e the blog o' moosh

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Royals. They are the worst cigarettes ever.

Day 7

More cake for breakfast - could get used to this. Then off to the zoo, with another very useful map to guide us there. Was very hot and sunny - over 30 degrees celsius. I should really have learned from before and worn a hat/sunscreen, but no, I got burnt again.

Lots to see at the zoo altho the giraffes weren't in, much to my disappointment. We did see a very cute baby gorilla tho, and some very sad looking penguins. The polar bear doing the back stroke was also quite a sight.

In the afternoon we went to Kenwood Towne, another shopping place. There is a fascination in this area with adding a superfluous e to the end of words, towne, shoppe, etc. I don't get it. Kenwood has some fancy shops, but also the only Sephora in the area, so we had made a special trip to stock up on make up. I had a long and varied list, but limited time so couldn't get everyone's goodies (sorry!), but did manage to get the bare essentials of my Bare Escentuals (arf arf). Lee bought lots of clothes from the PacSun there - they had a sale on their already discounted items, meaning some things were 70% off the sale prices and ended up costing £1.75 for a shirt which might usually cost about £40 - £50 at home. He was very pleased, needless to say.

In the evening, we cooked out again - steak, mushrooms, cous cous and the ubiquitous frozen margarita. We caught up with Anne, Jim and Mack and had another lovely evening outside. Could definitely get used to this!

Day 8

Up early again - there seems to be a pattern emerging. Off to Newport on the Levee today, which is a kind of entertainment centre - cinema, aquarium, some shops, cafes, etc. It's set on the river, and as it was a nice day, was a good morning for a stroll around. We walked halfway across the Purple People Bridge - only halfway as Lee got too scared by the height to go any futher ;) (ok, I was also glad!).

Back across the bridge in the car this time to drive down town to meet Jim for our appointment with the immigration lawyer. She had some good advice for us, about our goal of living in the US one day and it might not be as absolutely impossible as we once thought. Lots to think about!

After our meeting, we had a browse around Cappells, the shop that is our craft/stationery wet dream. I made quite a few purchases for Miso Funky but had to restrain myself from buying EVERYTHING! If you are ever in Cincinnati and planning a party, it's THE place to go, fo sho. After my splurge, we went across the street to a bar for some lunch - an enormous soft pretzel with steak and cheese (of course) - it was quite the best thing I'd tasted at that moment in time. Our plan after that was to go to the Titanic exhibit a the museum centre, but after a bit of a mishap with mistaken road names and ending up practically in Canada, we gave it a miss and headed home.

Once back, we got changed and managed to catch some football on TV, I can't remember what it was, but Liverpool won. Anne and Jim came home and declared it was wings and beer night - sounds good to me! We went to the local wings place which had the biggest selection of chicken wing sauces I've ever seen (and I've seen more than you might think). We had a great evening and discussed how sad it was that time was running out and there was still so much to do!

Day 9

Yes .. you've guessed it .. another early rise, but this time there was good cause, as we had a long journey ahead of us. First stop, IHOP for pancakes for breakfast - definitely recommended! Then off to Cleveland! It is about a 4 hour drive from Cincinnati to Cleveland, so armed with a map, an atlas and instructions on where the clean toilets were, we set off.

We had a sneaky stop at the outlet mall on the way there to collect snacks and fueloleum and then got all the way to Cleveland without so much as a single wrong turn. Anne had very kindly booked us into the Hilton Suites, which was posh, but a bit faded round the edges.

Our living room was roughly the size of Denmark and contained a sofa and a huge TV at one end of the barn-like hall and a table at the other - you could literally have parked a couple of cars in there comfortably. The bedroom tho, had an enormous bed in it with a kajillion pillows and was so comfortable, I could have stayed there forever. No time to waste, so we dumped our stuff and headed back downstairs, only to be greeted by a nice workman in the lifts who directed us to the free minibus to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Now that's service.

A nice man drove us down to the RRHOF which is situated by the side of Lake Erie. Which means it was colder than a witches teat, as Groundskeeper Willie says. So we quickly got inside, unfortunately just behind a very annoying group of Canadian schoolkids. Thankfully we managed to lose them right after Tom Petty.

We had a great time wandering round, looking at all the stage outfits, instruments and other paraphanalia, including John Lennon's school report cards amongst other things. We also saw a few films and some special exhibits, including one very boring one about The Clash, who I hate, which was up a very scary staircase. There was also an enormous Pink Floyd wall thing, which had security not been so tight, I may have been tempted to try to knock over as everyone knows I hate Pink Floyd more than I hate paedophiles and lollipop ladies.

Anyway! After all that, we had a stroll round town and discovered that Cleveland is, would you believe, duller than ditchwater (but not quite as dull as Hull, which is very dull indeed). It is a city of road works and abandoned buildings it seemed, altho maybe we were just in the wrong part of town.

We wandered around for a while and eventually happened on a small street with some bars and restaurants on (after we stumbled thru downtown Hobosville), where we found the House of Blues. There was a baseball game on that nite, which we had thought of going to, but as we know zero about baseball, we thought we'd save that for when A & J could come with us and tell us what the hell was going on. Dinner was fabulous - have the meatloaf! I did of course have a margarita which almost knocked my socks off and after dinner we wandered leisurely back in the direction of the hotel hoping to find some entertainment on the way - but there was none. We spent the rest of our evening eating ice cream cookies and watching a TV show about a scary prison in Ohio.

posted by Claire @ 5/19/2007 10:36:00 am | 0 comments | links

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The chances of you seeing a unicorn are fairly small.

Day 5

Up early to go to Findlay Market, an open air/farmers markety type place. We had a cheese pocket for breakfast - hard to describe this, sort of like a cheesecakey filling in a pastry case with sugar on top. Very nice, but cake for breakfast will have to stop pon our return to the UK.

Off to collect Liz and then down to the market, which is in an area called Over The Rhine, a reference to the big German population in Cincinnati. Every kind of meat cut you could ever imagine is available here - apparently one of Cincinnati's nicknames is Porkopolis. There was also a giant sausage stall - the stall was giant, rather than the sausages, which were bigger than ours, but not giant per se.

After a wander round and purchasing some sausages, we had a tour of the area, as Liz had been involved in planning a lot of it. Then we went to the Clifton area of town where Liz lives for lunch at Dewey's pizza. They have white sauce as well as tomato which was great, as was the roasted garlic ... mmmm! We had a wander round the shops and then stopped off at another Cincinnati institution, Graeters, an ice cream parlour. I had the raspberry black chip which was delicious! Yes, we did do a lot of eating there.

Back to the ranch for a brief sit down and to get changed for our date at the theatre. The show started at 5pm, so we got ready and headed to the Playhouse in the Park. The show was called Murderers and was 3 monologues set in a retirement complex in Florida - it was very funny, catch it if you get the chance! We met Anne's business partner Gred and his wife Dana there and then drove to the Mount Adams area of town to a restaurant called Teak, which serves Thai food. The food was lovely, but very spicy and it did take an age to arrive. Greg and Dana were, as expected, lovely. We had a drink afterwards at the Pavilion, which had a cool deck outside overlooking the city. This is where Anne and Jim used to come on dates, so it was a nice touch. We took a detour on the way home to see the city from an old water tower - we could see for miles, and the lights were very pretty. But we had to press on home as we had an early start in the morning for Kings Island ....

NB - the Thai meal was the first meal I ate since arriving that did not contain cheese.

Day 6

Another early start so we could get to the theme park early. Anne had again drawn us a very comprehensive map which got us there without a hitch. Arrived at Kings Island early and managed to avoid the hideous queues as we had bought our tickets in advance, and discounted too! Anne is really the queen of the bargain!

We took in all the sights and some of the rides, but not the very scary ones, much to Anne's disgust - she is a bit of a rollercoaster fiend! We did go on an old rickety wooden rollercoaster twice tho, that was a lot of fun - Lee's knuckles were white on that one :) Anne said when we got back that I must be adopted as I didn't go on the scariest of them, the Beast - it was about 9,000 feet tall, so we gave it a miss. We got very sunned on - Lee was very tanned, however, my face was lobster like, despite the factor 20 sunblock. Will I ever learn?

We got home and Anne had very kindly done all our laundry - she really looked after us! The plan for dinner was the giant sausages on the barbeque, so we sat outside by the fire (which wasn't on, owing to it being about 30 degrees celsius) and had another barbecue. The sausages were very nice, but my mother's side of the family hatred for sausages was in evidence, so we had leftovers for Mack - who was delighted.

posted by Claire @ 5/18/2007 01:20:00 pm | 0 comments | links

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ha ha ha! A pox upon you!

Day 3

Anne and Jim both at work today, so we are off exploring by ourselves. Up earlyish for breakfast. Anne had left me a birthday present to open which was an Old Navy giftcard. Hurrah! So we set off for Springdale, which has lots of shops including of course a branch of ON. Even Lee bought some jeans there!

We spent a few hours in Springdale then headed back. Lee managed well with driving, I think easier than California for me as navigator as the 275 is a big circular road, so if we ever did get lost, we could stay on it and get back eventually. We had a quick lunch at Wendy's which was staffed entirely by dullards of all nations. We came back via Withamsville which is nothing to write home about, except that it is about 10 miles in the direction opposite to where we were headed . . .

Back home to avoid the rush hour traffic and the rain - it started lashing down when we got back. Lee found some football on TV whilst I read for a bit and then played with Mack outside once it had stopped raining. He's so friendly and very well behaved. Anne and Jim got home around 6ish just in time to see the tornado warnings on TV! It was a bit scary as the weather reports looked like we were in it's direct path, but all we saw was some very heavy rain, thankfully. There is a scary siren that goes off on TV - we were upstairs and thought a war had begun. A & J were very blase about it, as it must happen often in the tornado season, I guess.

In the midst of all this, we had to leave to drive to Liz's for dinner. Liz is such a nice person, one of Anne's friends from college who is also a planner. Her house is lovely, old style Victorian type. Pasta for dinner and an amazing array of little cakes for desert - sadly I forgot to photograph them for Cake Tourism. Back home and we watched some TV and got our directions for tomorrow - we are off horse riding in Kentucky!

Day 4

Managed to sleep past day break for a nice change, got up to check the weather online and then had breakfast (a&j at work). Managed to seperate Mack and one of the cats, Gherkins long enough to have some toast - the cats are very grumpy as they are on a diet and the dog likes to wind them up. Headed up to Kroger, the supermarket to buy tickets for the theme park on Sunday. Had a quick browse of the aisles - it's just enormous and so much choice in everything!

Back to the ranch to pick up a change of shoes and then off to the farm! Maggie is Anne's friend's daughter who is about the same age as me and her and her boyfriend have a farm in Kentucky where they keep their own horses and board others. We met them at the Waffle House about a 30 minute drive from their farm for lunch, which could have been awkward seeing as we'd never met! But we hit it off very well and headed up to their farm after lunch.

The horses were all out in the field, so we brought them in and got them ready to go out, after a tour of the barn they are doing up. It will be a lot of hard work for them, but it will look great once they are done. We had a ride out around their land for about an hour or so and then back to tidy up and put the horses back out. A lot of fun, although I am sure it is going to hurt later!

We headed back to Cincinnati with a quick stop at Walgreen's - for some reason, both Lee and I had been sneezing and having allergy symptoms since we arrived on and off - for Lee it got worse in shops, so we had been dosing up on antihistamines. The planned cook out was off due to the weather which was cold and wet, so Anne was busy making a leg of lamb instead.

Maggie and Matt were joining us for dinner, with Maggie's parents - they were all delightful people, of course - we didn't meet a single person who we didn't take to instantly. Everyone was so interested in what we were doing there, what we did at home, etc. It was a refreshing change to speak to so many nice people with no worries about work, etc.

More important matters - desert - it was turtle cheesecake ... I had my doubts, but there was no shell involved, only caramel, chocolatey cheesecake. Delicious. I managed to wash all the dishes much to Anne's disgust AND dry most of them.

Another fun packed day tomorrow, off to bed!

posted by Claire @ 5/17/2007 01:35:00 pm | 0 comments | links

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hmmm... it's a bit Bruce Springsteen.

Day 2

Woke up at 5am, wide awake. Managed to get back to sleep for a while and rose to the smell of those tiny sausages Americans are so fond of. Very tasty breakfast was waiting for us of sausages, cheesy scrambled eggs and coffee cake.

Out to have a drive around, Anne showed us the area and took us to Target which I think is my new favourite shop. Then onto downtown Cincinnati for a recce and a visit to Cappels which is just like Nash's was in Glasgow only better (if you don't know what Nash's was, it was like the stationery shop in heaven will be like).

Onto Rookwood, a shopping place (see, we got stuck in early) to DSW and Old Navy. DSW is a cheap shoe place - we all got shoes, even Lee - my Rocket Dogs cost approximately a quarter of the price they would have cost at home.

Had lunch at Skyline in Oakley, a very nice area of town and would be affordable for us. Liked the chili - we all had 4 ways, which is spaghetti, chili, onions and cheese (a lot of cheese). Lee had a cheese coney too, which is basically a hot dog with chili and cheese on top. It was good, but TOO MUCH CHEESE.

After all this, we went to Anne's office where we met everyone who seems very nice. Bonnie, Anne's secretary, had very kindly organised a rental car for us, so the man from the company met us there and we took delivery of our ride for the week, a PT Cruiser. It was a very nice car and we drove back to the ranch in convoy for a quick frozen margarita before dinner. We went to El Coyote for dinner, which is tradition with visitors, I hear. The food was fabulous - fajitas and more margaritas. Back home for a quick glance at the TV and some Mack-lovin time, before bed.

posted by Claire @ 5/16/2007 07:55:00 pm | 0 comments | links

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Man, I expected something more than salad.

A bit of background before I start my trip diary!

My mum is Anne's cousin, so Anne is my second cousin. Mum has been going over there for Christmas the last couple of years and last time she was there, she started keeping a diary for me to describe all the places she went and things she did so that we could compare notes when we'd both been. So she started the diary at the start of a new notebook and then I carried it on when we were there. Once I am finished making my notes, I will pass it back to her and she'll carry it on when she goes back and so on.

So, without further ado....

Day 1

Up at 4 am! Who knew there was a 4 in the morning as well as the afternoon?! Flight to Manchester in model airplane. Surprisingly smooth. Arrive at Manchester to see Graeme Souness getting on a flight to Edinburgh. He had terrible hair and worse shoes. I didn't recognise him at first without the moustache.

Whisked off in a private bus to another terminal, interviewed by a nice but firm elderly security man. Arrive on plane to the dulcet tones of Hall and Oates (this is relevant - my mum loves them). Discover that there is no seatback TV. Wonder if the Daily Record crossword will last 7 hours...

Managed to sleep for approximately 15 seconds - don't fly Continental, seats are very cramped. Food was surprisingly alright tho - lasagne! Lee dribbled it down his jumper, that's usually my job. Arrived in Newark eventually after having to listen to 3 generations of Mancunian dullards all the way across the Atlantic and worrying about the Manchester Uni gun club being on board. Got thru scary customs and headed to the bar for a drink. Nice man sang to us and offered us the milk of human kindness which seemed to be on draught as well as nachos. We took both.

Got on bi-plane to Cincinnati - I would swear I saw someone doing somersaults on the wing. Flew past Statue of Liberty once we eventually took off but more about her later. Arrived in humungous Cincinnati airport, completely missed the monorail thing and eventually got to baggage claim on foot and almost walked straight past Anne and Jim who'd come to meet us.

Got our bags very quickly and got out to their ENORMOUS car (it's a Nissan Armada, car lovers - it's literally the size of a ferry). We drove back to their house which is quite something - so beautiful. Checked into our room, very comfortable bed. Met the animals - Mack (the poodle) has fallen in love with Lee. Back downstairs to deliver Walkers salt and vinegar crisps and Diet Coke with lemon which inexplicably is not available in the US. Then outside to the patio for steaks on the barbecue and champagne. Managed to stay up til around 1030pm US time then collapsed into bed.

posted by Claire @ 5/16/2007 07:42:00 pm | 0 comments | links

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

There's going to be a lot of macrame.

Another sign
Originally uploaded by mooosh.
An actual conversation overheard on Sunday in the car park behind the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow:

Ned Mother, 50's, orange skin, peroxide hair, fag hanging out of mouth at top of voice: "Ya wantin tae go tae McDonalds furst?"

Ned Daughter, 20's, orange skin, peroxide hair, fag hanging out of mouth, white jeans at top of voice "Naw, we're gaun tae the pound shop furst, wull get ye thair"

Oh, how we laughed.

posted by Claire @ 5/15/2007 01:51:00 pm | 1 comments | links

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It'll cost you many a shilling.

Butter stick
Originally uploaded by mooosh.
I'm back! But no, I didn't bring the butter with me, much to mar-c's disappointment, I'm sure.

I'd love to say it's great to be back, but it's so far not. It feels like there is nothing to look forwards to anymore, despite the fact that there is actually a lot going on.

Our trip was fabulous, fantastic, great - I have a whole lot of stories to blog about, but for now I am just saying hello world, I am back!

posted by Claire @ 5/15/2007 01:46:00 pm | 1 comments | links

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