Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Last days in NOLA

On Thursday, S booked a spa session and we took C to Sucré for a delicious coffee served with one of their amazing cakes. C has been before with Yaya and Mum, so is well known at this special venue! They have wonderful macaroons that are famous all over New Orleans.
 After coffee we made our way across to The Rink, a lovely shopping area on the Garden District which has an excellent bookstore, The Garden District Bookshop; as well as a baby clothes shop, Mignon; and some exclusive interior design boutiques as well. We were lured into the baby shop with its promise of beautiful things for C, and we succumbed to a lovely outfit in pale blue with little monkeys embroidered on it. We also found an outfit for the baby boson, and as we don't know the flavour yet, it is a sleep suit covered in little green frogs that can be buttoned up like a sleeping bag or as a suit with legs - clever! We had hardly looked in the bookstore before S found us and as she was starving, we repaired to the coffee shop, Still Perkin, and managed a little light lunch. This was followed by a walk around the District, coming back to The Rink via the art shop on the corner. Here they had the sculpture of a baby's head called Baby G - just like our little C!
Trying on Tri stuff in a camping fitting room!

Friday came and D had to sign up for his IronMan Triathlon. We met up with him at the Hilton Hotel, then walked him across to see the Wasp that he missed on Wednesday going back to work. The selection of gear on display at the Tri sign-up is amazing and D did buy a nice T-shirt, though other stuff wasn't in his size.  He tried stuff on in a portable changing room with its  'look-out' in the top!
While we were out looking at the Wasp, the Blue Angels came screaming overhead - a taste of what they will be doing on Sunday.

Saturday was a relaxing day for our athlete and we went down to Audubon Zoo to show C the animals. Not a very warm day, we needed jackets on and cups of coffee to keep warm. But there was plenty to see and we had a lovely easy walk around most areas before it was time to go back home for a huge (for D) pasta dinner and a relatively early night as D had an early start on Sunday.

D went off at around 5am to get to the pick-up for the tri. The swim was cancelled, so he had a run/bike/run race, due to the high winds making the lake too choppy for the swimmers. We all drove down to the race a little later and found a good spot in the middle of the second run area where we could watch D go by on both sides. C had his cheer-leader onesy on and we all cheered and rang the little bell to encourage all the runners, but especially when D went by. Soon we had to move over to the Finish line and waited there for him to come through. Not a bad time, and he was glad of a seat on the folding chairs when it was all over. Plenty of water and a good rest, before we followed him across to the food area where he managed a couple of platefuls of food to replenish his energy reserves. The airshow was cancelled because of the bad weather, which was a bit disappointing, so there was little point hanging around and we decided to leave. Some folk were still running when we eventually made it back to the car and home.

So Monday D went to work and in the late morning S, C and we went off for a little coffee before meeting up with D and driving to the airport. We hated saying goodbye to them all, but especially to the little one who will grow and change so much before we see him again in July.

The Garden District Bookshop
Mignon, baby shop
Still Perkin'
Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans Triathlon
Blue Angels
Audubon Zoo

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tortoises and Tall Ships, New Orleans

On Sunday D & S took us up on the offer to look after C while they went out to brunch. So off they set and we did too, to Maple St. The Patisserie was not open, but we did encounter a Giant Tortoise going for a walk with her owner. This unusual pet is about six years old and already rather large. The owner says she is very good at keeping the grass down, no Sunday mowing the lawn for him! After a refreshing coffee on the terrace at PJs, we made our way down to Audubon Park Golf Club where A bought a new cap as some of his are getting a bit past it. Perhaps this was a bit far as C decided it was definitely time for a second feed ( we did feed him at PJs). D and S texted that they were home and we replied we were on our way, too with a very hungry person!
Luckily, we hadn't blotted our copy books and on Monday we were off to Magazine Street again while S did some work and we ended up at Blue Frog Chocolates where some gifts for the people at home were purchased. The chocolates there are beautifully artistic and well as delicious.

On Tuesday we went off to meet D for lunch, this time at Merchants, a great cafe not far from the office, so we had all piled into the car with the pram et al. Lunch was very tasty - and I had a lovely cupcake and coffee to finish. D went back to work and we went off to the clinic and weighed C to find he had grown and put on weight, so much so that it was now time to up his intake. In the weighing room there was a beautiful old quilt hanging on the wall and some lovely ceramic balloons hung as a mobile. Outside it had become very dark and as we left there was a terrible rain storm - water streaming down the slope out of the car park.The air was definitely cleared and fresher weather followed the storm.

Wednesday means music in Lafayette Square with YLC Wednesday at the Square. So we were off to the Quarter again, meeting D and taking a stroll along the riverside where three tall ships were moored from Ecuador, Indonesia and USA. These three along with several Navy vessels are in port to celebrate the Bicentennial of the 1812 War that saw off the British! One of the Navy vessels is none other than the No1 Ship in the Fleet, USS Wasp. It is rather large! D had to go back to work before we got as far as the Wasp.
 We arranged to meet up with him in Lafayette Square where the Youth Leadership Council puts on Wednesday sessions that are free with the sale of food and drink bringing in money for the council. All the local cafes, food stores etc. set up their stalls and patrons buy tickets in order to buy food and drink from the stalls. we had drinks and cheese platters from the St James Cheese Company on Prytania Street. C seemed to enjoy himself, though not his ear protectors which lasted about 2 minutes. It was decided that they were too tight on his head, but maybe he didn't like the silence either! We heard Theresa Andersson and Mia Border.

Blue Frog Chocolates
Bicentennial of the 1812 War
St James Cheese Company

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Out and About around New Orleans

Now we are getting quite practiced at pram wheeling, on Wednesday,we took C for a long walk down to see Simon's Bead Dog and back up Magazine St, to La Boulangerie for coffee. S came and met us there, but by the time she arrived all the 'fun' was over. When we arrived all the power in the street was out as a large lorry had brought down some cables, so there was no specialty coffee, just filter from the flask! But nevertheless, their cakes were mighty fine! C was extremely well behaved, although was beginning to get a little hungry by the time Mum appeared. Luckily we could all have cappuccinos and lattes with more tasty delights as C tucked in to his bottle! When D came home in the evening we went off to the Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar, a restaurant on St Charles Avenue that has been threatening to open even since last year. This was C's first evening restaurant visit and he was great, just sleeping through all the clatter and noise, so his mum and dad could enjoy their food.

French Quarter Festival began on Thursday, and we all went down to meet D for lunch and take in the amazing scenes along the riverside. There were foodstalls all along the area with different 'theatres' for music, just like Jazz Fest. The Calliope on the Natchez played for a while, then the bands started playing, all different types of jazz, with some Zideco music, too.
This Friday D was working, so S, C and A and I walked down to the Maple Street Patisserie and bought some delicious goodies for lunch which we ate with coffee at PJs. There is a covered outside terrace which is ideal for this and of course, C enjoyed the fresh air and eventually some refreshment of his own. After lunch, S took us back via the universities (Tulane and Loyola) to spot their Bead Dogs. They are very beautifully decorated. D was home by the time we got back, and we all went off to Wholefoods for the weekend shop.

Saturday saw us taking an earlyish trip to the mall for a general look about, and we were in to Barnes and Noble rootling through the books and indulging in Architectural Lego! I wanted to look at t-shirts and so went next door and the others went off to Gap. We got back to the car, and having put our parcels in the back I went to sit down only to find a 'forgotten' bag on my seat. Encouraged to open it I found a 'onesy' with' Grandma says yes' written on the front! Very cute. Then we all got back in the car, only for A to find a bag on his seat. Repeating the performance, his 'onesy' says 'Grandpa's favourite', which is very true! So now D drove us off to Madisonville, a small community on the Tchefuncte River. It is a very pretty little place and we parked and strolled along the riverside, where they seemed to be having a sort of music festival with lots of people coming together to make music. There was a band of lady dulcimer players, including two hammer dulcimers; various country groups; jazz and even a harmonica player with a case of a dozen or so harmonicas of different sizes. There were also some amazing boats moored along the riverside, and over on the opposite bank, there was a collection of magnificent houses of the 'country club' size! We popped into the Friends Cafe for some snacks that included Alligator Nuggets and chips! The lemonade was so refreshing and we were cooled by a gentle breeze from the river.

Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar
French Quarter Festival
Friends Coastal Restaurant

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Down in New Orleans

D & S were there to meet us at the airport on Thursday, and introduced us to the little one who is, of course, gorgeous. We drove to the house and set about getting to know him by helping with feeding/ burping and cuddling.
 There's plenty of that going on, and on Saturday we went off to Barataria NP for a walk along the board walk, hoping to see the iris in bloom. There were lots of wild flowers, but only a couple of iris left in bloom as the weather has been quite hot and they go over quickly.

As C loves being out and about we took a stroll down to Audubon Zoo and back through the park on Sunday, managing to spot some of the Bead Dogs that are dotted around New Orleans to raise money for the local animal charities. They are all for sale, but start at £5000, so that's a bit out of our budget! The one by the Zoo has been 'extended into an elephant (here it is on Laughing Magpie).

As there is no Easter Monday holiday in US, we met up with D for lunch at Bittersweet, the lovely chocolate shop on Magazine St. in the Warehouse District. There were lovely Easter biscuits for sale which were very good with our coffee. When D had to go back to work, we walked around the area looking for Bead Dogs and also spotted a poster advertising Jazz Fest in May. S is putting the dogs up on Laughing Geos as they are spotted and there is quite a collection over there.

Today we have been with everyone to the Children's Hospital for a check up on C. Luckily everything is absolutely fine and after D went back to work, we went shopping, ending up in Walmart where C posed for a 'Lost in Walmart' photo!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Par 3 at Augusta

It's our last day at Augusta National and before going off to the golf course, we had to pack and leave the luggage at reception. Then we were back on the bus and heading down to Augusta National. It was another fine day after more rain over night and there were plenty of players on the practice ground to start with. Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson and Bernhard Langer to name but a few.
 We watched for half an hour or so, then we made our way out onto the course to see who was playing a round. The groundsmen were out spreading green gravel on the wet sloping areas to stop the spectators ( they call us patrons) from slipping, and they keep the course looking in tip-top condition.

We walked the back nine again, taking in some skimming on the 16th, noting that there were 3D cameras set up in a tree, as well as lots of other cameras being manned today, getting in practice for the main event.
At midday the first players teed off for the Par 3 competition. This is a tradition at The Masters and it is a fun event where the players come with family and friends to enjoy a little relaxation before the intensity of the first major of the year. We found a great place to stand on the fourth hole, but it was very hot and humid, so we had to find some shade, too.

 We saw some of today's players go by, but also some of the golden oldies like Ian Woosnam, Ben Crenshaw, Ray Floyd, Fuzzy Zoeller, Hubert Green and a certain Jack Fleck. Jack Fleck is the oldest living US Open Champion (90 years old) and he won it in 1955 by beating Ben Hogan in a playoff.The older players were very jolly, involving the crowd, getting youngsters to putt out for them and joking with the crowd. Some of the younger players had their very young families with them, dressed in white caddy overalls. Very cute! Mr. Jiminez was smoking his favourite cigar as he played.

Despite our needing to find shade, the day began to cloud over, which wasn't a bad thing to start with. Jack Niklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player teed off and reached the second green, so we were anticipating watching these famous golfers play the fourth when suddenly the hooter went off and the tournament was suspended. Apparently there was a thunderstorm in the area and everyone was advised to leave the course. It soon became apparent that the storm was headed our way and the waterproofs were donned as the rain came down. At this point the competition was called off and we all had to go home. A sudden end to what has been a superb three days at The Masters.

We walked back through the soggy car park and waited for the bus. In we climbed when it arrived and then we sat for ages in the traffic, taking over an hour to get back to the Inn, which would usually have taken no more than twenty minutes. We sat and had a coffee before packing up the car and heading out onto I20 and Atlanta. We were lucky to be going that way as it was relatively quiet and we made good time to the hotel by the airport in time for dinner at 8pm.

The Masters
Augusta National

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Secong day of practice at The Masters

Our second day at the practice for The Masters. There has been a bad storm in the night - A heard it and saw the lightning, but I woke thinking the noise was just the unaccustomed air conditioning and turned over to go back to sleep! An early start, nevertheless with a swift buffet breakfast and the first bus down to the course. We saw storm damage in the shape of trees and branches down, but there was plenty of clearing up going on.

 We followed the same plan, starting off at the practice ground, then out onto the course to follow some of the groups practicing.

It was much cooler today in the beginning, but by midday the sun was out and the temperature went up.

More skimming on the 16th, but no 'holes-in-one'. At the end of the day we walked back through the car parks to take the bus back to the Inn and discovered another great dinner by the pool. This time slow-cooked pork with mash and veggies. A glass of wine and some good company rounded everything off in grand style.

The Masters
Augusta National
Premier Sports
Hampton Inn

Monday, April 02, 2012

Going to the practice for The Masters

It's been a fabulous day here in Augusta. We got up at 5 am and drove across from the Holiday Inn to Hampton Inn to talk to the folk about storing the luggage which went well. Then we picked up tickets etc. from the Premier Sports agent who told us that the hotel ran the shuttle and we could have complimentary breakfast. We found cereal, fruit and yoghurt, toast, tea and coffee before heading out to the bus at 7am, and down to the course for the opening at 7.30.

There was a very experienced couple on the bus visiting the Masters for the tenth time! They gave us some good tips and showed us the way to the Main entrance when the bus dropped us.

We have spent 10hours walking and watching the golf. A was very chuffed to follow T. Watson who was playing with Martin Kaymer, Andy North and Randall Lewis. Tom was in great form and started 'skimmimg' the ball across the water at the 16th. It was just like skimming stones at the seaside, with the ball bouncing several times off the water and then up the bank onto the green. They all had a go, with Martin Kaymer going last - and he only went and holed it. The watching crowd yelled and applauded like it was a hole-in-one, it was great fun.
We also saw Cabrera, Vijay, Jiminez, Ollie, Gonzo, Quiros, and many more. We got a sandwich by the main scoreboard with hundreds of other visitors and had to look for the shade, it was very hot. 
When we got back to the hotel (by the bus that took us there), the hotel invited us to a barbecue by the pool with hamburgers and hotdogs,various salads, and beers, wine and soft drinks. Also there was lots of bottled water and even cakes for dessert! We collected our souvenirs, ticket holders and Masters hats, from the Premier Sports rep, and then it was time to put our feet up.

The Masters
Augusta National
Premier Sports
Hampton Inn

Sunday, April 01, 2012


We arrived in Atlanta last night and stayed by the airport after we collected the car. All very pleasant and we were tired from the flight, so were glad of a comfy room in which to flop! This morning we got up at a reasonable 8am and ate a decent breakfast before driving across to Augusta. Here we were able to leave the luggage at the hotel before we ventured downtown to explore.
We parked the car under cover to avoid too much solar heating and consulted the map. Broad Street and the Riverwalk seemed to be places to look at and would take us by some interesting sites, so we walked that way.
Broad Street is a dual carriageway with a green island running down the middle. We strolled along one side, then realised that we were on the wrong side for Artists' Row where there are Art and Craft galleries, coffee shops and  restaurants. We crossed over and soon came to the New Moon Cafe where we went in for coffee. A popular place on a Sunday morning, we were lucky to find a table, but were soon tucking into coffee and warm blueberry muffins served in little baskets with butter. Plenty of people were having brunch, reading newspapers or just gossiping with friends. It is a very friendly place. All done, we wandered in next door to one of the galleries and enjoyed a chat with the owner. She told us stories about the Augusta National Golf Course - how they were apparently, covering the roots of the azaleas with ice to try and hold back the flowers that threatened to come too early for The Masters, because of the mild winter. However, this wasn't successful; the azaleas had flowered and there would be no grand floral display this year!
After visiting other galleries along Artists' Row, we turned and walked back along Broad Street to find the statue of James Brown, the Confederate Monument and a couple of other landmarks. There is the Augusta Common, a green square just off Broad Street that hosts a statue of founder, James Oglethorpe. He was a British General who named the settlement on the banks of the Savannah River after the then Princess of Wales, Augusta. Here the 14th annual Mayor’s Masters Reception will be held tomorrow with this year’s honorary golfer, Tom Watson.
We made our way down to the Visitor Information Centre at the side of the Augusta Museum of History which we then went in to visit. There is a special exhibition on just now all about the history of The Masters. That was very interesting and we enjoyed reading about and seeing artifacts from the tournament in days gone by. 
Now we walked down to the river to experience the Riverwalk. This began with a bit of excitement as we descended the steps to the river level. Suddenly there was a flash of fur across the stone steps as a little mouse shot out from the undergrowth, followed by a snake. A woman just passing me screamed - I had stopped to look at a bright green lizard! The snake threw itself back into the bushes when it saw all the humans around and the mouse crouched in the corner of the steps, then also disappeared back into the shrubs. We just looked on, mesmerised by the swiftness of the action which was over in seconds.
We followed the lower Riverwalk as far as the Morris Museum of Art where we climbed up to the entrance and went in to view their Masters related exhibition as well as their normal collection. There were some lovely examples of Southern American Art which we really enjoyed. We spotted this sign on the way back to the car - it seems that some people use their golf carts down town.

We drove to the Hampton Inn where will stay for the nights we are at the golf, and sussed out what to do tomorrow which will start very early. Apparently we can have breakfast there from 6am and they will take care of the bags until we get back from the golf and and check in. Then we had dinner at the Holiday Inn and got to bed early because of the early start tomorrow.

Artists' Row
Museum of History
Morris Museum of Art