• Upcoming trips



    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

    October 20. Thanks to the invitation of our friend Francia, who is a member, we went to the Diller-Quaile School of Music to listen to a chamber concert given by the Diller-Quaile String Quartet. The program was comprised of Haydn and Debussy quartets; played magnificently by very experienced and talented musicians in an intimate. and perfectly designed, music space. Chatting with the musicians after the concert added to a first class evening.

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Nicaragua – Sunsets and Monkeys

The little town of San Juan del Sur, where Susan and Craig have their vacation villa, is crammed at the front of the flood plain formed by the river ‘San Juan del Sur’ and spills over onto the wide sandy beach.  Its dozen or so short narrow streets are usually jam-packed with anarchic traffic: bicycles, tricycles, trucks, cars of all shapes and sizes, horse-drawn carts and pedestrians running the gauntlet.

The town is embraced by a ring of steep, forested, hills which opens its protective arms at the front to allow the warm Pacific ocean to roll in across the sand. The peak of the right arm holds a Christ figure looking out to sea–second in size only to that of Rio, it is said!

The hills continue along the coast on either side of San Juan and are dotted with stylish vacation developments. Such a one is Susan’s; ‘Villas de Palermo, Hotel and Resort’ is carved out of the steep hillside about a kilometer behind the town. Halfway to the peak, the  tile-roofed villas are built in short rows and raked in such a manner  as not to impede each other’s sweeping  view of the valley. Susan and Craig’s villa is in the top row and commands the best view but has the steepest climb down  the zig-zag road to the pool and restaurant, set below the villa level. They reckoned that my shortness of breath would not allow me to tackle the climb back up, so, most considerately, arranged for one of the resort’s vans to return me to their place or drove me themselves.

The forest surrounding the resort is home to the Howler monkey. One troop, at least can be counted upon to wake you in the early morning! Some people also saw the rarer White-faced monkey but my eyes were not quick enough to get a shot of them.

The area is famous for its spectacular sunsets and many a pleasant hour is spent, glass in hand and  ice a-tinkling, waiting for the subtropical sun to sink below the horizon. Pleasure boats can  even be hired to take you out on the ocean to watch it un-obstructed!

Click on the pictures for detail: 

Morning view from the lower balcony . . . .

Morning view from the lower balcony . . . .

 

 . . . . . from the guest bedroom . . . . .

. . . . . from the guest bedroom . . . . .

 

 . . . . . from the pool and restaurant level . . . . .

. . . . . from the pool and restaurant level . . . . .

 

Not normally a tree-dweller--this gardener hacks off the tops of any tree which dares to obscure the view of the valley!

Not normally a tree-dweller–this gardener hacks off the top of any tree which dares to obscure the view of the valley!

 

Downtown modernisation

Downtown modernization

 

Typical restaurant in town

Typical restaurant in town

 

One of two piglet neighbours Susan fussed over. She tempted them with dog food but they scoffed at it rather than scoffed on it!

One of two piglet neighbours Susan fussed over. She tempted them with dog food but they scoffed at it rather than scoffed on it!

 

Nicaragua is a paradise for fruit-lovers . . .we stuffed ourselves on papaya and sapodillas (Sugar apples). This one is called Pitaya (Dragon fruit). It doesn't have much of a taste but it is used to make a startling purple drink!

Nicaragua is a paradise for fruit-lovers . . .we stuffed ourselves on papaya and sapodillas (Sugar apples). This one is called Pitaya (Dragon fruit). It doesn’t have much of a taste but it is used to make a startling purple drink!

 

Oranges grow here but they are almost as bitter as Seville oranges and are best used as marmalade--which I did, having mistakenly bought a bag.

Oranges grow here but they are almost as bitter as Seville oranges and are best used as marmalade–which I did, having mistakenly bought a bag.

 

Susan and I took a fishing trip. Here is our wake as we made for the fishing grounds . . . . .

Susan and I took a fishing trip. Here is our wake as we made for the fishing grounds . . . . .

 

 . . . . . here is our catch . . . .

. . . . . here is our catch . . . .

 

 . . . . and here is how they looked after the chef of a restaurant on the beach prepared them for us!

. . . . and here is how they looked after the chef of a restaurant on the beach prepared them for us!

 

Fisherlady

Fisherlady

 

Dining on the beach. Unheeding our commands, the tide came in and Susan's chair sunk into the wet sand!

Dining on the beach. Unheeding our commands, the tide came in and Susan’s chair sank into the wet sand!

 

This seems to be the dominant male of the Howler monkey troop which lives in the forest besides Susan's villa . Male Howlers are extravagantly, if somewhat precariously, endowed and, considering that they are given to leaping from branch to branch, one . wonders if some of the howling is due to the occasional misjudgment of distance?

This is the dominant male of the Howler monkey troop which lives in the forest besides Susan’s villa . Male Howlers are extravagantly, if somewhat precariously, endowed and, considering that they are given to leaping from branch to branch, one  wonders if part of the howling might be due to an occasional misjudgment of distance?

However, as the following family pictures show, this male’s equipment is in first-class order:

This toddler is just starting out on his own . . . . .

This toddler is just starting out on his own . . . . .

 

 . . . . . this is an older brother . . . .

. . . . . this is an older brother up to his tricks . . . .

 

 . . . this is one mum with her child . . . .

. . . this is one mum with her child . . . .

 

 . . . this is another mum with a small baby . . .

. . . this is another mum with a small baby . . .

 

 . . here she is on the move and, if you enlarge and look to the lower left, you will see the cute little face of her baby hanging on her back

. . here she is on the move and, if you enlarge the picture and look to the lower left, you will see the cute little face of her baby, hanging on her back!

 

 . . . moving to a better tree!

. . . moving to a better tree!

 

El Coco beach--favourite of Craig and Susan. . . . .

El Coco beach–favourite of Craig and Susan. . . . .

 

 . . . . . .

. . . . . .

 

Susan and I enjoying the warm rolling waves. (Craig's picture)

Susan and I enjoying the warm sparkling waves. (Craig’s picture)

 

 . . shelter from the sun . . .

. . shelter from the sun . . .

 

 . . . . why don't we take a stroll on the sand? . . .

“. . . . why don’t we take a stroll on the sand?” . .  . . .

 

Or, perhaps, take a nap? . . .

Or, perhaps, take a nap? . . .

 

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

 

Bright and sunny colours everywhere . . .

Bright and sunny colours everywhere . . .

 

All mod. cons.

All mod. cons.

 

This is a window placed high up on the outer wall-- it looks like a living picture?

This is a window placed high up on the outer wall– it looks like a living picture?

 

One would think that the sheltered balcony with its wonderful views would be an ideal spot for the watercolorist? But no, the hot air dries the paint as soon as it touches the paper and the unexpected gusts of rainy-season wind lead to unsatisfying painting. I set up this make-shift little studio in the bedroom and produced a few sketches which I intend to refine and, perhaps, post at alater date.

One would think that the sheltered balcony with its wonderful views would be an ideal spot for the watercolorist? But no, the hot air dries the paint as soon as it touches the paper and the unexpected gusts of rainy-season wind lead to unsatisfying painting. I set up this make-shift little studio in the bedroom and produced a few sketches which I intend to refine and, perhaps, post at a later date.

 

Here I am on a lower level (flatish) road on a walk with Susan. She insisted that I wear her hat as a protection against the sun! (Her picture)

Here I am on a lower level (flatish) road on a walk with Susan. She insisted that I wear her hat as a protection against the sun! (Her picture)

 

 . . .and here we are at the pool level . . .

. . .and here we are at the pool level at sunset . . .

 

San Juan del Sur is home to many American ex-pats and many give time and financial help to the local population. Susan's friend, Jane, raises the funds for, and organizes, a library and teaching facility for local children. (the spare space in my suitcase was filled with crayons, pencils and drawing books as part of Susan's contribution to the charity). We arrived in time to join Jane's annual fete. Here are two competitors in an old-fashioned egg and spoon race!

San Juan del Sur is home to many American ex-pats and many of them give time and financial help to the local population. Susan’s friend, Jane, raises the funds for, and organizes, a library and teaching facility for local children. (the spare space in my suitcase was filled with crayons, pencils and drawing books as part of Susan’s contribution to the charity). We arrived in time to join Jane’s annual fete. Here are two competitors in an old-fashioned egg and spoon race!

 

 . . . . . .

. . . . . .

 

The boys played street soccer. . . . .

The boys played street soccer. . . . .

 

 . . . . all, under the watchful eye of the church spire . . . .

. . . . all, under the watchful eye of the church spire . . . .

 

 . . . . teachers enjoying the craft-making part of the festival . . . . .

. . . . teachers enjoying the craft-making part of the festival . . . . .

 

 . . .a sample of their work.

. . .a sample of their work.

 

Gentleman of leisure . . .

Gentleman of leisure  in the library. . .

 

Artwork in the local bookshop . . . .

Artwork in the local bookshop . . . .

 

 . . . . bookshop garden . .

. . . . bookshop garden . .

 

 . . . .a garden occupant (His mother thought he was beautiful!) . . . .

. . . .a garden occupant (His mother thought he was beautiful!) . . . .

 

 . . . . another ("my lips are zipped!" . . . .

. . . . another (“my lips are zipped!” . . . .

 

 . . . garden shelter . . . .

. . . garden shelter . . . .

 

 . . . . Susan taking advantage of it.

. . .  . .  shelteree . . .

 

This is a view of friend Liam's villa--the top balcony from the rear . . .

This is a view of friend Liam’s villa–the top balcony from the rear . . .

 

The following are views from the front of the balcony . . .

The following are views from the front of the balcony . . .

 

 . . . . .

. . . . .

 

Lucky Liam!

Lucky Liam!

 

.. . . .

.. . . .

 

We took one of the sunset sailboat cruises, passing the Christ figure . . .

We took one of the sunset sailboat cruises, passing the Christ figure on our way along the coast to  the captain’s favorite inlet . . .

 

 . . . passing also this fishing spot at the end of the jetty, and . . . .

. . . passing also this fishing spot at the end of the jetty, and . . . .

 

 . . . . this store of fishing markers.

. . . . this store of fishing markers.

 

 

At the inlet, Susan and Craig jumped into the sea for a joyous swim . . . .

At the inlet, Susan and Craig jumped into the sea for a joyous swim . . . .

 

Craig and . . . . .

on the way back, Craig and . . . . .

 

 . . .the mate took in the sinking sun . . .

. . .the mate took in the sinking sun . . .

 

 . . .while I watched the ship's dog watching the snacks.

. . .while I watched the ship’s dog watching the snacks.

 

We were rewarded with one of the, if not, the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen!

We were rewarded with one of the, if not, the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen!

 

Our final trip of the vacation was via a ferry ride to the volcanic island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. We dared not tackle the climb to the top of the volcano--a six-kilometer hike but we did have a nice lunch and several Vitoria Frost beers, viewed some petroglyphs and some exotic plants. During our walk around the lake in the park, we encountered several troops of monkeys but, this was where I missed the White-faced variety which need sharper eyes than mine.

Our final trip of the vacation was via a ferry ride to the volcanic island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. We dared not tackle the climb to the top of the volcano–a six-kilometer hike but we did have a nice lunch and several Vitoria Frost beers, viewed some petroglyphs and some exotic plants. During our walk around the lake in the park, we encountered several troops of monkeys but, this was where I missed the White-faced variety which sharper eyes than mine saw.

 

Forlorn and dejected! Oh! Romeo, wherefore art thou? . . . .

Forlorn and dejected! Oh! Romeo, wherefore art thou? . . . .

 

 . . . but hark! Is that a gentle howl I hear in yonder tree?

. . . but hark! Is that a gentle howl I hear in yonder tree?

 

THE END

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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