Category Archives: walks

Brooklyn Bridge Bites

Last September (2015), dungeekin and I headed to Brooklyn from Manhattan (walking as the weather was fine) and what emerged was a whole different view of this iconic bridge. So many messages …

Spring has Sprung in Banbury!

According to Tennyson, ‘In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love’ – and that’s as may be but come Spring, this girl’s fancy turns to long walks, farmer’s markets, the garden and cheese.  At TransAtlantic Towers, we can tell that Spring has sprung because we have been replanting beds in the garden. Behold!

newbed_sideview

Between that, the fruit trees – we now have five! – and the “herb potting” marathon we have planned for next weekend, I feel very seasonal. Spring planting in NYC was more a case of sweeping the balcony off, cleaning the chairs and moving the jade plants back outside. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it was a lovely spot, as you can see below, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

balcony

I do miss having jade plants but we just do not have the right window for them here for wintering.

Another thing I miss about NYC in Spring – the ‘long walks’ season along the river. And when I say long, I mean long. It was not unknown for me to go from 72nd & 1st over to 110 & West End then turn down along the River to the Village all in one go. Still, plenty of walks around here – more rural than urban, of course but no complaints there.  I have a lovely canal to walk along here in Banbury.

banbury_canal

In theory, I could follow the canal and walk from here in Banbury to Oxford though I think that’s a bit far even for me. I’ll break it into sections, thanks very much and tackle it that way. Luckily, walking is a bit thing around here and the local council even produces a set of scenic walk brochure/maps for some of the more popular ones. So does the Walking in Oxfordshire website. All downloadable and free!

Spring is also when I once more became a frequenter of those staples of the Manhattan street scene – I love  the ‘one of a kind’ or ‘not often seen’ items you get at the outdoor markets. One of my favorite regular days out when in NYC is the Union Square market – the best place to get apples in all of Manhattan – or (if I can’t be bothered to go that far) the St. Stephen’s Market up on 82nd.

Union-Square-Fall

Luckily, Banbury comes up trumps for me there as well.  The canal walk will wait until we’ve had a few more days of good weather so the footpath can dry out a bit more but the weekly markets are only a short, dry stroll away.

Banbury has two markets – the Banbury charter market on Thursdays and Saturdays then the farmer’s market on the first Friday of every month. Both markets take place in – wait for it – the Market Place. There’s also an additional antiques market that runs along side the charter market on the 2nd Thursday of each month.  I’d also seen news that an artisan cheesemonger would have a stall for the first time. I love living in a place where the word cheese monger in in common usage. And so as this past Thursday was a 2nd Thursday and the weather was fine, I figured it was worth a wander in.

And I was right! I mean look at that fruit and veg!

market2a

    market3a

market4a

I also scored the most amazing pair of cheeses from Curds & Whey, the cheesemongers. Well, they were amazing and so are these cheese: a black truffle cheese and an extremely mature gouda. That black truffle cheese is going to be made into an extra special risotto tonight.

cheeses

Rather than rush immediately home with my score, I also decided to check out the antiques market and see what the percentage of antique to junktique they had. And by saying so – I am in NO WAY dismissing junktique items as worthy. Some of my favorite things are such things. “Junktique’ – by my definition – is that which is old, vintage-y and/or perhaps something someone else would have just tossed. Not garbage by any means – just not ACTUALLY antiques. And I have to say, I saw quite a lot of things I might have picked up if I wasn’t walking home with two ENORMOUS wedges of cheese and a tiger bread baguette (and let me give a two thumbs up to Isla Jane Bakery for that AMAZING bread) .

junktique1

junktiqueA

There will more on the delights of Spring in Banbury to come but that will have to wait – for I have some cheese to indulge in.

Quick Walk in Crisp Weather

The weather was beautiful. The camera battery was charged. I went for a walk. In no particular order, these are some places I went.

Southeast Corner Entrance to Central Park – where the Strand bookstalls are. I browsed, of course, as I always do but I didn’t find anything I wanted badly enough to carry around for long. Every few months, the art installation here changes. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I just don’t know. This is one of those months where I just don’t know.

art

Typical high 60s on the Upper East Side. It was leafy and green and remarkably quite considering the time of morning – when deliveries of all kinds are generally being made.

67th

There’s something very amusing about parts of the skyline in NYC where sharp edged boxiness sits next to (and often on top of) swirls, dips and detailing. Oh the Plaza. It’s not what it once was. Not on the inside anyway.

plaza

Park Avenue – facing down from about 67th or so. I wanted to take the shot a few blocks up looking down from Lenox Hill (the hill, not the hospital) but traffic was being diverted (something diplomatic and UN related doubtless) and they didn’t want a person with a camera standing in the middle of a major thoroughfare. Gee.

park

Heading down the park side of 5th Avenue – always my preferred side since there are fewer streets to impede forward progress and more shade. And – well, sidewalk shopping. I love sidewalk shopping.

5th

Again, that amusing modern/not so much clash – only this one happens to be additionally funny because the “faux castle” thing is so poorly executed. Oh Hunter College. Why?

hunter

Free and Frugal Fun in Gotham

I don’t know about the rest of you but things here at Greater Gotham are a touch tight these days. Oh, I’m not on the verge of setting up shop on the sidewalk. But there is a slightly more pronounced sinking feeling while reading the news and the wallet is considerably lighter. Still, one can’t be doom and gloom all the time. One must look at the bright side or find a silver lining or something. If for no other reason than all that scowling at bank statements is causing frown lines to appear.

So to cheer myself up on a budget, I went off to find the best stuff to do in New York for the least amount of money. And you know what? As expensive as this burg is – and no mistake, it IS – there’s a TON of stuff to do for nothing or next to nothing. Here’s some places you can go and choose the ones that will turn YOUR frown upside down. You’ll even have enough dosh left over to buy yourself a snack!

  • the skint: a daily listing of free and cheap things to buy, see, do and eat in new york.
  • I found out about the skint from NewYorkology, one of my favorite NY sites and which has a great Cheap NYC section of its own.
  • Of course, New York magazine has their cheap guide to nyc: not sure how many people define the pieces at the Affordable Art Fair affordable but the budget decorating guide IS chock full of good info for cheap decorating items and sources. For some reason, they seem to have two cheap guides. One must be a previous version – but hey, if the places are still going – they may be worth checking out so I provide both links – here’s the other
  • FreeNYC is what it says on the tin.
  • So is, Club Free Time where you can find free and cheap ways to let “New York City surprise, stimulate, entertain and excite you.”
  • New York City for Free: Favorite Freebies from travel powerhouse Fodor’s.
  • Another travel site, Budget Travel has featured NYC in the Cities on Sale as recently as May 2009.
  • Not everything on the Craigslist’s Calendar is free but a goodly portion of events listed here are so it’s worth a look. Especially for last minute “I’ve got to get out of the apartment!” attacks.
  • Another regular site to check is Time Out New York’s Free Today Feature. Changes all the time and you never know what will show up there.

And now if you will excuse me, I’m off to indulge in the greatest of free New York entertainments – a walk. Got to go now and take advantage of the fact that today is slightly cooler than the last few days. Who knows when the heat will come roaring back. Have fun, all!

Walking the Walk in Times Square

So how do you all feel about the “Times Square As Pedestrian Mall” issue? Personally, I am all for pedestrian malls but Times Square isn’t exactly someplace I’d necessarily seek out to wander around in – even now., And it’s not about safety. I’ve always felt perfectly safe there. It’s more about the fact that there’s nothing there I was to do or see unless I’m going to see a particular show. It’s a bit like Leicester Square in London but without the actual SQUARE shape, benches or green. Maybe that would come with a more permanent pedestrianized Times Square.

At the moment, all I can think off when I get there or see pictures of the newly closed off areas is, “Damn, blacktop gets hot when the sun bakes it.” Not really the same as going for a stroll or a sit in Central Park.

I know the taxi drivers and other motorists are upset but I think they are also being a tad over dramatic about what this all means. It’s not the end of the world and won’t result in NYC folding up and going home. Major cities all over the world have pedestrianised areas – and some of the older ones have whole city centers off limits to cars (medieval streets just weren’t built for truck traffic). It means change – yes. But change happens. Pedestrians, drivers and bike riders will all have to suck it up and act like adults. Besides, walking a couple of blocks won’t hurt you.

Warming Up For Walks

The Central Park Walking Tours aren’t just a stroll in the park anymore. They are now a combination of podcasts, maps and interactive guides. I’m going to try this next week and will report back!

Speaking of walking, anyone going on The Great Saunter this year?

By pedal vs. bipedal

I was out on the streets along with many of my fellow New Yorkers on Saturday. And like many of my fellow New Yorkers, I was in near constant peril of being run over by cyclists.

bikes_nyc.JPGHey! Cyclists! I’m all for cycling but we’re walking here! Do you all NEED the whole of Park Avenue to shoot down? Can you not leave one lane for those of us on foot? I know exactly the feeling of “pedestrian anxiety described at Walking Off the Big Apple.” I shared the anxiety all day. But I also know – as was mentioned on Streetsblog – I know that the majority of the bikers were not the ones weaving in and out of foot traffic and waiting until they were breathing down the necks of pedestrians. The majority were out and about, enjoying the day WITH the rest of us. But the few bad apples were seemed determine to own the road could use a few lessons in manners and consideration.

There were quite a few spots where the “bikers to the left/ walkers and bladers to the right” actually was posted and – I use the term loosely, enforced. But there just as many places – more in fact, where such a division was no where to be seen, announced or followed. I gather it was better the second week than the first. I hope the improvement continues because I love the idea of shutting the streets down in general and want it to continue to be a success so it becomes a regular thing.

One positive development in the battle between bicycles and bipeds – another good sized chunk of Riverside Park South is now open. Thank goodness! That stretch remained apparently completed and closed for so long, I thought they might just have put it there to taunt the walkers.

“Look,” it seemed designed to say. “Look at where you might walk free from the danger of being run into a chain link fence or knocked over by an angry biker. If only we would open this place of calm and safety.”  And listen, bike folks – I get it. It’s the bike path. I see the little illustration of the man on the bike. But come on – we all gonna have to share and play nice while improvements are being made. It’s not my fault as a walker that they parks department took so long. And they have gotten it open now so can’t we all just get along? All will be peaceful now though since we walkers can now move at our own pace in our own space (until we reach the end right near the Sanitation building and then we have to squeeze in with bikers again.

And slow though the parks department may have been to open this section, they are oodles faster than the MTA at anything. At least with the Waterfront work, you can see where the money has gone and how well it’s been spent. Oh well – nothing is perfect. But having another piece of beautiful waterside promenade done, make the imperfections a lot easier to bear.

Summer Streets is Fast Approaching

It’s almost here! It’s almost here! Summer Streets Saturday is almost here!

bridge1.jpgI couldn’t care less about the activities planned along the route – speaking of the route, here it is – though it’s nice to see so many different kinds of dance being demonstrated and the New York tour at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge seems cool. That would be my activity of choice if I had to pick one. Happily I don’t and I can stick to my original plan of just strolling down Manhattan into Brooklyn and having a nice, long leisurely lunch. So ixnay on the activties.

But I do like the tips provided. It’s entirely likely that I would have forgotten my camera if I hadn’t just seen in on the list. I tend to forget my camera alot these days despite the fact that I am surrounded by things worthy of photographing.

The etiquette list they’ve compiled ought to be required reading. “Pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way, so yield to them.” I’m looking at YOU bike riders. Read it. Learn it. Love it. Did you notice the word ‘always’? If you peddling maniacs can handle that, I can handle the etiquette advice for walkers – “Be aware of cyclists and don’t dart out suddenly in the path of a cyclist.” Deal?

So, start stretching now, clean off your sturdiest walking shoes and get ready to hit the streets!

Walking the Walk: Summer 2008

One of the most exciting things happening in Manhattan this summer is the creation of more pedestrian promenades. Some are temporary and some are permanent but all are a welcome addition, as far as I am concerned.

bridge1.jpgSome seriously major streets are going all foot traffic for a period of time – albeit temporarily – this summer. Yup, the city is closing off to traffic a 6.9-mile route from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays in August. Bliss! And more than that, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a long and honored tradition here in the city!

And – more long-term joy for those of us who consider walking the city one of the great joys in life – starting on August 15th, Broadway between 42nd to 35th Streets will be opened as a bike path and pedestrian plaza featuring chairs, tables, benches, umbrellas and planters. The bike lane and plaza areas will be set off from the street and each other by a coat of small-grained gravel mixed with epoxy onto the pedestrian areas. Is it a perfect plan? No. Only a crazy person would put the plaza areas between the cars and the bikes (shall we start calculating now how many bike/pedestrian collisions will occur as people try to get from the sidewalk to the plaza?). And honestly, how relaxing can it be to sit under an umbrella (assuming it hasn’t been stolen or vandalized within days) within a foot or two of some of the worst traffic in the city? Not very. But the idea is a good one. A solid one and should be encouraged as something to spawn other similar areas.

And please – don’t whinge about the traffic. Cars are NOT king in New York and I can’t believe the number of people who have been carrying on like this is the end of the world. Hey, we all know driving in the city is a hassle and guess what? This isn’t going to make it any better. Have you considered the train?

NYC Summer Fun: Summer Stories

it’s been a busy time in Gotham but I admit that the Summer stories grabbing a goodly portion of the headlines – waterfalls, budgets, and baseball – are not what have caught my attention.

Oh I admit that the waterfalls as an idea intrigued when they were first proposed. I looked forward to them – and they still, as an idea, have been the thing that caught my attention – but in reality, during the day, the falls aren’t exactly all that and a bag of chips. At night they are lovely, exciting and ethereal at the same time. Night does that. Daytime is different. It’s like – well, have you ever eaten at the Water Club? It’s that kind of difference. At the Water Club, the view at night out the windows is magnificent. Lights move slowly past, their reflections sparkling and dancing on the waters as it parts, ebbs and flows. “Another glass of wine? Of course – isn’t the night magical? Let’s order coffee as well. I can’t bear for the night to end.” During the day? It’s more like, “Gosh, look at the traffic on the FDR. Getting home is gonna be a bitch? Is that a garbage barge?

See? Time of day is the key here – and the key to enjoying the waterfalls. As for the others – there’s almost no reason for me to pay attention to the fact that a budget deal was brokered. Not that the budget isn’t important. It is. But there is always a budget being considered or passed or amended or being shot to hell. And baseball? Listen, no offense but baseball is a subject on which I am ‘meh’ at the best of times. Yes, I get it, I get it – local baseball teams slugging it out is special this time. Both teams are playing their last seasons in their respective stadiums. ‘Fans on the street’ are celebrating their teams and their team history and while ‘The Powers That Be’ don’t mind as such, they don’t seem to care either – as they don’t have to waste time doing the same. They are too busy pricing the average joe out and ignoring him in favor of big ticket corporates. Go team!

But the Summer stories I am excited about are

  • Summer Streets No-Car Zones coming in August and which, according the New York Times, “. . . will run north-south along Centre Street, Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue and Park Avenue to 72nd Street. The southern half of 72nd Street from Park Avenue to Fifth Avenue will also be shut to vehicles, to link to Central Park. ” I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. I am a walker by habit as well as necessity and the longer the walk, the better as far as I am concerned. The comments on the Times article were overwhelmingly positive (oh there are always gripers) but some made excellent points about keeping the street vendors from taking over. This is not – after all – intended to be a street fair. Oh and to whoever it was that thought Manhattan was flat? Dude. There’s a reason Lenox Hill is called Lenox Hill. Flat? Not hardly.
  • Summer Restaurant Week starts July 21 and runs through August 1 (not valid on weekends). With a choice of 235 eateries and both lunch and dinner offerings to choose from, two weeks may not seem like nearly long enough. But it’s all you have so start planning now. There is a city of three-course, prix-fixe meals – lunch for $24.07 and dinner for $35 – awaiting you! (Oh and that reminds me – you know how I mentioned the Water Club earlier? Well, they have a $24.00 pre-fixe lunch and offer a $39.50 pre-fixe dinner every evening 5:00 pm till closing all year long so if you miss SRW this time around, you can still go and have a fabulous and very special meal for a great price.. On a clear, bright day even the tug boats shine.
  • Shakespeare in the Park – well, Hair anyway. OK- Hamlet was vile. But I admit to loathing the play as a rule anyway so I have only myself to blame for that lost chunk of my life. Never mind that. The rest of the day was fab. Beautiful weather, congenial neighbors in line (note to self – buy folding chair) and a drink lakeside afterwards. Who cares what happens to the Dopey Dane? Let him go back to Wittenburg if he’s such a pill! Bring on Hair! Lots of folks must be saying the same ’cause they’ve extended to run before the show even opened.

With so much going on this summer – this as well as the other stuff I’ve been covering in my NYC Summer Fun Series – it’s a wonder I have time to do any real work at all. And yet, real work beckons so I leave you all to your planning for now. Back soon with my promised Westchester report