Tuesday, August 31, 2010

See yah!

First day back at school for the kids today. Parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief....

A day at the Races

We could not visit Saratoga Springs without paying a visit to the racecourse and seeing what all the fuss was about. I have never visited a racetrack before, even though my hometown in Wales was only about 15 miles from one.First of all I was amazed at how cheap it was to get in; $3 per person. Of course, they make the money on the food/drink and the betting!

It was a really fun afternoon. We could actually stand right next to the fence and see the horses thundering past us. On the TV its hard to appreciate just how fast they are going or how hard the horses are working. The sweat and the steam that comes off them after the race is amazing!

I was also fascinated by the jockeys. I knew that they were not generally six footers, but I didn't realize just how small they were! For some reason I kept thinking about the "Munchkins" from the Wizard of Oz....

All in all, a great day out with lots of excitement and atmosphere.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saratoga - restaurant reviews

We went to a few decent restaurants while in Saratoga Springs, and one not so good one. We started off as we usually do looking for an Irish pub, and we found one called the Irish Times. It was nice enough sitting outside, but I can only assume people visit it for its beer, because the food was not up to much. Very average and not recommended.

Next we tried an Italian restaurant called Limoncello's. It had a good atmosphere, very lively. The food was reasonable, nothing to rave about, but the lemon martini's were scrummy! Ingredients were citrus vodka, limoncello liqueur, chambord and sour mix. I know what I shall be mixin' in my kitchen this weekend.

But our favorite place was called The Local Pub and Teahouse. Not sure where the Teahouse bit featured because it was very much like a British pub complete with dartboard. I had Welsh Rarebit on one visit, and Fish n' chips on the next (very adventurous....not). Probably the best Fish n' chips I've had since my last visit to a British chippy! All washed down with cider. You can't beat it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Like Father..like Son

How quickly the time flies. One minute Tony is bouncing Robert up and down on his bed, the next its hard to tell them apart :)

Trip to Saratoga Springs

We visited our neighboring state last week. We took a trip to Saratoga Springs in New York state, its about a 2.5hr drive from us. Saratoga Springs is a really neat town/city whose main attraction is a big racecourse. It has a nice center with some interesting shops, pubs and restaurants, but it is also well placed to use as a base from which to visit other parts of New York state and the Adirondack region.

Unfortunately the weather was not great. We have had a summer with virtually no rain, but it decided to make up for it on 2 days while we were away. To say it poured down would be an understatement. We were wetter than a haddock's swimsuit. Still, we were only visiting Lake George so no loss really. What a very average place Lake George is, a real disappointment. Lots of "gift" stores selling cheap tat that you would not give to your mother-in-law, lots of tattoos and beards (and the men looked even worse...). The only good point was the steamboat ride we took on the lake itself, very relaxing and a chance to get in from the rain.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Half a century! OMG!!

Happy anniversary to my parents, celebrating 50 years of married bliss today! Enjoy your vacation!

Monday, August 16, 2010


The schools in our town have been looking for ways to save money this year. I won't go into an obvious narrative about how I could give them ideas for saving money by not sending home so many paper notices, and not photocopying worksheets but making the kids write down the questions in one of their numerous composition books instead...but I won't. I will instead describe the towns latest brainwave.
This year, as well as charging $250 per pupil for the privilege of having a bus pass, the school has decided not to mail home the bus passes to save on postage; they have mandated that parents come collect them at set times from the town hall. So this evening after work, Tony set off to the town hall to collect our 2 kids bus passes, expecting it to be a simple task. How wrong he was. His suspicions should've been roused by the lack of available spaces in the parking lot. However it was the line of people extending out of the door of the town hall that was the giveaway. People were not happy. One woman complained that she had been there for over an hour waiting in line. Another said that the town should've "charged the extra 40 cents for the stamp and mailed the damn pass". They are right. Whose stupid idea was it to allow hundreds of parents to descend on the town hall to pick up passes? How much gas must've been consumed in total within the town by the parents driving there? Was it really so difficult to reserve 40 Cents of the bus pass fee for postage? Or possibly they could've asked for a stamped self-addressed envelope for the passes to be mailed back in? There are lots of options better than the one they selected, and all they have achieved is to piss parents off (pardon mon francais) before the school year has even begun. Nice job!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We're gonna play all day...

Yesterday we went to Southwick Zoo in Mendon. We have been visiting this zoo for 10+ years, since the kids were little and it has certainly changed in that time. 10 years ago it was quite small, with some very sad looking animals in small, dirty cages. Over the years we have seen the zoo expand and (generally) improve, creating new, more natural habitats for the animals utilizing high walls and/or electric fencing rather than cages. The result is much more pleasing, and its now a very nice place to visit. One of the newest and, in my opinion, best things they have introduced is a skyride, a cable car ride that transports you above the park on chairs suspended from cables. It is very relaxing and you get an excellent view of the animals from above their habitats.

A few complaints about this zoo however. Too many fairground rides scattered throughout the zoo detract from the otherwise natural environment. No bubblers throughout the park forces you to buy bottled water rather than refill your own water bottle. And in general its quite an expensive day out, e.g. entrance for family of 4 nearly $70, then extra costs for everything else in the park ($5 per person for the skyride).

Overall a good day out, but you do need to be fairly fit to see everything, its a big zoo and a lot of it is on slopes making the walking quite hard-going on a hot day.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Speedy Gonzales

Yesterday on my way home from work I spotted in my rear-view mirror a sight that brings despair to most Americans - blue flashing lights. I got pulled over by a police officer who had obviously had a personality by-pass, and fined for speeding. I wasn't even doing 40 mph, but it was in a street where a town official must live, because the speed limit was set to a ridiculous 25 mph.

Anyway, as an experiment this morning on my way to work, I decided to use my cruise control to control my speed. At every speed limit sign, I set my cruise control accordingly and let the car do the work. My poor car spluttered and gasped on the verge of stalling along the 25 mph roads, it was positively crying to me to allow it to speed up a bit so that it could go faster than the cyclists. But I stuck to it and did arrive at work eventually. However I had built up what seemed like a 10 mile line of cars behind me, containing lots of red-faced drivers all cursing that little red car at the front of the line. It just goes to show how ridiculous the speed limits are in some areas of town. I don't mind a speed limit, but 30 mph should be reserved for built up areas with pedestrians, not for empty country roads. And 25 mph should be reserved for roads littered with broken glass...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Do you think he's sexy? No way, never, NO!!!

So Rod Stewart is to become a father again for the 7th time at the age of 65; he will be lucky if he lives long enough to see this child through their school years! I wonder how much enthusiasm and energy he will devote to this child as he approaches his 70s and 80s?
Have you noticed how similar his (ex)wives look (they all look like gold-diggers....meow!). Can he even tell them apart? He was quoted as saying "I seem to have a particular liking for blondes. The most memorable is always the current one. The rest just merge into a sea of blondes" Replace the word "blondes" by "children" and it probably holds just as true for him...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

School Supplies

Its that time of year again when we have to pay a trip to Target, Walmart or Staples to get school supplies. Every year the list gets larger and more specific. Not just "a pencil and a pen", oh no. We have items such as a red 1.5 inch binder with pockets, 3 highlighters of different colors, baby wipes, hand sanitizer. It won't be too long before we will be buying our own desks!

In work they have a collection thing going for school supplies to give to those who cannot afford them. There is a whole list of the more commonly asked for supplies. The one that I could not understand was a flash drive. I figure if you are too poor to afford a $5 flash drive, then you certainly won't be able to afford the computer to use it on!