With my week of two Robyn Hitchcock shows fast approaching, a message arrived through the ether from my boss, informing me that I still had a further fortnight of holiday entitlement to squeeze in before the end of March. It was news to me. I'd calculated, incorrectly it transpires, that the Hitchcock week exhausted my annual allocation. Long story short, I was granted permission to tack on the outstanding two weeks to the already booked final week of February and made hasty plans to pay a 10 day visit to my family in New York, my first for 13 years. I'll drop odd titbits here and there in the coming weeks, rather than give you chapter and verse about the trip all in one go, but suffice it to say I had a great time catching up with my cousin, her husband and their three (now very grown up) kids.
Last Thursday I headed out of the apartment early, bound for the Nick Cave (not that one) 'Forothermore' exhibit at The Guggenheim. Later, with a healthy dose of culture under my belt, I wandered across 5th Avenue and into Central Park for a wonderful four hour amble around the massive green space. It was a literal breath of fresh air after several days pounding the sidewalks of the Big Apple and offered up a wealth of largely unfamiliar (to this Englishman!) birdlife. I saw Grackle, Hairy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Red Tailed Hawks, hundreds of geese, thousands of hilarious American Robins, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinal, Scarlet Tanager, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-winged Blackbird, something very blue that I've not yet identified and other birds that were just too quick for my eyes. Apparently there are also half a dozen species of owl to be seen, but alas I didn't spot any. Stars of the show though were the delightfully amiable Tufted Titmice, currently plentiful, though apparently completely (and mysteriously) absent from the park two years ago. I had them eating out of my hand.
Here's an appropriately titled song from 'Time Was Away', the enchanting 2022 album by Emily Portman & Rob Harbron. It really is a thing of beauty - check it out here.