Monday, August 29, 2016

And The Flying Turkey Award for August 2016 Goes To ....

It sounded really good on paper. It called itself an "apartment hotel". The publicity talked about "the elegant grandeur of the Gilded Age". It promised "every creature comfort and amenity" in a "setting more opulent than most homes". Well I  don't know what your home looks like but don't go being snide about mine. Some people might be impressed by what turned out to be a cross between a barn, a garret and a jungle gym but I am not among those people. First of all, we had to drag our luggage up a steep staircase with a sort of 1970s  crimson shagpile that had seen better days. A sign asked us to take our shoes off to preserve the precious carpets. Then there was the upstairs landing:

With a couple of large mattresses leaning against the wall and a sofa that seemed to be in use as a store room.

Hubby saw the "suite" (sic) first. "It's 'er, quaint," he muttered, hoping to soften the blow.  The downstairs had the only bathroom, a kitchen area and a small living room space. But to get up to the beds, you had to scale another steep staircase, uncarpeted this time and with narrow treads and a low barrier at the top that someone could easily topple over. We didn't fancy risking that in the middle of the night, especially as the upstairs light switch for the stairs was way over at the other side of the (for want of a better word) sleeping platform and right down by the floor.

The sleeping platform was fenced in by some rough posts with rough, sharp-edged tops, again with a gap some small child could easily fall through. I think the structure at bottom right below was meant to be a table - but place an object, or person too near the far edge and it might just go toppling down to the depths (and possibly bounce off someone downstairs.)  The publicity for the suites suggested people could role play their fantasies. Well if your fantasy happens to be taking part in the tragic aftermath of the first ascent of the Matterhorn (look it up) you might quite enjoy yourself.

Tightrope walking, anyone? Heaven help you if you were a sleepwalker, though you would probably never get the chance, due to a noisy air-conditioning unit thoughtfully placed in the upstairs window to keep you awake.

I searched for a bedside light.  There was an ancient one in the corner by the smaller bed. If you wanted to sleep in the larger bed, you had to stretch the cord over the smaller one and it would just reach but with the not indistinct possibility that anyone sleeping in the smaller bed might be strangled. Then I found a switch in the wall by the larger bed and when I flicked it, something behind a flimsy panel at the back of the bed lit up eerily. I slid back the panel. If this wasn't Canada, I'd say it could have been a priest hole. Perhaps it was some kind of historic hiding place dating back to the war of 1812..?

There were cans of paint, some abandoned electronics and - ah yes! A clothes rail and hangers! Wow, it was a fitted wardrobe!

Here's some more of the elegant wiring in the "suite" plus a sneak peek close-up of the uber-hip bare, unfinished walls.

And here's more of the opulent decor - a hole in the wall stuffed with something that looked like underwear..

Going back downstairs - where, I will grant them, there was a carpet, I trod on something sharp. Ouch! A tack! And another one! Don't tell but I put my shoes back on.  Plus the window blinds needed a degree in rocket science to work and there were nails stuck in the walls.
There was no one around and our phones didn't work in Canada. The next morning, I stormed into the Brockville tourist office and also emailed both them and the Chamber of Commerce. Oh yes and the owner got a nice letter too. Needless to say, we have not, so far, heard a dickie-bird back from any of them. When we got home, there was an email from the owner, asking us for some reviews with lots of stars to boost his ratings. I was more than happy to comply with his wish, minus the stars. I have to say, I've stayed in some weird places in my life but then I didn't expect much from them.  Nothing, as hubby put it, presented quite such a yawning chasm between hype and reality as this. Did I mention that the establishment was called the "Noble Suites"?  And it cost nearly 200 Canadian dollars (plus tax) for a night? "Golly", I said to hubby, "I wish I had that sort of nerve!"

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Spiky Encounter

..And about my first ever shot of a porcupine!

OK  a bit blurred but he came waddling towards me up the lane and I had to act quickly. No, hubby said, when I told him how brave I'd been, "They don't shoot their quills at you. That's an old wives' tale" (thanks, hubby). Here he is, disappearing into the bushes.

The pictures would have been better if a man in a pickup truck hadn't chosen to stop, wind down his window and yell what sounded like, "You're taking a lot of  F@#$%&^%&^% photos!"  I gave him a frosty glare and said, "I beg your pardon?"
"You're taking a lot of foggy photos".
Hubby is always trying to tell me that that's what western New York country people do.  They're just being friendly. Whereas being a Londoner, I always expect the worst. More international misunderstanding.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fungal Fantasmagoria

I'm taking a break from the road trip to tell you all about our garden invasion.

Suddenly this morning an army set up camp on the front lawn.

They weren't there yesterday

And there were some out back too but different ones. These look a bit like American-style pancakes.

Whatever happened to the drought?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reminder No 84658774664767578 That I Am in a Foreign Country

"Calais - located on the French side of the English Channel"

from the Wall Street Journal 24th August

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Our Northern Neighbour

  After the wedding, hubby and I headed over the border for a little snatch of Canada. It was interesting to  be greeted in French by the girl at the tollbooth.  Unlike the French French, who hate to hear their beloved language being massacred, the French Canadians, in my experience, actually let you speak French to them. Some, in fact, refuse to speak English. It's a matter of honour for them. (Though things can get a bit tedious on Air Canada when you not only have to put up with the announcements but hear them all in French as well, even on the Toronto-London flight when pretty well everyone speaks English. )
  We bypassed Montreal and soon we were out of Quebec and into Ontario and everyone spoke English again. We were headed for the picturesque town of Brockville, on the St Lawrence River. 
Brockville started off nicely.

It had a promising pub

Plus they know how to spell in Canada

 We ate in a delightful restaurant in this historic house

With a pretty terrace all decked out with umbrellas and twinkling lights.

It was called the Buell Street Bistro - and served a delicious fresh mint mojito and some seriously good grub.  Thank goodness for the Buell Street Bistro which made a good start to our evening. Because after that things went downhill - rapidly.  Yes, the latest Flying Turkey Travel Award is about to be awarded.

Watch this space.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vermont: A Splendid Set of Wheels

Well what a bit of luck! Newport happened to have a car show. And it hadn't started raining yet.Which was a good thing for this car.

 Car show owners worldwide have a sense of humour, though this one was a bit macabre.

Yup - it's a rat

Aha, nice to see a small British contingent. The car I mean. The owners appeared to be Vermonters - with good taste in motors.

They don't make 'em like that any more.

There's something about a blue-and-white Cadillac convertible..

 And those retro dashboards

Those white tyres

The fins

The chrome

The knobs and dials

The insignia

Which looked incongruous on this little Nash Metropolitan, "An Austin with a different skin", as hubby put it.

 Here's nostalgia on wheels - a 1940 Ford Woody

 Someone's got their original manuals

Zut! The French are here!

 Which reminded us that we were supposed to be heading across the border an hour ago. We had plans for dinner in Canada.

To be continued

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Vermont: Lovely Little Newport

I'm sure it's just as nice as ts posh namesake, Newport Rhode Island, though I don't know about Newport, Gwent. We discovered many delights, such as the tiny Brown Cow cafe, where you can eat a dish called Cow Plop, as shown below.  That brown stuff on top is an American delicacy known as sausage gravy. Bangers and Mash it sadly ain't but it tasted a lot better than it looked.

Nearby was another interestingly-monikered eatery.

Hubby reckoned that it should be Wok n Woll but I think this was more subtle.
As our transport to the wedding reception. I had a ride in a real American school bus!

It was a little rattly and the seats were awfully close together. Possibly a control mechanism. Perhaps you can pay for more legroom.

And to make sure we all behaved ourselves...

The reception was in a rustic barn

With Vermont artefacts inside

A very Vermont scene outside

And here's a Vermont pie for dessert (pudding). Incidentally, if you ask for pudding in America, you get Angel Delight - remember that? This was a lot tastier.

The ceremony was in this gorgeous church, romantically named St Mary Star of the Sea

I loved the sepia frescoes. (The pictures, incidentally, taken the day after, before Sunday Mass)

And a rather nice presbytery.

Meanwhile, here's the unpronounceable lake again, as seen from the church steps.

Pity about those floodlights but you can't have everything.