Sunday, 24 May 2015

Newmarket

Mosquitoes

True Brits

Sorry this whole blog post disappeared when I was editing it and I do not have time to rewrite it now.

Amazing Grace

A frosty start to May 14th and a morning's ride through forest and swamp until we started to reach more cultivated land near Tweed.  Lakeside trail to Tweed ..
 A novel idea (!) - a little lending library at a spot by a park bench overlooking the lake....
Lady was feeling more energetic, and we continued some way past Tweed, eventually finding a place to stay near Ivanhoe with Pete and Julie Marshall, who keep pulling horses (by which I mean horses that pull) .
Pete's champion pony pulling pair, harnessed up ready for work. 
The lovely grey Molly is a Percheron mare, the other a Haflinger/quarter horse gelding.  Pete was a mine of interesting equine information, but exhausted by the previous night's lack of shut-eye, I reluctantly retired relatively early.  Pete let me use their mobile home, and I slept like a log.
May 15th and cutting across country something tells me I am travelling through Amish land..
Another little clue...
And it is not long before I come across this neat Amish farm with vegetable garden and washing hung out to dry...
..and this rural ploughing scene....

I had hoped to stop somewhere just the other side of Campbellford, but although farmland ran back to the trail, it was not until I reached a country road several miles further on that I came across a farmhouse surrounded by machinery.  It had started to rain as I knocked at the door, so I was relieved when a friendly elderly lady appeared. Grace Wynne invited me in, and when son Michael arrived Lady was put into a shed with an enormous pile of hay while I joined them for supper. To my surprise it transpired that Grace was very well travelled, having visited China, Argentina, Singapore, Malaysia, the Aegean and the UK to name but a few.  With her husband she drove all over America including Alaska and Labrador, though they failed to make South America when they ran out of road.
 Grace with some of the twenty seven barn cats she feeds...

Night on a park bench

Canada geese on the Centenntial Frontenac Trail near Maberley May 12th ....
After passing through Sharbot Lake, where I stopped for lunch at a little café overlooking the lake, we re-joined the Trans Canada Trail.  This section was quite flooded in parts...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDnAPtNr4nc&feature=youtu.be
 
Flooding on the trails are quite often caused by the activities of beavers, who build some impressive dams such as this one ..
We disturb an osprey on its nest....
The platform is man made.  
  A little way further down the trail I encountered a pick-up driven by a genial bear of a man.  "I've been looking for you for days" he announced.  Mike Hawley invited me to stay at his house just down the trail, and although it was a bit early in the day I decided to take advantage of his offer.  A good decision as Lady needed a rest, and I crashed out for two hours immediately on arrival!  It was an excellent opportunity for us both to chill out, and I was spoilt by Bob and wife Norah, shown below in front of their characterful old cedar house in the middle of nowhere.
Bob has a large extended family in the area, and by chance the next morning May 13th I bumped into his twin sisters Arlene and Marlene gathering plants on the trail for a bird sanctuary in Mountain Grove...
Another stunning section of trail...
....and well maintained if flooded in parts. 
 
The woodland floor was sometimes dotted with pretty white flowers..
..and it turned out these were trillium, the Ontario provincial emblem.  Like the tulip n Kazakhstan, they only last for a couple of weeks, so I was lucky to see them.
After miles of riding through uninhabited forest, I arrived at Kaladar.  I could not find anywhere for Lady, and she ended up tethered behind the community centre, though the cooler weather meant the mosquitoes were minimal.  I curled up in my bivi and sleeping bags in my airy bedroom...
Not very restful as lorries thundered past all night on the Trans Canada Highway which passes through Kaladar.
 

Beating the Bugs

10th May and Mother's Day in Canada!  The Trans Canada rail trail ended at Carleton Place, so I cut across country via small roads towards Perth.  Annoyingly my cell phone package ran out, and as feared it proved impossible to extend it via the phone in spite of the previous assurances of the assistants at Bell.  Happily I was stopped by John Hopkinson formerly from Brighton, an ex Brit who has lived in Canada since the 1950s, and we were soon joined by Maureen and teenage daughter Cherish - I immediately took advantage of her youthful nonce to tackle the intricacies of Bell technology, but it still took over an hour to sort it out.
 
Cherish succeeds in communicating with a live person while Maureen acts as groom and John adds moral support. We then had to use Maureen's credit card to pay (I reimbursed her with cash) as Bell would not accept my debit card.   But I had a working phone at last and we parted like old friends!
A little further down the road a couple in a car stopped and offered me a place to stay for the night conveniently just where I was aiming for.  Psychoanalyst Arthur Leonoff and wife Linda (a multi-birth consultant) lived in a beautiful old stone house built by one of the many Campbells who have inhabited the area since the early 1800s.
Lady had a huge field and I retired to a luxurious bedroom after being wined and dined.

Cheerful walking buddies Kathy and Renee who I met on the road the following morning May 11th.
They turned up in a car later to donate a flashing road light for me to use!
Soon after I reached the lovely Centennial Frontenac Trail which follows an abandoned railway line from Perth to Sharbot Lake past woods and lakes... 
I was now expecting to spend a few days crossing a region of forest and swamp, and with temperatures rising, was concerned about the onset of the insect season.  A few mosquitoes had already been making their presence felt and I did not want to get caught in the middle of the wilds tormented by bugs and with no shelter.  Hopefully I would make it to the other side without too much trouble, but I hoped to find buildings for Lady where necessary.

I didn't wait to see if this was dead or alive....
I was aiming for Sharbot Lake, but Lady was feeling a bit off colour so I decided to look for somewhere near Maberley with shelter for Lady, and was taken in by the lovely Sue Howlett, shown here with her horses before leaving for work on the morning of May 12th...
Lady spent the night in the barn with a large pile of hay though the mosquitoes were not too bad.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Hitting The Trail

A late start on Saturday May 9th as an early interview with CBC radio was followed up by an item for CTV.  But eventually we got away on a hot morning along the Trans Canada Trail.
   A welcome break at the Quitters Café in Stittesville, where owner and rock star Kathleen Edwards treated me to an iced coffee, and ham and brie croissant (delicious and highly recommended)..  Parking for cars, bikes, dogs out back....
...and even horses as it turned out!

...a passing cyclist told me he had seen a bear near our rest stop - was this a warning? ...

The spirit of Christmas endures on the trail....

Cocoon....

Ann had sorted out a place to stay at Ashton, and I was met and guided in by Ottawa Valley hunt club official Bob to Lady's overnight quarters chez Cindy Lauzer while I was scooped up and taken home by the energetic Grits (her nickname!) for spaghetti, sorbet, shower and bed.  Thanks all!