Sunday, September 18, 2022

Arty Odds and Ends

To round off the summer, here's a little more from the jungle.


I can't understand why the hibiscus do so well in western New York and so badly in our garden in Florida. Not the same kind, of course. These must be pretty hardy.

And just one more look at the pushy black-eyed Susans.


And while we're on the subject of arty, a couple of my more successful culinary efforts.


This is supposed to be a French dish called tian. It uses industrial amounts of butter but tastes pretty good. Thanks to a local farmer for the giant tomatoes.

And a nice British summer pudding always goes down well with my American family - sadly not with our blueberries. Someone else got to them first. Hubby added the whipped cream, his party piece.


And not sure where this fits in to the story but it's rather sweet. A Ukrainian flag in one of the flower displays at Buffalo Marina.


Hubby and I are travelling in Blighty and rural France - running the gauntlet of cancelled flights, lost luggage and anything else they went to throw at us.

I may or may not post from there, depending on whether we can get the infernal internet widget to work for more than five minutes. Otherwise, see you in October and almost time to go south again - yikes!  Watch this space....

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Car Show Flashback

 On a summer western New York evening


In the salubrious surroundings of the (nearly defunct) Olean Mall car park, aka parking lot, the strains of 1950s pop re-echoing, the scent of barbecuing burgers filling the warm air... 


Olean's boy and gal racers congregated. Among their number, hubby. Can you spot his pride and joy?

Yes, there it is, the Volvo 1800S - as driven by Simon Templar, The Saint, no less. (Well one like it). Hubby even has the ST2 number plate.

Meanwhile the other drivers were exercising their imagination. Those long, all-in-one front seats must have been fun. And you could cram your large baby-boomer family in. No seat belts, no child seats, no problem. (Or possibly a lot of problems).


Now there's a beauty!


A British TR6 by golly!


Someone else's classic interior

Something a little more, shall we say, American?


Turn your back for a minute and the Volvo's already found a new friend.



Another cool interior



Just love those little old touches.


There were no prizes, just a chance to talk cars with your friends and chew the fat, shoot the breeze and whatever else they call it.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

A Mystery Solved

 Remember this picture from a few weeks ago?

A mysterious structure appeared on our lane. And now we know why.

And who!


Three cheers for  Light Work Farm  They've really livened things up around here. I've never met so many of my neighbours, emerging from their forested acres, long drives and tucked-away houses, everyone enthusing over the produce, hand carved wooden wands, scented artisan soaps and such and great ideas for all kinds of activities like foraging and canning and sauerkraut making and general sharing gardening ideas.  
Meanwhile we've been feasting on their heirloom tomatoes that have got to be the best I've ever tasted.
Our lane continues to surprise and delight!

Friday, September 9, 2022

Heartbreak

 


We arrived in London yesterday morning. All afternoon the news was coming from Balmoral that the Queen's condition was causing concern but that she was comfortable. But the BBC and Sky News teams were all wearing black, I suspect they' d been briefed. On the six o'clock news the BBC's royal correspondent said, oddly,  mid-interview "It's 6.30 now isn't it?"  A few minutes later the cameras started showing the flag over Buckingham Palace at half mast. Then came the announcement. 

She was Queen all my life. One of my early memories, headlines saying "Ten Years a Queen". My sorrow is for her but not just for her - for all the memories of my life now passed.

As we listen to the unending tributes, one thing has struck me. This is possibly one of the biggest moment of unity the world has seen. Putin and Zelensky, Biden and Trump. Irish nationalists and unionists. Australian republicans, Canadian monarchists, the leaders of China and Taiwan. All have been sending glowing messages. Suddenly they have something to agree on. How can we follow up on that?

Thank you to all my American friends for your kind thoughts.

Now we'll have to get used to saying "King". No one knows what the future may bring.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Another Jungle Update

 Considering how neglected it's been because of my broken leg and us being away during the worst of the drought, the garden is putting on a brave face.


It all goes with the wild look that's trendy at the moment. Just look at what won at the Chelsea Flower Show. A wild look is not difficult to achieve here. There are plenty of weeds ready to step into the breach. The Show organisers should come and have a look.


The trumpet vine did have fewer flowers than usual


And despite strenuous efforts I haven't yet managed to stem the yellow tide.


But, as they say, there's always next year. And after helping themselves to the lilies early in the summer, the deer did deign to keep away - must have been the combination of the spray that smells like garlic and rotten eggs, Irish Spring soap and cayenne pepper. Or more like sheer blind luck. There have been a few deer hanging around the front and back gardens and when we drove up the lane and over the hill early one recent morning they were popping out at us all over the place. We managed to dodge the first two, then,  further up the hill, ran smack into one. Unbelievably both deer and car were unscathed, I can't understand why deer, who scarper at the slightest sound when you're on foot, seem to wait for a car before rushing across the road. At another point on the journey we stopped just in time and hooted at a bunch running to our left. One immediately peeled off and ran back in front of us. Someone told me that's their survival method - zig zag to evade your predator. Just like squirrels except, unfortunately, much bigger.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

And so to Vermont

 From Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks it was a relatively short hop over Lake Champlain to Vermont. The Green Mountain state. (Got it? It took me a while.) Well not a hop exactly, as we took a car ferry. I always find it incongruous to have something as old-fashioned as a ferry in the world's superpower but there it was and as luck would have it, just boarding as we drove up.

Approaching the distant shore - though it was indeed a short hop, just about fifteen minutes. 


 I've perceived, a big difference between this part of New York and Vermont. The latter is neater and tidier, seemingly more prosperous and choc-boxy. Even the cows grazing in the fields, busy generating Vermont's famous cheeses, look scrubbed and spotless. Vermonters are very green in all senses of the word. Interestingly its largest city, Burlington (not the capital - that's Montpelier) is very cosmopolitan, a university city welcoming of refugees and immigrants, large enough to be lively, small enough to be charming. And surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

We'd been there a few times and this time were headed northwards to sister-in-law's new pad on the lake.  Wow - what a view! The weather was iffy but you get the picture.


We also have a brother-in-law near Burlington. He's a phenomenal gardener and has always been my horticultural role model. He is now very much into the wild, natural look, of which I wholeheartedly approve. I wish I could get my garden phlox to look like that!


Not to mention the lilies.


Well he's by the lake too and I expect they like the climate.


How's that for a back garden view? Green is the word all right!


Another friend gallantly took us sailing, on a very superior catboat, somewhat bigger and more luxurious than Titanic 2.


Somewhere hereabouts we passed Rock Dunder, an island that looks a bit like a ship, especially when it's foggy. Rather embarrassingly it's supposed to have got its name when the British mistakenly blasted at it during the Revolutionary War. Depending on who tells the story, either the officer, realising his mistake exclaimed,  "It's a rock, by Dunder!" or someone else yelled at him, "It's a rock, you Dunder!" Amazing to think of battles taking place in such a peaceful spot. 

And finally another member of the family, our niece's rescue dog, Pierre.


Well there's a lot of French influence in Vermont (clue to the name) Montreal not being too far away.

And then back to New York but over a bridge this time.


We had a last fleeting glimpse of the Adirondacks - but sadly one ambition remained unfulfilled. I didn't spot a single moose. There were plenty of likely swampy areas where the massive beasts apparently like to stand around chomping on waterlilies, but no luck. When she lived near downtown Burlington, sister-in-law saw a moose nonchalantly clip-clopping past behind her house but none of them would oblige for me. It's the same with bears. I am probably fated never to see one. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Spooky History of Saranac Lake

 We stayed in what had been the old grand hotel of the town of Saranac Lake, now very modernised, though it still had an interesting-looking bar, the former lobby.


And it one of those fancy letter boxes.


And it served a signature cocktail called the "Hot Sara" - gin and blood orange. The name came from the hotel's name, lit up above the building.


Before its renovation the last letters would sometimes black out and it became a bit of  a joke so they made the most of it. 

The hotel walls were adorned with old photos


Of varying degrees of spookiness


Was this a variation of the venerable British dog-cart, used on country house shoots? In reverse.


Better not fall in while wearing those outfits.


A newer-looking old boat was in the hotel foyer.


As if the photos weren't spooky enough, the hotel also allegedly has its own ghosts, including a professor and a cat. I didn't bump into either.  A sign pointed out that they'd enlisted the Adirondack Paranormal Society to check out the ghosts and it had concluded they weren't a danger to the guests. Phew.

But the real reason why Saranac Lake seems a little spooky is its connection with tuberculosis. Back before antibiotics, this was the place to come for mountain air and mostly forlorn hope for a cure. America's Switzerland. En route, we passed a huge, long white building that must once have been a sanitorium. I don't known what it's used for now but it sent a shiver down the old spine.  And many houses, known as "cure cottages" in Saranac Lake have big porches and balconies where people would sleep outside.  I don't know if this is one 


or this - but  they're worth a photo.


Saranac Lake is also the site of the first American laboratory to study TB. Now a museum. Closed on Mondays. (Why is everything closed on Mondays? In fact the only thing open on Monday was the Loon Museum, dedicated to conserving ducks called Loons, which populate the local lakes.)

Several celebrities of their day came to Saranac Lake, among them Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. Another was Robert Louis Stevenson, who certainly seems to have got about a bit. 


His cure cottage is now a museum, which, it being Monday, was closed but here's another angle on the  outside.


OK not too exciting but it had a lovely view.


You could say that the invention of antibiotics wasn't good for business but now Saranac Lake is more cheerfully known as a good base for boating and rambling around the hills, the cure cottages now just curiosities. If you want quaintness and scenery and several not-half-bad restaurants, you could do a lot worse. I hope we'll get back some day.. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Into the Mountains Part 2

  As we drove further north, past lake after lake, the cars and caravans started to peel off to left and right, to motels and cabins and campsites. The traffic was much thinner and when we got to Saranac Lake there was, amazingly, it being high season, hardly any traffic at all. 



Confusingly the town is called Saranac Lake but the lake is called Flower Lake. There is a lake called Saranac Lake but it's further away. Never mind. I'll take Flower Lake any time.

Now wouldn't it be nice to have one of those houses!


There's definitely a flower feel to the town.  Wildflowers by the lake, waterlilies shimmering


A very un-American trend for natural-looking gardens.

Not much mulch and manicure here. They must have been to the Chelsea Flower Show. 

Just my sort of thing! I must get some more coneflowers for the jungle.

Hardly any tourists milling around in the quaint little town. Perfect!


This is the Episcopal Church - called St Luke the Beloved Physician, for reasons which will become clear. (I did not take pictures of the Catholic church - sadly, as usual, the least prepossessing ecclesiastical building in town.) But this little one was charming...

An almost-English house!


An impressive First World War memorial in the little park. So many names, considering that America was only in it from 1917 and the size of the town. It reminded me of the poignant memorials in French villages. The difference is that this one lists all those who served. Thankfully only a handful died. The names of those who fell were (I assume) marked by little stars.


This made us laugh.


Somehow I don't think it'll be open tomorrow.


A reminder that it's not always hot here. Hard to imagine.

Now what is a pair of scissors doing stuck to a column?

Ah - a barber's shop! Sweet!


I showed my Britishness by immediately assuming this was the Loch Ness Monster.


Not so, apparently. There is a monster in nearby Lake Champlain, name of Champ. Now who stole the idea from whom,  I wonder? I think I can guess but I'll be diplomatic.

I've never been to a place with so many signs supporting Ukraine. Good for them.


In one street, several houses had mock election signs saying, "Zelensky 2024".  They wish!

to be continued