2017 UK Boxing Day

Boxing Day 2017

After a nice Christmas day, Dora and I went to see the sales in Middlesbrough.

We then headed to Redcar to have some sea air..... Brrrr very chilly.

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Skyline Cathederal and bye bye

Skyline

After a very busy previous day, we needed something a little more gentle. So we headed over to what is called The Skyline, built along an abandoned subway track, it is an urban garden, that moves through Chelsea, what appears to be a rapidly developing suburb of NYC.

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They have left the train tracks, in the midst of the concrete in places, and there are a few station platforms now grassed over. It is an excellent place to visit.

Around the footpath are some very varied architectural projects.

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Rockefeller

We now headed over to the Rockefeller centre, seeing the Filipino Embassy (nice place on 5th Street - closed of course as it was a public holiday in Manila !), bloody civil servants !!

Then we went to look inside the Cathedral which is opposite, as it was All Souls Day, there was an organ recital going on, and the place was quite busy.

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Time Square

We then walked towards Time Square, past the new stations, NBC, Fox, NASDAQ etc They were setting up for some outside broadcasts as it was the final of the very exciting World Series of baseball (Houston won in case you missed it).

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Juliet got those final last minute presents.... and more last second, ms etc

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Liberty Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge

Statue of liberty

I think no trip to NY would be complete without going to see one of its most famous icons, the Statue of Liberty.

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Go Early

We were on the Subway a 0830, having collected a sandwich for our mid-morning breakfast on the go. Arriving at Battery Park around 0910. There was a slight queue for tickets. When I got to the window, we were surprised to be offered a ticket up to the podium (we had tried to book tickets on-line the night before with no success).

Security and more Security

As the Statue is such a symbol it seems reasonable that a degree of security is applied; This was fairly normal air-line security. With the exception the "trained professionals" and I do use this term ever so lightly, have no clue what they are doing !! When you see a bag on the scanner with something suspicious, do not shake the bag and re-scan it, in fact they did this 3 times before 4 of them looking at the screen thought it was ok. Take it out of the queue and physically examine it !!

Board the Ferry

We like 99% of the people went up-stairs, and sat down. Pointless... as hundreds of other people stand by the rails, meaning you can not see.

Museum

There is a good Museum in the base of the statue, however - yes - security. This time the same as before (without the shaking), and you have all rucksacks taken off you by the Park Service (nice easy to use system - top marks).

The Museum is very interesting, and explains just how the Statue was built and how it is repaired (shock news... it is wearing out in places).

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Real size face, build in the 1990's prior to restoration work.

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Podium

I thought we were getting to the base of the statue but the outside. So I started up the stairs, after 2 flights of stairs Dora was questioning my route finding, as she just saw a sign saying there were another 176 stairs ahead. Anyway we plodded up the stairs in quite good fashion, puffing quite a bit by the time we reached the exit point.

What a smashing view !!

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We were able to walk all around, and yet again look over the straights that had been totally new to us 3 weeks previously, but which we had seen countless times since.

Ellis Island

This is where all immigrants to the US used to be "processed" on arrival - it is a massive set of buildings, and has many historical displays. The only slight issue here is neither Juliet or myself has any connection to the US, so looking up where/when your ancestors arrived - meant nothing to us.

Wall Street

When the ferry docks, it is a short walk to Wall Street where you will find the famous Bull statue. You will not be able to see it, due to the 000's of tourists who are standing around it. But it is there.

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Brooklyn Bridge

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We plodded along Wall Street, and made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge. There is a join cycle path and pedestrian path there (sadly on the same day, there was an attack on the same type of facility just north of Battery Park - killing 8 people).

The bridge was packed with people, amazingly so; People who just stop, without checking is there is anyone fallowing them. I started pretending to be a local - grumbling loudly at people's inconsiderate nature.

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The walk in the sun was wonderful, yet cold. The wind howling over the narrows.

Halloween

I never remember this as being an important day when I grew up in the UK, but in the US this is a really major festival.

New York has one of the biggest Halloween carnivals, and we had already planned on seeing it. But we needed some food first. Just by our hotel was sort of a street food market.

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With 1 major Avenue (6th) closed for about 20 blocks, just getting there was a little more difficult. But on arriving in the vicinity of the carnival, the sheer number of people meant that Dora was unable to see (due to her lack of height).

We move locations, and did eventually manage to get quite close to the parades. The costumes, bands, floats, dancers and music was excellent.

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The police presence was very heavy, ensuring everyone was safe (especially after the earlier attack).

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Gallery

For the day photos.

For the Halloween photos.

NY day2

NYC day 2

With the weather forecast being 100% accurate, we had a slow start to the day to let the rain pass. With a general plan agreed, we set off to navigate the Subway here in New York.

Why are we not there yet ?

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There is a subway entrance literally in-front on the hotel, so we bought 2 tickets and popped $10 onto each one. I must say it was very easy and stress free.

Entering the Subway is not too high tech, as you need to swipe your card - most places like UK and Malaysia have smart card sensors - this took several attempts to understand.

Down to the platform, and after 5 mins a train appeared heading Uptown. The first three planned stops were as I expected, then we seemed to be on super-drive. We missed the next 5 stops !! We got off nearly in Harlem, and swapped platforms only to realize there is an express platform, and a local. Duh !!! Now back on the local platform, we stopped off at 86th street.

Central Park

We exited the Subway and went into the park. The first thing that struck us was how cold it was. We had packed out rain gear, and we were now wearing them. Dora alas did not have her wolly hat on, so she was a little cold.

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The park was really blustery, very autumnal. Lots of people walking their dogs. In the middle you could almost forget you were in a big city.

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We exited near the Met art gallery, and strolled up to the Guggenheim - alas neither of us are art buffs - so we headed south.

Grand Central Station

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We entered a very impressive building - one of those buildings we have seen on many time in the movies. In real life it was much more beautiful than you expect. Looking like a combination of a Victorian train Station, and a Museum.

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We spent a few minutes wondering around before disappearing in search of food.

Where is King Kong ?

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After lunch, we had a bisque walk towards the Rockefeller Centre, only to find ourselves outside the Empire State Building. We were in the lobby yesterday when it was a miserable day - raining and very windy. Now it was bright - with blue skies, plus there was no queue. We entered, and after some queueing and "security" we were levitated to the 80th floor.

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We rose another 6 floors to the observation deck.

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Wow !! Breath taking in terms of cold, wind and view.

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We did rise the next 20 floors to floor 102 - but it is frankly disappointing, and in our opinion.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Statten Island Ferry

Nearly finished shopping

Despite a very successful day yesterday, Dora did feel as though a few things had escaped her, I was able to find another outlet-mall this time near Newark airport.

Despite it being a little smaller than the previous mall, we noted it was owned by the same company, and there were not the 1000's of Chinese tourists that we had seen in Woodbury. In fact most people here seemed to be from the US.

With a quota put onto two shops, Nike and Kate Spade (sounds like a gardening shop but apparently it is a NY hand bag shop. You live and learn....) Dora got on with the shopping business, and we all had a good time.

With the shopping sorted, and quite a decent lunch. We headed over the very impressive bridges that surround the New Jersey area to Staten Island.

Stopping at the way at another ham radio type shop, as a ham friend of mine needed a few "bits".

Staten Island

After crossing a mighty bridge, we soon entered quite a sedate and relaxed set of towns, all intermixed. We made our way to the Ferry terminal, where a short detour for a cash resupply was needed. We have noticed that we seem to like using cash whereas everyone else is using a card.

With cash in pocket (humming the song), we paid a small $2 parking fee, and left the car for 2 hours. Within 5 minutes we were at the ferry terminal.

So for a Saturday afternoon - it was really busy.

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But - if you removed all the people with large cameras it would have been very quiet indeed.

The doors opened and it was like the last day of school, everyone trying to get out of the building.

Ferry

Compared to the White Ferries in Hong Kong, this was Jumbo/Mega/Super or whatever accolade McDonald currently places in it's ads - Simple seating, 90% inside, but all the tourists were outside (and some locals as it was a lovely day).

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We had previously seen the same picture at 04:45 standing in the cold on deck 12 of the QM2, it seemed a little strange to be on a small ferry.

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As we passed where we had docked, there was another Cruise ship docked - we turned our noses up at it, as it was not a Cunard liner - I mean standards must be maintained. Most of the other passengers were taking photos of the cruise ship - which was obviously what would would have normally have done.

Rerun

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On the first crossing we were facing the non statue of liberty side. This was the quiet and peaceful side.

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As we docked in Manhattan, we disembarked, turned 180 degrees and almost immediately boarded the same ferry again - this time on the statue of liberty side.

Boats and things

There was lots to see - small yachts who had heaved too, a nice schooner with guests going for a tour. The 000's of tourists who were on Ellis Island, and in the background the majestic grandeur of New York's skyline.

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Shopping Day

Shopping Day

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We had always planned a day at a shopping park, and as we were on a circular tour back towards New York, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets seemed the logical place to go.

The day previously we got ourselves within 60 miles of the place, which is up-state New York. This meant a simple easy drive.

It was a lovely day as we pulled into a massive car-park. We picked a parking line, opposite "The Disney Store" (easy to remember) and then boldly went forth.

Keeping up with Dora

Dora, it seems had been studying the map of where to go, for some time. She obviously had a little agenda.

The first two shops went smoothly, and as we progressed through the 'blue' section of the shopping park - we now entered the 'red' section.

Shopping is not my favourite of experiences, and after 90 minutes the smile on my face was starting to pain probably us both. So I found a chair in the sun, sat down - oh look a badly secured wifi, and amused myself.

Watch time

After about an hour, I went to a little walk to the Breitling shop, which I did not expect to find. They are not my type of watch, as they are a little too glitzy, but their sea-dweller range looked interesting. The salesmen troy told me this and that - the cost $5,200 !!

As I met up with Juliet, I went to check the price of the same watch on-line. You can buy it new - 6 year warranty for $3,250. Shame on you troy, for trying to trick me.

However I think that is the issue in these types of places - yes there are some deals - end of line t-shirts etc, but high value items Watches, Burberry, Bose are not the bargain you think.

Overall experience

Dora had a great time. She had 6 hours 30 mins of shopping, and whilst you may shudder at the thought of what she may have bought - she was quite responsible.

Would I travel from New York City to this place ? There are lots of tours available for sure - me personally, Dora .... she has booked her place already.

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Battleship Creek

With the gloomy weather continuing, we looked for something that would be a little more "indoors" - and whilst we have not yet started looking for art galleries, or stately homes. A collection of WW2 and 1 Cold-War ships and submarines could not be passed up.

Dora modelling a small landing craft, similar to the one JB and I have dived on in Subic.

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Finding the place was surprisingly easy and close - the weather was miserable, and we did wonder if it would be open at all. To our surprise it was.

Dora at play ... chocks away !

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MTB

With Motor Torpedo Boats being used a lot around the Philippines, we have a good look at this to start with.

Impressive torpedoes

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Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (DD-850)

For some strange reason we gravitated to the ships bell - a little disappointing (no name) just a rather dull "U.S." - however 1" socket looks like it would work in case I ever come across one.

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Looking aft, with Dora the pirate taking in the rain.

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Battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59)

After the rather tight spaces of the Destroyer, this felt as though we were back on the Queen Mary 2. Ok I think some of the rooms have been cleared of extra equipment (like galley's etc) but the headroom, and space inside this ship is quite amazing. Until you realize you are sharing this with another 2,000 enlisted men.

We walked forwards, looking at the various displays until it was time to descend into the ship. The citadel is 5.5" of armour plate, and even at rest and in peace-time you did feel locked in to your fate once you descended the lower decks.

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It seems hard to belive that you would ever sleep well here.

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The main turrets with their complex power and shell loading processes dominated everywhere. Just how this orchestra of destruction got sorted out would be an amazing site to behold.

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Oh - Radios ....

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As we returned to the decks - the weather had improved a little - so we took to the bow - where Kate Winslet aka Dora practised her Titanic poses.

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Submarine USS Lionfish (SS-298)

From the luxury of a battleship, to the confines of a submarine. Although a US WW2 submarine was much more generous in headroom than the old UK 'O' type submarines I used to go onto.

Still, the confines and the lack of space - heat, smells and threat of death must have made being in the 'silent service' source of much pride.

They also had radio's on board....

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Even Dora was slightly struggling to get through the hatches

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The Torp tubes

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DDR Corvett Rudolf Egelhofer

A much younger (1984) ship, built in the former Soviet Union; Wow - inside it looked more primitive than the US WW2 Battleship laid down in 1938 !!

Around the bridge the doors are fibreglass !, which made me wonder if this was effectively a "stealth ship".

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This class of ship, sunk an Israeli Destroyer - an outcome on paper that was unexpected. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the US government managed to obtain this ship - where they no doubt conducted lots of trials trying to understand how this surprise outcome had occurred.

ARRL

The American Radio Relay League is the US version of the RSGB (Radio Society of the Great Britain). We were passing close to their H.Q. so it seemed rude not to pop in and say 'Hi'.

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Tour

We got the royal treatment.... Nice tour with Tom KE1R. I got to see their Emergency Operation set-up kits (recently deployed to Puerto Rico), an amazing collection of old radio's - including some spark-gap transmitters, The incredibly well equipped and rf protected testing lab which features so well in QST magazine.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Boston

Boston

What a major disappointment this place was.

I am sure there are lots of good things to see and do here - but frankly we did not find any of them.

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The weather - non-stop heavy rain, which is a pleasant change for us - but made moving around more difficult.

Traffic

We were in a nose-to-tail traffic jam for over 1 hour, on the freeway, bridges, small-roads, 1-way system no mater where we went - traffic jam.

We did manage to go to Fenway park, but in the pouring rain - it did not make much of an impression.

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Plymouth

Being in "New England" for someone who used to live in the UK, is very confusing - Dartmouth and Plymouth back in the UK are close together (as they are in MA) but in the US you then get towns like Swansea, Essex, Manchester all thrown in. We have been playing a car game - is that an English Town ... about 15% I think.

Anyway - Plymouth MA, was just Like Plymouth, Devon (where I used to live and work) - wet, cold and miserable.

We went looking for a Plymouth (Uk) Institution called Captain Jaspers (sorry only funny if you have ever been to Plymouth, and the closest we could get too was the Lobster Pot. Excellent lunch, and just when we were about to go out and have a walk - it started raining even heavier.

Feeling rather detected and defeated we packed up - and hit the road. Hoping that the State of Rhode Island - would be drier; Unlikely as it was only 80 minutes away.