New York again!

Alfie was definitely pleased to be back in New York with his girlfriend Ellie the German shepherd!002 My Ellie slept really well after her long journey from Rio and the 3 of us enjoyed a delicious healthy fruit and veg smoothy – our plan for the time we are in New York.


Walking with Alfie and Ellie in the Spring-filled Riverside Park is a joy – meeting again with dog 009 030walkers who met me in January and enjoying the slower pace now that Alfie and I have nowhere urgent to go and no car to drive!


I was delighted to take Ellie & Debbie to Riverside Park for the dogs to play and Ellie to experience one of the great parks here.


Debbie’s apartment is also walking distance from Morningside Park, that has my favourite dog run and Central Park that at the moment has the 019 018cherry blossom in bloom


I took Ellie to do another walk I love – the Hudson River walk, stopping for lunch by the river on the way, walking in to Time Square and then back through the whole of Central Park from South to North, stopping at Strawberry Fields in honour of John Lennon.


The Dakota building where he was shot is just across the road from park. I remember where I was when I heard the news – waking up in my apartment in Lyon, France. They played ‘Woman’ on the French radio and I lay there crying, like so many people, no doubt. What a senseless killing. And still innocent people are killed every day because of the stupid gun culture.

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On arriving back at Debbie’s we found Dave the building’s handyman planting summer flowers in the beds outside the apartment block – he has a lot of them to fill as the building wraps around the corner of Claremont Avenue and 116th Street.


020 022 021On Sunday we took the dogs to a free jazz concert in Riverside Park – the performers were students from the nearby Manhattan School of Music.


025 028Later on we supported Dave’s wife’s country and western band at Brother Jimmy’s Barbecue down on the lower East side, which was great fun. There was an amazing little chap there, not yet 2, with real rhythm in his soul who was an brilliant little dancer.


031 032 033The following day, Tom came to the apartment for Debbie to teach him trumpet so I took their guide dogs to Morningside dog park, taking a picture of the 3 of them patiently waiting to go in – a déjà vu as I did this before I took off on the road trip.


Afterwards, we all went to the Hungarian Pastry Shop to pig out on biscuits and baklava and the usual delicious unlimited coffee with half and half.


037 039 044 045 053Ellie and I took the bus down the East side of Central Park, getting off at the lovely Metropolitan Museum of Art – no stay in New York is complete without a visit there. I love the American Wing and the Egyptian collection. As it is Spring/Summer the rooftop is open and is really delightful, with amazing views all around the park.


059 058 060 072 068 075Ellie and I also did another ‘must do’ trip – taking the Staten Island Ferry. It is a free Ferry mainly for the people that live on Staten Island and work in Manhattan but it has the benefit of passing close to the Statue of Liberty and giving us lovely views of Manhattan. Staten Island itself is a bit of a dump.


We also enjoyed a lunch in Soho, coincidentally walking up Lafayette Avenue past David Bowie’s apartment block where he had a beautiful roof-top duplex. On the wall next door there is a painting and an area where people are still leaving flowers. 078 079 080


Ellie and I successfully applied for free tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and had a really great time – good music, interesting guests and Colbert is a man after my own heart as he feels the same way I do about the vile Trump man.


During the warm up we were allowed to ask questions, so I asked him if he was as delighted as I was at the election of the anti-Trump London Mayor. He was, but also responded ‘Not as delighted as I am to hear your accent’. Ellie had asked me not to ask a question but I don’t let her embarrassment get in the way! In fact, she also talked to him.


082 086 084Ellie and I enjoyed a beautiful sunny evening at the summer bar in Riverside Park, chatting to 2 delightful guys who are now married, having been together for years. When we were chatting to them I randomly realised that I had forgotten to attend a talk by Bob Thurman – Uma’s dad and a famous Buddhist.


There and then I e mailed him. He responded when I got back to the apartment, saying that he was still in Manhattan, having breakfast at Tom’s Restaurant with some colleagues the next day if I wanted to join him for coffee


087So the next morning I met Bob Thurman and ended up chatting with him for well over an hour. He is a lovely man, mentioned about how Uma really channelled Kali’s wildness in Kill Bill. He is very obviously proud of her and she has his smile. This was during a discussion about women and manifesting anger.


He also talked about Shantideva’s writings on forgiveness, to which Bob refers in one of his books. It makes a lot of sense. One thing that has come out of writing my book, and this trip, is my forgiving a lot of people as it makes no sense whatsoever to hold on to bad feelings about people. Every experience helps us to grow.


I felt very privileged to have had this time with him – and he insisted on paying for my coffee. I gave him a copy of my book ‘Mindfulness for a Broken Heart’ and he said he could tell it was a good book (though I insisted – nowhere near the quality of his).


He was interested in my self-publishing and wants the contact details of the woman who formatted my book. We hugged and went on our way – I was definitely on a high after spending time with him.


088 089 090 095Ellie and I went for a walk on another New York icon – The Hi-Line between 14th Street and 30th Street. Unfortunately, these awful false monks were walking around talking about Buddhism, sticking bracelets on people and hassling them for $20. We talked to a woman doing security and she said that there is nothing they can do. They first appeared in Time Square.


They are not Buddhists but panhandlers, appear to be Chinese and upset the genuine Buddhists in New York. They wear orange robes and if you visit New York do not encourage these people.


Every morning I get up in time to give Alfie and Ellie-dog (confusing with my daughter and Debbie’s dog having the same name!) a good run in Riverside Park, and sometimes walk through the ‘Forever Wild area at the end of the walk (when 9.00 arrives and the possibility of a $100 fine looms large if you get caught with the dogs off-leash) with the dogs on the lead, past the tennis courts to pick up lots of nice new tennis balls for them to play with.


101 103 105Ellie and I took Debbie and the dogs back to the Riverside bar on another lovely sunny evening. We really enjoyed relaxing outside with the sun going down over the Hudson River. I shall really miss this.


The following day, Ellie and I took the subway down to Brooklyn in order to do the iconic walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge into Chinatown where we enjoyed a Vietnamese meal.112 114 117 118


Alfie needed to see a local vet in order to get him certified as healthy to travel and to have his worming tablet. I shopped around for a vet that understood they could sign a passport rather than insist on charging me a lot of money for an unnecessary certificate. I found a lovely German vet ‘Uptown Vets’ in Harlem.  120It was raining and so Debbie lent me Ellie’s raincoat.


123 125 129 141 142 143On Friday night, entry to the Museum of Modern Art is free from 6 until 8. I trotted down there to see their latest exhibition ‘Edgar Degas – A Strange New Beauty’ which was lovely. There was also a very strange exhibition of Marcel Broodtaers’ work.


003 005 008 006On Saturday, there were a few local street fairs so we visited them, buying some cheap jewellery and clothes and discovering some lovely community gardens


While Ellie went to Williamsburg (the latest trendy place to live, in Brooklyn), Debbie and I went to a concert at the local church before returning to take the dogs out for their usual night walk at Riverside Park, with the twinkling lights of New Jersey on the other side of the Hudson River.


014 022 021 023 024 025Bob Thurman joined forces with Philip Glass and Richard Gere to start Tibet House, at the behest of the Dalai Lama. I finally made it there before leaving New York.


On the way back, I visited one of my favourite buildings – the Flatiron building 6 feet wide at the narrowest point. Fascinating.


If you take a mobile phone contract in New York, do not do it with AT&T. What a shower. I went down to the shop where I got the contract to find that they never talk to the useless idiots with the misnomer ‘customer services’.


I swear they deliberately employ people who you cannot understand, with a specially reduced sound-system so you can’t hear them anyway.


As Alfie is going to be in his hell-hole prison on the Queen Mary, on the way back I took him for a long walk through Central Park, followed by another long walk with Debbie and Ellie-dog in Riverside Park as the sun went down. I feel very heavy-hearted about leaving New York.


I spent hours on Sunday sorting out a car for Ellie, Alfie and me to travel back from Southampton to Bristol, initially finding some ridiculously high prices and finally finding one that costs £68 for the day – £44 of it for the fact it is one way.


I type this watching CBS. Michael Weatherly has just been on Stephen Colbert’s show – last episode of NCIS with him in it tomorrow – the Series final and I shall be on the boat. Gutted!


034And as I look at the masses of stuff I have to pack I note it is 1 a.m. and I have to upload this blog. I do have the lovely dogs lying on the floor here. Goodness, Alfie and I are going to miss Ellie-dog. The 2 of them had a great time playing tug of war with a stick this evening.


So tomorrow at 2.30 p.m. we join the Queen Mary, returning on 25 May to the UK. If I had a choice, I would stay in New York.