World’s Best Mini Garden


Ok – maybe not World’s best – but definitely Montreal Island’s Best….

Wonder where the Hobbit Hole goes? MontrealMadame.com

Wonder where the Hobbit Hole goes? MontrealMadame.com

I adore landscaping – particularly landscaping that combines fun, beauty and great design inspiration! So imagine my surprise when I realized that one of the tiny gardens I most often drive past has had a complete redesign to make it one of my all time favorites!

The location of the mini-garden in questions is a park in Dorval – at the intersection of Fenelon Boulevard and Dawson Avenue. The cool thing is that if you are taking Dawson – you drive straight into the garden!

And this is not a garden – it’s a hobbit hole – with an Ent sitting nearby admiring his toes. There are mushroom trees – a walkway to the round door of the hobbit hole – in fact the only thing missing is Bilbo Baggins.

To create the Ent – the designer has taken a tree – and given it eyes, hands, a mouth, legs and arms. But it’s not just a ‘boring’ Ent – it’s a living breathing Ent. I particularly like the way flowers twine around his arm.

Ent beside a Hobbit Hole in Dorval Garden, Quebec - MontrealMadame.com

Ent beside a Hobbit Hole in Dorval Garden, Quebec – MontrealMadame.com

To the right of the hobbit hole are these majorly glorious mushroom trees sporting bright green leaves.

I’m not alone in admiring this beautiful garden – in addition to admiring my pictures – check it out on-line.

Dorval’s Hobbit Garden is definitely worth the drive by – if not the stop and take pictures! And say hi to the Ent when you visit!

Bright Green Mushroom trees near the Hobbit Hole in Dorval Gardens, Quebec - MontrealMadame.com

Bright Green Mushroom trees near the Hobbit Hole in Dorval Gardens, Quebec – MontrealMadame.com

How much does a shack on the beach cost?


Interesting question.

I’m always looking at real estate – there’s something about a home for sale sign that just tingles my nerve endings.

Why are the selling, is the furniture nice, what does the other side of the house look like? How long has it been on the market? Are there more houses for sale this year or last year?

In Maine – on the beach – most signs are ‘for sale’ – they are ‘for rent’. People buy homes, use them for 2 or 3 or 4 weeks – then rent them out. Or – people buy multiple properties and run the rentals like a business. Or – there are companies that list rentals – and do all the work – you just collect what they send you at the end of the summer.

We are staying in the middle category. Frank Sr. was the original owner, Frank Jr. and his sister now ‘run’ the business – we rented just one of his several homes – a 4 bedroom tiny shack across the street from the entrance to one of my favorite sections of Wells Beach. There’s a life guard stand that is manned (well this year – womanned) most days – and at high tide – there’s so little beach left that most people use that time as ‘break’.

But there are trade-offs. Yes the house has less than 1000 square feet – yes the bedrooms are so small that they have no closets (which I think means they can’t be called bedrooms), and yes there is just one tiny bathroom. But – there’s a washer and dryer – a full kitchen – both a front and a back porch (you need both to track the sun) – and as mentioned earlier – we’re right across from the entrance to the beach. Easy to nip back for bathroom and lunch breaks.

For this glamor – we pay $1400 a week. By Maine Beach standards – it’s about average – maybe low average since the house is so tiny. We could get a smaller place for less – and a larger place for more – but this one suits our needs, and our holiday schedule.

That said – I toured someone else’s digs – and now I’m seriously jealous.

I’ve been in other places of course – but never one that appealed to me the way this one did.

It’s called WinkinPaw – why – I don’t know. It’s located on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (ie: not on the beach side) – further south than us – on Moody Beach. Moody in that section is just beach. No tide pools, no rocks, no stones, no shells – and no lifeguard. Just miles of Maine sand in both directions. This makes it easy to walk and swim of course – but cuts down on the play and castle building opportunities that a more rocky – Maine-like – beach offers.

On the other hand – it has real sand at the very top where the high tide doesn’t quite reach – soft and fluffy even. Nice.

The house is a bit further from the entrance than our shack – and is clearly not a beach shack. There are 4 bedrooms (well – 3 bedrooms and a curtained off kids area) on the first floor – and upstairs is the living space. A huge open area of living, dining and giant kitchen. There’s a full bathroom on the first floor – and a 1/2 bath on the 2nd floor. There’s even a hot and cold shower outside for rinsing off beach sand – But this isn’t the reason for my envy.

Nope – I’m about the view. And the view is amazing. There’s a porch that wraps around 3/4 of the house – so full front porch with views thru the houses in front to the ocean, a side porch, and a back porch with 180 degree views of the marsh. And the marsh is a wonderful sight. Full of birds, and kayakers, and waving cat tails and meandering water ways that curve and twist in a relentless search for the open ocean. I couldn’t believe the view. Stunning. I want that.

Good think that the Pink Lady doesn’t care about views! She’s about how close are we to the beach – and in that regard – our shack wins.

What does a palace cost? One that is not on the ocean? $3400 a week. Makes you wonder what 4 bedrooms ON THE BEACH might run, eh? Serious dent in pocketbook money I’m guessing.

Oh well – better 2 weeks than one – but I’d still love that view….

Signing off – The Soup Lady and her companion – the Pink Terrier

What is a Maine holiday worth to you?


For years my family and I have been going to Wells Beach, Maine for our annual lobster, chow’da, and ocean fix. I’ve come with my husband alone, I’ve come with my entire family (and there are a lot of us). I’ve come when my kids were small – I’ve come when my kids were grown and their kids were small.

Right now I’m here with just one grand-daughter – Sophie. She’s 7 – and we’re totally into her time schedule. Wake and start the day when she does (which is around 9:30 am – but don’t tell her parents – I think I’m supposed to wake her earlier), eat, go to the beach, practice reading (I’m teaching her to read English), eat, go to the beach, practice reading, play dominos (she’s killer at that), and read stories and go to bed.

Occasionally there’s a bath in there – and occasionally – like today – we have to break down and use the car to go get some food.

Our needs – as you can imagine – are pretty simple. We’re walking distance from the Well’s Lobster Pound – which sells amazingly good clam chow’da. They have lobster too – but we just like to admire them swimming in the tanks. We’re really all about the chow’da. I happen to love sauting veggies in butter (yes – real butter – my ateries will survive) – so I have a tiny bit of chow’da and mostly veggies. Sophie loves the chow’da.

So – chow’da and fruit and corn on the cob if we can find it are pretty much the staples of our diet – when we’re not on the beach of course.

Last night we broke down and visited the Scoop Deck for ice cream. Huge portions – even the kiddie size is insane – and a zillion flavors. Of course I only get pistachio and Sohpie likes either Cotton Candy or maybe Bubble Gum. Which is better than it used to be when her flavor was color selected – PINK of course.

We spent yesterday doing our favorite thing  – exploring the tide pools near our shack. Us and about 50 other kids (ranging in age from 3 years to over 80) clambered over and on the rocks and into the pools. Sophie’s bucket contained a tiny lobster, 4 star fish, and a huge (at least hand sized) crab. There were also a selection of smaller objects – most of them still alive after being man-handled by probably 20 kids on their way into her bucket.

The rule is – nothing that was ever alive goes to the house. You do have to be firm on this – rocks are ok – even dead lobsters are a no-no.

Plan for today – replacing my dead aero bed, get food for dinner (we’ve cleaned out the house), and beach, beach, beach!

Signing off – the Soup Lady and the lady in Pink (what can I say – Sophie is still in her pink phase)

My Aero Bed just died


Ok – so maybe a funeral is not in order – but I still have to figure out what to do with the dead body.

It’s not funny.

I’ve enjoyed this aero bed for years – and now – in the midst of my annual Maine vacation – it decides to die.

I woke up this morning sleeping on a balloon. No kidding. The maze of pathways that channel the air in the Aero Bed to keep it flat and bed like must have given way – and I was lying in the middle of a wall of puffed up bed-clothes.

Extremely uncomfortable – let me tell you.

At first I thought the bed had a slow leak, and my lying on hard surface meant I had to inflate it some more. So I stupidly did that – which just dramatically increased the balloon effect.

Once I was awake enough to appreciate the horror of what lay beneath and beside me and above my head and below my feet – I managed to swim my way out of the bed and turned to survey the damage.

It’s like a massive whale lying where my bed used to be.

And guess what – you can’t get the air out either. It’s stuck in there.

What am I going to do with the body….

Signing off in complete puzzlement – the soup lady

Eating Fancy – Rome – Part 3


If you are late coming to this blog – check out Eating Fancy – Rome – Parts 1 and 2. The following restaurants were my all time favorites – and without spoiling anything – well worth the price they charged.

Tied for top prize (I prefer one, my husband the other) are All’Oro and Open Colanna.

First All-Oro. We were recommended by the Sommalier at Open Colanna – and in later conversation, it turned out that he had worked there when they were in their smaller previous location. For the past 4 years – they have been located in the First Art Hotel – and the style and decor is strictly high-end Italian modern. Elegant, sophisticated, and supremely simple. Napkins were rolled into long tubes at the table, matching the vertical long tubes that held a single flower. Spot lights gave each table a feeling of privacy, although the space was actually completely open. There were about 12 tables in total, 7 of which were occupied. So like at Il Pagliaccio and at Open Colanna – the staff outnumbered the dinners. I kept wondering how they make money.

At All’Oro – the tasting menu was unique. Instead of a special menu – you got to choose your options off the regular menu – and I suspect they then split the standard fair into 2 dishes – one per person. In any case – the portions, even for a tasting menu, were tiny. That said – they were stunning.

My absolute favorites were the 2 ‘pasta’ offerings – both of which were inverted. Instead of putting the pasta in a sauce – they put the sauce in the pasta! You put the pasta in your mouth, and chewed. The flavors of the sauces, in perfect serving size, burst into your mouth. I have no idea how this was accomplished – but the result awesome. I absolutely loved the result – but the appearance and the flavors. Delicious and Surprising. Highly technical, but well conceived and beautifully executed.

For the main meal we opted for the suckling pig – 2 ways. Again, the portion size was tiny, but the flavors were intense. One portion was pork belly, intensely seasoned and cleverly sliced so that the fat was crisp and the meat/fat was juicy and tender. The other was a piece of pork that had been immersion cooked for over 14 hours. Wonderful.

Unlike many restaurants where the chefs either ignore the customers – or chat up only the ones that they know well – at All’Oro the chef came out several times to chat up several tables – including us! He explained that he and his wife have been running his own restaurant and got his star 5 years ago. 4 years ago, he was invited to move to this space in the Hotel – where he cooks not only from the fine dining room, but for the roof top terrace restaurant – open only when conditions permit. He even offered to take us up there – I’d have loved to see it. So All’Oro definitely rates high in my book – I don’t think I’ll soon forget either the pork dish – or those amazing ravioli’s!

Last – and definitely worth a visit – is Open Colanna. We ate 2 meals there – the first was lunch. at 16 Euro per person for all you can eat – it was probably the best bargain we enjoyed the entire time we were in Europe. There was a huge spread, each dish more delicious than the last. I loved the chicken in Turmeric Sauce – and they served tiny cups of tiramusu that explained why this dessert is featured on so many Italian restaurants. Needless to say – the place was packed. It a huge ‘open’ space – surrounded on 3 sides and the top with glass. The effect is a sun washed terrace – Italian modern design.

We loved lunch so much – the next day we walked back to get a reservation for dinner!

At dinner – the main dining area is closed, and the upper floor (hidden from view during the day) becomes the dinning room. There are only about 12 tables – and of these only 6 were occupied. With a wait staff of 4 – and an unknown number of kitchen staff – it was like having a personal dinner party.

The airy space – sun lit when we arrived, and gradually darkening as the sun set – was magical. You felt like you were floating among the buildings on every side. While not the over-the-top romantic feeling of Mirabelle – you still felt cared for and about. The wait staff had time to chat – to discuss the meal, to be sure your meal was memorable.

No – the chef did not make an appearance – I’m pretty sure he wasn’t there – but his sous-chefs did a wonderful job of following his directions.

As is expected, there was an amuse, a multi-course tasting menu, and this time there was a wine tasting menu as well. But it was free-form – the sommeiler opting for bottles he felt would compliment what we were going to be eating. The tasting menu featured much larger portions than the ones at All’Oro – which might be why my husband rated Open higher. They also served a variation on ravioli filled with sauce – this time the pasta were tiny hand-made Pyramids. Very neat. The main course was also suckling pig – a much larger portion of course. The meat was extremely tender, but in my opinion, not nearly as tasty as the version served at All’Oro. My only complaint – and this was a problem of my own making – on the menu at Open there was a souffle. This is one of my favorite desserts – and we asked that it be served. However, the dessert on the tasting menu was a chocolate fancy that according to the sommelier/Matre d’ was a prize winner. We allowed him to convince us to go with that option and while tasty – I missed having the souffle. Next time – I stand my ground. Souffle it will be!

So that’s the score. Open Colanna and All’Oro in first place, third place goes to Il Pagliaccio, and last and most forgettable (but a to die for view) – Mirabella.

Signing off – The Soup Lady

Eating Fancy – Rome – Part 2


Part One of this blog talked about the Mirabele – 1 Michelin Star, high points for location and Romance – nice music too – and a not so hot score for the food.

Next up on my list was Il Pagliaccio. This was a 2 star restaurant – tiny, tiny, tiny and stuck in a back street of Rome so challenging to find that our taxi driver had to use her GPS. Surprisingly to me – the door was locked when we arrived. But clearly the host was keeping an eye out – before I could recover from my surprise, the door was opened. We confirmed that we had a reservation – and were ushered in. There were at most 8 tables. And I never saw one flip. So quite the difference from the packed and a bit frantic atmosphere of the Mirabelle.

Like the Mirabelle – we opted for the 10 course tasting menu. Unlike the Mirabelle – there was no matching wine tasting. The sommelier helped my husband select a white wine by the glass, and a red that he felt would go with most of the courses. We were quite disappointed by this – going with most isn’t really quite good enough at this price range.

Again there was a napkin service, this time it happened before we were served a delicious green pea soup amuse that was divine. The courses were interesting – but hard to remember because the main server’s english was so heavily accented, we couldn’t understand him. I was impressed by the continuous simultaneous service – a nice touch. My impression in thinking back on the meal was good – interesting – but not stunning. I love it when a chef makes a dish for me that astounds me – that didn’t happen here. No cause for complaint – just nothing so outstanding I’d try to tell you about it.

I felt that the kitchen here was superior to that of the Mirabelle – but the restaurant lost points for location and view. I’m not sorry we tried it – but I wouldn’t rush back.

Signing off for now – The Soup Lady

Eating Fancy – Rome – Part 1


Eating ‘Fancy’ in Rome

Unlike the intrepid traveller, my husband considers high-end dining to be an absolute necessity when we travel. So it should come as no surprise that when in Rome – we dined right.

Don’t have a least one Michelin star? You are not going to be on our list!

So the next 3 blogs will be reviews of 4 – count’m 4 – Michelin starred restaurants, Open Colanna, the Mirabelle, All’Oro, and Il Pagliaccio. They all offered tasting menus of 5 to 10 courses, and elaborate service. But there were clearly highlights – and while not low lights – at least not so great lights.

Let’s start with our final dinner in Rome – at the Mirabelle. The Mirabelle is on the 7th floor of a 5 star hotel in Rome – with footman, greeters, marble floors, elaborate decor, and attitude to match. Our taxi dropped us at the door, and we were greeted 3 times before we even made it to the restaurant. The restaurant itself earns its highest points for decor, location, and romance. It’s open to the air (but can be closed in by floor to ceiling glass panels). To say the view was spectacular would actually be an understatement. The sun was setting as we arrived and were seated, not in the first row of seats, but pressed up against a glass window. Our view was good, but not amazing. To be amazing, you had to get a table on the ‘terrace’ – and when we reserved, they were all taken.

True to its Michelin Star status – there was a napkin service (they use clippers to place the napkin on your lap, and elaborate ‘greeting’ dish of tiny amuses – mini cookies, tiny salty breads, and a delicious fried ball filled with risotto. This last was my favorite. The bread service was in two parts. Bread sticks and a seasoned mini croissants at one time, followed by a selection of various small rolls after the first course. I loved the croissants and ate both mine and my husbands. The rest of the bread was ultimately forgettable.

We choose the tasting menu of 7 courses – and my husband opted for the high-end wine tasting option that matched. Of the courses – none was knock you socks off special. I did like them – just don’t remember them. During dinner, there was live piano music – low-key American songs, sung for the romance of them. I kept thinking that a dance floor option would have been welcome – it would have been nice to have swayed to the music.

Dinner was followed by 3 desserts – a pre-desert of fennel ice cream (which I loved), and a ‘desert’ of Strawberry soup, also served with ice-cream. After that – they served a platter of friandise – always my favorite part of the meal.

Summary – high points for Romance, Location, View. Not so hot for the food. But they were incredibly busy. All the tables were full – and many flipped twice. So say what I will – they are clearly doing something right.
But on to higher points!

Re-enactment 101


Why would anyone dress up like a solider – march around for 3 days – and go back for more.

Excellent question. And this time – we are doing 2 re-enactments. First we’ll re-enact the Quatre Victories in Montmirail, France. Then we’ll journey to Elba to celebrate Napoleon’s arrival on the Island – not so good for him – but great for Elba.

But first Montmirail. Instead of doing one battle each day in each or the Quatre Victories locations – we’ll do 2 battles in 2 days – both on just one battle field, the Montmirail-Marchais.

But first – we must arrive, find our friends, set-up a tent, get started. It turns out that Victor is well-known by almost everyone – including the Emperor. We barely walk 20 paces before people recognize Victor and rush over to say hi.

For this re-enactment – Vic is going as Marin de la Guarde and I’m a doctor. Not a very high-ranking doctor – a low-level doctor, who has just graduated. My uniform is perfect for this role – and it gives me the opportunity to march with the troops, provide them with water, tend to the ‘wounded’, and move among both enemy. Which is why I’ve been shot at several times by my own troops. Nice guys, eh? Don’t they know a doctor when they see one?

We’re bivouacked with the other Marin – who are staying with the Grognards de Fontainebleau. And we are on the right flank of the Emperor’s tent. Which means we get to watch him (in civilian dress – actually combat fatigues) – setting up his tent! Naturally – the emperor doesn’t get his feet dirty – once he’s the Emperor. So first thing is to lay down huge carpets to form the ground of the ten and dinning/meeting/combat prep room. In his sleeping area there’s a cot with a leopard skin spread, several of his saddles on display, and various other items, including a wash cabinet. In the ‘Pavilion’ area there is a huge table with chairs bearing the Emperor’s Bee’s – cabinets for holding his silver, candlesticks for light.

The Marin and the Imperial Guard set up guard posts – 15 to 20 minutes on guard when ever the Emperor is in ‘Residence’.

When all is done – the transformation happens – and out from the tent strides the Emperor. Cheers from every corner as he visits each bivouac – troops line up at ‘Gardez Vous’ – and he strolls down the line – commenting here and there on this and that. He remembers Victor from Fountainbleu and singles him out for a comment. He gives the young son of one of our officers a coin with his likeness – and after prompting (this is how it would have happened) – gives a Medal of Honor to one of the troops that displayed great bravery at a previous battle.

More Cheers – and he moves on.

Friday night we eat dinner late, relax around the campfire, visit the tavern (there is always a tavern), and eventually people drift off – some like us to a hotel, others to bed down in tents or even in the open air.

Saturday is the day of the great battle – all day friday and all friday night troops and Calvary and cannon crews have been arriving. The number of re-enactors has grown from one or two, to several hundred, to several thousand. There are well over 100 horses, and I counted over 20 large cannons. But not everything is for us – there are also facilities that have bloomed up overnight for the spectators – and that’s a source of much fun for the re-enactors.

There are several different food vendors – this is France – so the cheese is amazing, there are croissants available to buy – 1/2 price for re-enactors. We spot tents with books on Napoleon, others with antiques (and not so antiques) for sale. Ladies in long gowns, white parasols and long gloves stroll amid soldiers in various uniforms, officers in gold braid, Calvary in all their finery, and the strangely dress tourists!

Bleachers have been built with seats – but standing room only space is the norm, and provides great views of the entire battle field. To the amusement of the growing crowds, the French Line decides to drill in the middle of the space allocated to the viewers. We do our drill in a separate area, and I’m not sure where the allied forces were drilling. Everywhere there is Calvary – and the cannon crews practice their drills.

As a doctor – I’m free to roam – and I watch the cannon crew for a while. Cannons are very very loud – and there’s a ton of smoke released – much to the surprise of a photographer who had gotten up close for a perfect shot. It was perfect ok – until he had to run out of the dense smoke cloud!

Drill complete – we resume camp life – then gather for the muster of the troops prior to the battle.

We don’t really know the plan – we just follow the shoulder pack of the guy in front of us. I spot a collection of Medical men – all French – standing off behind the army. But I greatly prefer to be in the heat of the action, and stand directly behind our troop of around 100 Imperial Guard, made up of Marin, Grenadiers, Moyan Guard and Jeune Guarde. Victor is positioned to the front – and acts as an NCO, repeating orders as the Marshal and Generals and Majors yell them out.

Napoleon canters by with his entourage – to gay cries of Vive L’Emporeur.

For this battle, we are being held in reserve – so while the solders of the line see plenty of action, our involvement is limited. When we finally do charge the enemy – we quickly over-run their lines – and I’m busy helping the wounded – of both sides. I suddenly realize that I’ve become separated from the Imperial Guard. There are soldiers every where – just done of them my ‘team’.

Shoot.

This is awkward.

I search madly for someone – anyone I recognize the uniform of – and eventually spot Rudy marching with the 85th. At least I know for sure they are on ‘our’ side. I march with them off the battle field – relieved to get off the field, and to put down my now depleted supplies of water.

We re-form lines for a final salute – we break ranks to ‘Vive L’Emperour’ – and collapse into our tents, our piles of straw – or head to the tavern. Whew – one battle down, one to go.

Sunday we repeat as above – only this time we start the battle much earlier in the day – around 10:00 am – and thus it is neither so hot – not so ‘touristy’. And this time the guarde is called upon to fight. We rush uphill towards the ‘town’ – firing as we go. We are rushed by Calvary – and form square to defend ourselves. As the doctor, I’m ‘smushed’ into the middle of the square – unable to see much besides the heads of the horsemen as they gallop around our outward facing bayonets.

At the town, we rescue the townsfolk, and defend the town. We even take over several cannon positions  – it’s really hard to move a cannon quickly. I minister to the wounded – narrowly avoiding being shot by my own troops again. I heard the command to load the muskets this time – and fled before they could fire. Whew.

The battle continues, boiling down the hill of long grasses towards the bleachers – until the Marshal’s call for a cease-fire. When I finally catch up to the Guarde – Victor proudly shows me his saber – nicked in battle with a Prussian who was up for a bit of a fight.

Eventually we march off the field, dismantle the camps, and head back to the hotel for a very much-needed bath and shower.

Success was ours today!

Venice – City of Delight


I love Venice

I knew I’d like Venice – I mean it’s all about boats and water and art – what’s not to like. But I didn’t plan to love it.

And I loved it.

Finding a place to stay was quite the challenge. My husband had heard of the Gritti Palace – but $1500 a night off-season – is a tad over any price range I’d feel comfy sleeping in. So internet searching happened – and I discovered ‘The Bert’. The Bert is a Bed and Breakfast on a yacht that is moored in a Yacht club on an island near the main island of Venice. And for me – it was the perfect place.

Breakfast on the stern deck, coffee and tea in the afternoon in the main cabin, and upstairs a bar and relaxing area for drinks in the evening.

We arrived late the first night – in the rain. Not fun, and not the best start. We had followed directions – taking one of the transport boats from the airport to the island dock. What we had not quite understood was that we had to leave the main dock before the shuttle boat for the Yacht could pick us up. And with our multiple pieces of luggage (re-enacting is not for the carry on only traveler) this was a challenge. But once the folks from The Bert had understood our challenges – they were quick to help.

We squared away our cabin – with private en-suite bathroom – tiny but efficient. It even had a bidet – although taking a shower meant getting the entire bathroom wet. Stephano – the captain and host extraordinaire offered to cook us dinner – for 30 euros each. We gladly accepted the offer – and I think had one of the most price effective meals of our stay in Italy. Our 30 Euros included unlimited wine (white and red), bread, an amuse, a pasta course, a main course, and dessert. Yummy – private – and served on the stern deck to the lapping of waves and the sound of crickets. Color me happy.

The Bert also provided an ample breakfast – including fresh eggs – cooked to your specifications. That plus unlimited cappuccino – I’m happy.

After breakfast, we either caught the Bert Shuttle to the island dock – or walked 10 minutes. From the dock to Venice was a short boat ride – we spent more time waiting for the boat than actually travelling. Once you figured out when the boats came (you can set you watch by them) – it was easy to time your travel. We quickly become very efficient at getting to and from the heart of Venice.

Venice. Oh yes – Venice. I had pre-planned our first 2 days to be sure that I got to see the ‘highlights’ – St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge Palace. Then we had 2 days to wander on our own – most of which I spent visiting museums, and Victor spent on the internet.

Best museum adventure ever? I wandered into the First Public Library in Venice – and a lovely young female artist explained the drawings – she had written the story of the library – giving the ‘player’s’ – key among them Napoleon – Animal faces. Wonderfully complete, and extremely creative.

In the evenings, we ate. My favorite meal – Quadri. It’s been on St. Mark’s Square for over 100 years – and it rates 2 Michelin starts. Location is perfect, Service is amazing. Souffle was delicious. And as a parting gift – they gave us the menu to remember the meal. Nice touch. After dinner, we wandered the square, then took the boat home.

Sigh – Venice – perfect – absolutely perfect.

Wait – aren’t we supposed to be reading “Tale of 2 Cities” !


I started to delete the following post – then decided that it would be more fun to just explain what I was trying to do!

I belong to an on-line book club. We have assigned monthly readings – and I’ve not been great about keeping up. It just takes me time to find a specific book, start reading it, finish reading it – and then review it. I’m good for about 1 in 10. So I was feeling bad about not keeping up – decided that since I could get a free (ibook – gotta love it) copy of a Tale of 2 Cities – I’d read that one.

Then I go on the review site – and one gal is talking about the total page-flipper that is the Divergent series. I’m plodding thru Tale of 2 Cities – she’s living the easy read life of the 3rd book in that series.

What can I say. I got a bit annoyed – and flung back the following post. And stupidly forgot to see who I was when I did it! So I posted as the Montreal Madame.com

Silly blonde moment. Sorry.

I will get back to posting here – I promise!

 

It’s unfair if someone (you know who you are) cheats by reading the book I wanted to be reading instead. I mean if we’re going to the Divergent series – let’s do it.

But assigning book A – and then reviewing Book D (hee, hee – Divergent – get it) – that’s so unfair.

I too am reading another book – a wonderful one that a real page flipper by Faye Kellerman called Blindman’s Bluff. But I’m also flipping my way thru Tale of 2 cities like the good solider I am.

Well – ok – guilt – I didn’t read last months – or the months before that. But I was skiing. It’s hard to read while skiing.

On to my take on the Tale.

I’m about 1/3 of the way thru. It was a free download on iBooks – my kind of price range – so that’s a huge part of my willingness to read it. I get frustrated by libraries. I mean you guys live in the land of sunshine and warm days. I’m battling 12 foot tall snow drifts, frigidly cold winds, and generally lousy weather. Libraries are out.

Book review:

A lot better than I remember it. That said – I might not have ever read it. I mean the opening – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – who hasn’t heard that. But never mind – the story reminds me a bit of a Tarzan book with Jane Austin over-tones. The same people keep ‘happening’ to run into each other – over and over and over again.

And who killed the Marquis? I think that’s a critical issue – but that topic is skirted around while the author flounders around fishlike (see I can stick to one image for most of a sentence) in the ilght and dark. I’m going for the guy that had his child run over by the Marguis’s carriage.

And who is she going to marry? I’m up to 2 or is it 3 proposals or at least heavily hinted at proposals – and the young lady in question is still taking care of her father.

(Can I read Divergent series too? We can discuss it!)