Thursday, May 11, 2017

Scones and Roundabouts

 In case you're still wondering about the picture of the Queen in the post below, I'll relieve your suspense*.  You can't keep a good American enthusiasm down and would you believe it, our nearby town, Olean,  in western New York, now has a British-themed cafe. Presumably this is to go with the new European-style roundabouts that have arrived in Union Street, terrifying the local populace. There are plenty of British touches in the cafe...

.....even though it's not actually run by British people. There's a huge selection of teas and a sweet English country cottage display on the mantelpiece.

My friend and I opted for the cream tea - scones, jam, the works and I was confidently told, "Devonshire cream". Well clotted cream it wasn't quite and the scones, being American-style, all had some sort of flavouring, blueberry, lemon, whatever - I don't think Americans would understand plain British ones. (Though American cuisine does have something called a "biscuit" which looks like a scone on steroids and is generally eaten with gravy). Anyway, I had a lemon one and it was pretty nice in its own way and the jam was very good.  And we discovered another deft British touch:

So good luck to the Union Tea Cafe. (Which sounds like a contradiction in terms but never mind, this is America.) They are having a special event on the Fourth of July. I wonder what the Queen will think of that?

*(And apologies for the perfunctory blogging this month - due to family and travel commitments. Things will be back to normal in June.)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring Come to the Lane

Dateline: Cattaraugus County

I took an early morning walk up the lane again, after a long, long time.  It still looked bare and wintery.

A woodpecker rat-tatted loudly and there was a cacophony of geese from the lake.

But looking closely at the verges,  there was a treasure...

At first I thought they were dandelions but no ...

And tiny violets littered the grass

And the periwinkle/myrtle was blooming like crazy.

Usually I pilfer some for our garden but ours is holding its own now - in fact it's up and running. And look what happened to the drive that used to say "keep out"!

A new log house under way with a handsome stone chimney. Unlike many of the new houses around here, it  doesn't look like a plastic prefab, thank goodness, but quite distinguished, like a ski chalet. And on some of the branches there's already a green mist.

 Some interesting-looking appendages here.

 And as the mist lifts over the hills and the sun breaks through, there are definite bobbles of green. Pretty soon, spring will race ahead, making up for lost time.

Back at base, the bulbs around the garden path are putting on a good show. I'm going to need to get the weeding muscles in trim.

  I'll shortly be on my travels again and goodness knows what kind of jungle I'll find on my return. Well, on past experience I know very well. I did a perfunctory check for deer damage, especially the little fir tree that got eaten a couple of winters ago to within an inch of its life, just a tuft left on top, like a poodle's tail. Last autumn I swathed it in nets and stood back, confident. No self-respecting deer would even think of going near it. But yesterday I went to look. The good news: the deer hadn't touched it. The bad news: a tree had blown down in a winter storm and chopped it in half. You just can't win.

There has been much activity, too, in and around the woodpile, the next generation of Chippy, Chipster and Chipolata chasing each other.

I put out some peanuts and suspicious that they disappeared so quickly and without a trace of discarded shell, watched to see two marauding blue jays helping themselves. A busy squirrel came nosing around too and out in front a huge, fat rabbit, eyeing up the emerging shoots. "I'm buying you a one way ticket on United Airlines", I scowled.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Very PC Gallery

In America public art galleries are called museums. Perhaps because it's a relatively young country. This is the Museum of Art in Columbus, the capital of Ohio.

I should say it does have some nice old parts too.

Sadly I can't show you the paintings, as I don't want to fall foul of the rule that photography is for personal use only. But take my word for it, there was some lovely stuff there, like Eugene Boudin's "Bordeaux: Boats on the Garonne" and a great 17th century Dutch Still Life by Carstien Luyckx, with the most realistic-looking lobster. You can google them. They knew how to paint in those days, unlike (call me a Philistine) some of the modern masterpieces on show. At one point, I said to hubby, pointing across to one display, "1870s..." and then to another,  "...1970s. What happened?"
But it increasingly seemed that this was not so much an art gallery, art museum, whatever, but more a place to score political points.  Visitors were encouraged to place post-it notes with their comments.

Take my word for it again, very few of them had anything to do with art.  And don't get me started on what they were selling in the gift shop.
But some people weren't fooled. You can just about read what this, (presumably young)  visitor said, on yet another message board.

Here's a bit of it, "This museum was ment (sic) for art and to notice how people have accomplished these great accomplishments not about politics...."  Just about right, in my opinion. You can have message boards anywhere and long live free speech but personally I'd like to have seen a bit more beautiful art. Compared with some of the magnificent art collections I've been to in other American cities, this was a trifle underwhelming.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Things You See

Spotted in German Village, Columbus, Ohio...

Oh and just in case you couldn't read it

Yes it's actually a doormat. And no, I was very good and didn't wipe my feet on it. Perhaps some of Jurgen Klopp's ancestors moved there?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter Blossoms...

.... in Columbus, Ohio

 Which is a little further along than western New York in the spring blooming stakes. This park and street are in quaint German Village, one of the oldest parts of town. A friend said he'd brought a German priest here to look around and he'd cried, as it reminded him so much of home.

 Everywhere was this stunning sorbet pink

This was a redbud tree. You see them dotted around about in the early spring woods, peeping through the brown and grey with a misty hint of colour.

There were plenty of these white blossoms too but could only manage a quick shot from the car.

Thunderstorms threaten for tomorrow, Easter Sunday but that won't stop us celebrating. I'm off to put the champagne on ice. Christus Surrexit!  Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We've Got Daffs!

Dateline: Cattaraugus County

The blog has been on its travels, via London and the Alps. Both of those places exhibited more signs of spring than western New York. But on my return I was delighted to see some of my yellow friends actually daring to pop their heads above the parapet.

Yes these are our first daffs! The rest of the garden/jungle defies description. It's in its typically parlous April state, looking as though a herd of elephants have lumbered through. I haven't even begun to examine the deer damage. I don't have time right now. Tomorrow we hit the road again. Watch this space!