A November stroll along New York’s High Line had me falling big time for the elevated parkway that straddles the lower West Side of Manhattan. Despite dull, mizzy weather the walk lifted my spirits with a blaze of autumn colour and foliage. The leafy colour was a complete contrast to the surroundings of gleaming office blocks, swish apartments and old brick-built warehouses. The High Line promenades through New York City and ribbons its way between dilapidated warehouses and striking new developments with imaginative planting, reflective spaces and intriguing art installations en-route.
The High Line in the Rain
Art Deco Railings on the High Line
History of the High Line
Nowadays it’s an urban oasis but New York’s High Line started life in 1934 as a dark, steel structure nearly 30ft above street level. It supported a rail line that transported freight cars and their cargo of produce directly into warehouses and factories and became known as the ‘life line of New York’. A train carrying frozen turkeys made the final delivery in 1980 and then the High Line closed. Part of the structure was torn down and the remainder of the abandoned relic quietly evolved into a natural overgrown landscape until 1999 when it was threatened with complete demolition. At this point neighbourhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond stepped in. They formed a group called Friends of the High Line to lobby for the preservation and re-use of the structure. Their aim was to create a unique and unusual public landscape as individual as the High Line itself.
Where is the High Line?
The first part of the High Line opened in the summer of 2009 and begins at Gansevoort Street and extends to West 20th Street, crossing Tenth Avenue on the way. In June 2011 another section opened extending the park another ten blocks, roughly half a mile, to West 30th Street. The third half-mile-long phase opened in September 2014 ending at the Hudson Rail Yards leaving the park almost complete.
Street View from the High Line
Where to access the High Line
We started our saunter in The Meatpacking District on West 14th Street. We hadn’t planned to walk The High Line that day as it was drizzling and dull but we came across the steps leading up to it and couldn’t resist. It was raining so the High Line wasn’t too busy. There are stairs and elevators to access the park at various intervals along the route and ground-level access at West 34th.
The park is interspersed with a series of unique features like the Gansevoort Woodland, Sun Decks, Washington Grasslands and Water Features, Chelsea Grasslands, 23rd Street Lawn and a wildflower field. The Sun Deck was one of the wider areas of the park and I loved how the wooden day beds were lined up along the old railway track like rolling freight in a nod to the history of the High Line. There are details like this all along the walkway that reflect a sense of the High Line’s original purpose.
The route rolls and bends, slipping under three buildings at one point to form a short tunnel before breaking into the open again with views of The Hudson River and mid-town Manhattan. The planting is sympathetic to the structure’s abandoned years. When David and Hammond first viewed the High Line they were amazed to see 1.5 miles of meadow in mid-town Manhattan and this has been reflected in the planting with an emphasis on reeds, tall grasses and wild flowers. The Chelsea Grasslands were planted with many of the wild grasses and self-seeding plants found growing on the High Line during the time it lay dormant.
There are places to sit and just watch the world go by, like the point at where the High Line crosses Tenth Avenue. Here you’ll find an area suspended over the avenue, where you can sit and watch the traffic glide along beneath you. At one part there’s a huge frame, like a massive picture window echoing the old billboards, where you can sit and enjoy a classic New York street view and actually become part of the billboard itself.
High Line Art
Art is prominent along the High Line from graffiti on the walls of neighbouring buildings to installations in the park itself. Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra has transformed the original black-and-white image of a sailor kissing a nurse into a rainbow of colour which you can see from the High Line at West 25th Street at 10th Avenue. In fact, it’s hard to miss! There are installations which change with the seasons along sections of the trail.
Eduardo Kobra Mural on the High Line
High Line Art
The High Line evolves as you walk it; wide open with views of the city one moment and then you turn a bend, and you’re walking a narrow corridor between two buildings.
A lawn looms up and open space appears offering a more open park-like vibe.
There areas where you’re walking over planting and on a layer beneath you are glimpses of the original art deco steel railings. Always a different view, a different perspective and a different feel to it. There are places to stop a while and soak up the environment, the planting and wildflowers. Sparrows flit through the grasses – a little haven in the city for them too.
The autumn colour was beautiful, especially against the backdrop of a grey day in New York.
Walking the High Line
High Line at the Rail Yards
Much of the design in the latest section, known as The High Line at the Rail Yards, mirrors the structure’s history. Raised rail tracks and stretches that remain overgrown are the way they were when the space was abandoned. The design includes sleek wooden benches that reflect the lines of the track. Some of the original train tracks are set into the pavement and landscape.
The High Line is a unique way to see life in New York from a new perspective. It’s connected yet disconnected from the city. The High Line is immersed in urban life but at the same time surrounded by planting, texture and colour. A meandering ribbon where you can enjoy a little tranquillity amidst the roar of the city.
We stayed at the 4* Novotel Times Square New York which has fabulous New York views of Times Square. The bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace have breathtaking views of buzzing Times Square and the city lights. Food and service are both excellent. The Novotel’s sleek, contemporary style is so New York and it’s in a prime location. Central Park and downtown to Times Square are a short walk away.The Metro is nearby for exploring further afield. This is a hotel I’d definitely recommend and I’ll certainly stay there on my next visit to New York City.
Sushi. Deliciously delicate and oh so pretty. I’ve always been partial to those little bite-sized gems and recently spent a fun afternoon discovering how to make it for myself. UNI is a Japanese and Peruvian fusion – ‘Nikkei’ – restaurant in London’s Belgravia and I was there with a group of bloggers to try out UNI’s new sushi and cocktail making master class. If I didn’t know my sashimi from my sushi before, then I definitely do now.
Cocktail Master Class
Before we unwrapped the secrets of sushi-making we had a taster of some of Uni’s signature cocktails made by Rafa, bar manager and master mixologist. We tried Chilli Mojito, Pisco Sour and the UNI Martini which together showcased UNI’s Japanese, Peruvian fusion theme perfectly – and all before lunchtime! We sat up at the sushi bar in the lively upstairs area which had a relaxed feel and where you can watch the sushi chefs working their magic.
Rafa – Master Mixologist serving my Chilli Mojito
The Chilli Mojito was my favourite with a kick from the swirl of fresh chilli softened with a faint sweetness of coconut water. The nearer I got to the bottom of the glass the more warmth there was as the chilli infused more into the Mojito. In a nod to Peru the next up was a Pisco Sour. Made with Peru’s national spirit, a grape brandy called Pisco, and combined with citrus juice, sugar syrup, bitters and egg white to give a perfect blend of sweetness and acidity all under a soft foamy topping. There’s also a range of healthy detox smoothies at UNI which looked just as tempting.
The UNI Sushi Masterclass
We went downstairs to the intimate atmosphere of UNI’s elegant restaurant for the masterclass with our sushi guru Oscar Cuevas. First off we made California Rolls or inside out rolls, as the rice is on the outside and a sheet of paper-thin seaweed on the inside packed with crab, avocado and cucumber. It’s then rolled into a long tube on the sushi mat (how it didn’t fall apart I’ll never know) and cut into perfect bite-sized pieces.
Ingredients for California Roll
This is how we roll…
Sushi in easy stages…
Sashimi is raw, sliced fish but becomes sushi when the short-grain, vinegared sticky rice (sushi-meshi) gets in on the act. I quickly discovered that sticky rice is, well, pretty damn sticky and will stick to everything – except where it’s meant to. The wetter your hands are the easier it is to mould the rice into the correct shape when pressing it into the sashimi. But not before I got it all over myself. Oscar taught us how to roll, fill, mould and stuff the sashimi making it look a whole lot easier than it really is.
I made this!
Ceviche was next up and we watched as Oscar made his exquisite Sea Bass, mango, coriander and chilli cured in a zesty sauce of lime and ginger. This was one of my favourite dishes and I would happily travel to London just for a taste of this any day. Absolute heaven.
Oscar – Sushi Chef
With the master classes over it was time to delve deeper into UNI’s menu so we moved into one of the restaurant’s intimate little cubby holes – warm and inviting with a gold-leafed ceiling and comfy banquette seating. Perfect for a romantic meal for two or a small group of friends – we sat six quite comfortably. That’s me on the far left and next to me is Angie from Silverspoon, then Emily from Curious London, Ashleigh from Quintessentially Me and the lovely Travelhack aka Monica.
We tasted a huge selection of dishes from UNI’s menu starting with a nibble of deliciously warm edamame beans in rock salt and chilli sauce. I may also have had another of those gorgeous chilli mojitos.
warm edamame beans in rock salt and chilli sauce
Mini tacos with salmon, king crab and and scallop all drizzled with a divine miso dressing.
Salmon tartare mini tacos with divine miso dressing
The vibrant Kaiso Seaweed salad with goma dressing – while silky smooth the salad had a refreshingly crisp bite to it and was a nice contrast to the fish dishes.
Kaiso Seaweed salad
Dragon sushi and sashimi with transparent slithers of ginger and wasabi pearls on the side.
Sushi Platter – how it should be done!
More ceviche – the delectable sea bass ceviche followed by octopus ceviche. Who knew food could look so pretty.
Sea Bass Ceviche
Two vegetarian dishes arrived next; baked aubergine with sweet miso sauce which was gorgeously soft and silky and a tofu soup.
The food just kept coming and next to arrive was Chilean sea bass with chilli shiso salsa and a crunchy topping. Quite delicious.
Chilean sea bass with chilli shiso salsa
They saved the best til last – the Wagayu Beef with rock salt and chilli – so tender it just fell apart. This together with the sea bass ceviche were my absolute favourites of the day.
Finally dessert. I was struggling to eat any more by now and then these little globes of sweetness pitched up. Mochi is Japanese ice cream coated in pounded sticky rice and were the pefect way to finish off the meal. Not too big and not too sweet.
Mochi Moriawase selection
The food at UNI Restuarant was excellent; full of fresh zingy flavours with a warm Peruvian twist and all beautifully and vibrantly presented.
After a day spent exploring Cornwall’s craggy coastline from Lizard Point to Land’s End via Kynance Cove and the Minack Theatre we arrived at our final destination, a Tregenna Castle in St Ives. Feeling wind-blasted and hungry we were ready to relax and Tregenna was the perfect place.
We’d got just a day and a half to explore the pretty Cornish harbour town of St Ives before heading back home to Sussex. A cheeky add-on to our trip to Truro for a family wedding and my very first taste of Cornwall.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the art installation at The Tower of London, will be completed on 11 November when the last of the poppies are set in place. The poppy installation, by Paul Cummins, commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914.
Over five million people visited the display of 888, 246 handmade ceramic poppies ‘planted’ in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The poppies have now all been sold with proceeds going to Service charities.
The Tower of London Poppies
I visited the installation in October and quietly pondered the sea of red around the Tower. People gazed solemnly at the poppies and many shed a quiet tear or two.
The thought that every poppy represents a British, Australian, or Commonwealth fatality from the First World War made the waves of poppies a powerful sight.
Tower of London Poppies and Tower Bridge
I hadn’t realised until this year that my grandmother lost two uncles during WW1. My Dad and brother, while researching our family tree, have found out a little about them so I’m going to share a small piece of our own family history with you today in my own tribute to them this Remembrance Sunday.
Brothers Jasper Botting and George Botting died whilst fighting in France in 1915. We know little about Jasper except that he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment and lost his life on 31 July 1915. He has a memorial in Houplines Old Military Cemetery in northern France. I’m told that my grandmother, now long gone herself, remembered her Mother being inconsolable when the news broke of the loss of her two brothers.
The Battle of Loos, France
We know a little more about George Botting, known as ‘Sim’ to his family. He served with the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment and died during active service aged 29 at the Battle of Loos on Friday 8 October.
A Letter Home
He’d already had a near miss, as described in a letter home, and had endured the terrible mud in the trenches.
Letter from Great, Great, Uncle Sim (George)
Transcript of part of George’s letter home…
Dear Min and Chas
Just a line in answer to your letter which I received quiet safe and to say that I am still able at present.
Sorry that I have not answered your letter before but I have been back in the company for a while to let some learners get used to the guns. We have had a good lot of rain lately and there was plenty of mud about, I am really fed up with it, shall be glad when it is all over.
I have had one narrow escape, had a bullet through my hat, plenty close enough; it really made me drop a bit.
Thank Chas for the tobacco. I always look forward to your letters because you are the only one that sends a few cakes.
From your loving brother Sim xxx
George’s name is inscribed in the Loos Memorial in France.
Private George Botting who died in active service in the Battle of Loos 8/10/1915
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
The Weeping Window and Wave segments of the exhibition will remain in place until the end of November 2017 before touring the country. They will then be placed in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum until November 2018.
St Ives is a captivating Cornish town built around a small crescent. Colourful fishing boats bob in the bay and fishermen unload their catches onto the quay. The Tate St Ives overlooks Porthmeor Beach and a multitude of galleries display art and artisan crafts. Quaint fishermen’s cottages, pubs and restaurants are just a cobbled saunter from the granite quayside.