A lovely autumn day in Brooklyn

Just a week ago, we were with our New Jersey family on a visit to Brooklyn for a modelling shoot which the grandchildren were doing. It was a beautiful autumn day as we headed into the Lincoln Tunnel.

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Then it was across the Brooklyn Bridge, towards the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, where the photo shoot was to be.

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We parked right underneath the bridge.

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The Brooklyn Bridge, which spans the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was completed in 1883, and is the oldest steel-wire suspension bridge in the US. When it was opened in 1903, it was the longest in the world, with a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m).

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Around the corner is the popular ‘Ice Cream Factory’, which was opened in 2001 shortly after 9/11. It sits at the Brooklyn end of the bridge, in a landmark fire-boat house on a ferry landing, which is the oldest one in the city.

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The hibiscus were blooming beautifully in the autumn sunshine.

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From this boat landing, there is an impressive view of the Manhattan skyline. There are many padlocks on the fence along the dock, and I read that the pop cultural phenomenon that turned the Ponte Vecchio in Florence into a locksmith’s paradise, has jumped across the Atlantic and is threatening to cover the Brooklyn Bridge in lovers’ padlocks. Many couples come to this area for their wedding photos, and to fix an engraved padlock onto the bridge, before throwing the key into the East River.

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From here, you can see the 104-storey super-skyscraper, which is the ‘1 World Trade Centre’, formerly known as ‘Freedom Tower’. This is built on the site of the original ‘6 World Trade Centre’.

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The Statue of Liberty is also visible in the distance.

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We had a very interesting time, dressing the three children for their photo shoot. The two littlest were very excited.

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Sienna wasn’t quite so enthralled with the outfit she had to wear.

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After it was all over, we were rather hungry, so went across the road for pizza.

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Then it was back to the Ice Cream Factory for dessert. Extremely serious business. 🙂

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We really caught the traffic going home, and had to take a detour through the Brooklyn Tunnel, instead of over the bridge, which was now closed over the weekend for maintenance.

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We so enjoyed our lovely autumn day in Brooklyn. I hope you did too. Have a wonderful weekend.

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A Family Centenary celebration coming up next weekend.

“Live your life and forget your age” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

A week this Sunday, hubby’s Mom in England will celebrate her 100th birthday, and all the family will be there cheering her on at her party for 140 people at the village hall. She’s always as bright as a button, and I’ve never heard her complain about getting old; in fact her age is a source of pride, and she’s so looking forward to getting the Queen’s telegram. Last week the woman in the cake shop, was very surprised when this sprightly woman walked in to order her own 100th birthday cake.  She has lived on her own, in her double storey, three-bedroom house since she was widowed twenty years ago, and does all her own cooking, with friends often calling in to have tea with her. Her favourite pastime is playing scrabble on the computer, and she is a daunting opponent in the competitions she takes part in. She bakes really delicious cakes, and until a few years ago, used to enter them in local competitions and often win first prize. For her 90th birthday, she baked and decorated a delicious Pavlova, and dozens of friends and relatives came to her party.

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Five years ago, she and my Mom accompanied hubby and I on a trip to the USA to visit our son and family. These two old ladies, were so excited and cheerful on the flight over from England. It was such an adventure for them both; the first time they’d been to America.

They walked their legs off all around New York city, taking in the sights and sounds and never complaining of being tired. The two of them shopped up a storm at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Banana Republic.

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and posed for photos in Times Square.

We took the ferry across to Ellis Island where the new immigrants to the USA used to be processed, and then we were off to see the Statue of Liberty. What a thrill that was for them both.

A two-hour car journey took us down to Washington, where we stayed for a couple of days, going to see the White House, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and other historical sites. Once again, the two of them put their best feet forward and enjoyed every minute. They were like excited teenagers, and it was such a joy to be with them.

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The reason I’m telling you all this is that it’s my birthday on Sunday, and every birthday that comes around I remember how I sobbed my heart out at my 21st party, because I would never be young again. Hubby had to take me for a walk around the block to calm me down. What a silly young thing I must have been, with not a thought in my head for all the wonderful years still to come. I suppose I must have believed then that youth was the most important thing in life, but I was so wrong. Life experience is worth far more than transient youthfulness. The years since my 21st have been full of wonderful achievements with the addition to our family of two precious children and five gorgeous grandchildren. Talents which as a youngster I didn’t realise the value of, have been polished and used. I’ve watched with pride as my children grew up into responsible, successful and happy adults. Many people have come in and out of my life and taught me valuable lessons in the process. I’ve learned to be more caring for others’ needs and wants and have also experienced the love and selflessness of my family and friends towards me. It’s only as one grows older and hopefully wiser that one appreciates the benefits of not being young any more. Speaking for myself, I’m so grateful for the lessons learned over the years, and wouldn’t trade my life experience for the youth I had then.

It’s been said that “Life begins at forty,” but I believe that life begins every morning when you wake up, however old you are. You may have a job to go to; embrace it and be the best you can be. You may have children to care for; give this task the best you’ve got. A happy childhood is one of the most precious gifts that parents have in their power to bestow. Maybe you have a talent which needs a little nurturing to bring it to the fore; give yourself the chance to shine and let others have the benefit of it too. If you are already old, then share the wisdom of your years with those younger and less experienced than yourself. Life teaches us lessons for a purpose, and we can often find someone who can benefit from what we have learned. Aging isn’t something to be feared. As Gloria Pitzer, an American TV personality once said, “About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.” We can either plan for it by keeping ourselves healthy and fit and being wise with our financial planning for our old age, or we can just let it creep upon us unawares and give us a big fright when we suddenly realise that it’s too late to do anything about it.

Every day is a gift to us and whether we’re young, middle-aged or downright over the hill, we can always “Seize the day” and run with it. Well maybe not literally run, but you know what I mean. When you’re young, live your life as though there IS a tomorrow, so that when you’re old, you can live as though there’s NO tomorrow.

Jake’s Sunday Post: Attraction

Here I am squeaking in at the last minute for Jake’s Sunday Challenge ‘Attraction’.

I’ve shown you many of the places which have attracted me to travel to different places, The most memorable in my mind, being the amazing sight of Machu Picchu. This 15th century Inca site is to be found in the Cusco region of Peru, and is almost 8,000 feet above sea level.

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Egypt had long been on my bucket list, and one of the attractions I really wanted to see, was The Great Sphinx of Giza, situated on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile River. The head of the Great Sphinx is believed to be that of the Pharaoh Khafra.

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The fallen and badly damaged limestone statue of Ramesses The Great, near Memphis, would have stood over 13 metres high. He was the most powerful Pharaoh of them all, and ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BC.

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The famous Terracotta Army in X’ian, dates back to 210-209 BC. These soldiers and their horses were buried with the Emporer Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, supposedly to protect him in the afterlife.

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Another attraction in China, is the Li River in Guangxi Zhuang. We did a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, and the scenery was truly breathtaking.

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The USA has many attractions, and the most amazing place I’ve ever visited is Yellowstone National Park. Something we had to see, was the Old Faithful cone geyser, which shoots 3,700 to 8,400 US gallons of boiling water to a height of 106 to 185 feet. The average height of an eruption is 145 feet, and occurs roughly every hour and a half.

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Something else I’d always wanted to see was the huge bronze Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.It was inscribed with the words, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” It dates back to 1752 and in its early years, was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens to public meetings and proclamations. It acquired its large crack some time in the early 19th century.

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A well-known attraction in San Francisco, is the iconic trolley bus, or tram. The first ones were pulled by horses, who managed with great difficulty to climb the city’s steep hills, until the electric tram was tested and brought into service in 1873.

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Of course, you can’t go to San Fran without visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, the most popular tourist attraction there.

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I was so excited to see the Statue of Liberty on my first visit to New York. Lady Liberty is located in New York Harbour, and was a gift of international friendship from the people of France, in 1886.

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So many attractions, so little time, but to end off, I just have to include another photo of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This is one of the most photogenic attractions I’ve yet to see.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my pics. To see more attraction, visit Jake’s Sunday Post. He has already posted the next challenge, so why not have a go at it?

A Whiter Shade of Pale for Ailsa’s theme.

After two colour challenges in quick succession, Ailsa’s pale theme is quite refreshing. I was immediately reminded of that 1967  ‘Procul Harum’ song. It was on their debut album, and I remember it very well. I’ve often wondered what the lyrics mean, as I sit playing it on my piano. Maybe it’s better that I don’t know. 🙂 It’s interesting though, that since that song, the phrase “A whiter shade of pale” has been included in several dictionaries, and I’ve used it myself quite often.

Here are some very well known pale faces. I wonder how many of you can name all four? If you’re American, I’m sure you can.

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Here is a very pale Sulphur Bed at Yellowstone National Park, with the steam continually rising from it. The water which erupts from these geysers is extremely hot, about 95 degrees C, and there were warning signs everywhere telling visitors to stay on the boardwalks and designated trails, as there have been several deaths resulting from people falling into the hot springs. I was extra careful 🙂

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This is the Temple complex at Karnak near Luxor in Egypt. The sun was so bright, reflecting off the dozens of statues and the flagstones between them.This is the largest ancient religious site in the world. What an amazing place.

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Another pale photo I have, is this one of Niagara Falls. I think I’d be feeling rather pale myself, if I had to be on that little boat down there.

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These White Lions are the palest of the lion species, and very beautiful. They are not albinos, but a genetic rarity unique to one endemic region on the globe: the Timbavati region in South Africa.

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This pale photo was taken at the Whistler Ski Resort in Canada. We went up there for the day when our daughter was living in Vancouver. It was so very cold. I don’t think skiing would be for me, but there were lots of people thoroughly enjoying themselves.

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This pale photo was taken in Xian, as we were walking through the outdoor restaurant area. It all looked steaming hot, but we couldn’t identify what was on offer, so we didn’t buy our meal here.

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Whilst I was searching for pale photos, I came across this one of hubby and I inside the top of the Statue of Liberty, and thought it would do nicely for the theme. The flash makes us look like two ghosts, and you don’t get paler than that. 🙂

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I hope you enjoyed my pale pics. To see more interpretations of Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

The city that never sleeps.

“And because no matter who you are, if you believe in yourself and your dream, New York will always be the place for you.” ~ Michael Bloomberg, 108th mayor of NYC.

Jake’s theme this week is ‘City’, and I immediately thought of one of the most famous cities in the world. I first visited New York in 1996, and fell in love with it. It certainly did feel like a big apple, just waiting for me to take a bite. There is so much to do and see, and everywhere you look, there are people busily scurrying to and fro about their business, and tourists just like ourselves, map in hand, just standing getting their bearings before the next onslaught on the city’s attractions.
One of the first things we did, was to take the ferry across to Liberty Island, to see the grand old lady who has greeted visitors and kept watch over the city since 1924.
 We just had to go right up inside this iconic symbol. It was so much bigger than I’d ever imagined, and we climbed right up into the crown. I lost count of how many steps it was, but I read that there are 354 steps and 22 storeys. It was quite some climb, and the stairs are so narrow as you pass people on their way down.

We marvelled at the lovely architecture of the New York Stock Exchange. I’d never seen a yellow cab before, except in the movies, and there were so many of them, everywhere.

The famous old buildings down near Wall Street, were a sight to behold.

It was difficult to get far enough away to get a good pic of the Empire State building, without standing the chance of getting run over by a cab.

Central Park, which had only been a name to me, now became a reality, with delightful little surprises around every corner.

The Disney Store was a treasure trove of souvenirs and we spent a good hour in there deciding what to buy.

The Rockefeller Centre was everything I’d ever imagined and more, and the beautiful golden maquette of Prometheus, one of the most famous statues in the world, did not disappoint.

Everything seemed bigger and better in America, especially our limo ride to the airport.

On a subsequent visit in June 2001, we took the ferry across from Hoboken to Lower Manhattan. (Our son had emigrated from South Africa in 2000, and was now working in the city).

We rode the elevator to the top of the World Trade Centre. It was such a beautiful morning as we sat way up there, enjoying our breakfast of hot coffee and bagels loaded with Philly cheese.

The view over ‘The Big Apple’ was truly breathtaking.

As I stood there in the morning sunshine, with not a breath of wind, I couldn’t ever have imagined that in less than three months time, this wonderful structure would be raised to the ground.

In May 2008, we took both our mothers over to see our son and family, and we all went into the city. Here is hubby’s mom who was then only 95-years-old, standing in the middle of Times Square. Both our mom’s had never been to America before, and they had the time of their lives, walking their legs off all around the city, and shopping up a storm in Macy’s. 🙂

Last year in May, we took a cruise out of New York, and got this shot from the ship, looking straight up 42nd Street where most of the theatres are situated.

New York is truly the most amazing city; it’s not beautiful, shiny  and clean; far from it, but it throbs with a vibrancy that is difficult to describe, and has an allure which is hard to resist. You really have to go there and experience it for yourself.