What's been happening at Le Couvent during this six weeks of silence? Well lots actually. We lost the first week dealing with cops, garage and insurance when the van was broken into. Then my lovely mum & John came to stay for ten very gentle days of eating good food, touring and talking.
This is a typical photo of my Mum who has never managed to look straight at the camera. John's about to have his second period of chemotherapy in a year, so we all have our fingers crossed for him.
And now we're just back from a wonderful week in New York. After first class flights from Heathrow we stayed in the uber-stylish Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington and 22nd (I've always wanted to say that) and spent our days, like all tourists, shopping, sightseeing, visiting galleries and eating too well. BA looks after its first class passengers very well so we arrived on fantastic form, refreshed and well slept.
The Gramercy Park Hotel can only be described as dark, luxurious gothic, with the emphasis on dark. Superbly situated near Union Square, it had the most comfortable bed I'd ever slept in and a wonderful large bedroom and bathroom, but you needed a miner's lamp to see your way round. The lift always contained some poor guest bent double peering at the floor numbers. And when we ate in the excellent Wakiya restaurant which is part of the hotel, there was a chap at the next table actually using a torch to read the menu. He was obviously a regular. It was a hoot, and I would have loved to have been able to see the heavenly chilli lobster dish that will stay in my tastebud memory for ever.
But the main reason for our trip was to spend some time with four friends and to support Gill Carrick and Joan Armatrading who were running in the NY Marathon for the Women of the Year Foundation . They did brilliantly, and can still be sponsored by clicking on their names.
Well done girls!
We had a fantastic time cheering everyone on.
Macy's called for the next couple of days and Ali, who has gained a bit of weight, and I who've lost a bit, found some fab new clothes and shoes, and a new suitcase to lug it all back in. After that we geared up for a bout of sightseeing. Here's Ali at the top of the Rockefeller building. As you can see the weather had closed in rather. So we'd managed to shop during brilliant sunshine, then sight-see in cloud and rain. Lah di dah.
It's behind you.... Lizzie &the Flatiron building
....and Ali in Grand Central Station
We all met up for a fabulous lunch in the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar - to be recommended, especially the Ipswich Crab Cakes (I had those just for you Mum)
It wasn't always so glamorous - Ali and I were desperate to try out a real diner for brunch.
I forgot to mention that we'd arrived on Halloween which put us in the party mood from the get-go, but the absolute highlight of our stay was being there for the US elections. Can you believe it? What an exciting time. On the day of the vote we pitched up at Election Plaza outside Radio City, where the party had well and truly begun.
But we decided the most comfortable place to watch events unfold would be our hotel room where we set out a picnic and watched it all on the box.
And you know the rest of the story.
Well done President-Elect Obama. Those check-out girls in Union Square that we spoke to earlier in the day will be thrilled. As are we.
After all the excitement of the elections our friends Mandy, Miranda, Josie and Janet flew back to the UK leaving Ali and I to do a couple more days' exploring. We were very keen to see as many galleries as possible. MOMA was interesting, if exhausting. We managed to arrive at the Guggenheim, the one we were keenest to see, on the only day it was closed, so we headed up to the nearby Jewish Museum. Very interesting, if dark. I got into trouble for shining a tiny magnifying light on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Whoops.
Although the beautiful Guggenheim was closed, it was a treat to see a Kandinsky arrive to be tenderly handled into the museum.
It's all just over the road from Central Park, so that deserved a fleeting glance too. Unfortunately one week simply wasn't enough to do all that we wanted so we'll just have to go back - soon.
And finally, many many thanks to our lovely generous pal who gave us our flights, lots of delicious suppers and our hotel stay - you are amazing. And thanks too, to Jamie and Tara, developers of Phoload, who came to stay at Le Couvent to look after the dogs, cat, chickens, fish and house so well. We feel refreshed and ready for a winter preparing Le Couvent for next season. God, holidays are a tonic.