Don't you hate it when you make a cup of tea and it tastes like wet socks?
Hence proving that not every cup of tea made in England comes out perfect.
This week I have been reminiscing about Texas, brought about by various comments on quite a few blogs. A few of my readers are from or have lived there. Also, lots of my old university friends are either contacting me on MySpace or rediscovering my blog.
This morning I was reading an MSN article on the best breakfasts in 19 cities across the US. As I clicked on Houston I thought, "I bet Empire Cafe is there." And sure enough, it was. They make great omelettes.
Then I thought of the Hobbit Cafe, a totally quirky place, also established in an old house, where I once ate delicate yummy things on the back verandah with my friends.
I'm surprised Katz's Deli wasn't there (maybe coz it's a New York City import) or Biba's 24 hour breakfasts, specially the French toast (yummy but maybe yet undiscovered) or House of Pies (where the first design for the Compaq computer was sketched on a napkin)
This morning I briefly imagined going back to H-town. But it would not be right. Memories of a place are seen through rose-tinted glasses. My good memories of H-town are influenced by my blissful years at university, and my recollections of The Woodlands were made when my family was whole.
My world and I have changed since then, and going back would be a huge readjustment. Things I got used to back then as an expat Brit would never sit right with me now.
And anyway, both of my parents have moved.
Oddly, I imagined the grand avenues surrounding the University of St Thomas and the Museum District, on a somewhat warm late spring morning, with still a tinge of coolness and sea-damp in the air...the golden sunlight touching the old trees and shimmering along the curve of the road.
Some things about Houston:
1) The size of the Theater District is second only to NYC's
2) It is one of only 6 US cities with resident companies in all four performing arts: ballet, opera, theatre, symphony. There are 8 main companies.
3) The New York Times has called it the most interesting city for young artists.
4) It is Americas 4th largest city but does not make it into the top 25 dangerous cities (although Dallas does)
5) "Houston" was the first word spoken on the surface of another planet: Houston, Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed.
6) It is the second largest centre for corporate headquarters, and the most consulates/embassies behind NYC.
7) It has the 3rd largest skyline behind NYC and Chicago.
8) The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical complex in the world.
9) Houston's Memorial neighbourhood is the 4th wealthiest in the world.
10) And yet, it has the second lowest cost of living among major US cities.
11) The largest port in the US
Some sister cities: Nice, France; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Istanbul, Turkey; Chiba, Japan; Leipzig, Germany; Perth, Australia; Stavanger, Norway; Taipei, Taiwan, PRC.
Why nearly 2000 people on the site have said It's Worth It:
Philip Johnson, I M Pei
cypress, pine, palm, and oak trees; azaleas, oleanders, springtime wild flowers...big green open spaces and parks
lizards, hummingbirds, and so many things you'll only see once, like flocks of wild parrots, a flying squirrel, or a giant centipede
Buffalo Bayou and all the fountains
Daily practice in all sorts of languages
Two Chinatowns and street signs in Vietnamese
Two growing seasons, two mating seasons
The Art Car Parade, Greek Festival, Italian Festival, The Rodeo, the Marathon, the Grand Prix, the Houston Open Golf Tournament, Miller Outdoor Theater, The Woodlands Pavilion - world class culture and arts
There is always something to do or somewhere to go, and if not, always somewhere to chill out
Smiling and saying hello to people you don't know
Lots of people who have lived all over the world move there, leave, and come back or wish they could or call it home even though they're not from there
Apart from 3 months of summer, perfect weather all year round
Dallasites snipe at Houstonians coz they're jealous
Going 80 mph
Some of the best and most affordable restaurants in the nation
Roaches so big you can toss a saddle on 'em
You don't have to shovel humidity, and it prevents wrinkles
Drive an hour south to the Gulf of Mexico, an hour north to the Piney Woods, an hour west to the Hill Country
Beautiful lightning storms in that big sky
Only place in the world where cowboys meet astronauts
Mosquito bites feel good when you scratch them
No longer the fattest city in America
The alternative artsy bohemian Montrose neighbourhood
NASA! And all those rocket scientists and astronauts
You only need to wear a coat for one week per year
How could y'all forget FIRE ANTS in your list? Being able to say "I been bit" is a Houston badge of honor.
Even if people hate the city, they always redeem themselves by saying the people are mighty friendly, always with open arms
Multicultural melting pot and you don't have to be afraid to be yourself
You can live in the city and still see the sky
Lots of people say: It's not Dallas.
One week in January it could be 70 degrees and sunny. The next, everything could be covered in ice. That's when you take out your coat.
Neighbours hang out on their driveways and chat, or come round with cookies for no reason other than that you are neighbours
So basically, it's the New York of the south but it's cheaper, friendlier, bigger, warmer, greener, and less pretentious
Who wants pictures?
Saturn V rocket at Johnson Space Center
The Museum District