Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Kennedy, Less Whales

A week after visiting JFK's grave at the Arlington National Cemetery we visited the President Kennedy Library and Museum here in Boston.

There were many splendid exhibits and films of events from the era of Camelot, 50 years ago. There was plenty of coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which made me realise for the first time that I played a very part in JFK's story. Much smaller, of course, than his effect on my life.

Today was supposed to be whale-watching day. Scheduled sailing time was 10 am but at 8 am visibility was 400 metres so we took a mist-check and went for a walk around Harvard instead. By coincidence, another connection with JFK.

Jan's Great Adventure

I mentioned a few weeks ago about Jan's forthcoming walk on the South West Coastal Path. At the time, I thought she was going to start on April 5th.

Well, it seems that job-hunting forced a postponement but Jan is now all set to start the first section of the SWCP on May 5th. She has been for some serious walks in preparation and there is now plenty to read on her blog which you can find by clicking on "My Great Adventure" below and to the left on this page.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Streets of Baltimore

We have now completed our hectic week in Maryland. Sunday we went to Annapolis and had a splendid sail in the pictured 74 foot schooner Woodwind II, operated by the Kaye family. Highly recommended.

Tuesday I set foot on the streets of Baltimore for the first time since 1957, when I was there as a young radio officer in the Merchant Navy. Since then, Charlie Pride has recorded an excellent song called "The Streets of Baltimore". Amazingly, Joni and Les had never heard the song. You can avoid the same mistake by clicking on this YouTube address:


The police station pictured above is one specially created for the TV series "The Wire" and is the only rough-looking building in the street. In truth, Baltimore has been cleaned up, renovated and re-built out of recognition since my last visit.

Wednesday, we spent all day travelling to Boston. It is a one hour flight, but not if the aircraft you are supposed to be boarding is severely out of action.

Still, we arrived here yesterday evening and were met by Samantha and Matthew at Logan airport, then whisked first to an excellent pizza, finally to Samantha's apartment in Braintree.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Washington DC

On Wednesday we transferred from Indiana to Washington. Jane and Lorenzo drove us to Nashville, where we enplaned for Washington Dulles. There Joni and Les picked us up and drove us to their home in Maryland, midway between Baltimore and Washington DC. We have deer virtually peering in the window.

Since Thursday morning have been immersed in a whirlwind of activity. Thursday we went to Arlington cemetery, where we stood by the gravestone and eternal flame of John F Kennedy, whose oratory and dynamism, along with that of Jo Grimond, awakened my political interests long ago.

Yesterday we had a tour by car of Washington itself, where we saw the White House and then had a tour of the Capitol building, including a brief visit into the observation gallery of the House of Representatives. A few minutes before entering the chamber we virtually brushed shoulders with Speaker Boehner.

Today we have been into Washington again and have spent several hours in the Spy Museum, which was very interesting. There were pictures in there of some buildings in which I have worked.

Joni and Les are killing us with kindness. Tomorrow we are to go to Annapolis. If the wind subsides we are booked on a schooner cruise on Chesapeake Bay.

The only walking being done is between the above places and the car and various eateries.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Groundhog Day

We have been walking each day in the park which surrounds the State Hospital here in Evansvile. Just 7 kms a day, to keep our systems ticking over, For the past week, temperatures have been unseasonably high, beating records for the time of year. Yesterday, we were in the high 80s Fahrenheit, which is equivalent to 30 or so Celsius.

So it is not too surprising that we saw a groundhog in the park, emerging from its winter hibernation. But strange that the day we observed him studying the weather conditons was early one morning, just before the hot weather arrived - a day which started off at not much above freezing point.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blackpool Mini-Munt

There was a report in the newspapers yesterday that an earthquake had occurred yesterday in Blackpool. Blackpool was my birthplace and of course the finishing point of my big walk from the Pyrenees last year.

The reports said that the quake was only 2.2 but it toppled traffic lights and cracked a bridge. Despite the date (April 1st) this was a genuine earthquake, which are not as uncommon in Britain as one may think. We were in England for 5 days at the beginning of this year - during that time there was an tremor of 3.7 in Yorkshire - a few days earlier there had been a similar sized one in the Lake District. Apparently there have been 5 in the country during this past week. In 2008 a quake of 5.8, centred in Lincolnshire, was felt over much of the country.

But earthquakes are not so common in UK that they will change the language, as they have done in New Zealand. Christchurch has had so many quakes and aftershocks in the past 6 months that residents can generally tell you the value of each one as it happens.

The word "munted", meaning, to be polite, damaged, existed already. But now it is common daily parlance in NZ, along with its newly-minted (or was that newly-munted) derivatives "mega-munt" and "mini-munt". All three words being used to grade damage to buildings. Mega-munt is really bad news.

We are now far from Christchurch, having transferred, via Auckland, Vancouver, Chicago and Nashville, to the home of Lorenzo and Jane in Evansville, Indiana. This took us two Wednesday (because of crossing the International Date Line), an overnight stop in Vancouver, and a Thursday.