Here I am in my Parisian garrett, living the writers life, hardly a garret but being in Paris on a writers course and I still haven’t finished writing about the last few days of the amazing trip with my wonderful friends! Now I am going to try to finish being in America, despite the sun shining outside on a late autumn day and the thought of cycling alongside the Seine to the Eiffel tour being rather appealing.
Back to New York, Judy went to the FedEX office on business which all extremely frustrating and very stressful. In the meantime Cheryl and I cycled the length and breadth of Central Park, the wind whistling through our hair as we sped down the hills, finding the Stuart Little pond, the Alice in Wonderland statue which was commissioned by Georges Delacorte, a philanthropist, so that children could visit and experience the wonder of Lewis Carroll’s story. It is not only children who experience the wonder as we both did too, as did all those we saw, including the skateboarders who zoomed in to sit on the mushrooms and have their photos taken. SO cool, they said! Helen walked through Central Park, getting lost, but we met up after a while and walked to the Frick Collection. The house itself is a treat, being one of the few remaining Gilded Ages mansions in New York, and gave us an insight into the lives of the super wealthy at that time. Henry Clay Frick amassed a great dal of art during his lifetime, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya and Gainsborough, as well as the occasional Turner and Constable, and a rather lovely Renoir almost hidden under the grand staircase! It didn’t seem right that one man should have so much for himself, particularly given that his involvement in the Homestead strike in Pittsburgh where 9 steel workers were killed by the detectives he had employed to break the strike , many injured, thousands were sacked and those who returned to work were paid half their previous wage. Fortunately for us Adelaide Frick, his wife, left the house and paintings to the nation on her death so we can enjoy them today! A much more modest exhibition was housed in the basement, that of the drawings of Andrea da Sarno (1486-1530) drawn in preparation for his larger paintings. They were simply exquisite.
On Friday evenings from 4 until closing at 8pm MOMA does not charge admission, so along with most of New York we dashed there, via the Apple and Armani stores both of which feature glorious staircases! We saw Monet’s water lilies, Miro, Magritte, Van Gogh, and a huge, and sometimes weird, collection of Picasso’s sculptures. Walking home along 5th avenue, stopping briefly at the Rockerfeller Centre to watch the ice skaters!
Saturday saw me and Cheryl walking back to Central Park for some art shopping whilst Judy and Helen sought religion in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Judy was happy when she finally had a good coffee! Libraries are places I love to visit but unfortunately the famous reading room at the New York Public Libray was closed. St Patrick’s Cathedral was closed to those not going to mass, the Rockerfeller Centre (for cocktails) was closed. We decided this was a sign to go for retail therapy instead! Our first time in the US, we had been pretty restrained up until then but the 40% off sale at Banana Republic and the beautiful colourful clothes at Desiquals proved irresistible! Eataly, one of my favourite places in Chicago, has a branch in NY but it was so, so busy! This was the first time we were met with a New York attitude, we thought we were waiting for a table but apparently this unmovable New Yorker had been there long before us and there was absolutely no way she was going to allow us to have that table, her death stares defeated us and we went to the Alongquin for cocktails, to the Blue Bar, instead, as recommended by one of Helen’s patients who is 94! It has been refurbished since Lady Pat’s day but I think some of the charming waiters are still there! After cocktails and shopping we decided dinner in our beautiful apartment was a good option, looking over the sparkling skyline of New York. Cheryl and I did sneak in a prosecco at the gorgeous, miniature bar, The Pocket Bar, on our way home from grocery shopping!
On Sunday, we headed for Newport after picking up our car, which we had to fill up with petrol, an adventure in itself! We saw Shelagh and Max, who had been so generous in lending us their apartment, only briefly for a coffee to tell them about our New York adventures and hear about their cruise, down the East Coast, from Montreal to New York, one for the bucket list! We met at the Gotham West Market, wish we had had time to eat there too.
We had a long FaceTime chat with Simon whilst in New York, it is much easier being on the same timeline. I am so proud and thrilled that he is reading and all the more so because he is now enjoying reading , the spectre of his dastardly bullying kindergarten teacher no longer paralysing him when it comes to reading, she who “sat on his shoulder” and terrified him every time someone suggested he had to read. He is reading Hatchet, with Nell, his Saturday morning tutor, he read it when at Riverview and wanted to re-read it now that reading is easier and not the chore that it once was. It will be interesting to see if he enjoys it more this time around. He is also reading for himself, every morning after his shower and before breakfast (“it’s a habit, Mum!” he proclaimed the other day). He is also listening to audio books in the evenings. The other exciting thing is that he can recall and describe the stories which is something he could not do before the Arrowsmith programme! He looked at me as if I were mad when I wondered how he didn’t confuse the different stories in his mind! I am sure that I would but then again my mind is much more cluttered than Simon’s and mine is not growing!
That’s enough for now! I have been told that these posts are too long and that it sounds like we were having way too much fun, I am not going to apologise for either of those! We had such a good time and we want to remember it all! As Stella reminds me, Julia Child used to say “Never apologise!”. On that note, adieu.