Birthday Depression 

I was 28 on Thursday, I’ve found throughout adulthood that my birthdays are fairly mediocre affairs that I don’t really look forward to anymore. I remember one year on my mum’s birthday she spent a lot of the day in bed and now that I’m climbing up to the big 3-0 I totally get it; birthday depression. Not only is the day a bit of a let down usually but you are officially one year closer to death. It’s also your annual chance to think about all the things you haven’t yet accomplished.

I think the main source of birthday depression is that through my childhood my parents made such an effort with birthdays and children are easily pleased so any day cannot possibly live up to a childhood birthday. My mum would fill our rooms with balloons and my dad would organise meticulously researched gifts. Also, I had brilliant birthday parties every year that my mum must have spent hours planning. Now the thought of a birthday party can seem a little bit more of a chore that involves lots of clearing up afterwards and as anyone who knows me is familiar with, tidying up is my least favourite activity. I think the second reason for birthday depression is that the older I get, the more English I become and the English love to complain, there’s few things I love more. Apart from cats. Cats are awesome.

So this year, especially as Kim isn’t on the same continent as me and all my family live ages away I decided to take the matter into my own hands to stave off moping and booked my self onto a venepuncture course, wild I know, and made dinner plans with some uni friends. On the plus side I feel slightly more accomplished now I can take blood (take note of the lovely fake rubber arms).

My uni friends and I went to Cosmos in Norwich where it’s a buffet sort of affair.

  

I think I pretty much ate my weight in food, which is saying something. I think the trick is to try a little of everything rather than pick one big meal.

Next time I think I’m just going to get all dessert and skip the main course because I’m an adult and I can do whatever the fuck I want to hasten diabetes.

  

After that we had a little walk around Norwich city because it was the Christmas light switch on.

I love Christmas as much as the next person but I can’t help but think mid November is a tad early for Christmas lights. Perhaps the city wants it’s moneys worth?

So that was nice and I got a lot of various vouchers and bits and bobs to stave off the birthday depression for another year! In other news we’re progressing a few more inches with the visa, I had to fill out a form that was very interested to know if I had committed genocide, wanted to work as a prostitute, was a communist, wanted to practice polygamy  or if I was a terrorist. I think if you answered yes to the last one then the follow up comment would surely be “but not a very good one”.

Last Day Road Tripping

This post is a little late because I’ve been working nights and then all the recent political drama that has ensued (and oh god has there been drama) but here it is… Our last day road tripping we spent in Kennebunkport which is a popular tourist town in Maine.

Luckily we’d remembered to bring our padlock out with us that day as we found just the spot.

We took a trolley tour which was really fun around Kennebunkport.

  

With our buddy Conrad.

The coastal views were pretty.

And we passed by the Bush compound, complete with secret service agents. I don’t really know why they bothered with the secret service agents because the whole area was so exposed I reckon a sniper could make a tidy job of it.

  

Then we had a little wander about the place.

A lot of the more traditional styled buildings were pretty, and we browsed some shops where almost everything was lobster themed.

  

They had a cat and dog themed souvenir shop which pleased me (simple things).

We had some lunch at Kennebunkport and then it was time for the drive home which wasn’t so long. Throughout our road trip we saw a lot of things that made me chuckle such as the ‘guns and coins’ shop, a tank on the back of a truck, number plates like dsnyfan, bread1, zodiac (possibly the serial killer???) but my favourite thing I saw on the road trip on the way back through Massachusetts was this fine couple below. Not only because of their car window, not only because she’s driving whilst on the phone but because (and it may be hard to make out) her boyfriend was huffing down some crack cocaine in the passenger seat. I mean where would the police even start? Memories.

  

Road Trip Day 6

On day 6 of our road trip we went to Acadia National Park in Maine.

 

We drove the loop road around the park (how lazy!) and there were a lot of pretty places to stop and get out.

We did book a whale seeing tour but the coastguard advised all of the boats to stop their trips for the season because of choppy waters.

We booked a nice hotel in Kennebunkport for our last stay on the road trip.

And it was all cutesy and modern.

But very comfy.

But too cold for the pool though, we watched a chipmunk eat his way through a rose hip with free drinks and muffins when we got there.

And Kim kicked my ass at candy land.

For dinner we went into the main part of Kennebunkport, which had no street lights so it was pitch black everywhere, to a Mexican place which had such good food.

 

Our meal was creepily presided over in its entirety by Jesus and his crow buddy.

When we got back I faffed about happily with the white noise machine in the hotel room but I don’t think Kim got much sleep, mainly because I kept changing my mind over which soothing sounds I wanted to sleep to.

 

Road Trip Day 5

On day 5 of our road trip we went to to the top of Mount Washington, hiked all the way up… Haha we drove, they had minibus tours up the most windy small rickety road that looked like it should be on ice road truckers minus the ice.

You could also take a cog train up but as we had a train ride on the agenda we just went for minibus and we had our own tour guide/driver so that was very nice. We shared the ride with a Canadian couple and their baby. They took a photograph every minute and asked what every height mentioned was in meters. They proudly declared, whilst taking a photo of a tree through the bus window that this was the reason they bought a zoom lens. Brilliant.

Mount Washington has been a tourist attraction for a very long time and they still had the old bunkhouse at the top.

And it hasn’t been changed very much only you can’t stay there anymore.

Possibly because no one is short enough except 5ft Kim to fit in the bunk beds.

I feel sorry for whoever had to lug this up the mountain.

The view out was really clear.

It was really cold and windy, you’ll notice the old gift shop is literally chained to the ground because of how strong the wind can get.

There was a visitor centre with a macabre but interesting list of known deaths on the mountain and at the bottom they had a museum with old carriages that used to take people up the mountain run by a very sweet old man who wanted to know why Kim and I weren’t in school.

I don’t think I’d fancy sitting at the top of this round some of those bends!

Afterwards we drove through Jackson who had a pumpkin festival on.

And there were more covered bridges.

After that we drove to the Conway Scenic Railroad.

Where you get a round trip on a nice old train, the carriages were open so I imagine it’d get chilly on a cold day but it was fairly warm out.

There were some nice views to be seen.

And parts of the train were old fashioned.

Then came the long drive to Maine, to be continued!

Road Trip Day 4

We started day 4 by visiting some of Kim’s family and having breakfast which was fun and then we went to the aerial tramway at Franconia Notch State Park.

 

There are two aerial trams, one is red and one’s yellow (called mustard and ketchup apparently) and they take you up to the top of Cannon Mountain.

The view going up was great and we saw lots more wild turkeys.

We were lucky it was so clear out we could see loads from the top viewing platform. Then we went for a walk around the Flume Gorge.

The Flume Gorge was discovered in  1808 by an old lady and was a popular trip for tourists, more recently they put in walkways and it’s so pretty. Even if there was a lot of uphill walking!

So much uphill… I’ve withheld the photos of the hundreds of stairs we climbed in favour of the prettier ones.

We saw a lot of chipmunks on the walk and they were all very tame and came very close to us, we named each one after the chipmunk that lives in Kim’s parents’ garden (Chippy).

So it was a very nature filled day. The American roadside was very helpful to us by pointing out how nice the countryside looked with large blue signs saying ‘SCENIC VIEW’ everywhere, and what could be more scenic than that?

Road Trip Day 3

 I was particularly looking forward to day 3 of our road trip as we dropped into the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Vermont and went on the little tour.

They said you couldn’t take any photos of the factory, I immediately took this to be a challenge and took some covert snaps just to prove I could… I mean I photographed the crown jewels under armed guard, you think I’m not up to the challenge? Also we discovered that some of the flavours Kim can buy in the USA I can’t get here and some that we can buy in the UK she can’t.

Towards the end of the tour we went to the tasting lab where they make up random flavours of ice cream that don’t get sold.

We tried caramel apple which was so tasty I really think it’s a shame they won’t release it, it tasted really fresh.

I have a large squashed penny collection so I was pleased to add another to the bunch, I got quite a few squashed pennies this trip.

  

And then I got an ice cream milkshake which I had whilst browsing the ice cream graveyard of all the flavours that have been discontinued over the years.

Ice cream for breakfast is a win in my books.

  

Then on we drove, we stopped to be touristy and take photos of this old covered bridge.

We saw a lot of these about in Vermont and we drove through one in New Hampshire which was a novelty for me, I think Kim was less impressed.

  

It looked pretty nice out and there was lots of leaf peeping along the way.

Then we took a look around the Cabot Creamery, which for the English folk of you reading this is a big cheese brand in the USA.

  

We got these stylish shoe covers for our tour.

Again there was no photograph allowed so I had to rise to the challenge. Why do I want to take a photo of the inner workings of a cheese factory you ask? Because I can.

  

Then we went in for the free samples because… free. I have always been highly dubious of American cheese or “plastic cheese” as I call it because of its suspicious colour, apparently they dye it yellow because Americans buy it more if its yellow. Also because Americans invented sprayable cheese… this is just wrong on so many levels and as a devoted cheese lover it offends me. Although I find English and French cheese superior in every way… it was still passable. I ate 4 samples to confirm my findings.

It was still rather nice out.

We stopped for lunch. I feel that now is the time to educated those of you who are English about iced tea. Iced tea in America is not like our delicious tasty bottled iced tea you buy in the shop with lunch like Liptons or the stuff you get while you’re on holiday in Spain. No no, that is what they call sweetened ice tea in America, mostly they served unsweetened iced tea. This is basically a cold cup of tea sans milk, it is bitter and disgusting, even when they flavour it so it sounds like it’d be nice. Oh, hibiscus and raspberry iced tea you think, that’ll be lovely… but it’s the devil. And they say oh you can add your own sugar to sweeten it, you know what doesn’t dissolve well in icy water? Sugar. Do not be fooled my friends and only order sweetened iced tea, you have been warned.

After lunch with my SWEETENED iced tea we drove to our hotel and we were a bit early to check in although whilst we were drive we noticed we were going right past part of the Appalachian Trail which you might recognise as the subject of Bill Bryson’s book a walk in the woods so we took a little investigate.

  

I pictured the trail as being a regular sort of path, well marked, maybe a few ups and downs… it’s not like that, it was rocky as hell and there were some pretty steep parts and we only walked it for half an hour! It was fine for a quick walk but I don’t think I could spend months and months walking like that. After leaving my mark in nature we set off.

It was still fairly nice out.

  

We’d booked in at an Econolodge which from the name I was expecting to be a bit like Travelodge is in the UK but I was so surprised at how nice it turned out to be, they even gave us free cakes to welcome us which is a sure fire way to get 5 stars on TripAdvisor in my estimations.

We had dinner in a nice restaurant called the Common Man and they had smores on the menu which we shared, I was pleased because I’ve never had official smores as they don’t sell Graham Crackers here. It was pretty much an entire day devoted to food.

Road Trip Day 2

Have you seen my new socks? They’re cool aren’t they…

Anyway I digress, we kicked off the second day of our road trip with a little wild turkey spotting. There were a lot of wild turkeys in New England and they always traveled in little packs which I thought was sweet.

We took a trip to a maple sugar farm, we started off with a maple latte, thanks a latte (had to).

And fed the goats, I don’t really know why the maple sugar farm had goats but whatevs.

It was nice out so we had a mill about and observed (laughed at) a large bus load of Texan tourists that said “Verrr-mont” instead of Vermont and wore cowboy hats. I enjoyed that.

We learned how maple syrup was made, I was surprised how easy it is actually, from a video that was made in the 80s shown in a barn. I assume it was the 80s because everyone had glasses like Deirdre Barlow and the old farmer was a tad racist. He seemed very concerned about Arabs and “them damn Yankees”… I was a bit confused as I thought people in New England were Yankees.

After this we took a trip to Walmart, Asda’s American sister store (if you want a laugh Google ‘people of Walmart’). Somehow the car’s cigarette lighter stopped working and so our music and phone charging capabilities were down (the GPS had long been ditched since the snowmobile track incident).

We bought a charger pack to recharge Kim’s iPhone which we then had to return and exchange for another one because Walmart, much like Asda, is not a purveyor of the highest quality of goods. We did get a tasty pumpkin pie though.

We then went to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, again cider as in Apple juice, not alcoholic cider which they call hard cider.

We got a little free sample of cider (we like free stuff, ok?).

And went to see the cider press.

Then we toured the extremely large gift shop (actually everywhere we went had gift shops) and got a cider smoked hot dog each, because who says you can’t have hot dogs for lunch twice in a row? Isn’t that what being an adult is all about?

Then we finished off with hot cider and a cider doughnut which was advertised at the packed counter by people continually shouting “I have doughnuts!” in the tone of someone shouting that they had a gun and weren’t afraid to use it.

After this we took a drive to Burlington, a very pretty place, and took a little stroll down by the sea where they had swing seats which I enjoyed immensely.

Also it was my favourite weather of all time (grey) so it wasn’t too hot or too cold but just right.

They had a free tourist shuttle bus that took us to a long market type street, I hope it was free anyway because we didn’t pay!

Then we had dinner, walked back to our car and headed back to the hotel for the night. Very pleasant all in all.