Thursday, 25 April 2013

St Louis Zoo and Forest Park

The hospital complex where I am working this week (St Louis Children's Hospital, Jewish Barnes Hospital and Washington University Medical School), including the hotel where I am staying, is across the road from the lovely Forest Park.

The weather when I arrived on the weekend was lovely, and so on Sunday I set off on my now routine Sunday morning exploration (I'm thinking this is a habit I should try and continue when I get home to London). I walked through the park and spent several hours at the zoo - in actual fact this walk was a little longer than it looked on the map, and probably took me at least 45 mins each way...but the park is lovely, the weather was sunny, and there were a lot of people out and about enjoying the morning.

St Louis zoo is known to be one of the best zoos in the world...and I was astounded that it was free entry. It has a long time since I've been to a zoo, but from memory they are generally quite expensive (at least the one in Sydney is). My only disappointment was that the giraffes were inside their home and not able to be seen roaming in their enclosure - and I do love giraffes. But, there were certainly many other animals out enjoying their enclosures...

...and there were quite a few signs of spring within the zoo as well...


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Developing an addiction to HGTV...

I'm not sure if I would call this a pro or a con but I have developed somewhat of an addiction to HGTV during my time in the US. At any time of the day (but generally most evenings when I am working in my hotel room), I can watch back to back television programmes focused on home design - and what is not to love about that!

Even last week when all of the country was glued to the news as the events unfolded in Boston, it was nice to have the option to switch over to something that was not focused on the human trauma invoked by those acts, and instead be immersed in home renovations.

Some of the programmes I had seen before when staying with my mother in Australia (as she has cable tv and some of these programmes are picked up by the home and lifestyle channels). Others are completely new to me and I am a little bit addicted (Income Property anyone??)

I am a little concerned about having to completely break my addiction when I return home, as I don't have cable/satellite doubt I'll be relying on my love of Kirstie and Phil to help ease the transition!


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Spring in Cincinnati

It has been an eventful time to be travelling in the US. The events of last week in Boston and West Texas left me feeling little like blogging.

However, I did have a beautiful day of sunshine in Cincinnati last Sunday after I arrived, and so used the opportunity to explore the downtown and waterfront area.

Followed by a short bus ride up to Mount Adams for lunch and some admiration of the lovely trees in blossom.

I spent some very valuable days at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and University Hospital throughout the week. I've now moved on to St Louis and hearing up for my next week of adventures...


Saturday, 13 April 2013

Architectural detailing

Whilst staying in Providence, I rented a studio flat near Brown University. The flat is a conversion from a beautiful old New England style home that is filled with the most lovely detailing.

The flat is converted from what I imagine was originally the drawing room. It is the two windows on the ground floor to the right of the front door in the above photo.

Beautiful mouldings and detailing on walls and door architraves...

Original bathroom floor tiling...

...and beautiful ironwork at the front entrance. Somehow I don't think my Hampton Inn accommodation on my next stop will have quite as much charm...


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Newport, Rhode Island

I had a free day today and used the opportunity to visit Newport. Being of primary school age in 1983 when Australia II won the America's Cup (the first time it had been won by a foreign challenger in 132 years), I always had a bit of fascination with the regatta and with Newport itself.

Newport is still undoubtedly a yachting town, but in the perfect spring sunshine it was also showing off all of its diverse architecture. Originally developed as a coastal escape for plantation owners from the Carolina's to escape the heat of the southern summers, Newport's popularity boomed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as it became the summer playground of New York's societal elite - during a period known as the gilded age.

Newport today is a delightful mix of beautiful shingled and clapboard cottages....

... and amazing large mansions, also known as 'cottages'...

The last two photographs are of The Breakers and Marble House - properties originally owned by branches of the Vanderbuilt family. The interiors are completely ostentatious and so far removed from the notion of relaxed coastal elegance. There are many reviews that consider that these properties are actually of poor taste in their over-the-top decoration...but I found them an interesting display of how opulent the lifestyles during the gilded age actually were...true Great Gatsby territory!

I also spent a short time on the cliff path - enjoying the warmth and sunshine...

And on a side note, I always find it interesting how when one travels, one begins to appreciate the small things that can normally seem irritating. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with London buses (generally to do with standing on cold, windy streets waiting for one), but in comparison to RI's public transport system, London transport almost seems to be bordering on Swiss-like efficiency. I've been travelling on buses to and from the hospital for the past few days, and took the bus down to Newport today...and I have gathered that the actual timetable bears only a passing resemblance to the published one. Buses have run early, run late, or not seemed to have arrived at all according to the scheduled timetable. And as was described to me today, they are usually populated by an interesting group of 'characters', of whom a good 75% seem to be heavy smokers from what I can gather from standing for long periods waiting at bus-stops with these characters... But I'd have to say, that the over-riding benefit of the bus system is how affordable it is. You can travel from one end of the state to the other for $2 - RI is a small state, but I think that is very impressive!


Saturday, 6 April 2013

College Hill, Providence

Day 1, and my itinerary means that I have 2 days to explore Providence before starting my fellowship visits. This morning dawned brightly, and by virtue of my body clock still being on UK time I was up and out early exploring. Providence is only a small city (about 175000 population) and the College Hill area and Downtown are eminently walkable.

I am staying in an apartment near Wayland Square, so this morning my first stop was Brown University. College Green is surrounded by beautiful university buildings - and it was very quiet and peaceful (obviously university students are not up and about at 8am on a Saturday morning). It was actually quite cold in the wind, but still warmer than London and the sun was shining!

The area around Brown is filled with beautiful homes of Georgian/federal architecture - a mix of brick and the more traditional New England clapboard homes.

I finished off my morning with a lovely hour or so spent touring the John Brown House (brother of the university founder). The house was a private residence from the time it was built in the mid 1700's until it was bequeathed to the Rhode Island Historical Society in the mid 20th century - and any developments made by later generations remained true to the original era in which the house was built. So it remains a beautifully preserved example of refined 18th century living.

...and proof that spring has definitely arrived here in New England!


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Embarkation Day



Image via
Today is embarkation day. I'm starting four weeks of travel funded by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel fellowship.

The purpose of my trip is to spend time at two university research centres and three hospitals to help me develop my own plans for post doctoral research in relation to preterm infants and their parents.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established from the public donations that followed Churchill's death in 1965. The travel fellowships are open to all British citizens, of any profession, to enable them to travel abroad and enhance their learning/knowledge in a particular area, with a particular remit to bring that knowledge back to the UK for the benefit of the UK population. I will be using my trip to explore leading neonatal therapy research and practice in the US, to help me refine my research programme that I will undertake here in the UK.

So I am spending a week in each of four cities - Providence (Rhode Island), Cincinnati (Ohio), St Louis (Missouri) and Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas).

Such a wonderful opportunity....not least because it will help me escape the horrid London weather. It snowed quite heavily yesterday, which is ridiculous given that it is now April!