Day 80 – Cavendish to Ben’s Field via Green Gables & Charlottetown!

Day 80 – Across Canada in rather more than 80 Days

After yesterday’s masterclass in cod and mackerel fishing from the captain, I’ve been thinking about incorporating his very effective teaching method into my own. So starting from next term, when I want to say “Shall we have a look all of the pieces and scales from your Grade syllabus?”, I shall now say, in my best PEI salty old sea-dog accent:

“C’mon mate, let’s get at’em!”

And instead of “I think we should finish with this piece and move on to something a little more challenging”, it’s going to be:

Reel ’em in matie, we’re heading out for deeper water!”

And should a pupil ask me “How do you know where you are, up high on the E string?” I shall answer:

“Try fishing for notes for 48 years?” 

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 52 / 83
  • Time in saddle: 4h 08
  • Max/min temp (°c): 22°/19°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 1013 / 875
  • Calories used: 
  • Cafe time: 3h

There’s an old cinema in Vienna that shows the same film every Friday night a bit before midnight. It’s just on the Ringstrasse, within sight of the Spanish Riding School, and you can probably guess the film – Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), famously set in just-post-war Vienna. During a spell of playing opera in Vienna with the ECO, a friend, Jake Rea, and I decided to go and see the movie, then take a late-night walking tour of the city. We booked a cab to be waiting outside the Arena where we were performing Mozart’s Magic Flute (an extraordinarily bad and over-blown production that had us scratching our heads and looking at our watches. Someone in the band memorably described it as “a euro-pud of a mess”) and take us down to the cinema, just in time for the opening credits. After the film we visited many of the real locations used in the film (hardly any studio shots at all, apparently. Even the sewers were real), and at around two or three o’clock we had a very early breakfast in Cafe Havelka then got a cab home to the hotel, exhausted.

Today I did something a little similar but the other way around. First thing this morning I visited the location that inspired the book Anne of Green Gables, walked down the famous Lover’s Lane, smelt the late wild roses in the beautiful garden, looked around the house with its green gables and then hopped on my bike and cycled halfway across the island to Charlottetown, the capital of the Province, where a theatre has performances of “Anne of Green Gables, The Musical” every day, matinee and evening shows. Now I would not normally have bothered to see this show, but every single person I met on this beautiful island said, “you must see it!”, and that the production this year was especially good, so at 1.30pm I found myself sitting in seat G28 waiting for the curtain to go up.

Back to the house itself, with its green gables:

I arrived at 8am, knowing it didn’t open until 9am, and so had an hour on my own to enjoy walking around the stunning gardens:

(When I smelt these lovely briar roses, with their fresh, damp scent, I felt a bit sad for few moments, transported by the sweet familiarity)

…and to stroll down Lover’s Lane:

..and then to look around the house with all the other punters once it officially opened. At the ticket office (it’s free this year, by the way, because of the Canada 150 Celebrations) I met Summer and Miranda, two students working for the National Parks. After my comments about Provincial Parks it was interesting to contrast their incredibly friendly and helpful approach, even going so far as to look up the times of the show in town for me on the internet and get me some phone numbers, even though a line was forming behind me. Thanks to both of you! I’d given them one of my cards, and as I left Miranda called out from inside her booth “We’ve seen your website already!”. I thanked her, which in retrospect might be foolish, because she didn’t actually say they’d liked it…

I have lots of photos of the house, don’t worry Susie, but perhaps this is the one to show, as it’s the only single bedroom in the house, with dresses laid out, maybe choosing one for the Sunday School picnic? (see, I know my Anne of Green Gables now, eh?)

The ride over to Charlottetown took a couple of  hours or so. It was odd to be back in what does feel like a biggish city after the villagey feel elsewhere on PEI. I locked up my bike and got busy, booking tickets, posting the backlog of blogs and getting some food and drink. I knew from someone I spoke to at the theatre that there was a great coffee bar nearby, but had to settle for a Robins Donut shop where I could keep an eye on my bike. I’d never left it for so long unattended and needed a bit of reassurance that I’d found a safe spot. It was fine. Over four hours on the busiest street in town and all it got was comments! I met Davey, originally from the UK,now living on PEI via Australia. This trip makes me wonder if anyone ever stays put? Davey was an experienced cyclist himself, and told me he’d cycled right across the Australian interior a while back. Chapeau, Davey. He was so concerned about having enough water and food in case of getting into difficulties that he bought a bob trailer for his bike to carry supplies. My three bidons of water (about two and a half litres) wouldn’t have lasted half a day out there.

For anyone who doesn’t know Anne of Green Gables, why don’t I just show you this précis from the house?:

It’s a great story, and the musical production was fantastic, with a superb live orchestra in the pit. Susie tells me that her half-sister Joanna (hi Joanna!) played in the band for a season, which tells me a lot about the quality of the show. I realised that I was feeling a kind of culture shock, sitting here as part of the audience waiting for the show to start:

I haven’t ever stopped in the middle of a bike ride to go to the theatre, let alone after eighty days on the road. It felt like I was doing something almost normal, which was as much of an unexpected shock as smelling the wild rose was earlier in the morning. But then the lights went down, the overture began, and I stopped crossing Canada for a few hours (no photography, please):

One of my favourite lines from the show was a bit that sort of concerns the blog – Anne’s best friend is Diana Barry, who has a FOTB namesake as mentioned before (hello Diana!) Regular visitors to the comments section might have spotted her contributions, often nature-related. Anyway, when they’re first introduced, Anne says

“OH….what a nice name! Diana is my favourite heathen goddess!”

Is that line straight from the book, Green Gables fans out there? I love the way that Anne has the ability to continually shock everyone, but to remain charming.

As I emerged from the theatre I saw a big crowd in the lobby. Not waiting for the next show, but escaping the torrential rain that fell throughout the performance apparently. I’m so glad that it was only my bike that got wet. After ten minutes or so waiting back at the cafe, the rain abated and I cycled out of town, over the big bridge across Hillsborough River and across most of the rest of the island to my campground, Ben’s Field. It was on a road parallel to the Trans Canada, which always means just one thing: hills. There was a sequence of four in a row that felt like a session of hill reps, a training technique to improve your climbing. Each was bigger than the one before. After the first hill a guy in a pickup waiting to pull out called to me “It’s a long ole hill ‘ain’t it?”. I agreed, and as his parting pep-talk before roaring off in the other direction, he said “Yep. Plenty more to come too!”. Cheers mate, I muttered to myself. But he was right.

A sign from my ride today:

Quite apart from misspelling “more”, it should obviously be “Better Drilling Inc.”, not “More Well Drilling”. Honestly.

7 thoughts on “Day 80 – Cavendish to Ben’s Field via Green Gables & Charlottetown!

  1. Anne would have loved the dress hanging on the door because she was desperate for puffed sleeves. Marilla thought them foolish, and Anne says something like, ‘Well, I’d rather look foolish with everybody else than sensible all on my own’. I don’t remember her saying the thing about the heathen goddess, but it was quite a few years ago that I last read it…that memorable time in a tent reading the story to the boys, and not being able to get the words out for the very sad chapter towards the end. They still laugh about it.
    Susie x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “More Well Drilling” reminded me of one of our first tours to Japan together, and a sign in English for a language school that read:
    “Week English Club”!

    Liked by 1 person

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