Friday, May 17, 2019

Road Trip Part 2: Whisky Galore!

Our first stop was St Augustine, Florida, the oldest town, allegedly, in the United States.

Yes, contrary to popular opinion, the first Thanksgiving was actually here, in 1565. Except that the intrepid colonists were Catholics and spoke Spanish. History favoured the Pilgrim Fathers, some 60 years later and up north in Massachusetts. They spoke English so they're the ones most people learn about. At least they were the ones we learned about when I was at school in Britain. They did make for a good story though.

 St Augustine's fort of Castillo de San Marcos..

..came a little later, in the 17th century. It was attacked by the English (not technically British for another 5 years) in 1702. They were repulsed.  Not such a good story.
  I'd been to St Augustine before and found the old parts fascinating but saturated with tourists. Just like the Cotswolds. I did have my first taste of key lime pie there, though and it's still the best one I've ever had.
  This time sister-in-law and I were after a different kind of refreshment.

St Augustine has a distillery and you can do the tour. It's a co-operative, using local ingredients like sugar cane and citrus and based in an old ice plant. I liked the instructions on the packing boxes.

Sensible for people with bad backs. Don't try shifting those barrels though.

Our guide mixed up samples of various cocktails

Using their own whisky, gin and vodka and special mixes.

First you need to crush your ice


And copper is the best thing to drink it out of to make sure it stays nice and cold.

And then it was tasting time!

Sadly the downside of visiting a distillery on a road trip is that one of you has to drive.

More to follow.....

Monday, May 13, 2019

WNY Spring - Better Late Than Never!

 Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York State

  Apologies for such a long absence, due to travels and a bad cold. But let's get on with it and before I tell you more about the road trip, here's a taste of spring in western New York. It seems a long time since I've been here but the lake at the top of the lane is still there.

 Somebody, though, has been through a traumatic experience.

I do hope the disfigurement is only temporary.

 Meanwhile we have had rain, rain and more rain. The garden is a squelchy swamp. It must have been a very hard winter. The deer have eaten all the rhododendrons, the bits of the sumac tree the lightning didn't get fell down in a storm, but a few daffodils (yes, British friends, daffodils in mid-May!) are hanging in there. 

 And the tulips, if you don't look too closely at the dandelions around them, (it seems to be a sensational spring for dandelions - I'd love to know what they're on..)

are glorious.

More to follow soon!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Road Trip Part 1: Hitting the Road North

As sister-in-law and I headed out of Venice (stopping at Black Gold, our favourite coffee place first) we had the usual springtime accompaniment of snowbirds going north. On they ploughed in great hordes up Interstates 75 and 95, with their caravans and cars and canoes, all tenuously held together.

I realised how much I was going to miss the flat country and felt some trepidation about heading to where winter was probably still in progress and spring barely a hint in the woods. "We're expecting two inches on Saturday" said hubby, who was flying north before me. And he didn't mean rain. But there was always the prospect of new little towns and artisan coffee shops and the challenge of avoiding the chain restaurants. Our first stop claimed to be the oldest city in the United States. More on that shortly. The blog has further travels to fit in in the next few days but watch this space.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Farewell Blustery Beach

Dateline: Golden Beach, Venice, Florida (but sadly not for long)

On Easter weekend the surf was up and the beach was blustery.

 The clouds scudded

And the sea churned

 An ominous grey colour. A couple appeared, hopefully, with rolled up towels but soon changed their minds. It wasn't a day for swimming.

The tide was rushing and roiling, devouring half the beach. A buffeted great egret flew overhead. Still it hasn't made it easier to say goodbye as the blog heads north on another road trip. As always, who knows what the next few days will bring.
See you in a week or so, in very different spring surroundings. Until then, watch this space...

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Look Who's Here!


Frankie Comes Through for Easter

I had been on tenterhooks. Would Frankie the Frangipani flower before I left?  A few weeks ago, things started getting hopeful.

 Slowly, slowly I was seeing some progress.

And then just in time ..

The blooms sprouted as if by magic from what in the winter looked like dead deer antlers. Another of Nature's Easter messages. They are so exotic it's ridiculous, the waxy blooms that make up those Hawaian garlands and grace the ears of countless B movie stars. To top it all, they're suffused with a heady, almost artificial perfume that would belong at the Walmart cheap air freshener counter if it didn't come straight from the flower and thus be, well, just glorious.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 20, 2019


As I was driving along, I saw something dangling from the car roof over the windscreen. A leaf? No, when I got home I observed it was more like a mangetout with legs.

A big mangetout

It seems he dropped, whether by accident or design,  out of the tree outside the Lutheran church hall where I'd parked for my French conversation group and then clung on for dear life. Luckily I had the soft top on.  Perhaps he was a Brexiteer.  He must have had an exciting journey. Anyway I transferred him to the hedge and hoped he'd find his new home congenial.

He blended in pretty well. Isn't nature wonderful! So is Google. I put in "Florida large green insect" and got a swift answer.  I believe my friend was a Katydid. What Katy Did - one of my favourite children's books. Funny how life catches up with you.