Trip to USA November 2014
Set off to US later than usual, in order to be with Andrew and Lizzy for Thanksgiving, for the first time since they moved to US. First of all, stayed with Emma and Laura in New York. Their baby boy is due early December. Weather warm enough to sit on their roof top in the sunshine, but much colder weather is forecast!
The day after our arrival, we walked across Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. Weather not great but still exciting. The day after we visited Laura at her new offices in Manhattan. A spacious, bright 16th floor in a high-rise building with far-reaching views across the city. We met her boss, Mandeep and other members of the team. Laura and Ems had a hospital visit at nearby Mount Sinai hospital, and we went off to the Museum of Modern Art, affectionately known by locals as Moma.
There was a feature exhibition of the works of Matisse, specifically his "cut outs". I've never been particularly struck but it was a very informative and enlightening feature, which gave you a really good understanding of the technique of cut out and how he achieved body shape and form from cutting, pinning and folding bits of bright blue paper, and used the gaps between the blue pieces to allow the background to emphasise movement and shape. Fascinating. Apart from that, there was an extensive collection of Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Dali, Picasso. Then the less inspiring minimal stuff by Mondrian et al! A lot of stuff by Warhol, including his famous baked beans pic and Marilyn.
Met up with Ems in the Irish bar next to the offices, Laura having gone back to work. Baby's lying cross-ways, and if he doesn't turn, it's looking like Emma will be having a C-section the first week in December. With Xmas looming, Emma is trying to get things organised well in advance, because she knows she's going to be very busy soon. Xmas decorations out in the corner of the room ready to trim. Cake made, but unable to find marzipan in the shops, as well as some spices, double cream, caster sugar, to name just a few. So between us we looked up Delia and now home-made marzipan sits in the freezer, ready for assembly nearer the time!
After the usual long 12 hr day, Laura rejoined us and we all went off into Chinatown to Shanghai Asian Manor. Great, good value food and helpful, courteous staff. Tried the famous soup dumplings, soft doughy dumplings filled with pork and broth, which oozes out when you pierce them. Also the lovely "pot stickers", which I've made with Lizzy before now.
The following day was a chilly start, with a drop in temperature of about 12'degC. Laura had booked the day off. Caught the tube to Grand Central Station, a wonderful temple of a building, softly lit with dozens of opulent chandeliers, gateways to trains resembling doorways into rooms in a museum or national library. Very Grand indeed and well worth a visit, even if you're not catching a train. A little time to kill, so we all sat with a coffee, listening to a couple playing fiddle, called the Poor Cousins. Really relaxing Irish folk music. All this before 9am! Caught the northbound train to Wassaic, Connecticut, a couple of hours away, and then a short, not very fragrant taxi ride to Interlaken Resort hotel, where we spent the night. Accommodation generally around here is very expensive, but Emma had done some research and found this taste of the country outside NY. The countryside is hilly but not mountainous here, quite swampy and wooded, East of the Hudson River, with pretty wooden traditional houses. The hotel is situated near a lake with an impossible Native American Indian name, but it was a bit too cold for a walk down there, so we opted for a more sheltered one in the woods nearby. A recent dusting of snow and frost gave the landscape a very fitting winter feel, to suit its Swiss name! Back to the hotel and a rest for Emma, whilst Ian and I went off for a session in the gym, and my first one mile run in years! The evening meal was excellent, with a wide variety of starters and entrees. I opted for Swiss chard and Granny Smith apple salad, followed by Arctic char, which is a bit like cod but tastier.
We returned in time for lunch back in Brooklyn, the following day, and caught up with news of home and relatives on the journey back. Had lunch at a great little cafe in Fort Green, called Olea,specialising in tapas. Very busy, and buzzing atmosphere. Everything we ordered was so tasty and reasonably priced, including wine in a carafe, rather than the often overpriced bottles!
Felt sad to be leaving but the girls have a busy few weeks ahead of them, with friends from UK staying, baby shower to attend and baby to prepare for! Strange to think that before we leave to come home, there will be another little baby in the family!