We kicked off last weekend on Friday night with a trip to Fiddler On The Roof, if you’re a regular reader you’ll know I have a small obsession with Fiddler On The Roof and watch it every Christmas but sadly it’s never on the stage because… well it’s old isn’t it? But I saw it advertised in the paper and thought meh… something to do.
Because it was at a high school I wasn’t expecting it to be very good, I’d never been inside an American school before and jeez let me tell you it was NOT like an English school, everything was shiny and modern, clean and well kept, there were flags everywhere… although perhaps they aren’t all like this because Kim was lamenting the fact that she didn’t go to this nice high school. Anyway the play was amazing, nothing like English high school plays, they had an orchestra, moving stage parts etc. So it was well worth a trip.
On Saturday we drove to Northampton in Massachusetts for a visit. Northampton has a reputation of lesbian capital of America and is a very liberal college town.
So once we’d parked up we stopped for a little breakfast and got our bearings.
There’s quite a few murals and art about the town and as far as we could see, one sort of main street where most of the shops were and it was busy with free Tibet demonstrations (I swear). Northampton also had a lot of beggars continually asking you for money.
So we browsed the shops for a bit.
There are lots of unusual shops in Northampton, we went in to a hippie fair trade type shop where an overly attentive earthy/crunchy looking shop assistant harassed our every move trying to tell us which under privileged part of the world everything came from and why it was so expensive (e.g. woven from blind nun’s hair in Uganda, notice the fine detailing) until we carefully backed out of the store. “I think she was gay” said Kim confidently to me… well no shit we’re in Northampton.
Then we went into an indoor market place with a mishmash of different shops, I had to be torn away from this tasteful nightlight.
But I did rediscover bath beads, what ever happened to these? I remember them being popular when I was a kid, you put them in a hot bath then they go all melty and release bath oils into the water, you just never see them anymore. Kim didn’t even know what they were! Savage. I insisted on buying a ton of them.
Then we went into a two floor shop full of knick knacks and odd things. It reminded me a bit of a shop in Devizes called the Emporium, most Saturdays my childhood best friend Rachel and I would walk into town with our pocket money (one whole pound, thanks Mum) and browse the Emporium for new weird stuff like inflatable chairs, notebooks with furry covers, incense sticks and other fad 90s products.
I enjoyed having a good snoop around.
Briefly entertained the thought of buying this and getting it out when people ask if I’m from England… no I just got this magic spray.
We went to a hot tub rental place, you show up and the whole place looks like a Japanese onsen, and you can rent private hot tubs but they’re pretty high tech, the whole thing empties and filters every 12 minutes, there’s towels, drinks, you can pick your own music to be played in your little room (“Ohh Elton John!” said Kim… um… or not). It was so busy in there and we hadn’t booked, “we can fit you in for half an hour” they said and we thought hmm… bit short but OK. Turns out, half an hour is a perfectly adequate time to be in a hot tub, I think if we had gone for an hour my body would have cooked, Jesus it was hot in there. In the end we chose relaxing spa music.
After hot tubbing we walked down the street to a hippie tea shop where you had to ring a little bell when you were ready to order. Also I discovered why we have chairs after sitting at a small floor table with miniature cushions on the floor… what is one to do with their legs? It was busy so there wasn’t really a good place to put them… the whole thing had an air of being designed by someone who had never met a human before. As soon as a couple left their table and chairs to go pay I swooped down on it like a vulture declaring to Kim “I insist upon chairs!” They had hundreds of green teas and Chinese Turkish-y type teas but only one kind of Earl Grey… haters.
For dinner we had some Mexican food which was pretty nice, there’s a distinct lack of Mexican food in the UK so I usually get to try something new when we have it.
Then we discovered the mother of all toy shops, my god it was brilliant, when we came out I realised we had spent an hour in there playing with things. One part of the store was busy with a yo-yo tricks class given by the staff to about 20 kids and parents. There was loads of great toys I remembered and a ton of new ones I hadn’t seen before.
After play time we went to a semi-famous bar, The Tunnel Bar which is in – you guessed it – a tunnel that used to be part of the train station.
It was a martini bar and had a lot of cocktails which were excellent however… because it was a tiled tunnel it was so so noisy, you could hear everything echoed a hundred times!
On Sunday we went for a walk on a trail by Smith College (which looks pleasant but deathly expensive).
And then we visited the arboretum which happened to have a spring bulb show on.
It was beautiful, all the greenhouses had a certain smell that reminded me of my old Saturday job in a tropical garden centre by my old house. I loved that job, I got twenty pounds a day and walked from greenhouse to greenhouse watering all the plants followed by the owners old bulldog terrier called Stella who liked a little cool down with the hose when she was hot.
Because of the bulb show it was packed with people and we all inched around the walk ways stopping to read labels, sniff flowers and resist poking the cactuses… cacti? Cacti sounds right…
After that we went for brunch in a diner made out of old train carriages.
Then we drove home. Incidentally, this is my favourite spot to drive past in Connecticut, isn’t it good?
Then it was time for grocery shopping and then relax with a cup of tea for a spot of reputable reading.