Monday, 30 July 2007
This is going to be a big day. Firstly we have to go to the market. We have to do this as the market is 800 years old. This means that the event is older than any of the buildings. The buildings are old. Getting me to report on the market is like getting Janice to report on a rugby match. You wont learn much. The result however was that we won. I scored a new hat and Janice must have bought something reqlly nice that I commented appropriately upon at the time - then forgot.
The wedding was a different matter altogether. First, at 3 pm, there was a service in the Town Hall. This was a busy place as there was a wedding before that of Caroline and Bruno and one after. Legal requirements met the whole party walked to the church (300 yards with a small girl carrying Caroline's train all the way. The service was very relaxed by NZ anglican church standards (it was an RC church)but none the less impressive. A choir which included Christine, Caroline,s mother, sang beautifully unaccompanied. It was perfect. A joy to hear.
The next step was the reception which was held in a huge, old hall set in beautiful grounds. This was a sort of afternoon tea for everyone. Very nice too. After a couple or three hours about 150 of us moved on to the dinner and dance. This was a 5 course meal interspursed with bouts of dancing and was really great but impossible to describe in the time I have - more when we return. We returned to the hotel sometime after 2am
Ok more later
Saturday, 28 July 2007
You will have heard news of the bad weather in England. We were fortunate to stay dry whilst looking at the trials at Wisley. Obviously we would not get wet at Heathrow as it is under cover. This was the only good thing about Heathrow. Arrival in Lyon was wonderful being hot and sunny and our bags arrived on the carousel promptly - and soaking wet; thoroughly drenched. There had been a downpour at Heathrow and while our baggage was waiting on the tarmac for the late arrival of our flight it had obviously been too wet for anyone to venture out and either cover it up or drive it to shelter. Fortunately the quilt whiwch is the wedding present for Caroline and Bruno, although soaked, didn't run and is now almost dry. LIkewise, most of the pages in the new books that we are carrying are not sticking together.
Caroline and her mother, Christine met us at the airport and drove us to their home, and our B&B iin Montbrisson.
Friday 27th july
A glorious day. Hot, clear blue skies and lots of shopping and sight-seeing. Caroline has lent us her car and as of Saturday morning it remains unscathed. Its actually very easy to drive on the wrong side of the road (typing with a french keyboard is not - jd) most of the time. The day ended with a bbq for both families involved in the wedding. We are being very well treated and thoroughly enjoying it.
Saturday 28th july
Wedding Day, but first we have to go to town and participate in Market Day. This has been held every Saturday for over 800 years. I hope the buns aren't stale.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Monday evening Georg treated us to a fantastic meal at a local Romatik Inn - 5 star meal and service.
Tuesday 24th: we spent most of the day mooching around Georg's village. It's very pretty and we took lots of photos but it was also raining a bit so we spent time in cafes and back at the b@b playing crib. We also bought Terry a couple of new shirts as we'd had a disaster in the laundry department. Someone authorised a load of washing to be washed including a black dress that SHOULD NOT have run dye but it did. Undies for the rest of the trip will be a fashionable shade of elephant...
That evening we flew out to Gatwick and on to Guildford to spend the night at a fully organic and eco friendly hotel. The walls weren't organic but the soap was a lovely vegetable soap bar instead of the liquid soap offered at all the other hotels. Dinner at a French Restaurant - fantastic food, fantastic service and utterly fantastic prices!
Wednesday: this was the focal point of the whole trip. We arrived at Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society Trials and Showgrounds just before opening time and experienced the joy not normally the province of mere mortals. There was a long queue waiting to enter and we simply walked passed them all, our hosts whispered in the ear of a gate attendant and we were ushered through with grace and due reverence. I hate the word awesome but this was.
Inside the grounds we met Linda, Ali and Jim who together controlled all aspects of the plant trials, and I suspect much else, at Wisley. We received a guided tour of the delphinium trials under the guidance of David and shirley Basset from the Delphinium Society. T'was a good morning and our delphiniums seemed to be performing well compared to the 'others'. The trial runs for another year at the end of which some varieties may be awarded an AGM (Award of Garden Merit). The tour was followed by a lovely lunch in the Tower Room and we very much enjoyed the company of our guides and companions. The team at Wisley did us proud.
Lunch finished at about 2.30 and the rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the grounds and the shop - guess who did what? (Sharp eyed readers may have recognised that I started this post and Terry took over part way though... he is dictating and I am typing.)
ok, off to France this afternoon.
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Sunday evening: Georg picked us up and took us to the village where he lives. the name escapes me at the moment but we do have it recorded somewhere. He had arranged a lovely B&B for us but first we had a fabulous meal with his family. Georg cooked pork fillets, porcini mushrooms which he and his brother had gathered locally and his swiss speciality, rosti. A gourmet feast. Little Tillo (4 yrs old) proudly showed us his baby mouse, and after the children were in bed we had a relaxing evening with Georg, Iris, Francois and Antoinette.
Monday: George took us to his company premises in Schwarmsted, a 30 min trip from his home.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
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Sunday, 22 July 2007
Had a wonderful morning shopping this am. Janice and i walked around
the shops of Hamburg but they were all closed....and then it began to
rain and as the shops have no verandahs we took shelter in the cafes
and restaurants. Best mornings shopping I've ever had! Walked to St
Michael's Church and bought a ride to the top to see the view. Had a
fantastic view of the fog. Still not had a hamburger in Hamburg. The
only ones on offer are Burger King and McDonalds.
from Janice: but we had a lovely syrian lunch and played a couple of
games of crib while we dried out. Then we came back to the internet
cafe at the Central Rail Station where we blogged from this morning,
its nice and warm and only €2.00 per hour to surf. So we are spending
this wet sunday doing much what we would be at home, sitting side by
side on two computers and tutu-ing on the internet.
We've been trying to upload images to the blog for the past couple of weeks but can't find a suitable internet cafe with facilites to do that. So, sorry but no pics.
Yesterday's trip from Frankfurt by train was interesting from a scenic point of view and also the human perspective - people guarding empty seats and either not giving them up or making excuses to keep them empty. Meanwhile we shared one seat, not wanting to create WW3. Navigating the underground train system in Hamburg has proved easy despite having no german. We have all day tickets for the city for just €5.10 each. Today we have to stand in the pouring rain for 15 minutes while the webcam near city hall takes our picture for robert and jennifer back home in nz. You might see us there at 10.00 pm nz time Sunday night. Janice will be wearing a bright green rain jacket. Terry' jacket is the colour of the pavement but he does have white socks and white legs.
Our hotel last night was in a famous district of Hamburg so we were told. We found out what it was famous for when we arrived and stayed off the streets to avoid being propositioned. This was mostly successful and occasionally irritating.
We are now into business mode again and will meet with Georg from Jelitto Seeds this evening. OK, gotta go, got an appointment with the webcam.
Saturday, 21 July 2007
We've finally figured out that if you want dessert after your meal at a german restaurant, you need to order it with the main. We ate at a fish restaurant last night (I had your favourite Frances, whole lemon sole, beautiful!) and then waited for ten minutes or so, and decided we'd like some dessert because Terry has a mission to taste all the creme brulees he can find. We waited another 30 or 40 minutes (well, we played 2.5 games of crib) and when we finally decided we were not going to get any service by waiting, we called the waiter over and asked if we could have some dessert. He said no, the restaurant was closing in 15 min. So odd! if he'd come to the table to ask if I wanted more wine I would probably have said yes.
The hotel in Frankfurt was well balanced, the not so good bed was balanced by the fabulous breakfast which is part of the deal. But we decided to move on to Hamburg today, Saturday 21st July in the hope that the bed at the next hotel will be better. We took the fast train
Thursday, 19 July 2007
Sunday, 15 July 2007
It ain't half hot mum. About 34 deg today.
We do a little mooching around Dawson Creek in the morning. We see the sights, look at the Pioneer elevator (grain elevator and storage facility) and admire it for the grand old building that it is (I have a photo from our last visit) and return home for lunch. In the afternoon I attend to a few little bits of gardening for Anne while Janice rests and Anne supervises, gardens and perspires.
Friday July 13th
Dawson Creek spends most of its life under a white blanket of snow. This usually occurs in the winter, which is about seven months long. For the remaining five months mother nature contrives to make up for this enforced winter sloth and, before the snow is even gone, plants have broken the surface and some have even flowered. Other plants aren't far behind.
It helps of course, that there is no real dark time in summer and the sun stays our of bed for up to 19 hours at a stretch. Twilight adds another couple of hours of half-light at each end of the day too.
It follows that during the long, sunny days of June and July there is little time for temperatures to fall a great deal at "night". Put a few of these days together, couple it with a southerly breeze from the continental interior, and the temperature builds to a day like today. It's *%#^YGY*&^%!!! HOT!!!! All day and all night too.
That's why we all three decided to drive the two hours to Grande Prairie again, spend three hours there and return (2 hours). We were in air conditioning all the time.
This evening we are taken to dinner by Anita (Anne's best buddy and a really good friend of ours too) at the fanciest restaurant in town. Anita wanted to know "What do you want, good food ...or air conditioning?" We chose the good food. It was great - and we sat right in front of a fan the size of Lake Taupo, so we weren't too hot. We did however, on our way into town, learn that Thursday had been too hot for the Pioneer grain elevator. It burned down on Thursday afternoon and was smouldering when we drove past tonight.
Saturday July 14th
I learned a very good lesson yesterday. I have a photo of an elevator from our visit three years ago. That shot isn't there today - so this morning I drove to take a picture of a real nice red barn in the middle of a field of bright yellow flowering canola oil seed plants. Hopefully it won't burn down in the near future but if it does, I have the photo. I was speaking to Marilyn today. Her dad owned the red barn and she played in it as a young girl. She hopes it won't burn down too. No more ripples please!
Robert, who has been helping Jennifer while she reads our mail, texted to say we have more bills (greater value) than we have orders.
What should I say to that?
Sunday July 15th
Gardening for a couple of hours.
Things are different here. They can be quite worrying too. Anne has a system for watering her plants around the house. She pumps water from a pond in the middle of her garden. To do this she runs an electric lead from a powerpoint on a tall garden light, to a submersible pump in the said pond. The lead ends by the pond where it is joined to the pump lead with a couple of ordinary plugs. The plugs and leads stay out in all weathers. Everyone does this. The electrical system in Canada is 110 volts. It still scares me to hell and back. So do the large, fresh, deep claw marks on the lawn, but don't worry. No-one else does. Perhaps whatever it was was chasing the deer that had eaten the tops out of Anne's sugar snap peas.
Went to Marilyn and Al's place for morning tea this morning. Marilyn has a really nice garden and an interesting fence. She is a real nice person. Should have asked Al about the claw marks. He is a real nice bloke. Al does a bit of hunting.
That's all for now.
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Shopping in Grand Praire is challenging. All the large stores are widely separated and you must drive a distance between each one. We were looking for clothes to wear to Caroline's wedding. I finally found a great, silky, many gored skirt - each panel a different fabric as befits a quilter. In orange, brown, red, sage, cream, khaki. I also got two silky singlets, one in red and one in khaki and a white jacket and white belt. I still need shoes and bag and jewellry. Terry didn't get anything that he wanted but intends to try again in Frankfurt.
Home to a lovely salmon dinner and some pinot gris. Anne has got three bottles of pinot gris in for us and the first one is gone.
Wednesday 11th July
Dawson Creek Ripple No 2: Anne has an espresso machine, well she HAD an expresso machine. Its different to any I've used before and it doesn't have an instruction manual, well, not that I've seen. I managed to explode it this morning - glass and coffee grounds spread over vast distances and as the house water tank was empty we were unable to clean it up with anything more than paper towels. So Anne says, well, I've never liked it, I'll be able to buy a new one now without feeling guilty!
Dawson Creek Ripple No 3: When Terry parked Anne's car last night in the garage he parked at a slightly different angle than Anne habitually parks. When Anne backed out this morning she turned the wheel as she normally does and backed straight into the side of the garage. We are still debating whose responsibility that one is - I think its probably one all and therefore we are all even - so need never mention any of these little ripples again - ok Robert?
Monday 9th July: We worked hard at frittering away this day, visiting Dawson Creek for the inevitable shopping (camera cord for Terry's camera - jd) and saved ourselves for an evening bbq with Anita, Jack and familhy out in the country. Anita has a beautiful garden and Jack has lots of hay. The beautiful garden was being photographed by a famous US photographer who also photographed Anne's garden the following morning and is hoping to sell an article to the gardening magazines about two crazy women and their New Zealand connection. He also threatened to come to New Zealand for a delphinium story.
Tuesday 10th July: This day was put aside for a "serious shopping day". Anne has been letting me drive her car provided the road is straight and there is not much traffic. She is a very good passenger and didn't turn pale when I managed to get the car at right angles to the road directly in the path of a rather large black articulated truck and trailer. Drivers in Canada are very careful and courteous. I am grateful for this. I'm going to leave Janice to tell you about the shopping for a while and pick Anne up.
Sunday, 8 July 2007
It's Anne Day today and we are hanging around waiting for taxi time. This email will double as a blog. That reminds me, thanks for the comment. No major ripples yet, except for the leg. I was walking up Iron Mountain with Stephen the other day, streaking ahead, taking photos, falling behind, streaking ahead... and that's about the time the muscle went - serve me right it will. Janice is having fun having to wait for me. Today will be something of a drag just waiting for the plane at half past one. We wake at 5 or so. Vancouver wakes at around 11 (not really). This is just a wonderful city to return to. There must be at least another 20 highrise condo buildings and hotels built since we were last here two years ago. It's a great place to walk around too (for those who can). The sights are tremendous as the fashion seems to be to try and make the cleavage meet the hemline while balancing on the sharpest, highest heels possible. Very interesting city Vancouver.
Saturday, 7 July 2007
Woke up to silence - the fireworks have all gone. Breakfasted on cereal and fruit, fresh fruit that is - left over cherries, watermelon and strawberries.
These next two days are for visiting a couple of nurseries and resting. We, that's me, have to check out the local garden centres and maybe find one or two of our delphiniums and Janice has to do a little (Ha!) shopping. Well, Janice got started first and cruised the shops while I did the blog. After lunch we visit LaConnor. LaConnor is a tourist town, cum wee port. Most of the buildings are classy and those that aren't are expensive anyway. The real reason for the visit however, is to see the quilt museum. This is a grand affair, housed in an old mansion which has, of course, been restored after being ravaged by fire some time before we arrived (early 1900s I think). This is a "well worth the journey" visit and there are some magnificient quilts on display. Stephen says all the right things about Janice's quilts being even better than those displayed and I offer my usual grunts of praise and agreement.
Next to Christianson's Garden Centre. This is an upmarket garden centre that we'd visited three years ago. On that visit they had given us the name of Valleybrook Nurseries as being a great supplier. We subsequently visited Valleybrook and they have become a good customer. It was therefore great to see that Christianson's were displaying our delph, from Valleybrook, this time. We are finding that our delph are indeed becoming established in garden centres in the USA. I also found some "Double Innocence" in another store in town.
This evening we are treated to the company of Barb's mum, Willa and Willa's grandaughter Stephanie, also, Skip and Jean, Stephen and Barb's good friends. It was a great evening and Barb, who had worked 10 hours that day also cooked a wonderful meal. I should tell you that Barb's artichoke and parmesan dip is worth killing for.
Friday July 6th
The essentials today are visiting Skagit gardens and shopping. Guess who did which? Janice managed 7 hours, 13 minutes and twenty three seconds of shopping the Outlet Stores. I managed an hour or so at Skagit Gardens and picked up a catalogue illustrating our delph. Cool! The rest of the day was spent relaxing and helping Stephen watering newly planted trees that had been expressing some displeasure at being left in the hot sun for a few days shortly after being transplanted. We sorted that and they were duly appreciative. The evening was spent at a chinese restaurant with S and B and their old neighbour, Jean. There was great trauma at dinner - twice. Firstly I ordered a double whisky. Now, in NZ, one orders a double whiskey because the half full thimble sized single wouldn't whet the whistle of an adolescent, dwarf mouse. Not so, aparently in the USA. The double I received came in a tumbler three quarters the size of the Empire State Building - and was three quarters full!!!!! Ok I thought, I'll take it slowly... The next trauma was the chilli found in the vegetable and rice dish. This was no ordinary chilli. This one was raised in the back streets of Mexico and fed double whiskys and horseradish, grown for 29 years and dried. It was the hottest chilli I've tasted by a factor of about 3000 and I swallowed the whole lot before I could stop. I'm not looking forward to the sequel.
Ok. I'm a slow typist and we're on Internet Cafe time so on to today.
Saturday July 7th
Spent the morning in the garden with Stephen and then Stephen completed his "best friend in the whole USA" deal by driving Janice and I to Vancouver. The border crossing was a little more exciting than usual for him as he had two foreigners for company and had to jump through the same hoops we did but apart from that the journey was eventless.
The whole week with Stephen and the few days with both Stephen and Bard have been fantastic and represent a considerable debt to be repaid. We are hopeful that they will bring Skip and Jean over to NZ and allow us the priveledge of returning this hospitality. You guys were simply fantastic! Thanks a million for getting our trip off to a wonderful start. See you soon. Please. You only need the air fare.
Thursday, 5 July 2007
We have a lot to do today but hey, why hurry? Waking up to a view of large barges making their way up the Colombia river (second largest in the USA) and a house empty of our hosts Mike and Mary, we eat, pack and set off for Blooming Nursery, about an hour south west of Portland.
The weather is warm and sunny and the cherries ($1.95 lb) and nectarines sweet and juicy. The instructions for finding the nursery are on the pda which is dammed hard to read in the bright light but we make it to Blooming after having to ask the locals directions - fewer than 10 times. Blooming is a reasonable sized nursery employing 70 staff - in the slow season. This grows to almost 100 when things get busy. Nohemi, the really cheerful production manager is delighted to see us and we embark on a tour of the place. We don't actually see all of the 47 acres but what we do see is impressive. Blooming is a perennial plant nursery and has a vast area of weedless, beautifully laid out stock plant beds that just happened to be flowering. It looked magnificient!
I speak with the propagation manager about .... stuff..... and admire the greenhouses which are definitely SOTA. All houses have concrete floors and some have flood watering systems that deliver heated water and nutrients to plants in pots and trays - without having to water from above. Everything is automated.
I seem to remember getting stuck in present tense Micky Spillane type writing last time we went away - must be something to do with travel. I digress.
We meet with the owner, Grace and leave with the impression that these people love our delphiniums and are keen to promote them more. They're already a good customer and the visit was very good for building on this blah di blah di blah, ra, ra. Blooming is a very good operation.
Ok, can't hang around. Off we go, south down the Willamatte valley to the tiny town of Cottage Grove - about a four hour drive. Lunch is nice, the cherries still sweet and juicy and the weather getting hotter. We arrive at Territorial Seeds at 4:30 pm and meet Josh, the manager there. Immediately there is a bonus - we find some seed sieves that we can't get in NZ. Territorial want to add our delph to their catalogue, that's ok by me.
The real purpose of venturing this far south is to visit Alice Doyle of Log House Plants. She organised the meeting with Territorial and greeted us with a hug. Alice, a lifelong hippie, is a great plants person and runs a nursery that sells throughout the pacific north west. She is a great marketer too and really knows how to move her plants. Alice greeted us like a long lost friend and her hospitality was fantastic. If you're reading this Alice, thanks, you did us proud!
That night we stayed at a resort hotel specialising, of course, in gardens, and arranged for us, of course, by Alice.
Tuesday 3rd July
I'll keep this one short. Ha! Mmm, these cherries are nice but sure make the keyboard sticky.
Breakfast and a meeting with Cindy, the head gardener. Cindy is responsible for developing the resort garden into a place that will attract droves of garden fanatics for conferences and starry-eyed, well-heeled couples for weddings. Needless to say, this garden needs our delphiniums. So may the other dozen or so hotels in the chain. Cindy does a great job. Her budget is....unlimited. I'd like one of those!
Stephen and I enjoy a two hour tour of the garden with Cindy in the sun. Janice checks the email in the shade.
Off to Loghouse Plants at 11 am and another tour. As I said, the reception at Loghouse was terrific. Alice's niece, Anna, married to Marcos (the Greek) is a sculptor. Before showing us her current work in progress she prepares a most delicious Greek lunch. This is seriously nice. We then went over to her studio to see her work. This is seriously good. Very good. It's unfinished. I'm allowed a photograph. I'm lucky, as usual. Anna trained at the top classic sculpting school in Italy. Is a very good a sculptor, no?
Tour of Loghouse Plants. 2,100 plant varieties. 26 greenhouses. Hot day.
Alice tells us we must visit Iron Mountain and Sisters on the way back. Iron mountain has alpine meadows. Sisters has quilts. We say goodbye at 4:30 pm.
The drive to Iron Mountain takes a couple of hours or so and we decide to go straight to Sisters, on the east side of the Cascade mountain range. We drive the long way as the mountain pass is closed. Night in Motel.
Wednesday July 4th (something significant with that date, can't remember what)
Stephen and I set off for Iron Mountain to see plants. Janice stays in town to see quilts. The alpine meadows are breathtaking and we see fields of wild delphiniums with masses of other stuff too. We take lots of photographs and spend nothing. We return to Sisters at 11 am. Janice says the quilts are great, the town teriffic, takes a few photographs and spends ...something. We set off for Mt Vernon and Stephen's wife Barb. The cherries are sweet and juicy and it's now 91DegF. I drive. We survive. Eight hours later we arrive.
Another great welcome from Barb in a lovely new house with a garden created by the two of them and a low wall of rocks hauled from miles away after being carted across a stream the width of the Whanganui river. We have steak, a wonderful artichoke dip, long peppers and the cherries were sweet and juicy. Stephen has driven us over 1000 miles in three days and been just great. Barb has welcomed and fed us fantastic. This is wonderful hospitality. And then, the knockout blow! The whole town put on a huge display of fireworks for us, about 3 hours worth. I thought this a bit over the top not realising how many folk Stephen had told about our visit. What a wonderful welcome.
Wednesday 5th July
Write a blog without spell check or pictures.