We spent a couple of days kicking our heels in York, north Toronto, hanging around the hotel room to make sure we could stay in contact with the garage and make decisions quickly to ensure Camel cold be fixed as quickly as possible.  The clutch slave cylinder and some other part associated with it are shot and the only place you can order parts from is the UK.  It can take up to ten days (note up to, so I am being optimistic) for the parts to get here and then Avo (our wonderful mechanic) says he needs a full day to get her all back together and checked.  Once we knew we would be stuck here, the answer became very clear; we needed to hire a car and get out of the city.

I found an area not too far from the hotel that had several car hire places within a not too arduous walking distance.  On the way we saw a really decent flock of starlings, a pretty rare sight in the UK nowadays

5 the birds

I liked the name of this electronics place

1 sign

and this jet on a stick was pretty impressive

2 fighterjet

Of course, the pavement ran out halfway so we ended up walking nervously through a tunnel

3 road tunnel

and the final part of the route was blocked by the massive 401 freeway.  Luckily there was one of the few train lines running right past where we were so we hopped on for one stop and got past the monster road with no danger.   We then had to walk through a HUGE mall, that had some very high-end shops and this rather lovely wooden mosaic

4 wood mosaic

We managed to hire a car at the second place we tried, a Dodge Journey, which is quite big and then drove it to the garage to take as much camping kit as possible.  Of course we have so much stuff with us, it took quite a bit of thinning out, but we were still able to take the Tentipi if not the Bromptons.  When we got back to the hotel, there was this friendly plasterer, who had invented his own stilts

4 Plasterer

We loaded up our stuff the same afternoon and were ready to head off by ten the next morning.  The first part of the journey was pretty stressful, despite the fact we had headed that way before.  Of course, last time it was on a sunny Sunday in good old Camel and this time it was during the week, in torrential rain with a left hand drive hire car. 

5 wet scary road

It was almost impossible to see the road and cars and lorries were over and undertaking us and we were highly relieved to get away from the 401 and heading back north. 

8 nice country

9 nice country 2

9 nice country 3

We made it to Tobermory at the north of the Bruce Peninsula (part of the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron) by about four pm and it took us a couple of goes to find a campsite that would allow us to stay three nights.  We ended up staying at the Happy Hearts campground in the last available pitch with electricity (beautifully honest comment from the owner ‘it’s a bad pitch because it is full of roots’, but we managed to fit in the Tentipi).

15 campsite

We had stopped on the way to buy food and a cool box with some ice; it took a bit of thought, as we are so used to the Camel’s luxury of a fridge.  It’s a whole new way of thinking; you have to buy ice once or twice a day and then you can enjoy the pleasure of fresh meat, milk and yoghurt together with cold juice, wine and beer.  We could only fit a little one in the car, so it has taken bit of juggling.  I leave it to you to decide what took precedence.

We managed to cook ourselves a meal before the rain set in, but it was OK, as we had lit a campfire (I did it! The first time ever) and we had taken a tip from other campers and bought ourselves a couple of large umbrellas to huddle under while we enjoyed the warmth.  It is noticeably cooler here than it was further east and a bit less humid.  It was so windy that we felt the need to put out all the guys on the tent.

On the Friday we went down into Tobermory and took a trip on one of the “glass bottom” boats that offers to take you to ‘see the wrecks’ and around Flowerpot Island. 

16 boat trip 2

16 boattrip 3

It was a lovely trip; the wrecks are boats that sunk in the 1800’s and are still impressively whole. 

11 wreck

The amusing thing was that, to see them we had to go into the posh part of the Bay and all around were these signs

11 Nimby 1

Apparently there is a group of locals that want the number of tour boats to be reduced to ‘make sure the water quality is not affected because they drink it’.  There are a couple of problems with this; all bar about two residents have bought their places in the last couple of years, many years after the start of the tours, and all of them own boats, one particular complainant owns ten!

17 boattrip 4

We loved the trip to Flowerpot Island (named after this stone structure),

17 boat trip 6 flowerpot

despite the choppy waters.  The sun shone, the islands were beautiful, the colour of the water was ridiculously blue; it was lovely.

We managed to stock up on a few essentials in town and then headed back to camp.  There is a lovely young family camping next to us and they told us there was a bear in the campsite.  I went to see and then ran back and grabbed my camera

18 bear

(I was a little concerned, because, when we went to Yosemite in an RV we were lectured about how you must not keep food or cosmetics or anything with a scent in your car because bears are curious animals and will rip a car apart with minimal effort.  It is a little scary to view yourself as the contents of a puny can of beans.  The warden then said we should be OK because they had not worked out how to get an RV open….YET.)  It seem that our visitor was a black bear, quite small and not too scary, if you don’t upset a mama bear’s cubs.  The ones to watch out for and avoid are brown bears (AKA grizzly bears).

After all the hooha died down, the nice lady from next door was dragged over to us by her cute little boy, Logan. 

20 Logan

He insisted on telling us how to be safe when we meet a bear (it involves a lot of screaming, apparently) (the family had just been to a talk about bears).  For a four year old, he made a lot of sense and it was a delight to see how concerned he was about us.

It was a wonderfully fine evening and after supper we built another campfire (an addictive pursuit, I can tell you!) and watched the stars come out.  Despite the various campfires and the odd light from places like the loo block we eventually managed to see the Milky Way.  Sitting enjoying the warmth of the fire, supping on some half way decent red wine and watching the best display of stars we had seen in years…. Magical!

21 campfire

On Saturday we spent our time doing the washing, sorting out all the kit we had just shoved into the hire car and then we walked into Tobermory for a really nice lunch.  We saw this cute boat on the way in, and I had to take a photo. 

22 boat for sale

Sadly, the owner saw us and got all excited, thinking we wanted to buy the it, but Tim explained that it probably wouldn’t make it over the Atlantic to Bognor Regis.