Ann’s (& Rob’s) USA holiday 2006

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Home sweet home

Hi everyone from sunny Devonport. Yes, it is nice to be home and in my own bed again I have to say. However, first things first – our last day. Spent most of the morning packing before taking a cab across to Greens, the vegetarian restaurant I had wanted to go to. Extremely good lunch place with views of the bay – got their menu again and will salivate over it occassionally to remind me of their food. Just as good as, but different from, Milleniums; more a lunch/brunch place but very populare and crowded even by the time we got there. Walked over to Ghiradelli Square and was no more impressed by it this time than I was last time we were here so moved on to a Tomato and Olive festival which was being held at the Cannery. Lovely heirloom tomatoes that I was unfamiliar with and lots of blended olive oil – not as good as NZ though, apart from one who used Koroniki olives and that was delicious and dark green. The owner has competed in NZ and has done well with his oil so it was good to talk to him about what he is doing. Then it was back to the hotel for a freshen up before Val collected us for the trip to the airport. Good flight back and arrived 15 minutes early so missed the crush and queues from the other 3 flights that were due at our official arrival time. We were out of the airport in 15 minutes and home by 6 am – and collecting Daisy by 7.45 – and very excited she was too!!! She had been extremely well tended and looked after by Coralie and Philip and looked in perfect health, relaxed and playful. Sissy and she kept close for the next day or so – perhaps thinking we might disappear again? The house and garden were lovely and had been really well looked after by Sue and Alex and Julia and Chris. So a huge, huge thank you to all of you for taking such good care of everything.
OK, so that is the trip and now we are home – and planning the next one!!! Will keep you informed about the next steps, meanwhile thanks to everyone, helpers, readers, commenters – I love you all. Ann

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posted by Ann at 1:09 PM | 2 comments

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sausalito by the sea

Modern art, I’m afraid to say, does not capture me in the same way anything up to the early 21st century does. However, we visited the Museum of Modern Art yesterday and saw some fine and some confusing, inexpicable and generally baffling pieces of modern art. There were some fine Deigo Riveras as well as Klee, Mondrian, Picasso, and one very stunning Rothko as well as Jackson Pollock, Matisse and many more whose names I don’t know and whose names I have forgotten. There was some beautiful photography and installation art as well as abstract impressionist – ah well, I guess I just don’t have a very discering palate when it comes to all art. The museum itself is very well laid out and signposted with good commentary – and a very well stocked shop!!!!
We walked to the FerryBuilding and were not sidetracked by all the little speciality shops but managed to get onto the ferry to Saulsalito with 1 minute to spare. The ferry ride takes 30 minutes and, again, it was lovely to be on the water, relax and watch the world go by. Had lunch in a waterside restaurant overlooking the bay and it was very beautiful seeing the terns diving for fish with the water sprking in the sunshine and SF and the Bay bridge in the background. Rob has seen some rain while we have been away but not me – it has been uninterupted sunshine, fine days and cooler nights; fine for sleeping, and in SF and Boston fine for walking. Saulsalito is a bit like Devonport but not so pretty. The centre is full of tourist type shops of varying degrees of quality – some interesting, most not. After lunch we walked around, but I suspect that the ‘real’ Saulsalito lies elsewhere, for what was avaialbel on the front could not have sustained a community – only tourists. However, it had plenty of trees, seats and places to relax, so we were happy. Walking anywhere but the front would have involved major exertion since only very steep steps or roads seem to lead out of the town. The ferry ride back was dominated by the 92 cycle riders who also got on the ferry – I don’t think I have ever seen so many leisure cyclists in one place! I guess they must be fit, although some did look a bit fraught. A relaxing evening took us back to Davids Diner for coffee and cake and to plan what to do toady with the short time we have left.
We are in the process of packing just now – I have finished before Rob – and then it is off to Greens for lunch,

Ghiradelli Square

, and a tomato and olive festival at the Cannery. I think we will be back by 4 which will give us a couple of hours to get ourselves finally ready before Val comes to collect us for the airport – and then!!!!! See you all in NZ soon. To everyone, I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and thanks for your comments – it was good to pick them up while we have been away. Love to all, signing off for the last time before NZ. Ann

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posted by Ann at 8:06 AM | 2 comments

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Taste Sensation Day

Yum, yum, yum – it was one of those days when the sense being indulged was the sense of taste – and boy did it get sated. We had decided not to take up Val’s kind offer of a car (I even went driving – and did not do any damage!) and that if I drove to the wine country then I was not going to be able to see or taste anything, so we hired a limousine with a driver to take us up – and a very very good idea it was too. We set off at 10.30 and arrived back at 5 and in between visited 5 vineyards and tasted lotttts of different wines. We started by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and stopping off at the Vinisa winemakers before going up to Sonoma town. Vinisa had a lovely selection of mid priced wines and we tasted 5 wines, of which two were white, one rose, one red and one sweet – and all delicious. Then it was off to Sonoma which is a small town with a lot of Spanish influences and was the place where California declared independence from the rest of the Mexico. We had a walk around and tried some cheeses at the cheese factory. Then Richard, our driver, asked if we wanted to go to the NapaValley via the freeway or over the mountains – guess which we choose? The mountains, of course. It was just stunning, very winding, steep, wooded, with houses hidden amongst the trees and variously reminded us of Greece and NZ. We had lunch at another Vineyard – V.Sarouti – (very pretty with Italian looking buildings and lots of flowers) – tasting then eating – before going on to Opus One, a very very up market vineyard which makes only one wine (a Cab Sauv) which sells for $135.00 per bottle. We tasted and did not buy. The setting and building is very austere with strong stone buildings, classical music and a retreat for guests – all very soothing. However, we wanted to try some champagne and so went off to Chandon and tried 3 wines there – and, of course, preferred the most expensive of their reserves. There grounds were pretty with a stream and fountains and wild flowers. The last place (Stag’s Leap) we tried was on the Silverado Trail and there we tried 4 wines, one white and 3 reds. They were very serious about their wine and one of the reds ($125.00 a bottle) was, we thought, much better than the Opus One wine. Then back, via the Bay bridge. So that took most of the day, but in the evening we had booked to eat at the Millenium, a vegan restaurant which had been voted the best vegetarian restaurant in the city. It was stunning food. Gourmet by any standards – I have brought the menu and their cookery book – so we can slather over it at home – and maybe even try some of their complex but very scrummy food. It put me in mind of the food I had had recently at the new Peter Gordon restaurant (Dine?), they had similar food values – good reduced stocks & jus; presented well with a variety of flavours, colours and textures. I think any of you reading this would have been more than happy to eat it – and would not have known it was vegan!!! Tomorrow we are having lunch at Greens – a vegetarian restaurant I have always wanted to go to, so I shall have a good comparison.
OK, so now it is Friday and we are counting down the days – but first we are off to the Museum of Modern art (Rothko’s and Diego Rivera’s) and then a ferry over to Sausilito (?), so got to go, things to do, places to see, memories to make. Take care of yourselves and see all in NZ soon. Love Ann

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posted by Ann at 8:52 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Museums, museums

So, today had a nice, gentle, slow start with reading, breakfast and emails before we even thought of what next! Then it was full steam ahead for the museums – Asian Art and the DeYoung. We walked down to the Museum of Asian Art, and though we had been aware of an increased number of beggars on our street, as opposed to Boston or Pasadena, when we got into the

Market St

area we could see many more homeless and disturbed people than we had any where we had visited so far. Val tells me that – as in England – the gap between the haves and have nots’ is increasing, which along with what I guess is a move to ‘community care’ for those in mental distress, means there are more streeet people. However, on the way to the Museum of Asian Arts we came across the very best farmers market – the most lucious fresh fruit of all sorts of varieties and vegetables, well, what can I say – there were types of aubergines I had never seen before as well as lots of asian vegetables, some of which I recognised from Takapuna market, but others which I could not even begin to name. So, we got the museum slightly laden with fresh produce – which we have to eat by Saturday!!!
The museum was a model of excellence in the way it was set out for the visitor. Escalators, clear signage, excellent curatoring so that it was a pleasure to go round and be involved with the exhibits – although Rob and I disageed on the level of labelling. At any rate, we thoguht this was a really well presented museum – even though it did not have on display the items I had wanted to see – and made you want to stay and learn more about the exhibits. Nevertheless, time was of the essence, so after eating in the Asian restaurant of the muesum it was off to the DeYoung. Now that is a very different place entirely. Both museums have recentlu undergone a refurbishment. While the AsianMuseum was Beaux Arts in exterior it had been modernised inside to bring it up to date and very sympathetically and, I thought, extrememly well. The De Young was a modern design which had recently been further modernised, and I felt was not as considerate as it could be of its visitors. So for instance, the lifts were not well signposted, there were no esacalators and I saw older women struggling up and down concrete stairs to get to the exhibitions they wanted to see. The static exhibitions were simply presented with only a room description – no notion of how the exhibit fitted in to the overall theme of the room. But when it came to what they had to show – it was excellent. The quilt exhibition was very fine and was about a small community in Alabama who, as slaves and tenants were so poor that they had made their quilts from any scrap of material or old clothes they had. They did not follow the conventional block quiltling designs but rather their designs were freeer in both compostion and fabric use. They eventually became known and were commissioned to produce items for – was it Sears or Sax – anyway one of the big reatil outlets – but they never stopped making quilts, and very creative, artistic and beautiful they were. We also saw more American 20th C art and caught up with some of the new names (to us) we had seen in Pasadena and in Boston. We saw a most extraordinary Whistler, which I asked if we could photo – for Rob – since it is germaine to his research and more folk art which was a treat!
Tomorrow we are off to the wine country – more later & love for now, Ann

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posted by Ann at 6:57 PM | 0 comments

Happy Birthday Val

We were up nice and early this morning since we were meeting Val and Darell at the wharf where they were arriving by ferry to spend the day with us (we are very pleased about this, since it is Val’s birthday and special to be able to spend it with her, and Darell). At least that was our intention – and we did get out early enough we thought (9am to meet at 10) – however the vagaries of the SF Trolley bus system meant we were still on the trolley at 10, and as you know, I am not good with lateness, so what should have been a leisurely and attractive journey to the wharf was, on my part at least, one of unresolved frustration, unbridled scorn for such an inefficient mode of transport – all of which Rob found highly amusing – which also did not help. Drat!!! However, Val and Darell had had similar frustrations – missed the ferry, driven to Oakland to leave Darells car, came in by road through extremely slow traffic – and fortunately we arrived almost simultaneously – so enough of the frustrations, now onto the good bits!!
Because Val & Darell had the car – for which we are so grateful, because we would certainly not have got to do the things we did today otherwise – they took us up to Coit (?) Tower, one of the highest points to look over the city and the Bay. I won’t give the history – oh well, just a bit. It was built by the wife of a philanthropist/businessman of the city who was also a volunteer fireman (every small boy’s dream) and when he died she built the tower, which resembles the end of the nozzle of a firemand hose, to honour SF firemen (and her husband). Anyway, inside, it has these wonderful murals, all done by local artists in the late 20’s, 30’s depicting various aspects of the working life of those in the Bay area – they are sort of ‘folk artish’, very strong, and quite wonderful. I took a few photos so you will get to see some – if you haven’t already on your journeys. The views from the top of the tower (got to by an elevator run by a man who gives a brief potted history on the way up) are stunning, and you can see SF’s equivalent of NY’s Ellis Island, called AngelIsland, Alkatraz, the GoldenGateBridgeetc, etc. But you are behind glass – I guess so you don’t jump out – and yes, I did get to the top and did look out, aren’t I brave!!
From there Val drove us down

Lombard Street

– you know that very winding street you see in posters and adverts for SF? OH, but before I forget, on the way down the hill guess what we saw – you can’t possibly!!! We saw the parrots, you know Elisabeth – the Parrots of Telegraph Hill – there must have been 20 of them moving around, it was so exciting!!!! OK, back to

Lombard Street

– it is as tight as itlooks, but very pretty, and you have to go soooo slow.
Then we went back to the wharf for a very pleasant lunch before going to the ferry. At the dock where the ferries are there is one area where sea lions, quite by themselves, voluntarily and persistently have taken up residence. There are a whole series of floating pontoons (I don’t know the ‘technical’ word) and on them are at least 150 sea lions, honking, yelping, being very smelly, but very captivating.
We all got the ferry – Darell was going over to Oakland to go to work – and just lovely it was too. We saw pelikans by the dozen, terns, a seal, a cormorant and just beautiful views of the city. Val, Rob and I did the round trip – which took about 2 hours and was a very relaxing way of travelling and looking. The day was hot and so, on the water, was cooling – lovely. When we got back to SF Val drove us to the City Lights Bookshop which we had wanted to visit and where lots of the good/bad and (in)famous had hung out at in the 50’s 60’s and 70′ – it is still a good bookshop – but also a sort of tourist shrine also.
Then it was a walk back through Chinatown – tea and moon cakes, a seat in

St Mary’s Square

, and back for a well deserved rest. Later we checked out the Cafe Grand – which is quite grand – and decided that it would be our drinking place (the hotel bar is too noisy). Since we had a large lunch we opted for David’s Diner and we met another Kiwi, this one from Timaru, David Kellman. He is a young man – late 20’s – who is in town from University in Austin, Texas, to give a paper (Chemistry is his subject) at a conference. Very personable, but since it is his first paper, very nervous and, with the friend – who is also giving a paper – wondering whether they should have a drink first. ‘Oh, no’ said we, ‘just the last thing to do’!!! Anyway, I am sure someone (probably Mary or Joseph?) out there will know his family, or a friend of his family or the dog of his family – his parents now live in Christchurch – so pass on the word that their son is well, and eating well in SF. Which reminds me – cheese blinis, potato cakes with applesauce – a lovely way to end the day!
Well, I think that is all for today, lets see what tomorrow brings, shall we? Love to all. Ann

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posted by Ann at 9:37 AM | 0 comments

Monday, September 11, 2006

Museum Monday Menace strikes again

Ok, you would think I would know by now – do not go to a Museum anywhere in the world on a Monday (and sometimes a Tuesday) because the are closed!!!! Since Rob was going off to Berkely to talk history with James Vernon I decided I would visit the MG DeYoung Museum in the Golden GatePark, where there is an exhibition of quilts – one for you Coralie. Wrong choice, closed on Mondays. Ok, so I visited the JapaneseGarden instead and had green tea and fortune cookies while watching jays. It is as beautiful a garden as I remembered – but in some ways I liked the Huntingdon one better. The Zen garden had more green in it and was entirely different from the other one I had seen. The other museum in the park is closed till 2008 so I decided to visit the Conservatory where they grown the plants for the gardens. Nope, closed on Mondays! OK then, thought I there are a couple of churches relatively nearby (bus rides) so I can visit them; and this time I will check in the book to see the opening time. Ha, clever me!!! One of them – the Russian Orthodox, only opens at service time and I was not going to wait around till 3, so I would have to visit the Jewish synagogue. After a longish walk and a bus ride where the driver gave me a free fare and told me about other interesting churches – gues what, yes, you are right, it was not open. However, a personable young man who seemed to be patrolling outside, with a walkie talkie (security concious?) gave me the business card of the church and said if I phoned then they would arrange a time for me to visit. Unfortunately life is just too short for that sort of thing, although I did thank him nicely before going to catch my next bus. The bus was interesting and I got a ticket which meant I could go anywhere I wanted till 5pm; as is usual in buses the near-the-front seats are for elderly and infirm and so I gave my seat up a couple of times and did the decent thing helping older people off the bus – which got me a number of comments and thank you’s from others on the bus and help from a number of people who wanted to tell me where the best place to get off/visit was – so what goes round came round immediately today! The bus took me back into town, and into the middle of Chinatown, so I had a little walk around – but I think I was too near the begining of it where it is most touristy and shall have to walk the whole way through another day. I did do a little shopping and got a gift from the store – horrible and binnable – but a nice gesture. After a very nice Japanese lunch I walked round

Union Square

– but it is just expensive shops and department stores. Rob had arrived back and so we went for coffee and cake at ‘David’s Diner’ just down the road. It has the very best cakes; I had apple strudel with sour cream (did I mention it was a Jewish diner?) and Rob a strawberry tortlette; we shared – yum. The man who served us was charming and called Christian and he and his wife own the cafe (the one with the really good french fries) on Onetangi beach on Waiheke. He is travelling till summer then he will return to open the cafe – small world, no?
So now I am doing my blog before I go to eat at the Millenium Restaurant just up the road – it is a vegan restaurant and won the best vege. restaurant award last year, and the menu looks yummy. I was going to go to the theatre tonight but the Tom Stoppard play I wanted to see does not start till Thursday – so I shall jsut have to wait till then.
Ok my dears, lovely to hear from everyone, talk again soon. Love, Ann xxxxxx

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posted by Ann at 5:55 PM | 2 comments

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Birthday to Rob

Thank you everyone who has sent Rob cards, both paper and electronic. He was very pleased to receive all of them this morning and to know so many of you are thinking of him. He has gone of to the Museum of Fine Arts for a last dash round – he wants to cover some of the things I saw the other day when I went while he was in NY. It is our last full day in Boston and so this afternoon we are going to the Italian district for a very genuine Italian lunch before going to the Arts Festival held by the Harbour. Then it will be packing before an early night – we will be up at 5 am tomorrow for our flight to San Francisco.
Yesterday was very pleasant for walking, so after shoring up this knee of mine, we walked around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. Faneuil Hall was the hall where all of the major revolution, slavery and emancipation debates took place in Boston and Quincy Market was the fresh produce market. Now both have been turned into tourist traps with lots of tacky and expensive shops and fast food outlets, so we quickly moved on from there and took a tour round a privat home in Beacon Hill which had belonged to a woman at the turn of the century and remains in much the same condition. She was an interesting woman who had been a bit of a socialist (and in the US that was/is very unusual), was a ‘sufragette’, a landscape gardener and held ‘salons’ every Sunday where, if you did not contribute to the discussion, you were not invitied to return! We visited the deli on

Charles Street

and bought some lunch to eat on the Common where we watched Daisy’s favourites – squirrels. After a well earned rest we perambulated and promanaded with the rest of Boston in the balmy evening. A jazz quartet was playing in the bar of our hotel so we sat at the bar (something I have never done in an American bar) and watched people, the band and just relaxed. It was fun to watch the bartenders mix the cocktails, and it does not seem too surprising that peole get very drunk (although we have not seen any of that) when you see how much alcohol goes into these drinks!! But it was enjoyable to watch the skill of the bartenders in mixing these drinks. Rob had tried a martini a couple of nights before but we had agreed that we did not care for them and instead we have, perhaps boringly, stuck to our usual white wine – apart from the champagne cocktail I had which was delicious!
OK, my dears, will get back to you soon. I am off to enjoy Rob’s birthday. Love & hug, Ann

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posted by Ann at 6:15 AM | 1 comments

Friday, September 08, 2006

All through the night……

Even Boston gets quiet during the night. I know since I have been awake since 3 and am now in the FedEx shop next to the hotel at 5am typing awal merrily all by myself. So, what was yesterday like. Well, in the morning I had some retail therapy – I was overdue for some, all this museums and tourism certainly makes it difficult to keep up the natting average! There is a ‘mall’ just across from the hotel which seems to go on for ever with expensive and not so expensive shops. I have, at last, visited Saks and Marcus Neiman as well as window shopped till I am fully sated and will last at least till the end of the holiday. To be honest, shopping is not really my thing, but it is interesting to see how it is done in various places.
After such an exhausting morning I stopped at a free classical concert in the square (3 classical guitarists) before setting off again for the Museum of Fine Arts. I had wanted to do the Chinese porcelain, Japanese textiles/prints and American Folk Art – and all were splendid. I was saying to Julia that I think I have finally decided that I prefer pre-Ming Dynasty porcelain and potter – anything earlier than 13c. I saw som very fine Japanese Kubuko prints – 18th & 19th century, but no Indian prints which was disappointing – however I did buy a calendar which has some lovely Rhajistan prints – so I can always cut them out and frame them. I ahve always had a soft spot for any sort of niave (?) folk art – American or British – and I saw about 12 very sweet examples of paintings, but what was more interesting was the painted furniture and the artifacts, like weathervanes which were very stylish. If tis all makes it sound like I know a lot – then forget it, I am totally ignaorant about all of the above, but I have had a good time looking and appreciating.
Rob returned from New York in one piece, tired and snuffly from his cold. His visit was very fruitful and he thinks he may have a full article to write on John DeMorgan, rather than simply using him as a character in his book. I was saying to Elisabeth that I think he would have liked more time there but he can alaways correspond with the contacts he has made there to help him with the archive materials. From his account New York will not be a place I shall visit. He found the people abrupt and sometimes rude, and said it felt like London where people were about their own business with no time for others. I think the most difficult event was when no taxi driver would take him from the Staten Island Ferry to Penn Station where he had to catch his train – so he braved and mamaged the NY subway – well done Rob!!! Any way he returned roughly on time, and says if he has to visit NY again, will stay in Boston and get the train up!!! OK my dears, all for now. Thinking of all of you. Bye for now & Love,Ann
PS 0- I forgot to bring my glasses – so can’t see a thing – so do forgive whatever bad typing; I only hope enough is decipherable!

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posted by Ann at 2:21 AM | 5 comments

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I wandered lonley as a cloud

I saw Rob off to New York this morning – with a rotten cold, but he was determined to go come hell or high water and no mere cold was going to stop him. Me, I set of for North End, the Italian district, and very Italian it is too. Old men with their chairs out, blocking the road and taking the sun, old women in black – but with lots of jewlery – shopping for lunch, all speaking Italian; lovely Italian grocery shops which have a peculiar mixture of US and Italian goods but which smell devine. Italian bread, gelatto, vegetable shops, as well as the occassional deli and masses of small restaurants. I had the most delicious eggplant parmingana with ziti (a bit like penne) for lunch. I did also visit the house of Paul Revere and OldNorthChurch – where people did not sit in rows but in sort of boxes made for 8/10 with no roof but quite high sides – very strange. I imagine the boxes were ‘family’ boxes and they were to stop one – males presumably – getting a glimpse of a fine turned ankle belonging to a female of another family and thus turning thoughts away from the purpose that one went to church for.
I then had a walk down

Church St.

which is full of antique shops – it runs along the bottom of one end of Beacon Hill (one of the expensive parts of Boston)and is a lively sort of street with plenty to look at and see. On my way back to the hotel I passed ‘Cheers’ – by accident, and then went onto the Common again.
In the evening, after a little rest and a chat with Rob I went for a stroll. Rob had successfully reached NY and used the Staten Island Ferry to reach his destination, passing the Statue of Liberty on his way, and he tells me that the 4th finger on the SofL is 8ft long (hope that does not fall off and hit anyone!). He has walked the length and breadth of the island – through some very rough parts too (he reckons the Teamsters and Tony Soprano have regular meetings at his hotel), and is looking forward to the museum and library tomorrow.
The weather has been very comfortable for walking around – in the 70’s – and the evenings are especially pleasant. So, love to all, and will sign in again soon. Ann

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posted by Ann at 4:40 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Boston – a little like London

Hello my dears everywhere – welcome back to my blog. My arrival in Boston airport was late, and the airport itself does not recommend itself – scruffy, inefficient, dirty, run down. However the city is a gem and I love it. On our first day we oriented, so we walked through the town, over the common, taking in all the historical sights – state house, new and old, various graveyards, government house, the oldest library in US etc etc. The history is very accessible – a bit like London, it stares you in the face and you can’t ignore it. I enjoyed the Common, with its lakes (one boating and one for frogs), winding paths, swan pedal boats on the lake and an exhibition, which we were to learn was citywide – of cows, painted every which way, some very funny, beautiful, striking (I’ve taken photos of some for you Coralie)! We decided to go on a harbour cruise and so saw the city skyline, East Boston – where there is a ‘rich ethnic mix’ the boat man said; I guess this is where poorer or working class live; Old Ironsides – a ship which trounced the English and other newer developements along the way. Like London many of the old wharves are being turned into or have already been changed to appartments for the richer of the population. We then took a tram ride around the town and this went to most central areas and gave us a good notion of what was where and where we might want to return to and explore. We saw a most extraordinary thing on our trip. There seemed to be a hawk floundering in a fence ‘window box’ in front of one of the old brownstones. It flopped around for a bit then fell to the pavement, it looked stunned but fine; then it became clear that there was another hawk in the foliage; and finally there was a dead pigeon on the window sill of the house. So I guess they had killed the pigeon on the roof, followed it down and got tangled up in the foliage. But the birds were stunning (that one is for you Val). They have bronze sculptures dotted around town – got one of a donkey for you Jan; and I have snapped 2 of Bostons mounted police for you Sue. By that time it was time for a drink and dinner and planning for the next day. Dinner was the best yet – we went to – I want to say Ben and Jerrys, but not sure about that – and had the most delicous ice-cream and sorbets – Yummmmm
In the morning we walked in and around Trinity Church, which is the oldest church in Boston and is opposite our hotel in Copley Square. It had some Burne-Jones windows made by Morris and Co we wanted to see – beautiful and others by a London firm and by an American artist which were equally beautiful. Then it was off to see the excentric house/museum of Isabel Gardner – I hated this museum of all I have ever seen. She had left strick instructions in her will that nothing should be changed – so the paying viewer has to look at wonderful paintings (I think) with no note of who painted them, and the very worst lighting you have ever seen. The attendants were rude and unhelpful and if it had not been for the central courtyard which was gloriously reminiscent of an Italian one in its design and planting then nothing would have persuaded me to recommend this to anyone.
Thank goodness for the Museum of Fine Arts where we spent the afternoon. It is fabulous, with much too much to see in one or even two visits; so we restricted ourselves to the exhibition ‘Americans in Paris‘ which was so beautiful. Lots of Singer Sargents (one of Rob’s fav artists), Winslows, Beauxs, Cassats, Hammans, Alexanders and some of my favourite Whistlers too. There were many more than that – but I don’t know much about US 19thc artists.
In the evening we did a 2 hour tour of the Boston Library – again just across from our hotel – and were particularly interested in the murals completed (well almost) by Singer Sargent – most weird and wonderful, and in their day scandalous!
Today Rob is off to New York and I am going walking and shopping – maybe, I shall see. Anyway, bye for now. Take care of each other. Will blog soon. Love Ann

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posted by Ann at 7:02 AM | 0 comments

Rob’s train trip

September 2nd
Get on train. ‘Room’ smaller but seems OK. Bed will be put down by Kotara who seems to be in charge of coach 4810. Generally the whole outfit seems in need of a bit of a makeover but then if Bush is threatening to remove subsidies why would anyone invest. However, its obvious that Ann was right to persuade me to go the whole hog and get an ensuite room. We’re called to dinner well before the train sets off. Go to the diner and a very efficient bossy boots tells me I can’t sit where I want to, and read my book (On Beauty by Zadie Smith) and sits me across from two women who had also been told to sit next to each other. We’re all a bit surprised at this approach to First Class travel but actually get on fine. We’re joined by the oldest woman from the Golden Girls. One of the women is from Canada, wanting to do one of the World’s Top 10 train journeys; one is a New Yorker who has lived in Chicago for 6 years but wants to return to NY but doesn’t want to leave too quickly and is therefore extracting herself by train. The food is slightly upmarket fast food though served with wine. The diner fills up with people forced to talk to people they don’t want to, but this system seems to work well. So efficiency leads to effectiveness.

When I returned the bed has been put down which leaves little soace to do anything other than go to bed, which is quite large. They do claim you can sleep 3; two in the bed I have and one in another bunk that comes down from the ceiling – no thank you!

I discover I don’t really want to go to sleep. All this US going by and its dark and I’m supposed to be asleep. I keep looking out of the window to see things flashing by. We stop and there, out of the window, is Cleveland. The drivers of the train are required to blast their horn every time they get near a crossing. The door creaks; the doors under the sink clatter; the ladder for the bunk bangs; the curtains clunk. The carriage moves side to side, the wheels loudly round and round. I go to sleep and wake up, jam some paper in the door; sleep; stick my toilet bag between the bed and the sink doors; sleep; shove a toilet roll against the ladder; sleep; I’m loving this; real train travel. I’m determined to be awkae when dawn arises, so the best way is to stay awake. When dawn does arrive, an hour earlier than expected (another timeline crossed), it is grey and wet ourside – the carriage is unjustly called ‘Sunrise View’. It’s still fantastically exciting to be hurtling past Lake Erie, on a train; on the way from Chicago to Boston, in my own sleeper. The train spotter returns.
Breakfast and lunch are forced sociability again but I’ve got the hang of it and quite happily talk to people I haven’t been properly introduced to, and won’t see again. Quite a few people are college kids returning for the new semester; tourists wanting to do a train rather than a boat or a plane (me), fat people (very fat people) who can’t travel on a plane; aerophobes or those who can’t afford a plane and sit in coach class for 24hours. There are, in fact, two trains; the front half with people in rooms and roomettes (which don’t have toilets); and the others in normal carriages. After breakfast I sit in my room watching the world go by – hills, forests, lakes, clapboard houses, industrial degradation, big cities, big towns, small towns and hamlets.
The scenery gets prettier the nearer it gets to Boston and New England. At Albany the train sets off to New York (which, much to my surprise, is south of Boston)and I change to a normal train. A sense of well being pervades and I combine watching the world go by with fiddling with my Blackberry, writing my journal and reading about the demise of the ageing professorial Howard in On Beauty (who, though English, is working in a BostonCollege). Passenger trains in the US must always give way to freight trains so we’re getting later and later and arrive in Boston one hour or so late. Have seen lots of trees, a heron and a llama but had a great time.
Go to the hotel, check in, eat room service, watch TV and go to sleep. Am awakened by the cleaner at 9.30 the next morning.

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posted by Ann at 5:49 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Playing truant!!!

Hello everyone,
Just to say i will return to blogging tomorrow. I’ve been visiting with my freind for the last few days but am now in Boston and intend to catch up with my blog tomorrow when Rob leaves for new York. In fact as a special treat I shall put up Rob’s account of his train trip from Chicago to Boston. So, until then know that I am thinking of you and stay happy!!!! Love & hugs, Ann

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posted by Ann at 5:36 AM | 4 comments

Thursday, August 31, 2006

My friend Val

Hello everyone from Newark – just near San Francisco. I arrived here as expected yesterday and Antonio (Val’s handsome son) and Val were there to meet me at the airport and then we drove (in Val’s new hybrid car – very flash and very environmentally sensible) to Val’s home – where there are 2 dogs and two cats, all very friendly – so I am in my element! I don’t have much to report to you apart from we have not stopped talking since I arrived!!! It is so splendid to see Val again – and she has not changed a bit, still as beautiful, strong, and fearless as she was last time I saw her. Last ight Val and I went for an Indian meal (she knows me so well) and then sat and watched as the dogs sensed the possums – we even saw one creeping along the fence, a better sighting than I have had in NZ. This area is teeming with bird life and we have seen heron, lots of waders, red winged blackbirds and Val has hummingbirds in the garden – what a treat!! Dobbie, Antonio’s dog kept me company during the night – a change from Sissy, but not much! This morning I met Darell, her partner and husband, who is charming, a good host, and extremely knowledgeable about American history and politics. We have walked the dogs, put the world to rights and generally had a very pleasant time. Val is full of plans about what we might do and what Rob and I might do when we return to San Francisco – but I shall keep that for later – got to go now, a dog urgently needs me to scratch its ears (don’t tell Daisy – its a bit like being unfaithful!!!).
Bye for now, love to all

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posted by Ann at 10:02 AM | 1 comments

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

On the road again….

Ok – so it is official, my typing AND spelling leaves a lot to be desired! I have just looked bvack at yesterday’s blog and am appaled by all the mistakes. The only thing I can say is that by the time I had recreated the lost blog I had lost all will to live or correct mistakes – so, apologies.

Yesterday was Gamble House day and it was quite splendid. Unlike Red House, Gamble House is quite open to passersby and so is quite visable from the road instead of being behind walls or hedges. So our first sight of it was in all its glory. It is a very substantial Californian Bungalow on 9,000sq yards (??? not sure) of land and is the only Green and Green house in its original condition with all the furniture and carpets etc. There are other Green and Green houses in the area but either they are privately owned or have suffered over the years either from disrepair or desecration by unsympathetic owners. The fron doors have the most beautiful inlaid galss spread over three panelss of an oak tree. Unfortunaltely no pictures are allowed inside so our only pic are of the outside – and there the sun was so bright and the house is so dark that I’m afraid my photos were not too good. We had a private tour from one of the doc-ents (guides) and then Bobby Mappstone (the PR person for Gamble House) met us and talked to us for a couple of hours about the house/its history/ history of Green and Green/the organisation of the running of the house/friends/ traing the guides ect. We were there till about five o’clock so had a very thorough introduction to the house, its owners and history. Rob had a fabulous time and was so pleased with the visit.

Now this morning it is time for us to leave Pasadena and to travle to our next destination. I am off to meet Val – after 24 years – in San Francisco; Rob is travelling to La Fayette via Chicago and to his conference. We shall be out of touch with each other and perhaps with you for a little while so this may be the last message for a few days. Now do be sure to take care of each other and we shall talk soon. Love and hugs. Ann

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posted by Ann at 6:53 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A fest for the eyes

I can’t believe it – I have just lost the blog I have spend the last hour creating!!!
Anyway – here goes again. We started yesterday by wanting to go to two close by museums, one on Asian art and the other Californian art – of course, both were closed Monday and Tuesday. Since Tuesday is to be Gamble House and we shall be gone on Wednesday we shall have to miss these. Pasadena is known as a town with good museums endowed by the rich folks who used to come here for the ‘winter’ from the east coast. Gamble house is a good example of a house woned by these people – Gammble as in Gamble and Proctor. Anyway, we also wanted to visit the Norton Simon museum which was said to have a good collection of European art. I was sceptical since the write up for the Huntington had said the same but (probably because they were renovating some of the buildings) only a portion of their holdings were on show. So for instance I had expected to see some Mary Cassat but thee was only one on show (how picky am I then!). However, I was entirely wrong!!! From the path that leads up to the entrance I should have known this was different! There were at least 6 life size Rodin sculptures! In the main forst room were the most important Impressionist painting – Van Gough, Pissario, Monet, Cezanne; there were Gauhgan, Sissley, Matise, Renoir, Lautrec, Manet, there were barbazon group examples and Nabis group, there were over 100 Degas sculptures, with the highlight being the ‘little dancer’, the sculpture that caused such a fuss when he first exhibited it that he never showed it again and kept it in his appartment till his death. It caused a fuss because he incorportated natural materials into the scuplture – a tutu, satin slippers, real hair, and a ribbon – but it was so lovely and i think I am so fortunate to have seen it. There was a good collection of Post Impressionists and somm fone Picasso’s – espically the woman in blue – there was Klee, Klimt,Kandinsky, Degas Rivera. There was a fine collection of Dutch paintings including my favourite still life painter Rachel Reichs, Rubin and Rembrahnts – paintings and etchings; lots of 17th century French – but Watteau has never been my faviourite. There was a solid collection of Rennaisance paintings including Botecelli, and a most stunning Bellini. All inall a veritable feast for the eyes. We stayed there all day and at lunch in the gardens watched – what is the name of those insects which hover over plants, are quite large and look beautiful? I want to say hover fly or grasshopper but it is not either of those – anyway there were bright oprange and blues ones to keep us amused. In the garden there were more sculptures including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and others I was not familiar with. We saw an exhibition of Californian artiats who worked in translucent plastic in the 70’s andan exibition of Asian/Indian art where there was some quite beautiful Rhajistan prints. We stayed there all day till the car came to collect us and I would recommend it to any one who is coming this way.

Today I am going off to do my homework – in the cool of the hotel – for Gamble House where we are going this afternnon. Rob meanwhile, is out – in the heat of the day, armed with sunscreen and water (it was 95 in the shade yesterday)- to walk around an area called Bungalow Heaven. This is an area which has the beast collection of Californian Bungalows in one area – Rob is a very happy bunny!!

Ok, my dears, all for now. I shall try to write tomorrow but we have to be on our way to the airport by 9am. Rob is off to Indiana via Chcago and I am off to my friend Val’s in Newarf/San Francisco. Shall catch up soon, meanwhile lots of love and hugs.

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posted by Ann at 10:08 AM | 2 comments

Monday, August 28, 2006

85 degrees and rising

Hello my dears from sunny-hot California.
The hotel has this very good system that it will take you anywhere you want to go within a 3 mile radius of the hotel. So, after resisting the enormity of a leisurely US breakfst in favour of a more modest repast we set off for the Huntington. We did the galeries first and saw Gainsboroughs Blue Boy, May Cassatt Mother and Child as well as umpteen Reynolds, Raeburns and a whole collection of early to mid 20th century US art including a beautiful Hopper and some very impressive niave art. There was an exhibition of silver which was sort of Georgian and Victorian (if you are English!!!). They have a sort of Morris/Arts and Crafts display before you get to the Green and Green exhibition (the men who built Gamble house, which we go round tomorrow) and the docent is a guide at Gamble House so that was a very useful meeting and we learnt lots about Gamble House/Green and Green. Then it was on to the gardens – did I tell you that the previous day we had been sitting in a park and saw 4 woodpeckers? They were just beautiful – I had never seen them so close or clearly. Well today was even better because we saw our first hummingbird – so beautifuil and irridecent (?) but tiny and merges in so well with the surrounding foliage – my camera stood no chance! Anyway we saw the children’s garden and the rose garden before going over to the Japanese garden which was just stunning. The Emperor of Japan opened it in 1994 and it has all the usual things you would expect – a stream, bridge, bonsai by the bunch, a house, a zen garden – oh and lots of carp. All of this was put together so harmoniously that it would have been easy to linger the whole day. However we went on to the lotus pond by way of the Australian garden and the sub-tro[pical (where the plants looked a lot like those in Devonport – ahhhh, homesick). It was, by this time, very hot – so I went shopping to cool down in the air-conditioning (can’t keep a good shopper down), then it was back to the hotel before having a stroll to our Mexican meal and a browse in the most fabulous second-hand bookshop at 10pm (great hours they keep here).
Then of course jet lag struck and we were awake till 3.30 this morning!!!
OK my dears – we are off to play – I think 3 museums today!!!
Lots of love to all, and thanks for all the emails and text’s.
Talk soon

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posted by Ann at 9:43 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mmmmm the sun

Hi everyone,
The flight was great, good food, lots of space, very comfortable – Frances you must try these new NZ air planes with the flat beds – a very civilised way to travel. But the smog as you fly into LA is like a dull orange band that you have to fly through before you can see land. It is immediately obvious that the air in Devonport is so much cleaner.

We explored Pasadena yesterday, and is a very substantial town which – 2 young men that we met told us – had been very run down until about the 70/80’s when big businesses moved in as part of the LA overspill and now it looks a very prosperous town with beautiful shops set in open air – but curiously souless – shopping malls and an old town where lots of resturants offer all sorts of different foods for the tourist trade; there is also a ‘municipal area’ with the town hall, library and police station and these buildings are sort of reminicient of Napier with an arrt deco feel to them. It is clear that a lot of the town has art deco touches and some of these are old and original while some aer newer and echo the older buildings by linking through some design motifs, there are also – obviously – spanish influences.
Today – afert being up for 36 hours and asleep for 12 – we are off to the HuntingtonMuseum and Gardens – which sound rather splendid and were set up by a well known local philanthropist. There is a holding of Mary Cassatt paintings I want to see and some architectural exhibits Rob is keen to look at and the I want to see the Japanses, zen and herb gardens before having tea in the rose garden. We may have time to walk round the area which has lots of arts and crafts houses, although we may leave that till the Gamble house day.
Anyway, I am off to see if I can sort out the blackberry for all you texters – wish me luck!!!
Will talk soon.

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posted by Ann at 9:19 AM | 0 comments

Friday, August 25, 2006

Going, going……..

Hello from New Zealand Airway Koru Club. I have just seen an example of the seats/beds we will have on this flight – cool, or what. They come as pairs and the two make a kind of pod shape with them forming a wave in the centre that seperates one from the other. So one can sleep (or two) and the other can sit up, lie back; or we can sit across from each other, for instance to eat. Although we were told we had to be here at least 3 hours before take off Rob and I got through in about 10 mins and have been reading the papers and snacking. I’m just off for a glass wine – so enjoy your Saturday evening and think of us up there bvefore you drop off to sleep.
Bye for now & love

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posted by Ann at 9:15 PM | 0 comments

Monday, January 23, 2006

I love to go awandering

Sissy and Daisy will be left behind when we depart for our adventure on the 26th of August. We will be flying to LA – where we will not stay – drive to Pasadena to stay for a few days while we are taken round Gamble House and one of the other famous A&C Houses and generally explore the area. The Rob is off to PurdueUniversity in Indiana while I fly to San Francisco to visit with my friend Val in Newark.
Rob and I will meet up in Boston where we will celebrate his 60th Birthday (can you believe we have made it so far!!!) before coming back to stay in a very nice boutique hotel in San Francisco for a few days before returning to Auckland on the 16th September.
I’ll be posting between now and then and while we are away so do log in, read and even comment if you like. All for now – love & hugs, Ann

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posted by Ann at 7:21 PM

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