Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Walking in Westchester County - Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial

A trip to Lasdon Park over Memorial Day weekend turned out to be a timely visit. The park, once a family country retreat, has woodland, meadow and formal gardens which are open to the public all year round, but it also contains four memorials and a museum dedicated to the Westchester County servicemen and servicewomen.

A Trail of Honor features 12 stone cairns bearing the busts of soldiers who fought in every major American War from the American Revolution to Operation Desert Storm. 

The American Revolution

War of 1812

The World War II memorial featured both a young sailor and an older soldier. 

Operation Desert Storm 

The busts were created by sculptor Nils Anderson, a veteran of World War II, and are copies of renderings he made while a patient at the FDR Veterans Administration Hospital in Montrose.

There is also a monument to recognize those who served in the Merchant Marines, risking their lives to ensure that the troops had the necessary supplies. 6,795 merchant marines lost their lives in World War II alone.

A Korean War memorial reminds us that 'Freedom is not free' while a nearby monument lists the names of the numerous County residents who died during the conflict.

The most stunning memorial, however, is the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial which includes a sculpture of a soldier carrying a wounded comrade while a nurse rushes to his aid. The sculpture, designed by a local artist, Julia Cohen, was commissioned in 1987 in honor of not only the local servicemen who lost their lives but also the eight female nurses who were killed in Vietnam. 

Elsewhere in the park, another trail leads to a Chinese Friendship Pavilion and Cultural Garden. 

The pavilion was a gift from the city of Jingzhou in the People's Republic of China to its 'Sister City' of Westchester County. Overlooking a pond and surrounded by Chinese plantings including bamboo and dogwood, the pavilion provides a tranquil spot to relax.

The centerpiece of the park is the William and Mildred Lasdon Memorial Garden. The entrance court is lined with wonderfully fragrant trees, shrubs, and flowers; the late blooming lilac a real delight to the senses.

Fringe Tree

Beds of flowering annuals and bulbs provide a seasonally changing display of color around a central fountain and the garden itself is encircled by ornamental shrubs from all over the world including the Fringe Tree with its blossom as soft to the touch as its name implies.

The original house on the estate, which was modeled after George Washington's home Mount Vernon in Virginia, is now used for offices and workshops. The caretaker's cottage is now a small museum housing artifacts belonging to Westchester County residents who served in the military and the pool house has been converted into the Garden Shop selling plants and gifts.

Behind the shop is a large courtyard with a new greenhouse, the Lasdon Conservatory, which will be officially opened in June with an exhibition called The Rainforest; Tropical Treasures.

All in all, Lasdon Park turned out to be the perfect place for a Memorial Day Weekend outing. 

Mel Parish writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. Her latest novel Trust No One is now available from Amazon. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Walking in the City - The New York Botanical Gardens in May

After my trip to the New York Botanical Gardens in November I was determined to return at frequent intervals to enjoy the changing vistas provided by the seasonal plantings. A Christmas gift of an annual membership reinforced this determination, but somehow it's taken me until this week to make a return visit. I wish I hadn't put it off so long. I'd missed the daffodils and the cherry blossom, and the lilac was fading fast.

The last of the lilac bushes - a hint of what I'd missed

It was, however, the perfect time to see one of my favorite plants in bloom. The Azalea Garden was bursting with color.

The Botanical Gardens is currently exhibiting the work of Dale Chihuly, an American Glass Sculptor.
I have to admit I had never heard of the artist before and therefore was not sure what to expect, but was awestruck by how beautiful some of the pieces are and how well they fitted in among the plantings.


The photos don't do justice to the artwork. If you are in the area and have a chance to visit, I'd highly recommend it. The exhibit runs until the 29th October 2017. On some evenings the artwork will be illuminated. Sounds like yet another reason for a return visit to the New York Botanical Gardens!

Mel Parish writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. Her latest novel Trust No One is now available from Amazon. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

NEW RELEASE - Trust No One

I'm delighted to announce the official release of my latest novel Trust No One.

Described as "a taut, suspense thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat." Trust No One is now available in both print and ebook format from Amazon. It is also available to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited.  

Click here to purchase

It was a conversation Maggie Cumberland wasn’t supposed to hear.

A conversation that rips apart her comfortable, suburban life, leads her to betray the one person she has always depended on and forces her from the security of her once happy home.

Fearful of retribution after telling police that her husband Daniel might be involved in human trafficking, Maggie must find the courage and resourcefulness necessary to stay one step ahead of her enemies without the help of either family or friends. But who are her enemies?

Maggie has no idea, only the knowledge that if she wants to stay alive she can’t afford to trust anyone.

Trust No One is a gripping psychological suspense about a woman who discovers untapped strengths in the face of a shocking betrayal. 

Available from Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/TNO2017

Mel Parish writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and psychological suspense. Her other titles include Silent Lies, Ulterior Motives, The Anniversary and Motive for Revenge. For more information visit Mel's website at www.melparish.com. If you want to stay up to date with Mel's new releases and receive details of special offers, sign up for Mel's occasional newsletter at http://bit.ly/melparishnews.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday in NYC City 2017

Easter Sunday in New York City means it's time for the annual parade of Easter bonnets. Fifth Avenue between 49th and 55th Street is closed to traffic for several hours for the event which is not really a parade, but more of a chance for those so inclined to show off their creations, mingle with the onlookers and pose for photos.

This year, pink proved to be a popular choice:

But it wasn't just ladies who got in on the fun:

There were big hats:

And little hats:

The Milliners Guild

Those who looked elegant:

And those who matched their hats to their costumes:

There were hats made from Peeps:

And some with a fruity theme:

Even some dogs joined in:

And when you needed a break, you could always stop for ice-cream:

This year the crowd of onlookers seemed bigger than previous years, probably due to the unseasonably warm weather - the temperature was in the 80's - but as usual it was a fun and friendly atmosphere. The participants obviously put a lot of time and effort into their costumes, making this an event well worth seeing if you find yourself in New York City on Easter Sunday. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Historic Sites - Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK

Whenever anyone tells me they have been on a tour of the UK it seems that London, the Cotswolds, the Lake District or Edinburgh are the most common destinations on their itinerary. Some might venture into Wales, Cornwall or the Scottish Highlands, but it's rare to hear of the northeast of England being included. Which is a shame, because it offers magnificent scenery and a wealth of history that rivals other more popular tourist areas.

Take Bamburgh Castle for example. One of the largest still-inhabited castles in the country, it is impressive not only for its size but also for its location on a rocky outcrop right beside the sea. I've been to visit it several times but had never appreciated the extent of its history.

the view on approach to the village of Bamburgh 

The castle was originally home to the Kings of Northumbria, at a time when Northumbria was the most powerful of the seven kingdoms of Anglo Saxon England. Bamburgh was known as 'the very foundation stone of England'.  Between AD 700 and AD 1000  attacks by rival kingdoms and the subsequent invasion by the Vikings led to the eventual dissolution of the Northumbrian Kingdom and the castle fell into disrepair.

view from the village

With the arrival of William the Conqueror the Normans used the castle as a base for invading Scotland and it was rebuilt. A Great Tower constructed  in 1164 still stands today. Over the years the castle was extended and fortified until the War of the Roses in 1464 when the castle garnered the distinction of becoming the first English castle to be defeated by gunpowder artillery.

By 1610 the castle was abandoned by James I and gifted to Claudius Forster, the castle's royal keeper whose family had held that post for generations.

In 1894 it was purchased by Lord William Armstrong, a wealthy industrialist who was also an inventor and philanthropist. He oversaw the restoration of the castle with the intention that it should be used as a home for retired gentlemen, but he passed away before it was complete. His great nephew inherited the title and the castle and completed the work, but decided to make it a family residence. Today it is still the family's private home but parts of the castle are now open to visitors.

The castle has been used in several movies including Macbeth (1971 and 2015 versions) and Elizabeth (1998). Scenes from The BFG were filmed on the beach and more recently 'Transformers: The Last Knight',which will be released later this year, was on location at the castle.

view to the south

view to the north

The day we visited was cold and windy so we almost had the beach to ourselves, but even in good weather you never have to worry about crowds.

There are miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches along the northeast coast, mostly undeveloped thanks to the changeable climate which has deterred tourism, but this one with the castle looming over the dunes and sand is one of my favorites.

The village of Bamburgh is small but has plenty of places to eat and drink, including The Copper Kettle Tea Rooms which offers a wonderful cream tea.

Mel Parish writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense.

Her latest novel Trust No One  is currently entered into the Kindle Scout competition which lets readers check out the first few chapters of an unpublished novel and decide whether it is worthy of nomination for an Amazon publishing contract. If a book is selected all those who nominated the book get a free copy when it’s published!
You can check out the campaign page at https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3F2P5G8A4YVW3.

Please take a look  and, if you like what you see, nominate Trust No One before 10 March 2017