A cold night and a fidgety dog meant a less than complete sleep for me, unfortunately. I gave up the unequal struggle and sat myself down at the Dinette to write Friday's Blog entry at about 7.30am, which is way too early to be up on a long weekend. Mind you, I did open up the blinds to watch the sun rise between the trees as I looked east and it was certainly shaping to be a nice day.
I fed the hound and walked her around the campground, feeling the sun quite warm on my face, given that the air temperature was only about 2C. Then came the luxury of using Towed Haul's shower as we were plumbed into water and sewer lines for a change. You can use the shower when not plumbed in but it uses up the on-board tank of fresh water quickly, and fills the grey water waste tank, too. Then, to refresh both tanks you have to tow the trailer to the dump station, which is why when at Provincial Parks I use the site's shower facilities. Anyway, rejuvenated, I left Mrs T and the hound and made my way down into St Marys in search of a new breaker bar and some batteries.
I let the SatNav guide me and it took me down what's known as a "Dirt Road", that is not metalled. They're not like a rutted, muddy tracks used by tractors but full width, cambered roads that have a hard packed, fine gravel-like surface. There are lots of them out in the country here and they are perfectly usable in an ordinary car but when dry they're very dusty and when wet will leave your car covered in a film of brown muck. Dirt roads get rutted and pot-holed, too, but they are obviously an economic method of providing lightly used roads out in the boondocks. Anyway, this dirt road took me down along the river (The Thames River, as it happens, the one that flows through Chatham some 150Km downstream), which was a pleasant run in the bright autumn sunshine.
St Marys is a nice little town that straddles the Thames River and has some relatively steep hills for this part of Ontario. I found the Canadian Tire store quite easily and rummaged about in there for a while in search of the elusive breaker bar. There were none to be had, unfortunately, but I did buy a small hacksaw with which I intended to modify my big old lug wrench I had in the caravan. More of that later.
There was an early morning Farmer's Market in St Marys that, even at 9.45am, looked to be packing up for the day (everyone gets started very early in this part of the world). There were a number of horses tethered up and I realised that this being on the edge of a large Mennonite area, the beasts were not there for show but had hauled produce down into the town. Mennonites, by the way, are somewhat similar in their doctrines to the Amish, and some eschew the use of motor vehicles. It's not unusual to see various horse-drawn vehicles in these parts; it's all part of the local colour.
So, back at the campsite we readied ourselves for a run in Stratford, one of Southwest Ontario's nicest towns. Like Stratford-upon-Avon in the UK, it is the home of the Shakespeare Festival and has three or four large and well used theatres, the biggest of which was built specifically for the annual festival. It was only a 20 minute drive across country and it was good to see more of the ripe corn and soya being harvested. I've often wondered what they do with all the harvesting machines for the rest of the year; clean them, probably, as they all looked nice and shiny out on the land.
We parked right in the downtown area (40 cents an hour to park, a good deal), next to the weir on the Avon River. As with a lot of these southern Ontario towns, Stratford was built around the mills on the river. Whilst the mills are now long gone, here in Stratford the weir remains and it has created a few kilometres of narrow lakes, filled to the brim with ducks, swans, geese and cormorants, and flanked with expensive houses. It was along this lake system that we set out to walk and, realising that one bank was away from the traffic and in the sunshine, we meandered along the water's edge for an hour, soaked up the autumn colours and enjoyed the surprisingly warm October weather. It seemed a bit odd to see cormorants in the middle of town but there was a whole colony of them roosting in a tree and a few more dotted about on the lakes.
We enjoyed looking at the houses on the lakes' edge too, wondering how much money they would cost to buy. Stratford is an expensive place to live anyway, but lakeside houses were going to be more expensive still.
On the way back we ambled up onto the main shopping street, met a Whippet and a few other assorted dogs and then made for lunch. Mrs T was looking for the York Street Kitchen for a take-out, but knowing that it had moved location, she had to dive into an optician's shop to ask directions. The York Street Kitchen was now on Erie Street but the fare was the same as the original and we enjoyed sandwiches whilst sat on the damp grass down by the weir.
I was tired from walking and I think the hound was fit to drop so we called it a day and made our way out of Stratford, although not without a drive down one of the streets whose houses backed onto the lakes; very nice indeed.
Back at Towed Haul, the sun was still shining and we settled into a quiet afternoon with Mrs T snoozing and me pootling about on one or other of my electronic devices. I did take the time to create my new breaker bar, though, and what a triumph of Heath-Robinson technology it is! In my trailer tool box I carry a large, extendable lug wrench, should we need to remove a wheel whilst on the road. The extendable bit is hollow but has a big plastic grip on the end. Armed with my nice, new hacksaw, I sliced the end of the grip off to reveal the open end of the wrench. A quick dry run was in order and I was delighted to see that it fitted snugly onto the lifting saddle; hey presto, one heavy-duty breaker bar! Of course, I haven't used it under load yet but I reason that if the lug wrench is good for loosening well tightened wheel nuts then the weight distribution bars should be easy. Monday will tell, I think.
Back to less exciting things and we'd decided that we'd buy supper this evening rather than make it. So, we headed into St Marys to the fish and chip shop by the river. Mrs T has gone hardcore vegan, even to the extent of not using any oil in her cooking, so tonight was going to be a bit of a trial for her. This evening, though, she loosened the strictures a little and had a box of chips (fries) whilst I had haddock. Quite apart from them being the world's stinkiest chips, they weren't greatly edible, either although maybe that was down to us both having been some time away from deep fried food. The fish was OK, though, once I'd extracted it from the batter. We'll give them a two and half star rating I think.
We settled down to watch the original version of "The Postman Always Rings Twice", starring John Garfield and Lana Turner. Naturally I fell asleep about two-thirds of the way through but Mrs T saw it all and pronounced it a good film. We also watched a documentary about John Garfield, an actor who I was only dimly aware of. Apparently he was the Valentino of his time but met an untimely end at the age of just 39; you live and learn.
Another cold night meant early to bed and another titanic struggle with the hound for bed space. Still, we're on our holidays so such irritations are insignificant. Tomorrow is another day.
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
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