8 August 2010

Good morning to you all.

I am preparing this a bit early this week (i.e., Thursday) as this weekend I know we shall be somewhat busier than normal. Perhaps not quite as busy as the proverbial one-armed wall paper hanger but busy never the less. Our English companions, the Waltons and Kelly-Browns will be disappearing at various points on Saturday – the Waltons very early as they drive back to Boston for a flight to San Francisco; the Kelly-Browns have a more leisurely journey back to Newark for an evening flight back to the UK. So, we shall be handling the cleaning, washing and vacuuming for “change over day” at the Ritz and the official commencement of the Stragapalooza extravaganza. In addition to the arrival of Dad, Mom and Susie on Saturday, we are also looking forward to the arrival of our friends Chip and Leca Boynton and their son Mark from Boston. (Chip was a year behind me at Yale and shared a house with us for a semester or so). They are only able to stay the one night, unfortunately, but it will be grand to see them and, once they all arrive, we shall unfortunately have to revert to vacation and entertainment mode. So, the “normal” copy date for the Befouled Weakly News has been brought forward to accommodate the fact that we shall, once again, be having too much fun.

You will be surprised to hear that we’ve been having a pretty grand time. It is important, of course, that we get in practice for Stragapalooza so we’ve been eating for Britain and sampling a considerable selection of wine, all in the name of science and research, of course. The weather has been hot and muggy so we’ve spent just the odd moment or several in the water. The kayaks have been in constant use and Dave and Sue’s girls, Ellen and Zoe have become particularly adept, even paddling down to the Marina at Huletts for ice creams. Ellen has also received Sandy’s excellent instructions on driving Steph’s Boston Whaler which has been a great hit. She took Dave, Stuart and me out for a tour of the Bluff one afternoon; I had forgotten how rough a Whaler rides so I spent the rest of that afternoon and much of the next day regretting the decision to go out in it as my back and neck have let me know in no uncertain terms that they do not particularly enjoy being slapped around in such a fashion. No more in the Whaler for me unless it is proceeding at a sedate 2 to 3 mph.


Deer outside the screen porch

Raptor from the top of Black Mountain

Chipmunk outside the screen porch

We had an interesting experience in the wine merchants we found in Glens Falls one afternoon while we were shopping for the ten thousand. Dave, Stuart and I did the shopping while the girls whiled away the afternoon on the dock. After emptying Hannafords of most of its stock, we made our way down the road to what turned out to be a very good wine merchants. We made our selection and proceeded to the till to settle the bill. We had picked out eleven bottles of what has turned out to be very nice wine and, when we got to the till, the merchant very kindly informed us that if we had a twelfth bottle we would get 15% off the whole bill. Never one to pass up a bargain, we quickly selected an additional bottle and the merchant began to add it all up, deducting the 15% off each bottle. Very nice, we thought. Even nicer, we thought, when we got out to the car and began to consider the merchant’s business model. The 15% off each bottle amounted to, in fact, about three free bottles. So, instead of paying for eleven bottles, we actually took home twelve and paid for the equivalent of about nine. I suppose the only logic it makes is that were we to be in need of wine we would certainly return to that particular merchant. In fact, however, we probably would have returned to him anyway as his selection was considerably superior to what Big Foot Wine and Spirits in Whitehall has to offer.


At the top of Black Mountain
At the top of Black Mountain

Eating for England
Eating for England

Wednesday’s expedition was a trek up to the summit of Black Mountain. Surprisingly, the girls decided that they would sooner lounge on the dock while we trudged up the trail in temperatures in the mid-80s accompanied by what seemed like 120% humidity. By the time we reached the summit we were all drenched with perspiration but I think everyone enjoyed the view from the top in spite of the muggy and hazy conditions. Interestingly (to me, anyway) it took almost precisely an hour and a half going up to the top and an hour and a half coming back. I had anticipated that we would make the downward journey in less time but one has to pick one’s way quite carefully through the rocks and stones coming down to avoid slipping and/or twisting one’s ankle. I don’t think the plunge into the Lake has ever been quite so welcome.

On Thursday morning Ms Playchute had her first opportunity to play with her new toy – a waterproof MP3 player. Many of you will know that Pen likes to swim a mile in the Lake each morning before breakfast. She had been bemoaning the boredom of her swimming regime for some time (she also swims a mile at the gym a couple of times each week when at home). So, with a bit of research on the interweb, we found a waterproof MP3 player which arrived on Tuesday. We then had to get it loaded with some tunes which Sandy very kindly provided and, on Thursday morning, she was able to set off with music ringing in her ears. I don’t know that any of you have ever seen such a happy swimmer but I did have to laugh as she occasionally burst into song in mid-stroke. Naturally, this didn’t last too long as singing and swimming don’t mix particularly well.


Group Photo 2010
Group Photo 2010

Group Photo 2002 - Hardly changed at all
Group Photo 2002 - Hardly changed at all

Eating for England
Eating for England (again) - Sandy & Pam could hardly keep up

One final little amusing incident and I’ll let you go. One afternoon the phone rang and I answered it as I always do when we’re here: “Hello, the Ritz.” I laughed out loud when the voice at the other end asked if she could speak with Mr or Mrs Ritz.

Love to you all,

Greg