Day 26 – Souris to Treherne. I was awoken very early this morning by a familiar sound in an unfamiliar, and unwelcome, place: peacocks wailing in the campsite. I’d seen several of these town mascots on the street last night but didn’t think they’d pay me a visit this morning. They seemed more interested in strutting up and down the high street. How did they know that I’d cycled miles and that with the new time zone I’d lost an hour’s sleep last night? Clever and cruel, the peacock.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): 78 / 125
- Time in saddle: 5h 10
- Max/min temp (°c): 24°/9°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 770 / 1100
- Calories used:
- Cafe time: 3h 45
As I sat outside last night’s Deli cadging wifi (as you will have gathered is my wont) I met a local Englishwoman, Gill Robertson, who runs the local child daycare centre called TeddyBearDayCare. Except, as I discovered later, this is a daycare centre with a difference. We chatted for a bit as her different charges for the day were dropped off, and after I mentioned my charity for the trip, she immediately handed me the money she’d just taken for her work that morning. I refused, saying she was already doing her own thing and needn’t do more, but she insisted. I was very impressed with her deciveness, a quality that makes her an inspired educator, which is truly what she is (more later).
I said I wanted to see Souris’s famous Swinging Bridge, the longest in Canada. She said her place was right by it and she offered me a coffee, so we arranged to meet up there. Every person who passed by stopped and talked, and I must admit that I fell under Souris’s spell. (Not a single townsperson would have berated me if I’d dispatched a couple of the peacocks this morning, by the way)
She showed a great respect for all child protection issues. I asked if she’d rather I didn’t take pictures with her three kids and she promised to take some herself, approve them and forward them to me asap (some video to follow once all the parents have ok’d it). The kids clearly adore her. We messed about on the amazing bridge, the kids running across as they do everyday of their young lives, Gill waiting behind to take a bit of movie and I set off on the bike. I could see that on the way back, into the wind and very sloping uphill, it would be tougher than the way out! On the far side we talked about music and ukuleles, and the kids sat down whilst I played them a couple of tunes. Then we all sang a bit of Twinkle Twinkle and went back over the bridge to the house, where the kids played outside without being asked or told and we had coffee. Gill showed me her amazing garden. Both of our kids at home, as some of you know, were educated from kindergarten to A-levels in the Rudolph Steiner system, and this place was a home from home. Improvised playgrounds of buried truck tyres, wooden and brick structures built by kids and adults together, re-used boat hulls and obscure discarded objects, willow-houses made of willow branches stuck in the ground and bent together (willow will grow whatever!). The kids were playing in that free-style, talkative way so familiar from years at the RSSKL kindergarten – in fact at any good kindergarten where tidiness and quiet are not necessarily the first priorities. I loved Gill’s outsized camping chair! (How to feel like a child does again)
I briefly met her husband who was on a conference call upstairs, and did my bit for the house by tuning all the ukes hanging on the wall. I encouraged Gill to look into the Waldorf Steiner system. I honestly think that with her gifts and energy she has the beginnings of a wonderful school there in Souris, if such a thing is possible in Manitoba. Thank you so much for your time and enthusiasm Gill, and I hope you had a good time visiting the reptiles in, I think you said, Brandon.
For lunch I finally found a town near the highway to stop for a rest, Glenboro, after 50 miles of windy cycling. The wind is still from the North West, but the constant blusteryness in these parts grinds you down after a bit and you have to get into a diner to recover. This Large Chicken Taco Salad had been so artfully packed into the taco shell that no matter how much I ate, it seemed to refill itself before my eyes.
As I ate, a sweet young couple came in, dressed to the nines: full dark ball gown for her, big hairdo, black shirt, white waistcoat and white tie for him, both with corsages. “Is it a wedding?” I asked. “No! Graduation!” They replied. (The waitress laughing at me in a very good natured way). They were ooed and aahed over by the owners of the diner, had pictures taken, and left for the ceremony later that day. A banquet was planned that evening too, and the lady who owned the diner was trying to calculate how many people wouldn’t go so they could have food ready. Good business thinking.
I’m instigating two new games today – firstly Ironic Cycling Songs. I’ll get the ball rolling by offering the song that was playing in the diner as I ate lunch:
(Never Break) The Chain – Fleetwood Mack.
I know who’ll be on to this (John Mills Ben Dawson Jacob Buckton Oliver Buckton Sam Buckton Amyn Merchant not to name any names)
Secondly, I really like a nice restaurant booth. I’ll even put up with the most atrocious food (not this place I hasten to add!) if only I can slide in by a window, spread out all my stuff, refill with endless tasteless cups of coffee and watch the world go by as I rest my weary derrière on a soft surface. In honour of this I’d like to request entries for The Best Booths in Cinema. Good conversations tend to happen in films when the characters get to the booth. Here’s two for starters:
Bill Murray and Andie Macdowells’ booth conversations in Groundhog Day:
Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando discussing Mindy’s cheesecake vs apple pie in a booth in the incomparable Guys and Dolls:
(Can’t find the clip anywhere, so here’s the opening tinhorn fugue instead!)
After another chilly and windy 30 miles I decided I would make a stop at Traherne, and book in to a hotel after 11 nights of camping. The forecast was for a cold night and I’m ready for a change! On the way I came through a familiar-looking small town where I briefly considered staying: