It’s been weeks since my last post, and I thought it was time for a bit of an update on one or two things that have been going on.
Firstly, some bad news on the ebook front – after hours of research, extensive re-writing, the downloading of more software formats than I care to mention, and several aborted attempts, I’ve reached a decision. This blog is not going to make it into ebook format.
I’m very sorry to bring you this news of course. I felt hugely encouraged to make the conversion by all the positive feedback I received from the blog, but I came up against a big problem. My blog is very dependent on its photos, let alone videos and links, and the number you can cram in to a kindle-friendly ebook is very limited. I tried removing them and rewriting the prose around their absence, but it was just spoiling the fun and the spirit of the blog. Every time I re-read the original, I thought “That’s so much better!” So thanks so much for all the suggestions I received on the subject, but I should have had a longer-term plan and designed the blog accordingly from the start. I have no intention of removing the blog as it is, so do drop in at anytime for a reminisce if the mood takes you!
This morning’s post brought me a very unexpected surprise, connected to my trip: a handwritten letter, posted all the way from Collingwood, Ontario, a town I passed through north of Toronto on the shores of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron.
I had cycled through there on a memorably good day’s cycling, heading for Toronto and a reunion with my wife Susie. I did recall getting stuck for a few miles on the highway with no shoulder, stopping at a kiosk for lunch and leaving my wallet in the washroom (retrieved a few minutes later) and talking to a kid who thought that cycling across Canada would take “like, TEN HOURS!” So I wondered what on earth this could be, and why “Storage Collingwood”? Ripping it open, I read this:
You have GOT to love Canadians. The only thing of any value I actually lost on the whole three-month trip, and someone finds it, digs out my address and writes me a letter all the way to England asking if I’d like it returned. They set a very high bar for helpfulness and honesty.
And finally today, another nice unexpected link to the summer which cropped up yesterday. Susie and I often print off two copies of the newspaper crossword in the morning and try to be the first to finish it. This morning I cheated. I needed another name for methane and hadn’t thought of Marsh Gas. When I googled it, I found a short film made by the National Film Board of Canada all about an eccentric Englishman in 1974 who developed a car that would run on methane (don’t worry, this story is getting to the point soon). After a happy 10 minutes watching this, I found myself linked to another film from the same people, called “The Railrodder” (1965), starring Buster Keaton, which is a Canadian delight. In one of his very last films, it follows Buster’s dream to see Canada, travelling across the country coast-to-coast (east-west) on a little rail-car. I remembered being taken to see this film at the British Film Institute by a film-buff friend of my parents. I must have been around seven or eight years old and couldn’t understand why all the grown-ups were laughing so much.
The movie is around twenty-five minutes long, but when it got to eleven minutes in, I was transfixed: Buster wakes up in the middle of a Canadian Prairie morning (the scene in the poster above), with the song of the mystery bird I often mentioned in the blog that haunted me throughout my trip warbling away on the soundtrack. If you have some idle moments to spare, do have a look. There’s some finger-lickin-good banjo playing too, if that helps (and in my mind, the man who appears from the sea at the end and heads back the other way, west-east, is yours truly). So until next time folks, goodbye for now.