Sultry days like these remind me just how good it is to eat ice-cream, and I thank that resourceful soul, or souls for discovering that cream could be frozen, and what is more flavoured with all manner of lovely things.

We all have our favourites, be it chocolate or strawberry. I don’t think that you can beat a fabulous, proper vanilla ice-cream made from scratch, and flavoured, not with something synthetic but with a good, old-fashioned vanilla pod. If I want something a little more exotic, a softly flavoured, and slightly green, pistachio ice-cream which so reminds me of childhood holidays in France, is called for.

Today is overcast, the skies a little grey, and as I sit here job hunting following my recent redundancy, I am glad that we finally have a summer and you certainly will not hear me complaining about the heat.

I am not keen on the humidity though especially at night, and thankfully what we get here is nothing like some places around the world.

Many moons ago, I did some travelling around the United States, and during that trip spent some time in New Orleans. Each day, the humidity would build until it was almost suffocating. About 4.00pm dark purple clouds would gather, thunder would roll and skies burst, heavy rain drenching everything until the grids could no longer cope and rivulets ran down the roads. I made the mistake of popping across the road to buy a sandwich. Imagine, if you will, the look on the faces of the staff in that fine establishment when a drowned rat washed in through the door. In my defense, it was not raining when I left the B&B and in the time it took me to walk across the road, I was drenched.

New Orleans is a city which has suffered greatly in recent years. I remember it as a city of faded grandeur and beauty. The famous, vibrant Vieux Carre (The French Quarter), thankfully spared the worse of the flooding following hurricane Katrina, with its ornate balconies tumbling with flowers, the famous jazz clubs of Bourbon Street, beautiful Jackson Square and the World Cafe is all a little like being on a vibrant, wonderful film set.

The Mississippi on which you can travel by paddlesteamer is wide here, slate grey and calm as it runs to meet the Gulf of Mexico 2530 miles from its beginnings in Minnesota.

My first glimpse of the Mississippi was in Minnesota at the Minnehaha Park. Here, is a peaceful, wooded oasis where meandering paths take you alongside the Minnehaha Creek, past the Minnehaha Falls until suddenly the grey expanse of the Mississippi opens up in front of you, very different here to New Orleans with its industries and paddlesteamers and bustle.

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