Monday, 30 July 2007

Routine ahoy

Being on a train on Sunday morning just about 24 hours after stepping off a plane was a joy. I could see the ground and look up to the clouds rather than peer down from on high.

The journey to London also gave me time to reflect on the trip to America especially the last few days which took in a trip to a spectacular country club, a tour of Bristol, my mum's birthday, a supper party with some of her friends and the mother of all traffic jams on the way into Boston to catch the flight home.

I told Frances that I'd only go to see her in Denver so long as she was still a member of her club Skyline where tennis courts and a swimming pool are all within skipping distance.

My trip to the Carnegie Abbey club near Portsmouth in Rhode Island gave me another take on the leisure entertainment complex. It is as spectacular as Skyline is simple. Around 350 acres housing a golf course, a couple of tennis courts, a spa as well as a 41 slip marina. There were even a grass and sand rings to keep the horses happy.

Golf is not my game, it's not even the favoured sport of Wayne who invited me - we're both more into tennis. But even I'd be tempted to pick up some clubs and walk around the links on a lazy summer's day before reclining - cocktail in hand - in one of the chairs in the clubhouse bar to watch the sunset over Narragansett Bay.

I never quite managed to live out that part of the fantasy. To do so on a regular basis costs $175,000 joining fee and dues of around $10,000 a year,

And I have to admit I don't have that kind of spare change. It's rare that I have an 'I wonder if' moment. I'm for the most part content with the choices I've made and the path I'm treading.

But to see a lifestyle a million miles and dollars from my existence made me ask myself what would be — or would have been — needed to be at that point.

Luck? More ambition? Talent? Ruthlessness? It probably takes an amalgam of those components to see a salary rise to the position where you can afford such fees.

Maybe I might circumvent it all by winning the lottery.

Which is what appears to have happened to the people on a mass scale in Bristol. We went there after the tour of Carnegie and the whole place seemed to close down after lunch.

I walked into a bagel cum sandwich shop and the assistant told me it was closed. It was 2.30pm. I wandered along a well manicured street and found a cafe/deli. But the waitress was clearing up for the 3pm shutdown.

I asked why everything closed so early. She said it was just one of those Bristol things.

How quaint.

Next time I'll get there earlier and make more of a day of it. Take in the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and the Blithewold Mansion and arboretum for starters.

But that's not going to be in the run up to July 4. For Bristol - bless it's shiny leather bootstraps - is deemed America's most patriotic town.

That's because it has had an Independence Day celebration there every year since 1785. The centre lines along the main road are red, white and blue and the buildings are dubbed historic.

It makes me want to hear Doris Day belt out some numbers from Calamity Jane.

I can't see the Deadwood Stage being too welcome at the Carnegie though.