Today we are meeting up with most of the Hall clan. Bruce and Lyn are coming down from Wales and are bringing Lyn's sister Wendy and her daughter and son in law, and new baby, and we are bringing, Trula and Jim with Paige and Mikey, Jim's son, Zoe and Wayne and Rosie and Jake. Billy and Sue, who we stayed with in France and who look after our caravan are also coming along. We took over the conservatory in the restaurant and had a very good, if not noisy lunch. Many goodbyes and good wishes later, the restaurant was restored to normal.
|Lyn, Bruce, Sue and Billy|
|Rosie and Jake|
|Mikey and Paige|
|Zoe and Wayne|
|Ray and 2 more generations of females|
|Jim, Trulas boyfriend|
|Karen and the inherited brood|
Monday 8th April
Ray picked Liz and Bob and Benjamin up from Stanstead airport in the early hours and came back to bed for a few hours and then we were off on our own, with Wallace to Heathrow. It all went relatively painlessly and after finishing off the last few things, we had dinner with them and moved into the house, now that the caravan and land rover are ready for storage.
Tuesday 9th April
We hooked up the caravan and I led the way to Billy's where we are storing them for our trip. Ray wanted me leading so that I could warn oncoming drivers of our abnormal load. It was a very successful operation and we deposited both, and after more goodbyes, we had a couple of other things to finish off. We had arranged to pop in and see Rosie and Jake at their new flat, but on turning up, it soon became apparent, that my dear husband, had forgotten to tell me, or remember himself, that he had arranged to have a meal with them. Consequently we were too late to see Liz and Bob to say thank you and goodbye. We went to bed feeling pretty rotten, considering everything they have done for us. So once again, Thank you both and love to Benjamin.
Wednesday 10th April
At 4am, the excitement had finally set in. We were up and ready to go and did manage a quick goodbye before taking off for Trula's. We rang her on route to make sure she was up and then with Jim, the four of us headed back to Heathrow. We booked in and after coffee and goodbyes, Ray and I were on our own and the adventure was about to begin. We flew with Virgin and the flight was half an hour late taking off. We left at 10am British time and landed at JFK at 12 midday American time.
|"Dancing Queen", Flight VS003 to new york.|
We are 5 hours behind the UK, so we both decided that we would stay up as long as possible to try and recover sooner. We set off from the airport via the train and after two more changes and a bit of help from some very friendly New Yorkers, we got to our hotel on East 32nd street, the Hotel Grand Union.
|A shoe shine shop. Our first taste of America|
|The tube was actually very clean|
We arrived at 2.30pm and originally thought we couldn't book in until 4pm, but there was no problem so we got our room and unpacked. The hotel is okay, a wee bit tired looking and our view of the Empire State building is very limited unless you stand on the ledge in the bathroom and hang out of the window, however it does have a bath so not all bad.
We decided that we would go straight out and have a wander about. The sun was shinning and it was very warm. We went along to see the Madison Square Garden, which Ray was surprised to find was not a garden, but a major venue for big fights etc, so off we went and eventually came to Times Square. This place was very vibrant and lots of tourists. We had dinner at Planet Hollywood and then decided to check out the Theater situation. As we started walking, the wind picked up and the sky grew very dark and heavy and before long we were in the middle of a huge down pour and thunder and lightening storm. We took cover in a bar and had a couple of Budweiser's and by 8pm, we were both flagging so much, we went back to the hotel, where we both fell asleep within minutes of getting into bed.
|Our first glimpse of the Empire State Building|
|Macy's, the sign says it all|
|Just another day in Times Square|
|"Little Nellie"from and early James Bond film|
Thursday 11th April.
4am again, although, US time and we were both wide awake. As I opened my eyes, I felt that my right eye seemed funny, it felt swollen and I was struggling to see with it. Ray confirmed my diagnosis and then we heard the tell tale sound of buzzing. Somehow up on the 9th floor, a bloody mosquito had got into our room and decided to eat me. It had also bitten my right wrist. We spotted it resting on the wall. Ray dispatched it and it must have had half a pint of my blood in it, which we then had to clean up off the wall, no wonder we could catch it, it had put on so much weight. Anyway, I started my sight seeing of New York, looking particularly fetching and as if I'd been one of the fights at Madison Square. Yeah!
|You should see the other guy|
Our first trip was to the chemist for some allergy tablets and then breakfast. Back at the room, Ray sorted out ordering our motorcycle jackets, which we decided to buy over here because they are about £200 cheaper and once that was done, we jumped on a sight seeing bus, called "the big yellow taxi" and took in the attractions and atmosphere of New York. We got off at Central Park and considered getting a horse and carriage around the park, but settled for a walk instead. We visited the zoo, but were disappointed to find that Alec, Melman, Gloria and Marti were still on the missing list, probably still in Madagascar. (For some of you they are they stars of the animated film, Madagascar who all escaped from Central Park Zoo). We had hot dogs from a proper New York vendor and then jumped back on the bus. We stayed on it this time until we reached Battery Park which is where we could see the Statue of Liberty from. The park itself, is under going major renovation, as is a lot of the city, so not only was it cold and grey, it was also a little bit shabby. I had visited it with my Mum back in 1998 and it was lovely then. We passed Ground Zero,and once again there are major works going on there, but that is not a bad thing. I had also been here with my Mum, then the Towers were still there, and I returned once again 6 months after they fell. That time, all around were photo's of, and verses to those that had lost their lives. Now it is completely different with a lot of construction going on.
|Taxi anyone ?|
|One of the residents that did not escape to Madagascar|
|Traffic can be a bitch|
|The Times Square Clock for the New Year celegrations|
|Battery Park, looking seriously battered|
|The replacement for the Twin Towers at ground Zero|
At about 5pm we returned to our room. As I write this, Ray is having a wee snooze and I am about to wage war on another mosquito. We haven't decided yet whether to go out and see the City by night or have an early night and start again early tomorrow.