Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheese, Loud People and My Missing Mojo

It's been a little bit stressful round here for the past couple of weeks and I've really not felt in the mood to complete any new tasks off my list or even try and plan anything. So I decided this weekend, would be relatively calm and sedate, to get me into the mood to get things sorted. Saturday was spent in a film fest (documentary on Annie Leibovitz, Cabaret and Kinky Boots) and today we planned to go for a nice drive into the Peak District and lunch at a Michelin commended Gastro Pub. Brilliant I thought, it will be wonderfully relaxing and then I will feel in the mood to begin organising the tasks that I want to do.

When we eventually got to the Gastro Pub, after negotiating hair pin bends and single car track roads, we were seated or should I say squashed in a corner next to the loudest group of people you would ever wish to meet.

Quickly moving to a quieter corner, we ordered our food and attempted to begin a conversation, only to be interrupted by the waiter.

"Excuse Madam, we don't appear to have any goats cheese left, will Stilton suffice?"

"Yes that's fine"

We begin our conversation again.

"Excuse Madam, it now appears we don't have any Stilton left, would Brie suffice?"

"Yes, that's fine, but to be quite honest, I'm not too bothered what cheese you use" - hoping that he would now get the hint and thankfully he did.

Relax I told myself, enjoy time with your husband, sort out when we are going to do the balloon flight that got cancelled from last year. But to be quite honest, the moment had passed. What with the 'who could shout the loudest group in the corner' and the changing cheese saga, I was even more stressed then before.

So we paid the bill and journeyed home. Now I'm sat here, wondering why I've suddenly lost my mojo for doing my tasks. Perhaps I will find it with my copy of War and Peace...

Friday, January 23, 2009



One library book

Answering to the name of....War and Peace

Last seen roughly around Christmas time

If anyone has any idea where I could have put this small (!!!) book, then please let me know

All ideas welcome.....

Monday, January 19, 2009

One Lazy Person!

Like most people I made some New Year's Resolutions for 2009 and probably like most people I'd forgotten about them by January 2nd! I had promised myself that I would get motivated with my task list this year and I would love to tell you that I had, but other than writing my novel (now at 60,250 words, can I hear a whoop, whoop?!) I'm afraid I haven't touched a thing!
So, it's time for another list of things I need to achieve this year. I have a few ideas to start the ball rolling and perhaps another visit to Radio Nottingham would push me in the right direction. Mr M is away soon on another trip to Japan, so I'm going to use that time wisely and get motivated......honest!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You Reds

Since the age of three, I've supported Nottingham Forest football club and during the late eighties and early nineties, I lived, ate and breathed them.
Although I haven't been to watch Forest for around six years, I have very fond memories of my time of visiting the City Ground and for some reason, no matter how hard I try, football always seems to follow me where ever I am.
Take today for instance. Smiffy, one of the girls at work, was saying that her husband was quite interested in getting a box at Forest. My ears pricked up. Although I'm not too bothered about going back to watching Forest on a regular basis, I have always, always, wanted to watch a match from one of the Executive boxes. Although the boxes don't come cheap (around £1200) they do seat 8 people, which when you share the cost is only about £150 each. At which point, somebody nearby in the office piped up that he wouldn't mind going as well. I think we have a plan. (I do so love it when I get close to completing another task!)
Today's funniest moment has to be the fact that mid afternoon, some of the people affected by the recent redundancies decided to do a chorus of 'If you're happy and you know it' in the canteen. Nothing to do with my 40 things list, but thought I would share it with you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One Of Those.....

One of my new tasks to complete this year is to learn Chess. I've decided that I will donate an hour a week to learn this new task and I'm hoping it won't take me too long to get to grips with the basics.
On hearing my plans, Mr M has decided he wants to learn too. Although he knows a little about the game, he wants to try and improve his skills. So I guess we are now one of those couples, you know the ones that do joint activities together. I guess it had to happen sometime soon!
PS I would just like to state that neither now or sometime in the future will we ever be purchasing matching anoraks.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back To Normal (ish)

Well, it's been a week since we got back from NYC and in that time, I've slept a lot, been to the Panto and unfortunately had to witness 1000 people being made redundant from our company, including close friends. I was half expecting them to tell me that I was going and had reasoned with myself that at least I could get on with writing, if that was the case. Thankfully our team is not affected but 250 are going from the Head Office where I work and it doesn't make you feel any better, when you see so many people around you, devastated by the news.
So, needless to say, I haven't really started to plan my next task this week, as my mind has been elsewhere. I have managed to plan a little of my novel and started writing again yesterday. I want to try and finish my first draft asap now, as I want it ready to be submitted to Agents in the first part of the year. So, I think it will be back to writing each night - yesterday felt good, picking up the pieces of what I had left prior to Christmas. I've become quite fond of my lead character and I'd like the first part of her story to be completed for now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Visit All 50 States of America: New York

It all started at Heathrow. There we were, minding our own business, waiting to board the plane, when I clocked a familiar face.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Mr M asked. "That bloke looks really like Alan Carr"

"Mmm, I think it is Alan Carr!" I said - cue Alan Carr "Ooh, looking at the bitches getting ready" (referring to the air crew)

"Yep, definitely Alan Carr" we both said.

We boarded the plane and promptly tried to get comfy in a very small Premium Economy, when the Air Stewardess came over and asked to see my ticket, then asked to see Mr M's.

"Yes, I thought so, if you would like to follow me to First Class, you've both been upgraded"

My chin hit the floor.

So we followed her through to our own little cabin/bed and had a glass of champagne promptly placed in my hand. I then got shown how to work all the gadgets around my bed (Mr M has flown first class many times on business trips) and then for the next seven hours, got served as much food and drink as I could manage (I've found a great cure for turbulence fear - just drink more alcohol!)

I was in heaven - it was a fantastic start to the holiday!

We arrived in JFK and my god what an awful airport! Passport control is the standard as in any American airport, but the immigration was a free for all, no queuing system, people were pushing in left, right and centre - not good! We eventually found where to catch the airport bus from and grabbed a round trip ticket. Beware, this may be the cheapest option to get to your destination but the bus picks up from every terminal, so it was nearly an hour before we actually left JFK.

We eventually got to our Hotel and checked in The Grand Hyatt on Park Avenue The foyer was very luxurious but was a little disappointed that the room wasn't as good. Two doors down was The Grand Central Station, so we managed to drag our tired asses over there and have a bite to eat. Grand Central is a beautiful building and is well worth a visit, but the food is very 'junk' inspired - look out for the main concourse - it's been featured in many films including The Fisher King.

New Years Eve was spent dodging snow and queuing for the Empire State Building Visiting the tourist hot spots after 9/11 is a whole different ball game. Be prepared for very long queues, as to visit any of the main places, you have to go through airport security, unless you are willing to pay double to 'fast track'. I think it's worth visiting this landmark at least once in your lifetime, the views from the 86th Observatory are stunning on a clear day. We paid an extra $15 each to view from the 102nd floor. By the time we'd got there, the weather had changed and it had started to snow, bringing down a cloud of mist, making it near impossible to see anything (even on a clear day, I wouldn't suggest it, as you don't get too see anything more than you would lower down).

A little later in the day we had a beautiful meal here It gives the impression of an American diner from outside, but if you walk through the cafe at the front, you come to a restaurant that is reminiscent of old New York, wooden tables with low lighting etc. The rest of the night, I've already covered in my Times Square post, so I won't bore you with a repeat post.

New Years day, we met up with this guy:-

George Dillman IV, a native American, who was once married to one of my friends. Seeing New York, from an American's point of view is completely different. We went to the Rockefeller Centre and watched the ice skating and George got accosted by a Plymouth Argyle fan, who insisted on stripping off down to his football shirt, so he could have his photograph taken with him (George was wearing a Plymouth Argyle hat). We went to Times Square and saw the aftermath of the night before. We walked through Central Park and saw the bridge used in the Highlander film. We went to look at the Guggenheim museum both outside and in (this is free if you don't want to view the exhibits - the architecture in this building is well worth a view) and finally ended up back in Times Square, where we sampled 'proper' American pizza

Exhausted from walking so far on New Years Eve, we slept in the next day and eventually dragged ourselves over to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island Please, please, whatever you do, if you want to go and view these, then purchase your ticket prior to your trip. We queued for approx 3 hours in a snow blizzard and at one point, could barely make out the Statue in the distance, the weather was so bad. You firstly have to queue to purchase a ticket, then join the queue to board the ferry. Prior to boarding, you also have to go through airport security. So purchasing a ticket prior, at least cuts out most of that.

We stopped at Liberty island first and had a wander around the lady, then caught the ferry over to Ellis Island. Ellis Island is the place where all the immigrants had to visit prior to settling in NYC. I couldn't get to grips with it. I know the government had to have some sort of record of who was settling in their country, but it reminded me too much of a concentration camp. The cramped conditions they had to live in and the tests they had to go through, before even knowing if they were allowed to settle in the country, was unbelievable. I'd seen enough and walked outside to view this:-

Sunset over the Statue of Liberty is something I will remember for the rest of my life and as we caught the ferry back to Battery Park, all the lights were switched on in Lower Manhattan, to end a truly wonderful experience. By the way if you are a skinflint and don't want to spend the $12 to go over, you can always catch the Staten Island ferry, which is free and goes past both the Statue and Ellis Island, but doesn't stop there.
Our last day was spent at Ground Zero - there's not much to see there, it is after all just a building site, but it does give you some idea of what a big site the buildings stood on and a chance to pay your respects. I also spent a very quick (but not quick enough for Mr M!) time in Century 21 I've wanted to go to this shop for so long and was a little disappointed when I set foot in it. It's a cross between TK Maxx and a jumble sale. Don't bother with the bag department it's nasty! The shoe department was a tad better and I got a bargain pair of Timberland boots. I'd love to tell you what the clothes department was like, but at that point, Mr M threw in the towel and we escaped back to Park Avenue, saying a final goodbye to the Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building, that had guided us home, for so many nights, before catching the airport shuttle back to JFK and then onto Heathrow.
Love you New York and hopefully it won't be too long before I'm back again, preferably in warmer weather!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Be In Times Square On New Years Eve At Midnight

I've been toying with what to write on this blog entry ever since New Years Eve has come and gone. I guess I'd start with the fact that we didn't get to spend New Years Eve in Times Square at midnight, due to the over zealous police that blocked all the roads at 7pm and refused to allow us entry into the celebrations. I'm stuck somewhere between being bitterly disappointed and annoyed with the fact that we went all the way and didn't get to do the one thing that the whole trip was planned around, but I will start from the very beginning....

Hubbie had been feeling poorly since before we set off to fly to New York and on New Years Eve, we both awoke feeling pretty grotty. However, there is something about being in a magical place like New York and I'm a great believer in mind over matter and refused to give in to any such illness nonsense. So we dragged our sorry asses around NYC and stopped off in Times Square on the way back and then I saw this guy.
The poor guy looked visibly shaken when he saw me running towards him and I'm sure if there was room, he would have turned and fled, as quick as his Elmo legs would carry him! Anyway, he allowed me to high five him and then we had a photo taken, because well, when will you get the chance to meet Elmo again?
At this point, I have to inform you that it was snowing and bitterly cold. New York cold is very different to British cold. The wind seems to get into every nook and cranny, no matter how well you are wrapped up and it feels like someone is stabbing you with ice blocks (all I can say is thank god for the thermals - they were the best investment I've ever made!).
So we made our way back to the hotel and had a lovely romantic meal in a wonderful restaurant across the road - low lighting, very old New York etc and then made our way up to Times Square, which is where I started the story - we were stopped at approx 40th street and tried every which way to get in, but to no avail. So we had a mosey around Bryant Park and watched the outdoor ice skating for a little bit, but it was way too cold to hang around, so we ended up back at the hotel room, tucked up in bed, watching the ball drop at midnight on the TV and after which we promptly both fell asleep, both feeling poorly.
In retrospect, I think if we'd actually got into Times Square, we both would have been admitted to hospital for hypothermia. Most of the people that were interviewed on the TV had been there since 12 noon onwards - god knows how they survived - they must have been mad!
So what to do with this task? The chances are that even if I booked another trip to New York, it will be like winning the lottery if I managed to get into Times Square, so I've been pondering about this one for a couple of days. I've finally come to the conclusion that I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't complete a task properly - I did, after all, go to Times Square on New Years Eve - just not at midnight. My main aim in writing this list, was to give myself a set of challenges, that I would try to complete before I'm 40. I'm not copping out when I say this, the challenge would always be trying to tick the task off my list and if it doesn't happen then so be it - at least I've tried. So, it's getting crossed off my list as complete - it won't have a tick next to it, quite yet, because you never know, I may just well be in Times Square at midnight on New Years Eve before I'm 40 - I've got a couple of years left yet, don't forget!