I actually managed to write a lot today because Lucy had the remote and watched Sex and the City all day, then Su treated us to Thai for dinner. It was not up to Khao San Road standards, but it was pretty good.
Today I had the daunting and mammoth task of trying to catch up on this blog, I was over a month behind, but thanks to a million TV channels and the infinite procrastinating abilities of the internet I got very little done. For dinner we had a meatloaf Yvonne had made for us; you might remember that Lucy and I were excited when we first tried meatloaf, but were disappointed – well Yvonne’s was much tastier.
If Su had treated us to a Cheesecake Factory for dinner then I doubt we would have got off the sofa. The food there was worth it though, as were the cocktails. Not wanting to leave the Cheesecake Factory without having a cheesecake we got three slices to go and had them for supper.
We stopped off in Brooklyn on the way to the city, to have a look round in the day light and get a good view of the city’s skyline. Due to the freezing cold weather and a lack of time we didn’t look round too much, but I could see why Mike and Ja loved it there. Mike came and met us in China town for lunch. Wo Hop was a tiny little restaurant that served huge tasty plates of Chinese for low prices; obviously we loved it there too. Being a tourist is so much easier when you have someone telling you where to go!
We bade our goodbyes to Mike and Jaina and met Su at the Rockafella centre. Su is Lucy’s great aunt and kindly offered to let us stay with her and Ken for a few days in New Jersey, after sitting in traffic for hours in Manhattan we hit the open road and made it to rural Hillsborough in time for tea. A couple of bottles of wine and a Dominoes later and we called it a night, retiring to our own bedrooms (it was so nice to have my own space again).
You guessed it, we rested all day; Lucy undid Penny’s training even further (she had already been feeding her at the dinner table) by allowing her on the sofa and I finished off the rest of the lestovers.
That evening we went to the theatre to watch ‘Blood Potato’; it was a play about three brothers and how meth affected their lives – staring one of Mike’s college friends. As it was closing night we joined the cast and crew for a couple of drinks at a nearby Irish bar before hitting up Jaina’s favourite dive bar Rudy’s. Rudy’s serve three Dollar draft and free hotdogs, which is all good to me. Our last stop was Mike’s favourite bar, Union Hall in Brooklyn, the front is a library (open fire included), the back has a bocce court (boules to me and you) and a night club down stairs – I absolutely loved it; but once again it had got to silly o’clock and we had to go home.
Obviously we needed a small lie in after our evening of wine, Mike had to go to work, Jaina had school work to be getting on with and Lucy and I watched movies all day. Luckily Terri and Steve had flown to Los Angeles early, so were not there to judge our slothliness. Mike and Ja had been banging on about the movie ‘Crazy Stupid Love’, which sounded crap to me – but was hilarious, and I recommend everyone watch it, if only for Ryan Goslings incredible body.
That evening we had leftovers for tea (as well as breakfast and lunch) before heading out for a night in the city. We started at the Peculiar Pub, where Mike started with a shot of vodka; it was a good little bar with a student vibe (think footage) and even better was the table service. We walked down towards the Comedy Cellar and had a quick drink next door before we joined the enormous queue. Before I had even sat down in the Comedy Cellar I was asked to accompany one of the bouncers outside; apparently someone had seen me stumble and I was therefore being ejected from the premises as a drunk. I tried in vain to convince the dismissive door man that I was not drunk, but he wasn’t having any of it (although I wasn’t the tinniest bit drunk); eventually Jaina joined us, and between the two of us we were able to convince the mule. When a tipsy Mike returned to our table the doorman issued a brief apology to me and then tried to expel Mike, after much persuasion Mike was allowed to stay. The fascist doormen aside (also you had to have a minimum of two drinks and a maximum of three – weird), the show was great, some of the comedians were famous (although not in England) and all but one were hilarious; although once again the air conditioning was mental. New York in the winter and the a/c is on, that was the biggest joke of the night.
The Comedy Cellar finished much later than we had thought, by the time we had had another drink next door (where Mike and Jaina got dragged up to karaoke) and driven back to the island it was half five; we had some more leftovers then hit the hay.
Today was Thanksgiving, the whole reason we were on the east coast and had extended our America trip by five weeks. Terri and Steve had all the cooking under control (they had been doing it all week) so the kids (Mike, Ja, Lucy and I) went to the cinema: the girls went to see the last instalment in the ‘Twilight’ saga and Mike and I choose ‘Flight’, and it was as if Ann Lamon (from the AlAnn Ranch) had joined us because an elderly black woman narrated the whole movie for us…loved it.
Around four o’clock Mike’s family began to arrive and by six we were sat down and eating: turkey, two kinds of stuffing, creamed corn, green beans and of course cranberry sauce. We had heard about yams with marshmallows on, and other horrendously delicious sounding stuff – but Terri and Steve were a bit too high brow for that. Mike had warned us that some of his ‘crazy’ relatives were coming, and we had been looking forward to his folk singing aunty and his extremely republican uncle, but it was quite mundane (not boring, just not as outrageous as I had been hoping for). Having said that…Mike’s cousin and her boyfriend wanted to speak to them alone at the end of the evening, very strange indeed; whilst they were outside Mackie and I deliberated, I decided that the boyfriend was a transsexual. Nailed it. Thankfully when Mike and Ja came back inside they were desperate to tell us the news (we had been worried that they might not want to discuss it), and I had guessed right – all we could talk about now was what stage of the transformation did we think he was at, Mike hoped that his mum would know.
Whilst eating breakfast we were tasked with finishing the puzzle that Jaina had started some three weeks before during hurricane Sandy; if we didn’t finish it by ten am the next morning Steve was going to pack it away. Lucy and Jaina had been going at it for since we had arrived, but clearly it just needed a man’s touch as this morning it finally got done. Having completed her exams on Monday, Jaina was now free to be our tour guide and chauffeur for the day. After giving up on trying to find a free parking space Jaina paid the ridiculous amount to park in a lot (it’s O.K though because she has been getting free at school all week) and then we walked the short distance to the Flatiron building and Madison Square Park where we had Shake Shack for lunch (apparently it’s a New York institution). The food was really good, and the milkshakes were phenomenal – although that much dairy was a little too much for me, so Jaina finished mine off; the other thing about shake shack is the queue, just forty five minutes in the cold, but apparently up to three hours in the summer…it wasn’t that good.
We walked off our food babies through some projects to the Highline; this is a park that sits on an old raised railway tracks, it runs for a mile on the lower west side of Manhattan. It is home to various and changing art installations and dramatic shows, it was great to visit in the winter although I’m sure I could have spent much longer there with the sun sinning. Our plan then was to peruse the Christmas Market at Union Square, but just as we got there a generator failed and they closed the market. Jaina went to meet some friends on the Upper East Side for diner and Lucy and I went back to the island; we had planned to go to the cinema tonight, but by the time Jaina was back we were all too knackered!
Lucy had wanted to catch a lift to the ferry port with Terri when she left for work, at seven am; I did not. We actually had a lazy morning before we caught the bus to the port and then the ferry to Manhattan, where we had arranged to meet an old work friend (us hutters don’t half get about you know) in the Times Square visitors centre at lunch time. We got to the city early enough to walk up to Wall Street and then the nine eleven memorial; on the sight of the old complex is the new Freedom Tower, which will be the tallest building in New York, a museum which is still under construction and two huge waterfall type water feature that sit in the footprints of the two towers. A fitting tribute to all those innocent people who lost their lives that day, and well worth a visit.
We took the subway to Times Square, Manhattan is too large for me to persuade Lucy to try and walk, and met our friend Chris. Whilst we were getting our geography lesson from Terri the previous day she had also recommended somewhere to eat lunch the next day, Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Terri had described this place as a classic American diner with singing staff, my mind immediately went to the diner in Friends where Monica used to work – and it was even more over the top than that. We were being serenaded as soon as we walked through the door, and it didn’t stop until we left; and unlike other restaurants that have themes or gimmicks the food was fantastic. I squeezed a dessert in, although it nearly made me sick and then waddled out to see the Christmas decorations at the Rockafella Centre. As it was thirty bucks to go to the top of the rock and the Christmas decorations were still being put up we had a bit of a double fail. The New York Public Library was slightly more successful, we saw two temporary exhibitions: one to celebrate Charles Dicken’s two hundredth birthday and the second was an exhibit about the history of the American lunch hour, where I learnt about the Automat – sounded delightful.
We carried on wandering around midtown: grabbing a tea in Bryant Park; walking through Grand Union Station; finding the Chrysler Building (although we thought it was the Empire State Building); and then the Empire State Building. We settled in Mustang Sally’s for a couple of happy hour beers, then Chris headed back to his hostel to join the organised pub crawl and we went back to the island.
That evening we went to a local bar to watch the Knicks to play, although I personally did not watch a second of the game; I did enjoy the beer and a game of pool – even if I did lose (I’m not saying it was Jaina’s fault, but I very much doubt it was mine).