Wednesday, 29 May 2013

New York Part 2: A Walk and a Talk

The absolute best and most entertaining thing about walking tours is always - ALWAYS - the guide. The fabulous thing about these people is that they are thrilled, addicted, and passionate about their topic and equally thrilled, addicted and passionate about sharing it with you.

First on our itinerary was an architectural walking tour on 42nd street, starting at the United Nations building and ending at the New York Public Library. Emma was our tour guide, and she was awesome. It was just the three of us, and we had a grand time. She taught us all about the history of New York, enthused about all the buildings we were passing by and patiently waited while I had a New York hot dog at Grand Central and Rob took absolute ages to get a cup of coffee. At the end of our allotted 3 hours, we said our goodbyes and hugged like old friends.

Walking above the streets was a refreshing experience from riding under them on the metro. Hotbed of many almost-divorce moments for us. The third time Rob leapt onto a train at the last second, leaving me stricken and attempting to do death-defying leaps from the platform, was the absolute last straw. In this particular instance, I made it on - just as the doors SLAMMED closed onto my bag. And no. They don't courteously OR conveniently spring open like elevator doors do. Instead, they CLAMP. Leaving my bag stuck, the entire train stuck and all the people in the carriage staring at me malevolently. I won't elaborate on what happened after he eventually managed to wrench the doors open, but happily all future metro rides were conducted in a much more sedate fashion.

Some New York City icons:

New York Public Library

Waldorf Astoria Hotel. I loved the red blossoms...

Chrysler Building

Grand Central Station

A Frankies New Yorker. Mustard, onion, sauerkraut, yum.

Flat Iron Building

Foxy husband


What would a trip to New York be without a Yankees baseball game? All terribly exciting and great fun, until about the 5th innings when we were bored, and cold and hungry. I won't say what popcorn and hotdogs cost at the Yankee Stadium, it's just plain criminal. So we left and had a wonderful 11pm dinner at Westville East, which was in our 'hood. Recommended in both our guidebooks. With good reason.

And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there…. Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether.  Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will. ~ Ezra Pound

Amen and good night.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

New York Part One: Spring Fling

Spring in New York is magic. New green leaves, tulips and blossoms everywhere. That spring feeling that hangs in the air when people have been held to ransom by a cold, dark winter and suddenly the days are sunny and warm. The city's green spaces overflow with people eating their very glamorous salads, exuding that general feeling of well-being that comes from lazing about under a clear, blue sky.

This was our best trip ever. When you've been to New York, you come back changed, somehow. There is an energy there that makes you feel like you are part of something so much bigger than your ordinary life. It truly is an incredible place.

The husband is a fabulous travelling companion. An uncanny sense of direction, and an absolute passion to make the most of every single moment, to really experience and live in a place. Of course, there are drawbacks to this: running approximately 65 blocks down Bleecker Street to get to the starting point of our pizza walking tour on time, being dragged most unwillingly through the modern art museums and 2000 photos of the trip which is why I am only posting this now. A note on the photos: he was mostly in charge of the camera since buildings and cities are his thing. All photos with blossoms, leaves, tulips and other green things were taken by me. About 5 in total.

After the second day of spending approximately 12 hours on our feet, we were no longer walking with our thighs at a forty five degree angle to our calves. Our travelling legs kicked in, and I was on a mission to completely wear through my pumps before the week was up. Poor Rob. He has learnt from bitter experience that I get very unhappy when I'm tired. Or hot. Or hungry, for that matter. When I brightly offered to take the camera bag from him and carry it for a while, he stared at me. For quite a long time. And then went on to explain, in a very gentle voice, that if he has learned one thing from all our prior travels, it is this: that when it comes to me, a bagless traveller is a happy traveller. Ah. So true. I do love this man.

In no particular order, a glimpse of our experiences.

Museum of Natural History. When you live in Africa, the only thing you really need to see in the Hall of African Mammals is the herd of elephants in the middle of the room. We skipped the rest and headed straight for the fossils and other good stuff.

MoMa and the Guggenheim were next on our list. Well, Rob's list anyway. I am no lover of modern art. But the thing is, I always find something - one thing - that I like. In this case, a photography exhibition. Not so much the frayed orange canvas sheet tacked to the wall, worth a zillion dollars. Also not the plain white art canvas that people were taking photos of. I wanted to invite them home, into my study - where I have three plain white canvases, the result of an art project that has yet to get off the ground. Step right up, folks!

Our one rainy day in New York was spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paintings, sculptures, creaky wooden floors and hushed voices. Absolutely beautiful and on my Highly Recommended list. If art and creaky floors are your thing.

We strolled through Central Park on a balmy Sunday afternoon, soaking it all in. The melting pot of nature, humanity, hot-dog vendors and skateboarding bull terriers. We laughed out loud (from sheer relief?) when we were nearly killed by a rickshaw careening past us: the look on the passengers' faces was priceless. Even we weren't sure they were going to get out of it alive. 

 Hatbrim photo bomb

Our third night there, we went on a harbour cruise to check out the city skyline by night. It was freezing. I sat inside and looked through the windows, checking on Rob every now and then to make sure he hadn't frozen to death. The end result of that 2-hour cruise? About 600 photos and one elated, kinda frostbitten architect.

 World's first neon sign. In case you wanted to know.

To end: in order to officially celebrate our anniversary in style, we booked a table at The House, in Gramercy Park. Turns out it was just down the road from our apartment, so we took a slow New York stroll on a brisk New York night. The cocktail almost knocked me out (and had me clutching onto chairs to stop myself falling over on the way out) but the food and the service were perfect. Totally worth the price, which was roughly equivalent to that of a small island.

That's part one, folks. Stay tuned for more...

Monday, 13 May 2013

Mother's Day

For a long time before Immy was born, I was faced with the awful reality that I might never be a mother. I will never ever as long as I live forget the moment that I saw those two lines on the pregnancy test. From that moment on, our lives changed and we held our breath in expectation of our greatest gift.

When she was a few months old, she would wake up like clockwork at 1am for a feed. I would pick her up, and savour every minute of that time in the middle of the night, when all the world was sleeping and it was just the two of us. I still go into her room every night just to look at her. And breathe her in. And assure myself that yes, I AM a mama and this dazzling child is ours.
I know my place in this world because of her. And when she woke me up at 8:02am yesterday morning with a smile and tousled blonde hair and a LOUD ‘Happy Mother’s Day Mommy’, I thought: I am blessed. And grateful that every day is a new opportunity to be the best mother I can be. That even though yesterday I may have lost my temper, or not had time to sit down and play, or may not have hugged her or held her or told her I loved her as much as I should have: today is a new day.

To all the mama’s out there, including my own: Happy Mother’s Day. We don’t always do the right thing, or have all the answers but there is nothing in this world like a mother’s love.