Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sightseeing in New York - Day 2

Today we decided to go down to the South Ferry to get the Staten Island Ferry so we could see the Statue of Liberty. We took the metro there as we had done so much walking yesterday. However, just our luck, there was maintenance on the lines and the train stopped short of our destination. Rather than take the bus for the last few blocks we decided to walk it and get some breakfast. We stumbled upon a french country style cafe with lots of homemade, organic food on the menu and we had a scrummy breakfast there.

When we got to Battery Park, the lines of people waiting to get a ferry to Liberty Island was huge. We heard an announcement come over the loud speaker that anyone wishing to take the ferry should expect to be in line for at least 2 hours. More fool them I say. It was absolutely freezing and you can't even go up the statue of Liberty now, you can only walk around the bottom of it.

We caught the Staten Island ferry instead. It leaves every half an hour for Staten Island, and its route takes it close enough to Liberty to get a really good view and take plenty of photos. And to cap it all off, it doesn't cost a dime!

We did some browsing around Times Square, gave up on trying to get tickets for any of the Broadway shows, then went back to the hotel to get warm before going out for dinner.

Dinner was at an Italian restaurant called Ciro, on 8th Avenue and 50th street. A nice end to another busy day.

Sightseeing in New York - Day 1

On day 1 of our visit we started off taking a stroll through Central park, aiming for the Natural History Museum. Central Park was great, a positive oasis in the middle of a bustling city. The daffodils were just out, and it was just about warm enough to bring people out of doors. The National History museum was as you'd expect, vast and full of stuffed animals (a bit like Emma's bed actually). Interesting enough, but its not really my thing. The kids seemed to like it.

Then we decided to see NY from above. We went to the "Top of the Rocks", 70 floors up at the top of the Rockerfeller center. The views were amazing, and you had a great view of the Empire State building.

We spent a chaotic hour in the M&M store. They know what to charge in there! Two bags of M&Ms for $23!!! OK, so you can select your own color combination, but even so, they all look the same when they are mushed up in your mouth.

For dinner we ate at John's Pizzeria, a huge 2 story warehouse/church type building with 2 brick ovens to bake their wonderful pizzas in. A very busy day with lots of walking, and we were well and truly knackered by the time we got to bed.

So good they named it twice

Just back from a long weekend in New York. This is the first time we've ever visited and I have to say that I liked it a lot. What a crazy place! Its true when they say that this city never sleeps. Incredible energy there at all hours of the day or night! Don't know how much I'd like it if I lived there, but it was great to be a visitor for a while and listen to the constant car horns being sounded, street vendors calling out, fire engine and police alarms constantly sounding, and general noisiness of the vast crowds of people in Times Square.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bistro Limoncello, Northborough

Tried a new restaurant near us last night, called Bistro Limoncello (Italian obviously). It was really nice inside, quite small, dimmed lights, with a bar and around 12 tables each seating 2 or 4. It was very quiet, probably due to the awful weather and the fact that it was a Tuesday, but amazingly, with the warm welcome and the jazz-type music playing in the background, there was a comfortable atmosphere. Food was reasonably priced, presented nicely and tasted pretty good - the menu was a bit ordinary and I was disappointed that out of the 4 possible desserts not one was home-made. Even so, the tiramisu I selected tasted good...good but not great. Overall we had a nice time and would go back, and it has the definite advantage of being very close to our house, making it almost a 'local'.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't we look sweet!

Here we are, 14 years ago. Looking a lot thinner and with more hair (I'll leave you to decide which description applies to each of us!)

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful (long-suffering) husband Tony! 14 years today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fido? No thanks!

I am not a big fan of dogs, I've never seen the attraction. It seems like whenever we visit a house with a dog, with a few rare exceptions, the owner has to battle with the dog to stop it from jumping up and licking us. Today while out walking in my neighborhood, it seemed like every second house had some yapping mutt in the garden, running out at me, woof, woof, yap, yap, yap, howl (I think one was a wolf!). And where is the pleasure in taking a dog for a walk when you have to spend most of the walk carrying a small bag filled with its poop? Not my idea of fun that's for sure. (by the way, have you noticed that whenever a couple is out walking their dog, its always the woman who is carrying the little bag of poop? Whats up with that?!)
Give me cats anytime.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

A bit of weather

I can't believe the weather we are having. This whole weekend it has been awful, non-stop torrential rain and high winds. And it continued throughout all of today, in fact as I type, there is some snow mixed in too, coming 'down' sideways. But fear not! This is New England after all. Tomorrow and for the rest of the week the forecast is sunny with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Good grief, I can't keep up!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What the dickins is that?

Emma's grade held an Invention Convention last week. Each child had to invent something, and make a model of it. Emma's entry was called "Spray for dry days" and it was essentially a wheel that 'flicked' drops of water at a plant to humidify it. They all got to show off their models to bemused parents last week in the school cafeteria.

Happy Mothers Day UK!

Happy Mothering Sunday for all you mothers in the UK, but especially to mine! Hope you have a nice relaxing day Mam.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whatever floats your boat

On the way back from TX, I was in the aisle seat in a row of 3. There was a teenage couple sitting in the other 2 seats, you know the kind, ripped jeans, skinny, long lank hair, sullen expressions, scruffy backpacks etc. I was fascinated by the way that the boy treated the girl. He buckled her in, he tucked his coat over her, he let her sleep on his shoulder and while she was sleeping he braided her hair. When she was awake (which was not often) he gazed lovingly at her. It was a bit unnerving when he kept rubbing her tummy and I felt like saying "Hey girl, ditch the doe-eyed weirdo and for goodness sake, get a dose of self respect!". But I didn't....

On yer bike!

Take a look at this video - amazing what you can achieve with a mountain bike when you practice enough. Filmed in and around Edinburgh, this video of Inspired Bicycles team rider Danny MacAskill (more info at features amazing street trials riding.
Good music too : Band of Horses epic song 'The Funeral.'

Useful info at the forum

Just back from a 2 day leadership team forum in Texas. It was pretty good, with lots of networking opportunities and some interesting speakers. One was quite unusual. His name is Erik Wahl, and as stated in his Bio, he is a "recognized artist and speaker who inspires corporations to achieve greater levels of performance. His consulting firm specializes in the psychology of success and challenging organizations to implement breakthrough thinking to gain extraordinary results". At certain points during his speech he plays a music video and paints, using his fingers or a brush. His paintings are on black canvas, basically just picking out the highlights and letting the canvas create the shadows. He did three during his 1 hour talk, Einstein, the Statue of liberty and Michael Jordon. They were pretty amazing and 3 lucky people were given them at the end. He played an excellent music video while painting the Statue of Liberty. I must be the only person who had not seen this and heard the song before,the accompanying video was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the song was used as a fundraiser for the victims. So while everyone else in the audience were making notes about creativity leading to increased performance, my little note book said "The saints are coming, U2/Green Day" !!

Here's the video and song from YouTube:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Walking the West Boylston Rail Trail

This weekend has been beautiful weather-wise, considering its March. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s, even 70 degrees in the sun, blue skies. It has definitely felt spring-like. Today we went for a walk on the rail-trail in West Boylston. The rail trails in Massachusetts are just as they sound - a trail made along the route of what once was a railway line. So they are usually flat, and good for walking, running or biking. This Rail Trail meanders along side of the Quinapoxet River for about 3 miles. The problem today was that the trees that line this particular rail trail also shaded it, so there was still a lot of snow on the ground making the walking quite tough going. And where the sun had shone through, there was a slushy, wet, muddy mess. Thank goodness I had worn my old walking boots. Some were not so smart however. There were many groups of teens out walking in the sunshine, wearing the latest gear. Those $200 Ugg boots didn't look quite so cool when they were covered in wet, slimy mud I can tell you :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus!

Today is St Davids's Day. Saint David (known as Dewi Sant in the Welsh language) is the patron saint of Wales. He was a Celtic monk who lived in the 6th Century and was Archbishop of Wales. His influence is shown by the number of churches dedicated to him in Wales. Saint David is credited with spreading Christianity to the pagan Celtic tribes. The date of 1 March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since then. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

The title of this blog entry means "Happy Saint David's day" to those who don't understand Welsh, which includes most Welsh people. According to the 2001 census, more than 70 per cent of the 2.8m people in Wales have no knowledge of the language.

The town with the longest name in the UK is on the island of Anglesey. It contains 58-letters and is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It means: "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio near the red cave."

On St Davids's day, young girls dress up in the Welsh National costume (see photos), generally a red cloak and tall black hat. This largely developed during the nineteenth century. It was part of a conscious revival of Welsh culture during a period when traditional values were under threat. Many wear daffodils or leeks as emblems. The leek arises from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. An alternative emblem developed in recent years is the daffodil. Welsh cakes (sometimes also known as bakestones, although that is really the griddle that they are cooked on) are made by the sackful.
Here's a recipe for Welsh cakes, bake and enjoy!


* 2 cups all purpose flour (280 grams)
* 1/3 cup granulated white sugar (65 grams)
* 2.1/4/ teaspoons baking powder
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* ¼ teaspoon ground mace
* ½ cup of cold unsalted butter (113 grams)
* 1/3 cup of dried currents.
* ¼ cup of chopped mixed peel
* 1 lightly beaten large egg
* 3-4 tablespoons of milk.


In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and mace, cut the butter into small pieces add to the mix and blend together with two knives (or mix by rubbing with your fingers) now the mixture should look like large crumbs. Add the currents and stir into the mix. Then add the beaten egg, and sufficient milk to make a light dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface, gently kneed the dough until it is flat and about ¼ inch (0.75 cm) thick then with a round pastry cutter or a glass will do, cut into 2.1/2 inch circles.

Lightly butter a bake stone (griddle) or heavy frying pan and heat, place the mixture on the griddle and bake on each side for about five minutes until golden brown in color; they should still be soft on the inside.

Once baked sprinkle with granulated sugar and eat with Welsh butter, jam, honey or they are delicious plain as they come from the griddle.

Oh, and of course an ideal accompaniment is a nice, strong cup of tea!