We were extremely excited to host Cat in Chicago this weekend after a three-year absence. She was mostly here to reminisce with the staff of Windy City Café and snag an on-trend Macy’s handbag, but we also made time to leave the city for a quintessentially autumnal American afternoon of apple picking. (To be honest, I’m not actually sure if apple picking really is quintessentially American or not, but this was the hook that Catherine and AJ used to persuade me to come.) Setting aside my lack of interest in the apples themselves, at least until they could be converted into cider form, the orchard looked beautiful and there were a surprising array of apple picking extras including warming bonfires, wayward goats and a maze of corn. Think of it as the Hampton Court of Wisconsin.
Immediately afterwards, we made our way to the Night of 1000 Jack-o’-Lanterns at the Chicago Botanic Garden for a Halloween-themed walk in the dark. The giant carved pumpkins were spectacular, and the garden’s already-adorable model railway section was made even better with spooky little trains. I am warmer towards Halloween than I used to be, though I still think it’s something we should just leave to Americans to do best.
Trying to wring out as much time with James as I can before he ups and leaves for Berlin, we saw Blade Runner 2049 together on Wednesday night. As someone with good but not great memories of the original plot, I thought it did a decent job of working as a standalone film, although [mild spoiler warning] there was a fair bit of contortion necessary to avoid ever quite confirming that Deckard is himself a replicant although of course he is. Also, the obligatory evil CEO is given the most ridiculously impractical office yet, in which everything is not only kept at very low lighting but also surrounded by a deep pool of water. Just remember, prospective super-villains: not only does someone have to design this in the first place, but a whole team will be necessary just to feed the fish, rescue any dropped electronics and clean the filtration system.
At some point I feel I should mention that Joe and Julie have faithfully come over every Sunday for the past nine weeks to watch the new series of Bake Off with us and shout at Prue Leith. So no spoilers until next weekend, please. I need to savour the exquisitely compressed emotional range of all the contestants, forever bouncing between feeling ‘a little disappointed’ and ‘pretty chuffed’, for it makes me feel that all is right with the world. We should leave Halloween to the Americans, and they should leave stoicism to us.
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