Start spreadin’ the news

Another couple of days have passed by without a post and I have finally resolved my computer connectivity problems. I now know what a Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) is, and that a MacBook has it automatically configured to 1500. By changing it to 1453 (apparently an old Cisco configuration – who knew?) all my internet connection problems are over, for now. Every day is a school day. On with the narrative…

Sunday morning ended our brief stay in Boston. After less than twenty-four hours, we called an Uber to take us to Boston’s South Station where we would catch an Amtrak train to New York City.

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The Acela Express train has all Business Class seats, which were perfectly comfortable for our three-hour trip to NY. The journey was uneventful and we alighted at Penn Station and located the lift to get us and our bags up to street level. Our diving experience came in handy here, as we controlled our breathing to try to cope with the stench in the lift. We disgorged into 8th Avenue and hailed a cab to take us to our AirBnB.

I had managed to find accommodation in the Lower East Side, on Orchard St just north of Canal, which the host had characterised as New York loft living. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn’t too much of an exaggeration. By NY standards, the place was huge, with some quirky features as it struggled to fit in cooking facilities and a bathroom but it was more than adequate for our needs.

By the time we had settled in to the apartment, we decided to have a quiet evening. I had identified a bluegrass jam that we would attend the next night, so we owed ourselves some down time. We grabbed some takeaway pizza from Scarr’s, just a couple of doors down Orchard, and watched the first episode of Game of Thrones. We also dropped off some washing at the laundry, also just a couple of doors away from us. It looks like we have everything we need round here.

On Monday, we had an issue that needed to be assessed and possibly addressed. We had noticed in Mexico that Ishbel’s dobro had developed a crack at the headstock. Due to my diligent (and definitely not obsessive) research on the relative merits of music shops in New York I identified Rudy’s Music as the place where we should visit to get an opinion on what needed done. My mandolin was also in need of a setup, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and stroll over to Soho with the instruments. We arrived just as the shop was opening so hung back a little to let the staff get organised. We did hear one other customer leaving his guitar for a setup ¬†and being told that it would be two weeks before it would be ready because of the volume of work in the shop. Oh, dear.

Ishbel was next in line, and handed over the dobro with an explanation on what was the issue. We also explained that we were leaving the city on Friday so if they couldn’t do anything, we would just have to wait to get it assessed. They agreed to take a look at it, at which point the repair expert happened by and there was a thorough examination of the crack. The big question was whether it would open up enough for him to be able to get some glue into it. It was possible that we would have to wait for the problem to get worse before it could be fixed. By this time, I had already decided I wouldn’t even ask about a mandolin setup. Ishbel and the repair expert went downstairs to get the dobro on the bench under a good light and figure out next steps. I took the opportunity to play one of the mandolins in the shop. Why not?

Ishbel came back with some good news. He was able to open the crack up enough that he should be able to get some glue into it, and he was comfortable getting it done in time for us to pick it up before we left NY. It appears the problem is probably due to what they call whiplash, resulting from baggage handlers throwing the cases around. The case is strong enough to withstand impact but what they recommend is that, from now on, we should check the dobro at the gate rather than the check-in desk; de-tune a half step to reduce tension on the neck; and stuff newspaper into the space under the headstock when checking the case. We left the dobro with these guys to do their magic and went out with the intention of enjoying a leisurely stroll through Soho. What we had was a quick dash through a rainstorm to the nearest cafe, where we sipped a coffee in the hope that the rain would desist.

It didn’t look like it would stop, so when it looked a little lighter, we headed back towards the apartment. We stopped off in Little Italy, at Piemonte Ravioli, and bought some fresh pasta and home-made sauce for dinner. It was amazing.

After dinner, we made our way up to Paddy Reilly’s Bar in Midtown to enjoy their regular Monday Bluegrass Jam. We weren’t taking instruments with us as we were fairly certain we would be out of our depth in a genuine, big city bluegrass jam in the USA. Meh. In all honesty, I think all the players at our home jam in Worthing would have comfortably held their own in this company. We probably need to be a little less intimidated in future.