Saturday, July 31, 2010

Romaine's Wood Grill & Bar

Had a bit of a disappointing meal at Romaine's Restaurant in Northborough this evening. We went out to celebrate my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary, so we wanted it to be a nice evening. Our table was in a good position, but the restaurant was freezing. Its the end of July and people were sat at their tables wearing coats! Why can't these restaurants understand that the temperatures should be set so the customer are comfortable, and not the chefs in the kitchen.

We waited a long time for our drinks, we had been studying the menu for so long I could quote from it by heart. We waited even longer for the bread to arrive.

Our appetizers were all good, but the entrees were very disappointing. Two of us ordered a veal bolognaise, and it contained bones, both small and large, lurking in amongst the meat, tomato and pasta mixture. This made it impossible to eat for fear of swallowing a bone. In addition, my daughter was given the rarest "well done" burger I have ever seen. Although the waitress said the manager would be out to apologize, he never made an appearance - obviously couldn't be bothered. Not good. We will not be paying them another visit for a while.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I can hear the grass grow (not)

Well it obviously had to happen. Every year Tony cuts our lawn, every week without fail, from Spring through Fall. Our lawn is pretty big, and the grass grows like its on steroids; frankly its difficult to keep up. So this year we (actually, I) decided that we would get someone in to cut the grass. So for the first few weeks of the summer we would come home from work on a Friday to be greeted by lovely neat lawns with trimmed edges. Wonderful!

But of course, we have had a really good summer this year, endless days of sunshine with very little rain. Our grass has effectively turned brown and gone to sleep. There is not a blade to be cut anywhere - I could probably trim the couple of stray long ones with a pair of nail scissors. No wonder my grass-cutting guys are smiling.

Thought an appropriate thing to tag onto this blog post was a Youtube video of an inappropriately titled song from long ago...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm stuck on you

I spotted a sign on the way home from work yesterday, advertising magnetic mattresses. I assume you can't wear a watch or jewelry to bed or you won't be able to get up in the morning?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

To pay or not to pay?

My latest airline gripe is with US Airways. When you checkin online with US Airways, you can be automatically assigned a seat, or you can pay for a "choice seat" - a better seat which you select. The automatically assigned seats are in the middle of a row of three, you can pay $15 for the privilege of sitting in a window or aisle seat.
So I did this...selected a window seat for $15.
I was mad as hell when I found out that this particular window seat did not recline due to the fact that it was the row in front of the exit row. Don't you think it would be nice if US Airways had mentioned this fact prior to taking my money?

On the return flight there were no "free seats" available for online checkin - I had 2 options. I could either wait until I got to the airport and get a seat assigned, or I could pay $15 for the choice seats which were available. The choice seats were all middle seats! I don't get it! I could pay nothing with the chance that I would be assigned a middle seat at the airport, but possibly it could be a window or aisle, or I could pay $15 to ensure I got a middle seat!!! Ummm, let me think on that for a bit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

As wooden as George Washington's teeth

Why on earth did the Coronation Street producers decide upon Ben Price to play Nick Tilsey. He is as wooden as a toy soldier - has he got a broom handle stuffed up his shirt? He cannot act his way out of a paper bag.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Doing some posing...

I am a bit reluctant to add a new post because I like the picture on my previous post ;-) but I guess I can't leave it there forever so here follows another of my meaningless babbles....

In an attempt to ease my aching back, which has given me a lot of problems for some years now, I have started some simple yoga stretches (or 'postures' as they are known in yoga circles). I have been using a DVD called Simply Yoga by an Australian woman called Yolanda Pettinato. I was a bit skeptical at first, especially when the first shot is of her wrapped in a purple blanket saying "Ommmm" or something similar. But I pressed on and did really well at the first move "Savasana" - which for those that are not in the know is also called "the corpse pose". Bit tricky, all that lying down and breathing in and out slowly, but I soon got the hang of it.

Anyway, I'm glad to report that it did get a bit more strenuous as the DVD progressed, and I did manage most of the 'postures', although on occasion I felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz after a downpour; a bit rusty & stiff.

I've now been doing yoga every morning before work and I have noticed an improvement. I won't be wrapping my legs around my neck just yet (not in public anyway) but at least I can bend down to put my Simply Yoga DVD in the player without hurting my back.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Phew! What a scorcher!

Whats as bad as being stuck indoors on a rainy Bank Holiday weekend in the UK? Answer: being stuck indoors on a 95 degree sunny holiday in the US....phew! What a scorcher!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th July!

Happy 4th July to all Americans. To the non-Americans, here is some info stolen shamelessly from Wikipedia:

"In the United States, Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States."

The sun is out, the sky is blue, time to get out the burgers and beer!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ireland - stepping back in time

One of the things I really liked about Ireland was that it felt like I'd stepped back in time to an era when the speed camera had not been invented. Driving along the country roads was a pleasure and it was so uncrowded. I also liked the fact that the towns we visited seemed to have many unique local shops, including a family butchers shop. Although we did see the occasional Tesco, they were quite few and far between. I must point out that I am a Tesco fan :) But they do tend to take over from the small local shops which add so much character to a place. It may be just that we were in tourist areas, but it did feel like I'd stepped back 30 or more years.

I also liked the numerous local pubs, often with live Irish music in the evenings. I think this is definitely one area where modern ideas have helped. Since the smoking ban in pubs, they have become family-friendly. I'm sure they were very different 10 years ago!

Ireland - Cashel

We took a drive to Cashel during our week in Ireland to see "The Rock of Cashel". The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is a historic site in Ireland's province of Munster, located at Cashel, South Tipperary. It was about an hour or so's drive through Tipperary (long way....). The castle towers over the town of Cashel on top of a rocky plateau. The oldest of the towers on the site dates back to c.1100. The castle is surrounded by a graveyard and a stone wall. The view from the castle grounds are impressive, extending for miles across the green countryside. The kids enjoyed checking out the dates on the gravestones, and rolling down the hill! And once again, the Irish sun shone down on us. How lucky were we?!

Ireland - Dingle and Tralee Aquadome

With the threat of rain in the forecast for the remainder of the week, we decided to take a drive down south to Dingle. We drove via Conor Pass. According to the website "The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland, and provides the most dramatic and scenic way of entering or leaving Dingle.". I will have to take this on trust as unfortunately the mists descended while we were driving and we could barely see in front of our noses.

Dingle is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula, the northernmost of the major peninsulas in County Kerry. We spent a couple of hours pottering in the quaint shops and cafes, and finished up with a visit to the harborside aquarium, which was quite well done for such a small place. Unfortunately we did not have time to drive around the Dingle Peninsula itself as that would have added on another 2 hours of driving.

Instead we stopped off at the Aquadome in Tralee on the way back. The Aqua Dome is one of Ireland's Largest Indoor Waterworlds. It consists of a large pool which can convert into a wave pool, a lazy river, hot tubs, steam rooms, and waterslides. The kids enjoyed timing themselves on the Flume waterslide - At the bottom it gave a readout of the time you took to descend plus your speed. Tony lazed in the lazy river and steam room while I sipped on a cuppa tea in the viewing gallery. Very relaxing.

Ireland - Bunratty Castle

Bunratty castle is a large tower house in County Clare. It lies in the center of Bunratty village, between Limerick and Ennis, and only a few miles from Adare. The name Bunratty in Irish, means the 'bottom' or end of the 'Ratty' river. This river runs alongside the castle. We had been unsure about visiting it because it looked quite small from the outside, but we were pleasantly surprised. Alongside the castle is an extensive folk park. This features reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century with a period style village main street. Old tools, furniture and artifacts are displayed, with the village kept alive by some inhabited shops, an old home bakery and peat fires in cottages. The castle itself was fun, with lots of steep, winding stone staircases up to the top of the turrets. The whole tour was numbered in a logical sequence, so you could be sure to see everything, and not backtrack on yourselves. We were actually there for about 3 hours, there was such a lot to see. And once again, the sun shone down on us the whole time.

Ireland - Cliffs of Moher

We drove from Adare to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast. What amazing scenery. This is one of Ireland's top Visitor attractions. The Cliffs are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. O'Brien's Tower stands on a headland of the majestic Cliffs. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. We walked along the cliff path for at least an hour, stopping frequently to admire the views and listen to the waves crashing against the rocks. It was especially enjoyable further along the path away from the main tourist area. A new visitors center has recently been opened with a small cafe, restaurant, gift shop etc. It has been cleverly installed into the hillside so is fairly unobtrusive. We were lucky with the weather which, although very windy, was sunny and clear for most of the time. Pretty unusual for Ireland I would think. All in all, a tiring but enjoyable day.

Ireland - Adare

The base for our week in Ireland was at Adare Manor resort & golf club - v.posh. We stayed in a "villa" on the manor grounds. It was plenty big enough for the 4 of us, with 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and sun-room. Very nicely decorated too with wood floors and granite. The manor grounds were extensive and we had some very enjoyable walks around them being suitably impressed with the gardens and scenery.

The village of Adare is known as Ireland's prettiest village, and deservedly so. Thatched cottages and friendly pubs were the norm, and we enjoyed sampling the Guinness and cider, as well as the home cooked meals. It was a good place to use as a base, with a number of touristy destinations within a short driving distance.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dan Dooley? Not so good

After a long overnight flight, we eventually arrived at Shannon Airport in the Southwest of Ireland. Our first task was to pickup a rental car. The package deal we had arranged used a local company called "Dan Dooley" - the name alone should've sent warning bells ringing. The courtesy van was pretty battered and the cheerful Oirish driver gave us a few directions including some to a big supermarket called Tescos. "That's T-E-S-C-O" he spelled out to us, obviously not recognizing our British accents. At the rental car garage, one of Dan's men brought our rental car round to the front. I never realized it was possible to maneuver between so many parked cars at such a speed. Not surprising then that we had to use continuation sheets to note down all of the bumps and scratches on the car. Still, it seemed to work OK (can't say the same for the Air Conditioning though), if only there was a way to remove that smell of stale urine....

A math question

Just back from a week in Ireland and I've got lots of stuff to post in my blog when I get (a) some energy and (2) some photos. Let me just start by asking Delta Airlines a question. If it takes 3 hours to drive from Boston to New York, and the flying time from Boston to New York is 35 minutes, why was my family sat on your Boston to JFK flight for 4 hours at the start of my vacation?