Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Happy Florida New Year!

And we arrived just in time to see everyone's Christmas decorations still up

(Well there are 12 days of Christmas). Now this arrangement probably wouldn't work in western New York..

Where, in normal years, we tend to get a bit of snow. 2015 was an exception, though we still
haven't had to resort to this..

What Florida lacks in appropriate climate, it makes up in whatever way possible

 At the arboretum in the park, trees and bushes have been adopted, often in memory of a family member, or in support of some local cause. At Christmas time they're all decorated

Each in its own way

It's like strolling through a fairyland

 The effect is quite magical

 Though this, from the town beautifying association, might be misconstrued in Britain..

But I see what they mean

This is normally a pergola draped with a flame vine resplendent with orange blossoms. Now it's turned into a sky full of stars

Americans just love those striped walking sticks they call "candy canes"

Even the devotees of the cycle path, aka trail, got in on the act

A symphony in electric blue - evidently a popular American Christmas colour...

And an angel serenades a star

You could call this a palm tree maypole

Meanwhile back to people's houses and Santa and his reindeer (near an inflatable snowman out of shot) made the best of things, gliding gallantly across the coarse Florida grass.

Meanwhile,  fireworks and champagne corks have been popping all along Golden Beach since sunset, an elderly gentleman's radio crackling out Auld Lang Syne in a 1930s dance arrangement while children let out for the holidays frolic in the unseasonably warm surf. We've had British New Year already, so I'll say goodnight and have a happy one!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Cleveland Part Six

  Cleveland had one more surprise to spring. From the outside it was an unassuming building, called the Western Reserve Historical Society. On the inside...a 1909 Auto-Bug

Part of a veritable Aladdin's cave

Of wonderful vintage cars, a 1901 Packard above, a 1916 Owen Magnetic below. Cleveland, like a lot of old American cities,  was once a haven for small car manufacturers.

How's this for a horn? Poop-poop!

And if you fancied a little excursion, entirely at your own risk of course

You could just hop aboard the Curtiss Bumble Bee, manufactured down the road from us in Hammondsport, NY. A hundred years ago, it really did give joyrides. And cost 6,000 dollars to buy at the time. A sign tells us that "The Aerial Navigation Company is not responsible for any consequences or unexpected occurrences that may happen during an excursion."

Plus the Company reserved the right to "alter the destination and duration of any flight, should atmospheric conditions necessitate a change". Sounds just like my friends at United Airlines.

Meanwhile, this was a "steam carriage", a "thoroughly practical auto-vehicle for everyday use". It was produced by a sewing machine company, evidently good at adapting to market conditions.

The adventurous Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to drive one. Or any car, in fact.

The exhibits were lovingly tended

How's that for another horn? And a nice system of gears.

 And the early 20th century's answer to the convertible, the Baker Runabout

With some nice wickerwork

For a break, you could take a quick turn on the old-fashioned merry-go-round, aka car(r)ousel. I got a token to ride with my admission ticket and I obviously didn't want to waste it. I would have had it all to myself which might have been a little embarrassing, until hubby gallantly said he'd come with me.

 This car apparently went all the way around the world in 1911. It was appropriately called the "Hupmobile".

And here was the latest in caravanning. I bet a few people got stuck behind him.

And another natty camper van, then called a "house car". Well of course...

But what was this? Robert Manry's little boat, called Tinkerbelle, that famously sailed the Atlantic in 1965. It was only 13 and a half feet long. (Americans still do feet).

And the note dropped by the Royal Navy , "Welcome to British waters"

And on top of all that a fabulous working train set. The scenery included a mountain railway, a circus with elephants and of course loads of shoppes.

 Even better than the one I remember at Hamley's. Plus a costume gallery. This was a "special occasion" dress for a little girl.

And a grown-up version. I'd have that one like a shot

 In fact I'd have everything in the Western Reserve Historical Society like a shot. What a delight our little patch of Cleveland proved to be.

And now the blog is off to Florida - just as the weather there is starting to turn cold. Well, wouldn't you know? Watch this space.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Contrasts

From Florida, where we'll shortly be heading...note that Citrus is a Christmas Tradition there. Well I suppose you have to improvise.

And from western New York, where our neighbour is sporting a jaunty new getup and yes, there's no snow.

Though there was some last weekend.

Quite a lot in fact

But a few days of warmth and rain and it's all gone. And wouldn't you know, look who's popped up.

But never mind, Christmas is still Christmas.

And I've heard fewer people around here saying "Happy Holidays" this year. Perhaps they're fighting back. Oh and I've noticed another transatlantic difference. Here, Santa Claus has a wife, Mrs Claus and gets cookies and milk left out for him. In Blighty it's Father Christmas and he gets sherry and mince pies. I wonder which he'd rather be?

Happy (Merry) Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cleveland November Part Five

I'd always imagined Cleveland as a rather dreary industrial, now rust-belt city. I was disabused. On a previous visit with sister-in-law we'd circled and circled trying to find a hotel. One we eventually found was full as, wouldn't you know, there just happened to be an international gymnastics competition on. We finally found the last hotel in Cleveland with any space - probably for good reason. But if only we'd known about this..

An old inn with wood-panelling (aha, they spell it with one l in America. So that's why the spell-chacker keeps nagging me...) and already swathed in tasteful and abundant Christmas decor and a huge breakfast spread, including one of the most decadent things I've ever tasted - a cream cheese croissant with some American embellishments, such as plentiful sugar but mercifully no cinnamon. The French would probably be horrified. I couldn't get enough of them. The Botanical Gardens right opposite, along with several museums and a university campus. Plenty of exploring to do.  Like this hands-on musical section of the park. Surprisingly good therapy. 

The bench and memorial wall were dedicated to Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio's first African-American Congresswoman,  The statue was a nice touch. I almost wanted to sit down and have a chat.

 A glimpse of

The diverse buildings of  Stephanie's alma mater, the intriguingly-named Case Western Reserve University.

 This Gothic folly says, "College for Women". It's obviously far more than that now.

Nearby the most magnificent Presbyterian church I'd ever seen.

The sign unfortunately very topical.

 The Paris attacks had just happened. I wonder how many students felt like taking up this offer.

More juxtaposition of the old and new.

 Speaking of which.

The Art museum is best viewed from the inside.

With its interesting sprouting carpet

A magnificent knight in armour. Our friends in Alabama should bid for him. He's the real thing.

Particularly impressive was the mediaeval statuary



And this is one of the amazing early Christian Jonah sculptures in which he is either being swallowed or spat out - hard to tell.

I wonder what happened to the old church these came from

And their arms

To be continued.