Saturday 11th August 2001, Boston MA

We arrived downstairs to find a minor domestic dispute in progress. 13-year old Genevieve had promised to help Henry redecorate her room. Unfortunately, her social life had since intervened, and it was evident that no work would be done today. By the time we had gulped down a cup of tea and some Cheerios, the redecorating had been rescheduled, and peace restored.

With Delia as our tour guide, we caught the bus into Boston. We were under strict instructions to see the bronze ducks commemorating the children’s book, “Make Way For Ducklings”, and the famous Swan Boats.

John and I knew nothing about the book, which apparently resides on every Boston child’s bookshelf, so (to Delia’s delight) our first stop was to FAOShwartz toyshop to buy a copy.

On our way, we were overtaken several times by multicoloured amphibious buses, full of people ‘quacking’. These are the Boston ‘Duck Tours’, which tour the streets of Boston, and then launch themselves into the Charles River, to see the city from the water. This seemed an excellent idea, but we were hungry so we asked Delia to recommend a restaurant.

Fire and Ice is Boston’s answer to The Mongolian Barbeque. Delia had never been to either before, but she had heard it was good. (For those of you who don’t know these restaurants, you are presented with a bowl into which you pile any combination of meat, vegetables, marinade, and spices, and then you give the whole lot to the chef, who cooks it on a huge stone ‘barbeque’ in front of you. Personally, I prefer The Mongolian Barbeque’s set up, as they provide helpful recipes to guide the uninitiated/uninspired.) We did our best to advise Delia on a suitable combination (like most 10-year olds, vegetables were definitely out of favour), found a not-too-spicy marinade, and chose a salad. No sooner had we sat down at our table, than she found the ‘Devil’s Inferno’ (or some such) chilli sauce, and liberally sprinkled it over her subtly-spiced meal.

To give Delia her due, she did manage to eat about two-thirds of it, before asking to be excused …

We were lucky with the Duck Tour. Strictly speaking, they were fully booked for the day, but, just as we arrived, a large party had cancelled. We bought ourselves an iced ‘frappucino’ from Starbucks (Delia was still smouldering slightly …), and waited for the 4pm ‘duck’.

The tour took us all over Boston, past the park and the best hotels, through the historic North End, and into the river. The commentary was light-hearted but informative, and we dutifully ‘quacked’ at passers-by, and other ‘ducks’, while the drivers exchanged insults. Once on the river, the ‘Captain’ handed over the wheel to a few lucky kids, and Delia got to drive. Our camera malfunctioned, but despite the lack of photographic record, a very satisfactory afternoon was had by all.