Canada2015's Guestbook



23rd August 2015

Trip of the Century
And so it all ends. What an amazing, fantastic trip and one of the wonderful features of life back in the UK over the past 5 months has been reading these wonderful descriptions of it. Hope my and all other comments have been pertinent and have added to your sense of enjoyment. Life is strange: this is all that you have been doing for months and now you are home, it becomes a memory and passes gradually into history. Records like this are hugely important both in keeping the experience live and vital and also in providing, for years to come, a detailed, rich and indelible record. Time well spent and well done for sticking with it so brilliantly well. Welcome home!
From Blog: The End
2nd August 2015

San Francisco
Do you remember that there was once a habit of San Francisco being called 'Frisco' in songs and trendy books, which San Franciscans absolutely loathed and managed to mount a successful campaign to persuade everyone that this twee shortening of the city's name was not to be used at any time, ever, under any circumstances. Loved the picture of the big freighter in the river - where was that? The obnoxious (great word!) anti-social guy on the train sounds an absolute pain and sadly that kind of behaviour is not uncommon. I remember travelling back on the train from Edinburgh to Kings X a few years ago (after Aunt Daphne's funeral) and a family got on at Newcastle and took the four seats around a table across the aisle opposite my seat. They then proceeded to set up a music system with speakers on their table, play appallingly bland pop music at loud volume, talk loudly (so that they could hear each other over the music), eat endless quantities of food with open mouths and just generally act in, well, an obnoxious way as if there was no-one else in the carriage. Wonderful. Strangely enough, Ruth had a similar experience when travelling down a couple of hours behind me on the same day. A woman student opposite her - in a quiet carriage - was shouting into her mobile phone and her conversation was liberally leavened with the words 'fuck', 'shit' and other oaths all delivered at maximum volume. Ruth being Ruth asked her firmly to desist which led to a extremely tense and strained but merciful silence for the rest of the journey. Seattle sounds a fantastic city, but the weather is very unpredictable as you found. San Francisco also sounds great and your description of your arrival and the city reluctantly revealing itself through the mist and vapours as great. Sounds like it quickly warmed up though. See you in just over a week - can't wait.
25th July 2015

Sleeping partners
I just had to comment on your wonderful description of the men that you were sharing your dorm with on that Tuesday night. It had me in stitches! I can just imagine 'Luigi', Ceasar and Yoshi with all their varied idiosyncrasies all in one room with you and Matt just trying to get some sleep. Hilarious! Mum xxxx
23rd July 2015

Back in the USA
So - you could now (if you were a USA citizen) buy a gun and make off to settle old scores at your last school (that Mr Beda had it coming to him!), but when you had finished your rampage and wanted to relax with a beer.............hell no, buddy, you're not twenty-one yet! Loved the description of the bus slipping backwards towards the precipice - probably a deliberate way of psyching you all up for the zip wires. I also have the firmly fixed impression of this swelteringly hot and increasingly desperate scramble across Vancouver to catch your bus, accompanying by a unpleasantly hardening certainty that all your efforts were in vain! So pleased you made it. Excellent to hear that you can go back to 'spoons and earn a bit of dosh while still coming to the Scilly Isles. I have as promised now given Ben Howard's Every Kingdom a good listen (the deluxe edition which includes a live version of Move Like You Want). It's a great album, but it has taken me a while to really get under it's skin as it is music that is not altogether in my usual comfort zone. That is a good thing as I like to expand my horizons. The first track that really stood out for my was 'Black Flies' with its insistent and building rhythm - superb and can't stop playing it. Everything is another favourite. There are a few songs that I don't find so distinctive and at first I thought a lot of the album was quite 'samey' but repeated listening starts to dissolve that impression.. The Fear is a really good song, with a complex guitar line and powerful lyrics. Bones is another gem and then the last track on the deluxe version - Move Like You Want (live) which clocks in at over 8 minutes is a brilliant ending to the album and for some reason I am reminded of Pearl Jam at their best. I think it's a similar vocal line at one point. People compare Ben Howard to Bon Iver, but I find him less ethereal and better than that. So - thanks for the recommendation. Dad
21st July 2015

Hi there, great to hear of more adventures. Almost feel as though I was there. Been following on the maps. How time has flown. Make the most of the next few weeks X Grandma
16th July 2015

Last days in Canada
Sitting here in my hotel in Dudley in the Black Country watching the Ashes on silent (Australia now 321-1 in their first innings: looks like we might lose this one) and Gaslight Anthem playing on my x-mini speakers (of which more later). Rather an unpleasant humid evening with temperatures about 24*. Could be a restless night. Have enjoyed your last two blogs where it seems that you are almost taking a deep breath before 3 weeks of constant travel ending up in Heathrow. Will be great to see you. Good idea to buy an American football - lots on happy hours can be spent with such simple pleasures. Box Lacrosse is something that I had not heard of before, but sounds good - what is it about Canadians that seems to have a natural propensity to physical violence in the sports that they play? Pleased that you got the airbed sorted later and were not reduced (like Gejtu was on one occasion) to desperately trying to go to sleep on a deflating lilo as a knee and then an elbow started to bump onto the ground. He was not successful as I recall and within an hour or so of going to sleep had only about 3mm of rubber between him and the hard floor. Back to Sink or Swim. Thanks for your guide and I generally agree with your comments about it. There is some very hurt and angry words in there, which fuel music with a restless, relentless but sometimes sad and reflective energy. Highlights for me are many but particularly 'I Could'a Been a Contender' with it's great hook line and chorus - 'There's a storm front coming in'. The track 'I Came to Dance' is the only one I knew previously I think and that's another good one. '1930' is one of my favourite tracks on the album. 'The Navesink Banks' is an odd one, very different tempo and style and the lyrics obviously mean something very personal. I love 'Drive' which is such an archetypal GL song and although still raw, starts to point the way forward towards the style development on their subsequent albums. Hear echoes of 'Red Violins' and other later gems. The closing track 'Red at Night' has to be one of the main contributors to the Springsteen comparisons that used to be made about GL - great track, but could almost have been a cover from BS's Nebraska album. So: a great album, without a weak track in my view. Will continue to listen to the Ben Howard which I'm also enjoying and will give you a more detailed view soon. Dad
9th July 2015

West Coast
Interesting to read of your progress westwards and its sudden stop by the Pacific. Even from West Sussex, one gets a real sense of the huge distances you have travelled from the snowy beginnings in Quebec. Loved the description of the pugs running in, out and then back in again! That dizziness you had sounds less fun and one suspects a labyrinthine virus or similar. I'm very pleased that it has cleared up. Enjoying the Ben Howard album although the tracks haven't yet taken on full definition: will need to listen to it a few more times for that to happen. However - so far - the track 'Black Flies' really stands out and builds up brilliantly. Will give you my further thoughts and evaluation on both that and the GA album in due course. Over here, we have just had the pleasure of the first fully Conservative budget for 18 years. Despite all the media cheerleader puffery about George Osborne being the most brilliant Chancellor and the greatest political strategist of all time, a reading of the small print quickly reveals that poor people have been absolutely hammered by the withdrawal of tax credits. Only trouble is that we have not got any effective opposition at present. Hope that the rest of your time on the island goes well and look forward about hearing about Seattle and then that amazing train journey down towards San Francisco. Dad
1st July 2015

Beaverfoot matters
Sounds like a fantastic stay. You all obviously gelled with the other wwoofers and lifetime memories have clearly been made. Yes, dumps everywhere have an indefinable - or perhaps entirely definable - similarity: a rotting smell, odd characters wandering about and a depressing atmosphere. There is a guy at Worthing tip (an employee) who wears a cowboy hat and boots and has a grey beard. He strolls around with a broom and does very little. Sorry that Raph turned out to have feet of clay after a promising start - I keep thinking of your description of him 'almost having a fight' with another wwoofer. It also sounds like some of things you have had to do are mere job creation, i.e. emptying about a loft and then putting everything back again. More likely just poor management. Off to Seville tomorrow and back Sunday. Was good to speak the other day and will be fantastic to see you again in a few weeks. Dad
15th June 2015

Travelblog
Another great blog! Sounds so exciting.You do write well. Looking forward to more. Love Grandma X my
From Blog: On to Banff
14th June 2015

Great description of an endless journey, Rob. Day blends into night, blends into day and back again. Every time you drop off, you are jolted rudely awake. Disorientation gradually takes over. Perhaps that explains your latest Facebook cover photo with that strangely maniacal grin on your face as if you are just about to get an axe out of the cupboard. The scenery sounds just like one imagines, but I'm sure it's greater and more endless and fabulous. There are lots of dark tales and legend about the EuroAsian equivalent of the prairies - the Russian steppe. I wonder if it's the same in North America? The people on the fringes of the steppe - Romanians and others - deeply dread and fear it for it's endless vastness which sits as a brooding, menacing presence to the east of their countries. Savage hordes led by the likes of Chingis Khan came from that direction and created bloody mayhem. It is said to be a disorientating wilderness with few fixed points, full of eerie noises and dread. Back to Canada - the area around Banff looks fantastic and - looking forward a bit - Kamloops also looks a brilliant place. Have a great time in the mountains.
6th June 2015

MSF endings
My goodness, that's been a successful place! I guess in some ways that you will be sorry to move on, but in other ways it probably feels about time. Not sure I like the sound of chive plants covered in bees. I do hope they were not the Africanised 'killer' honey bees, although apparently they are only aggressive if they feel their hive/nest is threatened. Out in the field, they are the same as any other bee. You are probably too far north for that sort anyway. It seems to us blog readers here that you have been 'just about' to move west for a long time, but it really is nearly on you now and we look forward to the accounts of the journey and of the new places. All OK here, although in a very busy work phase. Harry has finished his exams and is looking for work and has also upped his hours at CAB. This still brings out some of the residual Tory elements in him, as he really is quite unsympathetic to the feckless and the impecunious of Worthing, who are regular visitors to CAB looking for advice on debts and other money problems. His account of such encounters is laced with astringent and acid references to people who have got themselves into a mess of their own making. My challenge about not blaming victims gets fairly short shrift. Looking forward to speaking tomorrow.
2nd June 2015

Latest Reflections
I very much liked the sound of Port Credit. Have had a look at pictures on the internet and it looks a charming little place with a marina and a lighthouse. I have long been fascinated by the inland seas that are the Great Lakes and their own specialised brand of water transport. There used to be - probably still is - a particular type of cargo carrying ship which (for some reason) were strongly featured in encyclopaedias and other literature when I was your age or younger. They were long bulk carriers with loads of holds/hatches and a stubby superstructure at the back of the ship. Was also struck by your ominous description of predatory leeches that swam up when you disturbed the water of the lake. It sounds as if they were not present out in the centre of the lake, but it must have taken some courage to jump in. I'm surprised in a way that Canada (as a temperate country) has so many leeches - I always used to think that they were creatures of the tropics to be found in Lake Victoria or similar. All good here - the country is slowly settling down to 5 more years of the Tories and an unnecessary referendum on EU membership which must be won (and I think, barring some extreme unforeseen event, probably will be) if we are not to slide off to be some nasty little right-wing insular reactionary country on the margins of the continent. Er, hang on, that sounds like quite an accurate description of the status quo!
27th May 2015
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Latest 3 blogs
All these blogs were, as ever, with entertaining and give a great sense of a fantastic trip. However, the presence of a very great deal of drink assumes an uncomfortably high profile in some of them! That day with beer, cocktails and goodness-knows-what-else sounds a real Bacchanalian orgy and I'm glad you didn't suffer alcohol poisoning! Niagara sounds incredible and it is always difficult to put an experience like that into words. A lot of philosophers and linguists have noted this before because words simply convey an experience and are not the experience themselves. Phenomenologists have therefore concentrated on capturing the essence of a given experience by stripping language back to repeated and frequently occurring descriptive words. It's more complicated than that of course, but you don't do too badly yourself! All good here - Mum and I did a 5 mile kayak trip up the Adur from Shoreham Beach up towards the cement works - great fun. Crystal Palace have finished 10th - in the top half of the Premiership, so a great season, all in all. Looking forward to your next despatches as you move west.
19th May 2015

Halfway through
It's amazing to think that you are now halfway through, although another way of putting it is that you still have as long on the trip as you have had already. Sorry to have not commented on your last couple of blogs, but they are as avidly read as always. Toronto sounds a great city. Really pleased that Meadow Sweet farm has proved to be better than the Scales experience, although the work that you are doing sounds a bit repetitive - planting out peppers and chopping potatoes. I hope you have not wrecked that Quad Bike! Really looking forward to an account of your trip west across Canada and do hope you stop at the wonderfully named Thunder Bay at the top of the vast and slightly mysterious Lake Superior. You are certainly experiencing that curious lurch from winter to summer that all 'continental' type climates have with spring and autumn being merely short interludes between a long summer and an (especially) long winter. All good here, although I've moved into a very hectic spell of work. Mark is not well and that seems to go on and on, although not the place to expand here. The May weather here is cool, wet and very changeable at present, so no chance to get out on the Kayaks yet. Very pleased Rosie is coming to the Scillies!
13th May 2015


Hi Robert.How are things in Canada? Love your blogs! Have fun. Love Grandma
10th May 2015

Put It Down To Experience
What a model of epistolary restraint! To be greeted at Scales by creepy older men, leeches, horseflies and a bedroom resembling Oxford St on a December Saturday would for most of us mere mortals call forth a heartfelt outpouring of wrath upon the architects of such misery! Instead, you seem to have taken it all in your stride. You were saying earlier on that being away has given you time and space to reflect on life, experience and your own personal journey to date. These are profound days for you. Toronto (Tararno in the local dialect) sounds incredible and I'm not surprised that Canada has taken you all by storm. By common consent it seems to be a highly favoured place to live with a lot going for it. I'm afraid we can't say the same at present about Cameron's Britain after his unexpected and (to 63% of the population) unwelcome victory. Riven by the rise of Scottish and English nationalism which are fissile forces and the possibility of exit from the EU in 2 years time, the UK is a barren and bleak place for all of us on the centre-left who believe in progressive, humanist and inclusive politics. The collapse of the Lib Dems and the poor showing of Labour leave a lot of thinking to be done - should there be further moves to merge the parties of the centre-left to present a united front to the Tories next time? The tribal nature of British politics makes such an outcome unlikely, sadly. Looking forward to your next blog - your usual excellent levels of description allowed me to almost visualise and hear the flies buzzing in for attack across the stagnant waters of the turtle lake.
30th April 2015

On the cusp...
Still more or less neck and neck here as the election approaches, although I can't get it out of my head that at the last minute the Great British Public will 'cling to nanny' and ensure that the Conservatives roll arrogantly back to power. Very late swing - usually to the Conservatives - has been a feature of several British general elections over the last 40 years. It's absolutely on a knife edge at present, which is likely to increase turnout which may just help Labour (as their supporters are usually more difficult to get out to vote). Sitting here listening to This is All Yours at present. It's difficult to describe in words how good 'Nara' is - an absolutely superb track. Good to read that you were listening to The Day is my Enemy when running recently. Another great album. Great description of the hockey and sport has the unrivalled capacity to produce such golden moments. I remember being at Wembley for a play-off final about 18 years ago when Palace scored the only goal of the game in the 89th minute with a cracking shot into the top corner. Cue total, complete and utter pandemonium the like of which I have never experienced before or since. Sorry to hear the weather has closed in again, although I think I saw that it's warming up for you again. We are on the cusp of bank holiday weekend, which naturally means that the forecast is for rain, wind and low temperatures. By the way, where did the straw come from?!
26th April 2015

The Winchelsea
A very reassuring English sounding name - I wonder what the connection is the the old Cinque port? Was interested in the pictures of the farm - countryside looks rather flat. Reminds me of Norfolk or somewhere like that with the big sky and great rolling vistas. Is it better for stargazing? If so, the guide attached to my comment of about 3 weeks ago is still just about current for late April at about 22.00hrs. It certainly sounds like putting up the Kid's house was a challenge, but that bit by bit you won through. The election here drags on wearily towards its climax in 10 days time and feels as if has been going on forever. There are very small signs that the Conservatives relentlessly negative approach might be starting to have an impact, which would be very depressing. They have run a horrible, negative campaign based on attacking Ed Miliband (which hasn't really worked) and playing the English nationalist card (as the SNP are riding high in Scotland). It is the latter tactic which might just be starting to pay dividends. If it does, and they win the election on that basis I would truly feel like emigrating. Still too close to call though. Looking forward to continuing to read your blogs as you get closer to really starting to track across the country.
21st April 2015

What a great story of your stay in Montreal! It makes me want to fly over and stay there myself. It's so good to get local recommendations of places to go. You get to see some of the real side of things. Sounds like a place you will want to go back to someday. Looking forward to hearing about Ottawa. A tough act to follow I think. Had a closer look at wolfie - he's pretty impressive especially around the eyes. Call it a day there though won't you!!, mumxxxxxx
21st April 2015

What a great story of your stay in Montreal! It makes me want to fly over and stay there myself. It's so good to get local recommendations of places to go. You get to see some of the real side of things. Sounds like a place you will want to go back to someday. Looking forward to hearing about Ottawa. A tough act to follow I think. Had a closer look at wolfie - he's pretty impressive especially around the eyes. Call it a day there though won't you!!, mumxxxxxx
21st April 2015

What a great story of your stay in Montreal! It makes me want to fly over and stay there myself. It's so good to get local recommendations of places to go. You get to see some of the real side of things. Sounds like a place you will want to go back to someday. Looking forward to hearing about Ottawa. A tough act to follow I think. Had a closer look at wolfie - he's pretty impressive especially around the eyes. Call it a day there though won't you!!, mumxxxxxx
19th April 2015

Arrival in Montreal
Food (and more recently drink) tends to provide the points of reference in your blogs, with this one featuring food 'from Louise's dead mother's freezer' (a particularly unexpected gem) and bison steaks. What did the latter taste like? Hope you have now got over your hangovers and are enjoying Montreal. Keep your belongings safe. Really enjoyed your descriptions and photos of the mighty St Lawrence/Laurent seawater which lies on the same latitude as France/UK and yet which freezes in the winter. Just shows the differences in climate. The bison farm sounds a bit of a disappointment and I have an image of you all scanning the horizon and seeing specks in the far distance. Great description of the eventful journey!
19th April 2015

Arrival in Montreal
Food (and more recently drink) tends to provide the points of reference in your blogs, with this one featuring food 'from Louise's dead mother's freezer' (a particularly unexpected gem) and bison steaks. What did the latter taste like? Hope you have now got over your hangovers and are enjoying Montreal. Keep your belongings safe. Really enjoyed your descriptions and photos of the mighty St Lawrence/Laurent seawater which lies on the same latitude as France/UK and yet which freezes in the winter. Just shows the differences in climate. The bison farm sounds a bit of a disappointment and I have an image of you all scanning the horizon and seeing specks in the far distance. Great description of the eventful journey!
15th April 2015

Onwards and upwards
This is my third attempt to write a comment on your blog this week - was down in Devon on Monday night with the small black laptop which twice succumbed to 'cursor freeze'. Just couldn't do anything about it so had to abandon the first comment and restart the laptop, inevitably losing all I had typed. Then it happened a second time. The phrase 'futile rage' only really partially and inadequately described my emotions at that point. Anyway, looking forward to reading your blog about a gay Canadian bison called Gary (or whatever it was). Sounds fascinating. Have enjoyed the word paintings of your time in Pontneuf and it has been great to follow your progress. It sounds as if it was time to move on, great though the last few weeks have been. Montreal looks quite showery/wet this week with temperatures of about 12 or 13 degrees, although these slide back to 7 or 8 degrees by the middle of next week.
9th April 2015

Spring marches on
Have enjoyed reading your last 3 blogs which continue to give a really vivid and direct account of your time in Pontneuf. Have a really good sense of it now. Not sure that a meal consisting of the 'leftovers from the week' would be particularly palatable though - er, from the WEEK? It certainly sounds like Ted and Julie have been excellent hosts and I guess that you will all miss them when you move on - clearly a really good experience for the first weeks of your travels. A month ago you had not met them and did not know them - amazing. You are just about to see the rapid transition from winter into spring which will be dramatic, but probably overdue now.We now have temperatures of about 19 degrees and sunny skies, although it is due to cool down this weekend. Here the General Election campaign is really getting into gear, although what we have heard and seen so far is pretty unedifying - 'dog whistle' stuff from the Tories about how Labour ruined the economy before and will ruin it again if the idiotic voters put them into power (OK, I made up the last bit but you get the picture). Ed Miliband is standing up to it so far and is coming through quite well. 4 weeks to go however. Looking forward to hearing about your last days in Quebec and your moves on to new places. Keep up the powerful descriptions and I have not picked up many errors/mistakes in your writings.

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