Woodstock, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra & New York re-entry

Woodstock is a lovely little town, very like Glastonbury, UK.008 005 006 007 009 010 011 012 013


Glastonbury Connecticut and the house in the forest was a lovely place to stay. I then decided to visit Rob, who lives near to Woodstock, for 2 nights – again in a house in a forest, on my way back to New York City.


Like Glastonbury UK, Woodstock is famous for a festival that took place on a farm nearby. Legend has it that it was going to take place in Woodstock itself but grew like topsy…


039 038 037 036 035 034


Woodstock is full of colour and subversive statements, as well as lots of delicious cafes and a great second-hand shop with really interesting slate garden furniture.

025 026


Rob’s place is the epitome of rustic – very warm and friendly, apart from psycho-bitch, the dog that belongs to one of his lodgers who attacked Alfie having followed him around pretending to be friendly, and then raided his food store and ate all of his dried liver treats. Can’t take it personally, she does it all the time, apparently.


Wandering around Woodstock, there are so many opportunities for taking interesting photos.


The Catskills are a lovely part of upstate New York and it was good to be able to visit them at the end of what has been a journey of over 12,000 miles.

029 043 048 049


There are lots of streams, waterfalls and trees and wild deer. The Ashokan reservoir is particularly lovely – it is one of 5 reservoirs that serve New York City.


The biggest surprise was that just a short drive up the hill out of town there is a Karma Kagyu Centre – the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra – where Lama Yeshe Rinpoche from Samye Ling in Scotland was in retreat for a while.


017 019 021 022 023I found this out by stopping at a sign ‘Tibetan Centre’ several miles out of Woodstock. Then arriving in Woodstock I found another Tibetan shop, and prayer flags abound in the town.



Making my way to the Centre I was very well received – a group of them got together for a photo opportunity (in one of the pictures, Alfie is being blessed) and was invited by the Khenpo to have supper with them.


He had warm memories of Lama Yeshe. The supper was delicious soup with stuffed mushroom and salad.


One of the residents told me that the shrine room was used by Martin Scorcese for the film ‘Kundun’: he imported lots of soil that was spread all over the floor.



The next day I booked in for supper and attended the Mahakala Puja beforehand. Mahakala – the wrathful deity, is considered to be the fierce and powerful emanation of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion.


As I sat there in the practice I suddenly realised that it was a very special day – the 3rd of May, 8 years to the day that I met and fell in love with my gorgeous Alfie – my faithful companion.


They treated Alfie so well at the Buddhist Centre, welcoming him into the dining hall. Someone had brought in a lot of cakes and the supper was again delicious – soup, followed by vegetarian chilli with sour cream and cheese and salad.


I gave a copy of my book to the Khenpo and chatted to the various residents before returning to Rob’s home via the Reservoir, where Alfie and I had a lovely walk.

032 031 001 003 008 009 010 011


We awoke to more drizzle but that didn’t stop me and Alfie enjoying an hour’s walk along the river – as usual, playing fetch with a stick.


Packing up we left to head South to New York City. On the way, it was good to take a slightly longer, meandering, route that took us past a community centre called ‘Unison’ with an interesting sculpture garden. Soon after, we saw a sign ‘eggs for sale’ and decided to stop and buy 18 eggs.


It was an easy drive into New York City, across the bridge and to Debbie’s lovely flat. It took a while to unload everything and find a parking space. After several hours of sorting 14 weeks’ travelling stuff Alfie and I went to Riverside Park to find a beautiful Springtime explosion of colour and greenery. Ah, it felt so good to be back.

026 025 024 027


And now I can say, with certainty, that of all the places I visited in the USA, my favourite place is New York.


On the morning of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ – the day that commemorates Mexico’s successful overcoming of imperialism – I awoke at 6 a.m. took Alfie and Ellie (Debbie’s dog!) to Riverside Park for a fresh morning walk and watch a racoon climb one of the local trees – first one I have ever seen in New York.


At 6.30 I drove my faithful car back to Alamo on 44th Street – an easy drive, given the time. All was ok. The speedometer reflected that fact that I had travelled 12,338 miles with the car – with no mishaps and no accidents.


I felt slightly emotional to leave a car that had served me so well for 14 weeks and at the same time really content to be leaving driving behind.

013 015 016 017 018 019 022 021


A gold star must go to Alfie the Wonderdog who travelled every one of those miles with me, never complaining, never asking for anything, going with the flow and generally being the most adorable companion you could ask for.


Buying a take-away coffee, practically de rigeur in New York, I slowly walked back up to 116th Street seeing various things on route – such as the dog walker, the man pandering his dog, Summer, outside of a cafe and – because it is New York and these things happen – coming face to face with David Milliband taking his daughter to school, so I took a quick photo at the crossing. I envy him being a New York resident.



The day was spent sorting out the room in preparation for Ellie’s arrival. I took the subway and AirTrain to meet her at JFK – such a good way to travel as it is efficient and costs $7.75 one way for the entire journey.


There was an amazing musician on the station singing Bob Marley songs.


It was lovely to see Ellie after her 7 month voyage around Latin America. She came out carrying 2 backpacks and a big package that she had had wrapped after she had visited a market during the time she had spent in Mexico City while in transit. We met a lovely guy on the station who suggested he take our photo.030 031


Just before 2 a.m. we fell into bed at Debbie’s ready for a good sleep – Ellie had been travelling for 38 hours and I had had an early start. It will be good to show her the New York that I know and love. We get the Queen Mary back on 17th May.