Archive for March, 2005

Going home

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

Well the time has rushed past and it’s time to go back to Nottingham, it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here for 4 weeks.
This morning Maria and I went to Penn station to get some doughnuts, the Amish market to get some Jalapeno pistachios and to South St. Seaport to get some Godiva chocolates. She’s far too good to those children of hers.
She’s now rushing around doing the washing, clearing the fridge, throwing out the rubbish, moaning about her packing not fitting and dropping hints about some people doing nothing to help. I don’t know what she’s going on about, I’ve done all my own packing and I’m ready to go.
Ready to go
I’m quiete looking forward to the trip and getting back home. I could do with a rest before going to India.

Bears

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

If yesterday was spring, today it’s back to winter. The temperature has dropped and it’s been a mixture of rain and snow all day. We are forecast 2 to 3 inches by morning. Some parts of the area have a severe weather warning with up to 8 inches of snow due. I rather enjoy winter weather.
John was at work, he’s very pleased ‘cos the work he came to do has gone really well. I hope his good mood continues because then he’ll take me to India with him in a couple of weeks time. I do enjoy travel.
Maria is really jealous, all she gets to do is come back here in 3 weeks.
She’s started to sort things out, you know, what shall we take back with us, what can stay here for next time etc. We’re not going back home for very long this time.
We have a lot of new bears travelling with us. (14 in all)
All the new bears
I reckon a lot of them will find new homes on Monday at the Bear Fair at Patchings. I hope their new owners will be able to understand them, they do speak with a strong American accent.

Snowdrops

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

A beautiful spring day, warm and sunny. Maria and I took a stroll to and from the Amish market along the Hudson. Very enjoyable, the snowdrops are out in force,
snowdrops 1 snowdrops 2
I don’t think it’ll be long before the other flowers are blooming too. There are lots of gardeners working on the flower beds. There were long queues for the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island, everyone was brought out by the sunshine. It’s strange to think we’ve only got a couple more days before we go home.

Haydn and Fur

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Yesterday was another quiet day, I think John and Maria must be getting old, they seem to need a day to recover after any busy day. Not like me , I still have the resilience of youth. (Maria keeps muttering about the ease of travelling in a bag, but I don’t see the relevance of that.) Anyway John had a lot of work to do and Maria had the washing etc to do. The weather was pretty miserable too, the first really nasty day since we arrived (first day of spring of course).
Today John was back at work but he and Maria were meeting at lunch time, so since Maria wanted to go uptown we had to set off pretty early. Maria had bought beads for 12 bears but she is currently working on bear no 13 and as I really feel I ought to have a set, we thought we’d better go and get some more beads. So since we were going up to 36th Street anyway Maria decided to look in the Yellow Pages (yes they have them here as well) for any fabric shops. She found one on 37th St. near 7th Ave. in the area known as the Garment District.
So we headed up there and bought the beads and then searched for the fabric shop.It was only because we ‘d taken note of the address that we found it. The outside was just a standard skyscraper with assorted offices etc on the different floors. However when we got up to the 3rd floor (it’s only really the 2nd ‘cos they call ground the 1st) we found an ENORMOUS fabric shop with every kind of fabric you could think of. Maria had a marvelous time, she was actually very restrained, she bought some synthetic fur for some big bears and some fake crocodile skin for some bear pads. I look forward to the finished bears once we get back to the UK.
We then had to hurry back to meet John at St Paul’s Chapel next to the World Trade Site. They were doing a free performance of Haydn’s Mass in Time of War. We got there at 10 to 1 and it was due to start at 1.00. Phew.
Haydn The orchestra and choir
The performance was by the Rebel Baroque Orchestra (who are currently in residence at Trinity Church) and the Trinity Choir (St Pauls Chapel is attached to Trinity Church). It was truly excellent.
The chapel itself is rather special. It is a survivor of the great fire of 1776 and of 9/11. It has been referred to as ‘the little chapel that stood’. It was used by the rescuers during 9/11 both as place of prayer, and somewhere to sleep, there are several memorials from that time, one of the cots used to sleep on, a small selection of teddy bears, peace cranes sent from Japan (including Hiroshima) and various banners and hangings.
Banner
It is still very much a place of pilgrimage and prayer.

NATIVE AMERICAN PRAYER FOR PEACE

Oh Great Spirit of our Ancestors,
I raise my pipe to you,
To your messengers the four winds, and
to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children
to love, to respect, and to be kind to each other
so that they may grow with peace of mind
Let us learn to share all good things that
you provide for us on this Earth.

Chinatown

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

Saturday, so it’s time to walk and walk and walk. It’s just as well we didn’t really do anything yesterday except hang around doing bits and bobs and recovering from Thursday.
We all really liked the look and feel of Chinatown so we decided to go for a wander around there. It is a really fascinating place, full of interesting people.
Chinese shopper
The place is packed, packed full of shoppers and packed full of shops. There are people selling things everywhere, on the pavement, on the ground floor, down steep stairs in basements.
Of course since we were with Maria the first thing we had to buy was shoes. AGAIN.
shoes
Maria reckons she saw some of the best mixes of shops ever. Nice classy and elegant things side by side with real Tat! And the colours!! Red and gold in particular! It can get pretty wearing being with Maria in colourful places, she seems to have a real thing about colour.
Chinese lanterns
Anyway I don’t think I’m talking to her (or John for that matter), it’s not often I ask for anything but they were selling Chinese snaps, you know firework bangers you throw down on the ground and they go off with a bang. Anyway Maria wouldn’t let me have any, she said I was too young (huh! I saw children with them) and that I’d probably throw them off the balcony at people. As if I would!
There were a lot of food shops and stalls. It seemed to me if it was animal or vegetable, they would sell it to eat, either still squirming or dried. (And if it was mineral they would try to grind it up and sprinkle it on top of your food.)
Dried mushrooms Prawns
We decided we’d buy tonights tea from Chinatown, so we had a fascinating wander through one of the supermarkets, of course as well as food, Maria had to buy bowls and chopsticks (I look forward to learning to use them, Maria says she’ll teach me, I hope she knows how). Finally we got a barbecued duck. The man at the counter chopped it up for us. He had an enourmous cleaver and wielded it pretty efficiently. I was glad to see he chopped off the head and didn’t give it to us.
Ducks
We then bought some veg. from a street stall for a stir fry. My goodness their beans grow long!!

St. Patricks Day Parade

Friday, March 18th, 2005

It’s St Patricks Day today and I’ve never seen so much green in my life. Maria and I decided to go up to the Met and watch the parade. Since I have green eyes I’m sure I must have some Irish in me. When we got up to 5th Ave. I felt really underdressed.
Dressed for the day
I felt some shamrock would be just what we needed, but to our surprise there was none around, instead New Yorkers seem to wear green carnations (and anything else green they can get hold of). We knew we were in the right place ‘cos of the green line painted down the centre of the road. We thought we were early (just before noon) but the crowds were getting pretty thick so we thought we’d find ourselves a good spot.
Just as well because pretty soon we could see the horses at the start of the parade. A very kind lady helped me to get a super view.
Start of the parade
The Parade was ENORMOUS! The Police (from various areas) schools, marching bands, churches, fire departments, soldiers, vets., nurses etc. etc.
The Parade
It included the London Fire department and thr RNLI. The biggest cheer was for the Fire Department of New York, everyone still remembers their bravery on 9/11
FDNY
Mind you the Cleansing department also got a good cheer as they followed behind the horses with wheely bins and showels. The streets of NY are always very clean despite the number of dogs etc.
Marching bands are a real big thing here and there was no shortage of them in the parade.
Marching band
Of course with it being St Patrics Day Parade there HAD to be Irish Dancers.
Dancing girls
We maneged to last for 5 hours but by then it got too much for us, and I have to admit we didn’t quite make it to the end. However I did make some new friends.
Friends

Irish Music and Dance

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

Maria spent the morning phoning England. She’s got a bear fair at Patchings on Easter monday and that’s only 3 days after we get back. So she had to organise the advertising in the local papers. This is where the time differenece is a problem, however communication is so good these days you can do anything from anywhere.
Then around lunchtime we walked up along the Hudson to the Winter Gardens at the World Financial Centre. They hold free concerts etc among the palms and today with it being St Patricks day tomorrow they were having a concert of Irish music and dance with opportunities for people to learn some of the dances. I was looking forward to it although I did feel there was no chance of Maria actually taking part.
The music was excellent with a band lead by brother and sister Marie and Martin Reilly who are Americans born of Irish immigrant parents, they have made a couple of CDs and were excellent, they still had strong Irish accents, despite being born in Queens.
The dancing was provided by Niall O’Leary, who was amazingly lively despite having flown in from Dublin this morning.
Irish jig
He is apparently a former all Ireland and world champion, and you could tell. His feet moved like lightning.
There was an opportunity to go up and learn some of the easier dances, but Maria wouldn’t let me go up, she was worried about me getting trampled or something.
Irish dancing
It was all very enjoyable and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. We’re going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and watching the Parade, I gather it’s a real big deal.

Martyrdom

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Today was the day for the maid to come. Maria dislikes being there for the whole time, she feels she just gets under her feet. So it being another lovely day we took the Downtown Shuttle to South Street Sea Port and then walked back via the Amish Market.
We are very lucky to be so near the Hudson, there are some very nice walks and lawns along the edge of it. A lot of the lawns are closed for the winter and there is a lot of work going on on the flower beds. I think it’s going to be lovely next time we come over.
By the time we got back the maid had nearly finished. She is really excelllent and does a superb job, but she does have a tendency to tidy EVERYTHING away, se we spent a while after she left making the apartment lived in again. It’s all very different from home, I gather tidyness is not one of Marias strong points (something about creative spirits etc??).
We had the door onto the balcony slightly open, it really was a lovely day and the balcony is a bit of a sun trap, and we could hear there was some shouting etc.going on. We went out to have a look and saw a demonstration up the road.
Demonstartion
We couldn’t quite read the plackards but it seemed to be about housing. The minimum wage here is just over $5 an hour and we saw an article in the papers about how it is possible to find affordable apartments at around just (!?)$1,000 a month if you search carefully!
The apartments around this area are of course much more than that and the ones around Upper West Side are way way more expensive. I don’t know how people manage.
Maria is rather grumpy this evening, first she scalded her knuckles while cooking and then punctured the palm of her hand with the awl while working on a bear. She’s playing the martyr and saying things like ‘It’s no job for a grown woman.’

Winter Gardens

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

Monday, so tidying up. Maria is really a creature of habit. I was getting a bit stir crazy by the afternoon and I think so was Maria. Another beautiful day so a walk along the Hudson semed a good idea. Maria got some flowers from Claire and Robert for Mother’s day but they were past their best so we thought we’d go up to the World Financial Center Florist and get some replacements.
The center houses the Winter Gardens, a superb glass covered atrium looking out onto a harbour on the Hudson.
World Financial Center
Apparently in the summer you get some REALLY classy yachts tying up here.
The Winter Gardens are lovely, all the glass was broken in the attack of 9/11 but both the glass and the 24 tall palm trees were replaced in record time.
Winter Gardens
We’re hoping to go back on Wednesday to watch a free exhibition of Irish dancing (as a lead up to St. Patricks Day). They’re also teaching people to do Irish jigs etc. but I don’t think Maria will go for that.

Supermarket shopping

Monday, March 14th, 2005

Another weekend so another supermarket. John had heard about a supermarket the local pensioners get bussed to free. So working on the premiss that it must be pretty good he decided we should do the weekly shop there. So we caught the no 9 bus, I did suggest they could probably get away with riding on the pensioners bus but that idea didn’t seem to go down well.
The supermarket is just next to the Manhattan bridge ( the next one along from Brooklyn) and we were dropped right under the bridge in Chinatown.
Manhattan Bridge
The noise level was horrendous, Manhattan Bridge carries subway trains and as they pass over you can’t hear yourself think, I don’t know how people manage to live there. The streets were very crowded, much more so than in Battery Park City. We only walked for about 100yds through China Town but it really made us want to come back and spend some time. The shops spill out on to the streets and you can buy the most amazing things, especially foods.
We found the supermarket, you get a great view of Downtown and Brooklyn Bridge.
Downtown Manhattan
It was a big supermarket and eventually we managed to find everything we needed, but the layout of US supermarkets baffle all of us. Why have cheese in 3 different places, what were a very few pieces of meat doing in the middle of the fresh veg and salad?
We did the shopping and walked back to the bus stop. It was outside a very Chinese looking collection of awnings.
Chinatown
We whiled away the time waiting for the bus by watching a wedding party. First the bridegroom set off in a stretch limo (carrying a very pretty bouquet) then another car arrived, presumably for the bride, but it did a couple of u-turns (in the middle of a very busy road) before they decided it was the right car in the right place. The bride looked lovely in a beautiful long white off the shoulder dress. She lifted the hem of the dress up to step off the sidewalk and into the car, to reveal that under the dress she was wearing a pair of jeans and thick soled walking boots???!!
These Americans are strange.