Wednesday, 30 March 2011


24th - 28th March 2011

The Canadian. Front end.
Well, this was something a bit special. Boarded the 'VIA' train in Toronto, Union Station, at 2200hrs on Thursday 24th. The station is a 'Grand' building, but with utterly crap facilities. My advice; don't, as I did, get there too early. Stay in the Royal York Hotel, just opposite, for an expensive pre-journey snifter. The train, however, was in a different league. It was named 'The Canadian' and on the surface looked a bit like one of the wriggley-tin Amtrac broncos, but it was a clever deception. The carriages were indeed built in USA, in the 1950s. They have been beautifully refurbished ever since. They are solid, and stylish inside, and the ride, whether due to straighter rail-track or better suspension, or both, was smoother and quieter. I had a comfortable cabin/bed and there was a pleasant 'lounge car' ( called the Park Car for some reason ) and an adjoining 'bar car' ( essential ) right at the back of the train so you could look back down the line you had just passed, with an upstairs observation room to see all around. Each accommodation carriage seemed to have it's own steward. Further forward there was also a smart dining car with real flowers on the tables with 'proper' chairs and the food, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, was superb. I was told they also had a 'gym' ( swear-word ) on board, but I never bothered to investigate that.
We were welcomed aboard by a sort of 'master of ceremonies' called Dennis with champagne and canapes and given an amusing briefing on the facilities and the journey ahead. After each town where passengers were embarked we got more of the same! He was our 'host' and 'barman' and resident 'expert' and provided considerable amusement ( he could easily have been irritating, but he wasn't! ). It was not difficult to be quite impressed. Some of us were going to be together for almost 5 days, 4016 kms ( 2410 miles ), and 3 time zones west.

Left: The Lounge Car. Free tea, coffee, 'juice' ( whatever that is ), cookies, newspapers etc on offer all day. The Bar Car is just in front. The stairs lead up to the Observation Car.

Right: Upstairs in the Observation Car. I think it is the 'mad lady' with her back to us on the left. Her hair looked like she had plugged herself into the mains. Maybe she had. Or somebody else had. ( details somewhere below ).

Left: The Dining Car where many interesting, if enforced, conversations took place. There were two waiters, I think French Canadian who, given the chance, sang and played guitars. On two occasions at dinner they burst into song and even got an 'encore'. They were actually quite good. I have my doubts whether this behaviour would catch on at home.

Right: The redoubtable Lawrence ( on the left ).

Woke up the next morning for a leisurely breakfast as we were passing through the pine, spruce and silver birch forests of Ontario ( flat, flat, flat ) heading west and north-west around the Great Lakes. The social significance of the dining car became swiftly apparent. You were seated, no argument, by the head-waiter, at a table with other occupants. How awful. After an embarrassed and muttered "good morning" and all pointedly looking out of the window to avoid eye contact it was impossible, eventually, not to start up some form of conversation. This proved remarkable fun. It formed amusing short term friendships and was often rather educational. You, we all, felt you had nothing to lose by telling 'your story' in the almost certain knowledge that you would never ever again see or hear from the others after the journey's end! One got to know lots of unnecessary details of complete strangers' lives.

Amongst several others, I met a delightful retired engineer and his wife, Val and Marianne. He had emigrated from Co. Down in 1953 where he had worked in the old Harland & Wolfe shipyards and was surprised that I immediately noticed his 'Norn Iron' accent. They were travelling to see their daughter in Edmonton, Alberta - no, the Province, not his daughter's name. He had a great line in jokes ( similar to you Christian! Are you following this? ). There was a tall, stunningly attractive and rather mysterious lady with a German accent whom several tried very hard to sit next to. It eventually transpired that she was a singer called Ingrid, and did so, a la Marlene Dietrich, one night in the 'bar car'!
Then there was Lawrence McAllister. He became my temporary 'new best friend'. This guy was almost unbelievable. He was born in August 1919 ( ie now 92 years old ). He was travelling alone to visit his son, a professor of English at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He might have been 92 but he was far from being a doddery geriatric. He had done this trip every year for the past 5 years and next year, he triumphantly announced, as a 'preferred customer' he was getting the ride free. He displayed absolutely no senile tendencies ( unlike me, he didn't dribble ) at all! He was smartly dressed, had a razor sharp memory, a quick wit, was articulate, completely mobile ( not even a stick ), fantastic sense of humour, ate like a horse and was enjoying himself enormously! He was most amusing.  He was reading an 'Andy McNab' book which slightly detracted from his image. Anyway, he had been a steward on a Canadian '4 stacker' ( HMCS Columbia ) destroyer in WW2 on anti-submarine duties. He recalled, in detail, visiting Londonderry and Plymouth in 1941, and seeing King George V1 at Plymouth visiting Lord Mountbatten on HMS Kelly. Plymouth was bombed during one of his visits. He said he hid under a stack of ropes. After the war he became a mining engineer ( Gypsum in Nova Scotia ) and then did missionary work in Iryan Jaya ( other half of Papua New Guinea ). I thought they ate the missionaries there. Not enough meat on Lawrence perhaps. Lots more stories, but it gives you the idea! .............and many other characters. I must mention one rather odd lady ( well, not mincing words, completely bonkers ) who is a renowned habitue, according to Dennis, on western Alberta trains. She had alarming hair and wild staring eyes and moaned and was apparently in continuous but hopeless search of a long-lost lover, reputedly a British cavalry officer. Luckily, I didn't meet her in the dining car. Lots of social gatherings and chats over a drinks ensued ( not with her, might I add ).

The journey took us through Ontario via Sudbury and Armstrong and Sioux Lookout , which was snow covered, flat and forested, through Manitoba,  snow covered flat prairie, via Potage La Prairie with a 4 hour stop at Winnipeg ( as mentioned  previously ), through Saskatchewan via Melville and Saskatoon, again more flat snow covered prairie punctuated by vast Potash mines ( Manitoba/Saskatchewan produce 25% of the world's potash, said Dennis ). Then into Alberta via Wainwright, a stop in Edmonton and at the touristy town of Jasper. The countryside was beginning to get very hilly by now. Then through the spectacularly mountainous and forested Rocky Mountains. Finally into the Fraser River valley and on into Vancouver with a totally different, mild and damp ( oceanic ) climate. Many small settlements, just a handful of houses/shacks were passed en-route almost unnoticed. When the original railway was built ( 1 Chinaman dead for every mile someone told me; but I think that was just through the Rockies! ) the steam engines needed coal and water re-supply every 120 miles, so that is why these settlements exist where they do. Some became 'trading' stations and others, now, are popular with 'hunters', fishermen and skiiers etc. There were many amusing settlement names, often of Indian origin. I was told, by the 'Norn Iron' guy's wife, that there is a place called 'Smash Head-In Buffalo Drop', so called because there is a precipice there over which the Indians stampeded the buffalo to kill them! Cunning.

Left: Going through typical Ontario forest. Interestingly, there is only single line track for much of the route which entailed waiting on the 2 track bits for freight trains to pass. Canadian Pacific run most of the freight trains which take precedence ( big money ) over the VIA passenger trains. I didn't care. No rush. A freight train, and  I counted a few through, consisted on average of 120 trucks of approx 80ft long each. Therefore, by my reckoning, a train was about 1.8 miles long.  They were big.

Right: Winnipeg, Manitoba. Only here for a pit-stop. It looked a pretty dull place. I hunted unsuccessfully for a re-supply of beer, and was told, in a wine shop ( wine no problem ), that the Government strictly controls the beer and spirits supply. Only one Gov't shop in town and it was a long way away. Something to do with old laws stopping people getting hold of alcohol. Or maybe the Gov't making money? This specifically applied to the old Indian population who developed a rather unhealthy appetite for the pale-faces' fire-water. I was told that there still is a big problem in this area, plus drugs of course. Sounds familiar?  

I went to the local shopping 'Mall' near the station called 'The Forks'. It was the old trading station on the Red River where trading was done with the local Indians. Probably with fire-water in those days, but bugger-all now! They are/were predominantly Cree Indians here. On a tourist info board ( see left ) the details were in three languages; the middle one is Cree. Lots of them still in the area, I was told ( probably by Dennis ).

Right: Out over the prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I forgot to take a photo of a Potash mine, you will be disappointed to hear. Saskatchewan was settled by many Ukrainians and was a 'temperance' state, well before the prohibition era ( according to Dennis ).

Left: At a brief stop-over in Jasper, Lawrence took the chance to paddle his 'canoe'. OK, so I now have a photo of a canoe, sort of.

 A British couple, David and Netta, from the Isle of Man joined the train at Jasper. They were on a 'world tour' having got fed up with running their business in UK ( the petty regulations eventually got to them and they sold up ). They had been to many interesting places including Banff where they had ridden on Husky powered sledges. David had even 'mushed' his own sledge. I was seriously jealous. They probably saw a Mounty as well.

Right and below: Several shots approaching, and in, the Rockies. Pretty damed fine countryside. I was all eyes to spot a moose, but didn't. The bears were ( as Dennis pointed out ) still sleeping..... along with the Mounties presumably.
I saw sheep and deer and the occasional elk. Not very exciting. Lawrence told me that there were plenty of Moose in Newfoundland where he worked at the mines. Well, that was not much use!
He also told us a lot about all the rock formations.

At some point during this journey Dennis organised a sort of 'pub quiz'. I happened to be there. Lots of Canadian ice-hockey type questions. He also asked "what is the surname of the two brothers in the British Labour Party, one of whom now leads it?". Do you know, I had completely forgotten. Plus "what is Tony Blair's autobiography called?". I didn't know that either. I was not much help.

Right: The 'Seven Sisters' mountains.

Left: An elk's arse. In Jasper, I think.

Right: Mount Robson ( partially hidden by cloud ). This is the highest peak in the Rockies at, I think, 15,000ft. Dennis told us, but I might have got it wrong. Quite high anyway. People like to climb it for some reason.

Left: The Pyramid Falls. They look more dramatic in summer when the ice has melted, said Dennis.

Right: OK, here is a photo of a Husky and a sledge and the chap at the right of the picture is carrying some snowshoes. This is, however, a photo of a post-card. It is as close as I am likely to get by the look of things. I'm still feeling jealous of David from the IOM.

Left: A bad photo of the ever patient Dennis serving 'nibbles' to what looks like a bloke with a weird toupee. His face is blurred, he must have had a bit to drink.

The Canadian. Back end.

And finally into Vancouver. This is the back of The Canadian.

So, if you want my humble opinion, the train across Canada was a terrific experience and a very civilised and comfortable way to see a lot of the country. Of course, who your fellow travellers are is a bit of a lottery and all part of the mistique I suppose. Fortunately they seemed to put up with me. There were, as far as I am aware, no murders or defenestrations en-route. There might have been I suppose. Ask Dennis.

......onwards onwards. I have to catch a ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Saturday, 26 March 2011


24th - 26th March 2011

This is a 4 hour 'pit-stop' in Winnipeg on the way to Vancouver. Winnipeg seems to have bugger-all to offer ( in 4 hours ), but the train is magnificent! It is called 'The Canadian'. Whoops! Must dash as, after a long and unsuccessful walk to replen my beer supply, they are now calling for us to re-board. No internet on train so more to follow....... later.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


19th - 24th March 2011

CN Tower
On to Toronto by bus; 2.5 hours up to the NW corner of Lake Ontario. Flat countryside again and from about 50 miles out lots of light industry, warehouses, car showrooms, shopping centres, housing estates etc. I realised that I have not seen a proper hill since leaving Virginia ( Bunker Hill, Boston, was only 50ft AMSL so doesn't count ).
Toronto ( pop. 5m ) is by far the biggest city in Canada and is cosmopolitan, modern, relatively clean and safe, and very 'multi-cultural'. In fact, I was told, 75% of the inhabitants are not of Canadian origin. Originally in Iroquois Indian territory, most of the Indians here now are from the Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta tribes. Lots of Chinese, Greeks, Italians, Philippinos, Portugese and every other nation you can think of are represented. I happened to end up staying in a room above a cheap Chinese grocery in 'Cabbagetown'. It was great, and who cares if the wallpaper is falling off and the paint is peeling! It added to the 'atmosphere', and it had a great pub, the Ben Wicks, nearby. An amusing lady behind the bar there, called Trisha, had an inexhaustible supply of 'Newfy' jokes ( a Newfy is an inhabitant of Newfoundland about whom it is, according to Trisha, traditional to make jokes ). Most of them were rather rude. I don't suppose they get many 'Newfy' customers in, or at least not that would admit to it. Also behind the bar was a charming French Canadian semi-retired semi-professional opera singer, and an expert on 'hockey', from Montreal called Benoit. They were a gas. It was the most amusing place I visited in Toronto, indeed Canada, by far, so far.
Although the city has all 'mod-cons', it lacks in much definitive architecture, special character or any iconic structures, with the possible exception of the Canadian National ( CN ) Tower. This was, when built in 1976, the highest free-standing structure in the world, at 1815ft. It is not now ( either in the structure or tower categories ), and I would argue with the 'free' bit; $38 to get to the top! What a rip-off. So it is now just a 'quite high expensive-standing tower'. Of course, I had to go up it. They have an observation deck at 1200ft with a glass floor, and another at 1400ft. OK, you get a good, if not inspiring, view of Toronto and the lake, cloud base permitting.  

Left: View north over Toronto from CN Tower. Not a molehill in sight. For hundreds of miles.

 Right: The view down through the glass floor. I didn't try jumping up and down to test it.

Left: view to the south over the lake and 'city' airport.

Right: It's worth doing a 'cloud-base check' before spending $38 to go up. I'm not sure if you get your money back if you can't bloody well see anything! I doubt it.

There is a fast lift, with glass wall looking outwards, which takes 58 secs to get to the 1200ft level.

As far as I am aware there are three things for which Canada is internationally famous, namely; Mounties, Lumberjacks and huskies pulling sledges. I have been in Canada for a week now and haven't seen any of them. Perhaps Niagara and Toronto are not the best places to look. My eyes will be peeled from now on. I learnt two useful things in the Ben Wicks pub; the heavy bold-checked shirts/coats that the archetypal lumberjacks wear are nicknamed 'Canadian Dinner-Jackets', and the cry 'mush-mush' to get your huskies to run fast is derived from the French word 'marcher, or marche'. Is that interesting?

I visited the Royal Ontario Museum ( the ROM... Canadians love their acronyms or 'three letter abbreviations', TLAs ). It was large and quite interesting and undoubtedly the best bit was a wing dedicated to early Canadian inhabitants; the many Indian tribes. Having seen this I will add to my list of famous Canadian symbols; canoes, beavers and snow-shoes.
It was snowing on the day I went there but still no sign of huskies or, for that matter, snow-shoes.

Left: The Toronto equivalent of the New York 'Flatiron' building. As you can see, it has an interesting 'trompe d'oeil' on the back of it. Only the middle row of windows is real.

Right: The old City Hall. One of the more 'characterful' buildings.

Left: The added-on modern extension to the ROM.

Another thing I have noticed travelling USA and Canada is that in all the bars they have banks of TVs. In the USA they were, exclusively, showing basketball matches ( it must be the season ) but nobody ever seemed to be paying the blindest bit of attention. In Canada they show ice-hockey and some basketball. I, personally, as a Brit, do not really appreciate TVs in bars/pubs ( would never be allowed in The Grapes ). I notice that basketball is a game played by enormous black men wearing over-sized shorts taking it in turns to throw a big orange ball into a net. Ice-hockey is a game played by enormous white men wearing over-sized shirts whacking an invisible ( to the naked eye ) object into a net. The teams are all known by their nicknames such as ' Killers', or 'Dragons' or 'Fairies' or 'Munchkins', so you never know where they come from. These sports must be an aquired taste. I remember we only played basketball at school, in the gym, when severe weather ( so rarely ) prohibited playing proper outdoor sports, and ice-hockey we played badly, in winter, with upturned walking sticks, on a frozen pond and it always ended ignominiously when someone fell through the ice and had to be rescued.

So, onwards and westwards...........I had intended to take the 'Rocky Mountaineer' train across the Rockies from Calgary to Vancouver, but due to a bit of snow and ice they do not start any of the touristy stuff until the end of April. I am now due to board the VIA ( this is not a TLA, I think it just means 'via'! ) train here and go direct to Vancouver. This is a 41/2 day epic. I sincerely hope to see a few Mounties, Lumberjacks and Huskies pulling sledges en route.....and maybe the odd beaver in a canoe wearing snow-shoes. All aboard!

Saturday, 19 March 2011


16th - 19th March 2011
Horseshoe Falls. Damn near lost my hat taking this.
Arrived at Penn station, New York, at 0230hrs and had to wait until 0715hrs for the Amtrak 'horse' to Niagara Falls. At least there were cafes open and they had a comfortable 'monitored' seating area for those with tickets, plus free wi-fi ( as in all the New York stations ) and a police patrol and I had a book to read. Not too bad really.
The journey to Niagara Falls took 9.5 hours. I must admit I kipped on much of it. We went north following the line of the Hudson to Albany, then west along the Mohawk valley via places like Utica, Syracuse and Buffalo. I must say, from what I saw, the countryside we passed looked flat, drab and boring, or downright inhospitable; all black and grey scenery with rather grim spindly forests, bogs and some unattractive farmland. The towns looked even worse. I thought I had seen the epitome of urban grot in the UK with places like Hull and Cowdenbeath, but Utica, Syracuse and Buffalo ( as seen from the train ) beat them hands down! These places, almost indistinguishable from one another, looked seriously dire urban wastelands. They could, literally, be described as 'dumps'. They would probably only feature in any guidebook as 'Places to Avoid'. I have a couple of photos below of typical countyside and town ( it doesn't matter which 'cos they all looked the same ).  

Left and below: Countryside scenery en-route

somewhere else

and the towns, below. I think the old train was the only memorable sight that I was awake to see. It might have been at Utica. Or not.

The 'town' below is Syracuse, or maybe Buffalo.                                                       
A town

So we finally arrived at Niagara Falls, twice, because you go through the USA version before crossing the river to the Canadian side. This involved an 'everybody off the train' customs procedure, but no grief from the Customs people. They are Canadian therefore most polite. And here the scenery changed dramatically.

A bit about the area. The Niagara river flows, unusually for rivers, from south to north, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario ( 35 miles ) down the Niagara Gorge and over an escarpment, hence the 'falls'. The border between USA and Canada around the falls area runs more or less down the middle of the river hence the 'American' and 'Bride's Veil' Falls and, wait for it Bernie ( he has a thing about them )........Goat Island, are on the US side, whereas the 'Horseshoe' Falls are on the Canadian side.
Originally this was Iroquois Indian territory ( the name Canada originates from an Iroquois name for 'settlement' ) with Seneca and Mohawk tribes living locally. French and British fur trappers were around in the early 17th century ( and fighting each other as normal ) and later, following the War of Independence in America, loyal colonists and other Brits. The French had been successfully booted out. It was originally known as British North America, then Upper Ontario before the whole place became part of what is now called Canada. This war of 1812 featured strongly here, a fact that a Canadian cousin of mine stressed and told me ( correctly ) that I was an ignorant git not knowing about it before. OK! I admit, I slept through most of my military history lessons! As it happens, his Great x3? Grandfather, General Sir Isaac Brock, originally from Guernsey, was mortally wounded leading the British troops to victory at the crucial Battle of Queenston Heights in 1812 and is regarded, locally, as a hero. Actually, as I was again reminded, this war was the first, and will probably be the last, British military defeat of the Americans.
The ( Canadian ) town of Niagara Falls is partly very ordinary and partly designed to attract tourists. The touristy bit is  a mini tinsel-town of casinos, amusement arcades, fun-fairs, fast-food joints, and other brightly lit neon tackiness, but jolly nevertheless. I will try to show, below, some of the sights.

Left: The American Falls, with a viewing platform to the left side. Bridal Veil Falls are a small separated bit on the right-hand end.

 Right: The Canadian Horseshoe Falls. This is the bit that all the idiots went over in their assorted barrels. The first person to do it, in 1901, was a large 62 year old lady called Mrs Annie Taylor. She survived, battered and bruised. I wonder what part Mr Taylor played? He had the hammer and nails perhaps. About 25 people subsequently did this and, surprisingly, only about 5 of them died.
Others, some fatally, negotiated the rapids further downstream in a variety of craft. Captain Matthew Webb, British, the first chap to swim the English channel, tried to swim down the rapids in 1883. He drowned.
Mr Blondin, the first in 1859, and several others have tight-roped across the gorge in a variety of strange ways. Surprisingly, only one person died doing this; a guy called Steve Peere, and only because he did it at night, wearing his street shoes and not entirely sober.

Horseshoe Falls

American Falls lit up.
The 'authorities' have now rather put a stop to all these stunts. Anyway, they have become a bit passe. I must say, I wasn't really tempted. I think you need a pretty good barrel. With some whisky in it.

A bit of Glitzy Naff Niagara Falls.

It is possible to walk over the 'Rainbow Bridge' to the American side and view their 'falls' from the viewing platform. This is them on the right. During the 'season', which I am not in ( too much ice at the moment ), they have a lift which takes you to the bottom and you can look out from a cavern behind the falls. I presume you get a good view of........water!
I also walked over the bridge to, .... wait for it again Bernie,.........Goat Island. I can definitely say that there are no goats there now. Sorry to disappoint you.

On the 17th, St Paddy's Day, I was persuaded to go on a tour. The day did not start well. I thought I had carefully avoided all the Oirish shennnanigans, but NO WAY! Breakfast, and everyone, ( apart from me of course ), including the waitresses, wearing their blasted green shirts and flashing shamrocks and irritating 'diddly diddly doo ra dah' fiddle music playing non-stop. I went into serious Victor Meldrew mode. I told some poor passing Canadian victim that I was English and only celebrated St George's Day. He asked me when that was. Of course I didn't know.
Our tour, a family of 4, and me, in a 60 seater bus, was conducted by Rob who both drove the bus and gave the running commentary. He did it in a manner that suggested he had done it a few times before ie he was on 'fast-forward' and 'auto-pilot'. It transpired that he had indeed been doing this since 1994 and was a bit bored of it. Really?? He said he was thinking of doing something else. I was dying for him to say, a la Monty Python, " I don't want to be a bus driver, I want to be a.... LUMBERJACK!" Sadly, he said he wanted to make cabinets ( well, I suppose it has a 'timber' connotation ). 
We went down the Niagara gorge, past the 'rapids', the 'whirlpool' where the rapid-shooters ended up dead or alive, hydro-electric power stations, parks, and of course, the monument to General Sir Isaac Brock at Queenston Heights. Down towards Niagara on the Lake, known as NOTL, which is a very swish township and, en-route, some seriously luxurious houses. Lunch in NOTL at a British pub, The Angel ( London Pride beer ) and then on to visit a Winery/Vineyard. There are several 'Winerys' around the area. I was persuaded, by myself, to buy a couple of bottles. Ever heard of 'ice wine'? I have now. Any comments Antonio? We also visited a chocolate factory. They told us that they were expanding because they had spent $26,000 to pay a Rabbi to bless the place and filled in tons of paperwork to get a 'certificate' to call exactly the same chocolates 'Kosher'. There is a big Jewish market. The lady telling us this rolled her eyes and looked at the ceiling.

Above: Rob, our tour guide who wanted to be ...........a CABINETMAKER, leaping form tree to tree etc. He never took his leprechaun hat off all day.

Left: The monument to the bold General Sir Isaac Brock. It had been damaged by lightening and was being restored, so I couldn't go up him. 

Right: Part of the rapids leading down to ..........

........whirlpool. The cable car was not yet in operation, thank goodness. I don't like cable cars.

 Right: The history of Niagara. This sign was in NOTL.

Left: This church, near NOTL, had seating for a max 7 congregation.
It would suit most Brit Cof E parishes. The place behind it is a 'winery'....  a German one from what I remember.

Right: The Angel Inn, NOTL. Is the Union Flag the correct way up? Good Shepherd's Pie and London Pride beer.

Left: The Prince of Wales Hotel, NOTL. Rooms about $500 per night. The horse is called Bert.

Right: Two of the staff in that typical English pub, The Angel. Neither I, nor she, could quite work out the Viking connection here. I'm sure I must have missed another history period ( asleep again ). Doubtless someone will inform me.

Left: I have now been in Canada for 4 days and have yet to see a real 'Mountie'. This one here seems to have thrown-up over his boots and had an unfortunate accident with a broom-handle.

Now, as the Lone Ranger might have said as he was being chased out of America, "On to Toronto Pronto Tonto!!"..................... and more to follow in due course.

Friday, 18 March 2011


16th March 2011

Following on.......I will try to attach the photos that I was so rudely told by my 'blogmeister' that there wasn't room for. I managed to escape Boston before St Paddy's Day, you will be relieved to hear. Phew!

Left: This is the statue of John Harvard who founded the University. Note: He does not have a traffic cone on his head. This decorative formality has not yet caught on in American seats of learning.

Right: Their library. Forgotten the name of it. I'm sure it holds the complete collection of the great Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' novels, and a few other good books.

........and some general views of the 'campus', which are pretty boring but may be of interest to those few who are interested in Universities. Very few 'students' around. Not many good pubs around the local area either (Cambridge). They probably all drink in 'shebeens' or similar.

Left: Statue of ducks in the Boston Common Gardens, entitled 'Give Way to the Ducks'. Someone has added on the necklaces.

Right, that's definitely it from Boston. Now have to back-Amtrak a bit to New York ( 5 hours ), wait 5 hours in Penn station until 0715hrs the next morning,  then ( 9.5 hours ) to Niagara Falls. I might be looking for someone who makes good barrels...............