Saturday, 14 April 2018

What to do on a blazing hot day in Sarasota FL

We topped out at 87 f this afternoon.  Too hot for mid April, but fortunately not too humid.

5:15 a.m. first walk with Zion.

7:00 a.m. second walk with Zion.

8:00 a.m.  cleaned my bathroom (not before time!)

9:30 a.m.  third walk with Zion, accompanied by my good neighbour Barbara B. We went to Arlington Park and had coffee at Panera Bread (Bahia Vista and Tamiami Trail) afterwards.

During the day buried my head in Isabel Allende's wonderful novel "The House of the Spirits"

Goodness Gracious!  She is a great Author.

4:00 pm.  Another walk with Zion at Arlington Park.  It's a mostly tree-lined 1/2  mile walk, so there were good and cooling breezes.

We saw  

a Muscovy Duck with her chicks  (little yellow bobs to her left).

Yellow duckling blogs a wee bit more visible.

.. and 

A couple of sun bathing Turtles.  (given half a chance they will gobble down the ducklings - "nature red in tooth and claw").

A good retirement day.

At day's end Zion was tuckered out -

P.S.  Please don't tell them, but I never allowed Penne, Ben or Izzy to rest on the sofa. Zion has won my heart and mind.

Pompous, insincere and hypocritical

The self declared "righteousness" of Trump and May about their missile attacks is nauseating set alongside their refusals to do no more (and probably less) than lifting a little finger to admit Syrian refugees to their countries.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Back in Memory Lane with Friendly's etc

When I hung out my shingle in Fitchburg, MA back in 1976 I learned that there were three Massachusetts rooted businesses of which I was expected to be proud.

(1) There was Howard Johnson's (Ho-Joe's) with it's national chain of restaurants (famous fried clams, and 28 flavours of ice cream).

Ho-Joe's with the famous orange roof, instantly
recognizable throughout the U.S.A. 

There are no more Ho Joe's restaurants, but the Howard Johnson name lives on in a Wyndham owned Hotel Chain.


(2)  Dunkin Donuts  then a regional chain in New England

There you could sit at the counter or at a table, get a mediocre cup of coffee (most coffee in the U.S.A. was mediocre back then), and a more than decent donut ( my favorite was a Cruller); and listen in to the conversations of grumpy old men or chirpy housewives.

"Dunks" has now gone a bit upscale and is most likely a national chain.

But be warned. Should you be in the Bay State do not say that you prefer Starbuck's Coffee or Krispy Kreme Donuts. You will most likely be tarred and feathered.

(3)  Chief of all there was

My first visit to a Friendly's was in late June 1975.  I was being driven from Marblehead MA to a Camp and Conference Centre in Charlton Depot, MA.  My hostess  (Hope Haug) drove me via Concord, MA where we stopped at a Friendly's for a cup of Coffee.

When I returned to the USA in 1976 I soon discovered that Friendly's was a reliable source for fast food.

Sometime in the autumn that year I was perched on a stool at a Friendly's in Fitchburg, MA. (When you could sit at the counter and see your burger being cooked).  Two stools away another eater asked "are you British?".   I had not uttered a word so I was a bit baffled by his question.

When I admitted my heritage I then asked  how he had sussed it. 

"Oh" he said, "only a Brit would eat a hamburger with a knife and fork".  

Thus began my Friendly's memories.

In 1980 the then Episcopal Bishop of Western Mass. wanted me to move from Fitchburg in order to serve part-time on his staff and part-time  as Vicar of St. Christopher's Church in Fairview (Chicopee) MA.

He invited me to meet the Church Wardens at St. Christopher's, with the promise of dinner afterwards.

I imagined a fine dining place, but dinner afterwards was no more than burgers at the Friendly's on Memorial Drive in Chicopee. 

What's more the Bishop stole French fries from my plate!

Also in 1980 my friend Mary Lou La Vallee (also on Diocesan Staff) took  me to the original and very first  Friendly's restaurant on (I believe) Chestnut St or Main St. in Springfield, MA

After my move to Chicopee in 1980. I was very restless and unsettled, so I would eat at that very same Friendly's three or four nights a week.

One of the staff was a High School kid named Joe. He was a friendly Friendly's  employee. On occasion he would take his break when I was there so that we could chat.

One day his parents Ray and Irene came into that Friendly's. Joe introduced me to them, and his Mom (a Mother in Israel if ever there was one) invited me to her home for dinner. Thus began a fabulous friendship with Joe; his family; and in due course with members of my English family.

Ray and Irene have departed this life, but Joe and his wife and children are my dear friends these 38 years on.

Thinks: "thanks to Friendly's".


When you  sat at a stool and watched your food being grilled

"Fribbles" the wondrous Friendly's Milk Shakes.

A "Fishamgig" - the Friendly's Fish Sandwich.

A hamburger on a "set up" (i.e. between toasted bread rather than on a bun)

Friendly's gorgeous French fries.

On a number of  occasions back in 1980  I ate at the very first Friendly Ice Cream place on Main St. in Springfield, MA

The Blake brothers (founders of Friendly Ice Cream/Friendly's) retired in 1979 and sold their business to the Hershey's Chocolate Company.

Hershey tried to upscale the business without great success. (My guess is that the new chains - Appleby's, TGIF, Ruby Tuesdays, etc were already ahead of the game).

The original Friendly's has gone through various bankruptcies and restructurings.  There are some signs that it is re-building its reputation and clientèle. 

That would be good, but mostly I am happy that the "old Friendly's" is where I met Joe R and his parents.  Thus began a thirty-eight years transatlantic series of friendships.  (They visited my brother Martyn and his wife Wendy in Bristol U.K.)

(Edited in 2019, so now thirty nine years of  friendship)

Monday, 9 April 2018

A joy filled weekend. My heart is bursting with gratitude.

On Sunday morning 8th April 2018 at 7:30 a.m. I met the estimable Barbara Ford-Coates at Sarasota's Bayfront Park for a walk and a canine meet and greet.

I wanted to meet Barbara and her wonderful dog the Phabulous Phineas. 

Barbara wanted to meet my lovely dog the Zuperb Zion. It was a great encounter.

Phineas and Barbara
I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my dear friend Joe R from Massachusetts.  Joe and I have known each other since 1980. We met by happenstance. He introduced me to his great parents Ray and Irene (both now deceased), and they embraced me into their family.

Joe, his family, and his wife and children became my dear friends, and also friends of my English relatives - a wonderful Anglo-American connection.  We have shared so many joys, and not a few sorrows. 

Joe had a business meeting in Florida so he came a day early to visit with me.

It's been  a wonderful visit. I've been teary eyed with joy. Joe, his wife DeAnne and I have a tender friendship.

Later on Sunday I took Joe to see SRQ neighbourhoods,

We went to Newtown, to Indian Beach, to the Rosemary District (being re-vitalized with horrid new apartments/condos) and to Laurel Park.

Where dear SRQ friends would you take out of State visitors?

In the early evening  I took Joe to visit my beloved Gulf Gate (SRQ) friends Ron and Char.
Char and Ron

Ron with Joe

Later today my dear friend Andy T (former Asst. Rector at St. Boniface SRQ,) (and now Rector of St. David's Church, South Yarmouth, MA) let me know that she was in town.

We met for lunch today at C'est La Vie, with Jake Taylor.

'Twas all a bit much for Zion (he was tuckered out by all these visits) but he was able to smile for Andi


I am tickled pink, grateful, and enriched by the friendships which enrich my life.

Thank you Barbara, Ron, Char, Andi, Jake   and most especially to Joe R. whose visit brought me such joy (and to his wife Dee  who could not make this visit).