|Colourful corridor at St. Benoit du Lac|
We went to a local bank today to check how we could best transfer the money for the mobile home. We simply need to do an electronic wire transfer. Several calls later to Barclays, each of which gave us different information, we think we can do this by phone for a fee of £30 for it to go within twenty four hours. We also phoned to check progress on getting insurance only to be told it was not looking good because we do not have a Canadian address or passport. The fact we both have an international driving licence seems to be making little difference. Needless to say it was not the best start to the day!
Eventually we hit the road heading east to Lac Memphrémagog. We stopped at Saint-Benoit-du-Lac where there is a closed order Benedictine monastery. It was founded by monks fleeing France where they were no longer welcome. Over the years it has grown in size and is now an Abbey. There were information panels explaining the daily routine of the monks, wholly dedicated to prayer, meditation and private contemplation. Men can come here on retreat but Stef was not tempted. A nearby convent provides the same respite for women.
The church itself is very simple and austere. There is no gilded decoration or painting here, nothing to cause a distraction other than patterns in the tiled walkways. The grounds though are beautiful and would provide a beneficial setting for contemplation. In the basement of the Abbey buildings was an extensive shop selling religious curios as well as produce made by the monks both here and in nearby monasteries.
Back in the car another phone conversation with Barclays revealed that we cannot do what we were told we could do. Frustration ruled and we ended up leaving it with them to come up with a solution. They called back later in the day to say that as long as we could fax an instruction to them they would do what we wanted and, because we have been given such conflicting information they would waive the normal charges.
We carried on to Magog, a town on the north of the lake. From across the water we saw small high rise hotels and apartment blocks. Not what we were expecting or what we wanted to see. A quick stop at Tourist Information got us a B&B for the night at La Maison Campbell, five minutes walk from the centre of town. Danielle and Jean, the owners, were a very friendly and slightly quirky couple. Stef went into German mode as there was another couple also just checking in. There were only two rooms left and he was getting twitchy that the other couple would get to choose. As tourist info had already confirmed our booking we had the choice - a GOM moment avoided.
Having off loaded our nags we ambled down to the lake. Its another hot day and I was in search of a shady spot to keep cool. As with Knowlton there is a small area cordoned off for swimming that is watched over by lifeguards. The sandy part of the beach here is almost so small its not worth mentioning. There is a small, I think artificial, peninsula jutting onto the lake. On it there were a whole load of exhibition stands, all empty. There had been a big swimming festival here last week. On the other side of the peninsula from the lake was a small marina, but here was money. Most of the boats were moored in effect in private "garages" underneath waterfront apartments. very swanky.
The heat induced lethargy and short tempers. In South America we were very dependent on each other because so much was different to home. While I could have got by with my Spanish, especially towards the end of out time there, it would have been difficult tot travel on my own. Here my French is currently abysmal (I am sure it is just the Québec accent but Stef does not agree), but most people also speak English (some at a push). here we do not need each other in the same way so inevitably, and as I predicted to my parents and my sister Caroline, things are a little tense from time to time.
We finished the afternoon as friends and headed back to our B&B to freshen up before heading out for dinner. Micro breweries seem pretty popular in this part of Canada and we ended up in one for dinner. The food was nothing to write home about but the sangria beer was quite refreshing, for the first glass or two. It got pretty sickly sweet by the end of the pitcher.
|Sunset in the St. Laurent|
Not yet ready for bed we went for a moonlight (and streetlight) stroll by the lake. It was a pretty clear night and we could make out the big dipper but sadly non of the other constellations - astronomy is not one of our strong points! The water was really clear and even in the moonlight we could see fish swimming in the lake. There seemed to be a lot of spiders here too, we both kept walking through their webs.
Magog has been a pleasant place to stop off for a night! The only shame is that it is just of the size where the big chains are moving in. There is a KFC and a McDonalds. Just over the road from McDonalds and facing on to the river there is a terrace bar with live music - Big Daddy entertaining the tourists with a pretty standard mix of cover versions. He lives up to his name. We stood watching him from the bridge and he is big!
Even though it is growing it is still a sleepy place. Earlier today we had tried to check emails. No connection at the B&B and the only internet cafe in town is really just a cafe which happens to have a PC stashed in the corner. It is only open until 3pm. We have got used to South America where everywhere we went there were lots of different internet cafes to choose from. We never really had a problem finding one, they just sometimes had very slow connections. In South America people probably could not afford home PCs and the phone costs, hence the plethora of internet cafe's. Here people obviously all have access at home so their need for high speed access is not so great. This may cause us big problems updating our diaries and photos on our web site but we will do our best.