And to be fair, it’s my own bloody fault. Nobody’s forced me to defer, for the third time in 15 months, the opportunity to retire: I’ve volunteered, so I only have myself to blame. We’re under enormous pressure right now, so I said I’d stay on for a few months longer, to help out while they get things sorted. One of my bosses said I’m amazing, which is kind of nice, but I wish she’d tell that to Julie: Julie just thinks I’m a mug!
At least I still get to go to Newfoundland for a month, even though, huddled away in some badly lit corner of my brain is the thought that there’ll be a shed load of urgent emails waiting for me when I get back. But enough of that! What attracts us about Newfoundland is the scenery and the solitude. Its official website boasts “there’s off the beaten path, and then there’s this place.” Newfoundland is therefore, officially, our kind of place.
And then there’s the wildlife. Monstrous moose lurk around every corner, ungainly tangles of legs and antlers that are only too keen to write off the cars of unwary drivers, while whales abound off the coast. Here the website lapses into hyperbole when it says “You’d be hard-pressed to take a simple picture without some humpback spoiling it for you. They pass through here every year, ten thousand of them.” We’ve been up close and personal with humpbacks before, and are keen to repeat the experience. Julie’s booked us on to several whale-watching trips, so if at least one of the ten thousand could kindly swim close to our boat we’d be jolly grateful, thank you very much.
We’re also hoping to see icebergs. Huge, awe-inspiring chunks of ice float down from the Arctic past the coast of Newfoundland every year at this time. Julie has been tracking their progress on the web, at www.icebergfinder.com, and it looks as if we might be in luck when we take a boat trip through Iceberg Alley in a couple of weeks from now. And if the weather’s unseasonably warm and the icebergs have shrunk, at least I can hope to enjoy a nicely chilled scotch on the rocks.But of course, in Newfoundland, all roads lead to Dildo. Yes, there really is a place in Newfoundland called Dildo. Inevitably the name has brought it notoriety, but the town has turned this into a commercial opportunity by holding an annual festival known as Dildo Days, led by the whimsical mascot, Captain Dildo, whose image appears on the road sign to the right. Don’t you just love the entrepreneurial spirit?
The other day at work I was telling my esteemed colleague Neil about our forthcoming trip to Newfoundland, and happened to mention Dildo. Neil, who is a seasoned traveller in North America, nodded sagely, thought for a bit and observed “Yes, I’ve heard of it, I think. Isn’t that the self-service capital of Canada?” There was, however, the merest hint of a twinkle in his eye as he said it. I suspect supermarket checkouts were the last thing on his mind.
Keep reading this blog, dear reader, and I’ll report back on just how Dildo shapes up. Now there’s an offer you don’t get every day.