Friday, December 23, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good morning from New York, just a few days before Christmas.

Even though I had planned on another post about my London visit, the recent days have been filled with New York City centered fun, and so I will just jump ahead and share some local city views.

Let's start with photographs from some neighborhood shops.  The above picture is from a gift/antique shop that always features lots of tree decorations.

The following two pictures are of scenes in a dry cleaner's shop window.  The proprietors of this shop seem to have a large collection of retro toys and doll house accessories that can be combined to create rather amusing retro settings.

These window displays are at child eye level.

A bit further down Amsterdam Avenue is Posies, a lovely flower shop that is always worth a visit during various holiday seasons.

It's a tiny narrow hallway of a shop, filled with beautiful botanical treats.  The talented staff are experts in making up lovely bouquets for special occasions.

These are just a few samples of what I saw in the shop.

What I bought to bring home to add some seasonal color to my little apartment were these red-berried branches.  Peeking out from behind the berries is a large bowl filled with old glass ornaments.  In some past years, I have bought some branches of greenery upon which to hang these baubles.  This year I will stick with the berries.

The past few weeks have sped past, as I kept quite busy baking cookies, knitting gifts, buying other gifts, wrapping and mailing those gifts, going to parties, and painting this year's Christmas tea cup cards.

And so, it was not until a day ago that I found time to walk over to 57th Street to take photographs of some extravagant shop windows.  Following the horror at Berlin's Christmas market, I spotted a massive police presence around a similar Christmas market set up at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park.  I did not take any photographs of the massive uniformed police officers holding machine guns.  I was not tempted to visit any of the market stalls, but kept walking towards 57th Street.

Even along that street Police Department barricades appeared alongside festive decorations.  What a sad comment.

The above photograph shows the Fifth Avenue and 57th Street intersection where Tiffany's faces Bulgari.  An obliging yellow taxi obliged me by passing by.  I composed this picture to minimize any view of the home of the President Elect.

Now, I will show you a selection of pictures of the Bergdorf Goodman shop's windows.  Even though it was nearing sunset, I am sorry that reflections add a certain distraction from what I truly wanted you all to see.

The theme of this year's window designs is Extraordinary Destinations.  Each tableau features at least one major designer's fashions plus a collection of fanciful props.

I think that if you click on the photographs to enlarge them, you may be able to discover more of the window's details.

The above little box of a window merely settled for showing off some amazing jewels.

Please forgive me for those reflections.

Some of the fun of seeing these windows is noticing how scale is handled in a playful way.  Some usually small items are greatly enlarged, or perhaps encrusted with sparkles, or given a new color scheme.

I remember that the following window was called The Hitchhiker and featured a very glamorous cowgirl.

Lots of desert plants showed off a galaxy of greens.

Another view.

I think this window was called A Bird's Eye View.  Lots of birds surrounded the mannequin.

Lots of huge insects in this window...not sure how appealing that would be to every viewer.

The next picture shows a window that had an undersea layer.

 Lots to look at.

This very green tableau featured a tropical rain forest.

It took some patience on my part to wait for the other folks viewing the displays to allow me a closer view of my own.

Bergdorf's windows are without question the best in NYC throughout the year, but in December the shop's OTT displays really stop pedestrian traffic.

Another view of A Bird's Eye View.

Each window has an intricate frame.

Back to that rain forest.

I hope that the above photographs give you all a bit of an idea of what one might see this week in New York.  I thank you all for your visits to my blogs throughout the year, and looks forward to reading your comments in the New Year that will soon be arriving.

And now, let me share wish you the image that I painted for this year's Christmas tea cup cards.

As you can see from the above photograph, each one of the cards is painted individually, and so no two cards are quite identical.

It is my pleasure to wish you all a very Happy Christmas!  This wish is sent with lots of love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

A week ago, I was in London, having had a day trip to Cambridge, where I had the pleasure of meeting up with Gina, to see the fabulous Colour exhibit at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The main staircase of the Fitz is rather splendid.

After being wowed by viewing Colour, we were joined by Celia and had a walk through Cambridge and a delicious lunch and another walk around Cambridge before I returned to London on an express train.

My Cambridge jaunt was my only time spent away from London.  My trip was all to short, and I definitely want to be able to take a longer UK visit next year.

Without further ado, let me share some of the photographs that I took with my iPhone.  Some of these might be among those I've already posted on Instagram.  Some will be fresh posts.

This carousel, complete with picket fence, has been set up next to an ice skating rink on the grounds of London's Museum of Natural History.  During most of my London stay, the weather was warm and sunny, and so the ice rink was not too icy.

This street scene was the view from my hotel window.

The next photo is one of Liberty's Christmas windows inspired by the Nutcracker ballet.

The flower stall at the Liberty entrance is always a pleasure to see.

Another sort of botanical inspiration could be seen suspended over Covent Garden's arcades.  I've never seen larger mistletoe!

Not too far away from Covent Garden is the Bloomsbury area.  On Lamb's Conduit Street may be found the charming Persephone Books shop.  I was fortunate to be in town on the day that Persephone held its annual Christmas open house, complete with mulled wine and mince pies.  In the following photograph you can see that the tray of mince pies was just about to be refilled.

Many of you all may already know of Persephone Books.  I'd encourage those of you who are not familiar with the publishing house or shop to have a look at the link I've provided above.

AS I left the book shop, I encountered a very sweet group of young carolers.  There is a video of this group over on my Instagram page.

I've been to London many times over the decades, and so each trip gives me many past memories against which to measure the new visit.  Tricia Guild's Design Guild shop on King's Road in Chelsea is always fun to visit.  Nowadays, I rarely buy anything, because my tiny apartment is already full.  I just like to see what is on display in London.

Over on the Hackney Road, I visited another friend, Barn the Spoon, who carves beautiful spoons from wood that has been rescued and recovered from various British wooded areas.  His shop is open only a few days each week, but it's great fun to stop by and see what he has been carving.

Another day, I rode the Tube up to the Angel station in Islington to visit Loop, an extraordinary yarn shop.  It is very difficult for a knitter like myself to leave this shop without buying something.

Only a few days after my visit, Loop and many surrounding shops along Camden Passage were flooded after a large water main's bursting.  Repairs are still ongoing, but the shop has found a way to keep going with its inspiring ways.

My hotel was located near the truly marvelous Victoria & Albert Museum, and I visited there many times, to looks at the galleries, the shops, the special exhibits and to dine in the Museum's restaurant.

Other galleries that I loved visiting were the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern.  There is an excellent Paul Nash exhibit at the Tate Britain.  Having read Pat Barker's trilogy about Slade School art students before and during WW I made a foundation upon which to view the Nash show.

The photo below was taken in the Tate Modern's rooms devoted to Louise Bourgeois.

Sunny blue skies appeared throughout my time in London, and it was fun to take a peek from the roof terrace of the Tate across the Thames to see that sharp Shard.

It was also a fine day to walk across the Millennium Bridge to have a close up view of St. Paul's.

And the pretty leaves on the green lawns around St. Paul's.

I very much enjoyed the Revolution exhibit at the V&A.  It chronicles lots of the changes that the western world was going through during my young adult years.  One is given headphones to wear when visiting the show, that key into the imagery of various displays that you will encounter.  

I found the exhibit quite an emotional tour, and within minutes of entering the first room was not sure whether I was going to laugh or cry.  Many memories arose during the hours I spent walking through the show.  If you all are of a certain age, I would definitely recommend it.  If you are younger, I would also recommend it.  

Visiting this exhibit so soon after the recent election in the States gave an additional resonance.

 My hotel was decorated for the season, and I wanted to take at least one photograph to convey the decor.  It was fun to recognize many staff members whom I first encountered quite a few years ago.

I'm always struck by the number of green spaces that one encounters around London.  I should have taken more photographs.

Here are a few photographs of the witty windows at Fortnum & Mason.  This is a Bull in a China Shop.

This window features many, many Santa letters that have arrived at the North Pole.

More greenery.

I noticed this florist shop as I was walking downhill on Kensington Church Street.  It reminded me that I would be late in starting my own paper white bulbs upon my return to NYC.

Royal Albert Hall and ice cream van still exist.

Albert Memorial with clouds.

Windswept cloud formations over South Kensington.

Now I am home, quite over my jet lag.  It is time for attending Holiday parties as we call them here in New York.  My Santa's workshop activities are at top pitch.  I am already looking forward to my next UK visit.

Thank you all for you visits and comments to that previous post about the Gingerbread City.  I've already baked one batch of brown sugar star-shaped buttery cookies.  Christmas is drawing closer.