A room with a view in Vegas ….. Baby!

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so I guess it really depends on what you get up to…..   I have lucked into a work junket with my partner Steve, he is going to work and I’m trying to cram 12 days into 3….. well that’s what Steve thinks, and he is probably correct but don’t tell him I said that!

Steve is here to attend the SEMA convention- ‘where creativity meets cars’ and pretty much its classed as the biggest thing on the planet in the automotive world and if you aren’t there you aren’t in the clique. This year it’s the 49th show and the 38th time its been at the convention centre in Las Vegas and has over 6,000 exhibitors.  Now I would LOVE to tell you more but I would be making it up because I’m not actually going. I got a LEAVE Pass, not an entry pass and am off to see the sights.

We are staying at the Bellagio….. you know the one with the fountains that “perform” to anything from Frank Sinatra to Opera, to you can pay to have what ever you want play with a hefty price tag. The fountains ‘dance’ in front of the hotel with the music and lights and shoot up more than 300 metres, souring through the air. We saw a similar performance in Barcelona called the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, and like most things needs to be seen to be believed. The size of this fountain here at the Bellagio is unbelievable! I’ll post a photo later tonight when it’s all lit up.

Of course they offer you an upgrade to a view room or a suite whatever you want really!

They also have a conservatory and a Botanical garden that 120 employees create stunning seasonal displays changes. The city is just on steroids, each hotel has an attraction- from the pink “real live flamingos’ at the Flamingo, to a Volcano at the Mirage. A gondola ride at the Venitian Hotel perhaps? And don’t even get me started on the buffets, seriously! I just don’t know how anyone can eat that much and the walk well actually get a taxi to the other end of the strip and ride the wicked roller coaster……. I think it should be called the Vomitron.

The iconic Vegas strip is only around 7 kilometres but it feels like 20 and like New York has 5 distinct areas. the North and South Strip, Downtown and of course –   off strip and centre strip!  From the Famous ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign all the way to the roller coaster.

They actually have a museum for Neon- as in the signs as there is so many of them and most of them a very famous. I’m hoping to find it!

The arts, the shows, the casinos in the airport as soon as you land, waiting at the baggage carousel ……….. 3 days in not really going to cut it but hey… I love a good taste test and it’s always fun to have an excuse to go back!

Well we have been lying by the pool for a couple of hours resting our eyes as we arrived at 4.00am Tuesday Sydney time…… I have to say I feel a bit left out – I think everyone in Vegas has had a boob job…… It feels like we are on Boobwatch,  so it’s time to rock and rock the monorail to get Steve’s pass for the convention and find Anthropologie my addiction.

 

Mrs Wong xx

 

 

 

 

Native Stingless Bees

The new box and the old- a split hive.

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend a Native stingless bee class with a few gals from work. We will shortly be getting some native bees at our 2 childcare centres on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and so I thought we should know what we need to know!

We trekked into Sydney to Camperdown Commons and Pocket City Farms – an urban farm built on old bowling greens, where we met native bee enthusiasts Dan and Lucy.

We hear all about how social native bees are. They don’t sting, however they can bite. We get to view some hives of native bees, honey pods and pollen pods and wax from the working hives.These hives are not for commercial enterprise, the honey you harvest is not that much, however it’s liquid gold…….
The bees use tree sap to create their own safety measures like smearing their hives with a sticky resin. This resin helps them survive in the elements of both a hot summer and cool winter in NSW. It also helps them protect their doorway into the hive. These bees are small almost bug like and they actually don’t fly in winter unless it is 19-20 degrees. Lucky for us we do get winter days this warm 🙂

The honey taken from a hive is probably only 50 ml. Great for medicinal purposes and to share with your family but it isn’t for mass production and even if you wanted to buy 50 ml of honey you would probably pay over $100.

this hive is split into 2

Hives get split when the weather is optimal -Spring of course! Throughout spring, hives are split into 2 and then left to “settle”. These bees are really smart and can figure out they need a balance of bees between each box.

Bees take around 50 days to develop and only live for around 100 days, starting off as cleaners, progressing to a nurse or queen carer and they may then become foragers or worker bees. Most of the population is female with limited males born.

A hive is stored in small wooden boxes that you insulate in anything from an old school polystyrene esky to a wooden box thats sits over the top of the small boxes to protect it from the elements – temperature wise. Their honey has a lower sugar content and needs to be kept in the fridge as it has a higher water content but it doesn’t crystalise.

They love being part of a hive and unlike honey bees who are quite anti social, they love protecting their hive and in fact have guard bees who guard the entrance to the honey box. They are just as happy in the bush where they live in tree trunks and are quite popular in indigenous families.

We got to see a few different hives, taste pollen that is a bit like honeycomb with a sweet/sour taste and then we got to extract honey , both manually from a waxy structure the bees had stored honey in and also drained pods when the hive got split, as these little bees love honey but they also get stuck in it and then drown.

Its fair to say, we had a non aggressive split and a slightly aggressive split……. They are native after all and we are trying to take their honey.

Dan explains that these native bees have 3 castes in a colony . The queen lays all the eggs, the drones fertilise the eggs and the sterilised female workers do all the work!
The queens cell is a much larger than the other cells.

the intricate layers of the brood nest

These native stingless bees build this amazingly intricate nest, called a brood nest to store food, raise their young and live in the community!

The multi layered hive that we see get split, is a work of art…..it’s incredible! Small voids between each layer allow the bees to move between each layer…..

A great 3 hours quite interesting especially when they split the last hive, and the girls went running as bees stick to your clothes and hair. I got bitten by a bee….. it didn’t hurt that much nor sting! ah the joys of working in a community!

I dare say if and when we split or extract honey from the hives we will be getting, this will be a job for the experts!

We had a quick lunch at the restaurant Cafe Acre here at the Commons before heading home…..

 

If you want to know more them- you probably should read the good bee book by an expert- The Australian Native bee Book, by Tim Heard

Happy Long weekend,

 

Mrs W x

 

NYC – we ❤️ you

Our last 48 hours New York has been a little cray cray!  Who knew we would behere for an eclipse and how crazy it would make the city….

We have all been to Central Park- in a different way due to both Diane and Wendy not being 100%. Wendy did a bus tour and Di, skips it all together as she really is unwell and later in the day ended up calling the house doctor, but her lovely cab driver takes her on a ride through the park on her way to the Metropolitan Museum right beside the park!

Lindy and I join Lyall on a tour of Central Park via a bicycle. For a few hours we cycle around the 6 miles or roughly 10k’s at a leisurely pace as we duck and weave through green wooded tree areas the sheep meadow, Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, the Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon, which is supposed to be a peace park but is now home to a lot of homeless people who now make a living sitting up there selling stuff and singing and playing guitar for the crowds that arrive to view this gorgeous mosaic and generally not being very peaceful, but we don’t know any different so it doesn’t bother us!

Our ride ends with actually riding out of Central Park with our guide through 2 streets of Manhattan back to the bike shop and all I can say is thank goodness we didn’t have to ride any further, pedestrians don’t care about the don’t walk signs they just jump on out in front of you!

We meet Wendy back at the Plaza Hotel  down stairs in the  ‘ Shops at the Plaza’ and have a quick ginger beer before we lift and separate and Wendy and Lindy head off to Katz Deli and Coney Island, I head back to my photography store and then head to the East Village and visit a few favourites ABC store, Fishs Eddy ahhhh I really could live here……

As I mentioned earlier every human and a few dogs are out in the sun for the Eclipse, with their hawker bought cardboard glasses, or a home made box to view the Eclipse – I even saw one couple with a yellow colander that they had attached a handle to and had created little eclipses all over the pavement ???

An ice coffee from Eataly gets me through the arvo….. It’s a Shot of coffee over ice  and then they pop whipped cold skim milk on top ~ to die for on a hot day when you are seeing Billy Joel at the Garden that night.

Madison Square garden is the equivalent to our Acer arena, and I have seen Ice hockey played here previously but tonight its Billy Joel up close and personal with 18,000 fans filling the arena.

We pretty much knew all the words, he’s 67 ish and has an awesome band and was quite entertaining telling stories of albums, and songs and how they came to be…. He even let the crowd choose by cheering between a couple of our favourites.

Today we were up early for breakfast at a kitschy diner down in the meat packing area for a yummy breaki before the gang climbed the stairs and walked along the high line. A wonderful green corridor along the Hudson River high above the streets on an old railway line that has been converted into a peoples park.

 

Our afternoon was at leisure and a couple of us have been out and bought new suitcases, while the some walked the 3k’s back from the meat packing area and another one of us went to the photography shop and that person wasn’t me this time! Before our last dinner at Bryant Park Grill.

 

 

This morning we were up early to jump on the subway and head to the upper East side and caught the cable car to Roosevelt island between Manhattan and Long Island, followed by breakfast and a quick last minute shop before we head to the airport .

Well this will be my last blog until we get home to Sydney this Friday….. we leave  tonight  for LA andSydney town Friday lunchtime or there abouts.

To all our loved ones, thanks for letting us hang out together for 2 weeks, we have had a ball and although we have now ‘done’ New York, a few days in Hawaii on the way home to break up the crappy 20 hours would have been nice,  except I’m not really that fond of Waikiki and don’t have another week to travel out to the islands so home we will go…..

Till Next time

Mrs Wong xx

How to lose a guy in 10 days ?? Go shopping with 3 girlfriends in NYC!

The gang of 4 have been busy the last few days doing and seeing things even I have never seen before.

Our days have been filled with trips downtown to Soho, Noho, Nolita and all through Midtown. Manhattan is such a big Island that they have all these abbreviations for their little areas…. NOHO is an acronym for North of Houston st (pronounced House tin ) & NOLITA is North of Little Italy. Get it ? Don’t worry lots of people don’t but by the end of your trip you get it.

We head down to the Brooklyn Flea Market in West Soho, and while the others head to the Brooklyn Flea Market, via the Purl knitting shop, I head to the food Market across the road – Smorgasbord. Much more my scene, live music, a little park and loads of fresh food to enjoy. It’s very warm and Diane is not feeling that well, and as we had quite a late start, we only have a couple of hours out and about before the skipper and I jump in an uber and head to New Jersey, via the Lincoln Tunnel for our crazy Fly Nyon doors off Helicopter flight.

I will remember this as one of the best things I have done for a very LONG time. Social media, is one of those things in our lives that you either embrace or not. I am a fan of Instagram, and whilst I get by having places, etc all over instagram, the locals sometimes have trouble getting into their local park or their favourite restaurant because of social media, however the opportunity to do things you have seen on social media when you go to another country are vast and many, and my philosophy is we are helping whatever business we have seen on Instagram, so I guess I’m all for sharing!

Fly Nyon is one of the accounts I saw and have been following. At Newark New Jersey, near the airport out there, our Uber driver gets to the address and we can’t see any helicopters. I then see the Logo so we are safe on 1st base!
As we enter this warehouse style building and are greeted by young guns offering us coffee, the toilets and internet connections, it has a good feel about it. We are given rubber coloured fly Nyon bands to wear and are in the red group.

Earlier this morning I luckily checked emails to discover our evening flight had been brought forward due to a Presidential TFR ( temporary flight restriction).

I mean we know he is- but doesn’t he know who we are? We end up on a 5.00pm half hour flight from New Jersey across the Hudson River to the beautiful Island of Manhattan. As we have to be at our flight briefing just for over an hour before our actual flight to watch a safety film, be kitted out with harnesses and equipment to hold any camera device you plan on taking, the nerves are starting to kick in.

We are on a doors off – hang your legs out the side of the helicopter flight! And yes we paid a sh$t load to do it! They collect 2 groups of 5 for the last 2 helicopter groups and head out to what feels like an abandoned area on one of the canals near the airport, I can see lindy’s brain ticking over….. are we going to end up in body bags? Not on my watch.

The pilots name is Craig and Lindy and I luck into his side of the Chopper. I am in the adventure seat, which means 45 seconds after take off, I unbuckle my seat belt ( don’t worry Mum and Dad I have a carabiner harness on) and slide onto the floor and hang out the side of the helicopter, after Lindy spins her legs around she’s sitting higher in the actual seat in a seat belt as well as the carabiner harness, and is also now hanging legs out of the helicopter.

Craig tells us he is heading over the Hudson River at a speed of 200 miles an hour…. In other words very fast – as Craig announces through the head phones oh did they not tell you ? It’s quite windy today!!!!

As Lindy grips my leg tightly what she really is trying to say except I can’t hear her is ‘what have you got me into !!! No doors and I have to turn my legs sideways out of the helicopter’  ????
This proves harder than you think, although we aren’t being thrown around by the wind, as obvioulsy the doors ARE off and the breeze just comes on through from the other side, the wind is so strong it’s hard to get our legs on the ledge of the helicopter!

Our first “hover” is Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. By this stage the nerves have calmed down a little, and we are grinning like silly school girls. Craig the pilot is talking to us through head phones again and explains he is giving both sides of the helicopter, the opportunity to take photos, before announcing that “ you all seem to be coping quite well so we are going to make a hard right turn here down over the Brooklyn Bridge” and the next thing you know – we are almost face down as he made the hard right turn! No sick bag required here!!!! No we didn’t vomit, but I’m kinda glad I didn’t know he was going to turn that sharply as the adrenalin has kicked back in ( via the death seat as Lindy called it ) and has us facing straight down over the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.

Wow! Just wow, we then skim along the East River, between Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn before coasting over Roosevelt Island and up to Central Park, where if you have seen my Instagram page, of our photo of what Fly Nyon call the ‘shoe selfie’ over the park.

I’m in photography heaven and although I am only an amateur, as I’m sending photos to my partner Steve at home, he’s saying what I was thinking, these maybe the best photos I have have ever taken!

From there we again hover over some other NY icons, The Chrysler building, Empire State, the financial district and One world tower. Our flight becomes a 40 minute flight as someone ( who cares) for got to log our return to the base !

We finally land back in New Jersey with silly grins and memories of 1 amazing helicopter flight. If you have the opportunity Just do it!

Love Mrs Wong  xoxo

 

 

New York in the Summer

 

 

 Having been here for around 9 days now, we have seen and done and spent a lot on food, drinks, live shows and of course those shops. Unlike Australia there a limited shopping malls in NYC.

They have shops everywhere, whether you are in Time Square, the garment district or about to climb Rockerfeller. In case anyone is interested there are 4 Anthropologie stores in Manhattan and I have been to all of them…..

After our amazing sunset cruise on Friday, we awoke on Saturday to pouring rain. I have to say our apartment is wonderful but it is very dark and we need lights on all the time, we face the back of the building, the blinds are permanently down and therefore the light ( in my opinion) is draining and zaps the energy out of the room.

We have had to set an alarm to wake up some days as its hard to know if its 5.00am or 7.00am
First world problems, I know but when you have 4 girls on tour each with a list of where they want to go , we are going to run out of time. I have now been to NYC 4 times and am still experiencing 1st’s.

So change of plans. Central Park will be another day, but today, lets go shopping. New Yorkers all wear designer gum boots as the water gushes down the streets and avenues and you get quite wet. As I don’t have any, the good old Havianas are a trusty back up ?
We all go in different directions, Di heads to Moma for the day and I take Lindy and Wendy down to 34th St, to Macy’s and the biggest Victoria’s Secret shop. Of course as I said before there are shops every where and once the girls feel comfortable I leave them and head down to the Flatiron district as I have seen a photography store! Heaven- I love it and my new friend in the store -Trie helps me sort out some photos ( from previous holidays) and I am having them printed onto blocks to continue the art work I already have at home.
As we all mosey on home, via Luke’s Lobster  (have I told you I have got the girls addicted). We all chill out before we head out to get a massage and nails painted before our date night at the Rose pop up bar on the 65th Floor- Rainbow Room at the Rockerfeller centre.

It certainly was amazing! We of course had to stay as it was raining and pouring again. Lightning was on display and as we had to use our voucher for the top of the rock, we just stayed until it cleared for our night time view over the city….. It was warm had stopped raining and wasn’t too crowded. So a fun night was had by all.

 

Saturday arrived and brilliant sunshine too. Brooklyn Grange was on my list and we treck out to Long Island to see this an amazing urban farm on a roof top. They have built these wonderful commercial gardens, on roof tops- that can hold them as obviously when you are dumping 3000 lbs of soil onto a roof it needs to be able to!
They are over on Long island and Brooklyn at the old Naval yard, and the educate and share their practices of sustainability produce masses of fruit vegetables, honey and also keep chickens! I loved it the others not so much but hey we are all here sharing our favourites. (I’ll blog more about Brooklyn grange and the programs they do there later).

Our Uber brings us back over to Manhattan from Long Island and we have a quick meat sandwich and salad,in at Grand Central station,  before Di heads off to a trade fair with a friend also here from Sydney and the rest of us head down to see the charging bull and the little girl, brass statues, in the Financial district near Wall St.

You could barely see the bull ( and its huge) for the crowds, although we did hang out with the little girl and her attitude as she stares down the bull! It’s hot and about 30 degrees, so I suggest we jump on the free Staten Island ferry To cross the East river and return. It’s a little cooler on the water as we cruise past The Statue of Liberty again, this time in the sunshine.After another epic 7 hour day out an about I choose to stay home tonight, Di goes out to Dinner with her friend from Sydney and Lindy and Wendy brave the South Park Musical “book of Mormon”.

As my photos are taken in the a high resolutuion I’m having trouble uploading them, so i will have to create a gallery when i get home.

Till next time

Mrs Wong  xoxo

Trains Boats and New friends

Today we went on a train trip that left from Grand Central station in Manhattan, to a cute lil’ American town in New York State about 2 hours away called Cold Springs.

We rocked and rolled our way along the Hudson River out of the city past quaint little towns. As we got off the train and we are left standing at the small station it’s like you are in Bum F*&k Idaho…… Not sure where to go, we ask a local.  I just love how they talk! They extend the vowels and make talk sound like tork and New York sound Like Noo Yawk!  Anyway our new friend explains how to get to the Main Street, and off we go up and over the rail way line via the stairs and then we had a slight climb up hill to the little town.

It’s a bit like the Blue Mountains- Mount Victoria, just the one street, and cute little shops etc, and gorgeous eateries. 3 shops recommended the Hudson Hils cafe, where we all order various style of eggs some hard some scrabbled and a bowl of grits to try. It’s apparently corn maize but it tastes like gritty semolina porridge. Needless to say we all just had 1 teaspoon each. They served it with butter which we didn’t eat on the side but it really needed something more than that.

2 hours strolling up the street one way and down the other, we head back to meet the train. We stand on the side saying New York and the bloody train pulls in on the other side! Quick we are all running up steep steps and over the walk way and down the other stairs and  just made the train back into town to chill for an hour before we head out on a sunset cruise.

Diane isn’t feeling well so we leave her ‘home alone’ and head down to pier 83 on the Hudson River for our cruise, part of a package we all bought with the New York City pass. We decide to pay an extra $15 US for priority boarding seating and a hostess. Sounds easy enough but to get priority boarding we need to push past  about 300 people all lined up Higgilty piggilty that we had to basically push past ! I was doing the lead dog ~excuse me and had the girls following me. Wendy and Lindy were a bit stressed about pushing in….. but that’s what we Paid for giirrlz ???

Ahhhh a window seat on a cruise boat/ferry with 300 new friends with our waitress Alice who was such a sweet heart but couldn’t possibly do 2 things at once after 1 gin n tonic she says ‘you will have to choose another drink now because there is no more tonic’ ! I’ll take a Brooklyn beer ! she said ‘oh we don’t have any of them ‘ it was so funny and she was doing her best bless……

The cruise is a great way to see the size of Manhattan it’s also sunset so who doesn’t love that kind of light ??

There are a few happy tears from the girls seeing Lady Liberty ? She is pretty amazing and one day I will climb up to her crown but with booking 3 months in advance in ain’t happening this time and to be honest we will run out of time showing the girls the all the sights anyway.

We made a few new friends-  1 from Colorado, who we bought a glass of wine as Alice’s card machine has failed so we shouted her a glass of wine and also Jayla a lady from Mumbai (Bombay ) India who is on the cruise with her 87 year old mummy who has a electric walker. We smile the international language that we all know she reminds me of my mum as she shuffles along except this lady can’t speak English! Of course I get chatting in limited words to discover she was a sewing teacher. As we leave the boat, Jayla the daughter offers to let us join her limo ride we had all been bartering for. It’s only 7 blocks back to Time square with our new Indian friends. They take us to the 43rd floor of their 1 bedroom apartment in Time Square between 7th & 8th Avenue, where the granny continues to have a very indepth conversation with me about my dress fabric that is the same as hers ! We try her 4 types of pickles that she has made before we head home for an early night @ 11-30pm

Ah another awesome day !

Mrs Wong xoxo

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