In Portland we stayed in a fabulous Victorian hotel with staircases like Hogwarts, unsubtle floral patterns on the wallpaper, deliberately mis-matched pastel towels and free home-baked cookies in the lobby. The guy who checked us in looked like Jack Black and took an immediate dislike to us for no reason I could discern (too much interest in the cookies? back-packers are unwelcome in establishments with large floral wall decorations? perhaps he thought we were German?)
Perhaps ‘Jack’ was right to give us the cold shoulder, we had chosen the place for its price and proximity to the regional bus stop; I’m overdue for a haircut, our clothes are fraying and my jeans are stitched up at the belt loops with coloured cotton from a hotel sewing-kit. Still, the gentility of the place was a welcome civilising force: between us we sudsed ourselves up with the whole bottle of complimentary bath gel and used all the pretty pastel towels, we dressed up properly for dinner and I even dug out some mascara which was beginning to clump from disuse.
Maine means lobster and we found a cheap spin-off of the famous harbour-side restaurant and Mr K ate three (and we’d already had lobster rolls for lunch)! The lobster was not our most expensive meal to date, but in some ways perhaps the most decadent. As he left the restaurant another, older, patron came up to us and observed “you’ll probably never have as much again” and although more than three lobsters in a single meal must surely be listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a sin, there was a certain sadness in the acknowledgement that, in so many ways, the world as we know it is slipping away.