Monday, April 23, 2007

Driving lesson and the old Coylet

I forgot to mention in my last post something rather exciting (to me at least) that I did recently: I got a lesson on how to drive a manual transmission car!

Pretty much every car in the UK, and in Europe as far as I know, is a manual, or standard as we call them in Canada, so I haven't been able to drive anything. I've been asking people I work with to teach me ever since I've been here, but of course it's tricky because I don't have my insurance and over here you're not covered insurance-wise just to drive someone else's car on a one-time basis. But a week ago Thursday, Fraser took me down to a forestry road that's at Ardentinny beach and we drove around in circles on the gravel road. My biggest problem was not letting the clutch off slow enough when I was starting from a dead stop, but I managed alright and even though the car had a loose gearbox and I would sometimes end up in fourth instead of second gear, I could definitely hear something was wrong and correct myself. So now I feel I could rent a car and then with practice driving I'd be quite fine. I haven't driven on the road, so there'd be that driving on the left-hand side to get used to (it was weird enough sitting on the right-hand side of the car) but I'm sure that difference can be over come as well.

And now for something different.

There's some old photos of the Coylet hanging on the walls here that date from late 1800's I'd guess from the clothing and modes of transportation. I've taken photos of them with my camera, so of course the images aren't great, but I thought it would be neat to try to show them at least. I find it interesting firstly that there's no trees on the hills, and also that the place basically looks the same as it does now.

The road used to end at the Coylet and to go farther north you either had to go around a coastal road or take a ferry up Loch Eck to where there was a road. I don't know if this picture is of the ferry, or of ships that used to just sail up the loch from the river to the south (they used to do tours on the loch as well), but whatever this pier was roughly opposite the hotel, as I recognize the shape of the mountains in the background (again with no trees on them).

It's hard to see it here, but those wagons have about 20 to 30 people each loaded on them. Travelling in comfort.

It rarely occurs to me just how old the Coylet Inn is - it's late 17th century from what I know, which means that it's 300 to 350 years old. When the inn was built, the ancestors of most Canadians were not in Canada - in my case they were in Scotland, Ireland, and England, with the bulk of them not even speaking English at the time and probably not yet converted from Catholicism to Protestantism.

The thing is, I've spent six months living and working in a building that's older than anything in PEI, but it doesn't feel old. Sure the staircase is small and quite steep, and the roof slopes in quite a bit in the upstairs, but the place doesn't remind me every day just how old it is. I'm not really sure what it would take for me to feel that it's old.

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