If you go down to the woods today....
....you may find this shifty character leaning up against a tree. I still haven't seen a real bear in the woods, but perhaps it is just as well.
A scenic detour through Estmere...
....before being welcomed by Georgina at her lovely traditional clapboard farmhouse..
The bedroom was a haven and her rhubarb and strawberry pie was to die for!
But she was able to have an early morning graze the next day - note the lovely red barn.
Also keeping a horse in the barn was local journalist Anne Farries, who immediately got on the case of trying to identify accommodation for Lady.
Sunday June 29th. Riding to West Alba in the cool of the morning..
...but the temperatures soon soared and the bugs came out. We avoided some of the midday heat with a pleasant lunch stop in a park beside the lake at Orangedale....
..shady grazing for Lady with a breeze to keep most of the bugs at bay, and a bandstand for me to relax in. And there was a shop only a couple of hundred yards away. Who should turn up here in support but Mike and Peggy.from Cabresto Ridge, as they have a cabin not too far away.
This turned out to be a longer day than expected as some of the small trails marked on my map were now defunct and I had to take a more roundabout route.
The sun beat down and the bugs descended again, so by the time I reached my intended destination of River Denys I was desperate to find an overnight barn for Lady who was becoming increasingly distressed by the nippers. And I did not escape their attention as there were lumps on my neck and encrusted dried blood on my brow from black fly bites. I searched fruitlessly and was almost in tears when I arrived at a house in the woods belonging to German couple Willi and Anita. Without a word Willi immediately beckoned me over to a large barn which served as his garage cum workshop, and we led Lady inside. Willi cleared a space among the work materials and within a few minutes Lady had calmed down and relaxed ("And so did you!"commented Willi later) in her unusual stable.
A journey like this is always full of ups and downs, and this episode demonstrated how the random kindness of strangers can turn a miserable experience into a delightful one, as I also had a enjoyable evening with Willi and Anita enlivened by a glass of German liqueur! ..
As the grazing was sparse and the bugs unremitting, Lady dined on a leftover banana I had in my saddle bag and some stale bread provided by my hosts (retired bakers!) and soaked in water, and on Monday morning I paused down the road soon after sunrise to graze her in the garden of an unoccupied house.
Even at this hour the mosquitoes were beginning to be a nuisance, though a liberal application of insect repellent helped to keep them at bay.
I experienced more Cape Breton goodwill when I stopped at West Bay Road in the hope of finding some refreshment. No shop or café, but friendly Post Office ladies Ruth and Rosemary made me a cup of coffee and even nobly insisted on sharing their packed lunches with me (though Lady scoffed the banana)
And as I was trudging along in the sweltering heat further down the road a pickup pulled up and I found myself being offered iced water (refreshingly cold) and iced cake (sickly sweet) by John, who had heard of me in the Post Office and had decided to make sure I did not die of thirst or starvation on my way to Port Hawkesbury.
I had heard conflicting reports of the existence of a riding centre with a barn there, and found community riding club stables indeed existed conveniently on my route into town.
As you may deduce by the clue in the photo, the club stables are run side by side with a racing stables for pacers which boasts a small but well kept practice race track. In spite of the fact that I had turned up unannounced out of the blue, club member Michelle dashed up to sort Lady out with a spacious loose box and feed, and then very generously took me home to shower, eat and sleep. Many thanks to her and partner Kevin. Unfortunately no photo as she was too camera shy!