Friday, 10 July 2009

Better Late Than Never - Me Pichaz

Sorry for the delay in posting my photos. Been a tad busy since getting back, but now finally have the slideshows for you. One of general stuff, and the other of gay pride.

The Links are posted at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading, and your emails.

Friday, 3 July 2009

And Finally..................................................

I started travelling at 2 pm Thursday, New York Time. Finally arrived home at 1pm GMT (Geordie Meal Time) on Friday.

The plan was to post from Heathrow to kill some of that nasty transit time, but my flight was delayed arriving and to be honest all I wanted was some coffee before dashing to catch my flight to Newcastle.

I duly arrived back in the 'homeland', but as the crowd subsided to just me at the baggage hall, it soon became apparent my bag hadn't made it. Arrrgghhh!

Exit to British Airways desk to be assertive with them, as they had charged me $45 dollars for having 1.2 kg over my limit from New York, as well as changing my seat selection from the online check-in - 'ee wor a libaty!'

A pretty limp wristed apology and I'm asked to wait for an hour to see if my bag is on the next flight. I suggest they contact Heathrow and make sure my bag is on the next flight. Their response - "Well it's only an hour." "Well it might just be an hour to you pet, but I've already been travelling for 23 hours and one more might just push me over the edge of being reasonable lyke." She made the phone call and confirmed my bag wasn't on the flight, but it would be on the next one. Eventully she agrees that they can deliver my bag to my home address - with a little friendly persuasion. (Can't wait to get the customer feeback questionniare).

I drive home and as I enter my own neighbourhood in Stockton it feel as though I'm in Legoland, with nothing taller than 4 stories, the roads strangely quiet, the cabs are no longer yellow and I can't see a single Starbucks - "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore I think to myself."

I've had a chance to sleep, my final thoughts and observations are as follows:

I loved New York, didn't find the place or the people at all intimidating. I did buy a guide book, and it was interesting as a point of reference, but I used a city bus map most of all.

My favourite mode of transport was walking, followed by the bus. I didn't like the subway because it was always too hot down there, and the smell of the hot air, oil, B.O. and often packed trains was not my idea of fun. Public transport is cheap however, $2.25 per journey of any distance if you have a metro card, which you can re-charge, and can be used on buses or the subway.

The rumour that shopping in New York is cheap for clothes is a myth. Perhaps jeans are cheaper, but otherwise prices are as in the UK, or more expensive, as you pay a tax on top of the marked price.

So will I be going back? You bet I will, this was just the warm up visit. I don't think I could live there. I thought about it on the way back. My heart belongs in Northumberland. New York made it beat a little faster at times, but only places like Bamburgh Beach, Lindisfarne, Hadrian's Wall, the Cheviots, Wallington Hall and the Angle of the North still make it miss a beat.

So until my next adventure, as yet destination unknown, thanks for the comments and the emails. In the next couple of days I will post all the photos I took on a web page and put a link on here, as the ones on the blog are just a small sample of what I saw - but first some more sleep.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Trying To Pack - Mumble, Mumble

My final picture: Gave him my loose change and single dollar bills, and wished him luck with Mariah

Well here I am, taking a break from swearing at my suitcase, with possibly my last cup of espresso - as I'd like to think I will sleep away the torment of the plane ride home, with the aid of some earplugs and a face mask - pink of course, purchased specially from 'a very gay shop'.

Weather is nice today. Have fed the birds, and the tomatoes. The birds have shown their appreciation of their new pent house spa by fertilising the window box.

I didn't think I'd bought much, but looking at it a few minutes ago, I think I might need to borrow and extra bag to get all my 'uber cool' New York tat home.

I've been out for my last walk this morning, and have been thinking that this trip hasn't felt like a holiday, it's been much more than that, and best of all I feel like I have reconnected with my family. Three weeks wasn't enough, maybe I just need to do it more often.

I'm a bit pushed for time today, and already have a few thoughts and reflections I'd like to add, so as I have 3 hours to kill in Heathrow tomorrow morning before being repatriated to my beloved Geordieland, I will post from the airport, perhaps with a pint of Guinness instead of espresso.

So for now 'Gan Canny' oot there in sybaland lyke

Oh, and have a nice day

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The 19th Floor Terrace Garden - Complete

Work completed on the corner terrace at 155 East 34th St.

Plants used: Courgettes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Peony Roses, Parrot Impatiens, Dragon Tree, Honeysuckle, Sunflowers, Calendula, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Geraniums, New Guinea Impatiens, Chives, Variegated Sage, Basil, Thyme, Clematis, Star Gazer Lillies, Sweet Peas, Hydrangea, Hibiscus, Gazanias, Bouganvillea, Rhubarb, Vinca and one or two others I've forgotten the name of because it's late and I've had two beers.

A Bit Naughty I Know But.............Well she did ask for it

The following story is about as unbelievable as "This is the New Tardis" - but we are talking New York remember.

As we walked back from our little outing I was stopped by a woman in the street trying to get donations towards some political fund or other. She had some pamphlets and booklets picturing Barrack Obama with Hitler, and other such ridiculing. When she realised I was English she waded into Tony Blair, but I had to inform her that we now have 'Gordo' - "Oh has Blair left?" Yeah he's he's not a politician anymore he's setting up a 'Blairland', it's a theme park. "Gee that's amazing. Is it going to be in England?" Yes, he's going to set it up in London, he's renting Buckingham Palace, the Queen can't afford to live there anymore, so she's moving to Windsor. Haven't you heard about it over here? "Gee no." Oh you should look it up on the Internet - Google it. "Gee, yes, I will when I get home." "say would you like to make a contribution to my party?" No sorry, I'm still paying towards Iraq, Afghanistan, and cleaning up the planet, but when your lot have sorted out the mess they made, give me a call. "So would you like to sign my petition?" Err - no - but have a nice day.

(No doubt when she does Google 'Blairland', she will think it's Google that is wrong - and yes she was blonde, and a Republican - Gee wizz, thicker than a deli sandwich)

Dining In Comfort And Completing My Mission

The terrace complete with candles

Dylan's, it's not just for kids

Pecan Pie Joy

Well my dear friends, I've almost completed my final full day in New York. The weather was kind, and it been a very sunny and humid day. I was up at 7 am re-potting and planting - well only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun - not streetwise Geordies.

Typically I ran out of large containers, so a trip to 'Home Depot', America's answer to B&Q, except it's not out of town it's in town, and you can't find anything you want. I'd like to say the staff were helpful, but afraid they weren't, they were mostly as lost as I was, language problem I think - it reminded me of the sketch by the 'Two Ronnies' in the hardware shop. Ronnie Corbett asks for something and gets four candles, when he wants fork handles - yeah you got the picture - well I thought I was going to have to draw one. The staff were of course polite, as everyone here is, and finally I found what I wanted.

After that Amanda and I walked a few blocks to 'The Comfort Diner', an iconic 50's style diner, complete with chrome trimmings, free coffee and cold drink refills, waitresses chewing gum and as they collected tips or took your order on their little pads. The 'bus boys' delivered the orders and refilled any glass or cup that looked remotely empty, and the manageress surveyed the waiting public - yes there were queues, and hollowed out her instructions in a brassy New York manner. there were booths, and tables and you could even sit at the counter, just like the cops do in cheesy movies.

The menu was beguiling, the talk of others close by kept me amused. Requests for eggs over easy, or sunny side up, bacon on the side, hold the greens. I felt like I was on the set of Thelma and Louise for a moment or two. Then, when I saw the blueberry pancakes delivered to the lady across from us, I nearly died - there were enough to feed a family of four, and she wasn't very big, and that was before she smothered them in butter and the maple syrup. We were awoken from looking at the menu by two glasses of iced water, and then iced tea, before 'Betsy' asked what she could get for us - Amanda plumped for the BLT sandwich deluxe, which means a sandwich that comes with coleslaw and chips made out of sweet potatoes. I decided to go for the club sandwich, just hoping it wasn't the size of a club house. Fortunately it wasn't, but Amanda's plate was kind of full. As it was my last day, and so far I haven't had dessert, I bravely asked for the menu. Betsy informed us that they had everything but pumpkin pie - shame as that's what I wanted to try, so I decided to go for American cheesecake instead, and Amanda went for pecan pie. Mine was perfect, So was Amanda's except it came in apiece that must have weighed about two pounds - see photo. haha. No way could she eat it all so we asked for it to be wrapped.

When we left we went in search of another New York icon, Dylan's Candy Store, which as it turned out made Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory look somewhat second rate. I'm sure if you are a kid in Manhattan Dylan's is kind of like heaven on earth, with three stories of candy of every imaginable style and colour. My personal favourites were the bacon flavoured mints, tequila flavoured lollies complete with worm inside, and peanut butter flavoured toothpaste - it's ok I bought them as presents, so it could be yoooouuuuu - haha.

Having waled about forty blocks we arrived back home and did a quick trip to the hardware store for the items I couldn't find in B&Q USA, then went back to work on the terrace. When I'd finished and tidied up I had the bright idea of getting some jars and candles so it could be used at night, so had to go back out to yet another New York institution ' Jack's 99c Store. A bit like 'Poundland' but even more chaotic. However I had seen preserving jars in there sometime this week so I bought 12 of those, and when I got back home I removed the lids and filled them all with candles and placed them on the ledges and in a large as yet un-planted flower pot, so in the evening there is a soft glow on the terrace, to unwind in the evening with a quiet drink or dine alfresco. And so my gardening mission is completed finally, Amanda approves of the terrace now, and the birds very much approve of the new cafe on the corner with built in swimming pool, with Mrs Blue Jay splashing and chirping loudly, as I cracked open a celebratory beer.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

'Newt', The Gentle Busker

I thought I'd lost these pictures, which would have been sad, but just a case of the wrong memory card.

On one of my wanderings, last Thursday I think on my way back from Central Park, I met a busker, 'Newt'. He asked me if I could spare a cigarette, so I made him two.

He nodded as I dropped the dollar bill into his guitar case.
"Thank you."
I asked if I could take a few pictures.

"Sure man," He smiles wryly, "But sorry about looking like a hobo... Guess I'm going for that Neil Young look... except he was already famous before he stopped caring about his appearance."

He laughed when I said it's all part of the charm.

Newt is "between apartments" at the moment. I guess that's the way homeless people describe it.

Then he sang. Dylan and Cash, with a voice that sounded like it had been soaked in whisky, rubbed by sandpaper then left in the smokehouse for twenty years. He sang like only a broken man with broken dreams could.

People came and went. Some dropped a quarter, some dropped a dollar, but they all went on their seperate ways before long, to the museum or the office or the girlfriend.

I passed him a cigarette as he finished his song dropped him a dollar and bid him a good day.