Tuesday, November 12, 2019


And so, we went to America.

I think, this year more than any other, it became obvious that I no longer belong there. It’s as foreign to me as Britain was when I first fetched up on these shores. Everything is different. Everything is strange. And, aside from visiting my family and friends, there is no reason to go there anymore.

Almost anything I miss from America, I can buy here now. The fact that I don’t miss many things from America any more helps in that respect, but there are still an awful lot of products on the selves here now that weren’t available years ago. I can, for instance, have a fluffernutter sandwich now, any time I want. I don’t, but I could. Also, A1 sauce, creamed corn and even Goldfish Crackers are readily available. In fact, the only thing I still can’t get that I would really, really want is Half-n-Half.

Nope, can't get any in the UK.
Well, that and French Burnt Peanuts.

Actually, I can have them mail-ordered, but I'd need to sell a kidney first.
We ditched United Airlines this year in favor of British Air and the flight went very well, thank you. With just one little niggle:

Which airline clerk do these people deal with? Any I see
wouldn't allow me to take those bags.
Naturally, most of our time in America was spent visiting, and eating. I have noticed that the climate in the US has an adverse effect on my leather belt. By the third day it seems to have shrunk noticeably, and it takes a few weeks back in the UK before it returns to its usual size.

Speaking of, while in the US, I bought a few pair of jeans because US jean have the proper number of belt loops on them (i.e. 7), as opposed to the UK jeans I buy from M&S, which have only 5. This is not a new problem. The Brits were overly frugal with the rings in their ring-binders when I first arrived, seeming to believe that 2 were enough.

But then I wrote a blog post outlining the issue and proving that the US binder, with 3 rings, was superior. After that, they began to offer 4-ring ring binders, and I am ever so thankful. So, I am hereby putting Britain on notice that 5 belt loops are not enough:

Notice the Slippage Area
Seven are what is required.
No Slippage.
I look forward to you sorting this out.

But back to our trip.

We had a good time visiting the G-kids, and hanging out with the rest of the family.

It was autumn, and that meant pumpkins and apples and
pumpkin donuts, and pumpkin coffee, and pumpkin cake, and pumpkin....
But that's how we like it.

The G-Kids, waiting for their mom to finish her marathon.

Mom, looking waaaaay too fresh for someone just finishing a marathon.
Well done!
When we were last there, we were still having to sign our credit card receipts.
This year, everything was suddenly hi-tech.
During a lull in the festivities, we took an overnight trip to Nantucket. I used to go out there about 30 years ago with a buddy of mine who worked there. The island is timeless, so it hasn’t changed much—at least the buildings haven’t.

Back when I first visited, the island was expensive. Now it’s very, very expensive, and all the local shops and restaurants are gone and have been replaced by boutiques that don’t put prices on their merchandise and trendy bistros serving nuevo cuisine. (Until this visit, I wasn’t aware it was possible to spend that much on a bowl of pasta.)

Yes, over 3 million dollars for a modest house.
Still, it was an interesting diversion, and we went to bed looking forward to returning to the mainland the following day. Except, we couldn’t. A storm blew in overnight and the ferries weren’t running so we had no choice but to spend another day (and night) in the most expensive place in the western hemisphere.

The mark of a posh hotel--hangers that aren't attached to the rail.
Fortunately, we found the place the locals go to eat, something Americans would call a Greasy Spoon, and the Brits a Working Man’s Cafe. It was wonderful. Good food, lots of it, at a reasonable price. And served by local people genuinely glad to see you, instead of snooty outsiders who looked down their noses at you because they guessed (correctly) that you really weren’t going to buy that $356 sweater you were looking at.

What I did do, to celebrate spending the two most expensive days I have ever lived through, was go into a Ralph Lauren shop with the full intention of buying an overpriced shirt. Just because.

I left disappointed, however, and under the withering gaze of the tall, blonde shop assistance, because there was nothing tasteful in the entire shop. I have written about this before: where what used to be a tasteful, tiny logo, has recently become a huge billboard screaming “Wealthy person here! Wealthy person here!” I can see the shops in Sussex falling for this, but I thought the highly fashionable boutiques of Nantucket would still know what good taste was.

Our final adventure came on our drive back to the airport.

Some years ago, on a documentary about train travel in the US (Michael Portillo, I expect) we heard about an abandoned railroad bridge over the Hudson River that had been turned into a Garden Bridge. We noted that it was near enough for a visit and planned to go have a look. As it turned out, we were too busy to fit it in, but as we had to pass by it on our way to the airport, we thought we’d take the opportunity.

We are so glad we did—simply stop off for a peek, that is.

This is sorta what we expected:
The Dream

This is what we got:
The Reality
And so, we went home.