Monday, May 29, 2006

Hurry! While stocks last!!

This is in the current edition of the London-published satirical magazine Private Eye.

It's the "I-Spy" feature, where readers send in photos of strange things they have seen.

The magazine is published every fortnight, and the website changes, so I have kept the photo, and here it is, before they take it down. The photo was (the magazine states) taken opposite Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh.

And I hereby announce that, henceforth, this blog is a DaVC-free zone!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Surprised By Detroit!

Fancy going to Detroit for a holiday? No, stop, don't ring up the men in white coats yet!

Detroit has the Detroit Institute of Arts; OK, it's not big, but there is reasonable quality material there. The best known work there is probably the series of large murals by Diego Rivera based on the Ford River Rouge plant.

You could also spend a pleasant morning walking around downtown Detroit admiring the architecture, if you're interested in that sort of thing. The heyday of the city was the first few decades of the twentieth century, and one place definitely worth dropping into is the Guardian Building. Here is the art-deco style entrance:

But especially, you could spend two days at the Henry Ford in Dearborn in the western suburbs. You get SMART bus 200 from downtown to the Fairlane Mall, and then bus 250 to the Henry Ford. There is the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and tours to the River Rouge plant. I suggest one day for the Museum and River Rouge, and one full day for Greenfield Village.

I spent one day there and I got to the Museum and the Village. But frankly you could spend a full, enjoyable day at the Village.

Henry Ford created Greenfield Village; he moved the homes of some famous people lock stock and barrel, piece by piece, and rebuilt, such as the homes of Harvey Firestone, the Wright Brothers, Robert Frost, and the house where he himself was born. And other buildings which interested him. He also moved and re-built Thomas Edison's New Jersey laboratory.

So don't write off Detroit for your trip across America. And, by the way, I am not being sponsored by the Tourist Board to write this!!


I realise now that it was probably Bob Newhart's sitcom series (where he ran an Inn) that planted the seed inside me to visit Vermont. For years, I have been meeting Vermonters at the Holiday Fair in Dublin each January, and saying: "One day!"

Last month I made it. I got a bus from Boston to Burlington, then a taxi to the airport, where I picked up a rental car (they gave me a Toyota Corolla). This was the first time I had ever driven on "the wrong side of the road". It took me about twenty minutes to get used to it; I was slightly more distracted by trying to navigate my way out of Burlington, as there were plenty of road works.

Frankly, I still have reason to go there, because I didn't go to Stowe and the mountains region. I drove that day just to get the ferry across Lake Champlain to Essex. And on that road to the ferry, I drove over a hump in the road, and saw a view of the Adirondacks which reminded me of what Hilaire Belloc wrote in The Path To Rome when he described seeing the Alps. Here is a photo, actually taken when I travelled in the opposite direction.

On another day, I drove north and crossed the bridge near Rouses Point into Vermont, intending to visit St Anne's Shrine. I discovered when I got there that it was closed. Tough luck. But that area is very nice, and reminded me of Ireland, with the green fields and farms.