Thursday, 26 April 2012

A few outings

This is a beautiful time of year in North Texas, when the days are warm and the nights are still cool; when the grass is green and the flowers compete to bloom before the heat sets in; when butterflies emerge in clouds of bright colours and proud mother ducks shepherd little balls of fluff around the lake.  We haven't made any big excursions, but like most people, have been making the most of the time before the wilting heat drives us inside.

A few miles north of us, the small town of Roanoke markets itself as "The Unique Dining Capital of Texas", and recently put on a "Unique Week".  The festivities included live music for several evenings, so we went to hear a group called Brave Combo.  They play dance music in the widest sense of the word - their website boasts that they can turn their instruments to polka, salsa, rock, chacha and much more - and they do so with vigour!  One thing I love about Texans is that they're not ashamed to dance in public.  Any live music event is incomplete without a few older couples swaying to a two-step or a waltz, some teenage girls swinging each other round in some giggling spins, and a few kids jumping up and down in the middle.  Urged on by the lead singer, this crowd did all that, plus provided a creditable number of people willing to embarrass themselves by doing the chicken dance.  We were excluded, you understand, by having to look after Toby.  Not from any fear of embarrassment, of course.



A few more miles away, the somewhat larger town of Grapevine has a botanic garden which we had never visited.  It's not quite on the scale of the Dallas or Fort Worth gardens, being more of a glorified park, but nevertheless a very pretty one.  On a pleasant Saturday morning it was crowded with photographers and picnicking families.  Toby loved the pool with a handy trickle over the edge to splash his fingers in.  Water features are one of his things right now; he happily points out everything from a neighbour's little plastic waterfall to a huge spraying fountain.





And we just had to head downtown for the annual Main Street Arts Festival.  After a harrowing attempt to navigate the crowds with a pushchair, we settled it that one of us would entertain Toby on a nice shady patch of grass while the other one toured the art.  That proved to be a much better way of seeing things.  Graham admired some intricate beaded platters, while I was taken by some handmade sets of drawers inset with beautiful leaf and flower designs.  Some brightly coloured blown glass almost made my mouth water, it looked so much like candy.  The crazy spinning mobiles are a regular feature, though there wasn't much wind for them this year.  Meanwhile, Toby met some other little boys, waved at all the buses, and relaxed with a book or two.





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