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Bear Necessities of Life

Musings of Teddy Bear Necessity's Household
to Whom It May Concern
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Seven Sisters Country Park
This is a record of our day trip to the Seven Sisters Country Park in East Sussex, a 2-hour drive from London.  These cliffs are often used as a "stand-in" for the more famous White Cliffs of Dover in films and on TVs as they are kept more natural and undeveloped, and therefore more picturesque.  


Posing on top of the cliff

There are no fences along these cliffs, so the Kerries were kept on lead.

Many people commemorate their visit by leaving names and some other words with white chalk stones at the edge of the cliffs.  I suppose these can be called graffitis, but it is a much better and charming version than the marker pen or spray paint version.  
It's a hike to go up these hills, but it's all worth it.


What a view!


Along the way you can find many sheep happily grazing away.
Sakura is on lead here, but dogs can be off lead to their hearts content

given that they do not chase farm animals.  Some paths go right through sheep pastures, so you need to be careful.


Baaaaaaaaaaaaa


The Seven Sisters Country Park is a part of the immense South Downs National Park, which comprises of the entire green part in the map above ↑.


The South Downs consists of the dynamic coastlines, meandering river vallyes, rolling grassland and ancient woodlands.

There are also some historical curiosities, such as these "pill boxes" which are concrete dug-in guard posts built against the German invasion during the 1940s.  


The idea of a South Downs National Park dates back to the 1920s, and with much bumps and detours, it finally became in operation as a national park in 2011.  Nature loving British do their best to protect their environment.  The policy of Green Belt controls urbanization and protects the countryside from overdevelopment.  The organization such as the National Trust preserves the places of historic intest or natural beauty by owning 630,000 acres of mostly countryside properties.  This is a number equaling nearly 1.5% of the total land mass of England, Wales and Northern Ireland! 


Looking back, the fact that Louie was able to spend the last 5 years of his life in beautiful England where dogs can be dogs was a bless.

 
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 18:20 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
Honfleur trip
Going down the memory lane.
 
This is from our trips to Honfleur, France, in April and August of 2012.
 


Beautiful 17th century old harbor



In April, we stayed in this little cottage at La Fond de la Cour, a charming B&B runned by a very nice British couple. 
 


There even is a dog priprietor who was very taken by the Kerries.
 



Louie affirmed his love for livestocks.


In August, we stayed in the annex house, Petite Maison, of the hotel, Les Maisons de Léa. You can experience living in a 16th century half-timbered Normandie house this way.
 

We have to take along plenty of sheets and blankets to cover beds and sofas if we travel with the Kerries because they are such snugglers.  It is impossible to remove them from a sofa or a bed.


Louie approved the daily boulangerie routine.


Beautiful Honfleur.  It became a very special place for us with fond memories.


Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 15:26 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
Trip to Spain
It's been more than a month since our return, but we went to Spain for the first time.

The purpose of the trip was to go to elBulli, the world's best restaurant by a wizard of chef Ferran Adrià.  

This is a restaurant that is known to be almost impossible to get in, which seems outrageous considering the fact that it is located in a remote area in Spain's Costa Brava, 2 1/2 hours away from Barcelona.  But it's true.  The restaurant is only open half a year, and with only 45 available seats, only 8,000 diners get to dine there despite the fact that they receive over 2 million reservation requests! 

The reason why we were able to get in was solely due to the efforts made by our friends who won the reservation because they were willing to fly all the way from Hong Kong to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary.  It was our honor to accompany them on this very special occasion.

This is after-dinner coffee time in the restaurant's lovely courtyard with the sound of waves as the background music.  It's well past-midnight; the dinner took 5 hours with 36 course menus + 1 bottle of champaign and 2 bottles of red wine.  What an experience! (There are lots more photos in my Japanese blog in case anyone is interested.)


With *the* main event over, we took time to tour the Catalan area.  

Scenic Costa Brava.



Impressive Santa Maria de Montserrat, an 11th century Benedictine abbey atop sacred mountain of Catalan.


And finally Barcelona!

 
Magnificent Sagrada Familia.

As the first timers in Barcelona, we of course had to do Gaudi.  It was Gaudi-o-rama, in fact.



Casa Vicens


Gaudi's first work of importance that has been in the same family for 3 generations (after the initial family Gaudi built it for).  It is now for sale for 30 million euros!  


Casa Mila - Gaudi's last civil work.



Casa Batllò - Gaudi's best civil work 




Park Güell - Gaudi's most spectacular work of art.



We were able to enjoy our trip to Spain without worrying about the animals because a friend from Washington DC came to take care of them.  Actually we put cats in a cattery due to their bad behaviors (despite the sitter's willingness to cope with the delinquents), but the Kerries were able to lead their normal life during our absence.  This is a friend I knew over 10 years ago from a dog park in DC, reunited by another dog friend in the area.  Viva, dog connections!
 


Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 15:27 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
My First Hong Kong - Part 2
Other things I've learned about Hong Kong are as follows:



Scaffoldings are really made of bamboo just like in Jackie Chan movies;



Chinese people eat something called "stinky tofu" (= fermented tofu) that is LITERALLY stinky... . They really smell like rotten garbage, no kidding;




You can buy movies under $4;



The rent in HK is now known as the most expensive in the world. A case in point is a Stanley area apartment that costs US$25,000 a month (albeit HUGE!);


And I must say that I was really delighted



to see dogs in Hong Kong. Well-groomed terriers no less!


While I was in Hong Kong, there were two places I wanted to go, which were:

1. The Peninsula Hotel



The world-famous afternoon tea at Peninsula Hotel was something I'd always wanted to do.

The lobby of the Peninsula Hotel aka "Grande Dame of the Far East" is oh so gorgeous ... although the atmosphere is a bit too touristy (even for a hotel) and so a bit too casual for its stately ambiance. Much like the Plaza Hotel in NYC.


and

2. the China Club, which is apparently "the most difficult to get the membership for" club owned by the founder of Shanghai Tang (David Tang).



It's nice to have friends who have memberships for this exclusive club.




The décor of the club is ultra retro-chic Shanghainese that is reminiscent of 1930s and 40s slash kitschy pop that is the trademark of Shanghai Tang. The balance is superb!


The club offers entertainment in the main dining room.



This is a tea show.

Check out the movie below! (危険VOLUME WARNING危険)



As you can see, my very first Hong Kong visit was packed with excitement and fun, not to mention good food! Very satisfying, to say the least.
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 18:41 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
My First Hong Kong - Part 1
I finally made it to Hong Kong!



I'm probably one of the last persons among my friends to reach Hong Kong, but it's better late than never, right?

I now know


that Victoria Harbour that separates Hong Kong island and Kowloon side is too dirty for Christian Bale to swim in for his latest Batman flick;


that the so-called "world's longest escalator in HK" is surely long at 800m, but it's really strings of regular-length escalators put-together;


that shopping in Hong Kong is remarkably similar to shopping in NJ malls;

and that Hong Kong is finally catching on to Sushi.

This Hong Kong based Sushi restaurant "Itamae-sushi" is so popular that there is a line to get in at 10 p.m. . They also recently opened their first branch in Tokyo.


I also now know


that most high-rise buildings in HK are not office buildings but residential buildings, and also that the rent in (the Peak and central) HK is now highest in the world ($6,398);


that I felt quite comfortable in HK because it seemed like just Chinese-y Manhattan for the city is busy, dirty and, people are loud and pushy;


and that I have no problem eating Chinese food everyday if they are good (and they sure are excellent in HK, naturally!).

I must say, Hong Kong is quite interesting. ( ... to be continued)
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 13:17 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
Dog-gone Wineries
The first winery we visited was a small winery called Salvestrin in St. Helena. The Salvestrins has lived in Napa for 3 generations. They have a few dogs, but it seems that JRT "Jack" rules the vineyard. He is free to roam their 26 acres and if you are lucky to encounter him, he is all smiles and wags. He's the cutest thing!



And their wine certainly does not take a backseat to their famed dogs. Though they are relatively new wine makers, their wine is delicate and sophisticated. Their 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, I think, is just superb. Too bad we can't get them shipped to Japan!

Their tasting is by appointment only. Visit their website ↑ for more info.


And then, we went to the Airedale winery. Their real name is Dutch Henry, and they have 4 dogs (2 Airedales and 2 pugs) and 2 cats. Unfortunately, we couldn't meet the dogs as we went on the day that they are off. Sundays and Mondays are their days-off, so if you want to meet the Dutch Henry Airedales "Sadie" and "Buggsy," make sure to go there on weekdays except for Monday!

We were told that they are very calm nice girls. So calm that apparently they lounge around and sometimes do not even move out of the car's way! If it were Teddy, she would've kept herself very busy by prowling the property all day long doing the perimeter patrol and the stop-and-search all the visitors. LOL.

Dutch Henry Winery

The Dutch Henry wine is rather rustic and down-to-earth. Their white or red seems to be generally oaky and heavy. These cowboy-wannabe-guys make simple and sturdy wines, darn it.

Their 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is a particular gem for Airedale lovers



because of its Airedale themed label.



Dutch Henry cowboy-wanna-bes are also Deadheads, so the Airedale label was modeled after Greatful Dead's 1977 album cover "Terrapin Station" by the same artist. The turtles are replaced by Airedales, and the sign "Terrapin Station" now reads "Terrier Station." What a riot!


It gets cold in Napa at night. Although the room is of course heated, we lit a fire in the fireplace anyway.



The fire in hearth has a way of warming your heart, doesn't it?
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 17:29 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
Napa Valley
This was our 2nd trip to Napa Valley. The last time was one day before 9/11 .. come to think of it. We still remember the twinkling lights of the twin towers we saw from the plane as we flew into JFK on the eve of 9/11/01.

On a lighter note, we rented a convertible for this trip because we never get to drive a fun car like this.

Driving to Napa

The very wine-country like scenery.


Our accommodation was Harvest Inn in St. Helena.

Harvest Inn

Our room had a gigantic working fireplace and overlooked the Whitehall Lane Winery's vineyard. Very wine-country!


The town of St. Helena is very charming.



"Fideaux" is a very famous dog (and cat) boutique ... at least in the dog-gone circle. Naturally, Louie acquired a few more collars. His collection is quickly matching up with that of Teddy .. well, not quite .. at least just yet.

The pic in the lower right hand corner is the restaurant "Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen" in St. Helena. It's a fantastic little restaurant tucked away in a .. well, a backstreet. Its 24 rating for food by Zagat makes them quite main street though.

Although we can't be certain, we think that Russell's cousin's mother had taken us to this restaurant back in 2001. If that is the place, they serve pretty fabulous martini using locally brewed vodka. Their wine selection is terrific, too. Yum!


In fact, Napa is a great town for foodies. The most famous, of course, is Thomas Keller's French Laundry, but so-called "America's hardest restaurant to get a reservation" had defeated us.

Luckily, however, we were able to get squeezed into Bouchon, French Laundry's sister restaurant.



The brasserie serves exquisite seafood. Les Fruits de Mer and grilled bass with toasted almonds were to die for!

The jeans-casual dining at Bouchon is probably nicer than the formal 9 course meal counterpart ... but we still would love to go to French Laundry at least once in our lifetime. Well, someday. Bouchon now has a Las Vegas branch, BTW.


Of course we did some wine tasting, too, although not much. We had 2 days in Napa, and the first day was spent on traveling and also by Russell recovering from preceding nightly hard drinking as a part of the wedding bash.

Last time, we hit famous wineries, so this time we wanted to go a bit more boutiquey. We were wondering what should be our guideline ... and we found the answer in ...

"Winery Dogs of Napa Valley"!



How could we ignore this face? Impossible! ........ continued........
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 13:16 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
San Francisco
We went to San Francisco.



↑ The view from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

We were excited that the view from our room was the same, albeit from much smaller window ;-).

This was our fifth visit in SF area, but it's been probably 10+-years since we last walked around the city of San Francisco.



The city was ready for Halloween, including the pooches, no doubt.



Hey, what's that?

It's a GPS-guided, story-telling, sightseeing tour car called "GoCar Tours," available in San Francisco, San Diego and Miami. What a great idea!



Le raison de votre voyage was Russell's best friend's wedding in which he was given the role of (one of) the best man,



but we also got to see the Chin relatives and our old friends in SF area thanks to Russell's parents' initiation. Great to see you guys!

Then we were off to Napa Valley ・・・・・>
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 13:35 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
World Trotting Months Part 3
We went straight to Singapore from NY (well via a brief stopover in Tokyo), and the whole trip took about 20 hours. I do not like flying much, so this was torturous.



It was humid and also raining cats and dogs in Singapore, so I rested in hotel during the day to try to recuperate from being locked up in the torture chamber (= 飛行機) for so long.



It was only at night that I ventured out to the city. We went to so-called "hawkers" in Chinatown to eat. Singapore hawkers is like food stalls in street fair but apparently it's around all year round and it's good and reasonable.

Singapore was very clean, modern, and safe, as I had always thought they would be, but one thing I must complain about Singapore is its taxis. The taxis are numerous and very clean (the fact that most Singaporians speak English is very helpful for tourists, too), but it's actually very hard to catch one.

Actually, it's almost impossible to hail a taxi on the street, and they don't even come to the taxi stand. You see many taxis, but they all say "ON CALL" or "HIRED." What it is is that you are supposed to call them. But for a tourist without a mobile that's a big hassle. I later learned that a fee to summon a taxi costs just as much as their starting fare. No wonder cab drivers don't pick up street passengers then!


After only one day in Singapore, we flew to Bali. This time the trip only took 2 hours, phew.



We did some sightseeing, of course,



but the main objective for this trip was to attend friends' wedding



and also to rest from the long-drawn-out trip that was stretching out over a few weeks and in 3 countries. Bali was a perfect place to end our wearing souls, just to relax and also to have a good time, especially in the company of good friends!
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 17:47 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)
World Trotting Months Part 2
And then we went back to the States.

The first stop for me was Georgetown, Washington, DC, where Teddy and I had the best years of our life.



I absolutely adored walking down beautiful Georgetown streets everyday.



I even got to see some old dog friends from a local park. Their dogs (now only 1 surviving, agh..) were all Teddy's friends. Oh how much fun we used to have with our young and vibrant dogs.



Then I went to visit Camp Woof, Teddy's most favorite place on earth.

The original camp members, Woof and Teddy, are beyond the Rainbow Bridge now, but Woof's brother Bearcat keeps the fort there. On this day, Bearcat was joined by girl friends, Ginny and Eloise, and seeing 3 'dales at the happiest place for Airedales was comforting.


And then, I went up to NY



to join Russell who was already there for a business trip. Our main objective for this trip, though, was to attend Russell's mother's birthday party. More than 200 people have gathered to celebrate her birthday and it was a big surprise.



Of course the biggest and best surprise was her beloved son!

(still to be continued ...)
Posted by teddydale
Traveling / 17:55 / comments(0) / trackbacks(0)