Memorable Memorial weekend

(Interrupting the coverage of our holiday with a post about the long weekend.) Memorial Day is one of the few holiday weekends which coincides with a bank holiday back in the U.K., and it always feels rather nice to be doing long weekendy things at the same time. Unlike back in the U.K., when our bank holidays usually used to involve heading out of town to visit friends or relations, go hiking, or lengthen a trip to somewhere in Europe, here we often tend to use them as an excuse to veg out at home. Not so this time, however, when each day involved something fun with different sets of friends, although we did still manage a decently lazy morning on Monday!

Saturday saw us up bright and early and en route for Grand Central to catch a train up the Hudson Valley to Breakneck Ridge for a hike. BR is a request stop on the line, and turned out to be just a small piece of decking with some steps down to the side of the track. The train was completely full of hikers, many of whom were disembarking at the same station, and it was amusing to join a long line waiting to exit via the one door which lined up with the platform arrangement (extremely convenient for the trail, although I have no idea what you’re supposed to do if you wanted to return from the same place).

Our route took us straight up the hill and along the ridge for a while, before descending into the attractive small town of Cold Spring. We’ve actually hiked there before, but the temperature this time was much more pleasant, and it was a lot of fun to be walking in a group again. The first section of our route was reasonably quiet, perhaps because it was one of the steeper trails in the area – we stopped for lunch just before the top, and admired the view – but as we hit the ridge line we joined some significant numbers of other hikers. No worries about being ambushed by passing bears on this occasion! The crowds also meant that it was hard to get into any of the bars or cafes in Cold Spring for post-warm refreshments, but we persisted and found a pleasant spot at an outdoor bar, a lovely way to end the day before catching the train (from a regular station this time) back to Manhattan.

Sunday morning was church as usual, and then home for the chores we didn’t do on Saturday (what fun). For the evening though we’d arranged to go to the 8pm Compline service at Trinity Wall Street, with dinner beforehand. We ended up eating in a fairly ancient-looking diner, which felt very unManhattan, but had a solid meal nevertheless. The service itself was exquisite – Trinity’s small professional choir are superb, and their Compline is performed by candlelight. We were fascinated by the candles themselves, I think pure beeswax, they hardly dripped at all (although if you did manage to persuade them to release a single droplet of wax onto your hand it hurt a lot more than regular candles). After the service, a drink in a nearby bar brought the evening nicely to a close, and I was amused by some stray balloons in the Oculus as we headed home.

Then on Monday we were very excited to be invited to a BBQ. Almost called off due to inclement weather, happily the decision was taken to persevere – the backup plan of an afternoon at the pub would still have been fun, but of course cold and soggy BBQs are part of our British bank holiday DNA. As per the standard playbook, we sat outside eating and drinking under gloomy skies until everyone was chilly, and then continued indoors until it was time to call it a night.

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