Saturday, 21 April 2018

I don't like your face

Three strangers rode into town.  I slowly raised myself from the rocking chair on my porch, polishing my sheriff's badge with a dirty cuff.

"Your kind ain't welcome here," I drawled.

"Too bad," they replied, "because we're staying for three weeks."

Yes, the grandparents are back, together with my sister (who the courts gladly released into their care after the most recent "incident" at the asylum).  They say everyone is the hero of their own story, so why have I been relegated to the role of domestic help?  No matter - the grandson is over the moon, the excitement uncontainable in his small body and manifesting as non-stop bouncing.  The grandparents and sister are happy too, and who wouldn't be with this level of service?  Excuse me while I prepare aperitifs before the gourmet dinner.

 Hole In The Wall Gang (my wall).

A little light thrifting on the first day, and Emily finds something cowboy to take home with her.

Thanks to Grandma's imports, the fabled four layer Angel Delight!

Soft touch.

 A small toast for Dad's 85th birthday.

It's never too early to start on Champagne (or fizzy apple juice).

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Art Car Parade 2018

We're a fairly conservative bunch down here in Houston.  Until we're not, and decide to embrace all the weirdness that's hereabouts, because this is still Texas, and this is still America.  Nowhere is this more obvious than at the Art Car Parade, now in its 31st year.

This city's love of cars (or perhaps hatred of walking, to be more accurate) is well known, but the art car phenomenon takes things to a whole new level.  These cars aren't decorated, they're transmogrified, with every conceivable conversion, customisation, and correction made, until the label "car" is questionable itself.

And the city turns out to watch!  I think drinking in public is usually illegal around here, but families line the streets with picnic chairs and coolers full of beer while the police escort looks on.  Add in the honking horns and natural exhibitionism of people who do these things to their vehicles, and it was a full-throttle party on the blacktop.

Ironically, we walked there and back, and much as I enjoyed the spectacle I was left wondering just what exactly you do with a car that looks like a dinosaur, or a space ship, or...something, for the rest of the year.  Is there an art car parade circuit?  Do they get de-customised and used for the school run?  Or sit dustily in a shed, ready to reappear for the 2019 parade?  Time will tell.  I gave my grey Ford Fiesta a friendly pat as I passed it in the garage on the way in.

Allen Parkway, normally filled with people doing 80 in a 35 zone.

Prime spot.

I wandered down the pre-parade line-up and found...a shoe.

How do you even...?

Souped-up Prius.

Gas guzzler.

No overtaking.

Actually quite engineeringly impressive.

A large mechanical blancmange.



The parade begins!  With a peace dinosaur.


A smoking fish pulling a live band.

This was done by a school!  Impressive.

Pete and friend Levi take in the spectacle.

The Batmobile.  Legit.

Santa showed up.

This is a real astronaut!  Dr. Jeanette Epps was Grand Marshall this year.

A luchador wrestling match on a car roof.  Because at this point, why not?

Piano mower.

Minimum effort.

Popping a wheelie.

Wonder Woman on a mobility alligator, I guess.

The local roller derby team!

This fountain was in-sync with the music blaring from the car (the Superman theme, at this point).  A technical feat.

Political.  Sort of.

Lexie, slightly flummoxed.

No idea.

There's that shoe from earlier, now speeding.

"Let's just stick everything we have on our car."

 Is this still a car thing?

And it all finished with a giant potato.  Because anything else would be unnatural.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

From Texas to Herefordshire

Ten days in Houston was never going to be long enough, but we packed it in after Miles and Reuben's return from the horse ranch: NASA, tacos, the beach, warships, etc.  Miles is genuinely worried that Reuben is going to saddle up and head for the hills, so taken is the kid with the big country.  We've tried to impress on him that the easiest way to spend time here long-term is to study hard and come out for university; he seems more interested ranching and oil.  Definitely a Texan now.

The business end of a Saturn V rocket.

Miles, who I met while he was studying his Masters in Archaeology, tries to explain space flight, with hilarious results.

Houston, we have a problem...if Reuben isn't allowed to come here for every holiday for the rest of his life.

These cowboys have nothing to fear.

Very long horns.

Showing off his ranch skills.

No idea what's going on here.

Introducing Reuben to the all-American diet.

Not Pete's first Twinkie.

I wonder why Pete and Reuben got on so well.

Some real wargames on the USS Texas.  

Gunnery duties.

 More likely what they'd have been tasked with on board.

Final dinner out, where you got to barbecue your own food!  Pete and Reuben suitably impressed.

Happy, relaxed, Texan.