Hello everyone, or perhaps I should say, “Bonjour á tous” (I think) as this is my second post in the series about my wonderful visit to Canada in 2014 and that country is officially bi-lingual in English and French, not to mention the numerous indigenous languages still in existence.
If you have not read the first part of the series and would like to then just go to the previous post button at the bottom of this one. If you’d like to find out what the slightly odd title of this post is all about, then please read on.
19th – 21st June, 2014.
In the first post I told you that we had eventually made it to Lynne’s Father’s house and I had met her Dad, Ron. I said I would tell you about him and I can do it easily in two words – top man. He is a retired soldier, finishing as a Warrant Officer in the Guards although he had also served in the Parachute Regiment at one stage. Put simply, I wouldn’t have messed with him although there was no possibility of that as he is, like so many properly hard men, an absolute gentleman as you shall find out.
Not only is he a gentleman but he is a jack of all trades and master of them all, as far as I can see. He is a superb cook, dabbles in buying and selling antiques and collectibles (you want to see his garage!) and can turn his hand to mechanicing, electrical work, plumbing, general tinkering in other words.
I also mentioned that Lynne and I were going to go on a road-trip and he had hunted around and bought us a campervan, or RV as they are known in North America. Don’t get the wrong idea, he is not a millionaire or anything on a WO’s pension but I believe he only paid about C$ 800 which was about £500 back then. That is not one of my usual typos, I did mean C$ 800.
I know it sounds utterly ridiculous, you could pay a lot more than that for a two-man tent but we had our very own RV for less than half of what my retirement function cost me! OK, it was well over 30 years old, had nearly 100K on the clock but he had got her running well enough to get whatever roadworthiness certificate they have in Nova Scotia.
Ron had put a new battery in her and all new tyres, hence the title as there were indeed more than three wheels on my wagon, five brand new ones including the spare. Take a look at her, isn’t she an absolute beauty? You might as well get used to seeing the old girl because I took a lot of images of her. Incidentally, we had not lost the front number plate. In NS you only need to display a rear plate which, being from the UK, I found a little odd at first.
When we had arrived the previous evening it was too dark and wet to have a good inspection but even a brief look at her and a glimpse in the windows and I was absolutely smitten. Next morning I was like a kid on Christmas morning and straight outside for a good look at the interior and, how shall I put this? I am afraid there was definitely a bit of TLC required and that is what she was going to get.
In contrast to the foul weather that had attended my arrival in Canada, it was a lovely morning and I stood for a while looking over the seemingly endless Canadian countryside although even more rain could not have dampened my spirits that morning. At the age of 54 one of my life’s great ambitions had been achieved, I was going to go on the road in one of these and it wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg in a hire vehicle.
Most things worked after a fashion but there was certainly plenty to be done. Perhaps the storm had done us a bit of a favour as it showed us where the leaks in the roof were so they had to be sealed and the interior re-insulated and sheeted, which admittedly was a bit of a jerry-rig to say the least.
I must admit that an abiding memory of mine is lying flat on my back in the over-cab bunk trying to wallpaper the ceiling (don’t ask) utilising all four of my rather long limbs trying to hold the damn paper in place, it looked comical. Lynne did send me an image of it once but, sadly it died with my last laptop. Lynne, I know you read this, have you still got it?
As you can see in the image, it was like a bomb site in there as we took to it with Ron lending a hand and providing some very useful practical advice before disappearing to make us some lovely grub, as you can also see.
As they say in Northern Ireland, I am “totally handless” which means that I am useless with practical things. I can’t drive a nail in straight and I would not even attempt electrics, which did need a fair bit of work as the exposed wire hanging from the roof in the image shows but this was no problem.
Dear Lynne just happens to be a dab hand at such things, having been an electronics tech during her military service so happy days for the repair job here. She told me once that her nickname in the Army and Air Force (she was in both, it’s a long story) was “the Solder Queen” as she could do it better than any of the blokes in her Unit. She was as happy as can be messing around with her screwdrivers although I never knew sparks were meant to be so useful with a hammer.
We worked a long day and that evening when we finished we were treated to a gorgeous skyscape in the late evening and I love skyscapes. They really do have big, big skies in Canada. Almost as beautiful as the RV!
Speaking of skies, the next day when we were in New Minas getting something for the van I saw this lovely rainbow. I am not a particularly superstitious man but I took it as a good omen for our trip.
I am not going to bore you with all the details of our DIY project, of which the furnace was probably the biggest headache so suffice to say it took us a couple of hard day’s graft to get Betsy (I think that is what we named her, I cannot really remember now) in shape and by the morning of the 21st we were ready for our big adventure. I’ll let you be the judge of how she looks after our makeover, we were pretty pleased.
I am giving fair warning here that the next post is one specifically for campervan / RV afficionados and will consist solely of a lengthy article I wrote after this trip for another website with appropriate images.
If that isn’t your thing then please feel free to cruise on by on your own road-trip round the site. If you want to hear about ours, I promise it will be coming soon so stay tuned and spread the word.