Monday, 29 March 2010

Cheers Boston

My husband and I spent the weekend in Boston. We researched the hotel and places to visit and I had a list prepared. You should know that I write many, many lists and very rarely follow them.
The hotel was described as a 'great place to stay' and 'perfect location, with 'great rates'.  The one negative remark that kept coming up was 'unfriendly staff' but we thought we could cope with a bit of surliness if everything else sounded so good. I called to book and encountered one of the miserable members of staff who, it seems, wasn't that arsed if I stayed there or not. We duly arrived there on Friday evening and it is indeed in a great location, if by that you mean it's close to places you want to see, and not in a location that might afford you some sleep. The decor was a sort of mesh of old Grandma furniture and more old Grandma furniture.  The 'superior' room we had consisted of a narrow tubular living room with a small TV (which I could see clearly despite my poor vision because the sofa was so close to it). The sofa turned out to be a sofa bed, for masochists; each spring was carefully placed a hair's breadth from the surface to ensure a full body imprint. We decided not to sleep there although it seemed a marginally better offer than our bedroom which consisted of what was a bedsize somewhere between single and double, and nothing else because it would be impossible to fit anything else in the room. An upside of this is that it wasn't far to either the toilet or the light. I could almost reach the fridge in the kitchenette too.
Apart from the fact that the hotel is situated on a busy road, with another busy road on it's other side, and another busy road above it. And a very convenient and squeaky underground. It also had no air conditioning and, for some unknown reason, the heating was on 'boil' which meant we melted or opened some windows to let in the noise. The happy receptionist who took my booking seemingly arranged for someone to drill holes into concrete and empty the industrial sized bins at 3am too.
Up early on Saturday we looked at our list.
1. Go to Cheers Bar
2. Take a tram tour of the city
3. Visit the Prudential Centre
4. Visit the Aquarium
Four items is quite a lot for us. We tend to just meander from bar to bar....  and so it turned out to be.  We opted for the lazy tour which involved just items 1 and 3.  Item 1 because it is the main reason I wanted to go to Boston and had watched some Cheers on YouTube to get me in the mood. Item 3 turned out to allow us to see the whole of boston from the 50th floor so negating the tram tour albeit we didn't know what we were looking at and it was very small. Item 4 had a queue and I don't queue.  So, back to Cheers for lunch. Apparently the actual Cheers was filmed in a studio and only the front was used in the programmes BUT the owner had recreated the bar on the first floor of the building. Lies! It was tiny, it had loads of windows, no pool room, no Indian...oh I could go on.  We decided to eat there and the food was just horrid. Apparently the name is enough to bring custom.  We did, of course buy a Norm beer mug and some t-shirts. Mine's classic, my husband's says 'I don't even know my name.' Draw your own conclusions about our taste.

Boston is a lovely place, or at least the bits we saw. We learned 2 very important lessons in Boston - you get what you pay for (we've learned this lesson before but apparently forgot it); and TV is just an illusion.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Shopping with my Geordie mate

I've had a thoroughly nice day shopping with my new found friend from Newcastle.  My favourite part was when she introduced me to her quilting group (yes, quilting group) with 'this is Maggie, she arrived in August, we're from the same town'.  That was my summation - name, status and origin. No mention of hours of childbirth, 20 year career path or exceptionally amusing personality. Hey ho.
We perused boutique after boutique and I bought the following:
- a hat, which I like and my children hate. The dogs like it though.
- a pair of goggles you wear that protect your eyes when you cut onions. They are for my husbands use and my amusement.
- spray which you squirt on your toilet water before you have a poo which stops your poo smelling. I haven't decided who to give this to - the competition is fierce.
- a magic pair of shorts and a t-shirt which is currently the size of a glove but which will expand to human size AND a tube of towels which do similar things (except they are currently the size of Trebor mints). 
- some 'Montreal Road Kill Hot Sauce' for my nutty mate. 

All in all a great day shopping. And I found a local Indian take-away. How can it get any better?

Monday, 22 March 2010

Melty poo

Finally the weather allowed me to clean up all the dog poo in the garden. Thankfully most of it was contained in the dog 'run' which is actually a nice term for a very not nice place. A gravelly shit pit is perhaps more honest. It's quite amazing really - the amount of poo three dogs can do. Let's say they do one poop each per day, although I suspect it's closer to two or three, and that poop weighs between 8 and 12 ounces. That's about 10-15lbs of dog poop in a week and that's being conservative.  Add to this equation that some poo has been buried under layers of snow for 4 months and I estimate I picked up about 40lbs of dog poo on Sunday.  I'd also like you to picture the consistency of the poos ranging from 'firm and pick-upable' to 'mush and ooze through fingers'. And my method? I wear a rubber glove - thin ones like a doctor - and just pick them up. This ensures that I feel the consistency almost as if I used my bare hand, which I never do except by accident.

What did you do on Sunday?

Monday, 15 March 2010

St Paddy's Day without the Irish?

On Saturday a local town arranged and hosted it's first St Patrick's Day parade - driven by the local Irish Pub, it seems. We all went armed with cameras to the much advertised event boasting 'numerous floats'. We drove down and managed to find a parking spot - it looked like it was going to be a big turnout. The main street was lined with loads of people, most wearing something green and many had even bothered to buy 'leprechaun' hats or have their face painted. Dogs (loads of them) and their owners wore green neckerchiefs, kids wore green antennae things, some people had even brought chairs and flasks, obviously seasoned watchers.

The parade eventually began and it was charming only because it was so enthusiastically haphazard. I did spot one or two floats, the rest was a mix of flat bed trucks, Harley Davidsons, mini cars, emergency services, and enthusiastic Irish Dancers. Incidentally these Irish dancers wore traditional dress - except for their footwear. These consisted of high top trainers and multicoloured sandshoes.

I think there were some local dignitaries (men in black coats) and people were handing out free sweets and gifts. One man near us complained about his free toy and demanded something else. He obviously believed he had consumer rights over free gifts. Some men (think Laurel & Hardy, Sons of the Desert) were driving miniature cars for some bizarre reason and, of course, we had the Scottish Pipe Bands hopefully playing Irish jigs. After probably an hour of painfully slow parading the show was over.

Like cockroaches we all scuttled back to our houses and cars and the streets were once again empty except for the 2 pubs in town which, I'm sure, had a great day. Much like the Sucrerie, cheesy but enjoyable. Oh, and I suspect there weren't any Irish people there at all even though there were a few 'Kiss me I'm Irish' ties. I suspect they just wanted a kiss. They didn't fool me.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Dilbert and The Stalker

The guy who created Dilbert has a blog stalker. Seemingly some mad woman who writes what goes through her mind rather than bothering to relate it to whatever blog he has posted. does that happen? Is she someone he knows? Is she a Dilbert fan? A blog fan?

I want a blog stalker. How can I get one? Advertise? Become a cartoonist? It seems like too much bother. I may become a blog stalker - that's easy. Find some random blog and start stalking. Is it illegal? I can't believe it can be as long as the rants are just mad and not threatening.

If you have a blog you'd like me to stalk let me know.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Sweet Sugar Shack

Yesterday we went to a local sugar shack and it was just brilliant, all except for the 40 minute wait in the queue for tickets despite 'reserving' ours online. For the non-Canadians a sugar shack is where you go to see how (and taste) maple syrup is made from 'sugaring off' the trees. Youngest was inappropriately dressed for 40 minutes standing on ice, or indeed, 5 minutes standing on ice so she moaned, almost silently, until I took her over to a 'warmer' spot which happened to be next to a stall selling knitted dolls. They were ugly little things wearing wooly hats, a red scarf and a lumberjack shirt. Youngest chose the ugliest one (hard choice) because nobody else would buy it and it magically warmed up her feet.

Eventually we entered the main building. The whole place is a jumble of old wooden buildings at the base of a mountain with a horse drawn sleigh ferrying people up from the car park to wait for their 40 minutes of foot freezing. The main building was essentially a barn filled with rows and rows of tables with a huge fireplace at one end and a small stage at the other. We were shown to our end of a table and we ordered some wine. The place was absolutely packed; dozens and dozens of children running around and the chatter of what seemed like hundreds of people almost drowned out the music playing in the background. Course after course was brought to us - pea soup, sausages, meat pie, ham, beans, meatballs, mashed potatoes - and a huge loaf of bread baked in one of the other buildings. Our wine didn't actually taste like wine at all but it wasn't unpleasant. Huge bottles of their maple syrup adorned each table and dessert was, of course, pancakes and some extremely sweet pie which had a hint of coffee about it. More than can be said for the actual coffee which was the only disappointment.

Then the entertainment came on - two guys, one singing and playing the guitar and the other playing a fiddle. But wait for it.........he also played a saw!! Oh my god. They had all the kids dancing around the room and playing some wooden clacker thing along to the music. It was just fab. On our way out we rolled up some maple taffy on lolly sticks to eat. I got an immediate sugar rush from it, wrapped it in some scrap paper, put it in my bag and found it later after it had melted over most of the contents of my bag. I actually found myself sucking my make-up bag on the way home.

So it was worth every penny - I think I enjoyed it more than any of us and we may even have caught the saw playing on video!

p.s checked the website and the very sweet pie was Sugar Pie. Of course.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Funny old week this week

It is Spring break so I've left my children with babysitters while I got on with my life - the TV and the laptop. Initially expensive but they pay for themselves. There's an added bonus that the children are pretty much tied to one room so the rest of the house is mine!!

So, to my week:
Monday - in Montreal overnight not seeing the last day of the Festival of Lights. It appeared that they cancelled the final day and failed to advertise the fact. Regardless, we enjoyed our evening at the old port supping wine and eating in not one but two hostelries. Excellent idea - have a starter in one then main course in another. Double the tips but if we hadn't we wouldn't have encountered the beer cocktails!! Beer with tequila. Wine for me of course - only stupid men would drink beer with tequila. My husband had one - he's intelligent enough to have disliked it.
Went shopping in real shops (as opposed to 'outlets') - bought books and t-shirts and a Cowboy Junkies CD.

Tuesday - French person rang and left a message with Youngest. In French. Wonder what that was about then?

Wednesday - booked our tickets for the local Sucrerie, or Sugar Shack at they are known. A very Canadian thing where's easier if you look.

We go there on Sunday (dragging Eldest along too although it's blatantly uncool). Blogworthy I hope.

I also did my first Spinning class on Wednesday. To cut a long story short I was heavily encouraged by the gym owner and went on a whim. As it turned out, a hugely misguided whim. I gave her the Geordie salute as I came out after an hour of deafening, pulsing music, heavy breathing and a number of groans. My bum was so sore I walked out like John Wayne.

Thursday - a marathon of an addictive PS3 game with Youngest. She's better than me but that's the only thing in her life where she is better than me so I admit it without malice. Or much malice. Rearranged furniture in living room with no help from weakling Youngest. Spoke to my sister on Skype and complained about our own bodies (although I could easily complain about her body too). Bought more tea and chocolate from British shop. Saw a deer at the side of the motorway. Saw Orion and lots of other constellations in a beautifully clear sky. Met my husband after work for a couple of drinks....then we came home and had a couple more drinks.

Friday - hangover. I usually don't get hangovers as I rarely allow my blood to be without alcohol but due to the aforementioned weight loss efforts I've limited drinks to weekends. Stupid idea. Oh, and a weekend starts on a Thursday night if my husband is working from home on the Friday. I did, however, manage some exercise. Lost another 2lbs.
Fab dab news - our landlady says she'll renew our lease for another year in the summer so we have somewhere to live until August 2011. I may even decorate.
Discovered Melissa Etheridge.

Roll on the weekend.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Pooped'll be glad to know. The tea worked it seems, so go forth and drink, drink, drink all ye constipated people.

Day 8 and I have to admit that days 6 and 7 were less than perfect, then so am I. Wine was the devil that tripped me up but I must say that even under the influence I didn't eat crap - chicken, salads, soup...and of course the shakes and bars. I even took a bar for my breakfast this morning after a night in Montreal. We went to see the finale of the Festival of lights and it turned out to be...well.....unlit. But we enjoyed ourselves anyway in the old port sitting at the bar of a lovely jazz restaurant (i.e. live jazz every night which must be soul destroying for the employees). We had some delicious wine which we've discovered is stocked at our local off license at less than half the price. Criminal.

By Day 6 I had lost 6lbs so feeling groovy. Just another 26 to go. Will I lose it all by 18th June? Highly unlikely but I'll give it a bloody good go! This weeks plan is gym Tues - Fri and work out at home at the weekend. Today I have off as I'm suffering from the effects of wine (and no carbs to soak it up). I'm also trying to get a playlist of workout music - motivational, upbeat and ones I don't know the words to. It's VERY hard to resist joining in whilst on the rowing machine and I cannot multitask. Rowing and breathing at the same time is hard enough without introducing a song I know well. So no Abba or Baccara.