Tuesday 28 June 2011

Dixieland Part 4.......

We were able to get up a little later on Tuesday as our first excursion of the day was brunch at The Court Of Two Sisters, so we didn't need to go to breakfast at the hotel.

The Court of Two Sisters is located in a historic courtyard of the French Quarter

where the brunch buffet features more than sixty authentic creole and New Orleans dishes, from eggs benedict to fresh seafood - see the whole brunch menu here.  

Enjoying the brunch with Lorna and Peter from our tour bus.

There was so much to choose from but I started with the eggs benedict which was absolutely delicious.  I also tried crawfish, which I'd never had, I can't say I would have them again but I'm glad I tried them.      It was all so delicious and we were spoilt for choice as you will understand if you've checked out the menu on the link above.   All through the brunch we were entertained by an authentic New Orleans Jazz Band, which was so relaxing and certainly added to the ambience of the place.

Stuffed full of plumptiousness we made our way back to the hotel to collect a few things before it was time to meet the coach for our next excursion to the Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour.

Arriving at our destination we boarded the boat to tour,Cajun style, through the heart of Louisiana's swamplands, deep into the bayous where we saw alligators, blue herons, turtles and jumping fish.   We tried to get photographs of the jumping fish but they were too fast but I've put together a slide show of what we did see.

Whilst on board the boat MWM got to hold a rather large Alligator's head, it was dead of course.

Then we both got to hold a live baby alligator, mind you it's mouth was safely taped up.

I was surprised how soft it's skin was, I expected it to be hard and scaly!

Apparently other wildlife  like snakes, egrets, white tailed deer, mink and nutria all make their homes in the swamp but we didn't see any of them.  

At the end of the tour we headed back to our hotel where we just had time to shower and change before we had to meet a local guide for a walking tour through he French quarter, hearing the stories, history and legends of the famous buildings, bars and restaurants.

Our guide explained that the ironwork on the balconies held messages for visitors in that if they couldn't read they would be able to tell which places just sold drink - the ironwork would depict grapes, and if the ironwork depicted acorns this was where they could get food and a bed for the night.   Most of the streets were lit by gas light, New Orleans has so much natural gas (methane) that it is very economical for the city to light the streets in this way, they even export gas to Tennessee.

Apparently Jean Lafitte was the famous pirate portrayed by Yul Brynner  in the film The Buccaneer.

Our guide walked us through a hotel on Bourbon Street to this beautiful courtyard.

She told us that the hotel had at one time been a convent and the nuns did more than pray for the male visitors.    Apparently all doors on Bourbon Street are painted a uniform green and the line in the song The Green Door, ' knows what goes on behind the green door' refers to the goings-on at the convent,  I don't know how true this is but it's an interesting legend.      We saw Brad and Angelina's house, MWM took a very short video of it, unfortunately Brad and Angelina didn't come out whilst we were lingering outside otherwise we'd have got them on the video, wouldn't that have been a scoop?

Brad's Pit

The tour ended and we went in Pat O'Briens for something to eat.   We had their New Orleans Trio which were little pots of three things we promised ourselves we would try whilst in New Orleans - Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, and Jambalaya and delicious they were too.   Of course we tried  their famous drink - a Hurricane - whilst we were waiting for a table but we didn't buy the glass as it would have been difficult to get it home. We were told that if you have one Hurricane that's OK, if you have two you feel as though you're in a Hurricane - well we had two and we were OK so what does that tell you?    When we'd finished eating we took a beer each and walked up Bourbon Street, stopping outside the bars to listen to the various bands before we made our way back to the hotel.    After such a busy day we were ready for bed, as we had an early start the following day for the next leg of our journey - to Memphis.

I hope you'll join me for Dixieland Part 5  Memphis and Elvis!

Read Dixieland Part 1 here
Read Dixieland Part 2 here
Read Dixieland Part 3 here

Monday 27 June 2011

Succinctly Yours - A Microfiction Meme #14

Grandma at Grandma's Goulash provides a picture and a word prompt for this Microfiction Meme and the rules are use the photo as inspiration for a story of 140 characters OR 140 words.

Want more challenge? Use the word of the week in your story. This part is optional.

This week's word is TRIBUTE here's the picture and my offering using both the picture and the word in 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

Jack loved being in a tribute band, apart from travelling to gigs, in bad weather,

when he was just one more faceless person in another car.

Friday 24 June 2011

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #166 A Long Way Down......

He looked down, the drop seemed enormous.

Nothing to cling onto.

He'd have to take the chance and just drop.

He prayed he would have a soft landing.

Holding on to the sides he shifted his body into the cavity

and dropped.

He hated going up into the loft, especially when the ladder fell over!

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Dixieland Part 3.........

On the morning of day four of our holiday found us on a city tour with an amusing guide called Carol who was originally from County Cork in Ireland but had lived in N'awlins for many years.   She told us many interesting facts on our way to the first stop which was the St. Louis Cemetary Number Three,

Click on photos to biggify

where the funeral scene in the James Bond film 'Live & Let Die' was filmed.   There are some magnificent mausoleums in the cemetary.

Carol told us that when a body is interred in one it cannot be opened for a year and day, after which time it is opened and the contents of the last coffin are emptied at the back of the mausoleum and another body can then be interred.  It's unfortunate if a member of the family dies before the year and a day is up because they have to be buried elswhere!    There is a statue of Mother Theresa there too.

Another of our stops was at City Park where we walked round the Bestoff Sculpture Garden with its fantastic collection of modern and contemporary sculpture, presented in an exquisite natural setting.  I took photos of some of the exhibits and the legends which I've put in the slide show below.

After a quick lunch we were off of another trip, this time to Oak Alley Plantation.   The story of Oak Alley begins with the trees.   Sometime in the early 1700's, a settler built a small house on the site of the present mansion.  It was he who planted the twenty-eight live oak trees in two well-spaced rows, reaching from his house to the Mississippi River. 

In 1839, Jacques Telephore Roman, a wealthy Creole sugar planter, built the present mansion for his young wife - a bride's dream home!

The house was just beautiful and pefectly preserved and the grounds are magnificent too.

After the tour of the house we enjoyed a cup of Oak Alley's famous Mint Julep whilst walking back to the coach.    Before boarding the coach for the journey back to the hotel Alice suggested we walk up the levee to see just how high the Mississippi had risen.

As you can see the river wasn't too far away from the top of the levee which was worrying as the plantation was about 15 foot below the level of the river!

Apparently the trees in the foreground are usually on dry land, another indication of just how swollen the Mississippi was at that time.

We arrived back at the hotel with just enough time to shower and change before going out to eat at the Bon Ton Cafe, apparently it is the oldest Cajun Restaurant in New Orleans.   

It is one of the more expensive restaurants but the food was superb.  Here's what we enjoyed

Red Fish Bon Ton with a Crawfish Sauce
Parsley Buttered Potatoes
Creamed Cauliflower

Bread Pudding with Whisky Sauce

All washed down with a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio.   If you'd like to see what else was on offer you can see the full dinner menu here.  If you're ever in New Orleans I can thoroughly recommend the Bon Ton!

After dinner we headed down to the famous Bourbon Street for a couple of drinks and to listen to the fabulous jazz bands playing in the vast array of bars.   

This colourful character persuaded us to go in the The Saloon


Where we had a great night listening to Benny Turner Blues

and as they were excellent we're glad he did!

We would have loved to have stayed on Bourbon Street until the early hours but we had to be up early the following morning for a brunch date, a swamp tour and a walking tour around the French Quarter, which I hope you'll join me for in Dixieland Part 4 coming soon.
Read Dixieland Part 1 here.
Read Dixieland Part 2 here.

Tuesday 21 June 2011


My youngest son, Dan, has just had confirmation that he has been awarded a First Class Hons for his Law Degree!

Having dropped out of Uni before completing his Degree when he was 18, he decided to go back three years ago, at the age of 32, as a mature student and has worked so very hard, he deserves his success.    I should add that him going back to Uni was down to the selflessness of his partner, Fi, who has worked relentlessly to keep them all whilst Dan has been studying.

His Dad and I and all the family are so very proud of his achievement and apparently only 6% of Law students are awarded a First Class Degree!

We love you Dan! x

Monday 20 June 2011

Succinctly Yours - A Microfiction Meme #13

Grandma at Grandma's Goulash provides a picture and a word prompt for this Microfiction Meme and the rules are use the photo as inspiration for a story of 140 characters OR 140 words.

Want more challenge? Use the word of the week in your story. This part is optional.

This week's word is FABRICATE here's the picture and my offering using both the picture and the word in 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

Inspector Bendover relentlessly searched for clues, to no avail.

He decided he would have to fabricate the evidence if he was to get his man.

Friday 17 June 2011

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #165 By The Sword....

The crowd was silent, waiting, expectant

as he knelt, bowing his head.

He hadn't believed it when he was told this would happen, it was a shock.

As the sword came down he shuddered involuntarily, praying he wouldn't disgrace himself.

"Rise, Sir John" said the Queen, as she lightly touched his shoulders with the sword.


June 11th 2011 was the day that various people were knighted and received other honours such as OBEs, MBEs etc, at Buckingham Palace, from the Queen for her birthday honours list.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 15 June 2011


Harbour Beach, Abersoch, Wales

I'm interrupting my Dixieland travelogue to tell you about our holiday in Abersoch, Wales, with the family last week.

You may remember a post I did about childhood holiday memories having a lasting effect, which I believe prompted our eldest son to drive for 3 hours one summer day to show his three children where we used to spend our summer holidays when he was a child.      His trip then prompted MWM and I to go back there two years ago, 30 years after our last visit, to spend a few days rekindling our love of the place.   You can read about that break here, here and here.   

Abersoch Harbour

Last December we decided we'd like all our grandchildren to experience the magic of Abersoch and hopefully they would in turn have magical holiday memories. which they might then pass on to their children in years to come. I looked online and found a fabulous house for rent, right in the village, which was big enough for us, our two sons and their families.    I checked with the boys that the dates were OK with them then went ahead and booked the house for a week.   You can see photos of the interior of the house here, it was fabulous and had everything we needed and more.


We set off on Friday 3rd June for the 3 hour drive to Wales, followed by youngest son and his two boys.  Eldest son had set off an hour before taking a different route, saying he'd see us at the house.  The weather was just beautiful, sunny and hot and we were hoping it would stay that way for the seven days we were there.

We arrived at the house and unpacked the food we'd taken before popping down to the pub for a welcome drink.   The children were happy playing on the climbing frame at the pub for a short time before we took them down to the harbour to look at the boats and let them have a run around on the beach

before getting fish and chips to take back to the house for tea, which we ate sitting around the huge table on the decking in the evening sunshine.

Saturday was gloriously hot and sunny, so we took the buckets and spades, other beach games and a picnic down to the beautiful beach, where we all had a wonderful time.

After a great day on the beach we went back to the house to shower off the sand and had a lovely meal, eaten alfresco again, then popped down to the pub for a drink before bedtime whilst the children played together on the climbing frame there.

Here's Ali and Gracie having a cuddle before bedtime. 

On Sunday we drove the fifteen miles from Abersoch to Criccieth, taking a packed lunch with us which we ate overlooking the beach, and climbed the hill to the 13th century castle.     

Dan's partner, Fi, had been unable to come with us as she had to work and take care of their three dogs, and unfortunately Ali had to go home on Sunday evening because she had to go back to work on Monday too, Nick drove her home and returned to Abersoch later that evening.  

Monday dawned sunny again, so we took the children to Abersoch's main beach to explore and enjoy an icecream.

On Tuesday we drove to Caernarfon, which is 24 miles from Abersoch, to visit the magnificent Caernarfon Castle, which was built by Edward I in 1283 and is still in excellent repair.  Caernarfon Castle is where the investiture of the Prince of Wales took place in 1969.    Most of the turrets are still accessible and proved to be a great source of excitement for the children.

On Wednesday the children collected shells on the beach to make collages and explored the rock pools with their fishing nets.    Here's a few photographs showing their handiwork with the shells.

On Thursday we drove over to Pwllheli, which is the capital of the Llyn Peninsula and just seven miles from Abersoch, so that the children could get souvenirs for themselves and gifts for their mothers.       Later in the afternoon they went for one last scout on the beach before coming back for a bath.   Most evenings we spent playing snap and various games in the lounge with the children before they went to bed tired out and happy.

All too soon it was Friday morning and time for us to leave lovely Abersoch for the drive home.  The weather was very kind to us. Some mornings were overcast but by the time we were all ready to go out the clouds had cleared and the sun was out, though sometimes there was a chilly wind it didn't deter us or the children from enjoying our time in Abersoch.

Each morning, whilst the children were having breakfast and getting dressed,  MWM walked down to the little shop to get the daily paper and sit a while on the harbour,

looking out to sea, enjoying the peace and tranquility.

Each day a little Robin hopped around us looking for a few crumbs, so on the last morning we took him some and he almost ate them out of my hand.

MWM and I hope that all the grandchildren will remember their week in Abersoch and maybe in years to come take their children there.  Apart from the names of the shops Abersoch hasn't changed at all in 30 years and I hope it will be just the same if they eventually all go back.   Ah, sweet memories.

If you want to read our Dan's account of the holiday go to his blog