Greg's Occasional News & Views

3 November 2019

So, we’re back after what seemed like a long adventure which involved two visits to the great northeast, a week in sunny Southern California playing with our grandson, a reunion with a bunch of tired old men as well as, sadly, the loss of someone who was near and dear to all of us.

It seems a long time ago that we set off on this latest adventure and indeed it was! This was a chance to catch up with my mother, my two brothers and my youngest sister in New Hampshire and Vermont. The weather was decent and the fall foliage was simply spectacular. This was New England’s finest fall foliage at its finest. Penny and I were blown away again and again on the drive up from Boston by the startling vibrancy and the bright dazzling colours. This was the best I can remember. I’m afraid the few photos I took don’t begin to do it justice.

I’m not sure how I managed it but we happened to be visiting with my mother for lobster night! Apparently, they do this one night a year at Kendal and I happen to have managed to be in town for lobster night twice in the last couple of years – what are the chances of that? When he heard the menu news my brother Steph decided to join us for dinner. Absolutely delicious and, of course, I had to go the full Monty and have both the surf and the turf – lobster and filet mignon. Oh my goodness it was good. Penny, on the other hand, would rather eat sheep’s eyes than crustaceans of any description. Fortunately, there was an abundant supply of vegetables and side dishes to her liking.

After a few days in New Hampshire it was another stunningly colourful display as we made our way back down to Boston for a flight out to Los Angeles.

The trip out west was everything we could have hoped for. Fabulous weather and time to spend with family and friends.

We stayed at Ben and Brex-Anna’s new home in Westchester, just by the airport. It’s wonderful – large, lovely and airy – with great living and working spaces. It even comes complete with its own elevator!

Max the Magnificent was indeed magnificent! He’s constantly on the go and there doesn’t seem to be an off button. He’s currently obsessed with cars. Weren’t we all at his age – I know I was. He’s also very keen to involve you in his obsession and shares a car with you so that you can join in.

The weather while we were there was absolutely spectacular. The temperature was in the mid-70s to low-80s (mid-20s C), the sky was bright, bright blue and there was a lovely on-shore breeze to keep everything under control. We had a good day at the beach although the water was much too chilly for my taste.

Another excuse for our trip out west was to participate in my 50th high school reunion. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s 50 years since I finished at the Webb School of California and yet it seems to be true. There was a party at San Juan Capistrano beach hosted by our dear friend Miles on the Thursday before the weekend’s festivities at the school. It’s always great fun to look back, to reminisce and to wonder at the marvel that we all have somehow survived life so far. It’s also astonishing how remarkably well we all look and not a bit like the decrepit old geezers we watched at their reunions 50 years ago.

A visit to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without a wacky adventure. This time it was a tour of the Lost Spirits distillery in downtown LA. Ben had heard about this tour and it was quite an experience. Kind of like Willy Wonka on steroids.

The distillery was started by a bunch of young chemists and they have been investigating ways of producing good quality whiskey, rum and brandy in a fraction of the time it normally takes. In particular, they have managed to accelerate the time generally taken for the liquor to age in barrels from as much as 20 years to 6 days! The tour involves an explanation of the founding of the distillery in Monterrey and the science involved while wandering through a tropical forest and boating along a short (100 feet) river.

We then boarded a bus for transportation to the actual distillery. Each bus was transformed internally with plush seats, stained glass windows and holograms of “exotic” dancers. As well as transporting us to visit the actual distillery, the bus ride served another purpose. A local bye-law restricts the amount of alcohol one is allowed to serve in a single distillery tour. However, if one changes location the counter gets reset. So, we had a taste at the first stop, another on the bus, a third at the distillery itself and a final fourth tasting on the bus ride back to the beginning. Even Penny, who is no fan of whiskey (or brandy or rum), enjoyed the tastings and felt no effect, she claims, her dancing on the table on the final bus ride notwithstanding. A great wacky night out.

After a wonderful week in Southern California it was back on to an early morning plane out of LAX bound for Boston again. This time we were able to visit with my brother Sandy, the sculptor, and his new gallery in Castleton, Vermont. His dilapidated barn has been transformed into a stunning gallery displaying a wide selection of his work and it was a real treat for us both to see the new workshop but also to see the range of new things he has been working on. We also got to have lunch at the Birdseye Diner which is one of my favourite dining establishments.

Our last few days in Hanover were tinged with sadness – my mother had decided that this was as good a time as any to depart this world and she died comfortably and with great dignity in the early hours of Saturday morning. She had discussed her plans and wishes with all of us and we did our best to ease her passage. My sister Sarah in particular was a marvellous helpmate to my mother in her final years and especially in her final days.

I’ve been moved by the many tributes about my mother we’ve received. Everyone agrees she was a remarkable woman and a dear friend who was liked by everyone and who liked everyone in turn, and who wore great hats! She will be missed by many.

Many of you know my mother was a woman of faith and she was looking forward to being reunited with my father who died four years ago. I imagine she’ll be wearing one of her hats so that he can spot her easily in the crowd.

Lots of love to you all,



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November 2019
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