Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Comes Slowly to NYC

Take a seat in Union Square (click on photos to enlarge)
Spring is tiptoeing in late to New York City this year. Unusually cool weather lingers and has kept the joys of April at bay, but slowly the trees and flowers of the city are coming to life. Because it is late and we are anticipating it, spring in New York seems more beautiful than I remember it being in the past. Its absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Up on the High Line, white flowering shrubs crowd an urban walkway. 

At the Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Union Square, trays of plants are coming out for city gardeners.

A metal bucket of tulips was suspended in the air 

and there is a profusion of bouquets to select from.

At Abingdon Square in Greenwich Village, a magnolia tree framed a renowned Bing & Bing apartment building

and pale petals fell to the ground around bright red tulips.

At Bryant Park in midtown, the tall trees are budding

and the tulip beds are bursting 

but no sitting on the green lawn yet because it has just been re-seeded.

On Saturday I went to the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene which has recently moved back to its outdoor spot at the Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. A visitor leaving the Flea rode his bicycle down Lafayette Avenue -

Sunday was a warm and clear day in Central Park. My favorite place to be is around the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir where pink trees are now blooming in profusion. I believe these are Kwanzan cherry trees from Japan.

Families had picnics under the branches. Very Sunday in the Park with George.

The majestic towers of the San Remo apartment building on the west side rose above the soft green and pink colors of springtime Central Park.

I love that combination of urban architecture plus spring blooms – art plus nature, it is the city at its best.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Scottish Country House

The Scottish Country House front cover

Recently on the bookstore shelf, this tome caught my eye. The Scottish Country House celebrates the great homes of Scotland which have been lived in by the families that built them or those who have owned them for generations. I have never been to Scotland though I have been to Ireland, where my great grandparents hailed from, and to England. Scotland would be a fun trip some day.

While looking at the book I was reminded that on the last episode this year of Downton Abbey, the Grantham family took a trip to Scotland where they visited Lord Grantham's cousin Shrimpie Flintshire. The scenes in Scotland were filmed at Inveraray Castle on Loch (that means "lake" but you knew that) Fyne in Argyll.

We all know how that trip ended... Every time someone has a baby at Downton Abbey, a major character dies.
The Scottish Country House, which is written by James Knox and photographed by James Fennell, visits ten grand houses and castles for an up close look at how the Scottish landed gentry lives. I was struck throughout by the use of color in rooms. Some rooms had creamy colored walls and bright sofas and chairs in raspberry or sapphire of daffodil. Other rooms had neutral colored furniture but boldly painted walls like this mint green sitting room.
This rod room features fishing poles, walking sticks with horn handles, and emerald green wallpaper. And really, every house needs a rod room!
I like how the art work was hung in this simple Victorian bathroom which reminds me a little of the upstairs one at 611.
Picture hanging is taken to the extreme in the hall of the eighteenth century house Arniston where the ancestors watch the stairs.
For a picturesque trip to Scotland, pick up a copy of this volume. You'll enjoy the architecture and furnishings and rolling Scottish views. And you won't suffer like the Granthams.