Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I see my audio blog full of "ums" didn't make it then.  Just as well really, even though it cost me a fistful of quarters- must remember to rant about Verizon some time.

We're in a truly beautiful place, Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, a wonderful island, or to be precise a sand bar in the Atlantic, whose only fault is internet access at $12 an hour (!).  So I'll be quick.

We've started our slow climb to Narnia and the North again, having reached Wilmington in North Carolina, but there's nothing northern about the weather, I can assure you!- about 35C in the shade, and 90%  humidity, but the sea, pure Gulf Stream, is at about 30C as well- bliss for this cold-water hater.

"Up" here, which is around the same latitude as Tunis I think, we are camping in a dune about 150 metres from the high tide, so watch for hurricanes coming this way!

We have to be back in Montreal on August 6th at the latest, before heading off for Maine for a week (The Boff has a conference to attend on Aug 9-13th).  We should be in Washington DC in a couple of days, where I'm hoping for better and cheaper Internet access. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


...may be my last posting for a few days, possibly until we get to Morgantown, West Virginia, on Saturday, where we meet up with our friend Tall Welsh Git.

After Morgantown, we're heading back across Virginia to Washington, then south along the coast to reach South Carolina for the 22nd to meet up with my brother.

Lancaster County, PA 

Try as I might, I couldn't get used to the sight of a group of Amish folk shopping in the Walmart Supercenter.

Young M is horrified by the whole Amish thing. She thinks it a crime that they do not go to school beyond the age of 15. In thruth, it was quite surreal to witness the enchantment of the Amish lady finding out for the first time about Latin, the Roman Empire, and the fact that French and Spanish are related to each other. We swapped addresses, so I may well be a resource centre for a deeply traditional lady in deepest Pennsylvania anxious to find out about European history.

M was even more horrified about the lack of knowledge of this lady than she was about the "unfinished" clothing she thought the lady was wearing. I, however, am not entirely certain that this lady would be the only person in the States who had never heard of Latin or the Roman Empire.

New Jersey 

One night in the most perfect campsite, right at the edge of the Delaware River across from Pennsylvania, with our own wild geese honking gently through the night, spoiled only slightly by the torrential downpour and the silly bint at the office who needlessly kicked us off our site when we wanted to stay another night (some mix-up over bookings, nothing to do with our behaviour- although it was an alcohol-free site and we had some bottles of beer in the car- eek!).

New York 

I was expecting a WASPish, smug, full of itself city, with more mouth than substance and many dissatisfied marginals. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Over the three days we spent there, staying over the river near Jersey Cty, and commuting in via the community bus service, I heard more Spanish spoken than English; spoke Spanish myself to various people in order to be better understood; saw many more handwritten signs in languages other than English than I'd ever expected. Definitely not WASPish, unless you count the ill-advised foray into the Berkshires, whish seems to be the place to live if you have a vast amount of money and at least two horses.

I'd always imagined Central Park to be dangerous- it is in fact lovely, being actively restored and is extremely pleasant. As far as I could see, there were not that many more tramps and aggressive street people visible than in Montreal, where they certainly didn't strike one.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was amazing, the newly created dockside parks at the southern tip of Manhattan look as though they've been there for years, The Fiddler on the Roof was fantastic, and we all got in for $25 each.

I actually almost liked the place despite the fact that it's a city, and that Time Sqare is worse than Leicester Square for filth and people, that 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Ave, our first contact with the city, is a little squalid. I still wouldn't want to live there though.

Why we spent a salmon-coloured week. 

I do apologise for landing all these posts on you at once -needs must. Don't gobble them all at once or you'll get indigestion.

After Boston, we headed south down the coast, stopping on our first night out of Boston at Cape Cod. We decided to stay two nights there, so that we could take advantage of the excellent beaches and lack of mosquitoes that had plagued every one of our stops up till then.

We called in at Plymouth on the way donw, viewed the replica Mayflower, which is impressively small considering the number of people it carried across the pitching Atlantic)

We stayed at Falmouth (it's all very West Country (Devon and Cornwall in England) around there- Plymouth, Barnstable, etc) and went down to the beach at 10am, where we unaccountably forgot to apply sunscreen until about 1 pm. Well, to be precise, I ordered Hen to apply some, as she has very fair skin, but the rest of us just escaped my mind (even though I'm as fair as a nun's underdrawers as well). She is mostly OK.

Young M, our borrowed child, just looked contemptuously at me when, several huors later, I looked at her reclining in the midday sun and mentioned the it was rather hot. Sim ignored me when I asked him to put on a shirt. He could be heard muttering that he could feel no pain, and that therefore, he was not burnt. Dill I managed to catch and slather with sunscreen before too much damage was done; she also has a very covering swimsuit, so she escaped relatively unscathed.

The rest of us, on the other hand, were so burned that we all looked like red mould. We've all peeled horribly, even M, whose beautifully deep tan acquired over several years (she's from Brittany and spends a lot of time in the sea) has now been stripped back to the pink undercoat.

We all lived on Paracetamol (Tylenol) for several days, Sim feeling particularly sorry for himself, without much sympathy from anyone I might confess.

What can I say? We were young, we were foolish. We won't make that mistake again.

The Ring 

It came to him by chance, in a playground swap of objets trouves, The Ring. It looked much as you'd expect it to look: gilded, with intricate runes inscribed all around it. Sim wore it day and night, staining his finger a dull grey-green- he did not care, for he had his Precious; he would take it off only to have a bath, whereupon he would leave it in the pocket of his trousers. Placed in the washing basket, it spent several happy cycles being thoroughly cleaned with Cheer

It must eventually have had enough of all these cycles, that Ring. At the Children's Museum last week, it made its escape in the Bubble Exhibit (more symbolism, see!), slipping off the boy's soapy hand and rolling away. Try as we might, we could not find it. It had chosen.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Days 3-5 

Boston. Rain. Childrens, Museum.

Days 1-3 

We spent most of the day packing up the house- who would have believed we'd collected so much JUNK in just one year? Set off from Montreal at 3pm, which was OK since we were only going as far as New York State, less than two hours' drive away. The BOff had a yen to doa walkwe'd missed doing in the autumn due to bad weather, and I can honestly see why.

Mount Algonquin, an 8-mile round trip, involved scrambling over rocks for the second half of the ascent. Dill was as pleased as Punch to have reached the top,and kept saying "There aren't too many 6-year-oldsup here ,are tehrte, Mummy?",in a very pleased way.

Sim flew his pocket kite at the top, it was lovely.

The campsite, near Lake Placid, seemed to be in such a fresh fruit and veg hole that I felt like checking the kocals' mouths for teeth and their skin for signs of boils. MAde up for by Farmers' Market in Keene on July 5th though.


I see that you'll been having aparty in here while I've been e-stranged,but why doesit smell like a fishmonger's elbow? I shallhave to give you more commentsbox space, I see. Here it is: I'm in one of Bloddy Stelios' easynet cafes: nothing works, including the cp[acebar,so please bear with me here, I've a few minutes beforewe got to see The Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Mac put away -1.5 hours. Am suffering severe withdrawal already. Bye bye Macky! Safe trip! I'm going to miss you. See you in 7 weeks.

Oh? You're still here too? I'm just...er saying goodbye to Mack...er my computer, I mean.

As it happens, I'm going to miss you lot and this place as well, so much that I will have to blog from the road, by any means. So see you soon. So long. Cute. An earworm for them to remember you by. Smart move. Hehehe

Out and about in the mean streets 

Aaah...That was excellent. There aren't too many times in your life you get to hear really good free concerts, but this one did not disappoint. Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Johnny Clegg -apparently he's known as "the white Zulu". They even shared the stage for one song. Montréal is completely wired throughout the summer, kicking off around Canada Day, with the Jazz Festival, and carrying on through July and August, with comedy, theatre, cinema, French language events, music. And because people are overall very pleasant to each other, and polite, it's not a trial to be out and about with half the city: nobody gets mugged, no fights break out, it's policed intelligently and for everybody's benefit. It's just fun and relaxed, in a way I've never seen in any other city. I love this city.

Mac put away time -13 hours

I feel sick and dizzy and we're about to go downtown for the jazz festival. I blame the baking. I've baked four cakes today -two Closure cakes, two Christmas cakes- which is more than I bake in an average year.

We're supposed to leave early tomorrow morning to avoid the crush at the border, it being Canada Day and hence a public holiday. Hahahahaha <--hollow laughter.

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