The God of small choices

  Up here in the mountains, with snow all around us, there isn’t much to do. So the day resolves itself into a different kind of rhythm – a rhythm of small choices: do we go out for a walk? Now or later? Shall we do that small chore now … or later? Hey – […]

Biking in beautiful Burlington

One of the things I like about improv is that it’s the ultimate transferable skill. There may be some people who have scripts for their lives, but most of us are making it up as we go along. So that is how we came to make up an accidental 55-kilometre bike ride, on a beautiful sunny Monday in Vermont.

Glamping, eco-style

Cabins in the forest

We’ve just finished our three-week Workaway stint at Repere Boreal, the eco-cabins resort in the woods on the St Lawrence River in Quebec, so now seems a good time to write about it.

As eco-nomads, we were attracted to go there by the idea of the eco-cabins. They come in three types:





  • the Shiship, converted from old shipping containers, complete with compost toilet. As you can see from the photo, it doesn’t attempt to hide its origins








  • the Maikan, a basic one-room cabin with no running water (no photo)

mashk interior

  • the Mashk, a more upmarket affair with the usual mod cons – kitchen, bathroom with shower, galleried bedroom looking out onto the birch trees.

The good thing about doing a job cleaning rooms every day is that you get to know the cabins intimately! Some of the great things about them were the way they had been located round the property, so that each one was totally private, yet just a short walk from the main building and its facilities. They each had outside space, with a camp-fire/grill set up and seating.

The cabins feel very much in harmony with the surrounding trees and wildlife. Chipmunks give their warning calls as you pass by, rabbits and foxes are close.

However, like our own compost toilet at home, which we gave up on in the end, the toilets in the Shiships struggle to cope. The fruit flies move in and multiply at an astonishing rate, meaning there’s no choice but to use toxic chemicals to get rid of them. Exactly what you don’t want to do.

I’m sure there are compost toilet models that work better, notably those with a large underground pit that can be rotated, rather than a removable drawer, as here. The owners of the resort are committed to improving things and finding solutions, and I am confident they’ll do so.

mashk roof terraceMore on the eco-resort – and on what we’re up to in Montreal at the moment – soon.

Any comments on glamping, compost toilets or anything else welcome. Let us know what you think!

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Nous nous trouvons dans un pays entre deux langues/We are in a country between two languages

We are here in Quebec province, spending time mainly with people from Quebec, and speaking French most of the time. Sometimes we communicate in English. But there is a gap of understanding in both languages. Our French is imperfect, plus we are still getting to grips with the Quebec dialect, so obviously this creates a […]

The joys of hitch-hiking

Slow travel

in this year-long trip of ours, so far we’ve chosen to travel without a car. And our current Workaway is at an out-of-the-way eco-resort up the route du Fleuve, along the St Lawrence river. Public transport doesn’t reach here. There are no buses for 26 kilometres. There might be an occasional train, but it’s a fancy tourist one which doesn’t come close to us.

Our Workaway hosts, who set up the Repere Boreal a couple of years ago, are very hospitable and do their best to give us lifts for expeditions on our days off. But it’s not always possible. In fact that has opened up another door for us – to the delights of hitch-hiking.



On Tuesday we set off in the pelting rain. We reasoned it would be easy to get picked up as car drivers would take pity on sodden hitchers. However, the opposite was true. We had to wait about 15 minutes. Maybe they didn’t want the interiors of their cars getting wet. Or maybe they couldn’t actually make us out in the driving rain.

Smile – you’re on MY travel blog!

It was worth the wait, though. We were picked up by a couple of friends, originally from India, now living in Vancouver and Ontario respectively. They were two lovely people on a week’s road-trip in Quebec. One was a documentary film-maker and blogger. His camera was running when they picked us up, and we got interviewed. Not sure whether we made the cut, but it leads to the curious experience of the mutual blog!

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The camera never lies?

produits du terroir


Staying (and working) at a motel on an island, the Ile d’Orleans, which is very obviously geared towards tourism, has got me thinking more about image recently. Filling your motel rooms, getting people to come in for tastings of your local wine, cheese and cider – it’s all about presenting the right façade.  And it’s true, there are some beautiful vistas of the countryside and the river. And there are delicious local products. The sign outside the local service station/general store is enticing:



Inside, you do find local beer and chocolates. But also a lot of overpriced junk food. It’s a service station.

I was thinking that maybe, à la Facebook, this blog too has been guilty of presenting a sanitised version. For example, sunset from the motel terrace:

sunset view from terraceActually, I had to cross the road to get this shot, because this is the actual view, complete with cables (different time of day, obviously):

view from motel with cablesAnd at eight in the morning I recorded on my phone 8 vehicles passing within 50 seconds.

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60km on a tandem

Yesterday was a good day, probably the best day of our stay/working visit here. The Ile d’Orleans has basically one road – it goes all the way around the edge of the island (see map above) – so we set out on the tandem, initially just for a ride and to visit the cidrerie about […]