Penguins at Central Park Zoo

IMG_2288The Central Park Zoo is small but beautifully landscaped. It provides plenty of places to pause and enjoy sea lions or watch a grizzly bear snoozing. I didn’t realize they had penguins until I saw an article about places to stay cool in NYC in August. One suggestion was the to check out the Antarctic House and see the penguins. I noted that the penguins were fed publicly at 10:30 and 2:30 p.m. I realized when I left Lincoln Center that if I hot-footed it I could just make it there by 2:30.

IMG_2290It was $18.00 for a ticket to get into the zoo for one adult. As a penguin lover it was worth it–although at feeding time it is crowded and as you can see the windows get steamy. It is hard not to be captivated by the birds swimming and jumping back on the rocks. IMG_2297

I spent a bit more time looking at other animals and admiring the flowers and shrubs. I really needed ice cream. I stopped at the cafe where they had the usual sort of packaged and reheated food. The gift shop was a little more original.

This is a great place to visit with children. You can save 10% on tickets by buying on-line.

World’s Best Botanic Garden at Kew


I wanted to save money on my last hotel night in London before I caught my flight home from Heathrow, and still be able to do something interesting. I love, love, love the Royal Botanic Garden. If it is not the best in the world, it is in the top three. It also is conveniently located to hotels and a subway station. So my plan was to take the train from Essex to London and the Tube to Kew Gardens, check in and spend the rest of the day in the gardens.

IMG_1807Whoopsie, no one told the London Underground and they decided to do maintenance and close the station at Kew Gardens on Sunday.

I could recount the perils I faced finding my way to Kew, instead I am going to recount the many kindnesses I received:

  • UK Sarah driving me to the train station and staying until the train arrived.
  • Woman offering me the tip about taking the train to Kew Bridge station and then catching a cab.
  • Security man allowing me through with my goofy train/underground ticket.
  • Young man who carried my 50 pound bag up the stairs at the Kew Bridge station.
  • Pub man in Kew calling a taxi for me.
  • Hotel reception that included carrying my bag up the stairs and setting up my fan on a 90+ degree day.

Was it worth all the trouble? Definitely yes. Just look at this beauty!


The Royal Botanic Garden at Kew is constantly changing. It has been a few years since I last visited and it now has a Treetop Walk. I really enjoyed the experience of walking through the tops of trees with a bird or squirrel view. Please don’t make people who are afraid of heights go up. I saw people really suffering. It is not for everyone.

Another new feature is The Hive, a fascinating interactive experience to celebrate the role of honeybees in nature. I love bees and this was a joyful time for me.

It was a very hot day and I was already worn out from traveling all day. I found the gardens motivating me, still, some old men (one with a cane) were walking down the path faster than me. I stopped for an ice cream cone and it melted faster than I could keep licking and I used napkins to mop up my continuing mess. I tucked them in my bag because there wasn’t a trash can nearby. Later when I wiped sweat from my face, I must have spread chocolate all over my face! When I was on the treetops walk, a kind woman leaned over and whispered, “You have chocolate on your face.” I was chagrined but had to laugh. How long was I walking around with chocolate all over?

The Kew Gardens Hotel is a lovely, relaxed pub hotel. There is no A/C, but the fan did it’s work. The food was just okay but the environment was convivial and the staff super helpful. The journey to Heathrow Airport in the morning was a cinch. I hope I can return in a few years.

Devonport Lookin’ Good


Last time I was in Devonport the streets and walkways near the ferry terminal were under construction. The project is complete and the area looks fabulous. The library is also remodeled and enlarged. Devonport is looking good.

We parked up the hill and walked down the main street to the “best ice cream in New Zealand.” I had to try it. First because I had to test their claim and also because they had this fab fake cow for kids to milk (just water). It was good especially on a hot day.


After mooching around Devonport we stopped at Bette’s cafe for a light repast.



When I lived in St Heliers one of my favorite outings was taking the ferry to Devonport to shop for used books and knitting supplies. I stopped in at Wild and Woolly Yarns and had fun shopping for my grandbaby to be.

Devonport was the last stop on our Northland road trip. We drove over the bridge and through downtown Auckland and back to St Heliers. It is lovely when the adventure ends in such a special place near to my heart.


Best Soft Serve Ice Cream in the World!

Not far from the Auckland Airport is a strawberry field and farmstand in Manukau. Sarah and Marcos discovered the best strawberry soft serve ice cream in the world. farmstand

The strawberries are crushed and mixed just before it goes into your cone. It is delicious! And ingenious.

strawberry ice cream maker

I almost returned to the line and bought another. I wish some of our local strawberry farmers would import the machinery. There would be a line around the block and I would be in it. Yum!

Strawberry ice cream cone