Monday, 17 November 2014

Mon cell est perdue

Tuesday 21st October
From St Alexandre we started riding southwards along the long-settled St Lawrence river valley with occasional views of the St Lawrence river across sweeps of arable land.
The increase in density of population thankfully meant a network of small roads, and I was able to keep off the highways and sometimes find some lovely little backwater routes.
We were now entering a predominantly dairy farming area.  Unlike the UK, the cattle are housed indoors for much if not all of the year, mainly due to the long and bitterly cold winters which also necessitate the tall grain and silage silos one sees on every dairy farm. 
A rest stop by a dairy farm near Kamarouska with curious cows in the background..
                     Our accommodation for the night at St Philippe de Neri courtesy of Matheu Lesveques, where Lady and me were both warm and comfortable - Lady in a spacious loosebox in the barn on the right, me in the cosy camper van.
Unfortunately the photos I took of Matheu and family when he took me home for supper seem to have gone awol - hopefully I will track them down soon.
Wednesday 22nd October and I struck inland up the steep hill to Mount Carmel,
following the hill ridge southwards with spectacular views out over the St Lawrence valley below..
Halloween fever continues unabated, and festooning one's house with Halloween decorations is de rigeur over here - though it seems that keeping up with the Joneses (or should it be Les Jeans in Quebec?) often involves vying to display the most macabre tableau. I have no idea what the story is behind the gruesome scene below, though it appears the hanged man on the right is still able to brandish his weapon. . ..
At La Pocatiere I was staying with dairy farmer Paul Hudon, thanks to help from Kimber Sider who journeyed across Canada on her horse Kat in 2008 and stayed with Paul for a few days.   She was trying to see if she could travel across the country relying soley on Canadian hospitality.  To see how she fared, see her documentary at Chasing Canada.  Kimber's trip was inspired by the courageous Barbara Kingscote who rode a horse across Canada sixty years before in 1949 and wrote a wonderful book called Ride the Rising Wind, a well written and much recommended account of her experiences on the ride.
The view from my bedroom window down to the St Lawrence, with Lady grazing peacefully in the field in front.  Paul was in the process of replacing his windows which explains the window frames in the garden! 
Paul took me over to visit the equine department at the local college, where I was able to see several beautiful black Canadian horses.  I was introduced to two girls who are planning to ride from La Pocatiere through New Brunswick in the reverse direction to my ride, and one of them came over to the farmhouse later to pick my brains (what is left of them).
Lady had a loose box in the cow shed overnight with Paul's beloved Jersey cow Virginie and bovine friends, while I was treated to supper with a bottle of wine.  I had a charming bedroom as Paul also runs a small bed and breakfast from his lovely farmhouse La Maison Rouge -  you can see why it is so called from the photo below taken when I was about to set off the following morning in the drizzle.

Much recommended if you are ever passing this way.
I had a minor panic when I realised my cell phone was missing, and assumed I had left it at Matheu's stable.  Matheu could not find it, but being a canny Quebecois he tried phoning the number - only to be answered by a woman who had picked the phone up from the side of the road!  Matheu was driving over to La Pocatiere in any case, so very kindly picked it up and dropped it in for me. A very happy ending. 

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