Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend on the island

I managed to get a good flight price to get over to Newfoundland on the weekend to check out the building we were having done. Gary and Ray Evoy had started building the barn when we finished teaching the summer school, but it had only just begun. Since then the weather has been patchy -- the west coast of Newfoundland kept catching the tail end of the hurricanes from further south. Gary and Ray were building when they could, so I was keeping off their case. However, you can only stay away from a place like that for so long when you're as close as Montreal. So I left it til the last available weekend this trip. Next weekend is plenary weekend in Oslo, so that was out of the question.

During the week I got a phone call through and was told the barn would be closed in by the time I got there. So I bought a sleeping bag and air mattress, organised a rental car from the Deer Lake airport, and arrived around 11 on the Friday night. Called in at Ray's on the way out and found them still up. They said the generator was hooked up to some lights, but that it would likely be cold out there -- did I want to stay overnight with them? Tempting as it was, the Cove beckoned.

It was indeed cold, and next morning saw me at Walmart getting more bedding. But what a great sight greeted me on arrival. The generator fired up easily, I inflated the mattress, and managed to sleep until the cold won out around 8 in the morning. A quick dash to the car to apply a liberal dose of heater. That worked. A few biscuits and a can of cola spelled breakfast, and then the ride in to Corner Brook to visit Wal. Besides a pillow and another sleeping bag I bought an electric kettle, lots of water, a small fan heater, plastic stuff to wash in, and a few other items.

I got back to find that Ray's son, Cory, had installed all the power points down below and in the loft, and hooked the generator up to the wiring in the walls. So I could make coffee, and I made a LOT of it. The wiring works a treat -- hit the switch upstairs and 4 or 5 lights come on.

With extra bedding I slept a good 10 hours the second night and was almost late for a meeting of the summer school teaching team -- planning already for next summer. Funny how I was never that far ahead when I was a 'proper' academic.

It was a great weekend in a magic place, and all the more magical for the outstanding humanity you can feel in the presence of the barn. Well built by outstanding folk, with generous spirited neighbours all around.

Roll on retirement, I say.


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