About Me

My photo
On the bright side of the road
Lover of words. Usually found with a book or a pen in my hand.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Just my imagination running away with me.........

It was a lovely sunny, warm day as we headed into London for the weekend.  The birds were singing, people were laughing and everyone was enjoying the sunshine. 

As we approached our destination, a pretty square near St Pancras Station my world began to change.  We were staying at the Winchester.  Actually it was the Howard Winchester but as soon as I heard the word Winchester the Howard became redundant and all I could think about was Shaun of the Dead.

To be fair, the Howard Winchester looks nothing like the famed pub but once spooky thoughts had taken hold, I viewed everything through blood coloured glasses.  The hotel had a decidedly odd vibe, the receptionist strange and cold, our room in the attic, just one of three accessed by a separate staircase………
Needless to say, I was relieved to leave the hotel and get out into the sunshine where bad things don’t happen, not even in movies.  But just around the corner we stumbled upon Hotel California.  The weekend was getting worse.  Although I love mini breaks, I don’t fancy checking out of my hotel anytime I like without the possibility of ever leaving.  Suddenly home seemed a very nice place to be indeed.
But away from the square spooky thoughts soon left my mind and I enjoyed the rest of the day soaking up the sort of atmosphere that is unique to Camden Lock.
Later that night, tucked away in the airless, hot attic room I slept feverishly and awoke in a mild panic with the sun shining through the open window.  It was early but relieved at being rescued from my nightmarish slumber I wandered over to the window to breath in the fresh morning air.  But horror!  There were bodies lying prone in the grassy square and a couple of people malignantly hanging around outside.  Images from Shaun of the Dead raced through my mind……. Could it have been a zombie attack?  Were we safe in this room?  Would we be able to escape to our car? How long could we survive up here without any food?  Was the tap water drinkable?!
Thankfully, before I dissolved into complete panic Lovely Hubby joined me at the window and laughingly pointed to the revellers crashed out on the grass and the early morning smokers standing around with nothing to do.  Of course he was right; nothing to worry about at all.
The rest of the day was fine, honestly, completely fine.  But I must admit to arriving home in one piece quite a relief.
Normality resumed, I popped down to my shed at the bottom of the garden to have a bit of a sort out and found two opened chrysalises stuck to the ceiling.  Loving all things nature-like I gently took them down so I could show the family.  As I entered the house a flock of crows descended on the garden in a gaggle of noise and I quickly placed the objects on the bookcase and raced outside to shoo the creatures away.  But then I remembered, it’s not a flock of crows at all…….it’s a MURDER of crows!  The birds settled in the huge oak tree at the bottom of the garden and watched me………just like in The Omen.
Needless to say, I hurried back into the house and locked the door, thankful that my children are now young adults and not little devils riding around on tricycles in the house (although our house certainly isn’t large enough to ride a bike through it, that detail is immaterial really).
Dinner, bath and bed.  All hideous thoughts banished from my mind.  But later that night I dreamed of the chrysalises on the bookcase.  They were not the pupae of beautiful butterflies but the pods of two alien babies……and the mother was angry, very angry that they had been taken….because the alien babies were still inside…….and the mother was entering the house……and she was coming for the abductor………..

For crying out loud…...

And rather worryingly……this blog post naturally came to a halt at 666 words.  Oh dear!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Breakfast in America

A friend of mine is planning a trip to New York and knowing that I’ve been there many times she asked what to do other than the usual sightseeing.  She’ll only be there for a short time and has a packed itinerary but she wants to come home feeling that along with playing the tourist, she has had a real taste of America.
Naturally lots of things popped to mind but one of my most vivid memories is of my first trip to New York in the 1980’s.  We stayed at a friend’s apartment in Secaucus, New Jersey and drove into the Big Apple each day which I think is where my love affair with the city and its people began.  We did all the usual tourist stuff which was fantastic and yet we also experienced a real slice of American life.

If there's one thing that Americans are good at (and they are exceedingly good, if not great, at lots of things) it's breakfast.

I’m not talking toast and cereal at the breakfast table – I’m talking diners and the whole going out to breakfast experience.  There are lots of American-style diners popping up around the UK and while the food is good and reasonably priced, no matter how hard we try, we will never, ever come close to the style and vibe of an East Coast American Diner.

Ordering food in that part of the world is an art.   New Yorkers are busy people and know what they want.  You’re in there to eat, so order your food already.  Don’t hang about and dither trying to engage the waitress in pleasantries – she hasn’t got time and she’s got a gazillion orders to take.  And to be honest, are you that interesting?  Just make your decision, speak clearly and confidently - and order!

This is how you might order in England:
‘Um, could I have the Big Breakfast please?  Could I order some toast as well?  Oh yes, and a coffee please?  Lovely, thank you.’

The New York way:

‘I’ll have the Big Breakfast, eggs over-easy/over-well/sunny side up/scrambled, wheat/rye/white toast (hold the butter), hash browns, orange juice and coffee.  Thanks.’

(Just a couple of notes here – it’s sausage not sausages, ketchup not tomato sauce which is for your pasta, you won’t get baked beans with breakfast as Americans think that’s weird, French toast is like eggy bread but it’s covered with icing sugar so you have it with maple syrup and not ketchup and you usually get endless refills of freshly brewed coffee at no extra charge.)

See the difference?  The American menu has lots of choices, including the way it’s prepared and if the waitress held your hand for every single decision you have to make, you’d be there till supper!

And so my one-thing-to-do-off-the-tourist-trail recommendation to my friend is to find a local diner for breakfast.  I’m pretty sure the diner I visited all those years ago is still there, just off the I95 in Secaucus and is now called Legends Diner (aptly named, I think) - hopefully I’ll make it back there soon.  Now, should I mention dinner?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

It's a Love-ly World

Image Courtesy of city-data.com

I see friends shaking hands sayin', 'How do you do?'
They're really sayin', 'I love you'

Qote Courtesy of Satchmo

I’ve been gone for a while and I think it’s time I came back.

My last blog post was extremely emotional but I’ve moved on and I’d like to think, I’m even happier than before.  It’s corny, I know, but I’ve sort of reassessed where I am and where I’m going.  Time alone to brood provides you with boundless opportunities for introspection and while I’ve had my gloomy times, it’s not all been that way.

Life’s ticking on, it’s precious.  Embrace every moment.  I used to spout such sayings but not really appreciate the significance of the words.  I understood them and agreed with them but didn’t really live by that code.  I suppose it’s a bit like religion.  You can believe, go to church on Sundays and join in with the hymns and participate in the service.  But do you really feel it in your very being?  In your soul?  People laugh at the stereotypical ‘born again Christians’, and I wonder why?  They’ve found something and they want to shout it from the rooftops because it makes them feel so good.  What’s wrong with that?

I’m not particularly religious and if I had to put a label on what I am, I guess I’d go with spiritual-with-a-mix-of-most-faiths.  For years I’ve happily strolled through life never wanting to hurt anyone or anything and that was enough.

A change had started to come over me many months before my car accident.  I wanted to do more than just keep strolling through life and the phrase ‘time is precious’ kept playing in my head.  It’s probably just a mid life crisis and the panic of realising that if I’m lucky, I’m half way through my life.

But I'd like to think it’s something more than that.

And then there was the accident, a period of gloom and then a shaky steadiness to my inner self.  But then the steadiness became less shaky and gradually became rooted solidly within me.  I started to believe in people, I mean really believe.  I think I’ve been born again.

Now before you start thinking I’m going to spout a load of mumbo jumbo you don’t want to hear, let me explain.  By being born again I mean I truly feel something within me that has to reach out to others.  Another cliché:  happiness is in giving, not receiving.  I agree with this to a point……I feel so happy to help others, it makes me feel good but it also makes me happy when others are kind to me, I mean, who wouldn’t be?  And if everyone consciously tried to do just five kind things a day the world would be a better place (another cliché, I know).  But once you start with kindness it’s sort of addictive.  You can’t help yourself.  Your mind and soul gradually become open and before you know it, you’re finding opportunities all over the place to be kind.  And if everyone did this, the world could be a fantastic place which could lead to the end of wars and poverty and cruelty…….and I don’t really think that’s going to happen but I’m going to damn well try in my own small world, in my own small way.

By falling in love with truly living and opening your heart and soul wide, you are not so worried about the opinions of others and you are more able to deal with the blows.  You’re not worried about courting compliments or trying to impress.  You simply live in the best way you can and you reach out to others.  How many of us have been feeling low  because of a mood, something going on in our lives or coping with an illness?   And then a driver is abusive, a commuter knocks into you, the boiler breaks down; none of these are horrific incidents but when feeling low they can tip you just a bit too far.  But if your focus is outwards rather than inwards, it can change the way you think and react to situations.  It allows you to let go of the anger and embrace the world.

Yep, I reckon I’m a born again.  A born again what, I’m not quite sure.  But my heart’s wide open and I’m seeing life in high definition…..it’s pretty great.