Tuesday, November 29, 2022

So Everyone's Happy - For Now

 I'm talking about hubby and me and our transatlantic relationship which survived a challenge on Friday when England drew with the US in the World Cup. The most heated clash since Bunker Hill, according to the Wall Street Journal. Steady on. Today the US were playing Iran and England playing Wales at the same time, so we had a couple of screens going and fortunately were able to yell for the same sides. (Sorry, Wales and Iran). 

I am pleasantly surprised at how things have progressed here. When I first came to the US I seriously wondered if I could live in a country where our local paper referred to the World Cup as the Men's World Soccer Championship and gave it about three lines at the bottom of page six. But now they're covering it on two mainstream TV channels - and yes, they showed the England match too. And they cut to shots of American fans celebrating wildly in a bar - it could almost have been London. I noticed some of the fans wielding banners proclaiming "It's Called Soccer". And there's a whole TV commercial, starring David Beckham, devoted to the subject. Of course Americans call football soccer, to differentiate it from the weird game where beefy hunks in helmets and huge shoulder pads do little else but charge manically at each other for a few seconds, then stand around waiting for the TV commercials and hardly ever actually kick a ball.

I'm also pleasantly surprised by the American commentators, who are far more diligent about telling you what's actually happening on the pitch than their blase British counterparts. It's called the zeal of the convert. But they did go a bit overboard when Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, aka Captain America, who's had a bit more experience of the Beautiful Game, as played across the pond, than most of his confreres, got a nasty blow to his tummy while scoring the one American goal. He sacrificed himself, they gasped dramatically, nobly taking a fearsome injury for the good of the team and the glory of his country.  Welcome to real football, chaps.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Road Trip at Random

 The beauty of the annual meandering road trip sister-in-law and I take down to Florida is that you never know what you're going to come across. Like getting passed by a string of Corvettes, all different colours.

Or accidentally stumbling upon  Shade Tree Rare Books  Chatham, Virginia. It was just a small town, with a small, friendly shop selling used and antiquarian books. They had an extraordinarily eclectic selection (what was Nigel Nicolson's autobiography doing in Chatham Virginia?) and some lovely tomes about  local history  but nothing prepared us for what lay beyond the door at the back. "You must see our reading room".

And what a reading room! I could spend several happy hours just browsing. The proprietor, Henry Hurt, is himself an author as well as a passionate booklover. Do check it out if you're ever around that way.

Rather less intellectual are some of the restaurants we've come across. This barbecue place offered a dish that was not for the faint-hearted (in every sense.)

No I did not chomp on the 7 Meat Feast for 135 dollars, just took a pic of the menu. I contented myself with some very lean and tasty brisket.  And there was a lot of it. Thank goodness for the American custom of doggie bags. We had enough for sandwiches for the rest of the trip.

Now here's a place that's gone down in legend. Remember Jimmy Carter? The venerable former President is still living in the tiny town of Plains, Georgia.

And long may he do so because the town has obviously thrived on his name. There's a row of Jimmy Carter themed gifts shops, a restaurant, a Rosalynn Carter garden, a museum. And of course peanut motifs everywhere.

When he campaigned for President in 1976, Carter was described in Britain as a peanut farmer, though he was other things besides, including a former Senator and Governor of Georgia. When we were in Plains he'd recently celebrated his 98th birthday and the locals were allowed to stream past his family home to pay their respects. 

Then it was on to Florida and Seaside an early architect-designed model town with its pretty-pretty white fences and charming buildings and a small, snooty eatery that wouldn't serve us coffee despite calling itself a cafe. Well I suppose words mean different things here.

Seaside is where The Truman Show was filmed. The one about the chap supposedly living in an idyllic small town, with a perfect wife,  who realises he's spent his whole life on a film set, being ogled at. He finally escaped - as did we.

Apalachicola, however is still a genuine fishing village.

Albeit a touristy one.

The only trouble with it was that we couldn't find anything to eat. We'd forgotten that we had to re-cross the time line and it was an hour later than we thought - and too late for lunch.

By the time we got to our overnight digs in Perry we were pretty hungry. We did not patronise this place but just had to take a photo. 

OIA. Only in America.

And just to point out that Florida isn't all ten lane highways.

Our friendly robot, Carmela, took it on herself to send us down a dirt road. It was fun - for a while. Such are the pleasures of staying off the highways.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Not a Trick Photo

 More on the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. This giant tree, with a root ball like a monstrous paw, toppled around the corner from us.

I couldn't see what happened to the back of the house but it certainly must have come close. It looks like something out of a horror film but I can assure you it's genuine. Lots of people seem to be saving bits of their cherished trees, perhaps to make into coffee tables.

Meanwhile the beach has some interesting new contouring.

Though otherwise looked peaceful early in the morning.

I have to say they've been remarkably efficient in carrying away the piles of debris by the roadsides. There's still some there though and, horror of horrors, we've just heard that there's another potential hurricane approaching later this week. Well goodbye to what's left of our garden fence.

But here's a little bit of cheer. Our poor orchid tree that succumbed to Ian appears to be sprouting. 

We're going to let it go and see what happens. If it grows again it'll be much better than a coffee table. It will be a miracle.

Meanwhile, speaking of hurricanes, it's election day tomorrow. Except at our local library it's been election day every day for the past few weeks. 

If you don't know what the bumper sticker stands for, I'm not going to enlighten you. You can look it up. I didn't see the other side's equivalent or I would have included it, in the interests of fairness.

It's been quite a circus, with tents put up next to each other for Republicans and Democrats and some just urging people to vote early (and, I hope, not often). There were substantial queues snaking into the library conference room. A nice lady thanked me for voting but I pointed out that I was a foreigner and a disinterested observer. "Well thank you for using the library then!" she gushed.