i have mentioned our friends Jimmy and Barb a few times on this blog. they are the great people who took care of the Manor for us while we were still living back in the city - and they did a ton of work for us! one of the best selling points about the Manor was it came with alm0st 10 acres and 200ft of riverfront - we always knew that when we left the city we had to be on waterfront.
when i first contacted the real estate agent, she let me know right off the top that no human being had ever seen our "waterfront". at some point in mankind's history, someone had cleared about 20 ft just at the back of the house; however that was many moons ago and it had all grown over again. with wild raspberry bushes. it's not called Framboise for nothing. anyway - the rest of the 1000ft hike to the "waterfront" was pure, virgin, overgrown forest.
that threw us for a bit of a loop and we re-considered. but because the acreage came with a house, telephone, electricity, well, septic system, etc., and because it was located in the exact rural area that we wanted to be in...we bit the bullet and decided that we would have to budget for a road to be built down to the river at some point in the future.
after we bought the place, sight-unseen, we took a vacation to the Manor to finally see our property. we were so excited! running around the cottage and the yard like giggling fools. and then decided to go and check out our "waterfront". here is a pic of what we encountered at the beginning of our hike.
it sure doesn't look as bad as it was. we spent almost an hour tripping, falling, squeezing between trees, getting scratches everywhere, falling down some more and crying. it was only 1000ft. and we have both hiked and whatnot but this was densely-packed forest. however, once we saw the river we knew that we had made the right decision. our only problem was - who on earth could build us such a long road. and how much was it going to cost?!?!?!?!?
enter A and C, stage left. C is Jimmy and Barb's daughter, A is her boyfriend. because the hike to the river was so gawd-awful, we decided to go to the beautiful private beach nearby. A and C were set up in a camper trailer down at the beach. as soon as we pulled up, their gorgeous pit-bull jumped right into my unrolled window and proceeded to lick my whole face. then jumped in the backseat. then chased his tail. then jumped in the front seat and licked jambaloney's whole face. then back into the back seat. this proceeded for many minutes with both A and C, embarrassed, leaning in the car, trying to get that rambunctious little/big guy out of there - it was funny to say the least! and that poor little dog recently got hit by a car and had one of his front paws removed right up to the shoulder!!! but that hasn't stopped him. C told me he was dragging her up the road at lightening speed on his 3rd day out of the hospital. and for anyone concerned - he has really adjusted. and still jumps in strangers' cars i am sure.
continuing on, we went a ways up the beach and set up our towels then ran into the water. we were splashing around in the freezing ocean for about an hour - laughing and laughing! we are water babies. once we got out and were properly dried-off, A walked down and asked us if we would like to join them for a beer. so we went up to where they had parked their trailer and sat and chatted. they are really nice kids in their early 20's. they told us that C's mom and dad, Jimmy and Barb, had just gone off to get some firewood and would be back shortly. we enjoyed chatting with them and playing with the dog.
enter big, black, beaten up Chevy Silverado, stage right. loaded to the gills with firewood. and when i say firewood - i mean entire trees! and when i say entire trees - i mean entire trees, about a foot and a half in diameter, that he had pulled out of the ground - no chainsaw, no hatchet - no anything. just pulled them out of the ground - bahahahaha! oh he's a character is our Jimmy! imagine a 6'2, 220lb Cape Breton guy who claims he got his Grade 12 - cuz he repeated Grade 6 before quitting school! he is friendly, always smiling and is glad to help anyone out with anything that he can.
Barb's quite the character herself and the exact opposite of Jimmy - in some ways. she is tiny like a faery, complete with a faery-smile and has a huge heart of gold (i wish she had a "pot" of gold!). but don't get her started or you are in for it - she could easily take on 3 or 4 guys Jimmy's size and she would be the ONLY one walking away.
anyway - there we are having one of the best afternoons of our life - yakking with our new-found friends and swimming. i'll never forget the way Jimmy kept saying, "welcome home, buddy. welcome home". he was making me teary-eyed!
we probably stayed at the beach until about 10:30 that night and left after much hugging and promises to return the following morning for breakfast. we came back to the cottage and spent the night on a mouldy, old mattress but slept like kings! we woke up late and went back to the beach where Jimmy, Barb, A and C had already had breakfast and had passed A and C on the road as they were heading home - about an hour and a half away. when we got down to the beach there was more hugs and welcomes and then more chatting.
at some point we explained our situation with not being able to get down to the river. and that's when Jimmy told us he's a certified heavy equipment operator. one year he laid fibre-optic cable 6,000km from British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. THAT is the entire distance across our country! he built airports in Nunavut AND the Northwest Territories. and he was an ice-road truck driver for years! there is not a piece of heavy equipment that he is not trained to use. he spent this past summer dredging Sydney harbour (a fair-sized harbour) to make it deeper. the man has been everywhere and done everything!
and very casually told us that he would come take a look and let us know if it would be a problem to build us a road! VERY CASUALLY?!?!?!?!?
they came up - Jimmy walked around, said he could clear all around our house, could build the road to the river and it would not be a problem - WHAT?!?!?! oh and he would also re-grade our driveway?!?!?!
they stayed with us a few more hours. we exchanged all of our details. gave them the keys to the Manor. they had to leave to go home. lots of hugging and kissing! we had to leave the next day to come back to the city. we called them when we arrived back in the city. Jimmy told us he would have all of the work at the Manor done by November as he first had to finish another contract. November?!?!?!!? we couldn't believe our incredible luck! and we weren't even planning on moving to the Manor for another several years. but with Jimmy getting that work on the driveway, yard and road done for us - it meant that we could visit the Manor and be able to enjoy our waterfront - can you even believe this story?!?!?!
as it turns out, Barb and Jimmy took care of the Manor for us for a year and a half. Barb painted the entire Manor, and both Jimmy and Barb, their kids, and friends also helped put the Manor together for us. i have previously mentioned putting in a beautiful new window in the living room, a new one in the bathroom, gutting the entire bathroom and re-building it from scratch, putting in a new water heater, new sump-pump, building us a deck - i can't even remember all that they did for us!
anyway - back to the road that Jimmy built. have a look-see for yourselves...here is a pic of the Manor before:
pretty overgrown, eh? and here is a pic of the front yard before:
here's what Jimmy did - amazing isn't it?
remember the gawd-awful driveway?
here's what Jimmy did:
here is a pic of the full driveway:
remember how the back of the house used to look?
here's what Jimmy did. notice that he saved the trees!
and i know. this post is about the road that Jimmy built. here ya go, have at 'er:
you can actually see the river now! and he cleared an area for us down at the river!
he did all of this work for us and charged us only the rental for the equipment. he charged us nothing for labour. and he was at the Manor working his butt off and it was slow-moving because of the horrible weather! and he charged us not a dime for his labour.
on top of that - he happened to stumble across some old farming equipment that a farmer was throwing out. asked if he could have it. farmer said sure. so he dragged that stuff up to the Manor and then painted it red. how did he know of my love of red? i don't know the answer to that question.
here is a pic of our friend, Jimmy. we love him! more than he will ever know.
i look out my kitchen window everyday and see that hand-painted, red,old farm equipment. and Jimmy is always smiling and waving, with his beer in hand in my mind.
from both of us, Jimmy, to you and Barb - thank you!