Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hadrian's Wall at Housesteads

I have the habit of collecting the occasional vintage postcards, usually relevant to something I'm interested in at the moment. As a result, over the past year I've spent a fair amount of time (and a little money) collecting postcards of various tombs in Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, views dating back to the late 19th or very early 20th century.

Anyway, after our recent all-too-brief trip to see and walk Hadrian's Wall -- a walk cut dramatically short by cold rain and even colder wind -- I spotted the following card online. It was taken sometime in the early part of the 20th century. The copse of trees in the distance is pretty much where the Roman fort at Housesteads is located -- and also represents the short portion of the wall that we walked, indeed it's also noted as the section of the wall that you can actually walk on top of.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two goodbyes and one hello

I suppose a change in our mode of transportation was inevitable, that it was only a matter of time before we readjusted our lifestyles: now that Susan closed up shop our lives became infinitely more flexible in terms of who needed the car when.

So, a week ago last Friday I put the motor scooter on cragislist and within the hour it sold. In the rain no less.

And then last Friday we traded in our "ice blue" Mini Cooper for a "twilight blue" Subaru Outback. I suppose we're more normal now, driving a car that actually allows us to carry things in the back, with four doors no less. We were looking for a reliable all-wheel-drive vehicle and so we now have one. And the myriad of sinkholes and potholes that pass for streets in Providence don't have quite the spine-jarring impact on our bodies that seemed to be the hallmark of driving a Mini. But the car was fun. . .

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tiverton nature trails: Weetamoo and Ruecker Wildlife Refuges

It was a gorgeous day when our friend Magali drove over to our condo, parked her car in our lot and joined Susie and I on an outing to the wilds of Tiverton. Our goal was to spend some quality time in a pair of wildlife refuges not far from the water: Ruecker and Weetamoo and we were not disappointed. As I said, it was beautiful day for a stroll in the woods and although we only got an occasional glimpse of the water through the trees at Ruecker, it was fun to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air.

And Weetamoo was interesting as well but for different reasons: an old sawmill that could have been operated by the Etruscans for all I know it was so old -- and spectacular views after a bit of clambering up a large rock.

Magali and Susie

Susie and me

From Ruecker it's a quick 5-minute drive to Weetamo, a much larger refuge and lots more trails, some not very well marked I might add.

saw mill ruins

lunch time!

the giant oak

back to the car

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Road trip to Portland, Maine

Meeting up with Susan's sister Joyce recently in Portland, Maine served as a perfect excuse to spend a night in the city (Dick and Dorothy were also planning on joining us as well). We'd been to Portland before but only briefly, usually just passing through or lunch somewhere on the periphery. This time, however, we'd take a bit more time to explore this particularly funky part of the Maine coast.

We found a place near the highway to spend the night -- using air miles we had few options.  That evening we drove into town for dinner at a small Italian restaurant, Paciarino. Run by an Italian couple who moved to Portland from Milano, Paciarino means cozy as indeed it was. The place was pretty much packed when we arrived somewhat earlier than our reservations but we were seated straight away.

The service was impeccable and the food delicious (they only serve pasta, fresh made). The wines by the glass were impressive (Monsanto Chianti Classico) and the bottle prices were simply amazing.

After dinner we left Paciarino and strolled down Fore Street to Gorgeous Gelato for dessert -- another place worth a stop: more friendly faces and delicious gelati.

Since we had some time to kill before our family lunch at a nearby Panera's, after we checked out of the hotel Sunday morning we  headed downtown to the Portland Museum of Art (not to be confused with the Portland Art Museum, which is in Portland, Oregon). Arriving a few minutes early we sat in a small park across the street before they opened their doors right at 10am.

The museum is airy, light and yet still full of cozy, intimate spaces of wonders, such as the neoclassical America sculpture gallery on the first floor.

Simmon's statue of Ulysses S. Grant dominates the small rotunda of beautiful sculpture

the 2nd and 3rd floors housed the American and European collections

After an hour or so we headed back to the car and drove to one of the city's two Panera's to meet up with Joyce, Dick and Dorothy for lunch.

After a grand time chatting and catching up on all the news from the greater Bangor area we said our goodbyes headed off home. The trip back to Providence was surprisingly quick and relatively free of traffic snarls. Not bad for a Sunday return from Maine, we thought.

And not a bad way to spend a summer weekend in New England.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Rowing Lessons for the French Tarte and dinner along the water

Now that the French Tarte has closed her shop for good she's finding time to do some of those things she's been had on her to-do list.

And something she's been wanting "to do" is to take rowing lessons. So, last Saturday she attended a rowing open house at the Narragansett Boat Club along the Seekonk River.

The "open house" actually consisted of putting attendees on a rowing barge and spending the better part of an hour learning the basics of rowing. After I dropped her off I drove over to the Farmer's Market in nearby Lippitt Park. A few minutes later I returned to the river and grabbed a few snaps before the trial session was over.

 Anyway, she found the experience exhilarating and thoroughly enjoyable -- so much so that she's signed up for a "raft" of lessons beginning June 23: Two evenings a week for six weeks, rowing on the Seekonk.

Later that evening we returned to the Seekonk River to dine outside at Waterman Grille -- the service was, as always, friendly and pleasant, the evening beautiful and the food pretty good -- they even batter-fried the banana peppers with the calamari! I had salmon with a side of twice-baked potato and Susie had pizza