Showing posts from February, 2010

NY Snapshots. The Train to Ronkonkoma

‘Don’t do it, folks!’ was the advice from our cab driver on the way from JFK to Manhattan, when we asked about the feasibility of returning by train. ‘It’s too easy to get lost and there are baaad people down there.’ Well, of course, he would say that, wouldn’t he? He convinces me, but Tom is made of sterner stuff and is better at doin’ the math – we’d save a heck of a lot by not taking a cab.

We start with a reccy to Penn (Is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?) station opposite the magnificent General Post Office building. The sight of several burly members of the NYPD, not to mention a brace of big beefy Marines convinces me that this is indeed where the baaad people are, although all I can see are commuters going about their normal business. Still, the route doesn’t seem particularly terrifying and it is very cheap so we decide to go for it.

The hotel doormen, the next morning, are not impressed when we shun their offer to hail a cab, thus losing them the chance of another tip. It…

NY Snapshots. The One Where We Meet Frances

1 February
I’ve had a hankering to visit the Metropolitan Opera ever since Loretta Castorini met Ronny Cammareri there in ‘Moonstruck’. Tom and I have skipped the fancy dress because (1) we’re still battling with freezing New York temperatures and (2) we’re waaaay up in the Gods in the cheap seats, but the Met doesn’t disappoint. Even though, this high up, we can see water damage on the gilded ceiling, it’s still a magnificent venue and the famous crystal chandeliers, which rise up as the production begins, are truly amazing.

We’re here to see a new production of ‘Carmen’. For me, Carmen is two ok-ish tunes and a load of padding. Don’t even get me started on the story. But Tom’s a fan and I’m happy to see more or less anything just to be here. The production begins with a dramatic pas-de-deux in a gash of crimson lighting, foreshadowing trouble ahoy. I’m surprised by how well we can see; I thought they’d all look like microdots from here. The seats are comfortable, we’ve got fre…

New York Snapshots, Edges of Darkness

30 January
The weather forecasters have promised us the coldest day of the year and they’re not joking. With a wind chill well into the minus figures, New Yorkers have been warned that thirty minutes is the maximum safe period for any exposed flesh. Tom and I are well wrapped up, but the extreme cold is still a shock. In no time at all, my eyeballs feel glazed with ice and my nasal passages burn as if I’m breathing caustic air. A thin scarf I’ve wrapped round my lower face becomes wet and clingy as my breath condenses and chafes my sore lips.

We’re heading for MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, but this is Saturday and everyone else has the same idea. It’s far too cold to queue. We decide to head back to the hotel to regroup, stopping along the way to browse in Barnes & Noble, the bookshop, and, after another icy blast, at a cafe to warm up with hot chocolate.

Since we’re based just off Times Square, we decide to visit the cinema – something we never do at home because Tom hates go…

New York Snapshots, SATC

29 January
Okay, everyone,’ says our chirpy little guide, sweetly, ‘on the count of three, let’s have a great big F*CK!’ Ooh-er! It’s a bit early in the day for us to be having an enormous f*ck with 38 total strangers so Tom and I keep a bit quiet. Everyone’s looking a tad nervous, but our tour guide’s next quip has us all laughing and we start to relax. This is the Sex and the City tour, but it turns out we’re in safe hands with wonderful stand-up comedienne, Amy Albert, who knows exactly which side of the line to stay on and never singles anyone out for unwelcome attention.

After walking our socks off the previous day, it’s time to settle back in a comfortable bus for three and half hours of SATC sites – what’s not to love? Outside, New York temperatures are plummeting and it’s taken us two stop-offs in warm buildings just to get here. One of them at Tiffany’s where an assistant on the second-floor (where they keep the ‘spectacular jewellery’) can’t resist a ‘Come in again any t…

Snapshots from New York

27 January
‘Hey, lady – Chris,’ says the cab driver. ‘Don’t be so polite! Be kind, be nice – but don’t be polite. Ya gotta loosen up! New York ain’t a postcard so don’t just look at it – ya gotta do it!’ Excellent advice, I think, enjoying the banter all the way from the airport. Nevertheless it is hard not to feel that the first things to be done are us as we part with an eye-watering sum of money for the fare.

Reeling and slightly disoriented from the journey we stand in awe outside our hotel, a glittering skyscraper just off Times Square. Inside, it’s just as impressive; a huge atrium with chandeliers, chocolate leather sofas and a small army of uniformed staff smiling as if they’ve been waiting all day just to meet us. We glide up the escalators to another vast room with yet more staff who also beam at us. By the time we reach our room on the 22nd floor, I’m seriously worried that there’s been a misunderstanding with our last-minute deal.

When we open the door to our room,…

Turning The Tide

Look what I came home to last night! It's even on Amazon! How exciting is that? (Well, obviously not as exciting for you as it is for me - but I am thrilled to bits!)

If you would like to read a taster pop over to Choc Lit where you'll find the prologue and first chapter.

I'm afraid all the excitement on top of jet-lag means I'm not doing too well on the joined-up thinking front so I'd best leave it at that for today!