Driven to distraction

22Nov09

So Peter and I finally met up, me gently hallucinating with fatigue, and the next morning had to get up very early to catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. I went downstairs at half six to find the breakfast area mobbed with people edging past the bain-maries and piling food onto their plates. Ah, I thought to myself, reshuffling my dearly held American prejudices. Yes, they eat loads. But none of them were fat. Oh. How disappointing. They eat like maniacs, but didn’t seem to be wobbling much. I put a pancake onto my plate and picked up a sachet of pancake syrup, which was sugar-free. How disgusting, sorbitol gloop. But maybe that explained the non-fatness. Someone walked in with a number pinned to their shirt. It was only then that I tuned in and realised they were all marathon runners carb-loading. What are the odds?

To Martha’s Vineyard, almost empty because the season was pretty much over, and it was glorious.

Martha's Vineyard

Sunny day, wonderful colours, marvellous. From there to Boston via a two-hour traffic jam (season not quite over, then eh?) and the next couple of days spent in Boston which is a fantastic city full of very clever people. I love. I love.

Autumn in Boston

Next stop, the airport to pick up the car. Helplessness washing over me. Oh dear God. Fortunately Mr Car-Hire company has come across plenty of customers who say things like ‘Why’s that dashboard light that says ‘brake’ still on?’ and, in my case as I switched on the engine and put it in Drive, ‘Why won’t it go?’ Very proud of myself there, I can tell you. Future ref – Toyota Camrys have a footbrake in the footwell right up by the steering wheel. I’d had to fight to get the sat nav, which I then deprogrammed accidentally by switching off the engine while I was trying to work out the brake light thing was. Yep.

Then to Concord, without incident. Except for going wrong and hearing the phrase ‘Calculating rowt’ for the first of 15,000 times. Walden Pond, beautiful, in the rain.

Walden Pond

Goodbye Peter, and on to New Hampshire, to a fantastically friendly and beautiful town called Peterborough.

Peterborough, NH

I had to get Charlie from the motor inn to help me open the boot (‘Pop the trunk’) because I couldn’t find the bloody keyhole thing. Then to Aqua Bistro for dinner and a chat with the hilarious owner, Pam. She was trying out a new chef that night, from Milwaukee, who’d just come back from working in New Zealand. Can everyone stop saying Americans aren’t funny? Or they don’t understand irony? It’s so embarrassing. And totally wrong. I had one of the best nights ever.

Next day I headed off to Portland, Maine and left a percentage of the passenger side paintwork on the hotel’s underground car park. Once the situation had been solved with tears and tea and 20 times more nausea than I thought possible, I went out to walk the city. What a great town! Even when you’re feeling sick and shaky and a complete idiot. Really friendly people, funky bars and restaurants, great atmosphere.

From there I worked my way back down the coast, calling into the towns along the way en route for the airport. I arrived four hours early for my flight, delighted to hand over the car and unbelievably sad to leave New England. I love it, I want to live there. I just need to acquire a skill that’s rare but essential to the US economy. Easy.

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