Yes, I'm back - without causing too much mirth with my odd use of the English (read American) language. Although I did have to explain the word 'niggle' to a very amused and bemused airport official. Apart from that, I was entirely free of mainlining an Enid Blyton plucky heroine. In fact, bf was worse than me as I distinctly heard him say "T'riffic" several times (if I'm Blyton-esque, he was clearly inspired by Dick Van Dyck in Gor-blimey Mary Poppins).
The people - in New England at any rate - were SO lovely. It was an eye opener to see what a service industry can be like - friendly, helpful people! Really! If they eye-rolled, they did so out of sight - impressive self-control. And I was press-ganged in the most friendly way in New Hampshire into to drinking inordinate amounts of coffee (of many wierd and wonderful flavours) as I handled the inevitable question "So, where are you from? London? I LOVE London". Well, London (or at least this speck of it) loves you right back, baby! We oohed and ahhed at the beautiful variety of leaf colour ("Don't they have trees in England?" Well yes, but not flame red ones generally), did several heavy duty hikes and learnt to fear the words "combo platter" (bf was horrified by the size when he ordered it. Really. I think he's still mentally scarred) and learnt to order what was clearly considered to be puny portions (my last breakfast in New Hampshire I was asked sorrowfully if that was "all" I wanted. Twice. Reader, it was a large muffin (delicious - not nearly as cakey as the ones over here and raspberry and walnut, yum). And yes, that was all.)
So, after many a pancake (again, I learnt to order off the 'healthy' menu in New Hampshire which meant one pancake the size of a dinner plate, rather than two which it nearly killed me trying to eat on day 1), 2 whoopie pies, some cupcakes, several burgers (I left at least half the bread), fries - both sweet potato and regular, a couple of lobster rolls and a variety of peanut butter flavoured confectionery, what did SoD have to say about all this hedonism? Well, you can imagine my fear, especially since bf remarked dolefully that he was convinced he'd put on at least a stone. 8lbs on. Not bad, given that I put that much on in a weekend in Devon. Of course, it's going to take me until Christmas to lose that - and that's with a fair wind behind me. But it's done. And it could have been so much worse.
I think what saved me from a greater gain was some restraint on my part (believe it or not!), refusing to eat anything I didn't really like after a bite (often leaving poor bf feeling he had to eat it), not drinking a lot and those hikes. We did 4 and 3 were pretty damn tough. We learnt not to call it walking as it confused our American fellow guests who told us that 'walking' meant half a mile on the flat to the shops. And hey, hiking sounds SO much more impressive. And accurate tbh - the trails were tough - constant climbing over tree roots, scrambling over or around rocks and/or through streams. For our first walk in Acadia, we decided to ease our way in. Then bf got hold of a walk book. "Do you fancy a 4 mile mountain walk?". I did - with some trepidation - before I fell in that it was 4 miles to the flipping top and then I had to come down again! I only got up there by promising myself I'd get the bus down. Or possibly live at the top. Of course, I walked back down but I was shattered. Then the next day we climbed another mountain - and I do mean climbed/scrambled. Then we did a 8 mile circuit of 2 trails the next day where hunters shot alarmingly close to my deer-coloured hair.
We loved New England and will definitely go back. I didn't love New York though - I guess it was just a big city to me and I much prefer the countryside, that's all. We weren't intending to shop (although we did a bit) which seems to be the point of NY and we were staying in a dodgy part of Harlem. I tend to over-dramatise when I'm a bit freaked out but it was bf who wrote down all our card details and passport nos before we went to try and find somewhere to eat on the first night, ignorant of where exactly we were and where we could go. "I think we have to accept we may well get mugged at some point" he said calmly. Seeing my stricken face, he added encouragingly "It will make a great story afterwards"! We didn't get mugged but it was not comfortable after dark - and we live in East London so are not exactly wide-eyed carrot-crunchers. And the B&B, although run by a charming and well meaning woman, was as if we were camped out in someone's spare room - someone who'd never actually been to an hotel. Pretty colour walls though. And it was intriguing to come back each night and see what furniture had been added and taken away.
Now all I've got to do is conquer the jet-lag (staying up 31 hours to get back to London time doesn't seem to have done it) and get back on the wagon and lose that 8lbs - then leave the Porky stone bracket behind me. All I've got to do....