Tag Archives: united states liner


Sailing into the unknown….

It’s the 28th January 1966. I am just twenty years old, freshly out of art school and against my parent’s wishes newly married. We are taking the train from London to Southampton where we are to board the United States Liner for New York.

I had no desire to live in the United States, and so had agreed to go for a two year visit. My husband had family living in Massachusetts and Key West Florida where one of his cousins was a captain on the then active Marine Base. We would sail to New York and then take a Greyhound Bus to Miami where we would be met by my husband’s uncle. Then onto Key West where we were to stay for a couple of months.

When teaching I am often heard saying ‘Jump off the cliff’ even though you have no idea what’s at the bottom…JUST JUMP – and I suppose without understanding what that meant then in the way that I do today, – that’s what I did…I took a big leap of faith.

My first impressions upon boarding the United States liner was how huge and how American it was. American accents, food, smells – immediately so different from the world I knew in the UK and Europe. (Compared to today – back then very few people travelled to the USA. Most of what we knew we learned from the news, books or films.).

As we left Southampton things seemed pretty smooth. I remember going to the dining room for our first meal – when it began to get choppy! After a stop in Bremerhaven to pick up more passengers we were then on our way across the Atlantic.

It turned out to be one of the roughest crossings on record. Most people were very sick, including me. What had seemed like a huge powerful ship was bobbed about on the waves like a cork. If I hadn’t been so sick, I would have been terrified….I didn’t even turn up for lifeboat practise – Going down with the ship seemed like a preferable choice!

We never did get back to the dining room….rather we were laid out on a sun deck with many others……buckets by our sides.

We arrived in New York Harbour on the 3rd February 1966. It was bitterly cold and there was snow and ice everywhere. We came under the newly built Verrazanno Bridge. Ahead was the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island and Manhattan. (Of course then I had no idea that just a year or so later I would be living on Harbor View Place on Staten Island which overlooked all of these places….(see Vignette 3.)

Not only is everything interconnected, but I am constantly reminded that none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out……….

First impressions: of New York…Organised chaos.…colour as in yellow cabs, bill boards, Policemen with guns….and so much noise. Quite a shock to the system.

We then had to navigate our way to the Greyhound Bus Terminal…another shock to the system….where we eventually boarded a bus to Miami.

An important note: I thought when I hit land the terrible sea sickness would leave me…..but it persisted. I was to learn about two months after arrival that I was pregnant. My son Jarrod was born on 10th September 1966 which means that I was probably two weeks pregnant when we set sail for the States. So I was sick from rough seas and early pregnancy….who knew?

There are many vignettes to be told about that trip…some of them very funny – some poignant, but rest assured when we did eventually arrive in Key West it was a huge relief – but just the beginning of many experiences and culture shocks.

A special experience in Key West was helping Cuban refugees arriving on tiny boats. I got involved with this through the people we were staying with. Again more vignettes to come 🙂

When life is manageable

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”   Thomas Merton.

Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset – part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, which spans 185 million years of geological history.  – reminding me that we are but a blip in time and that ultimately Mother Nature rules!  watercolour  20-11-15 - 1 (1231)Given that I hadn’t been on the Isle of Wight since 1965, I decided to take a taxi from the Ryde ferry terminal to Bembridge where I was staying.      The taxi driver was lovely…a man who had moved to the Island from London thirty years ago.      As he pointed out, the Island works best for young families, people over sixty, and of course those who love to sail  – Cowes being a world class sailing arena.        His grown children have returned to London, a story I heard several times.     As he pointed out that despite a good internet connection, until the day a bridge or tunnel is built, connecting the Island with the mainland,  life as it is will probably continue.       (let’s hope they never build a tunnel or bridge…..)

After checking into my B & B I had planned on seeing my friend, artist and blogger, Sarah Vernon (First Night Design) however Sarah was taken into hospital on the day I arrived!       I am relieved and pleased to say that Sarah is now home, and will tell you all about her ordeal in her own words when she is more rested.   Get well soon Sarah.

Proving that there is a silver lining in most circumstances,  I did get to visit Sarah in Newport Hospital, which gave me the opportunity to take the beautiful and relaxing one and a half hour bus ride from Bembridge to Newport.

One of the photographs I took of Sandown from the top of the number 8 bus from Bembridge to Newport….it was a beautiful day.  20-11-15 - 1 (991)My overall first impressions were of a much slower pace of life,  of almost going back to how the UK was when I was growing up.    Everyone I encountered was extremely helpful, including the bus drivers.    People still queue.…and of course being a Brit I do like queues :).      There was no litter or graffiti….a sense of order prevailed.      In short it all felt very manageable.

It felt as if the Island has not outgrown its infrastructure.  Life appeared to be integrated rather than fragmented.    The opposite to feeling overwhelmed and isolated – which I believe is a huge problem for many in today’s society.  

Newport, the principal town of the Island, is often referred to as its capital.    Again very manageable, very easy to walk around…..I had a wonderful fish and chip lunch for £4!    Newport Hospital was just a short bust ride away from the town centre – everything felt easy.

Outside the Art Centre in Newport.    20-11-15 - 1 (1009)This visit was about getting a feel of the place.     Would I want to spend time there painting?    These are always my prime questions.     The answer is yes.    I would choose a village location with a bus route.    This would allow me to walk to shops/pubs etc, and with my London bus pass – free bus travel.     So it will definitely go on my list of places to explore and paint.

Part of the beautiful Isle of Wight coastline. 1500-isleofwight-creditNTI returned to the mainland via the Cowes ferry to Southampton where I had the sudden realisation that the last time I was on Southampton dock was  January 28th 1966 when I took the United States Liner to New York!   Talk about deja vu.   My friend Suzy, whose office sits right on the dock then drove me to Dorset.

I stayed with art college friend Maureen….always very enjoyable.       Although I don’t do very well with cars (anyone who knows me will  be smiling at this:)  Maureen took me to Lulworth Cove – part of the Jurassic Coast- and I am so pleased she did.     The weather could not have been more perfect and most importantly it was  visual feast.

Three different views of Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Jurrasic Coast  Dorset….watercolours. 20-11-15 - 1 (1235)

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This image of Lulworth Cove is taken a half a mile away from where I painted Stair Hole….61029843I began this post with Thomas Merton’s quote about balance, order rhythm and harmony.…elements I believe we all need in our lives.

Along with Crickhowell Wales, Saorge and other locations in France, the isle of Wight goes on my list of places where these elements are still to be found.

I am constantly reminded as I paint the magical hummingbird of how we can learn from Mother Nature – be it on the minute scale of the hummingbird or the rugged and grand scale of the Jurrasic Coast.       It is at our peril that we lose sight of this.

A magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life. – watercolour/gouache20-11-15-1-358A Bientôt


Fifty years ago…….Happy Birthday Jarrod

Fifty years ago, on 10th September my darling son, Jarrod Reed was born…..This post is a tribute to him.

A collage of just a very few moments in Jarod’s life…. 

20-11-15-1-396The story of Jarrod’s birth still makes me smile – and so I will share it here.

On January 28th, 1966 – along with my first husband who was English, I set sail on the United States Liner from Southampton England to New York.    We were planning on a two year visit.      Just out of art college I was twenty years old.

The crossing was one of the roughest on record at that time, and indeed there were many accidents on the ship due to very rough seas.     Although there were several life boat practises….all I wanted to do was die!!!   Oh I was so terribly sick.

Having arrived in New York, (thinking that all would be well once I hit terra firma) we took a Greyhound Bus to Miami Florida, and then we were driven to Key West – our destination…and yes, I was sick the whole way and it felt as if the very land beneath me was rocking and rolling just like the ocean!

So when I was still being sick two months after our arrival on Key West Florida….and remember this was way before any pregnancy tests were available at the local chemist….I was quite shocked to find that I was pregnant….and in hindsight even more amazed that Jarrod had survived such a rough beginning.

With Jarrod  – Ft. Lauderdale – Florida – 1966.


Jarrod was a dear ittle boy….and I might add continues to be a wonderful adult….I am very proud of him.     Among other things, he is a superb musician and chef…..

I am also pleased to note that Jarrod is in a very happy place as he reaches 50.    Nearly three years ago, he reconnected with a childhood friend – (whose mother happens to be an artist friend of mine:) and they are extremely  happy.    Definitely a case  of ‘none of us is every creative enough to know how things will actually work out.…..’      Recent pictures of Jarrod and Kendle together are in the collage.

Love this picture – one of a series taken by my childhood friend, Mick Duff when Jarrod and I were visiting the UK. 


Big brother to Christie – (I never could bake cakes:)


Jarrod – 27 years old 


At thirty – when he visited me in Wales


Jarrod and Kendle today on the horse farm where they live….


Ala prima oil painting  – Jarrod 27 years  – signed Moo Mar – the name Jarrod gave me many years ago……


And so my very gifted, wonderful son….here’s wishing you a fabulous fiftieth  birthday and may you and Kendle enjoy many more together.

Moo Mar…….:)












Interconnections and new horizons.

‘Life is like climbing a tower:    the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.’   William Lyon Phelps. 

One of the many paintings taken from sketches made during the twelve years I lived and worked in Wales.    Large watercolour/gouache.

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It was April of 1996, when my daughter Christie and I were standing on the steps to the American Embassy in London waiting to get Christie a replacement passport.     It suddenly occurred to me that thirty years earlier, in January of 1966, I had been in exactly the same place waiting  to pick up my visa to visit the United States.

In that moment I was able to look back in time at the younger me with detachment and compassion and at my daughter with a sense of wonder.

In 1966, I had no idea what a huge adventure I was about to embark on – So many experiences and changes were to occur that I could never have been creative enough to imagine, including the birth of my two children in the United States.

Tangible evidence of two major changes that were to come.   My son Jarrod and daughter Christie….This was taken in my Westtown, Pennsylvania studio in 1978:)

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So why the United States?      In 1965, after finishing art college, I married my first husband in London.         As a young boy he had visited family in the States,  and having loved the experience, wanted to return.      We agreed on a two year visit.

On January 28th 1966 we set sail from Southampton on the SS United States liner.      Our final destination was to be Key West Florida.

The SS United States liner in 1966


After what was one of the roughest crossings on record – causing me and just about everyone else aboard to be sea sick….we arrived in New York Harbour on the 3rd February.     As we glided under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, I had no idea that one year later, I would be returning to New York  where I would be living in a cottage on Staten Island overlooking the Harbour.

The Verazzano-Narrows Bridge – spanning the narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn.    


After disembarking onto the shores of Manhattan we took a yellow cab to the bus terminal and then a Greyhound bus to Miami.     From there my husband’s uncle drove us to Key West, the most southern point of the United States.

A greyhound bus in 1966


Still feeling queasy from the Atlantic crossing, several weeks later I was to find that I was pregnant.    On 10th September 1966 – almost exactly nine months after setting sail, my son Jarrod was born in the brand new Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

As time moves on I believe more and more in fate.    Had I known that I was pregnant prior to leaving the UK – I would never have travelled at that time.

Jarrod about three months old – Florida. – 1966


I have begun the process of  writing my autobiography which has given me cause for much reflection.

Yesterday, I met with a friend and we talked about how I would tackle the  book.    The answer is that each chapter will be a vignette, a stand-alone story.       For example, in this blog I have given a very brief overview of this particular period, when in reality there is so much more to tell.

During the past fifty years since I made that journey – not only has my life changed in ways that I could never have imagined…..but our world in general has changed almost beyond recognition.

As I continue to climb the tower of life, the horizon continues to expand and for that I am extremely grateful.

I close with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life –     watercolour. 


A Bientôt








68 years young. (1)

Many of these photographs are not the best quality.  They were taken a long time ago:).


My Mother, me in the stroller and my built in playmate, Colin who is my Uncle!    Yes my paternal grandmother was pregnant one year before I was born!      This was taken in Richmond Park, not too far from where I was born and where I live now.

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I was about 5 in this picture with my Mother.


On my Lambretta scooter in London during the early sixties.    I was reunited with Maureen through FB just two years ago.


Having married in London, 1965 – my first husband and I travelled to the USA on The United States Liner to visit for two years!     We went to Key West Florida and then after I found out I was pregnant, to Ft Lauderdale where my son Jarrod was born on Sept 10 1966.

In this picture, I am 7 months pregnant.


After Jarrod was born we moved to Staten Island, New York.   Jarrod’s birthday party in the garden of the little cottage we rented.


My first husband left, which meant that I was a single mother in New York.   Very long story short, I got a job working on a trading desk for the investment banking firm, White, Weld & Co.      I became  registered representative with the New York Stock Exchange.       The equipment you see on the trading desk was state of the art at that time.


Through White, Weld, I met my second husband.      In 1973′ I returned to making art, and in 1975 my daughter Christie was born.       This is one of my favourite family photographs, taken on Long Lake, Maine, USA.


To be continues in.  68 years young (2)

A Bientot

A Journey is a person in itself; no two are alike……

‘A Journey is a person in itself;  no two are alike.    All plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless.   We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip;  a trip takes us’    John Steinbeck.   

New England apples…..



I have just visited dear friends and family in the United States.    A trip which has taken me to a new level of love and understanding in my life.     A trip that also warrants my writing several posts.

The View from my window in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  Image


I first visited the States as a young woman in 1966.    My first husband and I set sail on the United States Liner from Southampton on January 28th 1966.    On February 3rd we sailed under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.   We then took a Greyhound Bus to Miami, Florida, where we were picked up by my husband’s Uncle and driven to Key West.   The plan was to stay for two years.      

A very long story, and twenty eight years later, in 1993 I returned to the UK/Europe.   I am currently living just a few short miles from my place of birth in London.   

Ipswich, Massachusetts reflections. 


Reading Steinbeck’s words at this time of my life, I realise that I have reached the beautiful stage, where the ‘trip is taking me’.

This past spring I had a life long block removed.      What it was and how it happened again warrants much more time than afforded in this post, but let it suffice to say, that it has freed me at last to relax, and enjoy wherever the trip of life leads. 


This adventure began with a flight to Boston, where I was picked up by family members, and driven to Ipswich, Massachusetts…..a lovely New England town.       Interestingly the property where I stayed (and I had been there once before) was purchased by my niece and her husband from a family member of one of my dearest friends in Stonington, Connecticut.   Pure coincidence, some might say:)

A wonderful place to dig for clams. 



After a blissful few days in Ipswich, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to spend the week with some of my dearest friends…..they are also family to me.      The main event was to be the wedding of Catherine and Kevin – and oh what a wonderful event it was. 

I attended the wedding of Catherine’s parents in 1977…..yes, we go back a long way. 

When I arrived at the house in Gainesville, Georgia, which sits on one of the large lakes which dot the area, imagine my delight to find that the hummingbirds were still in residence. 

The veranda where the hummingbirds visited me every day.



I would sit on the veranda, and wait for the humming sound and click as quickly as possible. Image

Amazingly they left for their long flight south right after I flew back to the UK.    

Along with seeing family, friends and lots of beautiful animals and birds….I also got to paint several watercolour portraits.     I will write much more in further blogs during the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile, wishing everyone peace, love and may the magical hummingbirds be with you. 


A Bientôt