Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Vacation Part One

"It's all gone quiet over there" - no doubt that's what you've been chanting from the terraces (those of the you in Britain, that is) as everyone knows you are no more than a bunch of soccer hooligans and minor royalty. And royalty. Yes, I have been a bit quiet, it's true, but mostly because I've been having fun. Apart from three weekends ago, when I was tidying the house in anticipation of forthcoming fun and Jason and Jane's extremely welcome visit to our shores. Since the week that followed marked my only full week's holiday for the year, I intend to draw out the explication for at least two entries. But here's the summary: we had a fantastic time!

Jason and Jane arrived very late on Friday night following a delayed flight from Chicago. I think that made it about eight in the morning their time. The next day we got them up for a spot of breakfast at "No Fish! Go Fish!" - our favourite local restaurant.

Actually, this is an opportunity for a minor diversion. That same weekend we were tidying the house I was actually celebrating being thirty-three-and-a-third. I had decided that I would dress up smart because I have a lovely suit that never gets to see the light of day. We headed up the street to the Sapphire Hotel for dinner. Everywhere was deserted because it was the start of the Portland Rose Festival and most of the city was downtown. No-one has ever worn a suit on Hawthorn Boulevard before (except for a natty retro model of course - they seem quite trendy), so I must have looked like I was going to a fancy-dress party. For "dessert" I ordered the Port and Cheese sampler which I think is supposed to be shared by several people. About 6oz of blue cheese and three large glasses of Port later Rachel directed me back down the street, stopping at the aforementioned "No Fish! Go Fish!" for drinks on the way passed. A stroke of fortune: the charming manger Brooke was rejigging the house cocktail list for Summer and seemed happy to leverage my practiced alcohoism to perfect her recipes. After much trial and error I recall coming up with something involving Gin, Rum, lime-juice, plain syrup and champagne; given the British (gin and lime [I'm a limey, remember]), naval (rum and lime) and aristocratic (champagne) ingredients, I suggested the name "Captain Horatio Hornblower" which is a bit suggestive in the way of all the best cocktail names as well as being the part played by Stewart Granger as a British Naval Captain of yesteryear in those films of the fifties. We have not yet returned to see if it actually made the menu however...

Anyway, they serve a handsome and piquant eggs benedict. Following brekkie we drove down to Rachel's parent's house for Leon's patent speedboat tour of the lake. It rained pretty hard and we had to shelter in a coffee shop in town before embarking on the return voyage. Then we did a little shopping downtown, played a little pool, sampled some local beer and went over to Julie and Ben's to celebrate Ben's graduation from Portland State University.

Jason and Jane prepare to embark on a high-speed and rather damp tour of Lake Oswego.

Look how they smile, despite the jet-lag and inclement weather. I suppose it must be love, the poor naive young fools.

A spot of pool at Ringler's, the downtown McMenamans pub underneath the Crystal Ballrooms. Just like home, except the beer is too cold and fizzy, according to Jason.

On Sunday we loaded up the ginger mazda and departed on our road-trip. Day one involved a long and mostly dull drive down Interstate 5 to Ashland, which is a charming little town nestled in the uplands of Southern Oregon and slightly famous for its ongoing Shakespeare festival. No photos here for some reason. Jane and I saw Richard III in the evening which was well done but clearly not one of his better plays. I could have done with a family tree. The drive and the lateness of the hour and hastily guzzled vino (absurdly short interval) made it a bit of an endurance test through no fault of the cast. I was quite happy to see the princes despatched. There was a whinging crone who overdid it a bit, she seemed to be related to just about everyone but sadly was one of the few people not to die. Anyhow Richard killed just about everyone else and then got his just desserts. I hope I haven't spoiled it for you.

I photographed this a bit late in the proceedings. American diners produce the best breakfasts in the world, taking all the best cholesterol enhancing efforts of the british and adding fat, fluffy pankcakes, french toast (that's eggy fried bread to you), oodles of syrup and an endless supply of super-caffinated coffee.

So it's breakfast at Rock-n-Rogers in Salem, Oregon (our state capital no less). And it's one of the best. Look how our guests continue to smile!

And here's Rachel and me, outside. That's all she wrote for this week, I'm afraid, as I need to catch up with my beauty sleep. Next up: California, here we come! But will Jason and Jane still be smiling? Tune in next week to find out!


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