26 April 2015

Back in the UK gradually recovering from the jet lag following another highly successful visit to the States. The confused and befuddled state (not to mention the general incompetence) which accompanies such trans-Atlantic excursions is slowly receding (or, at least, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

Mom and DadI’m pleased to report that my folks are doing well and it was, as always, a real treat and pleasure to be able to spend some time with them. We also had a chance to spend two nights at Lake George with brother Sandy and his wife Pam and another couple of nights at Steph and Hope’s wonderful new house on the banks of the Masacoma River near Canaan, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, Steph had to work and so was out of town the two nights we stayed but Hope proved every bit the charming hostess.

As I wrote before, Penelope and I try to come every year about this time to help my folks celebrate their wedding anniversary (not that they need our help, I suppose). This year it was anniversary number 67 and we had a very fine celebratory meal at Kendal with my folks, my two brothers and their better halves which was a lot of fun.

During this flying visit we had arranged to meet up with our favourite international diplomat Jordan Ryan who very kindly drove up from New York City for a couple of nights at the Switch Road Bed and Breakfast. As always, it was great fun to see him. We also, as I say, were able to get across to the Lake for a couple of nights with Sandy and Pam having collected our Ben at the Whitehall train station (well, to be fair, the Whitehall train station should probably be called the Whitehall railway platform as that is, indeed, all there is). The train had, I should think, about five or six carriages but the Whitehall railway platform has room for only one. So, I imagine the conductor makes some sort of announcement that any passengers wishing to alight at Whitehall should make their way to the front of the train as it was only the front carriage which was adjacent to the platform. Unfortunately, according to Ben, the railway intercom had ceased working at about Saratoga so he did not receive the necessary information. After several passengers had disembarked the conductor began to retract the steps ready for an immediate departure. “Wait a minute!” I said, “We are expecting to collect our son.” The conductor looked at the passenger manifest and confirmed that Ben Stragnell should have been on the train but that he (the conductor) had no record of having clipped his ticket. We were beginning to wonder whether he had in fact got on the train at Albany as arranged but, after a few more moments, he emerged having wandered up the length of the train to find out why he wasn’t able to disembark. Much relief and glad greetings and we set off for the Lake.

We had said to Sandy and Pam that we wanted to take them out to dinner so not that long after we arrived at the Lake we left again, bound for Bistro LeRoux in Lake George. We’d been there once or twice before and it has always been outstanding. This past visit was no exception! A very imaginative and inventive chef and the main problem was deciding which of the numerous delicious-sounding dishes to have.

Bacon WafflesSunday morning Sandy insisted on preparing bacon waffles for us – waffles with small bits of crispy bacon embedded therein, as well as on the side. Oh my goodness! You would have thought that having eaten the previous evening at Bistro LeRoux we would be stuffed (and you would be right) but that certainly didn’t stop us. And, for those of you who don’t know, Sandy makes his own maple syrup – liquid gold!

On Monday morning we set off back over the hill to Steph & Hope’s where we eventually greeted Mr Ryan and set off almost immediately for dinner at Kendal with my folks.

Jordan RyanMost of you know but for the one or two of you who may not, Jordan and I went to high school and college together and he was the best man at our wedding. My folks also know him well and were delighted to be able to spend some time with him. I’m pleased to report that he was in fine form and looking forward to his move to Atlanta and his new job with the Carter Foundation.

Wednesday, we drove back down to Boston for our flight back to the UK. We dropped Ben off at his hotel (he was staying the night in Boston and then taking the train down to New York City to meet up with his wife, Donna, for the weekend).

Original Boston State HouseAs his hotel was quite near, I suggested he wander over to Joy Street if he had a moment. Joy Street is named for my great, great, great (about eighteen times) grandfather Thomas Joy who was an early immigrant to the Massachusetts Colony. He was an architect and carpenter who, amongst other things, was responsible for the construction of the first Boston State House as well as what is now known as Paul Revere’s House.

After dropping Ben we made our way to the airport for our flight back to the UK. I have to admit, this flight was very good – a bit rough and turbulent in places but very comfortable. The main reason for this was that the flight was easily three-quarters empty and Ms Playchute was able to commandeer a complete row of four seats all to herself, enabling her to stretch out and catch a bit of shut-eye during the flight home. Even I managed a few winks which is generally unheard of.

And so another US-based adventure comes to a successful conclusion. We had so much fun we’ll have to come again!

Love to you all,