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Posts Tagged ‘USA’

One of the things I love about New Orleans, especially during Jazzfest, is all of the street music that you come across. Buskers on nearly every street corner in the Quarter, playing and singing for tips.

A warm welcome to Jazzfest from one of the locals

A warm welcome to Jazzfest from one of the locals

A little jazz on the corner of rue Royal

A little jazz on the corner of rue Royal

Without a car, this bassist suddenly wishes he’d taken up the flute instead…

Without a car, this bassist suddenly wishes he’d taken up the flute instead…

A little more music down by Jackson Square

A little more music down by Jackson Square

And a competing group on the opposite corner of the Square!

And a competing group on the opposite corner of the Square!


No visit to New Orleans would be complete without a few beignets and a cup of coffee at Café Du Monde. So we made it our first stop and got tucked right in!

Beignets at Café Du Monde

Beignets at Café Du Monde

Beignets at Café Du Monde

Beignets at Café Du Monde

Beignets at Café Du Monde

Beignets at Café Du Monde

One of the nice things about getting married overseas is that you get the chance to celebrate everything at least twice (or in our case, thrice – England, USA and France!) Since we were going to be in Washington for a few days, my parents took the opportunity to throw an impromptu engagement party for us. Some peanuts and cocktails, perhaps?

Nope. Six racks of lamb and all the trimmings. You know, a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing.

We had a great time – a great excuse for a party and a chance to catch up with lots of old friends.

Jim and Sima listen to Raymond tell a story

Jim and Sima listen to Raymond tell a story

Marta, Aude, Carol and Jim

Marta, Aude, Carol and Jim

Andy smiles for the camera

Andy smiles for the camera

Joanne, looking like she’s about to get into mischief

Joanne, looking like she’s about to get into mischief

Carol, captured by someone’s storytelling

Carol, captured by someone’s storytelling

The cat is unimpressed by the whole affair…

The cat is unimpressed by the whole affair…

More vacation updates: When we got back from the Chesapeake Bay, having stuffed ourselves with crabs, it was soon time for more food. My mother made a chicken and lentil tagine. We sat out in the garden until quite late, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

"Momcat" in the kitchen

“Momcat” in the kitchen

The next morning was a bit of government-sponsored sightseeing. In order to get married in France, I need to attach an Apostille to my birth certificate, effectively certifying that my certified copy is genuinely a certified copy (a certification of a certification, if you will.) Initially I thought that I could get the Apostille done at the Department of State, but it turns out that they only issue them for federal documents. State documents, like my birth certificate, need to go back to the state where they were issued.

Since I was born in Washington, I thought I would find out if the Apostille could be issued in person. Luckily, it could – all it took was a quick trip down to the Mayor’s office and for $10, they prepare the certificate while they wait.

It all seemed so simple. And it was, until I read in the fine print that they only accepted cheques, money orders, or bankers’ drafts. No cash, no credit cards.

This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I don’t carry my US chequebook as a matter of course. So I figured I would buy a money order at the post office. Only I assumed that there would be a post office on every downtown corner, the way there are in the UK. I was wrong – it was 17 blocks to the nearest post office!

Once I finally had the money order sorted out (which took all morning), the actual bureaucracy in the government office only took a few minutes. One more thing off my list of things to do before the wedding.

In the afternoon we went to Alexandria for lunch and to tour the Torpedo Factory (where the one gallery we really wanted to see was unfortunately closed!) We spent the rest of the afternoon down on the Potomac River, watching the planes take-off and land from Washington Reagan National Airport, which took me back to doing the same thing as a child. I am amazed, post 9/11, that they still allow you to get so close to the runway.

Planes landing at Reagan National Airport

Planes landing at Reagan National Airport

Planes landing at Reagan National Airport

Planes landing at Reagan National Airport

Planes landing at Reagan National Airport

Planes landing at Reagan National Airport

Reagan National Airport

Reagan National Airport

From there, we went out to Hains Point to see what was left of the cherry blossoms, then back home for an engagement party that my parents had arranged…

An old couple looking out onto the Potomac

An old couple looking out onto the Potomac

Aude at Hains Point, overlooking the Potomac River

Aude at Hains Point, overlooking the Potomac River

Matthew & Aude pose for a photo at The Awakening at Hains Point

Matthew & Aude pose for a photo at The Awakening at Hains Point

Matthew poses in front of the cherry blossoms

Matthew poses in front of the cherry blossoms

Washington cherry blossoms

Washington cherry blossoms
Miss New Orleans?

A sign found written in the window of one of the shops on rue Royal…

I do know what it means to miss New Orleans, and it was great to be back — good food, good music, great nightlife and a chance to catch up with a lot of old friends. While there is still a lot of Katrina damage once you outside the main tourist areas, the city is actively rebuilding and people are beginning to return to their homes and work in larger numbers.

Fear not — New Orleans is still the same great city it always was. If you haven’t been since Katrina, open your wallet and book a flight. They need your money and they will welcome you with the same N’Awlins spirit they always have.

After a very long day of planes, trains and automobiles, we finally made it from Canterbury to Washington (via London and Dallas) and fell straight into bed. Sunday morning, however, we were up early and set off to visit the Chesapeake Bay. Purists will cringe and complain that it’s too early in the season for crabs, that they’re too light and full of water, and that the best crabs come later in the summer – but Aude had never had proper blue crabs before, and beggars can’t be choosers. We headed to a crab place on Kent Narrows and ordered a dozen large crabs, a plate of fried clams, several beers, and set to work.

After lunch, we drove around the coast for a while, eventually making our way to Terrapin Park, where we walked nearly to the base of the Bay Bridge. The weather was beautiful and we both came home with rather embarrassing farmers’ tans – Aude with white shoulders, me with one arm darker than the other because it had been in the sun.

Aude with crab

Aude holds up the unlucky victim…

Aude and Matt with a pile of crabs

Matt and Aude with a dozen of Maryland’s finest crabs…

Matt with crab

Matt is poised and ready to go with his mallet…

Not much left

Not much left after we were through — just a pile of empty shells!

Chesapeake Bay coastline

The Chesapeake Bay coastline

Captain Aude

Captain Aude