3 Days on the East Coast 

Summer is finally here and so is our holiday. This year we are having four different holidays in one with the 1st few days spent on the east coast, based in the very heart of New York City on W46th Street.

We got here in the very early hours of Sunday after a great flight from Heathrow to JFK and the 6 of us were in the Dial 7 suburban in just over an hour after landing, not bad given the immigration queues. I remembered to take my Tile‘s of the keys at home and drop them into our checked bags and it was cool to see them on the app a few minutes before magically appearing in the belt (not sure if the list bag scenario would be twice as traumatic while staring at the phone).

Sunday was spent catching up with family in New Jersey, see faces I hadn’t seen for 20+ years, well not counting Facebook sightings! We had an amazing day sharing stories and connecting dots across branches of the family. Planning for the next reunion started almost immediately.

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Back in the city we set up the plan for the main sightseeing days on Monday and Tuesday. Having been to New York before, the City Pass was an essential purchase and was used to frame a couple of days soaking up the big ticket spots with the added bonus of fast track access in a few places. In two days we squeezed in the Top of the Rock, Central Park, American Museum of Natural History, Uptown loop on the bus, The Empire State Building Experience, Dowtown loop on the bus, Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 memorial. I did warn everyone that we’d squeeze and awful lot into a few short days.

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Like everyone who’s been on a city break here, time travels at an amazing pace and before we’d felt like we had arrived it was time to go again. It was interesting that one of the children commented that having been now hew wouldn’t want to go back to Times Square in a hurry and he much preferred the Soho and Chelsea districts and I totally agree. In fact the 1 place that we gravitated back to while we walked back from the Battery Park to the Empire State Building, we took the step challenge pretty seriously on the Tuesday, was via The Cupping Room Cafe in the West Village. I am not completely sure if the attraction here is based on anything other than a good feeling we had when we 1st rocked up there a couple of years ago. I guess that all it takes …………

Bramhall, a ball, a birthday & the longest wave

This weekend I rediscovered what a great place Bramall Hall is to take the dog for a walk, beating the monotony of round the block morning and night. Livening that walk up clockwise and anti-clockwise can only achieve so much.

Having a place like Bramall Hall is a real treat, much the same as living anywhere with an interesting bit of history on it’s doorstep in that you take it for granted and quickly forget to go visit. This is without doubt one of Finney’s favourite places to go as there’s plenty of water for a swim and to relieve the pressure on his aching bones, he suffers with hip dysplacia and arthritis in his joints. Being a Labrador with a family tree of field champions to be proud of, his natural instincts are to completely ignore his ailments and run around like a puppy until it’s time to go home again.

Following the river out of the hall’s grounds and under the roundabout to the wonderfully upbeat Happy Valley which on a Sunday morning is packed with dogs hurtling down the paths wide-eyed and with their tongues hanging out on the breeze. This weekend was no different and at one point we saw more than a dozen gathered paws deep in the water stayed intensely at their respective owners waiting for something to be thrown into the water.

The picture below is a little further on after a period lost in the undergrowth rooting around for something interesting and re-appearing with the star prize of a fully functioning tennis ball. I have hundreds of image of Finney in the pose, object place directly in front of me and him some yards further on staring back with all the intensity of a hypnotist who has convinced me that the site of this ball must be thrown immediately and as far as I possibly can, repeated infinitely or until the dog stamps bringing it back. With Finney this usually follows the pattern of doing this 3 times, then he trots off with it in his mouth for a few minutes until casually dropping it to one side ready for the next lucky mutt.

Sunday afternoon was a special time, the family came together to celebrate the birthday of the youngest of us all. Noah turned 3 and Sunday was time for a bouncy castle, face painting and little people running round mad on jam butties, cake and more sweets that they had probably eaten all month. Aside from all of that was the opportunity to relive some of my own childhood with Cuffs ice cream delivered for dessert. At least it should have been delivered but their relic of an ice cream van had chosen this day to breakdown and the ice cream tubs were picked up rather than dropped off. Anyway, it was as good as I remember and the taste brought back lots of memories of school holidays playing in the streets and very analogue games like kick the can and practising wheelies on my BMX.

As for the soundtrack to the weekend, the new Red Hot Chilli Pepers album The Getaway has been on almost constantly. I can’t think of a bad track on the whole album though the standout one for me is The Longest Wave. I don’t think i’ve ever listened this without immediately playing it again (and I’m listening to it right now!).

 

February Stars

This picture was taken at Kielder Water, Northumberland here in the UK. This place is pretty amazing if you like to get a good clear view of the night sky, away from the light pollution in the towns and cities. According to the visit Kielder website, this international dark sky park is the largest area of protected night sky in Europe. So in a round about way that the link to why this blog is called February Stars, not really.

At the start of 2014 Gaynor and I, though mostly me, wanted to have a go at the discipline of maintaining a blog and coming up with content to keep it moving. This would be a double edged sword as it wouldn’t be much of a read if we spent our time watching the TV and doing the gardening at the weekend. So that was the idea born, story telling based on what we did, where we went, what we saw and who with. Simple really. What to call it was solved by Foo Fighters being on in the background and februarystars.net became the 1st best match and grab the available domain, still easy!

I mentioned that this was back in 2014 because today in July 2016 I folded up all the old content to start all over again. I learnt a lot along the way and how to get the most out of WordPress and get myself organised, what I didn’t do was embed the blogging habit, getting bogged down in making every post substantial which ultimately made the burden too great and the stories quickly out of date.

So here’s to starting again, februarystars.net v2 in July 2016.