Right sort of wind, wrong sort of weather, Wonderland


Jane at the helm, trying to steer a straight course

What’s that about a picture being equal to a thousand words?  Much as I dreaded the return trip to Marblehead, with the possible nightmare of another 8 hours throwing up, I discovered that even though we were being tilted almost flat against the sea, it was the right sort of wind.  No churning, just simple rocking courtesy of a helpful tailwind.  Bracing my, somewhat too short, legs against the opposite bench I  was flung intermittently across the boat until I selfishly hunkered down in one corner, semi-sheltered by the awning  from the battering wind and rain, filling up on cheesy goldfish.  Nick or Jane braved it out at the wheel.


I got to thinking what would happen if one of us were tipped out?  What if both of them were tipped out?  I didn’t have a clue how to use the radio phone, or even how to turn around and fish them out.  I’m not usually one to catastrophize  but couldn’t help remembering a Buddhist friend who was electrocuted on his boat scarcely a year ago, leaving his wife floundering about at sea. Would Jane be able to sail alone if anything happened to Nick on their journeys?  I worried even more when Jane, sans lifejacket,  wearing socks and no shoes, clambered onto the prow to release another sail.  Scanning the ocean for whales made it worryingly obvious how very, well, empty, it is.

Sickness, on the other hand, was well under control.  I’d breakfasted handsomely, toasting on the barbecue (which I was heartened to find is attached to one of the metal rails at the back of the boat, well away from combustibles).  This time I hope I was encouraging company if not any actual use.  The return was shortened by not diverting via the Stellwagen Bank, and that tail wind.  By the time we arrived back at the Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead the weather had calmed, the sun shone and we had an easy time dismantling our stay on the boat.  We hadn’t seen any whales on the return trip, but were satisfied with the sitings we’d had on the way down and from the Dolphin boat.

Jane and Nick returned to work next morning and I had the rest of the week to revisit Boston.  I wanted to take a look at the harbour.  Was I really right that the big international jets, that had thrilled me so much, fly right over the sailing boats?  I last visited Boston with my American husband back in the 1980s, staying with his cousin in a mini mansion in the suburbs.  What I remember most, however, was a lot of mention by his cousin  about what she pronounced ‘boofalow’ mozzarella.  I got the impression that this was a very special mozzarella, only available in Boston and of incomparable taste.  I discovered that like most mozzarella it is more a texture than a taste until it gets melted onto a pizza, when it tastes just like – mozzarella.  This time I wanted to see art.  (Actually I wanted to see his cousin for a coffee, but she was too busy.  I guess looking up an ex’s family is not necessarily such a great idea.)

Catching the Boston bus from Marblehead first thing in the morning I was the only passenger.

 “You from London?” shouted the lady driver to where I sat, half way down the bus.

“No, the West Country.  Nailsworth.”  Why do they always say London?    “Near Bath”.

“D’you remember that series about the hippy guys living in the flat?”

“The Young Ones?”

” That’s right.  I loved that.  Coronation Street?”

“Not my thing I’m afraid”

” Are You Being Served?”  Good grief.  What must she think about us?75c took me all the way to Wonderland.

I had great hopes of Wonderland, who wouldn’t?  But it seems it’s time has come and gone.  Built in 1906 it was believed to be the inspiration for Disney Land.  By 1911 it was bankrupt and was turned into a Greyhound park in 1935.  However it does have the Wonderland Ballroom on the North Shore road.  Sadly that doesn’t  get very good reviews.  GloR says “its the worst venue I’ve ever been too.  Ceiling falling off, security worst in history.  Only place I’ve ever been to where Security breaks up fights and lets the people stay in there…don’t go to this place unless you want to witness fights all night.  Tristan B has a helpful hint “if you’re going to see a show here IT’S NOT GOING TO SELL OUT” and suggests you skip the crappy support bands.


The Old State House, Boston

All I did in Wonderland was buy a Charlie Card, with some difficulty (is there a Plain American campaign?), to get out, and took a train ride to Aquarium by Boston harbour. The temperature was nudging  90°.  It would have been a very good idea to go to an art gallery and take advantage of some air conditioning. Finding there were free guided tours of the Freedom Trail with a Boston National Park Ranger I ended up speeding through the Quincy Market to the meeting point.  I suppose it’s not the poor man’s fault that the ‘trail’ lasted only a couple of blocks.  It took in the Old State House where the revolution was kindled, and where the declaration of independence was read from the balcony.  After that it didn’t really go anywhere of note.  Every few minutes our ranger would stop his talk,  remove a water bottle from his bag, take a slug and say “hydrate folks, remember to hydrate. Take care folks, walk reeeeal slow and careful.”  A natural fast walker and information sponge, the slow pace drove me insane. (I am guessing Texas would not be my place.)

I decided to pass on the afternoon free tour, and take a ride on a Duck boat round the harbour instead.  It sounded cool and refreshing – rather James Bond, splashing into the harbour in a vehicle that could morph into a boat.  (Little did I know that the news in the UK was that a Duck boat had got into trouble on the Thames,  caught on fire, creating a big panic and a rescue; a second one followed with a sinking a week or so later.)  A  ‘history tour’ around town first was included, so it seemed like it would fit the bill (no pun intended) nicely.

I hadn’t anticipated the woman in the seat behind me.  Here she is, caught in the moment when she’s answering the call from what I gathered was her sister. This, in a very loud voice, so we could all share:


The woman behind in the Duck Boat

“Well I know, I know.  He’s constipated.  He’s probably impacted. Yes.  Yes.  Well go and get some glycerine suppositories.  Feel his belly.  You can probably feel it in his belly?  Give it a prod.  No, only one.  Just try one and see what happens.  No, I said GLYCERINE SUPPOSITORY.  You don’t want to give him diarrhoea.”  And as if that wasn’t enough, she had to repeat the conversation over and over.  Did her sister not get it?  Or was she trying to tell us all what a burden it was caring for her father and how much more she knew about it than her sister?  If it was sympathy she wanted it was wasted on me.  All my sympathy went to the poor man having his embarrassing symptoms shared full volume on a Duck Boat.

Duck Boat Boston Harbour

Duck Boat Boston Harbour

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