Aug

26

Already the end of August. It’s been a pretty nasty year, weather-wise. First came winter, which was pretty darn frigid. Not too much snow but, particularly in the city, there was a lot of icy rain. (Although, it must be said, the winter was still not bad by Irish standards…)

Next, not surprisingly, came Spring. Although there was a surprise this year – Spring was pretty much non-existent. Summer was been pretty dreadful, with each day’s humidity seemingly worse than the previous day’s. With temperatures regularly in the high 90’s, it was pretty ugly.

So in part, the langour of the summer explains the lack of news postings here. Of course, it’s not that we haven’t been doing things. We have. So here is a brief summary…

Pig Roast – we hosted a party for the Winnakee Land Trust… That was fun, particularly since, as the hosts, we got a lot of the credit without actually having to do any of the work. We all had a good time. Uma, though, decided to pass. Maybe next year…

Boston Aquarium – Jenn and I took the kids to Boston. Well, actually Jenn did, for a week; I managed to join them for the weekend. We had a smashing time seeing the sharks and the crabs and all manner of creatures marine.

Wine dinners – Rob and I went to a Chateau Montalena vertical tasting. The food was superb. I think that’s the most charitable way of describing what I think of Chateau Montalena wine…

I also recently went to a Bordeaux 2002 tasting. It was a take-it-or-leave-it vintage; I’d generally leave it, although the first growths and the Margaux in general were pretty decent. It seems I was fortunate in my choice of what I had chosen to lay down for Eoghan. Whew.

Eduardo (TGAFKAD) came to visit Dutchess County last weekend from his usual haunt of Washington, D.C. We had dinner (somehow, “dinner party” sounds too pretentious for what was just a relaxed dinner with some wine. Incidentally, for those interested in wine, we tried the 2003 Clos des Papes. It was pretty interesting, although not to everyone’s liking. We’ll see if it ends up being 100pts…)

Dinner was fun; a fair amount of the conversation was given over to organising Rob’s congressional bid. We’re not quite sure how to position his stance on gays in the military, given that he wants to run on the ******* ticket… (since this is a family friendly website, lets just say think Eleanor Roosevelt or Hilary Clinton).

Work has been pretty busy. Unfortunately, it has impacted on our travel and vacation plans. I had to blow off a trip to Tuscany for a wedding, and also one to Ireland last week. It now looks like I’ll be taking vacation in November. Sigh. At least it will be cool :-)

Meanwhile, stay tuned for news of Orla’s trip to visit Trunket. You can also keep an eye on the kids activities by looking at Jenn’s website.

Aug

2

The Arrival

August 2, 2005 | Leave a Comment


The Arrival

Click here for pictures.

Thursday afternoon, a week or two ago, I called up Rob and invited him to join me on a road trip that I was planning to Charlottesville. He was up for it but Kevin, unfortunately, was unable to join us as his Dad was ill.

Why don’t you call Dan up and ask him if he wants to come along, I suggested.

A little while later Rob called back to say that Dan wanted us down in DC for Friday afternoon.

Why that early ?, I asked (not sure if I could get out of the office, given all the craziness that’s been going on recently – it had caused me to miss a trip to Italy that I had planned).

We’ve got tickets to see the President’s helicopter land, replied Rob.

Hmmm, I replied.Sounds interesting.

We met in Molly’s that night, for a beer. Just one. Of course, the “just one” is a problematic concept, especially in Molly’s, and especially on a night when Pete is working. As you can imagine, the conversation became less coherent as the night progressed. The high (or, more likely, low) point was our discussion of the relative attractiveness of different countries as a location to live. Somehow, my attempt at extolling the virtues of France – its food, wine, people and scenery – emerged as France is the Ireland of Europe. Still, I guess there’s a kernel of truth buried in there somewhere…

The one beer in Molly’s turned, via a detour to Swift, into quite a late night. I arrived home at 2AM and, upon waking at 6AM for the drive to DC, was not a happy camper. Rob was in slightly better form, turning up at the appointed time, but neither of us spoke too much as we loaded into the blue car and headed off through the Holland Tunnel for I-95. After an hour or so we stopped for breakfast, after which we felt marginally more human.

We made great time on the trip down, but then DC traffic lived up to its reputation, snarling us for an hour or so before we emerged into Old Town Alexandria. We found our hotel without difficulty and then, once Rob had attended to matters tonsorial, hailed a cab and headed over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

We had no idea what to expect, other than strict security checks. The guard at the gate asked us if we were there for The Arrival. Visions of the great unwashed gazing expectantly into the night sky in an episode of “The X-Files” flashed through my head for a moment, before I decided that, yes, “The Arrival” was probably a reasonable way to refer to the arrival of the chopper.

We were escorted in by an intern, past the press room and the Rose Garden, to the South Lawn. The temperature was 98F, so we sweltered there for about 15 minutes before the various decoy choppers swooped down, and then Marine One, the Presidential chopper, landed. Unfortunately the President headed straight for the Oval Office without doing the meet and greet, so we didn’t delay but headed back out for a much needed beer. That was “The Arrival” !

We met up with Dan and the infamous Jack a little while later. Jack is a true man about town or, more accurately, the world. But he is not, according to his girlfriend, the most responsible of men. Indeed, she rued his irresponsible ways so much that she considered getting him a dog, in hopes of bringing him back home on a regular basis. But, she informed him, he is so careless that it would be cruel and unusual punishment for a dog to be saddled with such an owner. Perhaps a cat might be better, since they at least are more self-sufficient. Jack admitted to her that he idea of a cute little kitten had a certain appeal… he then, however, proceeed to point out the appeal to his assembled friends :

Cats are like hookers. They don’t need much attention, and let themselves out in the morning !

We haven’t yet determined if she ever got Jack the cat…

Despite the advance billing, our night in DC was actually fairly tame, in part because we were knackered from the previous night. Dan dropped us off at the hotel and we arranged to meet the next morning for breakfast.

On Saturday morning Dan made a mistake that his knees will regret for months to come – he agreed to travel with us in my car. Advertised to be a four-seater, the small print in the commercials neglected to point out that the two rear seats are best suited for little children. Or pygmies. Or, better yet, pygmy children. Rob took the first two hour segment, the trip to C-Ville, in the back, while Dan sat squashed up against the dash. For the rest of the day the pair of unfortunates alternated between front and back.

I, at least, was comfortable and enjoyed the trip to C-Ville. It is a charming town, home to the Jeffersonian University Of Virginia. (And not much else). UVA was the alma mater of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert F. Kennedy, and Woodrow Wilson, among others. The UVA campus is pleasant, and the downtown section of town has a pleasant pedestrian walkway, like Grafton Street or Temple Bar in Dublin on a not-so-busy afternoon.

After lunch, we checked out possible areas where Jenn and I could retire to – particularly if we won the Lotto – before the two boys steeled themseves for the drive back to DC. Another two hours saw us back in Alexandria for dinner, before Rob and I set off again for NY. 3 and a half hours later saw us reach home again, at about 2:30AM. Time to hit the hay and recover after our whirlwind trip.

Dan has invited us all back to C-Ville, on one condition, that he’s allowed drive his own car.

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