Day 72 – Woodstock-in-the-drizzle to Fredericton

Day 71 – I’m getting the hang of this now. Checked the weather before bed, rain at 6am predicted, set alarm for 5am to pack up dry, booked a motel in Fredericton, found a target for brunch, preloaded map on iphone, slept like a baby (woke up screaming every 45 minutes – no, actually I slept fine, thanks for asking) and brunch is where I am now.

STATS!! DONCHA LUVVEM?? YES YOU DO!!

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 22
  • Time in saddle: 22
  • Max/min temp (°c): 22°/22°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 22 / 22
  • Calories used: 22
  • Cafe time: 22

(Just checking…….)

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 62 / 100
  • Time in saddle: 5h 05
  • Max/min temp (°c): 30°/10° (brrr)
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 2562 / 2465
  • Calories used: 2902
  • Cafe time: 3h 09


Susie finally made it home, despite a last-minute problem letting her Tesla-driving cabbie pal Mitch know that she’d be a couple of hours early and at Heathrow, not Gatwick. When she finally got through, he was at LHR anyway, so he just had another coffee and met her as planned!

Today I travelled briefly along a local backroad, then half the day along the TCH and then a quieter road alongside the St John River, which flows all the way down to the Bay of Fundy, famous for having the highest tidal range in the world.

Canada has more than its fair share of disused Motels. It’s not always obvious that they’ve shut down, but the tell-tale sign is the growth of grass and wild flowers anywhere on the property. Working establishments nuke all weeds, flowers and grass, unless it’s a lawn and can be mown with a ride-on. Also the big sign by the road is clue – retro and faded = shut, but using that measurement I would have said that the Ritz the other night was defunct. If a nail parlour goes out of business, a coffee shop can easily rent the same premises and open up; motels are hard places to re-use. I’ve seen them being used as flea-markets but that’s about it. I get a bit of a shiver imagining spending a night in a deserted place like this. Not much chance of a ‘cosy cabin’, more like the freaky arrangements of twigs and twine a la Blair Witch Project. And just look at that lawn…

Three years ago, our neighbouring village in Hertfordshire, Kings Langley, changed its name. The change was only to last for one week, before reverting back to plain old King’s Langley. And the reason? Some bright spark who was a big fan of Game of Thrones saw a chance to get some cheap publicity during the release of a DVD of the series, so it became “Kings Landing” for the week. We had lots of tourists coming out from London to have their photo taken next to the sign (we’re also quite close to the studios where Harry Potter World is) and one of the local schools got involved:

So you can imagine my surprise when I came upon this sign today, and in fact passed right through it:

Someone missed a trick there. Didn’t even need a tacky new sign.
Everyone has been talking about what a strange summer Canada has been having, ever since I first got to British Columbia back in May. Mainly the issue has been rainfall, but of there have been awful wildfires too. I’ve had a good run recently, with lovely warm weather both day and night, and great for camping, but there something odd that I’ve noticed. Where are the bees, and the wasps? Yesterday, in my campground, I saw one bee (dead) and one wasp (alive but dopey). Which brings my total for the trip since May to, and I kid you not:

Wasps……………1

Bees……………….3 (1 dead)

Two of those bees were on Virginia’s balcony in Toronto (well done Virginia!). Now, I can see that highways aren’t the best place to meet bees, but I’ve cycled through some pretty varied terrain overall, and it’s unavoidable: there are hardly any bees in Canada. Do the plants rely more on other polinators? Do bees do badly in climates with such cold winters? Any info or opinions welcome.

Today’s drizzle also brought the coldest air for a long while – as I climbed a steep hill I saw my breath and thought “What on earth is that?”

Today also brought another car beeping me as they passed, and scaring the living daylights out of me. Yesterday Zoel beeped me, but I knew he was coming and he wound down the window and waved, and it wasn’t a surprise in any way. If you beep a cyclist on the highway you have no idea how loud and alarming it sounds as you speed by. Much better would be to slow down, wind down the window and give a wave.  I’m afraid that any lip readers looking in their mirrors after beeping me might regret it.

The Guildhall Strings (keep cropping up, hmmm) used to have a rather posh manager called Malcolm Farrer-Brown. He phoned me at home once, but Susie answered the phone. She had just picked up the phone twice to a silent caller, so was getting pretty freaked out. When Malcolm rang she let rip and gave him some suggestions of where to go. “Well!” said a very shocked MFB “There was some very colourful language there, I must say!” When I got on the phone, he said the same again to me!

(In the early days of spellcheck with word processors, before they recognised real names, we never tired of entering each other’s names in to see what approximation the software would come up with. Malcolm’s wife, Jilly, came out as “Jolly Farmer Brown”)

I also passed a very impressive cedar-shingled barn on my way into Fredericton (I followed the quieter riverside road since a guy at my lunch stop said it was great). I love the look of these grand barns, but they’ve mostly been demolished in favour of modern megabarns. This one has shed its winter coat and is ready for summer. It also had a new roof, so I think it’s going to be around for a while longer yet:

Since our Jacob provided a sign yesterday, I thought I’d send him one back as a thank-you:

I just heard that Glen Campbell died today. I wasn’t a big fan but when I was young I remember thinking that “Wichita Lineman” was an amazing song, and I still do. Great chords. Here are two versions, the original and then the live cover that R.E.M. recorded twenty-three years ago. If you don’t know it already, see what you think:

19 thoughts on “Day 72 – Woodstock-in-the-drizzle to Fredericton

  1. OK, I can’t resist your question yesterday about the number of trees in Canada – it’s the kind of question you get thrown at you in management consulting interviews to test logic!
    Canada’s total area is about 10million sq km. Based on your blog, I’m going to assume that 50% is prairie, 25% is high mountain, 20% is forest, 8% is water and 2% is urban/roads etc.
    Some more heroic assumptions – there are no trees on the prairie (approximately true), in the high mountains there are few trees (say 100m apart – so 100 per sq km), ditto urban areas. Most of the trees are in the forested areas; say they are equally spaced 10m apart throughout the forest (10,000 per sq km). There are no trees in the water.
    With these assumptions, we get 20m trees in urban areas, 200m trees in the mountains, and a whopping 20bn trees in the forested areas.
    The rest of the interview is spent ripping the answer to shreds!

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    1. David that is stupendous. I think a whole box of minstrels – no, any small and inexpensive chocolates of your choice – are yours for the asking. I admire your approach and thoroughly enjoyed thinking about it with you! I’m going to cut and paste the whole thing if that’s ok with you? Also – glen cambell! I’ve been singing Wichita silently to myself all through breakfast at my motel. Dangerous sign for today’s cycling.

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  2. PS – I saw Glen Campbell play live once, I have a soft spot for that melancholy country-tinged pop. Not so REM – who I find utterly dreary. Still, each to his own!

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  3. Cosy Cabins is as sinister as Psycho, ormaybe just a setting for a really forlorn short story about overgrown hopes. And the barn is splendid, such a satisfying shape, everything Cosy Cabins isn’t.

    So glad you’re home safely Susie xx

    Sam will know about the bee mystery.xx

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  4. Ooh… the Bay of Fundy – you’re getting to familiar areas now. We once did an incredible boat trip on the Shubenacadie River, which also runs into the Bay of Fundy. The tide was extraordinary, coming up in a tidal bore which got larger and larger the higher up it went. We rafted up the river on it… hugely exhilarating! Apparently the tide is 30ft!! Px

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  5. I don’t get it. Why is it that Jacob’s moteur is the only one that urgently needs brakes? Also I’m afraid I don’t get Wichita Lineman – doesn’t really do anything for me. But the gripping account of your travels keeps us all on our toes, so probably you can’t ever stop or we won’t know how to spend our time. (Sorry Susie I forgot you are home and able to read this). You have an amazing recall of information, music, songs etc. I’d love to see a scan of your brain as you cycle along. xxx

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  6. Hello everyone – back in England again after a super-long journey home with 2 trips to the airport on Sunday and Monday. Had to phone my poor father at 3am on Monday morning to say I was on my way back to him in an airport limo. He didn’t bat a sleepy eyelid and got me sheets and blankets for my makeshift sofa bed. I didn’t think I would actually make it off the tarmac yesterday, but I managed it and got to Heathrow instead of Gatwick, and on proper Air Canada, (not its budget ‘Rouge’ arm – avoid at all costs!) so it was all good. Jacob was waiting at home for me and we spent the day catching up.
    I must say it’s awfully wet in your country. My country’s nice and warm and sunny, if a little on the humid side.
    The first week in Toronto with Ben felt like a kind of dream almost as soon as he left (perhaps the jet-lag didn’t help) – was he REALLY there? I had such a sense of unreality. And it doesn’t really make much difference whether I’m here or in Canada, he still feels like a long way away. I wish I’d arranged to go and meet him in St John’s, Newfoundland, at the end of his trip. That would have been AWESOME! (as we say in my language).
    I had a wonderful time with my lovely relations and always feel very torn when I leave. My sister Joanna (who lives in Sweden) said the same thing: it’s a real wrench when you have to go, and you feel your heart is in two places. Worse for her, as she was actually brought up in Toronto.
    Keep on pedalling, Ben! See you in a few short weeks!
    Susie xx

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  7. Am happy to report that there are lots of bees and wasps in the Annex area of TO. I’d be happy to try to relocate wasps from the BBQ area at my sister’s condo to inhabited areas of the country!

    On a more serious note I believe that there has been a decline in the wild bee population (in southern Ontario). A few years back I think that some farmers in the Niagara region purchased bee hives to place in the orchards and vineyards to supplement the wild bee population.

    Am really enjoying your blog!!
    Michelle and the Smith boys (from BWP)

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    1. I love the Annex. We stayed there for a few weeks one Christmas, also in Virginia’s house! In fact our “President’s Choice” turkey on Christmas Day came from the Loblaws around the corner. Glad to know that bees are doing well there. I’m keeping a bee-dy eye ou for them and will update as and when. Enjoy your holiday!

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  8. Honeybees, bumblebees, other bees and wasps have been declining in many places around the world, principally due to the increasing intensity of agriculture and particularly certain classes of pesticide (e.g. neonicotinoids). Declines have been particularly severe in North America, presumably because of the scale of intensive agriculture there. It is thought various bee species have gone extinct in the last few years, and many others are endangered. Honeybee declines mean that colonies must be transported across huge distances to where they are needed for pollination, which is clearly inefficient. However, Canada’s harsh winters are in fact beneficial to bees, as they kill off bee pests and diseases, and perhaps help to explain why bee declines have been less marked in Canada than the US. I think there is also more public awareness and activism surrounding bees and their importance as pollinators in Canada – Toronto has apparently been striving to be crowned Canada’s “Bee City”.

    The trees question is a bit like what students might be asked in an Oxbridge interview too!

    That barn looks great for bats, swallows, etc. One of the reasons why such animals may be in decline is because of the conversion of such barns into fancy accommodation. I agree with Grandma that the empty motel is perfect for a story of some kind, preferably a spooky one.

    I’m going to join the ‘for’ camp with Witchita Lineman – I might learn it on the uke, which has been making regular appearances here at Loch Lomond. I always think that John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ is becoming ever more fitting for your journey – now there’s a song to get stuck in your head. Perhaps we need a return of that component of the blog 😉

    Part of me just wants to stay forever at Loch Lomond – this has been one of the best three weeks of my life, for various reasons – but I suppose I shall eventually gravitate towards Hertfordshire, as Mum has already done and you are steadily doing. But my heart will be torn in two a bit, too.

    Apologies for the hefty reply 🙂

    Samsonite xx

    P.S. since we’re all talking about weather, I just thought I’d rub it in and mention that we’ve just had one of the nicest days all summer at Loch Lomond, which is usually more like April every day!

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