Friday, December 29, 2006

Bob's Christmas

Well, Bob the cat was in a cattery over Christmas while I was off being ill in the Med so he had his Christmas when I came back. I know he's a cat and as such Christmas probably means very little to him other than his house gets invaded by a sparkly tree but he's my cat and so he gets presents, despite the fact that he never gets me anything!

So, first I gave Bob his stocking, which he sniffed expectantly and patted experiementally with his paw. When we had ascertained that it was dead and was not going to a) run away or b) attack we could proceed with the goodies. First, new ping pong balls. Bob loves these but gets through loads of them as either they get lost under furniture to be rediscovered on hoovering (and sometimes hoovered up) or I sometimes tread on them which takes the ping outta them.

The ping pong balls having been approved (and one immediately lost under the sofa) the next thing out of the stocking was some treats. Now, given half a chance Bob would scoff the lot but I made him have only a couple like a good boy to save room for his Gourmet cat food which was in the stocking also (and a big hit - very clean dish!).

The last thing in the stocking were toy mice and not just ordinary ones but cat nip ones. Once Bob got one whiff of these he was in catty heaven and I could get no sense out of him. So that was Bob's Christmas - food, toys and drugs! What feline could ask for anything more?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back in the UK

Just a quick update as I am even busier than before Christmas if that is possible! Anyway...

...I'm back at home in the UK again. Bob the cat was pleased to see me and when he got back home from the cattery had to check the whole house over personally as usual. He ran from room to room making sure things were as he'd left them and demanding me to open up any doors that we closed. Once he checked the house over he settled down for a sleep and then has followed me around ever since in case I try and make another quick get away!

Christmas was interesting. I was still a bit wobbly from having been very sick but was well enough to eat some plain food and take a walk along the beach in the sun and fresh air. I had no alcohol due to aforementioned tummy bug but on the whole still had a nice time. The major good point was that I did get the new digital SLR camera I was hoping for!!! :-) I was bought a Canon EOS 400D and now I can't wait to get out and start to really get to grips with it.

Also, you may remember the Christmas meme I did (see previous posts), the one where I didn't want coasters for Christmas?! Well, guess what I got? Yep, another set of coasters! Excpet these ones are special - they are tasteful and contemporary and from a dear friend, so out with the old and in with the new! Cheers CQ! Hope you all got what you wanted for Christmas and I will be posting some pics from Spain (some taken with the new camera!) soon.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Spanish Sunset on Christmas Eve

I am glad to report that I am feeling much better today, though still a bit 'tender'. I think Christmas might be alcohol free this year as I think my poor tummy would revolt again. Still, I was well enough to take a little walk by the beach today. It was very restful to walk across the sand and listen to the waves breaking on the beach and as I headed back the sun began to set, the clouds parted and I was met with this glorious sunset. I was so glad that I had my camera with me! The colours are fantastic and I love the reflection of the light in the Mediteranian Sea. I took many more pictures and will share them soon...

...Meanwhile as the sun sets on Christmas Eve here in Spain, I wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and hope Santa brings you something you deserve. Happy Holidays to those who do not celebrate Christmas too :0)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good news, bad news

Good news: I have arrived safely in Spain and I've managed to get access to a computer while away in Spain.

Bad news: After one day here I have fallen sick. I have just got up after one helluva night wrestling with a stomach bug. I feel weak and shakey but at least I have stopped doing my impression of the little girl on the exorcist!

Good news: I should be well enough in time for Christmas day!

Bad news: But I feel awful right now and embarrassed as I am staying with a friend's family and woke them all up last night.

Good news: I did get out to see some of Calpe yesterday and the beach and old town are lovely.

Bad news: I have no photos to share yet as the weather is inclement and I have spent all of today in bed.

Good news: I am feeling much better already and will hopefully get out and about soon and get some photos!

More good news: It's nearly Christmas :-) I wish you all a terrific time over the holiday season.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas

I'm still uber busy preparing for Christmas and getting ready to go away to Spain for a few days to stay with friends. On top of that I am still working on my assignment for my Masters degree but at least I've finished work now until next year! Hooray! I wanted to take time to leave a Christmas post for all my blog buddies so I thought I'd share some pics of my decorations. (They were taken last night and the light wasn't terribly good, hence they have come out a little yellow.)

The photo above is one of my Christmas tree which is set up in the corner of my lounge. I just love to sit and watch films with just the little fairy lights on. It is decked in red and gold fruit (not real though) with berries and ivy. I also have some little fat gold robins on it (there is one in the centre of the photo) and perched right on top of the tree is the white dove of peace as you can see in the picture below. As some of you know, I have a cat called Bob and do you know that in all these years he hasn't so much as taken a bauble off the tree! He is soooo good!

I hang wreaths on the doors and hang small stockings from the door knobs. It really does cheer the place up on these short winter days and long nights. Bob has his own stocking and I hang it above his bed with some Christmas treats in it for him. I also decorate the mantel piece and you can just see it past the tree in the picture below.
I also use greenery up the stair bannister which you can see in the last photo. I love the traditional look of the foliage and berries.

Anyway, this year I am going away to Spain for Christmas to stay with friends in a place called Calpe near Alicante so I wanted to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday to those who do not celebrate it before I go, though hopefully I will have access to a compter while I'm away. I am taking my camera with me so I will be sure to take some pictures while I am out there and share them with you when I come back.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas meme

I have unwittingly walked into a meme trap! I innocently went to visit the Dachsies at 'Dachsies rule' to find that by reading the post I was effectively tagged! Anyway, this is not a tricky one and kind of fun being Christmas an' all so here goes:

The Rules: The player of this game starts with "3 things he/she would love to get for Christmas" and also has to list "3 things he/she definitely does not want to get for Christmas". Then he/she tags 5 friends and list their names. The ones who get tagged need to write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes, as well as state this rule clearly, then tag 5 more victims. And the one who tags need to leave a comment that says "you've been Christmas tagged!" in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

So, I would like the following for Christmas...

Firstly I would like an SLR digital camera so that I can improve my photography. It will give me more scope to experiment and do something I truly enjoy doing.

Secondly, I would like my life to be back on an even keel. It's getting there though.

Thirdly, I would like the ability to come up with those great things to say at the time they need to be said - not after the event!

I definitely don't want the following...

- It's not that I have too many but unless I try it on myself I can guarantee it won't fit me properly. What shape do these retailers think real women are anyway? I can certainly tell them that very few of us are over six feet tall with legs up to our armpits and a waist you can get your hands around!
Coasters - I now have five sets of coasters so please no more!

Bad news - Not in any form to do with anything. Peace and goodwill to all men is the order of the day. In fact it would be nice to have that for Christmas for everyone.

I don't tag people but if you would like to do this then please feel free and tell me so I can come and take a look :-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Life imitating art.

I was hoping to share some more NYC pics with you but I'm afraid my head is still buried in the books as I have an assignment to complete before Christmas!

Anyway, while I was in New York I visited the Metropolitan Museum which was an amazing place. I have more photos to share sometime but while I was there I was looking at some of the magnificent works of art they have by such artists as Picasso and Monet when I entered one of the rooms where a young girl was sat with her laptop looking one of the pictures. I had to take a picture as it was a prime example of life imitating art, albeit in a more modern manner! Take a look at the pic below and you'll see what I mean!

I don't think she was aware that she looked like a mirror image of the girl in the picture bought forward in time and what struck me was that it looked like they were watching each other. The art student with her laptop looking back at the past and the girl in the picture looking through at us from her time as if the frame was a window.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quick Meme

I have an assignment to do for my Masters degree and it must be done before Christmas along with the 1001 other things on my list to do in time for Christmas. Anyway, the upshot is that I don't have time right now to share more of my NYC exploits with you so I thought I'd leave you with a little meme I found while doing the rounds (thanks to Claire at It's nice and simple and if you would like to do it then the rules are as follows:

1. Go to Wikipedia
2. In the search box, type your birth month and day (but not year)
3. Choose 3 events that happened on your birthday
4. Choose 2 important births and 1 interesting death
5. Post it!

So, my birthday is on 28th June:

1838 - The coronation of Victoria of the United Kingdom.
1914- Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife Sophia are assassinated in Sarajevo by young Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip , the casus belli of World War I.
1919 - The Treaty of Versailles is signed in Paris, formally ending World War I between Britain, France, Italy, the United States and allies on the one side and Germany and Austria Hungary on the other side.

1966- John Cusack, American actor (I just love his acting, even if I don't always love his fims)
1577- Peter Paul Rubens, Belgian painter

Interesting Death:
Did you not notice that WW1 practically started on my birthday?!! (See entry under 'Events')

So, hopefully you've learned something by visiting today :-)

More NYC to come soon...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

American Animals!

While I was in NYC I got adventurous and went outside of Manhatten. I discovered from my Rough Guide that the Bronx Zoo was regarded as one of the best zoos in the US. According to my guide it was one of the pioneer zoos in providing large natural enclosures that were close to natural habitat for the animals. Getting to the zoo seemed easy according to the guide so I set off. I took the subway to the recommended stop and found myself feeling quite out of place in the neighbourhood. Quite frankly I looked like a well dressed European tourist!

It was quite a cold and overcast day but the zoo was a pleasant place to walk around. Many of the animals were busy keeping warm but I was able to see quite a variety still. There were a great many peacocks there and I watched them for a while as they chased each other round the bushes - it was quite a comical sight.

The Tiger enclosure was amazing as it consisted of a glass screen which meant that you could feel as if you were standing in the pen with the big cats, though I'm glad I wasn't. This photo taken by my friend was caught as the tiger was pacing around in front of us and just a few feet away! From such close proximity you could really appreciate how beautiful these creatures are!

The bears, like many other animals were quite inactive though this was still thrilling to me as I have never seen a real Brown Bear. The Polar bear was out and about but also refused to come close and be photographed. The photo of the bears was the best I could get with my little camera but it quite amuses me as they look really lazy. The one on the rock looks like he crawled up there and it was such an effort he needed a rest!

The most active animals were in the warmer building such as the reptile house where I came face to face with many snakes. I thought the one above was absolutely beautiful. I just love the way the green gets lighter towards it's belly while it is a lovely emerald green along its back which is broken by those dramatic white markings. We were also saw the Caymen below. He looks so prehistoric but once again I think it is beautiful in it's own way.

I also visited the Natural History museum which is located west of Central Park and is packed full of wonderful natural treasures. The photo below shows the main entrance complete with topiary dinosaurs!

When I was a kid I loved dinosaurs and I still got a small thrill when I stepped through the entrance to be greeted by one and it was sooo tall! You can also see some of the wonderful architecture in the entrance hall of the museum in the photo below.

There were many more dinosaur skeletons in the museum and the one below is an allosaurus who was a formidible predator.

Of course the picture below is of the Tyrannosaurus Rex!

They also had a special display of living lizards at the museum. I can't remember the names of all of them but wanted to share some of my photos with you. The colours of the ones below are amazing.

I also loved the markings of the Gaboon Viper below, especially against the brilliant green of the other little snake. The Viper has wonderful camouflage and you can see his head to the right of the photos.

The last photo shows a little lizard that was a brilliant green with orange spots. it was great to see these living reptiles in the same museum that also housed those long dead dinosaurs.

I saw plenty of other interesting things as well but the photos weren't great so I haven't posted them. There was a special display of gold and minerals including a huge meterorite which was super smooth to the touch from the heat from entering the earths atmosphere and halls upon halls of information adn displays on animals. My favourite was the hall dedicated to the ocean which had a huge replica of a whale in it and was lit to look like it was underwater in the hall which you can see in the last picture below.
Anyway, I would definitely recommend a visit to both of these places should you get the opportunity. More NYC to come....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's central and it's a park so what will we call it?

While I was in New York I absolutely had to visit Central Park. I walked accross it on my first full day in Manhatten but that was only a small taster that left me wanting to explore some more. The second view I got of the park was from the top of the Empire State Building when I could see what a vast expanse it was! I checked on Wikipedia and it covers 843 acres of what is definitely prime real estate land so it is a testament to NYC that the park is still there. The picture above is looking across the pond towards 5th Avenue. I thought it was a wonderful contrast between the nature in the park and the man made modern buildings which soured up around the edge of the park, all standing tall and to attention almost like they are guarding the perimeter!

You can also see soem of the buildings in the background of the photo above. I did most of my exploring of the park on my last day there and happily I was blessed with a fantastically sunny day as you can see from the photos. I love that the park is used so much and apparently it is the most visited park in the US with over 25 million visitors a year!

The picture above is of the bridge which crosses the pond in the part of the park near 5th and 59th street and this bridge has appeared in a lot of movies though I can't think of one right now! Behind the bridge is one of the parks ice rinks. The park has areas given over to activities such as Sheep Meadow which is a playing field, childrens playgrounds, doggie playgrounds (yes, it's true and a great idea!), jogging routes, a pavillion for chess and checkers and a zoo of course (a la Madagascar).
This next photo above is another view of the pond, it was such a beautiful and picturesque area of the park. I also visited Strawberry Fields while I was there but that is when the battery in my camera decided to give up on me! The photo below is of another wide path in the park and there were many people out enjoying the sunny day.

The last picture is one I took because I loved the colours in it and wanted to share it with you even though it's quite a 'messy' photo composition wise. The deep red of the maple leaves was absolutely stunning against the clear blue sky and the green of the other tress around it and I hope you get this impression too. Anyway, I enjoyed Central Park immensely, it really is a natural haven in an urban metropolis.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New York at Night

Welcome to the third post about my recent holiday in New York. It is such a vibrant city and at night it dresses itself up in lights and takes on a whole new look. The photos above and below are of Times Square (of course!). This part of NY looks fantastic at night with it's row upon row of illuminated screens, lit up advertisements, moving images and bright lights. It really is a rainbow of colours and was always full of people no matter what time of day I was there.

The photo below is looking towards Radio City (close up in the last photo) but is typical of Manhatten at night with many of the windows in the buildings lit up which makes them look kind of pretty. I particulalry love the picture below as you can see the people on the sidewalk going about their business but looking dark and shadowy.

The next picture is looking down one of the avenues near Radio City where they had put thousands of lights in the trees which looked really festive. Walking around NY many of the shops, especially on 5th Avenue had Christmas window displays and many of the trees were dressed in lights like the ones below which really started me feeling all Christmassy!

The picture below is one of Radio City which is hosting a Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. For more than three quarters of a century, the Radio City Rockettes have kicked and danced at Radio City and they have become a beloved national icon and a true slice of Americana. Radio City Music Hall opened its doors on December 27, 1932. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett were only a few of the celebrities and luminaries to grace the Great Stage. over the years.

So, these are my pics of New York at night. I hope you enjoyed them. More NY pics to follow soon...

Monday, November 27, 2006

On top of the world

The thing thta was top of my list to do while I was in New York was to visit the Empire State Building. It is so iconic, being in dozens and dozens of films that I just had to go and see it for myself. Of course, I also wanted to see the wonderful view of NY from the top too so I got up early to avoid the queue and off I went on what was a gloriously sunny day. As you can see from the first photo, the Empire State Building is a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture and there was plenty of evidence of this inside.

I was really lucky with the weather as the visibility was excellent and when I got to the top an absolutely wonderful view of the city was before me on all sides. The photo below is looking uptown and you can just make out Central Park behind the buildings in the centre. I visited the park a couple of times and will share some pics with you in a couple of days.

Below is a picture of the wonderful Chrysler Building, which is another marvellous example of Art Deco architecture and is so unique and elegant looking. I zoomed right in on it as it really is a beautiful to look at and also because I could see it from my hotel window.

In the next photo you can see how the view of the Chrysler Building actually looked from the top of the Empire State Building. This pic is looking East and you can see the East river behind the tall tall buildings with Queens in the background. If you look at the horizon you can also see the curviture of the earth! Isn't that amazing?

The photo below is looking uptown once more but this time I zoomed in on the Flat Iron Building. It is such an unusual shape that it was easy to pick out and you can also see Madison Square Park in front of it. Later the same day I went to that park to see the Flat Iron Building up close and personal as the sun was setting as you can see in the next pic.

For the photo below I zoomed in on a junction of the roads where you can see the ubiquitous yellow cabs. I used these a couple of times though I mostly walked or used the Subway (my poor feet!), and I must say I smiled as I hailed one of these cabs as I have seen it in the movies so many times!

I actually spent quite some time at the Empire State Building but after half an hour it really started to get crowded up there. As I came down I was also surprised by how long the queue had gotten with people waiting to get in and go up. My tip is to get there early though I must say I would like to go back and see the same view at night when the city is all lit up.

(Btw - all the pictures in this post and other posts as indicated are taken by me so please don't reproduce them without permission. Thanks!)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back in the UK and jetlagged!

I'm back and at the moment I am soooo tired despite just sleeping for eleven hours! Guess I have jetlag. Anyway, it was nice to see that some of you had left me a message so thanks for that - it's nice to know you dropped by :0)

Anyway, I had an absolutely fantastic time in New York. It rocks!!! Big time. I thought I'd share a few of my photos with you as a taster now and I will post more over the next few days. I did so much and saw so many great things it would be impossible to write about it all at once. To start with, the first photo was the view from my hotel room. The hotel was called The Alex and was very nice. It was quite modern and comfortable and I even had an LCD TV in the bathroom. But the best bit by far was waking up on my first day, opening the curtains and seeing the Chrysler Building. It really is a stunning building and looked great at night too when it was all lit up.

Despite my hotel room being great I didn't spend too much time in it as there was so much I to see and do. I must have walked miles and miles while I was there but I also used the subway a lot too with the fabulous Grand Central Terminal being my nearest station. I could not believe how big it was or how beautiful this station was inside. Still, at the end of every day my feet were sore from walking!

The next picture was taken at dusk when I was exporing and was taken up the road from Radio City which you can just see in the distance. New York is definitely a city that looks good at night and my first view of it as we drove in was at night and I left in the dark too. What an impressive skyline! The other thing that took my breath away was how tall many of the buildings were. This meant that even on a nice day the sidewalk was often in the shade and boy, it could feel cold so I wrapped up nice and warm.

The photo above was taken at the site of the World Trade Centre which I visited on the day I went Downtown. It was quite a moving experience as there were pictures of 9/11 displayed at the site as well as a run down of the events that day. It was quite a positive place too however as you could see the building work taking place and it really felt like NY was repairing itself and looking forwards with this new project.

The next photo was taken from the top of the Empire State Building. The view took my breath away. It didn't matter which way you looked there was a building you recognised and the people and cars below looked sooo small. The photo below is of the East side of the city and my hotel was a block north of the Chrysler Building which you can see in the picture.

The next picture is of Radio City. I didn't go and see a show there but I was quite taken with how it looked all lit up with this huge Chriustmas Tree. The Rockettes were in the Macy's Parade which I turned out to see but was a bit of a wash out. It was cold, wet and miserable and the poor people in the parade looked the same even though they were trying to put a brave face on it. The weather also meant that the balloons were tethered very low so it was not such an impressive sight. I also discovered that on Thanksgiving NY is more or less is shut! The city that never sleeps took a day off for the holiday so I went to the cinema in Times Square instead. I saw Happy Feet and the New Bond Film and I must say that seeing a film is a much different experience in the US. American audiences seem much more vociferous and seem to get quite wrapped up in the film gasping at all the white knuckle moments and even yelling at the screen, or maybe this is just New York?

Anyway, I did go to see Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in the Lincoln Centre which was wonderful. The sets were beautiful and the production was excellent and I also thought the Lincoln Centre was a lovely building with an Art Deco feel and an impressive chandalier in the foyer and auditorium.

My wanderings around NY took me to MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum, The Natural History Museum, Rockerfeller centre, Wall Street, Battery Park, Bronx Zoo, the Staten Island Ferry and 5th Ave and the area around it for shopping (including Tiffany's and Bloomingdales) and I have some pics to share soon. I also took time to walk around Central Park which is in the last photo below. I visited Strawberry Fields and also saw the skaters though I didn't go skating myself.

Anyway, I'm tired so I'll write more soon. I had such a great few days away but came away wanting to go back as there is still so much to see!