Thursday 18 June

Two days after I last wrote I was on holiday in Louisiana and Texas with friends I had met on iona but who come from Louisiana, Scotland and Australia!

My flight was a round the houses affair to New Orleans via Charlotte. Arrrival was on time if a little scary as the pilot braved it to get ahead of the incoming storm. A party was there to welcome me at the airport. and then we checked into the hotel and headed out for drinks and a meal in the French Quarter. I dined on shrimp po’boys, fine ale and great company. Now for some sightseeing.

After a hotel breakfast we headed back into town to visit the cathedral, a coffee shop and the Central Café for a mufelata later and a storm has arrived to cool things down. While my friends sought refuge in shopping I remained dry on a step watching people dodge the torrents. In the evening Larry led us through a maze of market stalls and then we visited a jazz club for a meal in its restaurant followed by the early evening set. We situated ourselves upstairs but unfortunately I could see very little from there. The others seemed happy with their seats but I decided to move downstairs during the final number where I could easily see what I had earlier heard upstairs. It was a great evening and as the thers wanted an early night I visited a recommended local bar. People were very chatty and the prices were low! Thanks Larry! Early rise tomorrow.

We left New Orleans around noon for Covington and its Marriott Hotel which is fortuitously located opposite a Goodwill store! I had no idea that I was travelling with such kindred spirits!

We spent the morning at St Joseph’s Abbey where I played after Mass. The abbey was notable for its Dobson Organ and fine murals created by monk Gregory de Wit. In the afternoon we visited Oak Valley sugar plantation. We mused that very few tourists showed any interest in the slave conditions themselves seeking instead the stately home of the owners. It was raining again but this was alleviated by a cordial of mint and whiskey called mint julip!

On Monday we left Covington for Lafayette with an en route lunch after a panera breakfast. Lunch was a picnic in the Methodist church where Ann, our wonderful host, was minister. After lunch she took us around the sights and, of course, I played the Casavant organ at St Jean’s Cathedral. We became a captive audience for the museum guide who clearly did not get many visitors and was not going to let us go in a hurry. Later we visited an Acadian village. In the evening we ate at the Blue Dog restaurant made famous by the artist Rodrigue. Earlier on Saturday we had seen his painting adorn a hotel’s Steinway grand piano. It was a great meal with an amusing waitress called Emily. After a night cap with generous hosts we retired early to bed

Originally we’d planned on only one night in Lafayette but with tropical storm Bill threatening Houston and our hosts offering hospitality we remained an extra day. we spent the day on a mixture of thrift shops and sightseeing in St Martinville and Lafayette. We lunched in a park where once we’d entered we incurred an entrance fee. So we stayed and watched an information film before moving on. That evening we ate en famille and went to bed early.

On Wednesday we made the long drive towards Houston and stayed in a house overlooking the marina. We met our hosts in a pub which also specialised in pizza so we ate and drank. During the meal Dawn had procured a basket of complimentary sweets. Not to be outdone I asked the waitress whether there were anymore. the manager appeared clearly annoyed and there would not be another shipment for a while. I retreated vanquished. Our hosts were most generous and both academics. She was the wilder of the two and very entertaining at that. In the evening we drove to Galviston to meet Dawn’s niece Laura and boyfriend. We ate another meal. We managed this outside with little threat of rain.

In the morning we did a couple of stops for souvenirs and a final trip to Goodwill and then drove one hour to the airport. Jeanette was returning on the 4pm to Glasgow and I on the 4.30pm to Tampa. Unfortunately my flight was delayed an hour through heavy storms in Tampa but we landed and Marty who had covered as musician for my absence was there to greet me and drive me to my apartment. I slept!

Friday

A chance conversation with a medical lawyer in a bar has revealed that I can vew British TV programmes in Florida. I have just watched ‘Call the Midwife’, cried, and am about to watch ‘Midsomer Murders’. this is heaven!

I’ve never been a visual aid in a homily before but today as I sat at the organ in my post accident neck support, the new pastor just happened to mention whiplash!..

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