Sunday, 30 September 2012

Buffalo, here we come again…

Friday 28 September 2012

That was the title of my posting before the disaster happened and the whole posting disappeared.  As I don’t have the time, or the wish at this moment, to recall and regale the whole story I will try and make do with the most important parts and the pictures.

In short, we have visited Buffalo yesterday.  Buffalo is renowned for its fine old buildings.  We have visited a few, and I have taken photos of course.

Ellicott Square Building - built in 1896 - Italian Renaissance style
At the time the largest office building in the world - costs: $3.5 million

Ornate entrance (awning covered because of restoration works)

Beautiful elevators in the lobby

Mail box for outgoing mail
(collected through the glass chute above) 

Close-up of elevator door

Interior courtyard with two sets of stairs and a marble mosaic floor
of imported Italian marble (again in 1896!)

Ornate glove lamps and glass ceiling of the interior courtyard

A church (name unknown)

Brisbane (!) Building

City Hall  (1930 - Art Deco) with McKinley Memorial in the foreground

Train in Main Street - the rides above ground are free

Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (1841)
 Since it was rather cold and windy in town we decided that we wanted to return to Niagara Falls after lunch for another visit.  This time we stayed on the American site and visited Niagara State Park on Goat Island.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking and exploring Goat Island.  Of course we went back to the falls and walked along the rapids, which are just as imposing as the falls themselves.  As this is the right climate for them, we again saw plenty of squirrels, even black ones.  We did not even know they existed.  

We walked from Goat Island to three smaller islands, called The Three Sisters, hence the pictures of a few bridges. 

You’ll also see a picture of the inventor Tesla.
I happened to mention that I didn’t really know him, but I did after all!  It wasn’t until Winnie and Els mentioned him and his inventions in a private email (thanks girls!) and then I remembered the Tesla coils.  We dealt with that at university.  Well, long live my memory! LOL (And it is also proof that my posting did exist before it disappeared…)

Ah well, I am not going to babble on any longer.  Following are the pictures:

American Rapids Bridge

View from the pedestrian bridge towards American Falls

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the foreground

Maids of the Mist (boat on the left)
Beautiful autumn colours

Inventor Nikola Tesla

A little black squirrel

Trying to get a close-up...

Tall viewing tower with restaurant and outside elevators

Horse Shoe Falls seen from the American side

The bridge to one of the Three Sisters 
Mother nature starts splashing her colours

Rapids between the smaller islands

Birds enjoying a calm spot in the wild waters of the river

The American rapids again

Overlooking the rapids

NOT a Happy Chappy!!!

Here I am, having spent the best part of a long evening to put my last posting together, with lots of pictures, only to discover this morning that the whole posting has somehow disappeared...  Grrrr...

I don't have time now, but will probably post again tonight, although I don't think I will have the courage to repeat the whole story.  I couldn't even remember what I have been babbling on about anyway. ;-)  So, maybe the pictures with captions here and there...

Lesson learnt: when blogging keep a copy of the text on your PC in Word or so.  I think that will be my first word of advice when I am tutoring a workshop 'Blogging' in November!

Bye for now from a very disillusioned blogger...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

All work and no play...

...makes Jack a dull boy.  However, sometimes it's the other way around, it can't always be all play and no work!  Today (Thursday) is one of those days.  I am definitely over my jetlag now, because I am waking up earlier.  So, what better way to start the day then with a nice cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese.  At the deli I discovered a variety of fresh cream cheese the other day amongst which a honey and pecan nut.  Yummy!!!

By the time I had finished breakfast Frank was awake too and when he heard that I was planning to do some serious work he said he would walk to Walmart and snoop around a bit. The day had started with bright sunshine, but outside it was cold and windy.  It looked beautiful though:

Autumn leaves in early morning sunshine
I wasn't one bit worried about having to stay at home.... ;-)  So, I got my laptop and spent the rest of my day working on a newsletter for the Woodcrafters which just had to be out by the end of the month.  Suffice to say I made the deadline and after dinner I could click on the send button, so it was over and done with.

Before dinner friend Leonie called me on skype and we had a good old chat.  Good timing, because it gave Frank time to cook dinner. LOL  Since it was so cold we had a real Dutch dish: boerenkool met worst (Kale and smoked sausage).  We have discovered the best ever smoked sausage here and we dare say that it is as good, if not better, than that of the Hema!  Deliciously succulent....

After dinner it was time to relax, but not before I had a look at books from the Amazon site.  Ever since I have taken up drawing again I wanted to include coloured pencil drawing, but lacked the good books.  Now I can have them sent to our address here and may start to use them straight away.

That done we were surprised by a documentary on Niagara Falls on TV.  That made interesting viewing.  After that and a few games of sudoku, accompanied by a glass of wine it was time for bed.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Decisions, decisions....

Wednesday 26 September

No pictures to-day, just a boring account of our day. :-)

We were so lucky with the weather the way it was yesterday, because this morning we were greeted by a grey and overcast sky.  Such weather doesn't seem to deter the golfers though, because they were out and about early with the headlights of their buggies shining in the early morning darkness.  Ah well, that's their choice, I preferred to sleep in a bit...

That meant out of bed at half past 8 (late for me, for those who know me) and waking up with a cuppa, lazing about for a while, breakfast, playing wordfeud and doing more stuff that wasn't really urgent.  I took time to catch up with Tori's travel blog, and it was great to read that they are having a great time in the Whitsundays and visiting their friends in Townsville.  (For those who don't know, Tori is our daughter-in-law.) Towards lunch time I remembered that there was still a bed to be made upstairs (shame on me) and a few postcards to be written.

After lunch the weather still hadn't improved so we thought it about time to check out the shops and so we went for a drive to McKinley Mall.  We were impressed.  It's quite a sizeable shopping centre for a town like Hamburg and we had no problems keeping ourselves occupied and out of the rain which had started to come down in the meantime.

Shops of note were Bon-Ton, Macy's, Best Buys and Barnes & Nobles bookstores.  There's also a Sears, but we never made it to that end of the mall...  At Bon-Ton they had a marvellous sale on for clothing, so I realised I really Needed Some Stuff!  I ended up buying black jeans, a nice green top and matching cardigan.  All mostly winter stuff since we are going to France next and that'll be in winter time.  It's all quite timeless stuff, so if I don't get to wear it a lot at home it's no big deal, because it'll keep.  The sales are great. Most clothing was already marked down, but at the moment one could take off a further 25%.  Not bad.  And just to show how friendly the folks are over here: there was this lady who asked me if I had use for some coupons.  She explained that she'd handed in some stuff and had been given more coupons than she would ever need.  That was great, because it added considerably to my savings.  It seems that one can bring used clothing to the store and in return one receives coupons that can be used on most clothing items, but in some cases also on cosmetics and such.  I got two coupons, so on two items of clothing the price was reduced by another 25%.  Not a bad day for clothing shopping! :-)

We checked out some more shops and bought a few down-to-earth items that we needed, but after that we were dying for a cup of coffee and a place to sit down for a moment or two.  We could find a food court but there was no coffee shop in sight.  Strange, because Americans love their coffee too we thought.  In the end Frank remembered having seen a sign with Starbuck's Coffee on it, so we went back to the book store to check that out.  And low and behold, in the book store was a coffee shop.  We sat down with these huge cups again.  We're still amazed by the size of them!  Frank had a coffee, I settled for a chai latte, which I hadn't had for a long time and which I had been craving for.  It was delicious.  We had to go over the choice of books of course and also the section with games.  And guess what, we discovered  the game Sequence!  It'll give us something to do on TV-less nights and will be a nice change from tri-ominos.

Last on the list was Best Buys, because I am still undecided about what I want.  My computer at home has broken down and I don't think I will replace it.  No need really, because my laptop does exactly the same and I can carry it everywhere I want.  So handy with wi-fi nowadays.  But.........  I want something for reading so that I don't have to lug around a lot of books and particularly for France, because I am not going to read a lot of French books (yet).  So, do I settle for a Kindle or do I want an iPad?  I still don't know.  An iPad I would also use for wordfeud, I could use it to take pictures, I can send email messages from it........  However, it is so BIG.  My mobile is so much smaller and thus more convenient and does most of the other things, although I can't see myself read books on it.  Like I said before: decisions, decisions....  Anyway, I'll be here a while longer, so will think about it a bit more.

Well, all the shopping, including the groceries store, took us to 6pm.  Of course we take our time and chat with the friendly staff everywhere.  They're all so helpful, i.e. at the delicatessen I didn't quite know how to order the sliced meat.  Would I ask for say $5 worth of ham?  Or would I go for weight?  Hang on, we're using ounces here, so how much is that again?  In the end I asked the girl and she said: "Well, you could go for half a pound, or less..."  Aha, that was fine.  I knew that a pound is 450 grams, so I thought with a 1/4 lb I can't go wrong!  It worked fine and in the end we went home with a choice of meats of 1/4 lb each. And..... a nice long chat with the girl that served us!

At home we settled for a plate of spag bol from the freezer with apple pie for dessert, sat down in front of the TV afterwards and put our feet up.

Please don't ask me what our plans are for tomorrow.  I have no idea.....

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Unpredictable weather

Monday 24 September

Monday was a quiet day at home again.  After an early morning hail storm we decided it would be safer to get the cars under cover, so we put them in the garage.  Very unusual for us is that cars are always left outside here, even if people do have a garage.  In Australia the interior and the paint work last a lot longer if you keep your car under cover, so that's what we are used to.

Anyway, the weather didn't improve much during the morning and we had a quite time at home.  Later in the afternoon we really needed to stretch our legs and decided to walk to Walmart to get a few items for dinner. Since we'd bought rhubarb we needed meat for stew. (The meal is called zomer-hachee in Dutch)  Luckily it stayed dry long enough for us to walk the 20 minutes to and from the store, but it was very cold and windy.

Later we managed to skype again with Kevin and friend Leonie on Bribie Island.  Nice to be able to keep in touch.  You may think, why never with Stephen, but first of all Stephen and family are away on holidays (as it is school holidays in Queensland) and besides, Kevin can take a bit of time out a work to chat, whereas Stephen has a different kind of job and can't be expected to chat with his mum early in the morning.... :-)

Tuesday 25 September

It's not quite like Melbourne (four seasons in a day), but the weather here seems to be quite unreliable too. Lucky for us the sun was out again and it got warm enough to have our coffee on the patio.  After the usual games of Wordfeud (I have become quite addicted...) we got the maps out to have a look at some bike tracks.  However, most of the Rails to Trails tracks are not very close by and we didn't feel like taking the car, so we had lunch and then rode our bikes to Hamburg Village, which was just about manageable.

Pleasant Ave, Hamburg Village
Very unusual for us to say so, but we are not exactly thrilled with the bikes we have here.  Nothing wrong with them as far as bikes go, and good quality, but they are of the type we both don't like.  They are kind of sports bikes and therefore the handle bars are too low and can't be raised high enough, which in turn doesn't allow for the seat to be raised high enough for comfortable paddling.  We both keep slipping of our seats and our backs just aren't up to this kind of bike riding... Besides, having to lean heavily on my wrists isn't helping either, so all we manage to do is short stretches.  But......., we persevere.  We've got the bikes and ride'm we will!

As I said, today's venture took us to Hamburg Village and back via the post office for some stamps and a little icecream shop for a rest:

After that the stretch of road narrowed considerably underneath the railway crossing, so we tried to find another way back as we didn't quite like to share the road so closely with the passing traffic.  We discovered a narrow pathway which lead across four railway lines.  As the trains are noisy enough you can hear them coming miles away, so we thought it safe enough to cross.

After that we took to Lake Shore Road again, along Lake Erie, on our way home.

On the lake's edge we sat again for a while, watching the sea gulls.  One of them occupied itself trying to concur a fish or something.  I couldn't get a good close-up but it was interesting watching the bird.

An afternoon well spent, but it was great to put our feet up for a rest while sipping a cup of coffee on the back patio in the afternoon sun.

And as was predicted, just before dinner time the clouds came rolling in and the sun disappeared.  Hopefully this will repeat itself tomorrow.  I don't mind the clouds, nor the rain, as long as they don't show during daytime. :-)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Bad weather = soooo boring

Saturday 22 September

For those who know me, know that I simply hate rain.  It's even worse when you combine it with cold weather and yes, it was to be expected when you travel in the northern hemisphere in autumn...  I just wanted to have a whinge.  That's all. :-)

However, it means that I haven't got a lot of exciting news for you, because there isn't much excitement to be had on a cold and rainy day.  On Saturday the weather was becoming increasingly cold and the sun had gone into hiding for most of the day.  We spent the day looking through maps and information on the internet, and did some shopping.  This time we went to have a look at the (in)famous Walmart department store.

This is not the one in Hamburg, but looks exactly the same
Walmart seems to be the biggest private employer in the world and is also the biggest retailer.  Needless to say that it has caused a lot of friction in areas where the smaller retailers are being chased away....  Admittedly, we weren't very impressed.  For groceries and the deli section I would prefer Wegmans and for the rest we feel that the store would be on par with Kmart in Australia.  The bakery section didn't look very appealing, so we made a quick trip to Wegmans again to stock up on fresh bread and bagels.  We also took home a lovely piece of salmon for dinner.

Since I'd spent best part of the day on sudoku and wordfeud besides shopping, I settled in front of the TV for the night and Frank and I watched Lost in Translation on the movie channel.  I don't quite know what exactly was lost in translation, but obviously more than the title suggested, because I know that I'd lost the clue.  Bedtime....

Sunday 23 September

On Sunday we had a late breakfast, this time scrambled eggs on toasted bagels.  Yes, I love'm, but I like them better with cream cheese!  After a shower during the night the sky had cleared up a little, so we planned to go out for the day again.  The initial plan was to go to an autumn festival in Clarence (to the NE), but a wrong turn-off onto the highway took us southwards and we didn't feel like turning back at that stage.  There was this Ellicottville, a little village in Cattaraugus County, that we had been told was worth a visit.  We really don't know what they had in mind when the told us that, because we could have saved ourselves a long trip or could have combined it with another visit to the Amish country.  The Amish go to church on Sunday and it is their day of rest, so that was out.  Instead we just took to the country roads on our way back to Hamburg.  In Ellicottville we walked through the, most empty, streets in the rain and glanced into the shop windows.  Doing that it became quite clear that it will probably be more populated in winter, because it was all the shops had to offer: ski gear.  Wanting a decent but simple lunch we popped into a Subway, where it was nice and warm and the food, we knew, was good.


Autumn colours
As I mentioned before, the way back was via country roads.  Not advisable for a long trip.  Did we think the roads in Australia were bad after the floods??? Think again!  These were worse...  They looked more like patchwork than bitumen roads.  Bad roads and an upcoming headache don't go well together, so by the time we arrived in Hamburg my headache had spread to my jaws and I felt like I had toothache all over as well.  Still, I managed to take a few pictures of a colourful scene that you see almost everywhere along the road: pumpkins!  I mentioned them before.  Only the small ones are sold to be consumed and are generally used to make pumpkin pie.  The big ones are mainly for decoration and to be used for Halloween, which is BIG here in the States, as you may know.  As for pumpkin pie, if the weather stays like it is and I get really bored........ perhaps...... only perhaps....... I might sneak into the kitchen and turn the oven on!  But don't hold your breath.  Only restaurant kitchens are my favourite kitchens. :-)

Pie pumpkins

Decorative (Halloween) pumpkins

Every other house in autumn has some sort of autumn decorations near the front door or in the garden.  It may be pumpkins in the garden or decorations made from corn, or the most intricate wreaths hanging on the front door.  A colourful and inspiring sight indeed.  

After having taken the above pictures we were back home again and of course, the sun was out!  Time for Happy Hour in the corner of the back patio, in the sun and protected from the cold wind. It didn't last long, but it was great to warm up a bit before dinner.  

Back patio

The golf course as seen from the back patio

Well, it wasn't quite Happy Hour for me.  I took my medication and slept fitfully till dinner time, after which we again watched TV.  This time the movie The Deer Hunter with my favourite actor and actress Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep.   As I have never been one to watch TV a lot there are plenty of movies I haven't seen yet.  A bonus for cold autumn nights. :-)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Ah, the Amish....

Yes, that's right.  Today was Amish day for us.  Not so long ago we saw a very interesting documentary about the Amish and here we were, only an hour's drive away from Amish country.  So, after my first real American breakfast (incomplete, because I am not that hungry in the mornings) we went in search of the Amish Trail in Western New York.

Toasted bagels with cream cheese and coffee

We got to Dayton at about 11am and stopped off at a hardware store that displayed the Amish Trail sign, only to discover that they had not really anything to do with the Amish, but........... we stayed there for a while anyway, because we got to chat, and chat, and chat a bit more and after a while we had half the family interested in the conversation, I believe.  All those people here are so wonderfully friendly.  They asked us a lot about Australia and in turn told us a lot about their family, their lives here and about the Amish, amongst which they live.  They also produced a little map with all the information we needed and told us about this perfect little restaurant that we just HAD to visit.  As it was about lunch time anyway, we couldn't care less if they had shares in the restaurant or not, but we made our way to the Mustard Seed restaurant.  A quaint little house turned into a restaurant which offered a cosy ambience.

Ordering the meal went real funny.  I was after French Onion soup and a meat and cheese sandwich (on home baked sunflower bread) and got it served with the standard chips, although these were not the packaged type, but freshly baked.  Just lovely!  

The sandwiches don't look like much, but they were to die for!

When Frank ordered his burger however, the waitress asked him also if he wanted the chips, but then she said, oh no, you'd probably want the French fries?  She'd picked up his accent and realised that he wasn't used to the American type of chips, but what we in Australia call 'hot chips' (fritekes dus).  He had a choice of potato fries or sweet potato fries and went for the latter, because we have just recently started to make our own French fries with sweet potato.  Very tasty.

Frank's burger with fries

All in all the chat and lunch had taken up a lot of our time, so next we made our way into Amish country further down the road and visited a few of their shops.  The shops are part of their home and you don't see any electrical gadgets around.  The Amish dress differently from us and ride their little horse-drawn buggies.  I don't think they are very comfortable (those buggies), because they are not allowed rubber tyres either.  Unfortunately I can not show you a lot of pictures, because you're not allowed to take pictures of them or their children.  It's understandable, but a pity altogether, because those little children are so cute and all of them wave at you when you pass by.

Frank managed a picture of a horse and buggy at a little quilt shop

For my Dutch readers, I think you will have heard about the Amish, but if not, they are very much like the people in Staphorst: very religious and in Staphorst you're not supposed to take pictures either.  Anyway, we managed a few outside, as long as there are no people in the picture:

The road sign makes you aware of the slow moving buggies on the road

The few shops we visited all had beautiful home made articles for sale.  I bought a 4-sample container with fudge made with goat milk and a beautiful wooden basket:



Ain't that cleverly done?  We also bought some fresh rhubarb and farm eggs and visited a local cheese factory (not owned by the Amish), where we had hoped to actually see some cheese being made, but they only sold cheese. Next we went to a little business that made toys.  That was fun!  They had all kinds of funny and interesting toys, amongst which was a little toy chest-cum-piggy bank.  We were asked to put in a $5 note and try to get it out again. Actually, what the man said was: "You get it back if you can get it out again."  Well, no such luck, it was so cleverly done.  We did get our money back though. ;-)  Next we were asked to put a quarter (25c coin) in another wooden piggy bank.  We almost jumped sky high, because the whole thing exploded!  In it the man had hidden a mouse trap..........  Anyway, the list is too long to go on about all their wares, but a good time we had! They did have an interesting little board game though, so we might go back to pick one up one day.

Our drive was through the beautiful country side.  It's amazing, one day you are staring at a map, knowing you are going to visit a little town somewhere on the other side of the globe, and next you are part of the living picture that you didn't even know existed!  All you've ever seen about America is coming together: the all American mail boxes, the autumn wreaths on the front doors, the little squirrels hopping around, huge orange pumpkins everywhere (and heaps of them too) and the different styles of houses.  For Ria: we see a lot of the Swedish red coloured buildings here as well, although I believe that it's mainly the sheds that are of this particular red colour.  See the picture with the buggy above and this one below:

As it's the start of autumn, the colours are about to turn, although we have been told today that we may be in for some disappointment.  The leaves used to change colour and stay on the trees for a long time.  Last year, and possibly this year again, they just turned and fell.  No beautiful autumn colours.  A well, we'll just have to wait and see what is going to happen.

Well, that's about all for today.  If you're interested, this is the link to the Amish Country that we have visited today:  If you want to see more pictures then do a Google search for Amish.  You will find that there are a lot of Amish people in the pictures and that not all is true to what I have told you before, but that's because the people of the New York Amish Country are of the Old Order and have stricter believes that they adhere to.

I hope this blog is of as much interest to you as it is to ourselves, hoping to read it all again one day when our travelling days are over.......