Thursday, December 28, 2006

Merry Christmas

I had what was possibly the best Christmas I've had in a long time. Suffice to say that spending it with the girlfriend's family (dad, brother, nan and grandad) beats my usual Christmas alone watching TV, sleeping and playing games on the old console all day long.

Instead we spoke, watched TV, ate (a lot), drank (too much), spoke more and generally had a nice Christmas.

It was back to work though yesterday through to the end of this week, then "Much Ado About Nothing" tomorrow night courtesy of work's sponsorship of the RSC. It'll be my first time to see Shakespeare on the stage. Should be good, I hope...

Oh and then off to see Kylie at Wembley Arena on Sunday! Woo hoo!

Life is treating me well at the moment. I hope that it lasts. (I even won £200 of John Lewis vouchers in my company's Christmas raffle and spent it on a lovely DAB radio!)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New York, New York!

We had a good time in New York but there's more to do and see in just the long weekend that we were there for that we're already talking about going back in the Summer.

Things we did manage to do were:
See a show on Broadway - Yeah, I know that it's such a touristy thing to do but then Americans visiting London almost always visit a show and so we reciprocated. As it was, we enjoyed our night out seeing the musical version of "The Wedding Singer" as we're both children of the 80s and liked the film version too.

Go to Liberty Island - It just has to be done. Whether or not we believe in the USA's modern take on "Freedom" (and I don't), the Statue of Liberty is still iconic and had to be seen close up. Ironically lady liberty is looking a bit run down, but then most Americans apparently don't understand irony. We went across just before the sun set so I managed to get some nice moody shots along with frozen bollocks as it was a bit nippy out on the boat at the time!

Visit Macy's - It's the largest store in the world, don't you know! Ten floors of heaven or hell, depending on whether or not you enjoy shopping. It was quite an experience. We went on a Saturday when one of their one-off 50% off sales was going on. It was crazy the things that we could buy at huge knock down prices. All in all we spent almost four hours in this one store alone. I was practically dead on my feet by the end but the other half was in retail heaven! Hehe...

See the Rockefeller Ice Rink and "World Famous" Christmas tree - It was HUGE. The tree in Trafalgar Square looks pretty crap this year (I think that the Norwegians are trying to tell us something) and this tree really puts it to massive shame. Mind you the electricity for the lights on the tree alone would probably be enough to power a small suburb.

Stroll through Central Park on a beautiful Sunday morning - It was cold but Sunny and we had a lovely romantic stroll through the park. That plus the fact that we needed the exercise after eating American size portions of everything for the previous few days made
this perfect. We both agreed that it would be nice to come back here in Summer. A week later we did the same thing in Hyde Park and it was cool to think how we'd been in New York just a week before walking through Central Park.

Do the Empire State Building at dusk - We'd originally planned to go on the Friday but visibility was poor and the outside viewing area closed, the same on Saturday but then we ended up with the best visibility on Sunday and I got lots of pictures at daylight and then after the sun had set. Just brilliant! I also had to resist the temptation to propose here as the sun set behind us. Perhaps, next time?

We took the subway a few times but never really needed to get a taxi as most places that didn't require a subway were within easy walking distance. I discovered that New Yorkers are the grumpiest city people in the world (Yes, even grumpier than Londoners). I've never come across such a bunch of unfriendly people before. When the other half asked for a tea but then forgot to ask for milk in it the person working in the cafe wouldn't stop moaning about it. When one of the employees in the Empire State Building tried to take our picture and we refused as it was really tacky, he muttered "Well, why don't you just fuck off then." to us. Most people in the street or in shops don't understand the use of the work "Excuse me" when trying to get past you and just go in elbows first. And a few other similar cases of people not really being particular friendly to strangers.

Also, in the few days that we were there, we managed to see a shoplifter getting away from a store detective and a mugger getting arrested with great force and volume by the NYPD. I've lived in London and have yet to see a mugging all my life and we get to see a few instances of things in just three days. It's not as safe as they say it is, is all I can say to that, though we never felt unsafe walking along the streets, even at night, as there were always loads of others around in the populous midtown area where we were based. And besides, if you are a city person, you'll feel at home straight away. It's just the pure scale of the buildings that can take your breath away for a few seconds when you first arrive.

We managed to fit a few more things in but is was all over too soon for us but as I said, I'm sure that we'll be back.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All set now

I'm all packed but the other half has amazed my by her ability to fill the huge suitcase that I lent her for our five day trip to the brim!

Me: "Isn't there anything that you can leave behind?"
Her: "No. Absolutely not!"
Me: "Sigh"

I'm not quite sure how she's going to find any room for anything that she might buy (up to the £145 limit you're allowed before declaring goods and having to pay tax on them....of course.)

I also had to resort to ringing up the limo company in New York re-confirm our "meet and greet " pick up, since I'd not received any confirmation from them after having booked a reservation over a week ago.

And it's just as well that I did as they had no record of my booking! As it was the woman on the other end of the line was apologetic and very professional so I gave her all the details again and we should be set for a nice luxury sedan pick up come tomorrow afternoon. PHEW!

I have to admit that I got a bit excited talking to someone across the Atlantic too. Sad, eh?
(And I used to do it all the time in my old job.)

Oh and to cap it all off, since we are flying with Virgin Atlantic, I came into work today and checked us both in online and even changed our seats to better ones so that the other half now has a nice window view with only me sat beside her rather than us being sat in the centre aisle as we were before! How cool is that?!

Also found a great Times Square webcam site so that I could check out a realtime feed of The Big Apple before I went. I'll try and keep an eye out for it when we are there and give a wave...How geeky is that! Hehe.

Anyway. See you all next week!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Preparing For The Big Apple

Off to New York on Thursday. I'm a wee bit excited!

Things I have sorted:
Printout of electronic ticket and hotel reservation form.

Minicab booked to Heathrow.

Camera battery charged.

Things yet to sort:
Limo service (just a luxury sedan, not an actual limo) from JFK not yet confirmed, though I booked it a week ago. I e-mailed them and may have to ring them up before I go to get a firm confirmation. It only works out at 20 quid each as the Dollar is so weak.

Packing my holdall. It's still in my wardrobe. Packing for five days shouldn't be that hard though. (I hope!)

Sort out the cables, rechargers and plugs I'll need to take for my laptop, PSP and MP3 player.

And Lo...A New Saga Unfolds

So, I rang Microsoft yet again as the labels that they were sending out to me for me to use to return my dead as a dodo XBox360 console to them hadn't arrived yet. It'd been over a week and they said five working days to me, so it was nigh on time to follow up.

An Indian/Scandanavian sounding chap then gave me the UPS tracking reference and contact number to follow up myself about the package. This was a bit annoying as I'd thought it'd be their job to find out what had gone wrong rather than me having to do their dirty work.

Oh well...I called them and got told that they would call me back after they had found out what had happened with my label.

This they duely did (good) but only to tell me that for some reason (unbenownst to them) the driver simply had got around to delivering the label (bad) and that they could try a redelivery.

"Ermm, since I won't ever be home during working hours, can I please change the delivery address to my work one?", I asked.

"Sure, but I can't do that, I'll transfer you to someone who can..." at which point they hung up on me! Argh!

But surprise, surprise, they promptly rang me back apologising and then did pass me through properly.

"We'll have to try at least one delivery before the delivery address can be changed" was their next response to me.

"So, even though I've told you I won't be home, you'll send someone out on a wild goose chase, wasting time, just so your system can then allow you to change the delivery address???", I asked incredulouly.

Exasterbated, I waited for a response. "Hang on, I'll see what I can do..."

"Sorry sir, but we can't change the delivery address, you'll have to call the supplier to have the label changed."

"SIGH, Okay. Thanks...Goodbye."

So basically, I rang Microsoft and arranged for the pickup from work. Apparently you pack up your console and UPS comes along, sticks a label on it and takes it away.

Twenty four hours later I'm still waiting for the pick-up from work.

Here we go again....

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cheap booze for those in the UK

And obviously there isn't anything that we like better (if Friends episodes are anything to go by).

So get 40% off all wine and champagne at Threshers with this coupon until the 10th December.

Read all about it here to see how this has come about...

And remember...Drink Sensibly!