Travel

A Weekend in Porto

So Mr. A worked his socks off and won us a trip to the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal!

Thursday

After meeting some of the other winners in Gatwick on the Thursday morning we boarded a plane and arrived at our hotel ‘The Yeatman’ in the late afternoon.

The Yeatman Hotel.JPGAnd wow! What a stunning place…

The Yeatman Hotel PortoThis was the view from our room…View from the Yeatman.JPGAnd this was the view from our bath!

View from the Yeatman Bath

After welcome drinks on the terrace and a quick freshen up we headed to the lobby to be transported to our venue for evening dinner on the beach – via tuk tuk’s! What a perfect way to get a taste of the city!

Porto.JPGAnd what a perfect way to end our first day, with drinks and dinner at a beachfront restaurant 🙂

Porto Beach

Friday

It was an early start on Friday as we departed Porto by train to visit the Douro Valley, an area famous for it’s wine and port production. Our destination was the Quinta de Pacheca wine estate where on arrival we were met with a guide who told us all about how the wine was produced and the traditions that are still employed to this day – such as harvesting the grapes by hand and squashing the grapes by foot (which involves a military style march for a couple of hours, followed by ‘freestyle’ squashing – where they get the music on!)

It was then time to visit the cellars and sample some of their fine produce…

Quinta da Pacheca Wine estateAnd we were even able to make up our own bottle of Port to take home…

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….bottled, corked, sealed and labelled, all by my own fair hand 🙂

A sumptuous BBQ style lunch followed in the restaurant overlooking the vineyards…it was such a pretty setting. After lunch we hopped on a boat that took us partway up the Douro river, another chance to take in the spectacular scenery.

Douro River.JPGOn Friday evening we were taken to one of the oldest wine lodges in Porto – Grahams Wine Lodge for a tour and a spot of Port tasting.

Port tasting

We tried (from front to back) a Ruby six grapes reserve, a 30 year old tawny port and a 2000 vintage port. My favourite was the vintage 🙂 And speaking of vintage…

A vintage year

….apparently 1977 was a fine year 😉

Another beautiful dinner followed in the Barrel Room restaurant which overlooked Old Porto. Needless to say we slept well that night!

Saturday

Saturday was our day of leisure in which to explore Porto. But before we hit the streets we had chosen to do an additional activity in the morning – the Rib Boat Experience…

Porto Rib Boat

What started off as an exhilarating ride up the river with a few donuts thrown in then saw us tearing out into open sea bouncing over waves and clinging on for dear life! Talk about blowing the cobwebs away!

Fresh faced and a little wonky legged we then headed into the heart of Porto, taking a cable car up to the top of the Dom LuĂ­s bridge to take in the spectacular views.

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DSC02425.JPGWhilst Mr. A and the others headed to a cafe on the waterfront, I was keen to seek out a LYS for some souvenir yarn 🙂 So camera in hand and armed with the shop finder on the Ravelry app I went exploring via the backstreets.

As I climbed my way up the city I couldn’t help but stop to take photo’s of the beautiful tiled buildings lining the roads and streets.

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IMG_8072Here are some close up’s of the tiles, or ‘Azulejo’s’ that I passed along the way…

Portugeuse House Tiles.jpgEventually I reached my destination – the Ovelha Negra yarn shop…

Ovelha Negra Yarn shop.jpgBottom right is the souvenir yarn I purchased…a gorgeous BFL & silk in a soft brown, a merino and cotton blend in the turquoise and 100% Portuguese wool in orange. I was one happy bunny 🙂

We headed back to the hotel late afternoon in order to prepare for the Saturday night celebratory gala dinner -time to dust off the posh frock!

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The venue for the gala dinner was the Old Customs House of Porto (now the museum of transport and communications)

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Photo taken from http://www.localporto.com/transport-communications-museum/

It was a short trip to cross the river by boat before we arrived, to be greeted by a lady wearing along fronted dress that ran all the way down the steps.

IMG_8149Apparently this is a Portuguese custom, but I didn’t find out the tradition behind it at the time and I can’t find anything on the internet, so if anyone can shed some light I would be really interested to know what it means?

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During the evening each winning dealership was congratulated and presented with a gold lion trophy in an awards ceremony, and what followed was a fantastic night of celebrating with great company, great food, great wine, great music and lots and lots of dancing!

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Sunday

So the head was a little sore on Sunday…but what a brilliant night! We were lucky in that our flight home wasn’t until the late afternoon so we had a bonus day, and the sun was shining!

Keen to make the most of the last few hours I grabbed the camera and headed out again. If you are a returning reader you may recall my obsession with abandoned buildings and boy, Porto had plenty of those to keep me happy! But imagine my delight when wandering the cobbled backstreets around the hotel I came across the Parque da Quinta das Devesas…

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Quinta das Devesas.jpgThe gardens of this abandoned Casa have been turned into flower gardens, unfortunately they weren’t in full bloom yet but I can imagine how beautiful it would be in the height of summer…

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It was a truly beautiful and peaceful place and I feel so lucky to have accidentally stumbled across it.

I headed back to the hotel to join the others for lunch and soak up the sun until we had to say our goodbyes…

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What a weekend…the organisation and attention to detail that went into pulling this event together was phenomenal. Thank you Peugeot and thank you to my amazing husband for winning such an incredible trip xxx

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Travel

Adventures in Iceland!

Last weekend Mr. A, a couple of friends and I took a trip to the beautiful Country of Iceland.  We took off from London on Thursday morning and arrived 3 hours later, stepping off the plane into a flurry of snow – boy was I glad I had packed all the knits into the hand luggage!

We decided before the trip that we would rent a car as our hotel was outside of Reykjavik city centre and it would give us the freedom to explore at our leisure.  Our hotel was about a 45 minute drive from Keflavik airport, and luckily for us it was easy to find.

We stayed at the Hotel Kriunes, a family run hotel situated by the ElliĂ°avatn lake. We did laugh when we got there as we had paid a few extra icelandic krona for a lake view – but little did we realise that the lake would be entirely frozen over this time of year!

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But the view from our room was still pretty spectacular!

View from the hotel.JPG

By the time we had finished packing it was late afternoon so we decided to spend the rest of the day and evening exploring the city of Reykjavik. We took a cab into town and headed straight for one of city’s main attractions, the church of HallgrĂ­mskirkja.

HallgrĂ­mskirkja

Towering over the City this spectacular concrete church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman HallgrĂ­mur PĂ©tursson (1614 to 1674). It took 41 years to build and was designed by architect GuĂ°jĂłn SamĂșelsson’s who is said to have designed it to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape.

From here we walked back down into the city via the Tjörnin lake, again completely frozen over.

Frozen lake

Ducks

By now we were feeling a bit peckish and began looking around for somewhere nice to eat. We happened upon the Apotek restaurant, a stylish and contemporary restaurant with a lively atmosphere – and luckily they had a table available 🙂 We opted to go for the 6 course taster menu, offering a selection of icelandic fish and meat dishes, and I have to say the food was devine. Each course was introduced by one of the waiters and beautifully presented. It was one of the nicest meals I have had for a long time (and one of the priciest too…but the experience was well worth it).

We caught a cab back to the hotel after dinner and after a quick drink in the hotel lounge made our way to bed ready to start our next day in Iceland.

We woke early on Friday eager to hit the road and explore the Golden Circle – a trail of 3 large attractions including the meeting place of 2 tectonic plates, a geysir and a waterfall. I was super excited to finally wear my knitted Drops Design Dress; I made this dress about 5 years ago but it’s double stranded and sooo warm that I had never found the right occasion to wear it. Teamed with some thermal leggings and long thick socks it was perfect for this road trip!

Knitted dress

We piled into the car but didn’t get very far before we were compelled to stop and take some photographs of the beautiful scenery that surrounded us.

Desolate

Thingvellir National Park

Back in the car and the first stop on our trail was one of Iceland’s most historical sites, where Viking settlers established the world’s first democratic parliament in AD 930. Now a national shrine Thingvellir has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thingvellir park

The site sits on a North America and Europe tectonic plate boundary which provides a stunning, dramatic landscape of rivers, waterfalls and ponds.

Thingvellir

Geysir

Next stop on our tour was the site of the Geysir (literally translated as ‘Gusher’). Located in a geothermal region the Great Geysir has been active for around 800 years, however it’s neighbour Strokkur is the one that draws in the crowds with regular eruptions every 8 to 10 minutes.

An eerie hydrothermal mist emanates from the land on approaching the site of the geysirs…

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Strokkur, mid-eruption…

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It was a pretty phenomenal sight!

Gulfoss

The final attraction on the Golden Circle trail was the Gulfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall – a double cascading waterfall with a dramatic 31m drop!

Gulfoss

The gorge was formed by flash flood waters forcing their way through cracks in the basalt lava layers.

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Here’s Mr A and I taking a Gulfoss selfie 🙂

Gulfoss selfie

And then it was time to jump back on the road. I couldn’t stop taking photo’s all the way back, everywhere I looked the scenery was just breathtaking.

Hydrothermal vents – or ‘cloud producers’ as we called them 🙂

Hydrothermal vents

The famous icelandic horses.

Icelandic Horses

That evening we stayed for dinner at the hotel and played a few games of cards in the lounge.

The next morning we went back into Reykjavik town for a spot of sightseeing and shopping. Mr. A and I went back to Hallgrimsjirkja to have a look round the Church and also took a lift to the top to the viewing platform.

The inside of the church was quite stark and minimalist.

Inside HallgrĂ­mskirkja

But the views from the top were something else!

View from Church

View over Reykjavik

Reykjavik

The rest of the city didn’t take long to explore, Reykjavik is not a very big place and it was easy to cover most of it in the time we had. Luckily for me I also managed to scout out the local yarn store, The Handknitting Association of Iceland 🙂

Icelandic Hand Knitting Association

I shall write a separate blog post on my purchases soon, but in the meantime check out all the lovely hand knits that were for sale in the shop.

Icelandic hand knit shop

In fact it was commonplace for most shops to sell a selection of hand knitted goods. Even our hotel had hand knit lopapeysa for sale!

icelandic lopapeysa

Next up on our agenda was snowmobiling! We had booked the previous night to travel up the South Coast to the MĂœrdalsjökull glacier,  an icecap covering one of Iceland’s largest  volcano, Katla. The site was close to Eyjafjallajokull – the volcano made famous in 2011 when it’s ash plume halted airlines in Europe!

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It was a pretty awesome experience driving across the glacier, I was happy to let Mr. A take the wheel while I clung on for dear life! We stopped at the top for photo opportunities…

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And to take in the view…

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It was certainly an experience and I’m glad I did it, but I’m not sure I would rush back to do it again…Next time I would wait at the bottom with a hot chocolate and my knitting 🙂

Before we left the South Cost we journeyed a couple of miles to Dyrhólaey, a nature reserve rich in birdlife and good for puffin spotting in season.

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Sunday came around all too quick and it was time to check out and make our way back to the airport via the Blue Lagoon. We didn’t realise that this was something that we needed to book in advance so unfortunately we were unable to visit to the spa as they were fully booked. They did let us take some photo’s…but I wish we had had the foresight to book as it did look pretty awesome!

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

Still, it’s the perfect excuse to go back one day. Especially as we didn’t get to see the Northern Light’s whilst we were there either…

Whilst we were at the Blue Lagoon we got an e-mail from our flight company to say our flight home had been delayed by 5 hours so we had a bit of extra time to kill. Close to the airport there is a Viking Museum so we dropped by there on the way back. It was a really nice museum with the focal point being an exact replica of a 9th Century Viking ship.

The Viking MuseumIn 2000 this ship made the journey from Iceland to New York as part of the millennial celebration of Icelandic explorer Leifur Eiriksson’s journey to the new world!

And so it was, our wonderful weekend in Iceland drew to a close. It was breathtaking, exhilarating and full of laughs. We had an amazing time, and I do hope to return one day (with a pre-booked ticket to the blue lagoon!)

Until next time x

Travel

A Weekend in Sunny Spain!

Last weekend Mr. A and I had a wonderful time in Spain visiting my Dad and Stepmum (who I will now call D&G to save my little fingers!).

We flew out on Thursday afternoon and as the flight was about 2 and a half hours it gave me a chance to crack on with some knitting 🙂

Plane Knitting

Spain is an hour ahead of the UK so it was quite late when we landed into Murcia. D&G met us at the airport; they have been living out there for nearly 2 years now but this is the first time we have been able to get over to see them. They live just over 40 miles south of the airport, near Mazarron on the South East coast.

We woke up to warm sunshine on Friday which was most welcome. As D&G are active members of the local community they had a few commitments in the morning so Mr. A and I went for an explore and breakfast al fresco.

As it happens this weekend was also the weekend of the UK Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally). Although I was unable to go this year we did stumble across this place – not quite the same as the knitting mecca but they did do a good breakfast!

Alley Palais

We also found the most amazing shop that sold just about everything you could ever wish for – here I found my perfect wine glass!

Wine Glass

There was some amazing stuff in there but I restrained myself and just came out with these cute little jars which I am now using to store beads in.

Bead Jars

Time flew by and before we knew it it was early afternoon; time to meet back up with D&G and make our way down to the coast to see the amazing sand sculptures at Bolnuevo.

Bolnuevo Sand Sculptures

Formed by wind erosion the sculptures have occurred naturally over millions of years.

BolnuevoSand Sculptures

It was a pretty spectacular sight!

From here we headed into Peutro de Mazarron for a menu del dia (menu of the day). The menu del dia was introduced by General Franco as a way of providing affordable and nutritious meals for Spanish workers during the week. It continues to this day with many restaurants and bars offering a 3 course lunchtime menu, with a choice of 2 or 3 dishes for each course (including bread and drinks). D&G knew of a lovely place by the harbour – the food really was delicious and the entire bill came to just over €40 for the 4 of us!

Suitably full we took a stroll down by the seafront before heading back to the Villa.

Puerto de mazarron

On Friday evening we headed to a local bar for a few drinks, they had a Status Quo tribute duo on. I can’t remember the name of them but they were pretty good!

On Saturday we traveled inland to a pretty hilltop town called Aledo, located near the Espuna Mountains. One of the main features of the town is the remains of an 11th Century tower (Torre del homenaje) which luckily for us was open for viewing.

Aledo Keep

The part of the fort that still remains (also known as the Keep) is sectioned over 3 floors. The ground floor doubles up as a tourist office and the guide there explained how the Keep was used in the 15th Century. The ground floor was where water was stored, 1st floor was the storage of arms, 2nd floor was grains and wood and the 3rd floor opens up to a viewing platform.

Inside Aledo Keep

View from the top of the Keep.

View from Aledo Keep

I love this picture Mr A took from the top – he used a model village effect on it!

Aledo View

When we came back down the guide told us about another place close by that was worth a visit – the ‘estrecho’ or gorge. It wasn’t very far and D&G had never been so we decided to check it out. On arrival it looked like a picnic area but we saw some steps heading down and it lead to this…

Aledo Gorge

Gorge

Spanish Gorge

We walked quite a way before coming to a trickier part that involved a bit of climbing, we sent Mr. A on ahead to see if it was do-able in flip flops but the verdict wasn’t clear cut so we decided not to go on.

Some of the rock formations were quite spooky – Mr. A saw a skeleton in this one (right hand side, just above the middle) where as I saw a creepy monster face with an upturned nose. I wouldn’t like to be down there after dark that’s for sure!

Gorge Face

When we got back to the clearing D&G headed back up to the top but Mr A and I decided to venture round the corner to see what was on the other side. There was a well established path that followed the side of the mountain which we followed for a while, before coming to an aqueduct across the gorge. Mr. A was a lot braver than me and walked out a little way on the narrow ledge, before I panicked and called him back!

Gorge Aquaduct

Opposite the aqueduct was an abandoned house. I have a bit of a fascination with abandoned buildings so although it was a bit of a steep climb I just had to go and check it out…

Abandoned House Spain

What you can’t see very clearly is that above the door there is a number ’16’?!

Abandoned House

As always with these places I like to imagine the kind of person that would have lived here. It looked like the house had been abandoned for many, many years and it must have been a pretty remote existence.

No 16

Fascinating stuff!

We made our way back to the top and found a place for lunch. There was no menu del dia today as it was a Saturday, so instead we had a selection of traditional Spanish tapas.

After lunch D&G took us to the Espuna National park where we drove up the side of the mountain taking in some exceptional views.

EspunaView from Espuna

It was a lovely day of walking and sightseeing.

On Saturday evening we went for a curry at the local Indian restaurant and then to the Club House to watch a live band. We flopped into bed exhausted that night!

Our flight home was on Sunday afternoon so we just had a lazy morning at the Villa, soaking up the last rays of the sun and going for a lovely Sunday carvery at the Club House. D&G dropped us back off at the airport in plenty of time for us to catch our flight back home…the whole weekend went so quickly, I wish we had been able to stay an extra day or 2!

Music, Theatre, Travel

Rocking Out in London Town!

As far as week’s go, this one has been a pretty eventful with not just one, but two brilliant visits to the capital!

On Saturday my wonderful husband surprised me with a day out in the City for our anniversary. I didn’t know what was planned apart from we had to be in the Liverpool Street area for 2.30pm. Liverpool Street is in the Financial District of London and not known for being a hubbub of activity at the weekends so I was very intrigued…but not for long as I soon found out that we were booked in for lunch at City Social in Tower 42!

Natwest Tower - London

City Social is an art deco style restaurant on the 24th floor of the tower with stunning views across London.

Views from Tower 42

Above is the Heron Tower, the Walkie Talkie and the Shard, and the Gherkin. The food at City Social was top notch and being there for a good few hours we saw the sun set over the city.

Sunset over London

The Gherkin

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. By the time we left night had truly descended so we took a walk through London under the Christmas lights onto our next destination – the West End! For the evening we had tickets to go and see the play Neville’s Island starring the comedy actors Neil Morrissey, Robert Webb, Miles Jupp and my husbands hero – Adrian Edmondson.

Nevilles Island

Nevilles Island is a comedy by Tim Firth and tells the story of 4 businessmen shipwrecked in the Lake District as part of a corporate team building excercise. It was a very funny play!

On Wednesday night we found ourselves back in London courtesy of Mr. A’s work. His company hosted a gala dinner at the Roundhouse in Camden and put us up in the Cumberland Hotel for the night. I couldn’t believe it when I got to our room –  Mr. A had asked if we could have the Jimi Hendrix suite, not thinking for one minute that it would be available – but it was, and it was awesome! We both love Jimi Hendrix’s music and this room was where he did his last interview.

The Hendrix Suite

Jimi Hendrix Suite

We felt like rock stars as we got ready in this suite – and did I mention that it had 2 bathrooms?!

From Oxford St we headed over to Camden to the legendary Roundhouse. The Roundhouse started life in 1847 as a shed for maintaining and restoring goods engines but is now an iconic cultural venue. It looked beautiful inside all lit up.

Camden Roundhouse

The evening was fantastic and was topped off with a brilliant performance from Spandau Ballet!

Spandau Ballet

I felt so lucky to have been invited to such a wonderful event. We got back to the hotel and the party continued, eventually seeing us crawl into bed at 5.30am – boy were we both glad we booked yesterday off work!

Travel

My Favourite Place in the whole wide World

Why is it times always goes so fast when you are on holiday?! The last 2 weeks have just flown by! We returned yesterday from Alonnisos, Greece. My favourite place in the whole wide world.

Most of our days were spent at the beach at Chrisi Milia, soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea.

Chrisi Milia Alonnisos

One day was spent at Chora, the Old Village on top of the hill. Chora used to be the capital of the island until a big earthquake in the 1960’s destroyed most of the houses so the people moved down to the port of Patitiri. For years the Old Village stood desolate and in ruins at the top of the hill but slowly it has been rebuilt over the years. Many ruins still remain which gives the village a rustic charm that makes it very popular with artists, and it is lovely place to spend the evening and with its many restaurants and bars.

Old Town Alonnisos Street in the Old Town Alonnisos

One night down in the port we witnessed the most amazing electrical storm. It began with a power cut that surged the whole island into darkness and for the next couple of hours the sky was a constant disco of lights. I was kicking myself though as it was the one night I had forgotten to take out the proper camera and I struggled to capture anything on my phone – this was the best shot I could get over the harbour.

Electric storm Alonnisos

Last Saturday was the annual Agia Paraskevi Island festival which celebrates the patron saint of the main church. It starts on the Friday with a big procession from the church into town, followed by traditional Greek music and dancing on the Saturday night, with the music continuing well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Agia Paraskevi festival

The evenings were perfect for a spot of knitting on the veranda as the sun was going down. Notice the little cat on the wall in the background of this picture – we had a return visitor from last year, little Pitou (he got his name as he looks just like our cat Pea, so we called him Pea 2). He was instantly recognisable due to his unique way of sitting with his leg dangling over the wall!

Jem Arrowsmith Knitting

All in all, it was another fantastic holiday and even though it went too quick at least our little furry friends, Pea and Mike, were pleased to have us home again.

Cat in a suitcase Cat in a bag

Travel

Fun in the Sun!

Last week was spent with the girls in Turkey. This was our 3rd year of returning to the Flamingo Country Club, a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of Bodrum. It’s such a lovely place, we pretty much have one of the many pools to ourselves and going this time of year are usually pretty much guaranteed a week of sunshine and relaxation.

The resort is ideal for us – the apartment sleeps 4 very comfortably and has a roof terrace, perfect for a pre-dinner drink (or 2!). There is a little bar / cafe less than 2 minutes away and a supermarket down the road and a good choice of restaurants and beaches to visit.

This year we weren’t as lucky with the weather as we have been previously as it was overcast a couple of days – but even that didn’t stop us trying to sunbathe in gale force winds!

When we could we spent our days by the pool.

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And on the Saturday when the weather was forecast to be the best we spent the day at ‘My Beach’

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….which was bliss until this happened… there were actual hailstones – that was a first for us in Turkey!

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On one of the overcast days we took a taxi into Bodrum. Bodrum is a lively city and although famous for it’s nightlife we have never been for a night out there although judging by the amount of bars and restaurants there, if we did it would be a good one! There are great shops too.

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Check out this cool cat cushion cover!

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During the week on our little walks I also came across some pretty and unusual flowers. I don’t know what these are called but there were a few colour combinations going on.

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And these were just growing along the roadside

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Aren’t they pretty!

The cooler evening temperatures did have a plus side however, it meant I was justified in wearing my favorite ‘Sweet Pea’ shawl. I made this about 5 years ago and it goes on most holidays with me.

Sweet Pea Shawl (2)

Perfect for watching the sun set over the ocean, with a nice glass of wine 🙂

Sunset in Turkey

Travel

Boston and Beyond

It’s been a week since we got back from our trip to New York and Boston. While I was able to blog every day in NY  I wasn’t quite so organised on the second leg of our trip and since being back time has just flown, so here is a belated account of what we got up to in Boston.

I was sad to say goodbye to New York – 3 days just wasn’t long enough and while we certainly made the most of our time there thanks to a 3 day city pass there were still things that remained unticked on my list; such as the Guggenheim and the fact that (despite my best plotting-on-a-map efforts) I didn’t happen to stumble upon a NY yarn store. Bah.

On Wednesday morning we picked up our car and headed on a roadtrip to Boston, stopping at a diner for lunch.

After what should have been a 5 hour drive we eventually arrived in Boston late on Weds evening due to complications with the sat nav (not user error at all….honest!)

We had planned to go whale watching on the Thursday morning but when we arrived at the harbour we were told that the the tour was full that day. Instead we took the opportunity to explore the city.

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One of the places we went to visit was the Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, which is famous for being the place where the Boston Tea Party began back in 1773. It was the largest building in colonial Boston and was used for public gatherings, a place of worship and engaging debates.

Some of the comments in the exhibit were quite funny – I would love to know what beef this person has with Queen Latifah?!

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From here we took a stroll around Boston Common and ended up at the Cheers Bar.

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In the afternoon we went to the New England Aquarium which has a magnificent collection of fish, animals and exhibits.

That evening we went to a ‘Quilts and Color’ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art – some of the pieces on display were absolutely stunning and I am going to do a separate post about these.

On the Friday we drove to Cape Cod where we found the Black Purls Yarn Shop in East Sandwich where I finally got my yarn fix – yay!

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The shop was very well stocked and had some gorgeous yarns to squish and drool over. I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head but I couldn’t resist these 3 skeins (this is not the best picture as the middle one is more of a browny colour and the blue is a lot darker). And I have no idea what I will make from them yet.

Lovely Yarn

 

Happy, happy, happy  🙂

We spent the afternoon at the Plimoth Plantation, a living museum showing how life was in the 17th century. There is a recreation of a small farming town, populated by actors who go about their daily life in full costume and answer any questions you have, all completely in character. It was a fascinating place!

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On Saturday, our last day, we made it onto the Whale Watch. The weather wasn’t great and the water was a bit choppy but once we got out to sea and saw the whales it really was an incredible experience!

We saw about 7 – 8 whales in total, mostly Fin whales and a minky whale.

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That really was the cherry on the top of a brilliant holiday!

Now, what to make with that yarn….

Travel

Day 3 – Central Park

Day 3, our final day in New York, started with a walk through Hells Kitchen. It was once one of the most violent and dangerous neighbourhoods in the City (Herbert Asbury wrote The Gangs of New York in 1927 inspired by the area) however today it is lined with a mix of restaurants and residential buildings.

There are many theories as to how the area got it’s name but the one I like is the story of 2 police officers watching a fight in the area. One turned to the other and said ‘man, it’s hotter than Hell here’, to which the other replied ‘hell is cool compared to this, this is Hell’s Kitchen!’

Our walk brought us out by Pier 86 and to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space museum. The museum is on board the Intrepid itself, a 900 foot long aircraft carrier and houses vintage air and sea craft such as the A-12 Blackbird, the worlds fastest spy plane.

You can also take a tour of the missile submarine the USS Growler and see a retired Concorde and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

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There was an exhibition there on camouflage which looked at how things in the natural world are designed to blend in with their surroundings. My favourite were these butterflies with their wing markings mimicking owls eyes.

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From here we took a rickshaw to B&H Photo-Video on 34th Street, a massive electronics shop spanning the length of one entire block, it has to be seen to be believed!

The afternoon was spent in Central Park. We have been so lucky with the weather during our stay, it was a lovely afternoon strolling through the park and sitting under a blossom tree with a hotdog and a giant pretzel!

We went for a little row on the boating lake too and stopped at the boathouse for a couple of drinks and watched the world go by.

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No prizes for guessing where we went next. I had to have one!

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We found ourselves back in Times Square for dinner and stumbled upon a great Indian restaurant Utsav. The food was great, albeit a little pricey, but it was a lovely dinner to end our stay in New York.

Today we drive up to Boston!

Art, Travel

Day 2 in the Big Apple

Today we started our journey at Discovery in Times Square at the Body Worlds exhibition. It is an exhibition of the work undertaken by Gunther von Hagen, the inventor of plastination which is used to preserve the human body. The subjects are all donors who agreed for their bodies to be preserved and displayed for scientific research. The exhibition focused on health and wellbeing and how the stresses and challenges of everyday life can affect the body. My husband was a lot keener to see the exhibition than I was, but I’m glad I saw it. It’s a real eye opener and definitely makes you look at and appreciate your body in a whole new light!

Next stop was the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. The museum houses masterpieces of modern and contemporary art by artists such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Miro, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Monet, Matisse, Ernst…. The list goes on!

Here is one of my all time favourites, The Starry Night by Van Gogh.

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And Andy Warhols cow wallpaper, I love this!

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The MoMA is a truly inspirational place – there is also a sculpture garden where you can grab a coffee and sit and take it all in.

From here we took a wander down Fifth Avenue to visit some iconic shops such as Tiffany’s, FAO Schwarz (the toy shop in the film Big, and you can have a go on the piano too!) and the Apple store.

After dinner we headed over to the Rockefeller ‘Top of the Rock’ viewing observatory to see phenomenal views of the city in lights.

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Travel

New York, New York

So here we are in New York, day 1 done and so far so amazing!

Our hotel is a stones throw away from Times Square do yesterday we walked through and down to the Grand Central station for breakfast.

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There was an exhibition on of quilted panels to mark the anniversary of the station last year.

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From here we went to the Empire State Building. The views were breathtaking!

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We then took a tube down to ground zero which was a very humbling experience. It’s so hard to comprehend the devastation that took place there. The memorial site is beautiful though, they are still developing the site and it should be opening fully in the next few weeks including an artefact museum which will house some of the original steel structures from the twin towers. I imagine it will be a very moving place to visit.

We walked from Ground Zero to Battery Park and caught a water taxi up the east of Manhattan. It took is right up close to the Statue of Liberty so we were able to get some amazing photo’s.

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We alighted the water taxi at Greenwich Village and found a little bar in the area for a quick drink and a cookie.

Our plans for the evening were already in place as I had managed to get tickets to see Suzanne Vega at the City Winery. The venue was amazing, I will have to wait until I get back to post some pics but it was a brilliant night. The support act was Ari Hest who I only discovered when I booked the tickets but he is totally up my street, gorgeous songs with a voice to die for. Check out his song ‘something to look forward to’ and I guarantee you will fall in love!

And the best part of the night? I only got to meet Ari Hest AND Suzanne Vega herself!!! I have been a fan for over 20 years so it was such an honour to meet her and say hello. And she even signed my book 🙂

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Today we have another full agenda of things to do and see so I had best get a wriggle on!