My Wish


After our island holiday, we returned to Washington DC for a few days. Kiera and James went back to work and Peter, Alex and I explored the city, using the metro to get around. We visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum which, despite the fact that I have never been all that interested in aviation, I found incredibly interesting. Mind you, I do own the Wonders of the Solar System DVD set, partly because I find Prof Brian Cox infinitely worth watching but also because I’m fascinated by our galaxy and frustrated that I know so little about it.

Capital Building, Washington

Capital Building, Washington

We also spent a morning pottering around Old Town Alexandria, a quaint historic town on the banks of the Potomac, before Alex dragged us off to see Georgetown (he doesn’t do pottering for too long). I brightened up when we crossed the bridge into Georgetown because, lo and behold, the first shop we spotted was the fabulous Pie Sisters – Susannah and Mike had ruinously introduced me to their pies when we first arrived. This is definitely a must-go-to if ever you find yourself in Washington. After coffee and the most delicious key lime pie, my flagging spirits were lifted and we took a stroll through the beautiful streets of Georgetown University, enjoying the occasional whiffs of dope wafting out of some of the students’ quarters.

I had offered to cook supper that evening so we caught a bus (that stops at all the metro stations) back to Arlington to meet James after work at the Wholefoods store. And this is what I love about America: when we boarded the bus, I phoned James to let him know that we were on our way and we had a conversation, within earshot of the driver, about where to meet. James gave me the name of the metro station nearest to Wholefoods where the bus would stop and directions on how to walk to Wholefoods from there. Peter then asked the driver to stop at the metro station, but he, having heard my conversation with James, told us that he would save us the walk and drop us at Wholefoods instead, which he did. That pretty much sums up just how friendly and helpful most Americans are. And of course, I loved shopping at Wholefoods.

We arranged to meet Kiera at  lunchtime on Wednesday at her office at Dupont Circle before catching a train to New York City for a long weekend. Our hotel, called the Sanctuary, was slap bang in the middle of everything. The location could not have been better; it was close to Central Park, the Rockefeller Centre, 5th avenue and Times Square. The rooms were small but modern with really nice bathrooms, the staff were exceptionally helpful and friendly and we got a really good complimentary breakfast each morning. It cost just over R1500 per night for each room. Peter and I stayed at the O.R. Tambo City Lodge on our way home. The room cost R1450, it was dated, the shower leaked all over the bathroom floor and breakfast, if we wanted it (which we didn’t)  was an additional R120 each. Go figure.

Rockefeller ice rink

Rockefeller ice rink

Ah! New York – I loved it, we all loved it, it was great. Washington is a beautiful well-oiled city, Miami is a lovely laid-back kinda place but NY has an energy that’s like an electrical current. On our first day there we decided to get all the shopping out of the way, and boy did we shop ‘till we dropped. The post-Christmas sales were in full swing and if we mentioned that we were tourists we got additional discounts. After we got that out of the way we enjoyed the museums.

We dragged Alex, kicking and screaming, off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and before my very eyes, he became an art aficionado. Who would’ve thought? We had a lot of fun in that museum.


I love Vermeer's art of simple things

I love Vermeer’s art of simple things

this photo was stunning, made me want to throw my camera in the bin

this photo was stunning, made me want to throw my camera in the bin

On the Friday night Kiera found us an authentic Chinese restaurant just around the corner from the hotel. She ordered, in Mandarin, from a mightily impressed waiter, a brinjal dish (remind me to give you the recipe for this at the end of this post) and a green bean dish, both of which I had eaten for the first time when I visited her in Fuzhou, as well as two very tasty meat dishes. This was the only reasonably priced meal we had in NY; everywhere else we ate was frighteningly expensive for us because of our really bad rand dollar exchange rate. But, it’s only money and, as me old dad used to say, “You can’t take it with you”.

James joined us in NY late on Friday night and on Saturday we all headed off to Greenwich Village for a potter around – and I fantasized about all my heroes “that got their start in the Village’s nightclub, theatre, and coffeehouse scene during the 1960s, and early 1970s, notably besides Bob Dylan, there were Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Jackson Browne, James Taylor,  Joan Baez, The Velvet Underground, Carly Simon, Tom Paxton, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone among others” (Wikipedia). Nowadays it’s a trendy neighbourhood for yuppies and gays.



We got back to the hotel in the late afternoon and James, Kiera and I went to queue for discounted theatre tickets at the TKTS booth on Times Square. Our first choice was Jersey Boys but the cheapest tickets were R1200 a pop and so our next pick was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Alex’s choice and guess why). It turned out to be thoroughly entertaining, funny and clever, like a bedtime story where you hang on to every word and you don’t want it to end, and yes, Scarlett Johansson was brilliant.

The next day Alex left us to fly off to Cleveland to visit a school friend of his. After a tearful farewell (on my part) we took a leisurely stroll down 5th Avenue to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Well, I do declare, this is the best place in the whole world to spend a Sunday morning, and I’m not exaggerating.

5th Avenue

5th Avenue



Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul ……
.Now I understand
What you tried to say to me.

We caught the train back to Washington that afternoon and a few days later we had to say goodbye.

And this is where I falter. The goodbyes are still like wounds right now. Will I ever get better at it? I doubt it. Kiera, my wish is that:

….. you never look back, but you never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get.




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to My Wish

  1. michele harpur says:

    Have heavy heart for you – but can you go away more often! Loved the trilogy! Enjoy resting back at the farm. Xxx

  2. Cathy says:

    Oops! I forgot the recipe:
    Aubergine with chilli sauce (Gary Rhodes)
    Gary Rhodes’ vegetarian dish uses flavours traditionally used when cooking fish which is why it’s often known as fish-flavoured aubergine
    • 800 g aubergines
    • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
    • 2 tsp pickled red chilli paste (I use chilli bean instead)
    • 1 tsp grated ginger
    • 1 tsp crushed garlic
    • 2 spring onions, chopped
    • 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
    • 200 ml vegetable or chicken stock
    • 1 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp vinegar
    • 5 tsp sugar, or to taste
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder, optional
    • 3 tsp cornflour
    • ½ tsp chilli oil, or to taste
    1. Remove the skin from the aubergines and cut the flesh into even chunks about 5cm x 1.5cm x 1.5cm.
    2. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and deep-fry the aubergine until soft and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Leave on one side.
    3. Drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. Add the chilli paste, ginger, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the chopped spring onion – stir-fry for 30 seconds.
    4. Pour in the wine and stock, bring to the boil and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Return the aubergine to the sauce.
    5. Season with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and chicken bouillon powder – cook for a couple of minutes. Taste for sweetness – you might like to add an extra spoonful of sugar. The sauce should be sweet and tangy.
    6. Dissolve the cornflour in 2 tablespoons of water and add to the sauce. Stir until thickened over a moderate heat. Season with chilli oil.
    7. Serve garnished with remaining chopped spring onion

  3. Glynis Simpson says:

    Hi Cathy, how I’ve enjoyed sharing your journey. This is what memories are made of and these memories will always be the twinkle in your eye when days are tough! Looking forward to seeing you all sometime soon. Love Glynis

  4. Adam Rice says:

    What a terrific holiday, you seem to have managed to pack in heaps of nice things, made new friends (relatives really) and spent time with all your family. Who could ask for more? Even the weather looks to be not too cold, at least no snow or ice as far as I can see. It think it must be nice to have been in Keira’s new world (no double entendre intended) as you can visualise her in her context now.
    Thanks for the aubergine recipe, we have 2 in the fridge so I will make it tomorrow night. It sounds yummy!

    • Cathy says:

      It really was a great holiday and the weather not too bad. The best was meeting the people that Kiera has talked about so much, who welcomed her, and us in turn, into their lives with such kindness and generosity. And it was lovely to see Kiera so happy in her new life. I could not have wished for a better son-in-law; they seem to complement and support each other so well. Hope you enjoy the aubergines.

  5. Louise says:

    *sob*…….you had me right in the beginning with Rascal Flatts I Wish!!!!! I am a bit behind in catching up with your blog and am so sorry that I didnt see this one before you managed to delete all your photographs……..bummer!!!! But never mind, I am looking forward to the next ones *smiles*

    • Cathy says:

      This is such a lovely sing-along-to song. I have just uploaded the photographs for My Wish (I didn’t realise that they had gone too). Hope you enjoy. Alex took a liking to Van Gogh at the Met – he was sorry he missed Starry Night at MoMA, it really is special.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s