Thursday, 10 July 2008


The month has gone by really quickly. Seemingly far quicker than last year’s trip. I set off about 11 and had gone a few miles before hunger struck, so I pulled in somewhere. One thing I’ve noticed particularly this time - either it is senility or everywhere looks the same, but if it carries on like this I will only be able to tell where I am by the temperature and the colours: 30C Green. Must be North. 40C Yellow. Must be south. 35C erm Taupe. Must be in the middle?

As I hadn’t the opportunity to eat much seafood while I was in Maine and New Hampshire, this was my last chance before New York and its culinary delights. Jack's Seafood Barn Family Restaurant seemed ideal. That wasn’t its name but probably quite close. If you want to sell anything it's probably a good idea to add the words ‘Barn’, ‘Town’, or ‘Ville’ and possibly the name of your establishment. Bung in a reference to God isn’t out of order and it’s probably not a bad idea to stick the world ‘family’ in there as well.

That way you get ‘BoozeBarn’ or ‘Vehicleville’ or ‘Jack's Christian Family gunsmith, drug liquor Barn Laundromatville’. Anyhow back to the food. The place was like so many establishments around the world - a mass of junk. I sat in this restaurant expecting a load of license plates, traffic signals and fisherman's floats to come down on my head if I coughed violently.

Decided that the shrimp served on a bed of pasta with a Cesar salad would be a good light-ish lunchtime choice. Iced water and popcorn arrived. Seems to be the equivalent of bread on the east coast. I had a taste and no more. Those words: "Don't fill up on bread" wandered around my brain. The picture shows what arrived. It was vast. It was delicious. It was very difficult to finish. I nearly succeeded. I then tottered to the parking lot and headed south.

You may remember that last year I returned the car to the airport and then took a cab into Manhattan. Admittedly I did end up at Newark airport rather than JFK first-off after being rattled by the New Jersey Turnpike. This time I researched the route and had absolutely no trouble. I went straight to JFK and then got hopelessly lost trying to find the rental return. After going round the airport a couple of times, I finally found one of the many security guys who pointed me in the right direction. Passed a few signs for ‘Kiss and Fly’.

This seems a new thing and it’s probably meant to ease ones passage, rather than being anything saucy. Maybe for newlyweds or people having affairs. For the rest of us, and people in long term relationships, you have to check- in at the "Peck and Flee" desk.

The car had operated pretty neatly for the whole journey and I will tell you in a later blog how many miles I travelled and how much I spent on petrol. One thing is certain, it cost more than last year. The car, although a convertible, wasn't as cool as the Mustang I had last year so I didn't really care about leaving it behind caked in dust and factor 30 sun.

Cab into Manhattan and to the Wellington Hotel which I'd booked that morning over the internet. It was a last minute purchase which kept the cost down. Pulled up, paid up and went into the elevator with the bell hop. It was stifling in there. "It’s directly above the furnaces" he told me. "Last summer I was trapped in here for 2 hours. They had to rip the top of the elevator car off to get me out. Had a month off on full pay."

I have one day in New York and lots of chores to do. For instance I’ve been carrying half written and unsent postcards to family and friends in my bag since Lake Superior. Better send them. I have CD's to buy, although perhaps due to the terrain, I listened to a lot more than just Country Radio this time so the music I'm planning on buying will be more varied. Sundry friends and colleagues have put in requests for me to bring stuff back for them but, judging by the size of my suitcase, they may be disappointed.

As I set off down 7th Avenue a woman on her cellphone waiting at a crossing started yelling at a cab driver stuck in traffic blowing his horn: "Why you laying on your horn, Nothing’s moving? Asshole!" This is such a great city. As I continued walking I looked up and noticed something. Went in and immediately bought a ticket.


Micky B said...

Have enjoyed your trip notes, Mr. Lester. Feel like I've been there with you (but whilst having access to a launderette).

Thanks for keeping us well informed.

Looking forward to your return. Pete Mitchell said that would be on Monday - can't wait.

Welcome Home.

Mickey B

Micky B said...

Your shrimp and paster meal looks just the thing. Might inspire me to do something like that for myself, this weekend. Not so sure about the popcorn, though ?

Holland said...

Just wondering, what did you buy a ticket to see???

bye, be listening to you on Monday


Frances said...

Oh, hurry home Alex.
Your blog has been great , but it's not like the real thing!
Roll on Monday. Can't wait to find out what the ticket was...
Happy flight day to you.


DMC said...

Hi Alex, humdinger of a cliff hanger there!

Is NY the only place that has Virgin Megastores nowadays? Besides convents, that is.

Can't wait for your return on air Monday.