Up around 7.30am, had breakfast and on the road before 9am. We were heading to Laurel, to take a look a the South Mississippi Fair that was starting there today. We took our time, arriving around 12pm only to discover that the fair wasn't open until 4pm! However, we had a date tonight so couldn't wait that long, but we still drove round to the fairground to have a look at what we were missing. It looked pretty cool, with a big wheel and a roller coaster and probably lots of hot dog and candy floss sellers. Never mind, maybe we will catch one somewhere. Anyway, we were now heading off to New Orleans to meet up with some family friends and stay for a couple of days. We've been looking forward to this since we made the arrangements a couple of weeks ago. New company and a proper double bed, bliss! We had lunch at Ashe Lake in DeSoto National Forest and planned a route to New Orleans that travelled the Gulf Coast for a little bit
. Unfortunately, we were a little later than planned, (had to make a stop to dip our toes in the Gulf of Mexico), and hit rush hour as we came into New Orleans. After a few bottlenecks, we made it to our friends house and pulled Brian up on the road side and were greeted with the welcome, 'no pikies here, please'. It's always nice to hear a friendly English voice. We soon settled in and after a shower we were taken, (kicking and screaming), to a seafood restaurant, Charlie's, down the road where we all enjoyed shrimp and crab. Dean also had veal and I had pulled pork baguette, (known as a po-boy/baby, depending on the size of the sandwich). We followed up with a white chocolate bread pudding and lemon creme brulee. Absolutely delicious. Dean paid the price however, as no sooner had he finished the last spoonful, he got a full ridge across his stomach. If you picture a cartoon character with full signs in their eyes, that was Dean! That boy does not know his limits. I on the other hand do! We returned to the house, some of us slightly bloated, and relaxed chatting for a while before retiring to bed.
Had a very nice lie-in until 9.30am this morning and had breakfast in a nice comfy lounge. After breakfast we got on with some much needed laundry
. Around 11am we Skyped Cat's parents and then enjoyed some lovely company out on the patio by the pool. After the pool boy finished cleaning the pool, we had lunch and got ready to head into town. After lunch we got in the car and enjoyed a drive out to the levee and then headed towards downtown via St Charles Avenue to look at all the houses we couldn't afford and all the Halloween decorations. They really go for it here! Once in downtown, we walked around the French Quarter taking in the St Louis Cathedral whilst watching a street performer do his show. It was really cool to wander the pretty Spanish style iron balcony streets whilst listening to blues being performed around every corner. Around 6.30pm we headed to Mr B's restaurant for a lovely meal with great company and very good service. After enjoying Oysters, Crab cakes, Gumbo soup, Lamb chops, Fillet Mignon and some more delicious desserts, white chocolate brownie and Pecan Pie, we walked off our full bellies down the eye opening sights of Bourbon St. Then whilst enjoying a beer in Napoleon's House bar we were treated to a second line wedding march in the street which was a cool to experience. After that we headed back to the house and sat chatting and watching TV until 2am before heading to bed.
After an even later lie-in this morning we got up around 10am and had a lazy morning
. The plan today was to go and have brunch at Russells Marine Grill on the east side. We got to the restaurant around 2pm and ordered the house special breakfast, (I know it's lunchtime but it feels like breakfast) which was two delicious pancakes, over easy eggs and the closest we've gotten to a British banger. After lunch, Patrick drove us round the east side showing us where the flood water from Katrina 6 years ago affected the area. At first glance it was hard to tell there was so much destruction as a lot of the homes had been repaired. What we did see when you look closer was the empty house plots and the odd foundation that once housed a home. As it was Sunday there were a lot of sail boats out on the lake and a few bikes riding around. One rider took our attention slightly as 'he' was wearing wellington boots, a skirt and a rather nice blue bustier. How strange! On the drive back we stopped at the River Shack bar for a beer where they serve salted popcorn (to make you drink more) which we enjoyed watching the local chickens eat. They were welcome to it. After that we drove to the supermarket to get some bits for dinner and then went back to the house where Patrick prepared a lovely chicken roast. In between preparation and cooking we sat and watched the local NFL (The Saints) football game, which they won by a massive 62 to 7 (the points are different to UK football or Soccer) that went on till 10.30pm. With the combination of the game and our late start to the day, we had dinner when the game finished and followed it off with freshly baked cookies for dessert
. We managed to get off to bed after watching a bit of TV a little earlier around 1am.
Another nice lie-in and lazy morning with a bit of TV. We then drove down to Nappa for a new fan belt, air filter and some more lead replacement additive and then I spent the next few hours tinkering. New parts fitted and the radio fiddled with we had some lunch. After some lunch we went for a walk along River Road to a garden that had a funny halloween inflatable with 3 ghosts around the word Boo. Then we walked back along the Levee and had a wander round the neighbourhood. Patrick and Francie got back from work just after we got back in and had another surprise for us. They took us out to another restaurant called Dragos for some more delicious New Orleans seafood. This time we got to sample Char Broiled Oysters, followed by Shucky Ducky (Duck and lingini pasta with shucked oysters) a surprise freebee softshell crab and for afters I had a delicious cheesecake and Cat had the biggest chocolate browine covered with ice cream and whipped cream on top. Now Patrick and Francie are pretty well known in these lovely restaurants and we were all looked after well. Sheryl (our waitress) gave us a few extras like a drink called a Sazerac (rye whiskey and lemon to name a few ingredients) Cat's dessert and the softshell crab all on the house
. Let's just say, she got a big tip. We then headed back via one of Patrick and Francie's favourite daiquiri bar and then watched a detective drama called Case Historys and got off to bed around 1am.
Got up a bit earlier this morning around 9am and managed to fit in some toast (not had any breakfast for the last few days as we've been too full from the night before) for breakfast. After breakfast we drove to a side street to catch the street car on St Charles Ave into town. Once in town we walked to the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park visitor centre to get some info and then caught the ferry across the Mississippi to walk the Jazz walk of fame. We bought some Beignets (rectangle doughnuts and heaps of sugar) to go and ate them on the ferry covering ourselves with sugar. The walk started off at the Louis Armstong statue where we pressed play on the audio guide we downloaded yesterday and listened whilst we walked. We then caught the ferry back to Canel Street and wandered back to listen to the 3pm ranger performance. It was strange watching national parks rangers in their uniforms (same ones they'd wear out in the wilds) playing Blues, Creole and Jass music, but it was very enjoyable. After the performance we caught the street car back to where we'd parked the van and drove through the busy traffic back to the house via the supermarket to get pizza (I've been craving pizza for weeks) for dinner
. Back at the house, Patrick was getting ready to go to his darts match while we put our dinner in the oven. We then settled in to eat pizza in front of the TV watching Bones and the Big Bang Theory until Patrick returned triumphant, as his team had won! We turned in around 1am.
Got up early to thank Patrick and Francie and see them off to work before packing up the van and heading off. We left around 1pm after we'd had lunch and stopped at a nearby supermarket to stock up on supplies. Around 2pm we finally headed out of New Orleans.