Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween in New England

Halloween originated as a Pagan festival among the Celts of Ireland and Great Britain with Irish, Scots, Welsh and other immigrants transporting versions of the tradition to North America in the 19th century find out more here. On my recent trip to New England I noticed they start decorating homes and gardens early in October as you can see from the pictures. The pumpkins outside the house above were really large.

This cart of pumpkins can be found outside the Yankee Candle Factory. The grounds are very well maintained with lots of flowers still in bloom.

This was outside a little restaurant near a pretty covered bridge and weir.

I managed to get a good soak from all the spray whilst trying to get these photos..

Now I have to confess I have never been in favour of 'trick or treat' as my children often lament. I somehow viewed it as a form of begging so despite the emotional blackmail 'all our friends parent's let them' it was still a no no. Beccy, now living in Ireland, enjoys her missed childhood through her children. Over the years they have dressed for the part. They only go to local houses and everyone has treats ready so they never have to worry about the tricks. The children do have great fun and they enjoy dressing up. As a teenager Dillon might not appreciate these earlier photos and Beccy I still think you are a good face painter.

Would you be scared by these guys:

My daughter's were not totally deprived and back in 1984 at least one of them went to out to celebrate and clearly the latest fashion back then was black bin bags!! I expect I will be in trouble for this. You do have long hair Sam. Sorry Becs I don't seem to have a photo of you dressed for halloween; I know you will be sooo disappointed!!

I wish everyone a very happy evening.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Making the most of my Bramleys

Instead of sitting in front of the TV last night I was having a blog browse and was rather taken with a recipe for a 'Somerset Apple Cake' that was recommended by June of 'bread water salt oil'. Yesterday, she wrote about the best cooking apple in the world . The history June provides of this versatile apple is very interesting and you will find the recipe there. Many agree that Bramleys are best, myself and Sam at becks&posh included. So as I had the Bramleys and all the other ingredients this inspired me to get baking before breakfast. I am really pleased with the result (though not sure my version looks quite the same as June's). The aroma of cinnamon is making us drool (my mother keeps commenting on the wonderful smell). Somehow I cannot justify cake for breakfast and anyway it's too hot to cut at the moment so I'll stick to my muesli and save the pleasure for later.

Having done some chores and the weekly shop it was home for coffee and cake. My mother declared it to be delicious and I have to say I could not disagree. It was moist with a subtle taste of the cinnamon, I actually wondered if I should have used a little more cinnamon or maybe I just need a new tub as this one has been in my cupboard for a while. The only problem is it's moreish and I should probably freeze some to stop the temptation. However, my brother is visiting tomorrow so perhaps not and you never know I may get someone call and it's nice to have something homemade to offer. I can see if I'm not careful I will be doing more cooking and piling on even more pounds now I am retired!!
So if you are wondering what to do with spare cooking apples give this a try.

PS You will need to look in becks&posh archives for her amusing Bramley Post.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Woodberry Common Shopping Mall

If you like shopping you would have enjoyed visiting this shopping mall. Take a look at all the store outlets. We spent about 3 hours there on the way back to JFK for our evening flight home. This was not really long enough to explore all the stores, have lunch and do serious shopping. However, we did have a really good pumpkin soup for lunch and this has inspired both Tina and I to make it ourselves (we have got the pumpkin and I am now scanning cookery book looking for a good recipe- suggestions would be welcomed).

This is one of my purchases!! I have been wanting a pair of crocs for a long time. Unfortunately I only found these, which are a cheaper version, called 'Traps' although they may not look much they are very comfortable and ideal for wearing to the pool. I was really wanting a nice bright colour but beggars can't be choosers; after all they only cost about £10.

Tina made quite a few purchases in Eddie Bauer and she had to buy another bag to get all her purchases home. I think I am beginning to regret I did not follow her lead as I had very little space in my suitcase; not to worry there is always next time!!


Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's not my birthday!

I had a nice surprise when my other half came home from work yesterday. He had bought me some of my favourite flowers which as you can see are Freesias. It wasn't my birthday or an anniversary so thank you Mike. Today we have been out chasing up people who have not returned their forms to get their names on the Register of Electors 2007. I quite enjoy the excercise running up and down garden paths and getting people to complete their forms (sometimes this is more difficult than you imagine), although I have to say most people are very cooperative. As the area we cover is quite a long way from home it's a good excuse for a pub lunch and we met up at The Plough and had a nice lasagne (home made) that tasted all the better as I didn't have to cook it. Sorry no photo I didn't have my camera. Yes- I know bloggers should always carry a camera in case they find something interesting to snap; maybe in the future I will remember.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Do you serve cocktails ?

We arrived at our last hotel in the dark, it was pouring with rain and we had not been able to photograph the scenary on our journey up the Mowhawk Trail (you can view some old post cards). The Stratton Mountain Inn is a ski lodge and is quite shabby but the rooms are comfotable enough. If I had done more research before I went I would have found a lot of very negative comments take a look. I am glad I didn't read this first. Our guide had warned us it was a basic hotel, yes carpets were worn but the beds were comfortable and the room was clean. It is clearly a very old building and it certainly could do with a big 'make over'. The village is being developed and there are lots of condominiums being built all around. Some are directly in front of the hotel and this only serves to enhance the Inn's poor appearance. We decided to have a meal in the bar as it was too wet to brave the elements to find one of the two restaurants that open on alternate evenings (novel idea but I suppose practical for out of season). I asked the waitress if I could have a cocktail the conversation went something like this... her 'yeees' hesitantly- me 'Do you have a cocktail list ? - 'her' no what would you like' (I thought I had better play safe)- me 'Kir Royale' - her 'that's champagne not sure if the barman will open an expensive bottle of champagne; I'll see what he says; we might have a cheaper sparkling wine we could use - me 'thank you'. After about 5 mins + she returned with a WINE glass with a very red liquid. Her - 'I won't charge if you don't like this; we didn't have any cassis so I used (cannot remember) its a lot sweeter- me 'I'll try it' -one sip was enough far too sweet 'sorry can't drink that even for free'. Her- 'I'll make another one' and she duly returned with another glass; only a hint of syrup this time which made it only slightly more palatable. I did accept it but did not repeat the experience as it felt safer sticking to water. You can't ruin water- or can you maybe too much ice on a cold evening!! On the plus side the steak I ordered was very tasty and cooked almost as requested 'med/rare' well a little more towards the medium where I would have prefered more towards 'rare' but very acceptable. When the check arrived I was hoping that I would not be charged for the said cocktail!!- no such luck and it included 18.5 % service charge. Funny ideas about service- I don't know why the waitress didn't just say sorry no can do, honesty would have been worth the service charge.

I fondly thought back to our family trip to NY in June and the cocktails we had on the roof terrace of the Hudson Hotel. Ok a lot more expensive but served in a proper glass and a strawberry now that's more to my or should I say Sam's taste.

This is the view behind the inn, rather an old fashioned outdoor pool and beyond the pool are a couple of tennis courts. It is quite pretty in a quaint old fashioned way particularly when the sun shone.

I took an early morning walk to have a look at the plaza which, I imagine, would be quite vibrant in the skiing season. It was a bit eerie seeing no one about and piped music playing in the background.

They have two traditional bear statues and this is the smallest.

You can just see the outline of the ski runs in the distance.

We visited a lot of very picturesque areas take a look at Deerfield and the French King bridge. The trees that have shed their leaves in this picture would probably have been red.

I had hoped to get this posted before I went for my Friday swim at the over 50's session. Good job I didn't rush it as there would have been rather too many errors (probably still are!! let me know if you spot any).


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bog Frogs

Here's the answer and I can tell you they taste good. I was very restrained in the number I brought back.

I don't think they resemble these little chaps at all.

Often referred to as Vermont's "Little Grand Canyon' the Ottaquueechee River runs through the canyon and it is very pretty.

When we stopped at the Queechee Gorge we saw this Monarch butterfy enjoying the late sunshine. It's a large butterfly with beautiful colouring and when I returned home there was an article in the papers saying that one had been found in England which is very unusual although it does migrate for thousands of miles in America .

I particularly enjoyed a visit to Plimouth Plantation it was fascinating hearing how the English colonists and the Wampanoag indians had lived harmoniously alongside each other and celebrated at the end of the first year 'thanks giving'. Seeing first hand the hardships they endured really makes one appreciate home comforts. Of course all the fruit, veg and herbs being grown were very familiar to us as they are typical of any English country garden. Having animals running around reminded me of when my mother inadvertently bought a dozen chickens at an auction by waving to my grandmother. That was back in 1962 and I think I might have a photo of my brother with the hens that had to be kept in our back garden. As we had only just moved into a newly built house the garden was still just a mud patch so was just right for the hens. I have only recently learned he was allowed to keep the money from selling the eggs. Me thinks I missed out there.

My brother David is on the left he would have been about 15 at the time (if I recall correctly his friend is Tony Martin).

The indians would have a summer village by a creek and then move for the winter.

All the people in the settlers village are actors but the indians are not actors. They maintain the village by traditional methods.

I was told this boat would take about 7 days to complete. It can't be seen clearly but the other guy is making a pipe (not sure how long that would take but he hadn't got far).

This is the view from the room above the church, the village was within a stockade and the church would have been a good vantage point at the top of the village. There were 6 cannons in this room!!

A view of the main street again from the church with houses on either side.

We spent longer than planned at the plantation and only arrived in 'Plymouth' with half an hour to spare before the Mayflower II closed for the evening but there was just time for a quick visit. it seemed an incredibly small vessel to be making such a journey from England. Rather them than me.

They have a cranberry store in Plymouth but unfortunately we were too late to visit more's the pity. I will continue my journey tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cape Cod

On the way to Hyannis we stopped off for a walk along the river within sight of the Sagamore Bridge (see the cormorant poised for diving).

This is a really fast flowing river.

I really enjoyed visiting Hyannis on Cape Cod (would you believe it's between Barnstable and Yarmouth) it was a beautiful warm sunny day and we took a stoll along the beach which was deserted and so peaceful (I could have stayed there all day). I collected a few shells not sure how I will use them yet.

We could see the Kennedy compound across the bay and its not difficult to imgine why this part of the country is a popular holiday destination.

Hyannis is a lovely little town and we sat enjoying the harbour infront of JFK memorial (well Tina sat I was taking photos). There are some nice houses over looking the creek just right for a longer stay.

After an all too brief stop we drove into the town to buy lunch and do a little shopping. A must visit is kandy korner. Plenty of naughty but nice sweets or should I say candy. We were absolutely delighted to find dried cranberries, which cost a fortune back home, for a little over £2 ($3.99 + tax) a packet. Wish I'd bought more.

I had not realised how cranberries are harvested and had to confess to never having heard of a cranberry bog. Tina in her native Finland used to harvest wild ones when she was a child so knew all about the process. We passed lots of bogs but they were not flooded and it was difficult to get a photo from a fast moving coach, but I did try. When the bogs are flooded the cranberries rise to the surface and are scooped off with something resembling a dustpan with teeth; learn more here; the large companies of course now use large harvesting vehicles.

As well as the dried cranberries, I decided to try a jar of crabberry mustard which our tour guide assured us was delicious with ham. You will have to wait for the verdict on this as I have yet to try it and may save it for Christmas.

Now who knows what Bog Frogs are ?? I'll tell you tomorrow


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Boston Continued

A couple more views of Boston; the Old State House is the oldest public building, once the seat of British colonial government (now a museum) note the lion and the unicorn.

The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. She is over 200 years old and can be found in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

'old ironsides'

I didn't take any photos of the public gardens but take a look here. It is a beautiful area to relax in as you will see and the park is home to the 'Make Way for Ducklings sculpture' that is very popular with the children. The Mrs. Mallard and her 8 ducklings sculpture is based on the drawings of Robert McCloskey who wrote the 1941 children's classic Make Way for Ducklings, set in the Public Garden.

If you read my previous posts you may recall I mentioned my friend Tina, has an uncle (Fred) living in the Boston area. So on our free afternoon while I continued sightseeing and shopping, she went off in a taxi to visit him, having spoken to him on the phone that morning. To condense a long story what he had not told her was he had moved to a supported care home two years previously. Tina only found this out when she arrived on the doorstep of his old home. The new owners did not have an address and acknowledged that they had not been able to pass on mail (this explained why there had been no response to Tina's letters). However, they directed Tina to a neighbour, who could not remember Fred's address, but knew the location and immediately offered to drive her there which was very kind. So Tina finally got to see her uncle and she also made contact with his step-daughter and can now stay in touch more easily. Unfortunately Fred is not in good health and was admitted to hospital the following day so we wish him well.

If I am honest I was slightly disappointed with some the shops and the street itself was a bit on the drab side but maybe I am being over critical, however I do know others felt the same. I won't dwell on the shopping aspect as I was much more interested in the sightseeing and history of this lovely city.

(I did find some diabetic chocs for Mike in 'Godiva' and additions to his pen collection so he was happy)

At the end of the day we had all agreed to meet at a local fish restaurant for an early dinner. Our tour guide assured us it was always very busy and used extensively by locals and was reasonably priced. It is located on the waterfront Fish Pier and has been operating since 1917. What is the name I hear you asking 'No name restuarant' and if you don't believe me here's the proof.

After waiting to be seated despite an advanced booking, everything was done at a fast pace, so if you are looking for a leisurely relaxed meal and a good dining experience this is not the place to go. If you want cheap cheerful and plenty of it you got it.

The menu offered plenty of choice but I decided to try the basic fish and chips to see how it compared with traditional English fare and to see what 'scrod' yes, that's a fish, tasted like. They are not great on presentation (far too much plonked on the plate) and this is slightly off putting (I know you can always ask for a doggy bag- fish and chips I don't think so). The glass of Chardonnay was luke warm I would have expected it to be chilled but I'm no expert, so I didn't have another. The fish was quite tasty but I was not keen on the rather indifferent relish.

Tina had salmon which she enjoyed and the chap sitting next to her is also a comper like her so they were able to swap stories of winnings. Tina has done quite well so far (she won a hol to Rio earlier in the year and no I did not accompany her but I may start comping now I have more time; trouble is I am no good at the slogans but maybe Sam would help out!!)

Here endeth another day see you tomorrow.