Sometimes when something doesn’t work out as planned, we think it went “wrong” and once two things go “wrong” we know we’re having “bad luck” and then of course, “bad stuff comes in threes”.
Knowing this, we sit around waiting for something else “to happen to us”.
How did we get this way?
Our three things that apparently went wrong on Saturday were these.
1. As we’re loading the suitcase into the car, the hotel manager called, extremely apologetic to tell us our room had flooded and was not available.
2. Our new favorite breakfast spot was not open as we were up early to get on the road.
3. Our friends who were going to join us were under the weather and not up to a road trip.
1. Leo’s daughter had a spare room,
2. McDonald’s serves breakfast
3. and, since they were probably staying at the same hotel, the extra cancelation worked out great for the poor hotel manager in distress AND we have an excuse to make up for our missed date when our buddies are healthy and hardy.
How lucky is that?
This is our first road trip to St. John’s since November so we were looking forward to our usual haunts and just having a good drive. After a ridiculous amount of snow so far this winter we have not been out of town limits in way too long.
Oh, and it’s Paddy’s weekend.
St. Patrick’s Day weekend just adds more Irish to the Saturday morning Jigs and Reels broadcast and it was the upbeat, get your party on music with interspersed ads for the various pubs, concerts, breakfasts and Irish brunches. Even the furniture stores have 3 day Paddy’s Day specials! It was a great driving day.
Our midpoint stop between Gander and St. John’s is Breen’s in Goobies. Located right on the highway, this restaurant specializes in turkey and homemade breads. Turkey soup, wraps, sandwiches (hot and cold), turkey dinners and even a turkey pie. We’ve only recently discovered their cold plates in the take out counter.
Newfoundlanders love their cold plates. For the initiated, cold plates are traditionally cold cuts and salads and are often done and served as fund raisers for various organizations. Newfoundland also has its own take on salads since greens and croutons are not local fare. Newfoundland salads are often beet, potato and mustard. Each starts as a potato salad but is modified by beet juice or mustard and a few secret touches. The salads are colourful and flavourful but I’ve honestly never seen them anywhere other than here.
Cold plates are sometimes wedding fare too. Women are admired for their ability to make a good cold plate. This is serious stuff.
Breen’s cold plates have loads of turkey and dressing, a rolled slice of ham, potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw. A homemade roll and butter and a bit of cranberry and you’ve got a feast for about $10. Depending on your hunger, this can be a meal for two. With a side of a loaf of their fresh bread, you can make two turkey sandwiches off the meat on this plate.
I texted our last minute hosts and asked if she’d like cold plates for supper for Sunday.
We ordered lunch and had them make four cold plates to go as we ate. Six meals for way less than $100 including the tip. Turkey, dressing, ham, potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad and a fresh bread roll for tomorrow’s Sunday dinner.
Carefully avoiding potholes and being very aware of washed out gravel on the sides of many stretches, it was a great day for driving. Sunny and clear and the frozen ponds offered lots of opportunities for those inclined to do some ice fishing.
Our plan was to arrive early and go out early for some good music and fun. Knowing the popularity of Paddy’s Day parties with live bands, we agreed that if we had to line up, we’d rather do it midafternoon than later in the night when it gets cold. We checked in to the spare room, put the cold plates in the fridge and were ready for lift off.
Our timing was lucky as we found a parking spot immediately and were able to walk right into Shamrock City Pub. Now, once we paid the cover charge, it was so full we could hardly move but again, Irish eyes were smiling at me from a corner in our usual area. A friendly face was waving hi and that’s all it takes in here to assuming you might try to join a table.
We met the Taylors over 3 years ago when our granddaughter was in the Janeway as a premature baby. I’m not sure if they invited us to join them or if we invited them but over the years, we meet here now and then and have an understanding that we’ll share a table and sometimes one or two or 4 chairs if we are lucky. They love to dance so also like having buddies to keep an eye on their table, especially on a night when it is prime property and highly desired.
We missed the Harrington Brothers, regular performers at Shamrock, originally from Dublin, Ireland. The Punters were just tuning up.
I went over to say hi to the Taylors and ask if we could stand at the end of their table. The table itself was already full beyond capacity. They had already made room for some new friends. We all shared the table and played musical chairs now and then when some were dancing and others would take a load off. It was only around 3 pm and The Punters were starting to really liven up Water Street.
The Punters have been around in various formats for a number of years. Larry Foley, on lead vocals and guitar is an original band member and Adam Staple on drums has been around for a long time or perhaps in and out as able. Fiddler “du jour” is Kelly Russell and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as good anywhere. Kelly is a scholar of Newfoundland traditional music. It doesn’t take long for dancing to break out. No one cares that it’s only 3:38 on Saturday and the actual celebration will be Monday.
We just avoided the line-up situation as the doorman did a count not long after we were situated. My farmer/artist buddy Winston Osmond from Shoal Bay decided not to stand in line and wandered off with his lovely wife Linda. We just got a glimpse of them through the door. He moved on to another spot. Lots of places to find music on this weekend in Town.
In addition to the music, the mood was certainly enhanced by the costumes and Irish paraphernalia. I really wanted to line up some of the green shirts and do a panoramic picture but there wasn’t even space to try it and I wasn’t sure how many of the wearers were capable of standing…
Our table mates besides the Taylors were a family of sisters from Petty Harbour. Sisters, daughters, husbands and friends came and went as some of them chased bands at other locations. When they decided to order food, we did too since we were all going to be eating off the same table.
After we’d eaten and we’d spent some time together, I asked the Petty Harbour girls if they’d mind posing for my blog because they certainly show the enthusiasm of the St. Patrick’s Day experience. Shirts, buttons, tattoos and necklaces were just some of the gear they sported. They were very gracious as they were sharing out tattoos and Irish themed buttons to us. The Dollar stores must have been cleared out on the way in from Petty Harbour.
Thanks ladies for sharing your joy and your smiling faces and positioning those men who don’t even know how they got on the Internet. It took me a while to get this posted but I didn’t forget you. How could I? I’m still trying to wash off a tattoo…
From Shamrock, we moved to O’Reilly’s. Wall to wall people but we moved long after a bit and stopped at Christian’s. Touting itself as the oldest bar on George Street, this is a small bar and one of the few with no cover charge for the night. Upstairs, we had the place to yourself and the undivided attention of Michael. He was a great mixologist and excellent host. Gradually this place filled up too and regular clients were testing his skills and presentation. It was actually a show to watch him work his craft.
One “don’t try this at home” feat was an order for 10 cocktails that involved stacking shot glasses, flames and asking folks to stand back. Well done Michael at Christian’s!
It’s not over until you hit the street vendors and armed with poutines and wedgies, we were home safe and sound before many made it out for the night. In bed before our glass slippers got lost we worked up an appetite by sleeping the night away.
As tempting as it is, the 3 day marathon of Irish music really takes a dedicated effort. We felt the Petty Harbour girls and the Taylors could handle it in our absence and hit the road for Gander.
The Irish tunes on Sunday morning were much more to the ballads and laments. I guess the DJ had been out later than we had. The drive home always seems longer. Must have been the tryptophan from the breakfast turkey cold plate. A bit of rain as far as Clarenville makes it a bit dreary.
There’s evidence of lots of ice in various places including down town Clarenville.
An ice jam seems very much going to be a problem this spring on the Southwest River.
And Gander Lake is frozen across, the first time in eleven years.
Aren’t we lucky St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with green. Might be a while before we see much more of it in nature. Only a few days to spring! Yah, right.