Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Gaggle Gathers

  Not quite in their perfect V formation yet. Sadly a sign of autumn approaching, along with drifting leaves on the grass and a chill in the mornings. The geese have been holding summer conferences on the small lake at the top of the lane but this is the first time this summer I've spied them taking off en masse. We are under the flightpath so we'll see more and more of them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Languid Late Summer

 That candy floss in the valley over the Five Mile Baptist Church again..

 ....I just can't seem to get enough of it. It seems there have been more foggy mornings this summer than I can ever remember. The sort of morning when you really don't want to bump into them.

That's right, dear, nice and slow across the road.

The mornings are cold now, almost frosty but someone's been working hard.

Blue and white are August colours.

This was on the Allegheny River Trail in town, right by the traffic of the incongruously named Constitution Avenue. (For all its grand moniker it skirts Walmart and some railway yards.)  If only I'd come early in the morning when the sun was on them.

 An old oil well sits in a meadow, a remembrance of things past.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

All the Fun of the Fair

  I didn't have my usual stint this year volunteering at the Cattaraugus County Fair. So I can't report on the delights it might have provided. I hope Smokey Joe's Pulled Pork Barbecue was still there. These American county fairs have a sweet familiarity -   Western New York meets The Archers  (for the benefit of my American friends, a legendary and long-running radio soap about life in an English village). There are the pony classes

 (though I wish someone would explain to me why they wear those garters under their knees), the flower and produce, farm animals, arts and crafts, the works, with the addition of some exotica like demolition derbies and Swifty Swine the Racing Pigs and all swathed in the nostalgic scents of new mown grass and a hundred different kinds of deep fried food.

Erie County Fair, held in Hamburg, about an hour to the north of us (see, Americans don't need to travel far to go abroad) is the biggest such event in these parts and for some real insights into American Fair fare (now, apparently, the Latest Big Thing among Foodies) I defer to my friend Mary Kunz Goldman of the Buffalo News. For those with a sense of adventure, she suggests this foodie photo gallery  which, if nothing else, will tell you that, despite deceptive similarities with Blighty, we really are in America. And you thought deep-fried Mars bars were outrageous. They are cuisine minceur exemplified compared to this. Chocolate-covered bacon is, arguably, the healthiest option. That or deep fried avocado.  Incidentally, the vast crowds attending Erie County Fair also included several presidential contenders sporting pinnies and showing off their prowess at barbecuing pork chops. (Sorry, Swifty Swine). They know their public.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Disney on the Lane Again

 Sometimes western New York mornings are just too sweet for words...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Meanwhile Back in the Jungle

Things, though I say it myself

 Are progressing reasonably well.

 The weather seems to have adjusted itself to the very practical arrangement of mostly sunny and a little thunderstorm or two when you need it.

Unfortunately most of the tomatoes' confreres parted company with the vine, due to too many over-zealous support attempts on my part. The red one may prove to be a success though. Just a few more days. Hold tight!

The Obedient Plant is doing as its told

And the hardy hydrangea makes up for the one that never ever blooms, no matter how much I talk to it ala Prince Charles.

This year I refused to surrender the petunias to the slugs and they are hanging in there.

Not American-neat but it'll do.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

And Part Two

  I thought I was seeing things.

Pink flamingos, last time I looked, are not indigenous to western New York. Even plastic ones. This isn't Florida.

They were even mobbing the poor deer-turned-walrus with the upended antlers that stands at the entrance to our neighbour's drive. But it seems it was yet another way to get people to part with their money. In this case for a local church charity.

Sweet, though. I'm not sure if you were flocked before or after you donated and whether the former would constitute blackmail. The small print on the sign said the flamingos would be gone within 72 hours. Which they were. I rather missed them. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Drama on the Lane Part One

The lane on a summer misty morning is full of surprises..

I call this the spooky forest

The brook is fogbound and mysterious.

And as the sun burns through, the last wisps of mist rising up from the wildflower meadow.

The other morning there was a sudden cacophony up above. A ragged bunch of crows were chasing off a hawk. It perched for a while on a tree, regaining its dignity....

Then thought better of it and flapped off, disgruntled. Were they chasing it from their territory or their nests? Or were they just unsuccessful muggers?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meanwhile on Buffalo's Streets

We came upon this glorious Pierce-Arrow - they were made in Buffalo of course. They'd been having a Pierce-Arrow convention, which we sadly missed but there was one left, sitting on a trailer.

And if you prefer a cheaper form of transport...

I expect he was headed for the Marina, just like us.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Back to Buffalo Marina Part Two

Every summer I renew my lamentations about this sorry place. Come on - is there an uglier structure in the world than this? Who on earth in their right mind could have designed such a monstrosity?

When Buffalo has so many beautiful old buildings - the city of Olmsted and Frank Lloyd Wright....And a pretty historic lighthouse....

....that has to stare across the water at something that looks like the gatehouse to hell.  Meanwhile there is still nowhere to get a decent cup of coffee, let alone a decent lunch. People come in their hordes at weekends, set out picnics, relax, watch the boats - and have to queue for an hour (I was told) to get an ice cream at the one basic cafe. The only other eatery ruins our Sunday afternoons on the boat belting out loud music. What an opportunity missed. They should come to London and see what we've done with our docks. There's been so much ballyhoo about the "regeneration" (sic) of the lakefront. I am not convinced.  Where are the shops and cafes? If the season's short, why not have pop-ups, stalls, barrows? I never thought a part of America would remind me not a little of the old Soviet Union, all dour concrete and Hobson's Choice. (Niagara Falls is another case in point.)  One of the few redeeming features is the flower display.

Though sometimes there are interesting things to see. Like Buffalo's gallant Fire Brigade at practice.

Something pretty slipped in unnoticed. These cottages could be in Florida.

And boats with wacky names. The one on the right is my favourite so far. Get it?

 The Spirit of Buffalo playing it safe with the sails.

And, with the main reefed, racing (and beating) the big catamaran.

There are compensations.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to Buffalo Marina Part One

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly just about sums up our regular weekend sailing destination.
Grain elevators built much of Buffalo's bygone wealth. Now most of them stand redundant. They are trying their best to turn them into a tourist attraction - a historical marker at the harbour proudly points out that Buffalo is the "birthplace of the grain elevator". But the scene below might qualify for one of those "holidays in hell". It looks like some abandoned, war ravaged town in a faraway battleground.  Do they ever rent them out to news organisations?

On the other had, tourists jaded with too much boring beauty might be interested. At least this one has sleek lines. And I still say it's better than looking at windmills. (of which there are several here too).

How much nicer to look in the other direction, out over Lake Erie  - at this...

Oh and by the way .. (see below)

I can do it too..

 More to come shortly...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Up Tails All

 .. at Buffalo Marina.

Americans, who haven't seen "Toad of Toad Hall", or read "the Wind in the Willows"  prefer to say "Bottoms up!" or so I've noticed, anyway.

 Don't look, dears

 Sporting of the fellow to leave his boat here just for me!