Thursday, June 08, 2006


I left West Sussex yesterday, on a scorching cloudless morning and landed in Ottawa drizzle, with temperatures on the monitor dropping from 19 to 14 in the time it took to taxi toward the terminal. This trip has been a see-saw ride from hot to cold and back again. I am staying in a b&b in the heart of Ottawa, and from the conveniently supplied pc in the lobby I can gaze between the high-rises up at the leaden skies and count the intermittent umbrellas before making my move up the road toward the National Library.

I dined Wednesday night in the Swan Inn in Fittleworth, described a bit snootily on a Real Ale website as an "Impressive 14th-century coaching inn with pretensions as a quality hotel." Well be that way then. I thought it was charming in appearance, whatever its pretensions, with oil paintings set in panels all the way around the dining room, each with a tiny name plaque underneath. Given the number of similar views it on display looked like a long ago group of local painters might have contributed works. The art, sadly, was better than the service, and the roast Sea Bass better than the sea trout fillets, and the creme brulee far superior to the bread and butter pudding, but I had a wonderful meal with my beloved aunt and cousin and a charming gentleman to round out the numbers.

Said gentleman had just turned 88 and was a long retired Desert Rat with many travels to many places since those days. He and my aunt and cousin were all on the same cruise a year ago, steaming toward St Petersburg on a Swan Hellenic discovery tour of the Baltic, but they said the operators are sadly headed for merger with P&O later this year. Their charm apparently is the small size of the ships and the excellence of the lecturers. Gentleman mentioned the Hebridean Princess as a good alternative, but my aunt said they are spectacularly expensive. Very plush too from the looks of it. One day my cruise will come...

The day before, dear cousin and I had driven down from London after a hearty lunch at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Chiswick, where you can get a mountainous Aberdeen-Angus beef burger (with tomatoes, red onion, tomato relish and garlic mayo) guaranteed to give you a good mandibular work-out and leave you well fed and covered in burger goo. I am surprised they haven't thought to hand out hot towels...

I flew across the ocean yesterday afternoon on Zoom, another budget airline with Canadian roots. It was quite pleasant and the crew were helpful and kindly. We managed three movies in a six and a half hour flight: some nail biting Harrison Ford film, followed by the Steve Martin Pink Panther, followed by the new King Kong, whose vertiginous finale was a bit of a questionable idea coming as it did just before we began our descent into Ottawa airport. Such was the scale of amusement on offer that disappointingly my seatmate did not manage to get to her Hello magazine with its full and exclusive coverage of Angelina and Brad's new arrival, so I landed unenlightened on that score, but it was still a pretty reasonable flight back to Canada.

Poetry doings this morning and more news from the front to follow, and so to all a good day.


Blogger berlynn said...

It's like I've been there with you on your journeys, Rhona! Thanks for that. And have a great time at the AGM!

7:44 a.m.  
Blogger hg said...

It's all sounding wonderful, despite glitchy bits. No doubt you'll do a wonderful job representing BC at the AGM. Enjoy!

7:10 p.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

Ah we missed ya both, but the west was pretty well represented nonetheless.

7:25 p.m.  

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