Plenty of lakes and lots of Wind – Days 18 – 20

There has been no sign of the skunk as we leave our lovely lakeside site. The trains have been hooting all night and now we have to brave the level crossing. The lights are red as we approach and this time two engines are pulling no less than 177 carriages. Most of these are two containers on top of each other so that is some train. I do wonder what possessed me to decide I could cope with the 401 through Toronto in rush hour but cope we do. Part of this road has five lanes and it is the biggest road either of us has ever driven on but Chris is unfazed; I remain frankly terrified. I do hope I am not going to find I have turned into a total wimp as a passenger when I get home. I am not normally bothered by being driven on busy UK roads.

Once past the outskirts of Toronto we are in flat farmland again. We are heading further west and take a slight detour through Guelph, where the Chings of Bulkworthy went to live. I am beginning to wonder if Canadians don’t eat, or if we are missing something. Despite riding through towns there are no signs of any food shops, apart from numerous take-away outlets. Around Elmira, we are travelling through Mennonite country and signs warn us to look out for ponies and traps; we do spot some.

Today the sat-nav is clueless on the location of the site but yippee the map has it marked. We even managed to finally find a food shop in Goderich first; just as well as we are out of supplies. On this site, there is even a certain position where emails can be downloaded. This time our booked pitch, 207, is vacant but in order to connect to the electricity supply using the ridiculously short cable with which we have been provided, we are in danger of ending up in a ditch. Chris does some nifty manoeuvring and approaches the pitch from the opposite direction, which does mean that we are relatively flat and have electricity.

We go to explore the site and after 122 steps down, are on the banks of Lake Huron in what we have been told is the remnants of a hurricane. We don’t linger long and after a quick wander along Old Farms Trail it is back to the van to watch the birds from our window. We have had no news for over a fortnight so the world could be coming to an end for all we know. A chatty lady camper tells us the weather on Sunday will be ‘interesting’ – wonderful, something else to worry about.

109 Trees at Grundy Lake 3 October 2015We continue our journey from Goderich – another destination for north Devonian emigrants, this time the Penningtons. The street grid here is diagonal to our direction of travel, so we tack across minor streets, through open farm land, in seriously high winds. Many houses have pumpkins on their steps, or orange ribbon decorations, presumably ready for Thanksgiving. We also see chrysanthemums for sale in various places. Half our journey is on road 400 but this is not to be compared with the 401 in the scary stakes, although the buffeting of the vicious wind does add a terror factor. Much of this road, known as the Georgian Bay Coast Route, is cut through rock and people have built mini-cairns along the cliff tops. The road’s construction must have required a serious amount of blasting and we wonder why it wasn’t just built on the top but we have noticed that Canadians like their roads to be flat, so perhaps this is why. At least the rocky channel gives us some protection from the wind and the trees on top of the cliffs are really beginning to look quite special now, although we have been told it will be another week before the colours peak.

We arrive at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, another site found without aid of sat-nav and the only hazard here is that bears have been spotted in the locality, oh and the rattle snakes. I’d quite like to see a bear from the safety of the campervan; I have been practicing my introductions as advised (see day 3). I’d even settle for a moose. Wildlife tally so far: chipmunk, red, grey and black squirrels (that’s three different squirrels not a multi-coloured variety), squashed skunks and racoons and of course the ever present flies. Again we have difficulty parking close enough to the electricity point. Our first attempt was near enough but meant a branch was banging against the roof. In this wind, the novelty of this could very quickly wear off so we try again. Then a quick walk round the site to observe Grundy and Gurd Lakes but the wind is too cold to make this pleasant so back to the van. Today we passed the 5000km mark for our trip. There is a somewhat worrying water leak in the van that seems to be dangerously near the electrics but Chris claims to have fixed it.

Today’s predicted ‘interesting’ weather did not materialise, perhaps yesterday‘s was enough. We have got more rain as we set off further north on the 69 but this soon eases and we turn westward on the 17. This is similar scenery to yesterday’s and a pleasant drive. This will be as far north and west as we get under our own steam and the journey is purely so we can take a train ride up the Agawa canyon tomorrow. So many things can go wrong. This trip has already caused problems as pre-booking and in theory, pre-paying, is essential but for some reason, when trying to pay from the UK, neither Chris’ nor my cards would work. They very kindly agreed to hold our places and said we could pay in cash on arrival. The sat-nav recognises the train station and we are going via there on our way to the site (also miraculously recognised), to make sure that there will be somewhere to park tomorrow. I am fairly sure there will be as I checked this out on Google Earth and sure enough there is a huge car park. The only slight worry is that we have had to travel down streets where lorries are prohibited. I do realise we are not a lorry but all the other vehicles look much smaller than us and I am wary of another low-bridge incident.

We pay for our tickets and are all set for tomorrow. A very good job we booked in advance as tomorrow’s train is full. A quick trip to Wallmart to replenish Chris’ chocolate peanut supply and we are away. We find our site without difficulty; we are the only van on site and there is even internet – hurrah. We park up and I look for our train tickets. They are nowhere to be seen. I begin to panic. I turn the van upside-down. I know I put them in the glove compartment. They are not there. I search all the places they cannot possibly be – nothing. I send Chris back up to reception, a not inconsiderable walk away, in case I left them there – still nothing. I enlist his help in the search. He finds the tickets in the glove compartment. I am clearly no longer fit to be let out. Tomorrow Chris is to be in charge of the tickets.

I settle down to make use of the internet, which may be our last until Friday. Chris is cooking but passes the time investigating parts of the van that he had not yet fiddled with. A green light starts flashing. In order to find out what this means, I have to lie flat on the floor. It appears to be something to do with the carbon-monoxide detector. A flashing red light means call 911, two flashing red lights mean we are dead but no clue as to what a flashing green light means. We open a window in case. A minute or two later the light stops flashing and we assume we are safe. If this is the last blog post, we weren’t.

Rain does not stop play – Darlington and Upper Canada Village – Days 16 and 17

Last night made up for our fortnight with virtually no rain and we had the full two weeks’ worth in one night. As a potential site owner has put in an appearance, we do manage to paddle out to pay for our site before joining the 20 ouest in heavy rain and very poor visibility. This is just what is needed for the outskirts of Montreal, which took us back on the busier roads that I love so much (not). Then all my birthdays come at once – a tunnel – what could be better? Today saw us pass back into Ontario and also took our travels past the 4000km mark (another 2500km to go under our own steam). We find River Cedar Campground relatively easily, despite the sat-nav drawing another blank. This site on the north bank of the St Lawrence takes over 300 vans; we are one of about six on site. Do Canadians all hibernate at the beginning of September?

It is, I’ll admit, pretty jolly bracing weather now and more what I was expecting temperature wise. This is unfortunate as internet access here involves skulking outside in a howling gale. In fact even that is spectacularly unsuccessful and after ten minutes only three emails have appeared. At this point I give up and we walk round the site to look at the St. Lawrence and the resident bees’ nest. There are plenty of geese and other wildfowl in the distance and we see and hear some frogs.

The mornings now have a distinct autumnal chill and it is still very windy but the sunshine has returned. This is just as well as this morning we plan to be outside. We head off to Upper Canada Village, which is, by design, just up the road. It is also, with typical Canadian tourist board foresight, officially shut for the season. My pre-planning has revealed that, although this pioneer living history village is minus its historical interpreters, we can have a ninety minute guided tour of some of the building for the exceptionally reasonable sum of about £5 each. It would have been more for me had all this stressful travelling not made me look like I qualified for a senior’s ticket; the cashier didn’t ask and I didn’t argue – or indeed realise until later.

082 Red Squirrel, Upper Canada Village 1 October 2015Whilst waiting for the village to open we got our feet very wet in the long grass looking at the site of the battle of Crysler’s Farm, owned by the Crysler and Fetter families. This was fought in November 1813, bizarrely during the war of 1812. Combined British, Canadian and Native American troops of 800 defeated 4000 Americans, ending the American attempt to take land towards Montreal. We also see the pioneer memorial. In the late 1950s the St. Lawrence seaway project to improve navigability, involved flooding an area along the northern banks of the lake. Mid-nineteenth century memorial stones from cemeteries in the area earmarked for flooding were removed and set in walls on the Upper Canada Village site to form the pioneer memorial. A number of the older buildings were also preserved and moved, often in one piece, to form Upper Canada Village. Loyalists had been settled in the area from the 1780s but most of the village represents the mid-nineteenth century.

088 Pumpkin Inferno, Upper Canada Village 1 October 2015The reason that tours are being offered today is because the village is gearing up for a month of evening opening, known as the Pumpkin Inferno. The whole village is bedecked with thousands of intricately carved pumpkins, which will be illuminated this evening – a pity we can’t stay. We are duly impressed by all the carving, our awe does abate a little when we realise that the pumpkins are actually polystyrene but they are very lifelike and look spectacular. Our group of about twenty are shown round several of the preserved buildings including Cook’s tavern, the school house and the Lutheran pastor’s home. Two blacksmiths are working, although not in costume. It was good to learn that they were making a grill for the millrace, something that was actually of practical use to the settlement. We spot a red squirrel collecting walnuts and stashing them under the eaves of one of the buildings; it even stays still long enough for me to photograph. I invest in a small wooden top and dice; always good to make holiday souvenirs tax deductible.

We set off after lunch for a straightforward drive, with 215 of the 217 miles on the 401 west. We spot what has to be the prize winning by-line for a town sign ‘Great Napanee – great for many things.’ We also see the 1000 island bridge to the US, which we avoid. We assume that this is the home of the salad dressing of the same name but no helpful sign indicates this. Since we re-entered Ontario there have been services that we recognise as services. These allegedly have free wi-fi. This is more wi-fi of the so slow as to be totally useless variety and after making Chris fill up with petrol at half speed, I give up and hope for better luck on site.

100 Sunset on Lake Ontario 1 October 2015This time the difficulty arises when we arrive on site, a site which, yes, the sat-nav can recognise and we can find straight away! I have paid for a specific premium pitch, pitch 71, with views over Lake Ontario. There on pitch 71 are two tents, two people and two dogs. The site office is closed so we need to use our initiative. The interlopers agree that it is their mistake but Chris offers to look for another vacant pitch. I am a little less keen, as I particularly want a lake view. We find an acceptable alternative pitch but are reluctant to set up in case this is reserved for someone who has not yet arrived. Unlike our last few sites, this one is not deserted. Fortunately I spot a chap on a ride-on mower and explain our predicament. After a short pause our pitchcrashers have paid for the similar neighbouring pitch (28). We happily agree that we will swap 71 for 28 to save them moving their tents and we have made friends for life. They tell us there is a skunk living nearby but I expect it went into hiding as we arrived.

098 Sunset on Lake Ontario 1 October 2015We can watch the sunset over Lake Ontario, which is yards from our van, as it illuminates the distant skyscrapers on the American side of the lake and wonder how many Braunds and other Devonians have sailed past this bit of shore. We can hear the waves lapping, oh, and the trains hooting loudly but nothing is perfect. It is also another internet black hole. By this time my family will think I am lost forever.

Heading North and Heading West – Days 14 and 15

Sorry for the long silence devoted fans – internet connections have been of the non-existent or steam-driven varieties and have involved shivering on a bench somewhere – this one is little better as regards speed but I am at least undercover.

Last night’s ‘quiet’ pitch did not get any quieter. To the loud train hooting at frequent intervals add our neighbour refilling his water tank after midnight, accompanied by a door banging extravaganza to rival our cruise neighbours (see July’s posts if you are new to these ramblings). I was dreading negotiating our way out of St. John’s in rush hour but by dint of ignoring the sat-nav, it was accomplished. We were surprised to see the amount of effluent in the river as we left the town. I had feared that today would be main roads and heavy traffic but although the roads were more major than some, we were lucky (or unlucky) if we saw more than two cars at a time and the scenery was still good, if a little repetitive; one tree does after all look very much like another of the same species. We are noticing the gradual reddening of the trees as we travel on.

Road 7 north then Highway 2 and we were heading back for Québec along the River Valley Drive. Don’t you just love it when the sat-nav says ‘continue for 332 km’? This route follows the border with the US and we can see Maine just over there. It would be much quicker to cut across the US but we don’t feel up to arriving visa-less at border security. We decided to give ‘the world’s largest covered bridge’ at Hartland (shades of home) a miss. Surely this is just a tunnel? I am not keen on tunnels. It seems that all towns have to have a by-line announcing some superlative claim to fame. Apart from Hartland’s covered bridge and yesterday‘s highest tides, we spotted ‘the French fries capital of the world’. Really? Who bestows these titles, or are they self-styled?

Today’s was quite a long journey but went very well for 273 of the alleged 274 miles. Rather too well it seems. Partly because we were aiming for a site unrecognised by the sat-nav – in fact the whole town was a sat-nav no show – and partly due to roadworks meaning that the sorties were fermé and my French not being up to the alternative instructions, oh and the out of date sat-nav maps, which meant we were supposedly driving in a field, we got horribly lost. We stopped and asked directions of a lady who strangely didn’t understand my truly excellent execrable French any better than I understood her English. That helped not at all and one hour, 30km and some very rough roads later we were back where we started. This is the point at which you a) burst in to tears, b) vow never to leave the country again, c) head for home, d) do damage to the sat-nav/your travelling companion – or indeed all of the above. I try again in a shop where someone speaks English. By this time Chris has been driving for five hours and needs a cup of tea; this is bring out his xenophobic tendencies. Miraculously the shopkeeper’s instructions work and we are compensated by being back at the beautiful Témiscouata-sur-lac site, with a lakeside pitch. We take a walk into the town of Notre-dame-sur-lac. Chris cannot find any boats that impress him but we do watch a seaplane land.070 Seaplane, Temiscouta sur lac 28 September 2015

The weather is humid and we think we may be in for a storm. Lakeside pitches are all very picturesque but this does mark the return of the hordes of flies and battle lines are firmly drawn. Normally I am a great respecter of all forms of wildlife but even I join in with attempts at swatting. Also on the wildlife front, there were numerous Canada geese on the lake when we arrived. Needless to say they were beyond photographable reach by the time I’d had the much needed cup of coffee.

After another very warm night and a beautiful sunrise over the lake, it is humid when we set off. I am suffering from some self-inflicted injuries as a result of our battle to exterminate the flies. Chris brandishes a tea-towel with menace and to great effect but I just seem to end up hitting myself and I already have a blackening thumb nail and several bruises. We manage to cope with the detour occasioned by yet more roadworks. For all these roadworks, some of the roads are in a pretty dreadful state, presumably because of the huge heavy commercial vehicles. Many roads seem to just be a thin layer of tarmacadam, with very little foundation.

As we are heading along road 185 nord it begins to drizzle. We have seen very little rain so far and it turns out that our windscreen wipers are about as reliable as the sat-nav. All they seem to do is spread an opaque smear across the windscreen. Opaque is not a good look whilst driving and will be even less so as we head west on the busier highway 2 but we manage. This is known as the Route du Navigateurs and follows the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, for the most part a little further inland than the 132, on which we travelled east. We do get glimpses of the river and the road is a lot less busy than I feared. As we drive alongside the railway a goods train heads east. It was pulled by two engines and had a total of seventy nine carriages. That has to rate as a superlative. The local town is obviously missing a trick. No sign of ‘we have the biggest goods trains in the world’ notices (NB that’s because they don’t – see later post).

We arrive at our campsite at Plessisville with only a five minute detour. There was a rather tense moment when there was a width restriction due to, guess what, roadworks. We had a bit of a debate as to whether or not we were less than 3.4 metres wide – turns out we are – just. This is another deserted campsite, with many vans that look as if they are permanent fixtures but are not currently occupied. A man with very little English says he will be back at three or four. We take this to mean ‘make yourself at home and come and pay me later’, so we do. We also decide to do rather more washing than normal, possibly not the best option on a drizzly day. Having done the making ourselves at home bit, after four we dodge the showers and take a muddy walk down to reception to pay. There is no one about, just a notice that says the site re-opens on 16 May – oops. There is another notice that is beyond my French but seems to be something about arsenic on the site. Surely arsenic is the same in any language? Oh, great. Now we are about to die of arsenical poisoning. One or two people do seem to be on site, clearly they are not in fear of poisoning, which is encouraging. None are the owner and we fail to make ourselves understood. We spot a lady in the distance on a golf buggy, she waves but doesn’t come and ask us for any money. I worry in case she garrottes herself on the washing line we have erected between the electricity wire pole and a handy tree. I have the bright idea of shoving a likely amount of cash through the letter box tomorrow morning. That would work well if there were a letter box.

Chocolate Rivers and Magic Roundabouts – Day 13

Today we are due to make our return trip over Confederation Bridge. On windy days it is closed to high sided vehicles. At 12 feet (or not, see earlier posts) we are classed as high-sided. It is windy. Will we escape? It turns out yes we will, although the cross-winds added an extra dimension to the terror factor. It has been windy since we arrived but today, although still sunny, there is what we would call a howling gale. Next thing we know we will be in Kansas on top of a wicked witch. Oh no, I forgot, we don’t have visas.

We are heading west on road 15. We have opted for a slight detour via Fundy National Park, on our way to St. John’s. This is worth the effort. The Petitcodiac River is nicknamed ‘The Chocolate River’ and the red soil really does make the water look like molten chocolate. No photographic evidence I am afraid – the old ‘nowhere to stop’ syndrome striking again. We come to Alma, which has, apparently, the highest tides in the world, so another superlative ticked off. As we enter the National Park there is a booth where permits are to be purchased. It seems we do not need one of these and better still there is a car park. Chris goes to look at fishing boats and I photograph the no longer particularly chocolate river. There are also some interesting wooden lobster pots – here called traps.

068 Sundial Rockwood Park, St. John's 27 September 2015We narrowly avoid another low bridge related incident but as we enter St. John’s, the sat-nav is confused by a new road. A surreal series of left and right turns ensues and I wonder if we will ever get off this magic roundabout. Eventually we arrive at Rockwood Park site. This is part of what, in the UK, would be called a country park. Some children are rock climbing. This appears to be an organised activity and they have crampons and safety harnesses but no helmets! I know I am risk adverse but can you imagine this being allowed in England? We see our first moose, albeit a wooden one and a sundial sculpture in memory of all workers who have been mentally or physically injured whilst at work. This has been set to be accurate at noon on 28th April when these workers are especially remembered. We have allegedly been put on a ‘quiet’ pitch. This may be a relative term as there is prolonged loud hooting from what we think is a nearby train. The consolation is that I appear to be able to get internet access from the van, rather than skulking in the laundry, as is supposedly necessary. Another 250 miles to go tomorrow, back into Québec. Ideally we would like to make an early start but I am not relishing the thought of the magic roundabout in rush hour.

Prince Edward Island – Day 12

061 Beaconsfield Historic House, Charlottetown PEIAnother day on Prince Edward Island, which has a similar population to the Isle of Wight yet is four times the size. We manage to persuade a bank to change our US dollars, which we didn’t need for our Baltic cruise, for Canadian money. Even finding a bank was a real achievement – this was the first we’ve seen with stopping potential. We now might keep the van in petrol for the next week. We head in to look at the other side of Charlottetown, walking along the boardwalk by the bay. We haven’t done very well for seeing birds on this trip but we do spot some Blue Jays (identified later courtesy of Google), unfortunately though not in a photographable location. In the afternoon I give my emigrants talk to the lovely folk of PEI Genealogical Society. It was great to meet several people with Devon ancestry and also someone with Isle of Wight connections. The venue was the coach-house of Beaconsfield Historic House, which was built for James and Edith Peake in 1877. It is a beautiful building but the acoustics didn’t quite live up to the splendour.

Over the last few days it has materialised that there are things in my house that are needed in my absence. So, although I have not reached the level of being indispensable, my possessions, or at least possessions if which I am the current custodian, have. Our culinary efforts in the van have been somewhat hampered by the random kitchen equipment that is and isn’t supplied. We have a full sized fridge-freezer but absolutely nothing in which one can cook anything inside the oven. We doubt the wisdom of utilising a saucepan for this, as it probably wouldn’t be the best thing for the plastic handles. This campsite however has decent facilities and a manned reception, with a shop that sells large, heavy duty foil dishes – hurrah. These are probably designed for barbequing but can be (we hope) dual purpose – watch this space for how we fare. All the pitches we have stopped on have come equipped with places to light an open fire – a strict non-starter on UK sites. Our neighbours over past days have been using these to cook food or just to sit beside in the evening. Several have had very small, unsupervised children near these open fires. I know children can and should be taught to respect fire but we are talking toddlers here, with no adults in sight – I daren’t look.

A Car Park, Blunt Pencils, the On-going Fly Hunt and some History – Day 11

058 Sunrise from van Cornwall, PEI

Sunrise from the van at Cornwall, PEI

As we are on PEI for more than five minutes – three whole nights thanks to our previous intended site being closed (this will be our longest stay in one place) – we have found out some things about it. It is known as ‘Spud Island’ because of the potatoes that grow in its bright red soil. It is also a centre for lobster fishing. The other main claim to fame seems to be as the home of L M Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.

Today we find our first car park and are able to abandon van and explore Charlottestown. We look round the Founders’ Museum. This celebrates the confederation of eastern Canadian states in 1867. The story is told by a very patronising virtual woman and we learn that the initial meeting, held in 1864 in Charlottestown, was to debate a union between the maritime colonies of PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Somehow, what was then Canada West and Canada East (today’s Ontario and Québec) got in on the act and the discussions moved to Québec, with Newfoundland getting involved. In the end, PEI and Newfoundland backed out; in fact Newfoundland didn’t become part of the Dominion of Canada until 1949. PEI had hoped that confederation would lead to the very high percentage of absentee landlords being bought out but the Québec conference did not want to take this on board. PEI waited until 1873 to join the union, when they were desperate to be bailed out having spent heavily on a railway. The story has shades of our recent Scottish independence referendum in reverse. I really would like to buy a book about the history of PEI but all the museum can offer is Ann of Green Gables and the like. The chances of us finding a bookshop are seriously less than zero. We did well to find a souvenir shop for postcards, which in the absence of a Post Office, lack stamps and will probably be posted in England.

And then of course, could I resist going in to the Archives? This was ostensibly in case I could buy a book, which they didn’t have but we were sucked in. We must have looked like rank amateurs as it was totally unplanned so we had two blunt pencils between us, no reading glasses for Chris, no ID for me (but I was let in on the grounds of my ’honest face’), no notes and no list of what to look for. Dredging up the key names from my brain, we did some research using their card index and I did find out a few things, necessitating a quick revising of my forthcoming talks. There are difficulties caused by the lack of civil registration until 1906 and the fact that burials weren’t routinely recorded. I clearly need to spend about a fortnight here, so who would like to fund that? Ideally I would need to stay within walking distance of the archives please as I am still not comfortable with the driving (or should I say passengering). Who can get their head round a country where you can go when a traffic light is red (sometimes) but going when it is green is clearly neither safe nor appropriate on all occasions (found that out the hard way)?

Then back to the site to run through my talk for tomorrow and to resume our war on the fly population. We thought we had conquered them but it seems some may have bred before their untimely demise and we are now tackling their numerous offspring.

Tarmac, Toilet Paper and Crossing the Bridge when we come to it – Days 9 & 10

048 Gaspé Peninsula 23 September 2015We make another very early start as today is the longest leg of our tour. So before 7am we are heading east on the 132 again and rounding the Gaspé Peninsula. More quieter roads and spectacular scenery, in some ways similar to the south-west peninsula, if you ignore the pine trees. The drawback of heading east at this time of day is that you can’t see anything because the sun is in your eyes; fortunately there are not many fellow travellers. Yesterday and today we have had hills, this makes a change from the pretty flat terrain of earlier in the week. I give our noble driver ten out of ten for ignoring the sat-nav who wants us to turn left on an unmade road. At some point the 132 est, that has been our friend for the best part of three days, becomes the 132 oest, as we drive along the north bank of the River Patapedia (I kid you not). We encounter yet more Travaux (roadworks to you English speakers). There are a number of gentlemen at a fairly significant road junction waving flags in a manner that would put any self respecting majorettes to shame. This is obviously to indicate which traffic should be moving but the significance of the random waving is lost on us. Some of the roadworks seem to involve injecting tar into cracks and then unrolling what looks like toilet paper over the top – each to their own.

More fire hydrants, which in Newcastle are painted to look like Disney characters, also notable are all the overhead electric wires. We have noticed that motor cyclists rarely come alone and that they favour massive Harley Davidson bikes or trikes. We are now in our third Canadian province, New Brunswick and I can confirm that our van is not twelve feet high, as previously reported, nor indeed eleven feet eight inches high. This is just as well. There really was no warning of that low bridge. We are exhorted to beware of the cheverils but this is beyond Google translate – I am sure it doesn’t mean low bridge though.

Tonight’s site, after over three hundred miles driving, is at Bathurst Marina. The site itself is not much more than a car park but the adjacent beach is attractive and we are able to download the many emails that have been piling up and restock the Kindle. Canadians consider this to be off season and our neighbours on the site obviously think we are a bit odd to be travelling at this time of year, despite the truly wonderful weather.

We do not have so far to go today and have carelessly lost an hour by crossing into a new time zone, so a later start. We being with a quick walk round the very attractive Youghall Beach and then set off southwards across several rivers on the 8 and 11. These are slightly less awesome than our old friend the 132 but we knew that we couldn’t carry on with such beautiful scenery for ever. Here we have plenty of forest but even fewer opportunities to pull over than previously. Do Canadians never stop on their car journeys? We have sussed that the occasional church does sometimes have a parking area that we can pause in and we make use of this. We are due to stop on a site close to the bridge to Prince Edward Island. We have emailed ahead and received a reply that informs us that we have no need to book. What they neglected to tell us was that we didn’t need to book because they were closed for the winter. The Canadian response to tourism is similar to that in England – everything shuts for the winter, although our ‘winter’ is shorter than theirs. The attitude is totally different in New Zealand and Australia where tourist attractions/information centres and so on are open 364 days a year (they do have Christmas Day off). The Canadians, like us, seem to play at tourism. I have to say that Scotland are getting their act together and in general are better than England at providing for visitors.

We decide to press on for the additional fifty miles to tomorrow’s site on Prince Edward Island (province four) and hope that they are a) open and b) have room. We have paid a deposit for this site so they had better be. The sat-nav is telling us it is 284km away. We know it isn’t. It seems that the sat-nav is unaware of the Confederation Bridge and wants us to go by ferry via Pictou. I then worry that for some reason we won’t be allowed to go across the bridge. We find a one pump petrol station in the middle of nowhere, where petrol is nonetheless a reasonable price and check with the owner who appears to be a close relation of the Clampits. It seems we are fine to cross but there is a toll payable when we want to escape.

052 Close to the Beach, Cornwall, PEI 24 September 2015Confederation Bridge is the longest in the world, at just short of 13km. It is also quite narrow, quite high and there is a fiendish crosswind. I shut my eyes for a lot of it. It has been there since 1997, so no idea when the sat-nav didn’t want us to use it. Once on PEI things are more familiar. There are flowers, shops that look like they are open and places to park! We find the site, which has plenty of facilities and are allocated our premium pitch within yards of the beach. We go for a stroll along the ‘sand’ which is more like red mud and therefore has little sandcastle potential. There are thousands of mussel shells and three small boats in the bay, who seem to be catching mussels and winkles. Chris chats to some of our fellow campers, whose trailers really are officially bigger than my house, ‘oh, this is just a small one’. No, really, it isn’t, you should see our caravan back home.