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Beach Bums

Updated: May 30, 2019


It really feels like we are on a roll, as our wonder-adventure in the US reaches its culmination and we begin to prepare to leave. Some things quietly come a natural end, like the last time we go to a particular bar or go to a concert. Others have to be prepared for and ended really well, for my sake and for the sake of my friends – like my last Song Project event which I will write about elsewhere. But there are some ‘bucket list’ sort of activities that just have to be achieved before we lose the opportunity (not that we expect to die any day soon), and this weekend, the bank holiday weekend which ends with Memorial Day (aka Remembrance Day) we decided to hit the beaches. With 3 days of nearly constant sunshine, this was definitely the Right Decision.

Saturday: had planned to return to Fire Island (cf Apple#323, Labor Day 2018) but slept a little too long and missed the train by just a few minutes. On the spot took the spontaneous decision to go up into the Bronx to Pelham Park Bay: not glamorous, not wild, in fact rather tamely urban in feel, but Nice Enough, when you are not feeling demanding or fussy. Which we weren’t. We wandered here and there in the park and on the beach with not many other people to share the space with (which always suits us). Lots to talk about, an almost-nothing lunch of tomatoes and cheese and mini-cucumbers – all I had grabbed from the fridge as we were rushing to leave. Time to read or sleep in the sun (L) or shade (me). 4 Police wardens on handsome horseback keeping an eye on the not in the least rowdy or alcohol-sozzling citizens. 8 totally bored lifeguards with no more than 6 bathers all day to watch not drowning. I stepped one sandaled foot in a great big muddy splurge, and had to walk home sloppy with squelch, which made us laugh. To round off the happy day we dived into the new Ramen + Gelato restaurant on 3rd and 15th (what a combination!) for an early meal, and spent the evening reading or pottering at home.

Sunday: A very lazy lie in, intentional this time, and a relaxed breakfast. Luca went to do a round of archery in the morning (he is a member of a club in Chinatown, where he tries to go a couple of times a week) and I attended a yoga class – I have never done it before but who can resist a decent Groupon offer?! - so it was already after 2ish when we left together, with a luvverly homemade salad and watermelon picnic. This time we took the ferry from Stuyvesant Cove down to Wall St – such a fabulous way to travel the length of the island – and joined the queue for the boat to Governer’s Island. It’s a strange old place, but has a really nice relaxed vibe; a nice easy-to-reach location for families, couples and groups of mates on a Grand Day Out. 8 minutes exactly from the south tip of Manhattan, at $3 for the return ticket – what’s not to like about that? – and you get a bit of a distance from the city, with views out all around; you get the wind and the sky, gulls and waves and boats floating by; and lots of lovely lush green lawns between the mostly unoccupied buildings. Near the piers you get to buy oysters and champagne if you are that sort (which we are not); but there are also bikes to hire, glam camping tents at the center if you are really well planned (we tried to book ..), cafés, art installations and much much more; but we didn’t bother to investigate those: we just had a jolly nice walkabout. Governer’s Island has a couple of hundred years’ history as a military and coast guard base, with the sorts of architecturally uninspiring formal-looking buildings that you might expect, and which are now designated national monuments. Not my sort of excitement so ask Google, why don’t you, if you are interested.

On arrival home we decided that it was definitely a Cinema Night, so popped off to see The Souvenir (artsy, pretty good) and rounded off the day with a late plate of something Greek because after all you just can when you are living in New York.

Monday: island #2, beach #3. Sandy Hook, New Jersey, another mostly unoccupied island dominated by military history, most recently used for weapons testing, and still breathing a certain dark spirit as you pass deserted buildings and demolished concretised spaces.

A hot hot day, an hour by ferry from East 35th down and beyond the tip of Manhattan this time, out towards the Big Beyond (aware that soon we will be taking a much longer boat trip in that direction). Long sandy glorious beaches, birds like the protected black piper nesting in fenced off dunes, waves crashing, drawing back, rising (as waves do, I remembered)(ahhhhh); water just cold enough to make the swim breath-taking but bearable, and beautiful, yes, beautiful to be so free and nature-saturated. Another salady fruity lunch, books to read, shells to pick at, children to be happy watching, patient and almost completely unsuccessful fishermen to be intrigued by. We took the mid afternoon boat back, celebrated the end of a lovely weekend with an espresso-whisky cocktail at a little Italian place on the Lower East Side, went for a blissful Angel Hands massage at the Chinese place round the corner.

After 3 days of such awesome all-round superb-ity, with a little bit of sun-kiss warming my skin, and a little bit of whoohoo on the alcohol meter, I dropped into bed, and, for once, slept really really well.


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