Back in NYC with Alfie!

I am so happy to be back in NYC with Alfie! We arrived on 10 April after flying from Manchester Airport. There are new rules on United regarding the length of the flight a dog can take and sadly the flight from Heathrow is 15 minutes too long.


We stayed in The Britannia Country House hotel overnight – dreadful shuttle from airport and the worst hotel bed I have ever slept on. The flight went without incident and Alfie made friends with a number of the flight attendants.

Sadly Newark airport seems to have given in to the attitude of the Orange Narcissist and treated the incomers as a non-priority. I waited 2 hours before they suddenly started shouting out that those with a B1/B2 visa (me) could go into a different line.
Poor Alfie seemed relieved by the time we got on the bus going into Manhattan. On each form of transport I rolled out the memory-foam pad I made for him. Getting off the bus at Port Authority, we took the 1 train to 116th Street and my New York home – Debbie’s apartment, Apt 1, 15 Claremont Avenue NY.
It was so good to see her and Ellie and the dogs did a little kissy-face to greet each other. Jeanette, my favourite door person was there so I gave her the first of many shortbread biscuits that I distributed amongst the doormen on Claremont Avenue. It was good to be ‘home’!
Alfie and I had an early evening walk in Riverside Park and despite the fact that he hadn’t been there for nearly a year, he ended up walking me straight to the pet shop on Broadway where Johnny the cat lives.
Poor Alfie is still as obsessed as ever. He had a good sniff of the cat’s bum and seemed happy. A few days later he dragged me all the way across Morningside Park to Harlem – just under a mile away – where his vet is in order to stalk the cat that lives in reception. He is absolutely obsessed. In both cases, he took me to both places, remembering the route from a year ago – phenomenal!
The following morning we had the usual good walk ‘off-leash’ (prior to 9 a.m.) in Riverside Park and in the afternoon ‘on-leash’ in Central Park where I had my ‘welcome to New York’ coffee in Pain Quotidien, opposite the Sheep Meadow.
Every morning, after our walk in Riverside, Alfie and I head up 116th Street to Broadway and collect both the Metro and A.M. free newspapers from the row of boxes, before returning home to breakfast, coffee and Brian Lehrer on WNYC radio.
This is the season for Juilliard concerts. As I have intimated before, the Juilliard is full of incredibly talented artists. The music they produce would grace any concert hall.
The first one Debbie and I went to see was Rachel Siu playing the cello, accompanied by Luis Ortiz (Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak). The second was Aaron Wolff playing the cello (Schubert, Ades and Stravinsky). The quality of the music was superb.
That morning I had been to the Lincoln Centre to see the New York Philharmonic playing Mahler’s 6th Symphony performed without an intermission. It was wonderful.
The following day, Debbie and I attended a brilliant baroque concert with Jordan Adam Young playing the viola da Gamba – the music was from the 17th and 18th Centuries and was captivating.
In Union Square I came across some Hare Krishnas and a lovely piece of street art – a bear.
As you walk around New York you come across things worth photographing – as in the sign on the subway, in Spanish, that they do not care whether you do not have the right to work in New York – they will not kick you out (directly opposing the dictates of the orange fool).
The firemen often have the big door open to their stations (Called ‘Ladder 44’ etc and are happy to chat and say hello to Alfie.
I was interested in the queue for the ice-cream shop one sunny day.
Opposite the orange fool’s New York abode there are permanent demonstrations and people who will sell badges ridiculing him. It helps people manage the stress of his reign.
Then often you will find ‘No parking’ signs because of filming. In this case, it was for something Jennifer Lopez is filming.
Meandering downtown, Alfie and I enjoyed a stop at the Blue Stone Lane cafe.
In the morning, Alfie and I had had the usual morning walk but because we were still under the effects of jet lag we walked across the Columbia campus, through Morningside Park to Central Park to meet a host of dogs and their humans playing before the 9 a.m. curfew. Alfie enjoyed keeping the American dogs under control!
Later that day we sent down to Greenwich and visited the Jefferson Market Garden, full of Spring flowers. Walking back along 8th Street, I happened upon the Greenwich Thrift store and ended up getting some great bargains. The ‘Housing Association’ thrift stores are very expensive in comparison.
For Palm Sunday, Debbie wanted to go to Riverside Church because her assistant, Liz, was singing in the choir there. Pastor Amy is very inclusive and has a beautiful voice.
The congregation is representative of multicultural New York. Her deputy gave the sermon that was extremely powerful in the way it attacked the inhuman behaviour of the orange fool and emphasised that Riverside is a church for all people.
Later on, Alfie and I walked to Tiffany’s apartment where l looked at her wedding photos and enjoyed her apple cake before we took the dogs to the garden at the Cathedral of St John the Divine.
Then Debbie and I attended yet another concert at Juilliard – a diminutive young woman called Nina Bernat playing a double bass that was taller than her. As usual, the quality of the music was phenomenal. Debbie and I then went home to watch some good programmes on CBS.
During the night, impressive thunder claps arrived and at 6 a.m. Alfie was terrified so after I had managed to calm him down we had a long walk in Riverside park. The lower level looked like a river bed.
After breakfast and the usual listen to the Brian Lehrer show, Alfie and I took the subway to Columbus Circle, 59th street, to collect an NYC map and other tourist info. We then walked in a meandering way back through Central Park and then to the 66th Street subway.
Debbie and I then enjoyed a lovely harp recital at Juilliard, bumping into Adam who had played the viola de Gamba a few days earlier. The students at Juilliard are so sweet, enthusiastic and talented and very supportive towards each other. Afterwards, I really enjoyed watching Bull on CBS – am still really fond of Michael Weatherly.
On Tuesday 16th, Debbie had her food delivery from Fresh Direct – that I affectionally call Fresh and Wild, including loads of stuff to make smoothies. Whilst out, Alfie and I passed loads of trucks and the usual parking limitation sign on the lampposts for filming of ‘The Marvellous Mrs Maisal” at 44th and 6th Avenue.
Alfie and I then walked around Bryant Park with him suddenly needing to do a massive poo on the gravel – right in the middle of the picnic tables. Luckily, the nearby English people found it amusing. We finished off walking through Central Park and in the evening I went to the Juilliard for a flute concert, having a coffee in their new cafe with the view over Lincoln Centre.
The following day, after the usual off-leash walk at Riverside in the sunshine, Alfie and i took the subway al the way down to Chambers in order to walk a little way up the Hudson River.
After a while, very loud noises coming from New Jersey spooked him so we went into the West Village – Carmine Street – to a lovely cafe where he rested as I drank coffee and chatted to a couple of actors who were working other jobs in order to keep going. It must be hard with the price of housing in NYC.
Alfie and I walked to Washington Square Park and could hear a very noisy band entertaining the tourists. Alfie enjoyed himself lying on the grass with me in the sunshine. Later on, I went to watch sonatas at the Juilliard played by 3 pairs of violinists and pianists.
The redacted Mueller Report came out and WNYC radio station was full of it.
There were a couple of opening evening events on the West Side – first of all Gallery MC (up 10 flights of steep stairs as the elevator wasn’t working) for an exhibition by Mihail Korubin from Macedonia. There were a number of Macedonians there and apparently there is quite a group in New Jersey. His paintings were garish and naive and not in an inviting way but there was one that I could like.
I then went around the corner to the Irish Arts Center where an Irish woman was exhibiting and talking about her tapestries. They were somewhat interesting. We were supplied with delicious cheese, grapes and olives.
I returned home to walk the dogs before going to a reading of Dante’s Inferno by various local writers at the beautiful Cathedral of St John the Divine that didn’t finish until midnight. The area that I live in – Morningside Heights – is very safe as it is constantly patrolled by the vehicles from Columbia University as well as having enormous numbers of surveillance cameras all over the place.
When Debbie and I go out, Alfie is always with his girlfriend, Ellie and we often find them sleeping side by side on Ellie’s enormous bed when we arrive home. I have made a comfy bed for him next to mine but he has the run of the large apartment and the dogs love to outwit each other and play tug with the toys.