Sunday, 1 April 2012

Pussies, planes and Premier League


I have never before met a cat who won't drink water out of his bowl until the ripples created by setting the dish down on the floor have completely stopped. 

This is Shadow, a slightly deaf 18-year old New York cat who is the most fussy eater I have ever seen.
For example, he won't eat anything put down by my friend Laura. She can lovingly prepare a meal totally in accord with Shadow's exacting requirements, set it down in front of him, only to find that her best efforts are totally ignored. Shadow just sits there looking at the dish with the body language indicating his displeasure.
Shadow will only eat when Laura's partner Rich performs the ritual. The food has to be mashed up into a fine paste, with the essential vitamins and other medications crushed into a fine powder and thus secreted into the mix. Final touch involves the meal being gently heated in a microwave.
I watch all this happening while we are debating what to do on a rainy day in New York.
Laura suggests a visit to the 'Cradle of Aviation Museum' (www.cradleofaviation.org).
I didn't realise, but Long Island, where I am staying, has always been at the forefront of the development of flying. The flat Hempstead Plains, close to the eastern edge of the Continental US was an ideal base and the area was used for flying even before the first unsuccessful attempt at a transatlantic balloon crossing in 1873.
From Roosevelt field, Lindbergh flew to Paris in 1927 and, only 10 years later, flying boats were operating the first commercial transatlantic service from nearby Port Washington.


Mitchel Field, whose original hangars house the museum, was closed in 1961.
I have been to many such museums over the years but Cradle of Aviation is rather special. The aviation history of the area is very well represented, with some truly splendid examples of early string-bag aircraft up to the most modern jet fighters, manufactured by local company Grumman. It's interesting to note that around 240 companies still operate in Long Island producing parts for aircraft. Grumman developed their business into the space age and the lunar landing module, featured in the museum, is just one of many examples of their work.


Our visit coincided with a model aircraft weekend with some enormous radio controlled planes on display. We spend three hours in the museum and could easily have spent a whole day. 

In the afternoon, I am delighted to discover that Fox Soccer is showing Fulham against Norwich and although the Canaries fought back to reduce the London Club's early two goal lead, it was nice to have a little link with home.