Wednesday, June 17, 2015

17 June 2015 A quiet couple of weeks.

Now that Reece has finished his university course, I have been putting him to work around the house.
He has supervised the installation of new blinds in the kitchen, living area and laundry.
He supervised the removal of trees in the courtyard and driveway.
He took down the timber framing in our courtyard. Though it reduces our privacy, it has tidied it up a lot. It was a very much a mismatch job of a timber frame. 
Once he started taking it down we realised just how rotted it had become so it was a good decision. At the moment we aren't looking at replacing it.
I have been incredibly lazy the last couple of weeks. I am meant to do a whole lot of gardening but I haven’t gotten around to it. I haven’t even finished my knitting yet.
I have played a bit of The Witcher. I am determined to finish it. Magnet likes to help…

Reece and I went for a walk on his last break. 
We didn't go as far as I initially intended as it was a lot busier on the trail than I was expecting and I couldn't tolerate too much more of parents yelling at/for their kids.
It is the old railway trail. There are lots of sections that you can cover, we only walked the start part with the tunnel to just pass the cascade falls.
I went with a geology outcrop map and we had fun looking at rocks that had nothing to do with work and lots of plants that I have no idea what they are called.

It was really nice to get out, though it was very still and therefore a bit muggy. Not the best when you do a little exercise.
The view is very typical of WA though.
There were some crazy magpies that kept swooping at Reece while having lunch. It was funny and freaky at the same time.
There was no water at the cascade falls. There hasn't been any rain.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking Magnet to the vet for his yearly check-up and shots. At the vet for about 10 min. He was very good and hardly meowed on the way home. I think he was just happy it wasn't the cattery.
I had all my friends over on the Sunday to help celebrate 10 years since Jason and I moved from NZ to Australia.

I should have taken a few photos but I had the beginnings of a headache so I was pretty quiet. 
I had made an extra-large pavlova.
I had doubled the recipe from the good ole Edmonds cookery book. It turned out very nice. I didn't do a very good job of removing the baking paper from the bottom but covered up the resultant cracks with cream and it still tasted exactly as a pavlova should and I was very happy with the texture of soft and fluffy inside and crispy on the outside. 
Magnet's "I'm innocent" look...
Red dot! Red dot! from the laser pointer.

Monday, June 08, 2015

14-17 January Last post of New York - Central Park and the Trip Home!

Wow the last post from the trip to New York! It has only taken 6 months to write these all up. 
I had to go shopping for those final gifts. I think this is very typical on the last day; you take everything out, make assessments on what you have for people and who you have missed and then go shopping.
The first half of the day I spent in Central Park. I had been for a few runs through the park, but of course this is without my camera. I geared up for a good few hours walking and hoped I would see some squirrels.
Look squirrel!!
There’s the iconic view looking back at Midtown Manhattan.

More squirrels!!
The view down The Avenue.
Heading towards Bethesda Fountain
Nice unique craftsmanship on the railings.
The view looking down at the fountain. No water of course in the middle of winter.
Pretty lamp posts with view
Rescue ladder for ice rescues
And more squirrel
And view with frozen pond.
I walked to the Natural Museum Train station hoping to catch it back to the hotel. Some tourists were having some issues as all the ticketing machines were not working. I still had some money on my initial ticket from the airport and the wife swiped in with that. I then swiped my unlimited pass for the husband. He was so thankful that he gave me a US two dollar note for luck. You can only get these usually if you physically go to a bank and get one as everyone uses one dollar for tipping. I wasn’t too worried. I wasn’t in a hurry though I was a bit tired by now. I slowly walked my way down a few stops to catch the train. I saw this pretty iron work on the way.
After a rest at the hotel I laid out all my purchases, just to make sure of everything and get rid of all the packaging I no longer needed. Rachel came in from doing a spot of shopping and showed me all her purchases and I was so jealous that we had to go back out for me to do more shopping.
It was amazing how I managed to fit it all into my bags.
Here is the rubbish left over from Rachel and me packing.
After some discussion we both came to the same conclusion that we should take a taxi to the airport. It wasn’t so much the getting to the station since Penn was across the road; it was more that we both had two check-in bags plus carry-on. With two of us it made sense to catch a taxi.
It was one of the more terrifying taxi rides. Rachel seemed to enjoy it. I am never a good passenger, but I was holding on for dear life with the zipping in and out and going off ramps and I felt like we were turning in circles for a bit there. I was surprised to see that we made it to the airport and it was fairly cheap.
Rachel with her awesome status for the flight got us into the Emirates business lounge. It was very fancy and comfortable. The flight to Dubai was a lot more relaxed than the one to New York. We happened to be in the same seats that I was in on the way to New York. Right by the galley. It was definitely nicer flying with people you know.
There wasn’t much of a layover in Dubai. Enough to freshen up and relax. We were very tired by now so small things were irritating. Like kids being kids. People listening to music too loudly.
We hadn’t looked at our tickets for the next leg of the flight to Perth. It wasn’t until boarding that Rachel realised that she had been upgraded to business class. I was glad for her and she had lots of positives to say at the end. I was in cattle class and got stuck in the middle seat beside this guy who only spoke French. All I wanted to do was sleep. He kept trying to talk to me and since the Charlie Hebdo had happened that week he was trying to talk about it. It was a bad conversation. And then he wanted me to fill in his entry and customs declaration forms as he didn’t know what it was asking but I was trying to show him examples but I didn’t want to show him all my details. I had to get a hostess and they were to help him after. And he kept annoying me even when I put my eye things on. It was a very long flight.
When we got to Perth I tried to lose him in the crowd, but he kept following me. He tried going through the Aussie/Kiwi e-passport cue because I was there and I was trying to point that he had to go through the international one. Luckily my bags didn’t take long and I was able to get through customs before he found his bag.
I saw Rachel at the taxi cue and we said a quick hi/bye before each heading home. I dumped my bags and thought of how safe is it for me to drive vs how much do I want to pick up Magnet from the cattery. It was pretty bright out being the middle of the day and thought Magnet was important. Luckily there wasn’t much traffic. My reaction time would’ve been a bit slow I imagine but I drove safely.

It was all puddy puddy time. I had a couple of days to recover luckily before back to work. 
 Bag Explosion
The fridge is looking pretty full now of Magnets from the travels.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

13 January 2015 New York Statue of Liberty and Cabaret

Not much left to write for New York – this is the second to last post.
Rachel decided to book tickets for us to go to Liberty Island and climb the statue. We ummed and ahhed about this as a lot of people and guides said that it wasn’t worth it. That you could just catch the Staten Island Ferry which goes pass it and get a good view of the Statue of Liberty.
Tickets weren’t that expensive and we booked in the time to be early, thinking of going before the rush. We had heard that it would be freezing and dressed accordingly.
The line to pick up our tickets was non-existent. The line to go through security for the ferry was huge. This was because they would only open the doors at a certain time. Therefore the line wasn’t moving and it was outside… we became popsicles.
They herded us onto the Ferry and packed us in like cattle. We were the first ferry of the day. Inside the cabin it was warm but the smell from the cooked food was terrible.
We got off the ferry in good time and headed straight for the line to climb the Statue of Liberty. There were a couple of lines to choose from, one only goes up to the base and the other goes to the top. A lot of people either didn’t know what tickets they had purchased and others just couldn’t read/understand or follow instructions. The line we were in would have been a lot shorter and gone faster if people had. We had to put everything into a locker, Rachel wasn’t even allowed to have her camera bag on her and had to carry her camera around her neck. We then followed the steady stream of people to the stairs.
The great thing about Liberty Island is the view back to the city. It was a little hazy of course. Not much that you can do about that.
After a short break at the viewing platform where we cooled down from the initial climb within 5secs of being outside on the platform.  
We then headed for the next challenge of scaling the innards of Lady Liberty.
This consisted of a tight spiral staircase/ladder. 
No possibility of passing each other on the stairs only on the platforms spaced every so often. 
These platforms are also the only places where you can change your mind and head back down as it is a round trip. One staircase goes up and one goes down. The destination was the crown. There was very little space and it was awkward to look out the windows. People were loath move and everyone was trying to get the perfect selfie, I would hate to do it in peak season. It was quite a fascinating structure though and I was glad we went.
 I always think going down stairs is worse than going up. Up burns your muscles but down jars your knees. 
It was a lot faster though.
We did a lap of the island. I made it half way and then started to think about how long we were going to do this. It was very cold. I like the cold and I thought it was too cold. There was a breeze that cut to the bone. We were rugged up but we were stopping and taking pictures.  
We did make it back to the ferry at the perfect time. We were among the last few to board before casting off. Otherwise we would have had to wait for another 30min for the next one. There isn’t a lot to do on the island when you can’t be outside.
The ferry takes you to Ellis Island on the return trip, where you can get off and explore. I was so cold that I was not moving if I could help it. I just wanted to get back to the hotel and warm up.
This conflicted with Rachel’s plans as she hadn’t made it to Wall St the previous time we were down this end of Manhattan Island.
I agreed to go with her as there was the train station there that would take us all the way back on the condition it wouldn’t be for long.
Once we got back, it probably took me 4 hours before I was truly warm again. It takes a bit to for me to feel that cold but it takes a long time for me to warm up once I am that cold. I am not sure why this particular day I felt the cold more than others when we had had colder days in New York.
We warmed up in time for us to put our glad rags on and head out to see the musical ‘Cabaret’.
Cabaret was at Studio 54 and was starring Emma Stone and Alan Cummings. Unfortunately Emma Stone cancelled her performance that evening for unexpected reasons and her understudy would be playing the part. A lot of people were upset and getting refunds and trying to exchange tickets but there was only a limited amount of shows left to choose from and a lot of them were already sold out. We didn’t have much of a choice since we only had one evening left in New York.
Our tickets were fairly expensive and not the best position, but still better than Perth. They don’t seem to try and cram these plays into huge venues and pack people in so much in New York. I am guessing because it has a larger population and more tourism to sustain it. It does mean that it is fantastic even if you are in the cheap seats.

I didn’t know much about the play beforehand. I can say that it is quite relevant to politics today and Alan Cummings is fantastic. A role he was born to play. We even thought about going the next evening to try and see Emma Stone but the tickets were at a premium.