Travel often means eating in diners, cafes, restaurants & airports. Even staying, as I did, with my sister here in Sydney, I dined out more than usual. Usually for lunch. With more Tim Ho’s per capita than doctors, Cape Breton is right on the money for coffee and donuts. What I like about the Tim’s here is that the coffee is stronger than in Toronto and they offer a regional snack – oak cakes – that I love.
My airport dining experience was in Toronto – things done to chicken at a Swiss Chalet – their summer special Greek meal – the tzatziki make a good replacement for the sauce plus the veggies were not over cooked but a bit of feta would have completed the meal.
When we went to the Miners’ Museum we ate at the Miners’ Village Restaurant after we went through the exhibits. The menu was limited but hearty. I would have like to see a few more nods of what the miners would have eaten – I’m sure they didn’t have California veggie wraps. I went for the hot hamburger with gravy sandwich. the burger was excellent – the fries okay. The Museum itself is excellent for an introduction into the mines but merely hints at the daily life of the miners. A trip into the mine is the best way to get a feel for the conditions the miners worked in.
After the Miners’ I hit the Whitney Pier Museum – which I love – not much new has been donated since I was last there 5 years ago but I enjoyed going through the old high school year books and seeing the exhibits on the extensive and various ethnic communities that were isolated in the Pier. Many groups sought to stick together and never strayed far from their ‘stomping grounds.’ Even in Toronto has a Little Italy, Little India etc. But there is an awareness of each other – when I grew up in Sydney, I didn’t know there was black community till I was in my late teens.
On Monday I had lunch with an old friend at Centre 200 where I had forgettable bacon & eggs to the sound of clicking slot machines. An ideal place to get caught up with each other without the distraction of tasty food.
Tuesday was another lunch with another old friend – this time at an old haunt – The New Moon was the first Chinese restaurant to open in Sydney. I can sort of remember my first jumbo shrimp, definitely remember my first Singapore Sling. The menu remains pretty much unchanged, prices haven gone up some and the food was good.
It was a short walk from the New Moon to visit Wentworth Perk again, had time to sit on the patio and enjoy the steady stream of coffee addicts. More attractive men who needed a shave than I would have expected. Coffee as good as on my first visit, great date square & my old friend gave me a section of her Turtles cheese cake which was perfect. I did hear from one of the owners after my pervious post and they hoping to start a spoken-word night in the fall.
Travel also means changes in routine for me. Not big changes but enough to make me appreciate getting back to those routines. Less reading, less writing too – this time – but I have been making notes & picking up books to fill in the context for my next novel (Coal Dusters). I’ve had a few chats about it with people I’ve met on my search for info & the reaction is positive. The time era in Cape Breton – mid 1920’s – is one that hasn’t been look at too closely and certainly not in fiction.
here’s an old piece about growing up in Cape Breton –
it’s hard to tell
when he became the son
his dad didn’t expect
was it when he hit
that dangerous hormone rush
and couldn’t concentrate in school
didn’t know where to look
where his eyes were supposed to focus
what was the target –
long division or
longing to doodle scribbles
that might form words
but even spelling
was beyond his grasp
couldn’t slip into some easy identity
all he wanted was to be left alone
why bother asking him questions
he wasn’t one of those bright kids
who could memorize the times tables
a boy adrift in the hazy life
where roles were cut out for you
from the start he felt himself drift
through those holes
it didn’t feel so easy at the time
he knew those tight formations
weren’t for him
not that he was mr rebellious
merely mr a little off centre
moving in his own way
caught up in a culture that said
you can be what you want
as long as you keep it to yourself
the secret secret
that made it all right
and above all
don’t fail to appear apologetic
shame makes all the difference
to the difference
it’s hard to tell
when I became the son
my dad didn’t expect
probably before I was born