Archive | May, 2017

A Foody post.

12 May

Whilst away we have enjoyed a lavish family wedding. Hospitality to die for and unlimited opportunity for sampling novel food and drink. One day , however, literally took the biscuit.

Above is a picture of Figgy’s. It is a tiny, takeout and catering shack in Walker Street, Portland. Southern Fried chicken is the speciality and we had ordered a recommended meal.

Inspired by tales of New Orleans, Robert .E. Lee and Hoteliers making millions $$$$$, we ordered half a chicken, a quart of buttermilk mashed potato, broccoli  with biscuit and gravy. Not Lo-Cal. I think not. Why not top it off with a favourite dark stout beer? With a difference. All will power gone? Try this

The verdict.

Possibly the best mash ever eaten. (I sound like my late mom !)

Lightly coated fried chicken worth swimming the Casco Bay for (and you will need to , to burn off the calories!)

A Southern State “biscuit” which is really a savoury scone ( almost a dumpling) with light brown “gravy” sauce.

George Bush’s favourite vegetable . Broccoli.  (That’s it’s only downside….. a Bush connection LOL)

AND the Peanut Porter ?  Fabulous dahling !!!!!! A blast of peanut butter when you open the can, which subsides into proper chocolate malt stout flavours as you swig. Weird but it works. Please drink it in the English village pub style, room temperature, for the fullest of flavours. Hope I can buy this in the UK.

ps Pass the insulin…………


For the non-foodies amongst you, here is a picture of a ferry. I lost interest in it as soon as I smelt the chicken !


Victoria Mansion, Portland.

11 May

Regular visitors to my Blog will know of our interest in preserved old buildings. We could not leave the delighful City of Portland, Maine without visiting the Morse-Libby Mansion House , otherwise known as Victoria Mansion.

Using great wealth from the Morse family Hotel business in New Orleans, the house was created from scratch in 1860 in an Italianate style. Not symmetrical and having all mod cons for the time. Coal fired central heating, flush toilets and beautifully decorated by craftsmen of the highest order. Later sold to an equally wealthy family named  Libby, this larger family of the two put it to great use.

Our wonderful guide (shown here below) showed her four years of experience during her tour. American chestnut was used in places but is no longer available due to blight in that timber. The Morse family was pro-United America during the civil war when they could not gain access to their house from New Orleans, even to escape the yellow fever which was rife at the time down South.

Morse was said to have watched as Portland burned in a great fire. A lot of the brick buildings which can be seen now were as a result in safety laws governing tightly packed streets of predominantly timber buildings.

An excellent way of spending a few hours looking back on American history and the wealth creation of the 1800s.

Despite beginning some seven years younger than Chateau Dinkum, the mansion has undergone a great deal of refurbishment and repair. Thanks goodness our refurbishment did not include such exotics as Parisian curtain accessories, delicately inlaid carpentry and vintage carpets. Not to mention hand painted walls in the Trompe L’oeil style. Shadowed artwork fooling you into seeing 3 D images. Expensive !

The local architecture of Portland is very impressive. Within a very short walk from the Victoria Mansion there is a huge varition in styles. From classic large Victorian era grand town houses to colourful rows of more down to earth terraces. Less impressive is the view of my famous photo finger hovering above the fire hiuse museum (above right)

The City of Portland, Maine

11 May

We had a very full day’s walking around the City, waterfront and Old Town area of Portland. On the way down to the seafront, we had a good “nosey” at the houses. Mostly timber and clad with cedar shingles, these were much larger than the quaint Cape Cod homes and more in keeping with what we saw at Camden and Bar Harbor. Many were split into flats over 3 floors.

When we arrived at the main road parallel to the Casco Bay, we came across the pickups and vans belonging to workmen building a new high rise building. One had a Nissan badged NV200 “SV”

It looked very familiar. The City itself reminded me very much of the Albert Dock area of Liverpool although I got a little bit of Glasgow flavour coming through here and there.

Our party lunched at an Asian “fusion” food bar. It was very popular indeed and all seats were taken within

ten minutes of our arrival. Some Vietnamese , Indonesian, Japanese and Chinese dishes on the menu. Very novel to me and most enjoyable. We walked miles and stopped for coffee a few times.

Altogether another pleasant day. although Cities are not my first choice of holiday destination usually.

This beautiful old Ford stepside caught my eye. My broken iPhone somehoe took over a dozen rapid shots due to the screen damage over the camera operating section of the screen.

Like in any City, there were homeless people around and many appeared to have mental health issues. There were less in this large City however than in just one of our six town centres. I am unsure as to what that may indicate and therefore make no further comment.

On our walk “home”, we saw an enormous truck being towed by an even larger tow truck. The driver was very skilled and cleared the intersection very quickly without drama.



A travel day. Some shopping and we get real close to bears and a wolf.

10 May

We set off in rain and cold conditions from Bar Harbor for Portland, Maine. Taking a route via Augusta and Brunswick we passed signs for Plymouth and Falmouth. By lunchtime the sun had come out and it was warm enough to sit outside to eat. The service area had a “local” feel to it. A Deli which was really a wonderful little supermarket and liquor store. The usual Burger joint adjacent but a less well known regional brand. Not too busy and an all together pleasant experience. We moved on to Freeport , with it’s discount brand stores. It was really a complete town of shops and malls. Coffe shops and bistros at every turn. Our travelling companions bought some rather upmarket clothes for themselves and for gifts. I found the massive L.L.Bean store (s) most interesting of the lot, with it’s outdoor goods theme. Canoes, kayaks, tents and all things camping. Even discounted the prices seemed high but then I am a bit outdated and out of touch with what can be termed to be a rip off. I did enjoy these though and the coffee from Coffee By Demand was rather good

Our two years old grandaughter found it all most interesting but, so excited, she took forever to get off to sleep that night ! L.L. Bean appears to have been a real life ” J.R.Hartley” or a cros between Ray Mears , Bear Grylls and Jack Hargreaves ! That’s some of his 1950s camping kit above amongst all the stuffed animals.

The Abbe (Smithsonian) Museum. Why “Bar” Harbor?

8 May

At low tide, a sand bar reveals itself between the mainland and an Island just offshore. Easily stable enough to take the heaviest US pickup truck, it can be a lovely walk to part of the Acadia National Park protected island. Although a little cloudy , there was only very light, odd spots of drizzle to marr our strole but the wind was quite chill , blowing offshore. This sand bar is what gives “Bar” Harbor it’s name. It had previously been called Eden after  a founding father.

Earlier that day we had visited the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. There is another sister museum located up in the National Park, high above the coastline. Dedicated to the plight of the local American Indian tribe(s), it was captivating and disturbing in it’s description of the past and how Europeans treated the indiginous Wabanaki from around the 15 th Century right up to very recent decades. Nothing to be proud of , I am afraid.

There were a lot of quite wordy posters, which made for some revealing reading. The tribes were craftsmen, making canoes, baskets and using quite primitive tools. One tribe specialised in fishing with spears and dieted mainly on salmon. At one point the “authorities” banned this practice in another act of alienation.

One very moving video showed a middle aged Wabanaki describing his father’s and grandfather’s way of life. Sadly, he himself had worked in a modern boatyard. Years of sanding down and working on a variety of modern materials had contributed to him being diagnosed with (lung) cancer. It was significant that he stressed to others ,in the same occupation, to always wear face masks, something that he had not done himself.

The verbal history, myths and legends and the way that they thought of the world and life itself may hold some lessons for those amongst us who , shall we say, are somewhat spiritual in their outlook.

There is some evidence that the Native Americans followed the last ice sheets north as they retreated. That’s some 12,000 years ago. Hunting, fishing, farming of vegetables and harvesting fruits and berries, they lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Take what you want to eat but eat what you take. Tread lightly upon the Earth and leave the lightest footprint or none at all.

I have a massive stock of photographs to collate and enough material to research for a whole new Blog. Writer’s block????? come to historical USA.

The drive up to Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island. Acadia National Park. NV200 and an Accident.

8 May

We had left Camden in very wet, cool conditions. With tired baby onboard, suffering with a virus, the journey took longer than we had planned. We went via Belfast, passing several Oceanfront Campsites, through Moose Point, Searsport, Stockton Springs then skirting around Bangor, Maine. We spotted a sign for Fort Knox Observatory and crossed the Union River ( above). Through Trenton , not the one in New Jersey, then on to Bar Harbor and Spindrift Cottage. This was a three storey house in seaside pastels. Just lovely ! We did pass our first sightings of a few , run down , homesteads on the way but these were still interesting in their own right.

Once re-established at Bar Harbor with cases unpacked, we headed for Acadia National Park. We were on a large island, Mount Desert Island. Bar Harbor was on one small peninsula. Acadia National Park is a huge section of mountains covering the central and Northern areas.

Costing just $25 for a car full of people, the Park offers vehicle access even to the top of Cadillac Mountain which is the highest on the US Eastern Ocean shore. We took a driveable “Loop Road” visiting , in sequence, the Acadia Gardens with it’s informative centre on climate change. Then the Sand Beach, a rare item due to the funneling of shells into a large bay above a floor of massive granite boulders. The Ocean current s so strong that these boulders regularly get dragged back out to sea only to be returned in a following storm. Don’t fall in here!

The sun caught me a little here and even I developed a slight beige tanning. Topped up my Vitamin D too I hope !

The sea rushes into an undersea cave and the trapped air produces the Thunder which gives this place it’s name. One person drowned here recently and two were recovered from the sea after 45 minutes, alive.

Our picnic lunch was overseen by this cheerful chappy. Less aggressive than our Cornish gulls, in my opinion, but warning signs do tell of Hitchcock type assaults from the heavens.

We had passed beaver dams and their mid-lake “dens”. The roads were as beautiful as the scenery around them as we headed for Cadillac Mountain.

The summit was glacially smoothed bedrock, windswept and wild. My first battery had flattened here on my backup Nikon digital camera. It took a while to find my spares , by which time a lovely old US van based camper had moved on and I missed the pic.  I had smashed my trusty  iPhone screen on the car park at Sand Beach. Butterfingers…….. That was the accident.

We  had detoured via East Harbor on our way “home”. A full and stimulating day to say the very least.

When we got back , I took some photos of a Chevy badged, NV200. The owners were very pleased with it. Many body panels were different and I believe that it had a 2 litre petrol engine. Rear windows on the ” french” doors were different too from the UK version.

Like us, they are “combi campers” choosing to tow a trailer with their campervan. Their trailer is a trailer-tent of significant size, towed by their VW  camper van. How small is this world ? Great minds think alike. Ha Ha !

These good people did seem OK about me posting on here and I left details of my Blog with them. I can always take the pics down if they are unhappy with my ramblings.

It was warm enough to settle on the front porch in my short sleeves that evening. I had almost dropped off to sleep before I was called in to dinner. A “Hannaford” supermarket cooked chicken with lots of fresh veges. Who would think that a beautiful newsreader of a certain age could cook so well. So far from England too………

PKT2995-204867 ANNA FORD 1978 Anna Ford.anna-ford_recent

She is still beautiful !

Camden and the State Park

6 May

We stayed at Abigail’s Inn, a smart B &B just off the main street in Camden. Following a breakfast of “yorkshire pudding” with cranberry jelly, fresh mixed fruit, cream and sausage. We visited the Camden State Park, high above Camden Harbour

The weather was quite chilly. About 8 deg C. It was a long, steep haul up to the summit, past the campsite and trails. From the summit, the views were similar to those above Cannes in the South of France. Other views could have been mistaken for Skye in Scotland.

Later we visited the Lighthouse at the Coast Guard location.

We had a late lunch in Camden and were the last to leave the breakfast and lunch Cafe. We were handed a large box of free pastries and doughnuts to take with us. A warm place even in the late spring chill. We took a walk around town, buying some small momentoes to take home. Here are some scenes to catch the pleasant atmosphere

All the local craftsmen seem to have huge pickup trucks. This one was a tourist vehicle with two people aboard.

    It took up one and half of the enormous parking spaces.

The creek runs right through town. Where it enters the harbour it becomes a torrent.

This a little fleet of mail delivery vans. They are right hand drive so that the driver can post mail into the sidewalk mailboxes straight from his seat. In the past we have seen RHD Willys Jeeps doing this job and maybe some states still use them ?  I know that these are Mail and not Fire Service vehicles but we had just seen our one and only pro-Trump “bumper sticker” on a very smart pickup truck passing through the drive through Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. I associated Trump with Trumpton and it the little vans made me think of ” Hugh, Drew, Barney, McRoo, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub.”   What IS going on inside my head ?……………………..