Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas in New York

 As Covid and its cousins lean into our daily lives like unwanted houseguests, never leaving and really stinking, sometimes we have to get out and see the things we love. Vaxed thrice and following up with a test upon arrival home we journeyed to the Big Apple for a couple days of Christmas cheer. 

It's a wonderful city for that. This year though, you could feel a difference in the air. Far less people than the usual crowds. Sidewalk extensions of restaurants with heaters and the masked waiters showed the change of the days. It is still a great place to be.

A journey to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx displayed a wonderful miniature train show in and out of the mature plantings of the Conservatory. Walking around the city showed the typical surprises of architecture and eye candy of the Fifth Avenue store windows. It's mostly all there although I was disappointed that Tiffany had no displays at all. They were usually quite creative. Of course Bergdorff Goodman never fails to disappoint as the window shots below show.


















Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Looking for America

It has been a challenging couple of years. Despite the restrictions I am lucky to live in a not crowded state so that getting outdoors has been enjoyable. But I was still restless so this Spring I bought a small caper van. I explored Maine first and then farther afield to the Finger Lakes of New York. Just recently a Southland loop as I was drawn down initially for a wedding in Va. Here is a slice of what I saw in this beautiful country of ours. I wish we could come together a bit better...


Maine






New York

  Watkins Glen 

Taughannock Falls


Looping Through the Southland

A wedding venue ambassador
The Smithsonian Castle in Washington DC


North Carolina beach in Duck





Whirligig park in Wilson, NC
Household scenes at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC

Crossing over a bridge in NC near the Appalachian Trail

Nashville

Mammoth Cave, KY


Kentucky, Bourbon and horses











Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A New Perspective

 Clearly it has been a  long time since the last post. Somewhat because of Covid and some because life seems to go quickly and then grinds to a halt and then speeds up again. 

It is Fall in Maine, and although there are other things to also write about this section will talk about how beautiful Maine is in the Fall. I have been walking the dog a lot. I forget about the madness of the world and can just enjoy the Nature around me with my rascal dog.  The quality of the air takes on a fresh tone, especially from the heat and humidity of the summer. Some leaves have begun to turn and the evenings turn jacket cool. Layering is the way of the day with the mornings starting out needing sweaters and by midday you are down to sleeveless tanks.

As the birds begin to migrate I think of traveling too....

Here's what I am talking about-










Monday, April 3, 2017

Castles and Kings


The Piedmont region of Italy is seldom discussed, except discreetly
and with some reverence. It is the home of the Slow Food Movement (Bra) and ground central for truffles (Alba and Asti). Not to mention the superlative wines of Barbaresco and Barolo. That all being said, there is also a plethera of castles in the area and some incredible landscapes worth tootling around with. Because of the reverence for food and the agricultural richness of the area there are terrific restaurants and markets as well. Being at the foot of the Alps makes for spectacular scenery.
Did I mention the history? Ah! the history. Tucked up in the northwestern pocket of Italy there have been centuries of visitors, conquerors, passers through and settlers. Each decade has left their mark in the charming towns, bridges and castles. You can go see Venice for those things Venetian but this area is still Italy at it's finest without cruise ships and not too many buses.
We stayed at a marvelous castle, Castello de Pavone which was really quite fun. THere are day trips available in the area but to go in the spring or fall is to want to find a corner to tuck yourself away in.
There are several courtyards and winding staircases to halls with armor and tapestries.
The only downside is that the spaces are rented out, with regularity and popularity so there is often a flow of people coming and going from weddings, meetings and the like. THe solution for this I think is to go during the week.
We ate at the castle one night and another had dinner in a funky restaurant in town, filled with locals, which made terrific looking pizza but I had the pasta with seafood which was Great! Bright lights in local restaurants seem to be the norm so don't be fooled if the place of culinary dreams is lit like a grocery store. The better to see your food.
The castle dining was in vaulted rooms with period-ish furniture and plenty of atmosphere. I felt the wooden covered menus were a bit over the top but it was pleasant and the service was good.
Other good castles are scattered in the area. Spain has some excellent castle hotels to check out. There is a fairly comprehensive site -http://castleandpalacehotels.com/index.html. Of course, anywhere in Europe there has been royalty there are probably castles. They were built to last.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Markets

The European Market-

What a perfect way to buy food. Don't stock up once a week, buy fresh, get to know your purveyors and choose superlative local goods. Most markets in Europe are available several times a week and
you can find a neighborhood market open probably every day. Some of the same vendors we saw in different areas so a wander is in order of you are looking for a particular item. Of course, the longer you live there the more you know.

Market stalls offer specialty themes- one will have cheeses, another spices, another meats and so on. There are more prepared foods than there used to be like the beautiful paella that we saw repeatedly. Fresh fish and vegetables are de rigeur and a store that offers bad quality is out of business. I saw nothing that was not wonderfully fresh. Many of the stalls will give you tastes of their cheeses, salamis or bits of pastries. It has caused me more than once to buy what I didn't need. Walking by the strawberries they were so
aromatic I had to get them only to ignore where they were in the bag and come home with jam. Sure smelled good though!

 This is also a good place to buy some home goods, tablecloths to dishtowels and personal clothes. I saw lots of nice sweaters, wraps, home crafted woven tops. The prices vary from very reasonable to tourist or collector come ons.

The colors and textures make markets a photographers dream. The vendors do appreciate it if you ask but sometimes the scene was so perfect and the vendor occupied with a sale I couldn't help myself.
Mornings are the times to visit. Many markets will close at 1:00 and by close I mean pack up and empty the square or the street so completely that often restaurants will spread to the open spaces creating a culinary market of a different sort.


To walk through the market is to feel alive. The sounds of the shoppers, the smells of the foods, everything regales you with the wonder of how lucky we are to walk in a world that offers so much bounty.

Flowers of course are scattered throughout. Some markets, like those in Nice and Amsterdam are justifiably famous for their fresh flowers. Many seem to be imported from Africa. Other, potted varieties seem to be local. It is nice if you are settled for a few days anywhere to bring a  bouquet into your living space.

Because I love photographing markets so much I will include a variety of markets I have loved. Imagine the smells and possibilities!