Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene the hurricane

Just some photos of the aftermath of Irene. Fortunately we experienced no damage at either our house or the house in South Dennis. We drove up to SD today and there seemed to be more wind damage in Maryland though SD was much closer to the eye of the hurricane.

I put a tin can about 8:30pm to see how much rain we would get. I estimate we had about an inch of rain already. We finished up with four inches in the can.

The next morning the rain had stopped but it was still quite windy. There were quite a few branches down and one large tree off to the left had fallen over. Leaves everywhere of course.

Leaves covered the roof of course.

A couple of boats had dragged their moorings. Although the hurricane comes up from the south, the wind circulates anticlockwise and comes from the north until after the hurricane has passed and the wind then comes from the south west. It didn't calm down till about 2pm. Basically it was a 24 hour event.

By now it was just a lovely afternoon. We didn't go out until the wind had stopped. It's just too dangerous with falling branches.

No damage to any of the little boats stored on the racks.

The trailing edge of the hurricane clouds.

We lost power at 10:30 pm when the hurricane was building in intensity. Just north of the state park the wind blew down trees and ruined about two hundred yards of power lines. Power was eventually restored about 47 hours later. 

It seems like all of our neighbours now have portable generators and they make a constant din. We are of the old school and have our water jugs prepared and plenty of candles. Our gas stove keeps working. Power cuts were much more common when we first moved to the community 27 years ago than what occurs now.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

North East, MD

It struck me that though I have done well over 100 blogs for various parts of the world, I have not done a blog for the town of North East.

The bridge over the North East River heading south on Rte 272 into the town.

The river itself. It looks peaceful enough but after heavy rain, the river floods and sometimes the main street floods as well. Occasionally when there has been enough rain in a short time, the bridge has almost submerged. The northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay is just a few hundred yards away.

Alsace is the not the only place you can find geraniums in flower boxes.

Our bank on the corner of Route 272 and Route 7. Back in colonial times, everybody would have passed this way on their way from Baltimore to Philadelphia. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, they all passed this way.

One Saturday about twenty years ago as we were driving home, there seemed to be a bigger backup of cars than usual and I wondered what the cause was. When we arrived at the corner we could see three representatives of the local branch of the KKK in their costumes, green, white and purple, the long pointed hats and all. They were just finishing their demonstration. Prior to WWII the county population was like most of the other counties in the area. However Cecil County became the site of several munition factories and a large number of people were imported from the Tennessee area to work in the factories. They tended to settle in the north west part of the county near the town of Rising Sun and they also brought the KKK with them. Increasing prosperity has see the demise of the KKK but I presume traces remain.

On the other corner is Pier 1, a popular diner particularly for breakfast.

The main street.

Barber shop and a cafe.

The town has a bunch of antique stores as well as the usual nick-knack shops.

The very popular Woodies Crab House. It's one of those places where the tables are covered with brown paper and you throw the shells of the complimentary peanuts on the floor. This place is very popular and not particularly inexpensive any more. The crabs are served hot with a coating of Old Bay seasoning. There is a video on the website where Pete Wood shows you how to eat a crab. It can get a bit messy so don't wear your Sunday best.

Drink beer with crabs, not wine.

A few miles south on Route 272 is Captain's Crabs where you can get all you can eat small crabs for $15.99 and beer is $2 a bottle. You sit outside at tables with sand at your feet and it's quite an experience.

Several years ago there was a competition to dress up several elk statues that were auctioned off for a good cause and scattered around the county. One of the entries dressed the elk as a lady of the night and it caused an absolute furor. Most people thought the costume was hilarious but the wowsers in the county were appalled. The elk was named Gertie and was even kidnapped at one stage

This elk disguised as a cow outside Woodies did not cause any uproar.

Beans, Leaves etc where you can get spices and a good cup of tea or coffee.

When we first arrived back in 1984, North East was very quiet and not very fashionable. This building changed everything. Behind the central doors is an arcade and several arty stores moved in. This became popular with the little old lady tourists and soon a bunch of other shops moved in.

The arcade. There is a reasonable turnover in shops as once the shop becomes established, I am told the owner raises the rent and the shop owner leaves.

Steak on Main, the best restaurant on the street. They also have a bar where I occasionally have a drink with a friend.

Finally, across from the Post Office,  the major land mark of North East, St Mary Anne's Church from 1706. Be sure to take a walk through the graveyard and peer in the church windows if you can't get inside. It really is a beautiful little church.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

French Food

Perhaps the best part of the whole trip was living for three weeks with access to French food. 

We mostly went to a Lidls (similar to an Aldi) or this Match supermarket.  All the supermarkets use these carts that require you to put a one euro coin in the slot to take your trolley. You get it back when you return the trolley. It helps to leave a one euro coin in your car so you always have one available. Our exchange family had a plastic coin which worked fine. It's a good system because everybody brings their shopping cart back and they aren't rolling about the parking lot banging into cars.

Opening hours.

We also went to the huge Intermarche in the northern part of Selestat. I was intrigued by the little electronic gizmos that displayed the prices. You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

How they spray their vegies.

There's something really luxurious about a chocolate croissant fresh from the bakery for breakfast. The orange juice came from Spain and was quite inexpensive.

Snails for dinner. They came in a pack of 12 already stuffed with garlic butter for under 2 euros. I shoved them in the oven for a few minutes and they were ready to eat and quite delicious.

The sauerkraut we bought at the market.

Camembert and red wine. What a combo.

Some lout had his feet on the chair. No doubt he was stuffing himself with more bread and Camembert as he sloshed down the plonk. We mostly ate indoors, but occasionally out on the terrace when the weather was nice.

A shopping receipt from Lidls. Click on the picture to enlarge it. One euro is about US $1.40. We thought food and wine was very inexpensive.

This Camembert was quite good when you let it sit out for a while to soften.

A hard sausage coated with pepper that we got at the market. It cost about 3 euros.

Most mornings I would walk up to the local bakery to get bread but occasionally we got it at a supermarket. It was still good. The French don't know how to make bad baguettes. Interestingly on Sunday mornings, the bakery only seems to have male customers. The wives are probably still in bed.

We drank this beer for lunch. Each bottle held a quarter litre (250 cl) and it was very tasty.

The muesli I ate for breakfast. Not quite as good as the stuff I get in Australia, but not bad.

Marianne out in the backyard in front of the terrace.

The exchange family had a cat called Capsul who took one look at us when we arrived and promptly fled. Marianne did leave food out for it and towards the end of our time there, it became more visible, but it wouldn't go back in the house.

Dinner on the terrace.

A tarte flambee which is a specialty of Alsace. We went to a restaurant in Kintzheim for lunch to try one and most of the other customers were having them as well. It's similar to a pizza but different. The crust is very thin and instead of using mozzarella cheese, they use creme fraiche. We ordered one with smoked salmon and it was absolutely delicious. As you can see, it came on a round piece of plywood. Luckily we arrived early and had a great table by a window where we could look out at the street. The restaurant then filled up and some people were having huge meals where each person started off with a large tarte flambee as a starter and then moved on to the rest of the meal!

I will be trying to make one now that we are home and I have found this video that explains how to make creme fraiche. 

Finally, it seems most of the toilet rolls in France are flushable. It seemed like this blog on food was the most appropriate blog for this photo.