who fired it—and the nervous British soldiers fire a volley, killing seven and mortally wounding one of the retreating militiamen. The British column moves on toward Concord, leaving the dead, wounded, and dying in their wake.

Arriving in Concord at approximately 8:00 a.m., British commanders Francis Smith and John Pitcairn order several companies, about 220 troops in all, to secure the North Bridge across the Concord River and then continue on another mile to the Barrett Farm, where a cache of arms and powder is presumably located. A growing assembly of close to 400 militia from Concord and the surrounding towns gather on the high ground, where they see smoke rising from Concord. Mistakenly assuming the Redcoats are torching the town, the militia companies advance. The Acton Company, commanded by 30-year-old Capt. Isaac Davis, is at the head of the column. When asked if his men are prepared to confront the British troops, Davis says, “I haven’t a man afraid to go.”

North Bridge

Minute Man statue

As the Minute Men march down the hill, the British soldiers, intimidated by their numbers and orderly advance, retreat to the opposite shore and prepare to defend themselves. When Davis’s company comes within range, the Redcoats open fire, killing Davis and also Abner Hosmer, another Acton Minute Man. Major Buttrick of Concord shouts, “For God’s sake, fire!” and the Minute Men respond, killing three British soldiers and wounding nine others. This volley is considered “the shot heard round the world” and sends the British troops retreating back to town.

Many more battles followed, and in 1783 the colonists formally won their independence.

What was a Minute Man?  Well Minutemen were members of the organised New England colonial militia companies trained in weaponry, tactics, and military strategies, comprising the American colonial partisan militia during the American Revolutionary War. They were known for being ready at a minute's notice, hence the name.

We had coffee in Concord, a very pretty little town.

From there we drove on to Salem which is best known for the witch trials of1692.  More than 200 people were accused of practising witchcraft and ultimately 20 innocent people, 14 women and 5 men were hanged and one man was pressed to death.  The trials ceased when Governor William Phipps disbanded the court after his wife was accused of being a witch!  We walked round the memorial garden where there are stones sticking out with each person’s name carved in it.  We walked round to the Museum but it was quite expensive to get in and, to be honest, we hadn’t really got time to visit it.

Blue bushes in Salem

Our next and final stop was in Rockport.  A pretty seaside town in the old New England style.  We wandered around, stopping off in shops (I didn’t buy anything!) before having a meal in a fish restaurant.  I had shrimp (prawns) and fries (chips), they were the best chips I have ever had.

This is probably the most famous place in Rockport.  It is a classic fishing hut called Motif Number 1.

We then drove back into Boston and said a sad farewell to Sandy and Joe.  They are such lovely people and couldn’t do enough for us.  We really enjoyed both our days with them and look forward to welcoming them to the UK in the future.

Not the most flattering photo of either of us - I blame the photographer!

Once back in our room I had the packing to do, which wasn’t too bad this time.  Early night as we had an early start the next day.


Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Our Canadian Dream - The Journey

Tuesday 10th May

A typical Linda packing day – trying to get a quart into a pint pot!  I finally got it done with an hour to spare.  Our taxi was booked for 4.30pm and I was sitting in the arm chair waiting when he arrived.  It was a nice easy journey up to Heathrow and the driver dropped us off at Terminal 5 so that we could take advantage of BA’s twilight service of checking in bags for the next day’s flight.  This meant that we only had to go straight to security the next da

We took advantage of the Pods which were built take passengers from the long stay car park to Terminal 5, then it was extended to the Thistle Hotel.  It was £6 each but well worth it as it was so quick and easy.  We have used a travel agent, Travel Nation, to book the main elements of our trip so it was pure fluke that they had chosen that hotel.

The pods are electric and autonomous. You tell the system where you want to go using touchscreens at the station. If a pod isn't waiting, one will arrive quickly (the average wait time is less than 10 seconds) and you're off. They travel along guideway tracks, navigating laterally using a laser at each wheel so they don't bump into the barriers. And they're in complete control of the journey; the central system programs the route and its relation to other pods before it sets off, but once the pod is under way it's 'thinking' for itself. There is a manned control room if you want to speak to someone or if something goes wrong, but ultimately you're pootling along in your own little capsule.

We checked into the hotel and went to our room before having dinner in their restaurant.  It was an OK meal but nothing special.

Early bed as we had an early start in the morning.

Wednesday 11th May

I was awake really early so we were up and down for breakfast by 7.30am.  Again we took the Pod to Terminal 5 and walked to security, which was a nightmare.  As usual I failed the scanner, but the security people gave up on me when I said that I had an articulate knee!  However, when our carry ons came out of the scanner one of them was taken aside.  We were told that it looked as if I had spent cartridge cases in there!  When checked it was my small camera tripod!!   For goodness sake what could I do with a spent cartridge case?  The departures lounge was as hectic as usual but we managed to find a couple of seats and sat waiting with a cup of coffee.  When our flight was called it was on C46 and as far as I could see C48 was the very last one   As we walked towards the gate I saw the word “transit” and thought that we would be bussed there, but oh no, it was a rapid transit vehicle, a short walk and we were faced with a huge Airbus 380 -  a double decker plane.  We had booked Premium Economy and were on the upper deck, along with Business Class and a few Economy seats. I was so glad we had booked Premium Economy as our seats were slightly wider and more comfortable and we had masses of leg room.  

We took off on time and sat back and enjoyed the 7 hour and 20 minute flight.  I managed to watch all 6 episodes of Regency by Julian Fellowes.  Fortunately I had read the book not that long ago so when I kept dropping off to sleep it didn’t really matter!

We arrived in Boston about 10 minutes early – 13.25 EST (US) time.  We didn’t have to wait long to go through passport control (or whatever they call it these days!).  The lady asked what we were going to do in Boston – visiting family, tourism, business etc.  I said tourism and then suddenly changed it to visiting relatives as we were going to see my 2nd cousin who I had found through Ancestry ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

We collected our bags and went to walk out of the customs hall, but we we were pulled over!  I had visions of having to unpack everything but the customs officer asked if I had any food items to which I replied that I had chilli flakes and onion granules!  He waved us through and wished us a nice day!

With so much baggage (well we are away for 6 weeks) we needed a good sized taxi and fortunately the first in line was an SUV.  The drive to the hotel seemed to be mostly underground – why can’t we do that in the UK?

We were staying at the Boston Marriott Copley Square hotel and our room was on the 38th floor, the top floor!  We had an amazing view of Boston.

We had about an hour’s sleep then went for a walk down to the Charles River.  They have built a 3 mile long, 64 acre park on the Boston side of the river which is used by fitness freaks and people like us, out for a stroll.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at California Pizza, but sadly it wasn’t a good meal at all ๐Ÿ˜ž

The view from our room at night.

We managed to stay awake until 8.45pm .  Then CALAMITY struck!!  I suffer from Sleep Apnoea and use a CPAP machine, only it wouldn’t work.  We tried everything, but nope it was having none of it.  I settled down to sleep knowing that it was not going to be the best of nights.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

The Building of Casa Noott

I asked Amanda, the owner of Casa Noott, for some history of the villa.  She sent my request on her father and this is his reply. 

“We originally bought the small villa almost next door, Vista Grande, in the early eighties, but when visiting one year we saw the two big houses opposite being built, I liked the look of them, and asked the price – both were sold, but the developer, a larger than life American who had been involved with much of the development of Mojacar since he arrived there to escape the US draft at the time of the Vietnam war – offered me the plot. He offered me a package, plot and house to our design, so we went for it. You may see from the photos that much of the mountain at the back had to be scooped away to find a level area, as was general for many of the buildings all over the district.

As to the design, he brought his architect over one evening, and amazingly, in just a few minutes, my wife Pam had, literally on the back of a fag packet, sketched out more or less what you see now – the main addition from the architect was the semi-circular stair case, which we have always though a lovely touch.

The whole thing took quite a while to build, the main problem was services, electricity, water, and drainage – at that time the locals were very disorganized, it was before Spain had adopted EU formality where local councils were concerned, it all depended on whoever was the local mayor and his chums.

The area as you see it now, with the road nicely laid out and with the central greenery, was very rough, the apartments at the top had not been built – the photo we have on the wall was taken a few years before we arrived, not sure exactly when, but gives some idea that only a few decades ago it was just a rough mountain.

John also sent me some photos.  These are just a few.