Archive for May, 2005

The Cloisters

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Saturday was a lovely day, so we decided to use our membership of the Met and go up to the Cloisters. The Cloisters is the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to Medieval Europe.
The Cloisters 1
It is about as far Uptown as you can get, set in some lovely grounds. It is based upon a European cloister, built from bits and pieces of churches and monasteries from all over Europe.
The Cloisters 2
A little strange when we are used to complete building in England but they have done a very good job of creating the right atmosphere.
The Cloisters 3
It shows what a young country this is when the tour guide is thrilled to be able to touch a pillar made in the 1200s and John went to a school built in the 900s.
The Cloisters 4
Our favourite parts were the recreated medieval gardens.
The Cloisters 5
The Cloisters 6
We then went a bit downtown to the Hungarian Pastry Shop to indulge in some cake and coffee, it’s a lovely pokey little cafe with a great atmosphere and frequented by students. Maria was thrilled when one of the waitresses spoke to her in Hungarian.
It is opposite the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and a wonderful sculpture garden. There is a large peace sculpture in the center and then a lot of small sculptures.
Peace 1
There is an annual competition for children from kindergarten to high school and the 12 best entries are cast in bronze and added to the garden.
Peace 2
Peace 3
Some were really lovely.
Maria then expressed a wish to go to Bloomingdales and shop for shoes, apparently she did not have anything to wear for walking about in the hot weather (?? what on earth are her other shoes for then?). Personally I was tired and voted for going straight back home, but you know what John is like. So we were off to Bloomingdales.
She liked the third pair of shoes she tried on but that didn’t stop her her trying on another 3 pairs, and the her favourite ones in a different colour, then one of each colour on each foot, then the other way round, then the first colour on both feet, then the other colour……..Eventually she did manage to choose and John went to pay for them. (He’d already bought her a cross at the Cloisters, is he made of money?) We couldn’t find a handbag to match, except a Fendi one, which was somewhat too much for even John (if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it).
So AT LAST we went back to the appartment and a bit of rest. Just as we got back a superb thunderstorm started, making the light on the buildings look very strange.

Music and beads

Friday, May 20th, 2005

It was bad enough when I had to share the computer with Maria, but these days I’m having to share with Claire as well. Makes it very difficult to get any time to keep up my blog.
On Thursday we went to the Seaport again to try and get some tickets for Broadway. The queue was much longer than Monday but the choice was much better too. We ended up with some good seats for Fiddler on the Roof. We then went to Trinity Church for the lunchtime concert, via Borders of course. I was impressed, we were only in there for 20 mins and Claire only managed to get one book but Maria got 4 books and 3 magazines. She’s obviously more experienced.
The concert was excellent, it was by Solid Rock Ensemble a Gospel group. It really made Maria want to go to a Gospel service.
Solid Rock Ensemble
We then went uptown with the intention of going up the Empire State Building, John had bought us tickets. By the time we got there we decided there was not enough time, so we went to some of the local accessories and bead shops, where Claire spent yet more money. I don’t see how she’ll carry it all back.
We then headed back home to quickly change and go out again to Broadway.
The show was at the Mishkoff Theatre which is on Times Square. It was a modern theatre with superb views.
Times Square view 1

Times Square view 2
The show was also excellent, Fiddler is one of John’s favourite films.
It was past 1.00 am before we got to bed and so we didn’t find it too easy to get up on Friday. Poor John had to go to work. Claire, Maria and I were intending to go up the Empire State Building but it was raining so we decided to put it off. Instead we pottered around for a bit and then went uptown to shop for fabrics and beads. Maria and Claire found (and bought) lots, the prices here are so good. Maria also managed to buy yet another (!!!) pair of shoes. They’re covered in beads and totally impractical, but she doesn’t seem to consider that.
There was a superb sunset in the evening.
John finished work today, he’s taking Monday as a holiday. Perhaps he’ll be able to curb the girls shopping?

Food and art

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

After all the clothes shopping yesterday, Claire decided she still needed something suitable for the warm weather to wear on her bottom half. She felt she couldn’t afford to spend a lot more money on clothes so we went to Century 21, great if you’re prepared to rummage. Wish we could work out these American sizes though.
We then met John for lunch. 50 of the restaurants in downtown Manhattan were doing tastings, so we sampled everything from oysters, chowder, catfish, tikka masala, smoked salmon, cheesecake and ice cream to fresh lemonade.
John then went back to work , Claire, Maria and I rolled down the hill to South Ferry and took the best free ride in NY.
Claire on Staton Island Ferry
The views were excellent, we were lucky and caught one of the new ferries.
The view of downtown as you come back into harbour are great.
Downtown skyline
Wednesday was our art day. Both Claire and I got stuck in. My work was very much admired.
Artistic Wilbeary

Claire painting
In the afternoon Maria took some of the other bears along , totally unnecessary I felt but they were very much admired.
The wild life around here is very pushy.

Winnie the Pooh!!!

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Wow!! What a fantastic day. We went to Chinatown this morning. Maria loves the place, Claire wanted to experience it and do some shopping. I think she experienced a bit more than she expected. For a start there was the shop that sold dried everything, plums, figs, cherries, cuttlefish, sea cucumber (a sort of sea slug?!), sesame covered mini crab (complete with shell). We did do some shopping but stuck mainly to the fruit, although John did buy some fish.
Chinese tasting
We then went on to the place Maria has been buying her slippers and she got another pair (they are very pretty but does anyone really need three pairs?) and Claire got a pair too. Between the pair of them they could open a shoe shop. Then Claire bought some bowls and chopsticks, John put his foot down and said that since she already had 3 sets Maria didn’t need any more. We also had to get some fresh prawns (they are very good) and some BBQ pork and a duck. Guess what we’re having for tea.
We went to a Dim Sum restaurant for lunch, we were lucky and got there just as the queues were starting. By the time we left people were having to wait out on the street. We had a Dim Sum platter and most of it was very nice, there was one thing we could not identify, looked rather like a sponge and had a strange texture. John and I ate it but Maria and Claire just tasted it and wouldn’t have any more.
After popping back to the appartment, we left John there and the rest of us went up to 53rd St West to the Museum of Art and Design, otherwise known as MAD. There was an exhibition of beadwork Claire wanted to see and we were also quite interested in their Kimono exhibition and their Fringe exhibition. The fringes were rather disappointing but the rest was great. We could have spent loads of money in the shop but mostly resisted. Since we were close by we decided to visit St. Patricks Cathedral. As we were walking accross 53rd St towards 5th Ave WE PASSED THE LIBRARY EDWARD BEAR (aka WINNIE THE POOH) AND HIS FRIEND LIVE IN. We of course went in to visit, it was a great privilege to meet a bear of his stature. He was very gracious to such an insignificant bear as I and kindly allowed me to take his picture.
Winnie and friends
After that of course the rest of the day was insignificant. We went to the Cathedral and then back home via a chocolate shop.
Tomorrow Claire and Maria are intending to go to Bloomingdales and Macys shoe shopping. More shoes!!!?

Claire is here

Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Didn’t get a lot done on Thursday. We were just settling down to work when John phoned to say the maid was on her way. We weren’t expecting her until Friday so Maria was in a panic. I cannot understand why you should need to tidy up before the maid comes, I thought that was her job. Maria says, yes it is but the maid is sooo.. tidy if we leave it up to her we’ll be searching for our things for the next week, and we’re only here for 10 more days. So we tidied, loaded the washing machine and then went out for a bit of shopping.
When we came back the apartment was cleaned but the smell of cleaning products was so strong (the Americans favourite product is Clorox bleach, they use it for everything) we decided to open a window and go up on the roof. I wish we’d taken some sun block with us. Still I think we realised in time and we’re only a little red.
Claire arrived on Friday. The start of her journey went really well. This end looked a bit iffy, on Thursday there was a fire in a tunnel and all the trains to Penn were diverted to Hoboken + ferry. When she set off from the UK the situation was still unresolved, but John and Maria kept track with the internet ( it’s amazing how you can follow flight etc online, so we knew as soon as she landed etc) and although the tunnel was open by the time she landed we decided it was better for her to go to Hoboken and then take the ferry since it lands at the World Financial Center and we can just stroll back from there. Apart from the fact that she dropped John’s whisky and broke it at imigration (that’ll smell good for a while) it all went well. Claire seems rather please with the fact that she traveled by taxi, train, monorail, plane and boat to get here.
Claire arriving
Because of the time difference we were all up early yesterday and had breakfasted etc. and were out of the apartment by 8.30. As usual (it being a weekend) most of the downtown subways were shut but we got up to Union Sq for the Farmers market. Maria is thrilled because they were selling lily-of-the-valley, her favourite flowers. We then went up to Grand Central for their market (we got there before it opened!!!) and did our food shopping. They do some gorgeous food.
We then made our way back via Century 21 (we needed cutlery, the stuff in the apartment is rubbish and has been breaking on us) and Ground Zero. We were shattered by the time we got back and Claire was trying to go to sleep. Still, some lunch soon revived us and we strolled out to the Carnival @ WFC (sort of a glorified school fete). This seems to be the season for school fundraisers, the nursery downstairs was holding a hayride on Thursday afternoon.
We were rather impressed with a trimoran tied up in the North Dock. We were even more impressed when we found out it was in fact the one that set the record for sailing around the world that Ellen McArthur broke recently. Apparently it’s been here since early April, on ‘the starting blocks’ (as it were) for a transatlantic effort, but it’s been too calm.
However the clam weather has enabled some rowers to set off accross the atlantic. Some people do the strangest things for fun.
We had an early night since we’ve got a lot planned for tomorrow. Rather spoilt by the fact that we were woken at 11.45pm by some fireworks.

Hungarian pastry

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

On Monday Maria and I went uptown to 110th St. The furthest uptown I’ve been so far. We went because Maria found the only Hungarian Pastry Shop in NY in the yellow pages. It was opposite the church of ST. John the Divine, the biggest church I’ve ever seen. They’ve been building it for about 100 years and it’s still not finished. They’re working on the tower at the moment.
St John the Divine
The pastry shop was interesting, Maria says it reminds her of Hungary, even the way it looks is reminiscent of Hungary. All I know is the cakes were lovely.
Hungarian Pastry Shop
We have been spending some time up on the roof, the weather is lovely and Maria is working on her tan and her bears at the same time, I just admire the view, it’s lovely. She’s managed to finish 2 more bears. I don’t know if we’ll manage to beat the total from last time, she’s running very low on stuffing.
Bear 15
Bear 16
John has been watching boats again, he was thrilled on Monday, three big boats left that evening, he managed to catch 2 of them.
Golden Princess
Today was Maria’s art day and we spent most of it outdoors, drawing, painting and working on our tan. So no work on bears.
Claire arrives on Friday so I don’t think Maria will get much work done after that.

Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 8th, 2005

It’s Mother’s Day in the US and NO flowers from the kids!! Mind you they did send a lovely bunch when it was Mother’s Day in the UK.
Last night there were some fantastic fireworks again on the Hudson, between us and Liberty, That’s the second time. Perhaps they do it every Saturday?
Today Maria’s not feeling too good, earache, sore throat, dizzy.. I reckon it’s because we nearly froze down at South St. Seaport on Friday. Anyway we stayed in, watched the Grand Prix and finished the bear.
bear 14
Maria’s now happy ‘cos they’ve got a Mama’s day Elvis Marathon on telly.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Sunday, May 8th, 2005

Well I’ve not written for a couple of days again ‘cos first there wasn’t much to write about, and then when there was something to write about, there was no time to do so.
On Thursday we had a very quiet day. John had a bit of excitement when we saw the Carnival Legend. Him and big boats! Honestly it’s almost as bad as Maria and anything colourful.
Carnival Legend
He went off to work and Maria and I stayed at home and worked. Another bear joins the fold.
Bear 12
Then yesterday, we decided we wanted to go to see a Broadway show. So Maria and I went to South St. Seaport where there is a TKTS office which sells tickets for shows that evening for about half price. There is another one at Times Square. It involves a fair bit of queuing and it’s a matter of luck what you can get but it is excellent value. When we joined the queue we couldn’t decide if we wanted Fiddler on the Roof or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. By the time we got to the front the decision was made for us, they’d sold out of Fiddler. Still we didn’t mind. Mind you it would have been nice if the weather was a bit nicer, we were frozen, what with standing around and the wind blowing in off the water.
The show was at the Hilton Theatre on 42nd St. I was all prepared for a not too well appointed theatre. The couple of times Maria and John have been to Broadway, they say the theatres had no lobbies or foyers to speak of, you were almost straight into the auditorium from the street. However this was different, it was a lovely old theatre with grand staircases and bars and restrooms on each level.
The show itself was great!!! As for Chitty flying.. WOW!!!! Thoroughly enjoyed it, together with everyone else in the audience.
Chitty fan
I rather like my Chitty badge.We’re going to see if we can get tickets for something else when Claire comes out to join us at the end of next week.
A rather amusing sight was the rickshaws (?!?!) waiting outside the theatre entrances at the end.
It was very late by the time we got back home and I was shattered.
Today has been a quieter day. Despite half the subways downtown being closed (again! every weekend!!) we managed to get up to Grand Central. We really like the food market there.
Grand Central Station Clock
Then Maria finished another bear. Rather an eccentric and funny chap.
Bear 13


Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

Well, I haven’t posted for a couple of days ‘cos there wasn’t a lot to say. Maria’s been working hard and has produced a couple of bears.
Bear 10

Bear 11
She’s pretty happy at the moment because on Monday on his way home John saw a shop selling lilacs and bought her a bunch. So she’s been going around smelling them and going all sentimental.
Today we made some new friends. The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy puts on all sorts of activities during the warmer weather in the parks. Everything from story reading, drumming, singing, Tai-che, childrens activities and adult art classes. Guess what Maria decided to take part in.
We spent the morning doing ‘elements of nature drawing’ and then this afternoon ‘figure al fresco’.
Wilbeary sketching
figure al fresco
It was great, a bit cold in the afternoon but it should warm up by next week. It’s only $5 a session, with all materials included. Real good value. Apparently it goes on through to October, so if we come back in August we should be able to rejoin.
We are constantly amazed by how many things/activities are available free or at a minimal cost. We must check what the concert at Trinity is tomorrow.

What a lot of bull.

Sunday, May 1st, 2005

Well the forecast was for rain in the morning, cloud and strong winds developing later. They usually get it right, but not today. It’s been a lovely day, sunny, a light breeze and getting warmer all the time.
We had to be in after 3 because we had a grocery delivery but we thought the morning too nice to waste. So we had a stroll down along the Hudson. We had to keep dodging the bike riders since today was the Five Boro Bike Event and they were everywhere. The trouble is there are no bike lanes, and while I don’t blame the bikers for not using the road, it does mean the sidewalks get pretty dangerous.
Five Boro Bike Event
We had a walk around Battery Park, as usual it was full of people selling handbags, watches, T-shirts etc. (there is a park ordinance saying ‘no hawkers’ but it seems to be more of a ‘suggestion’ and largely ignored), also the usual street performers.
Street Entertainment
We then made our way up Broadway towards Wall Street, I wanted to have my picture taken with famous Wall Street Bull. Iit is enormous!! I had to really hang on.
Wall Street Bull
A lot of the roads around that area are dug up, there are major road works going on for the next year or so. I hope the results will be worth, at the moment it’s a case of clambering past whatever obstacles they happen to put in your way. Considering America is considered to be very litigious, we are constantly amazed at the apparent lack of safety precautions.
Road works NY style
We were accompanied on our return journey for a fair bit of the way by a squirrel. They are very tame. (There is a park ordinance against feeding them, but see above!!)
When we got back to our road a stretch limo had just drawn up with a bridal party, Sunday seems very popular for weddings.