Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apple-Picking and Expensive Bubble-Tea

Yippee! Daddy's first-ever contribution to this blog, reproduced here with permission, of course:

"I guess I will take it upon myself to do a kinda email-blog of our latest outing."

So here goes:

Question: What do picking apples at an orchard and drinking a cup of bubble milk tea at the asian food court have in common?

Answer: They are both unbelieveably EXPENSIVE!

Just thought I'd send over some pictures that we took last Sunday when the whole family took a drive out of Cambridge to a fruit orchard about an hour's drive west of Boston. Yes, that's right, this is the fall fruit picking seasons and from September to end-Oct every year, apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins and strawberries are ripe for the picking. And a popular family day-out that urbanites do around this parts is to pack the entire family into a car and drive out to the country for a morning of fruit picking. Fortunately, whilst strawberry and peach were picked out, apples were still in season.


So it was that we drove out of Cambridge last Sunday, and thank God that we had beautiful clear blue skies to boot. The orchard was called the 'Belkin Family Lookout Farm' and in many ways was more of a family theme park than it was a pure fruit orchard.

If one were to look past the rather exhorbitant entrance fee of USD12 per adult (kids below 2 years are free), the place was actually quite a kiddy wonderland. 180 acres of fruit orchards - which according to the guide was equal to 180 (American) football fields - yielded row upon row of fruit shrubs.

I say shrubs because I'd always thought that apples grew on trees but as you will see in some of the photos, they are more like shrubs. And I didn't realise that there were so many varieties of apples too... just to name a few: JonaGold, Golden Delicious, Asian Pear (a variety of apple) and MacIntosh (That's right, the popular brand of computer was named after an actual variety of apple).


There was a little train (kinda like the one they have at the night safari) where you can hop on and off anytime you like at any of the five stops along the orchard.... each stop was at a different part of the orchard that grew different varieties of fruit. I must admit too that the experience brought out the child in me.... I mean, honestly, this was the first time in all my 32 years that I have ever eaten an apple directly off the tree/shrub. Literally, pluck, wipe and bite!

And they were delicious and oh so juicy!!! Each of us were given a bag that we could fill with apples and at the end of the picking, this bag would be weighed and we would have to pay accordingly for what we picked.

Apart from fruit picking, the farm had a sizeable kids play area that also come with a petting zoo. I think that was Dylan's first time up close and personal with a goat and he looked like he was both intrigued and enjoying himself.

In all, our fruit foray yielded a rich picking (80% of which could be credited to MIL), and at USD2 per pound, the apples we not cheap at all! Apples in the supermarket cost a whole lot less, but I console myself with the fact that the apples in the orchard were huge and the experience of picking one's own apples was something that was difficult to put a monetary value to.

Needless to say that I have been having apples everyday so far, and I swear that at end of the week, I will be sweating apple juice out of my pores. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, I think we will not be visiting the doc for the next year or so!!!

OK, will sign off here, till the next time that we have things to update. Halloween is coming in a couple of weeks soon and though it does not seem to be a huge thing here in Cambridge, we were thinking of taking a train to Salem over the weekend. Salem was the location of the witch trials in the 1600s and I guess is the Halloween central of New England.

But before I end off, one quick comment about the bubble tea here in Cambridge -

We were delighted to find us a stall at the asian food court that sold bubble milk tea.... I mean, c'mon, bubble tea here in New England leh!! But we were quickly reminded how fortunate we are to have things so cheap in Singapore. Two cups of bubble milk tea with pearl cost us USD8!!! That's like S$6 per cup!! I made sure that I ate every single pearl.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Watching leaves turn color, I mean colour

Almost one month since hubby and dad came up to join us trio.

It's also almost a month worth of academic work that has been intensifying to a degree that is bordering on intellectual meltdown - at 4 written assignments a week, field experience at a local middle school, and designing research proposals.
My poor brain! It's not worked this hard in such a long, long time.

The first weekend E. and Dad were up, we took a drive up to the White Mountain region in New Hampshire, a part of New England famed for its beautiful fall colors, I mean colours (you can tell my spelling's going American too). This region, in the thick of winter, is also pretty popular with skiers.

Here are some pretty colours:

We stayed at a quaint B&B called Whitney's Inn, and that's where Dylan (and me too!) saw horses racing down a still-green ski slope for the first time in our lives. Here's Dylan marvelling at pumpkins twice his size

Wonderful time with gong gong, ah-ma, mummy and daddy -

Winding our way up Flume's Gorge's narrow pathways - PA060118PA060104aPA070136PA070139

The drive up to the Kamcamagus highway and to the region took us 4 hours, but boy when we took in the sights was it worth it! Tonight, I'm reminded of how it felt - in Hitch, Will Smith tells a client that "It's not the number of breaths that make up our moments in life, but the number of moments that take our breath away".

That's a close approximation of how it was like to be so close to nature, and to God's awesome creation.