My Sunshiny Life

{October 18, 2009}   New York High Line

High Line New York

Whilst in New York recently I met up with Tom and Chloe for a fabulous brunch in their West Village neighborhood and they took me on a little tiki tour of the surrounding area.  We ended up at the High Line, which is a brilliant initiative to beautify inner city living.  Taking a disused overground railway line, the council (do they call them a council in the states?) has planted a magical garden and made it into a relaxing and enjoyable destination.  The first part of the line opened in June and the next part is due to open in 2010, which will span another whole ten blocks. 

Here’s what you can expect to see, viewing platforms over the road, pretty flowers, interesting wild grasses, sharply contrasting angles, city views, deck chairs and loungers.  You can just spot the Hudson river sparkling in the distance, but having seen that already while en route, I was more mesmerised by the angles, the greenery, the city scape and the people watching.

The High Line Wilderness


Wild Flower Railway Line

Police Car Parade @ High Line Viewing Platform


{October 10, 2009}   Shumai Superstar

After working for the last three days in NYC I wanted to feel like I was on holiday.  Going away for work is totally over rated and I’d rather be at home in my own bed – but having the weekend in NYC was an upside of my trip.

Saturday afternoon was put aside to meet up with Tammy and J.C and to meet little Liam.  The last time I was in New York he was a little bundle swathed in blankets. Now he is a delightful little character that I’ve gotten to know through Tammy and J.C’s facebook updates.  He didn’t disappoint in person either.  Who can’t love a kid who is just as at home in Shun Lee, our dim sum restaurant – eating shumai and pork buns with finesse, as he is on the couch eating macaroni cheese.

Shumair Superstar

Shumair Superstar

The dim sum was ok, the company was fabulous and meeting Liam again was wonderful.  Liam’s verdict on Shun Lee dim sum?  It’s ok (said with a little shrug of his shoulders and the gesture below).  We were on the Upper West Side and the dim sum in China town is ten times cheaper and quite a bit better according to Tammy and J.C.  Next time I’m in town we’ll have to catch up there, I think I’d like them as Chinatown guides, as you could get it so wrong going by yourself!

It's ok

It's ok

Shun Lee Catch Up

Shun Lee Catch Up

I have been having so much fun getting to know real Noo Yawkers! I can’t believe how friendly everyone is. When I mention this to New Yorkers, they don’t believe me, but I’ve been treated SO well since I’ve been here.

It all started with the nice man at the motel from hell who helped me in to New York.  Then a security guard walked me three blocks to show me where the midtown bus stop was – and told me to come and get him tomorrow if I couldn’t find it again!  I have spoken to countless people as I’m getting the hang of finding my way around and without exception everyone has been polite and super friendly. 

Shop people are incredibly helpful, which is worlds apart from the surly and resentful shop girls in London.  I was best friends with my Victorias Secret sales girl by the time I left the store.  It’s not just shop people either.  Courier bikers strike up conversations in the lift and everyone just seems SO much more easy going than in London.  When I’m asking for directions and people don’t know, they’ll stop other people and we stand there as a group trying to figure out the best route for where I need to go.  

I thought it might just be because I’m obviously a tourist and they’re intrigued by my classy kiwi twang, but that assumption was disproved today when an NYPD police man held back a car so I could get past on the footpath and then helped me on with my jacket as I’m waiting to cross the road.  I hadn’t said a word!

 Whatever it is, I don’t want it to end and it’s going to be a shock to the system when I go back to London, where people would tut loudly and step over your body if you collapsed in front of them!

Fabulous sales patter while collecting for the soup kitchen

Fabulous sales patter while collecting for the soup kitchen

{October 9, 2009}   Random Encounters

Well if my random encounter with Aaron the other day wasn’t enough of a ‘wow moment’, I had another one in New York last night.  I went to a networking event for the digital world and was at the bar getting my drinks (priorities!) when I looked up and saw a familiar face.  I shrieked ‘Tom!’ and raced over to say hello.  I’d only just sent him a text (to the wrong number as it turns out) that morning to see when him and Mrs B could meet up over the weekend.

The world is definitely getting smaller.

Me and Tom 

{October 8, 2009}   Hell on a Highway

This is the emotional email I sent to friends, at about 3am on the first night of my New York trip… stuck in New Jersey.  Sopranos, you can keep New Jersey, I’ll take New York.

I have never had a worse start to a trip! I didn’t really sleep on the plane, so it was 6am UK time by the time I arrived and I was a wreck.

My ‘airport’ hotel was 30 mins away, made even longer by the fact the driver missed the turn, which was maybe a good thing. The hotel was in the middle of nowhere, basically a truck stop in an industrial area and the driver said that it would take me forever to get into NY tomorrow. So he drove me all the way back and I rang a few places and scored a room for another $76… It looked fine from the road… Then he missed the turn AGAIN adding even more time on to the trip.  I felt like I was in a nightmare, he also wouldn’t shut up, wittering on about everything and anything – reading maps, looking at guide books etc all while driving 70 miles an hour on the motorway.

We finally pull up and I pay him and he thinks the change is his tip. I have to tell him to give me my change, me saying thank you wasn’t a ‘here you go have some money’. I know you tip in NY but 40%, I don’t think so.

I check in and only when my driver has left I realise its not really a hotel, more a motel. I have to walk outside with all my cases in the rain. It’s total Norman Bates styley. My room is the furtherest away and then I notice a man walking behind me.  It’s wet and cold and 1am.   I’m in the end unit, which is in a very long line of units, with scrubland behind it.  I’m now convinced his main purpose in life is to rape, murder and dismember my body. My key isn’t working to get into the unit and he’s getting closer. It finally works, with him about 30 metres away and I yank my bag in and double lock the door.

It looked much scarier at 1am, windy, cold and raining

It looked much scarier at 1am, windy, cold and raining

The room hasn’t really been cleaned. There is rubbish in here. NONE of the lights work, except the bathroom ones, which is maybe a blessing, so I can’t see if anything is crawling around. After my horrible experience outside I just wanted lights and the TV on, having everything pitch black made life seem very scary! I think the sheets are clean, but they have that crawly sensation so I can’t be 100%.

I am wearing my clothes, just in case someone busts into the room. Plus I’m cold  as there is only a thin cheap blanket on the bed so I’ve had to get the towels from the bathroom and layer them over me.

I was so tired and overwrought I burst into tears and couldn’t sleep, hearing any little noise woke me up straight away. There is a lot riding on this trip and I need to be feeling fresh. I don’t feel particularly fighting fit.

 As with all melodramatic events, everything seemed much more bearable in the cold light of day.  I met a very nice old man in the lobby while eating breakfast (check out the healthy breakfast below of waffles, white bread, eggs and DOUGHNUTS!) and he helped me on to the bus with all my bags and then off again at the other end, giving me directions and advice.  Now my New York adventure could really begin!

Nice view

Mmm, nice view from the motel

Refined Carbs

Healthy and nutritious start to the day

{September 6, 2009}   The Romantic Gypsy Lifestyle

Little Miss Sunshine's Camper

The romance of a road trip, free to roam wherever you desire is a must do on my ‘things to do before I’m 40’ list.  A car doesn’t cut it, it’s cramped and fast.  I’ve never wanted to properly backpack around Europe in an awful combi van either.  I want to travel in style, in my own Little Miss Sunshine camper van.  I’ll travel at a leisurely pace throughout Europe with Dolly (my dog who is currently a figment of my aspiration), like a little snail taking in the scenery, with all my belongings, bed and bathroom safely stowed behind me. 

So, with this in mind I started researching camper vans. They’re actually not as expensive as you’d think.  Well you can get a pimping one for about £100,000 but there are quite decent models, about ten years old for around £10,000.  First of all I investigated the Winnebago, these things are bloody huge though and if I’d take out half a French village if I tried to drive through it.  The cute little four berth camper vans, with their own shower, toilet and kitchen would be the perfect size for me and my driving ability.  The chintzy fabrics will be ripped out and the inside decorated like a fabulous exotic travelling home, with rich jewel colours and an array of textures.

I’ll leave with no firm plans, final destination unknown, just the broad expanse of Europe stretching out before me like an open invitation.  I’ll stay in towns and villages a few days longer just because they have lovely croissants, I’ll wake up by the beach, I’ll camp in nature reserves and by lakes.  I’ll savour each experience, instead of a cursory glance and tearing on to the next attraction.  It’s a journey, not a ‘tick all the sightseeing boxes and let’s go home’ kind of adventure.  I’m a light hearted, happy gypsy filled with wanderlust.

et cetera