Greg's Occasional News & Views

20 May 2018

Welcome back!

Those of you who have been paying attention will know that we’ve been away for three weeks in the States visiting a variety of family and friends. We started with our bi-annual visit to Hanover, New Hampshire to visit with my mother, my younger brother Steph and his wife and my youngest sister. They are all in fine form and although it was clear that Spring had not quite arrived in the great frozen northeast we still managed to enjoy ourselves.

After a few days in Hanover it was off to Los Angeles to see Max the Magnificent and Ben and Brex-Anna. Max is looking like a proper baby now, three weeks after his due date, rather than the tiny wizened sproglet when he was born. Ben and Brex-Anna are gradually settling into the routine of having an infant disturb your sleep several times a night but our general perception was that Max is a delightful little bundle, even if we both made him scream when he first set eyes on us.

Like father, like son.

We took advantage of our friend Miles and his beach house at San Juan Capistrano for an overnighter, Max’s first venture away, and had a great time even if the weather was somewhat “fresher” than we had imagined when we first planned the trip. As my cousin Wendy and her mother/my aunt Barbara were in such close proximity, we visited for a quick catch-up before heading back to LA. They both look great and it was terrific to catch up with some of the news.

One of the reasons for the timing of our visit to Southern California was to be able to participate in Max’s 100 Day Birthday which happened to coincide with Cinco de Mayo. Ben and Brex-Anna invited a splendid group of folks for a celebration and, in preparation, Ben and I knocked up a particularly grand lattice to spruce up the garden. If we factor in our time it only cost about $500 per panel so if you are looking for something similar to brighten up your garden I know two guys not to recommend.

After a week in LA we were off again, this time to Park City, Utah for a quick visit with my elder sister Sallie. She and her husband Rod moved to Park City from Escondido a few years back and this was our first opportunity to visit. It’s high in the mountains above Salt Lake City and is a lovely community with lots going on. My younger sister Susie also joined us from Portland and we sure had a wonderful time. Even just hanging around at Sallie’s was fun – we watched in astonishment as the hundreds of brightly coloured birds visited her garden to feast on the sixteen hundred bird feeders she has set out – better viewing than a lot of movies I’ve seen.

Sallie kept us amused and entertained and busy for the days we were there. We visited the Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake City which were just gorgeous. In particular, they had a number of wisteria, one of which had the longest racemes I have ever seen with an overpoweringly delicious scent.

The following day we ventured out to Promontory Summit to the site of the driving of the golden spike which completed the first transcontinental railway line in the US. As it happens, 10 May was the 149th anniversary, and as such there was a great celebration going on. Who knew? There were hundreds of folks dressed up in historic costume and ancestors of those who had been there in 1869, including hundreds of Chinese. The Chinese labourers had been largely responsible for building the line through the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, a feat which many had believed to be impossible. Sadly, it won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that they were very badly treated and discriminated against – in the photo taken at the time to commemorate the event the Chinese were instructed to get out of the shot!

After the Golden Spike we ventured out along a 15-mile dirt road to visit the Spiral Jetty, a sculpture created by Robert Smithson in 1970. It’s a 1500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counter clockwise spiral jutting out into the Great Salt Lake at Rozel Point. In the middle of nowhere. When it was built it was partly submerged but now, due to the prolonged drought in the west, it is out of the water and therefore the basalt rocks with which it was built are not encrusted with salt as they were originally. It’s a pretty impressive sight but one is faced with the inevitable question – why?

To finish off our visit, Friday was Sallie’s birthday and we had a great dinner out at Tupelo in Park City which was outstanding.

Saturday it was off to the airport bright and early for our flight back to Boston and the final few days of our visit with my mother. Much to my surprise, Sunday was Mother’s Day in the US so we had a fine gathering with my two brothers and my sister Sarah who congregated at Kendal for an excellent Mother’s Day lunch. Honestly, I thought I had died and gone to heaven – a very delicious and tender cut of filet mignon along with lobster tails! OMG, what’s not to like? Monday, we took my mother across to Castleton to my brother Sandy’s place to admire all the work he has done in getting his house, barn and sculpture business up and running. He’s a very talented guy and his artwork is terrific – when his site is up and running I’ll let you know; I am sure they will ship to the UK (and elsewhere) at a reasonable cost. Lunch in the Birdseye Diner was every bit as delicious as I had remembered.

Tuesday, it was off down to Boston for a quick visit with our dear friends Chip and Leca Boynton. Chip was a housemate of mine for a time while we were at Yale and it’s always good to catch up. In particular, Chip always indulges a couple of my great passions, oysters and baseball. We had an outstanding dinner at Eastern Standard, a five-minute walk from Fenway prior to the Red Sox game. The weather forecast was not great and I did doubt whether we would see any baseball. No worries, the oysters, steak and wine kept us more than satisfied as we watched the wind and deluge outside the window. Just as we were finishing up, we could see on the TV that they were taking the tarp off the infield and the game finally commenced just after nine, a mere two hour rain delay. We wandered down the road and settled into our seats just in time for the bottom of the first inning. Sadly, the Red Sox were already down two runs and it didn’t get any better; they lost 5 – 3.

Meanwhile, Pen and Leca were out braving the Boston hurricane while they made their way to a restaurant which Leca was sure that Penny would enjoy (and she did). To judge by the tasty samples they brought home for us boys, this could well be a place we will all have to visit next time we’re in town.

The flight home on Wednesday night was fine and thus ends another US adventure. We crammed a lot in, managed a good visit with my mother as well as Ben and Brex-Anna and Max the Magnificent and, for the first time in a long time, all of my siblings. Great!

Love to you all,



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