Monday, December 22, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas 2014, and thank you all so very much for all your visits and comments through the year.  What a wonderful gift our blogging community is!


Friday, December 19, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

It seems that since I returned from England in November, I have been neglecting showing you all some New York City seasonal views.  I have been very busy with many projects and also with my work days.

Nonetheless, I have been taking my camera with me on some days, and will now show you a very edited selection of city views.

Thanksgiving Day, back on November 27, was a very cold and damp day, and so I did not stay too long at the annual Macy's Parade that starts not far from where I live and makes its way downtown to Macy's Department Store at 34th Street's Herald Square.

There were lots of police on hand to protect us from anything or anyone intent on disturbing the joy that assembled families might receive from the parade. Colorful balloons, for sale, also gave color to a gray day.

Gigantic helium filled balloons made their appearances in between marching bands and decorative floats boasting celebrities.  Snoopy and Woodstock are always crowd favorites.

Veteran parade viewers remember to bring their own ladders and other seating arrangements to provide better viewing.

The above photograph reminded me of birds on a wire, but that bird on the right did not know I was taking her photograph.

Some folks wear seasonal, whimsical hats.

As in my previous reports of this parade, you can see the famed Dakota apartment building in the above photograph.  People watching the parade from the Dakota's windows were warmer than I was.  I admit to going home for a hot cup of tea before Santa Claus's appearance at the end of the parade.

A much warmer occasion was the annual Holiday Open House at the splendidly grand 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue main New York City Public Library.

As always, there is lots of wonderful music, plenty of wine, lots of beautifully dressed children enjoying the fun of a party in the library where it's joyously noisy.

During these Open House events, lots of special rooms are open to view, including this one with a fabulous vintage card catalogue.  I could not resist taking a photograph.

The library building richly deserved its landmark status.

Every time that I have attended this party, I leave it with a renewed appreciation of all that I love about New York City.

The stone lions that guard the entrance to the building were looking very grand in their holiday greenery wreaths.

In past years I've shown you all the giant Rockefeller Center tree, and wanted to include a photograph again this year.  Lots of breezes blowing around this area.

I was bundled up against the chill, and continued my walk up Fifth Avenue looking for any imaginative holiday decorations.  I admit that I did not see many qualifiers until I reached 57th Street.

 Tiffany's had some rather gaudy sparkly diamond-inspired lights on its facade.  I think that the choice of yellow "diamonds" at the centers of these sprays was not as pretty as "rubies" might have been.

Over the middle of the 57th and Fifth intersection is hung a very large illuminated snowflake.  This decoration is much more dramatic after sundown.  However, after sundown, it is not so easy for the pedestrian to see the pair of sneakers that have been tossed over another set of wires above the same intersection.  Sneakers are without glamour but do have a certain nonchalance.

Leave it to Bergdorf Goodman to come up with truly inventive holiday windows.

On one side of the building the store's windows show a sort of winter wonderland, as a backdrop to some very elegant fashions.

On the Fifth Avenue side of the building there is a theme to the window.  Various members of the Arts family are represented.  The best of the bunch, to my eye, was the one representing Architecture.

There was much playing around with scale and with the tradition of blueprints.

Others of this series of windows have much more brightly colored lighting.

I still prefer the Architecture window.  As did other passersby, judging by how many cameras and smart phones were being deployed.

This is a detail of the Painting window.  All was in whitewash except for the one canvas.

Back to Architecture.  Please humor me.

The talented designers who create and install these windows are truly top of their field.


Yes, there are some mannequins sharing the window, and yes, these mannequins are wearing some fabulous clothes, but I don't think that they are the true stars of the show.

One last peek.

I believe that the following photograph featured the Music arts.  Lots of brass horns.

Around the corner on 58th Street, this window was a tribute to sculpture, with an emphasis on ice.

I regret to report that my camera's battery signalled a farewell about the time I took that ice sculpture window.  And so, I headed home.

Shop windows are not the only sources of decorations at this time of the year.

At the farmers market there are lots of cyclamen, amaryllis, Christmas cactus, narcissus and other pretty colored blooms available to take home.

Other stands feature a great variety of greenery, either as loose branches, garlands or made up wreaths.

I like the pine cones.

I wish that I could convey to you all the delicious scent of all this greenery.

Red berries and festive ribbons have been added to some of the wreaths on offer.

Uptown in my own west side neighborhood, as in most other city neighborhoods, sidewalk vendors of Christmas trees and greenery appeared around Thanksgiving and will disappear on Christmas eve.

I love the way that these vendors have decorated their little enclosure against the chill of the night air, to create a Christmas Tree People house.  Can you all see the little figures they have made from trimmings from trees they've sold?

Not all Christmas trees have to be ten feet tall.  These are about a metre, including their stands.

Just across Broadway from The Christmas Tree People, is the legendary Beacon Theater, where currently Mariah Carey is holding forth.  I would imagine that the audience sings along with her when she gets to that particular line of that particular song.

And back home in my tiny apartment, I have added some red berried branches to my decor, surrounded by a few beautifully wrapped gifts that have recently been delivered.

I think that I have made all the required visits to the Post Office, and may or may not have baked all the cookies I will bake before December 25.

As of this evening, I am feeling rather relaxed about my Christmas preparations.  Do be on the lookout for at least one more post from me before the 25th.

Meanwhile, thank you all for your visits and comments.  It's great fun to share this time of the year with you all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

The sugar-dusted, star-shaped cookies have been baked.

Very soon, I will be distributing them to various folks.  And perhaps nibbling one or two myself.

Please do be on the lookout tomorrow for those photographs of New York City holiday decorations!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

I am so very sorry not to have yet shown you all some photographs of the fancy decorations around town.  Time is getting away from me.

Almost all of the windows in my Advent Calendar are now open.  

The fancy decoration photographs will appear soon.  Meanwhile, I have some Christmas cookies to bake!  Thank you all for your visits and comments.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York.

For some time now, I've been meaning to share photographs of a certain part of a certain wall in my neighborhood.

This painting by a well know artist was created at least a year ago, and for many months kept its own low profile, attracting attention from folks who could guess its source.  No one seemed to bother the lad with the hammer.

Then, a few months ago, a protective plexiglass shield was installed over the painting to protect it from alteration.  The expense for this shield was funded by the neighborhood shop Zabar's.  Zabar's also accepts contributions from the public.

Since the shield's appearance, graffiti has been scrawled across the shield, and then removed.  Currently, some tiny stickers appear on the shield, and perhaps resist removal.

Thank you all for your visiting and commenting on my holiday post.  It was a pleasure to share these happy days.

Monday, November 24, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

I do believe that you all have guessed which country I have been visiting.  Yes, the photograph I gave you as a hint, a big hint, was taken in Lewes, in Sussex.

Most of my holiday was spent in London, where I tried to keep a balance between getting out to see lots of places and people, and also trying to have a relaxing time.

However, the day on which I attended the Country Living Magazine's Christmas Fair was quite a full day.

I arrived at Fair's Islington location not long after the doors opened for the day and found that a crowd was already assembling.  the noise level was high.  Lots of female CL fans seemed to be filled with excitement.

Just inside the entrance to the large, multi-tiered exhibition area, we were greeted by great whiffs of cinnamon and oranges that had been used to decorate a large sleigh carrying Santa.

Even the reindeer were covered in a potpourri mix.  I pressed on with my plan to do a systematic tour of the entire Fair, and make a few notes in my Fair brochure of any particular exhibitors whose stands I wished to re-visit.

I found that my experience dealing with New York City crowds served me well on my tour.  Years and years ago, I attended some of the magazine's first Spring Fairs, and very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet many famed craft makers and designers.

Decades later, it seemed to me that there was less to interest me at the Christmas Fair.  However, I did connect with a very talented lady, Halinka, who makes intricate figures that she calls halinka's fairies.  They are exceptional, and may currently be seen in many of Harrod's Christmas windows.

If any of you all plan to be in London before Christmas, I do recommend your having a look at these windows.

My photographs do not do these tableaux justice.

I could not resist taking one of Halinka's tiny ballet dancing hares home with me.  His pose was based upon a photograph of Nureyev.  Halinka told me that she began making these little figures to help fund her daughter's balled studies.

I did not stay too long at the Fair, and was glad to have the chance for a quick stop at the marvelous yarn shop, Loop, where I bought a few skeins of Jamieson's subtly colored Shetland wool.

Loop is a place that encourages knitters to share ideas and enthusiasm.

On another morning I traveled via the Tube down to Tate Britain to see the Late Turner exhibit.  I have seen many, many Turner exhibits at the Tate, and was curious to see what this exhibit might add to my appreciation of Mr Turner.

As is often the case for me, my favorite parts of the exhibit were the watercolors and sketchbook pages on display.  There were quite a few paintings in the exhibit that I didn't think were really Late Turner, but more like Late Middle Turner.  Nonetheless, I did enjoy the show and was glad that it was not as crowded at the CL Fair had been.

I am also looking forward to seeing Mike Leigh's movie Mr. Turner.

From the Tate I headed up to the Hackney Road to visit Barn the Spoon and his tiny shop.

I walked to the shop from Liverpool Station and along the way saw increased evidence of changes coming to this area.

Some of the route shows quite a bit of gentrification, while other parts are resisting this transformation.

I enjoyed having a catch up chat with Barn about how his spoon carving and workshop endeavors are flourishing.  I could not resist bringing home another of his creations.

Isn't this cherry wood spoon beautiful?

I do hope that your eyes are not getting tired.  There are many more photographs to come.  Perhaps you might wish to make a cup of tea.

The next photographs I will share with you were taken on my Saturday trip down to Lewes in Sussex.

I left from Victoria Station anticipating a journey of just over an hour, but a surprise awaited me.

Before anyone had come through the carriage to collect tickets, I heard an announcement that passengers wishing to travel to a selection of destinations, including Lewes, would be required to de-train at a station called Three Bridges (near Gatwick Airport) and continue their journey on a shuttle bus.

And so we did.  The little red double decker bus's driver selected a series of winding country roads to take us first to Haywood Heath, and then on to Lewes.  It took quite a while, but the scenery was wonderful.  My Country Dreams came alive.

Finally, we did reach Lewes and I started my climb up the hill from the station to the cobble stones of the High Street and other interesting sights.  I was glad to be wearing my comfy Doc Martin oxfords.

Since getting home to New York, I have yet to check the site on the above notice.  I wonder how many older folks like me could manage the many steep hills of Lewes.

I took many photographs to record the fabulous cloud formations over the town.  I was caught up in the spirit of Constable.

Lots of poppy wreathes and other memorial messages surrounded this statue.

The vistas were remarkable.

Lots and lots of very old buildings.


And wow again.

The angle of the midday sun kept one side of this street in shadow, while the other side caught the light.

On my way up to the Castle, I found this solitary rose.

I am very unused to this sort of natural splendour.

Tiny green sprigs are also beautiful.

This view, with handy bench, was near the Castle.  Seems very Constable to my eye.

And also near the Bowling Green.

More contrast of sun and shadow.

There is nothing like this in my New York neighborhood.

Or this.  Historic figure Thomas Paine is said to have lived here for a while.

As I was not sure how long my return trip to London might take, I decided not to stop for lunch in Lewes but rather to return to the train station to find out what the return journey would be like.

A motorway-suitable bus had been deputized, and so the trip to Three Bridges was much more speedy than the one on the red double decker.  I was back to London fairly quickly and found myself back on the Tube.

I am always fascinated by the Tube advertising that are on the actual curved walls by the tracks.  We don't have that in our NYC subways.  I loved this poster and think that its designer might be a Lowry fan.

Another exhibit that I enjoyed was the Kiefer show at the Royal Academy.  Large vitrines with strange floating ships were installed in the courtyard.

On Sunday morning the exhibit inside the RA was not at all crowded which was bonus for those of us wanting to take our time in viewing all on display.  This was very different from my viewing experience at the Hockney show.

This was the view from my hotel room.  A lovely city view.

I really love the Victoria & Albert Museum and am happy to be a member.  I was also very happy on this trip to meet two grand blog pals of mine, Celia and Gina, so that we could see the Constable exhibit together and also continue our conversation over lunch.

I had not previously met Gina in person, but as I expected, it was as if we had known each other for years.  Have a look at this beautiful rosy textile brooch that she made for me!

It was grand to see Celia again, and a treat to discover that she was giving me a set of her newest Christmas card designs, plus a set of covered buttons, employing Liberty Tana Lawn in a fabric designed by Grayson Perry.

It was so much fun having a day in a beautiful place with these two very creative ladies.  I am already looking forward to the next visit.

This is a city view from Bermondsey Street, where I had traveled to see yet another interesting exhibit.  Old and new meet in the frame.

The Fashion and Textile Museum is a small museum that is definitely worth visiting if fashion or textiles are amongst your interests.

I also liked this opportunity to see another part of London.

From Bermondsey, I hopped back on the Tube at London Bridge and headed up to Bethnal Green and the delights of my favorite East End restaurant, E. Pellicci.

It was a Tuesday, the day of the week that the marvelous chef Maria Pellicci makes her famous meatballs.  I cannot tell you just how delicious these are, very light and perfectly seasoned.

I also cannot tell you what fun it was to renew acquantances with the legendary Juke Box Jimmy.

I have had the pleasure of sharing a table with Jimmy on several other occasions and comparing our appreciation for very fine rock and roll music.

On this most recent visit, Jimmy was wearing a badge given him at the BBC studios just that morning when he and Nevio Pellicci had been interviewed about the old and new East End and a bit of music, too.  

I think that I surprised Jimmy by letting him know that I recently had my nomination of Smokey Robinson's You've Really Got a Hold On Me accepted on to Dotun Adebayo's BBC Radio's Virtual Juke Box.  We are birds of a feather.

Pellicci's is an institution that I heartily recommend to you all.  You'll be welcomed by beautiful Anna who'll make you feel at home immediately.

Tony and Nevio Pellicci.  You can see a marvelous interview with Nevio in the restaurant, if you click here.

I wish that I could visit Pellicci's every week!  

Bethnal Green Road intersects with Brick Lane and Brick Lane intersects with Hanbury Street where there is a ever-changing display of graffiti artists.

I always want to see what is new on Hanbury Street.

Another very different street that I like to check out when in London is Kinnerton Street, with its pretty and posh mews houses and shops.

And lovely window boxes.

Towards the Knightsbridge end of Kinnerton Street you will come upon the bijoux Patricia Roberts yarn shop.  It was not yet open on the day I walked past, and so I did save myself some money.

Looking through the window bars at the new designs on display, I smiled to see the following cardigan.

It is made from the very same pattern at my own jumper shown in the following photo.  I knit this one way back in the late 1980's from Shetland wool purchased from Patricia Roberts.  It has a multitude of stitches and textures and six of the squares in the design's grid spell out my last name, Oakley. in all caps, of course.

On my last full day in London I had two special arrangements.  At midday I met fellow blogger Lucille for the first time.  I knew we would get along well, and we did.  Lunch and an exhibit at the V & A, intermingled with lots and lots of chatting.  Lucille, it was grand meeting you and I look forward to seeing you on my next London jaunt.

On my last London evening, I had the pleasure to attend The Gentle Author's book event at Waterstones Piccadilly.  It was fun to be able to have a bit of a chat with TGA before and after he presented his magic lantern show of photographs from his latest publication, Spitalfields Nippers.  Please do take a look at this book.  The photographs are rare and beautiful and educational records of young folks who lived in Spitalfields quite a few years ago.  And yet each photograph truly invites to to learn a bit more about the children in the pictures what what their lives were like.

And so I do believe that I have come to end of my vacation post.  My flight from Heathrow to JFK was comfortable and safe and on time.

Since returning home, I am holding my memories of this trip tightly.  Although the New York City atmosphere is calling to me, I am trying to rejoin this city's different pace gradually.

Thank you all as always for visiting here and leaving such kind comments.