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Reports

Saturday, 14 June 2003
Stratford --> Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

From Stratford my hostess Laura Underwood picked me up to take me to her historic home town of Cambridge, where she lives with her Slovak husband Joraslav Priboj. After a comfy afternoon at their place I am taken to the haunted pub in town for a musical night with a great punk rock band.

After a 10'o clock wake-up call at the Queen's Inn in Stratford, my host Edward Killian took me along to the breakfast restaurant Features, across the street from the inn, where I had a good filling feast.

Edward headed back to London and I thanked him for letting me stay at his place and all the generosity he has offered with his introduction to theatrical Stratford.

My next destination to stay for a day today was in Cambridge, but my hostess there, Laura Underwood, offered to just drive to Stratford to pick me up at the inn.

Just after noon we were driving through the farmlands of southern Ontario again. There is not much to see in between the small cities here. A highway connects one town with the other and in between is just the country side with farms and soaring grain stacks.

And everything is green, because it has become summer.

Laura is working in the insurance industry. "I verify people's claims to see if they are really worthy for a case."

Cambridge, located in the heart of Grand River Country, was originally the home of North American Indians for more than 13,000 years. Natives hunted, fished and raised their families along the Grand River. Europeans then came to North America in the 15th century, and settled in the area of Cambridge in the early 19th century.

The history of Cambridge is long and speckled. Cambridge was not always the single large centre as it is today. In 1973, the towns of Preston and Hespeler, and the city of Galt combined to become Cambridge.

Laura lives together with her fresh husband Jaroslav Priboj, who originates from for former Czechoslovakia, in the part now known as the country named Slovakia. Jaro is a civil engineer. Jaro's parents emigrated to Canada in the 80's and however Laura and Jaro went to school together, Jaro wasn't impressed at that time. "He doesn't even remember me from high school," Laura laughed. And then two years ago they met up again in a local pub and fell in love. They married last April on a cruise ship on the Atlantic Ocean. "We are still waiting for our marriage certificates to arrive from Bermuda," Laura said.

At their comfy old house near the town main street Laura shows me the cool basement, where my bed was made for the coming two nights. We connected my laptop to their high-speed internet connection and my stay-for-a-day (okay, for two days this time) could start off again.

Laura invited me over after seeing me on Vicki Gabereau's talk show on television and just loved the life I was pursuing. With their own 1992 personal computer Laura has been following me for quite a while. Jora wants to get rid of their high-speed connection, because it ain't fast enough. "It might be your computer, it almost predates the internet," I joked to them. Seriously.

Laura made sure I felt very comfortable at their home, "because it must be so tiring what you are doing," and she shows me around the house and introduces me to their two big dogs in the back yard. "We started our own vegetable garden, what do you think of it?" and with pride she shows me the small plants that soon will give potatoes, salad and tomatoes.

For a lunch bite Laura takes me along to Frieda's Place, a very nostalgic lunch room down a lane of strip malls and fast food chains, where hamburgers still need two hands. "This is Jora's favorite place to eat," Laura tells me.

Jora could not come along. He was off to Canadian Tyre to pick up some parts to fix the lawn mower.

Back home Laura made him mow the lawn as the grass was getting way to high lately.

You can understand that Laura has the situation pretty much in control here, and it was funny to observe the freshly wed couple doing their ordinary household task as it was weekend.

For dinner Laura cooked mashed potatoes and chicken with salad and during this dinner we made plans for tonight. "It's Saturday night, so we have to take you along to this pub in town, the Fiddler's Green. They have a club and live music and it must be good tonight."

After dinner I had a little power nap and then we got ready for that visit to the pub. Halfway in town we picked up Laura's sister Elaine and her husband Toney.

The story goes that the Fiddler's Green Irish Pub is located in a haunted building. By the look of it this building would already be a great setting for a horror movie!

When this grand building was a post office in the past, a lady named Emily was the cleaning lady. She fell in love with an older postmaster Mr. Turnbull and they had a torrid love affair which ended in tragedy. It was said that the young Emily, apparently worried at Mr. Turnbull's attempts to end the affair, took her own life on that very third floor that was home of Mr. and Mrs. Turnbull.

Every now and then rumours go that staff of the pub saw things fly from one place to the other on that 3rd floor and in the past people have said they have seen Emily, the ghost.

Of course I had to check that out and inside Elaine had talked to the manager to see if I could go up there. Unfortunately the third floor was under construction, but we got a nice short tour on the second floor, which was the dance club area of the pub.

While enjoying a few beers with my hosts and family members, suddenly this punk rock band named Pop Joy (from London) entered the stage and started entertaining the audience. For a Saturday night it was disappointingly quiet, according to Laura, "normally it should be packed by now."

But it was alright to me, because that band was rocking. Now don't get frightened when I say they played punk rock and because the lead singer looked like a born punkster, their music and performance were great!

They actually played songs from the past, the 80s and 90s, and played them in a rocky jacket you would never expect it would be possible and so much enjoying. Check out their website where you can also download some excerpts of what they play. It's very interesting.

In my homecountry a band like this would already play at outdoor summer festivals, but I guess the situation is different in Canada. There is probably a great rock band in every little town.

I was also challenged by Jora to play a few games of pool. Well, as I am a master at losing pool (I have some great bad experiences), I even amazed myself by winning three games in a row, even versus Toney, who left the pool table totally disillusionized. Hehe. Sorry.

We didn't get home that late this night, as my hosts have energetic plans for me tomorrow, but it was a fun night out in Cambridge!

Good night!

Ramon.