Category Archives: Personal

ones about me, my life and my ramblings!

Leaving… On a Sleeper Train

I wasn’t going to write but now it appears, writing I am. (Knowing full well the extent to which this is probably going to sound like a sad, poor man’s Michael Portillo’s Great Train Journeys!)
I’m a mix of feelings: Worry that I’m going to get no sleep, trepidation ahead of meeting colleagues and work tomorrow and of course, deep down, pure geeky excitement that I’m on one of the country’s only two Sleeper Services.
It sounds dreamy: “The Night Riviera”. Go to bed at London Paddington, wake up in Penzance Cornwall. How dreamy the reality is, I shall have to let you know – It better be good – I’m coming back to London in the same manner tomorrow night!

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At Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s great and imposing Paddington, the train is waiting for me at Platform 1. I take a stroll past Paddington Bear, and wait for a while in the First Class Lounge. I was lucky enough to manage to sneak into IKB’s original feature waiting room. Complete with a monogram for George the 6th.

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I charge my phone a little, help myself to the wares on offer. (Cup of Tea and a fair few packets of glorious Boarders Biscuits.) I sat and people watched before making acquaintance with the couple next to me. We were reminded (regularly) that the train was ready for us to board, and eventually I caved in and headed for the train.
The isle was narrow. Very narrow. I had a backpack on my back and couldn’t turn around in the isle. I found the attendant and was checked in. The room (or berth) is small but functional – a bed, a sink, a hanger and a small box with soap, a flannel and some lip balm. You also get a tiny towel!
I’m in Coach G. The back of the train. Sadly, berth 1 – backing on to the toilet. Thankfully I packed my earplugs and should hope to get a good night’s kip. Breakfast has been booked with my friendly attendant – Coffee and a croissant.
I heard the automated voice heard at every other national rail station announce “The 23.50, First Great Western Service to Penzance” and headed to the back of the train. I hung my head out the window for a moment. I could see the grand station clock and Paddington Bear. The doors clunked. Locked. We were ready. Mere seconds later, the whistle blew, a green flag waved and we were off!

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The back of the train has no engine car, so I could see “Where I’d been”. Watching the Great Paddington station get left behind, a tube train try to race us along the track but most importantly, London being left behind.
I left the back of train and made my way up the endless feeling corridors to the Lounge Car. Got myself a tea and a whiskey and sat down (As it happens with the couple from earlier) to take in my surroundings.
There is something special about this. Something I can’t explain. Something just feels right. It feels somewhat poignant, almost like this sort of travel was what was envisaged when IKB build the fairly imposing arches of Paddington Station. The trains are tatty and worn. (They’re undergoing a refurb) They don’t have plug socket! (“Shavers only!”) The Moquette on the walls has gone a bit dull and the buffet car dated. Yet still it feels oddly classy. Classic perhaps and somewhat romantic.
I’ve finished my tea and whiskey and the train has just left Reading… I think it’s time to trundle back through the coaches and test the bed! Night!

Tea in a Pullman cup. Classy. Actually so classy.
Tea in a Pullman cup. Classy. Actually so classy. 

Leaving a mark

Originally was going to be called “The one when I write about the train”.

I initially wrote this a few weeks ago. I never published it, but tonight on the tube home I came across it again and thought for a moment how, earlier in this week, people who had previously had no common denominator, other than being in the same place in the same time, just as I’d been on the train with the people below, were thrust into a common sense of being… A mark in their life, and sadly in some cases a mark of their life….

The tube is mundane. Every day for the last 13 months, I’ve chucked myself out of bed at the crack of dawn, thrown myself through the bathroom, wandered (or ran when late) to the bus stop. Shoved myself on the bus before spending best part of an hour crammed into a metal tube train.
There is a very good reason why some lines on the London Underground are described as “tubes”. Small circular tube shaped tunnels with small circular tube shaped trains. You’re often in closer proximity to a stranger than you’re happy being in with your friends, and most of the time during rush hour it’s an unpleasant experience.
Yet this evening, post drinks with an ex-colleague, I found something beautiful in the experience. Thinking a little about it, the enjoyment possibly stems from the hell-like experience before dinner. I took the Jubilee line. Typically British were the queues on the platform, yet unlike Brits, in the least prim and proper way, it was a free-for-all to find a small space to cram yourself into once on the train. A man placed his arm in my face and left it there… There I was, three stops inside a random man’s arm.
Yet tonight, I got on the train somewhere else, somewhere different to my normal commute. I missed the first train. I couldn’t see the screen as to where it was going. As it left, I said to myself, “There’s a reason that happened”
The train arrived and it was fairly empty. Three people in my section, another couple of people further up the carriage. We spread ourselves out (As only the best British, non-communicative commuters could do) and got hard to work ignoring each other.
Whilst doing our best to ignore each other, headphones in, kindle in hand, and nervously playing with a shopping bag, my mind started to wander. Wondering about the lives of these random people sat so close to me. So close, yet so far. I studied for a second the diversity within the carriage. I noticed the lady opposite me was wearing a Muslim headscarf. The lady further up was holding a bag from a supermarket which didn’t have an English name. By now others had got on the train. Some tourists holding a book, a man with ripped jeans and a bright red coat. He had blonde highlights and I noticed the bright contrast of colours.
I started wondering about these people’s lives… Their upbringing, their personal history. A story I’m so close to, yet in a few moments time will be yet again so far away from. Had the Muslim woman always worn a scarf? How would she feel if she knew the music playing in My IPod was a Jewish song? Where did the woman with the supermarket bag come from? What did the man in the ripped jeans do for a job?
As I started writing this, I noticed that almost as I was studying each person for a split second, they got up and left the train. As this percolated in my head, I realised I could have spoken to them, smiled at them… I became so close to making a mark in their current history, their life, their moment, but didn’t. I’d stopped paying attention to the music playing in my iPod and was focused on them for a split second. But they had no clue.
I came to the conclusion that chances are they wouldn’t want me to make a mark in their lives. I’m a randomer on the train. But… It’s made me think deeply about the mark I leave on other peoples lives… My family… My friends… The people I work with.
At the end of the day, we’re all just on a train to our destination… No train service in the world runs perfectly without delay. There’s always the chance to get a red signal. But while the service is good, you have to make the most of your journey and ensure you leave a good mark on those in your carriage. Everyone gets off at a different stop in life.
(Talking of which, it’s time for me to get off this train!)
In memory of the 22 people unjustly murdered earlier this week at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester.

“We must fight terrorism as if there’s no peace process and work to achieve peace as if there’s no terror.” – Yitzhak Rabin

Twenty Sixteen

So, I’d written a blow by blow account of my year. You could call it “2016 lines about 2016”. Thankfully I didn’t publish it. Frankly no one would want to read it.

But while at home the last few days. In and out of bed with a chest infection, I came to realise something;

No matter what went on in 2016, it taught me to Step Out Of My Comfort Zone...

Stepping out of my comfort zone has made me:

  • Leave my job with no new job (aaah)
  • Fly to America alone… and although I was staying with people, I spent two days on my own in Florida. (And the alone time was amazing)
  • … So, I learnt to appreciate alone time. I never used to like being alone and now I love spending a just a little time in the quiet!
  • I learnt how to be skint for a while. (I didn’t enjoy it, but it was my own fault for spending too much in America!)
  • Push myself for a job I didn’t think I stood a chance in getting.
  • Completely change my lifestyle when accepting aforementioned job.
  • At work I’ve learnt bits of new languages, Geographies of new Countries and how to get someone to restart things when they are 1000 Miles away!
  • I tried tablets to try and combat a health condition. When they didn’t work, I’ve learnt to accept my weird skin a bit more.
  • I learnt more about who I could trust….. and who I couldn’t.
  • I’ve learnt to be less of a fussy eater. (No really! I’m still fussy but I’m much better than I was!)

….. And most recently being away from loads of my friends, not being at camp like I normally am, I’ve learnt I need to start listening to my body.  I’m not enjoying being at home. It’s not nice seeing everyone having a great time while I’m here in bed. But I needed to rest. (Hopefully I’ll be well enough to join the fun later in the week!)

I needed to rest because 2017 boasts so many more opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone – Including two trips abroad in the first month alone! (Bring on Spain and Hong Kong!)

So whatever the New Year brings (and I hope it’s great for everyone)… I thoroughly recommend you try stepping outside your comfort zone just once or twice…. you might even enjoy it! 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR (Oh  and a Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah/Hanukkah/Hanuka/Chanuka, Happy Kwanzaa, or a happy whatever else you might celebrate!)

 

disclaimer: this is not the suggestion that you make “Stepping out of your comfort zone” a New Year’s Resolution… as we all know no one sticks to New Years Resolutions! 😛

Coming in?

I’ve thought about writing about this for a long time…. But I was never really sure how to most effectively write something like this without becoming a rambling mess… Well, I’m now going to try….

A Friend of mine (@JadeSanders) offered me a ticket to McFly. I literally felt like I was about 12 again! We were quite early and quite close to the front…. We got into a slight altercation with a young lady whom thought she owned the 02 Forum. She was rather angry with myself, my friend and the people around us who wouldn’t let her and her sister push all the way to the front, especially as they strolled in about 10 minutes before the start, bragging how “Daddy got us free tickets”… And we’d been there for over an hour.

Eventually in a fit of rage, as she was split from her sister (and we’d offered her the chance to swap with us to go and stand with her sister a number of times), she sent the following, now deleted tweet:

 It seems twitter's search ending is strong, I'm an expert at reading over shoulders and "GayBoy" wasn't really trending at that moment!

It seems twitter’s search engine is strong, I’m an expert at reading over shoulders and
“GayBoy” wasn’t really trending at that moment!

Being the only male (not attached to a girlfriend) in the vicinity at the time, stood with the girl in front’s mum, I think we are pretty safe to assume it was about us.

Firstly the lady was NOT that old. She was actually very funny, and didn’t really care for McFly, but cared for her principles and was not gonna let them past.

Then the part about me. Not only is it a touch Homophobic, but also factually incorrect… And I’m a little bit fed up.

Nowadays, it seems that one can’t appreciate the theatre or cheesy music (McFly being from my childhood!!!) or be a little camp, without constantly being branded “gay”. I sing in a choir, Play a huge variety of instruments and Am a pretty sensitive person…. But I also drive a moderately fast ride, love going to theme parks and often find myself standing shouting profanities at a football match. That’s my personality, my musical preferences, my life choices and it has NOTHING to do with my sexuality.

It is crazy to think that not that many years ago, should you have wanted to find yourself a girl, you went to a dance. You weren’t dancing like we go clubbing nowadays, but you’d have to summon up the courage to ask the lady you desired to a ballroom dance. Should you even suggest that you might do a samba or a tango now days, you’d also be instantly branded “gay” by a huge number of people.

THIS IS NOT OKAY!

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am used to being asked the question; “So are you gay then?”. I’m used to managing to find an answer to try and stop the situation from becoming awkward. (Or one that makes it just suitably awkward enough!)
On one hand, it’s a pretty awkward question and you should be minding your own business… But on the other hand, WHAT DIFFERENCE. Get to know me a bit more and you will probably be able to work it out! (Clue; I used to be a regular buyer of nuts magazine – not for the articles and was distraught when it was discontinued! 😉 ).

I am thankfully ok with answering such questions. I know how I feel and no one is gonna change that. That’s not how the world works. If you keep calling a dog “Cat” it doesn’t become one. However, I feel for those who might not be so prepared. I feel for the kids at school who constantly get the bullied for “being gay” when they’re not.

At the end of the day, no one is going to change me; if we were only how other people wanted to see us, then the world would be a weird place. Meanwhile… I’m going to go back to my tube ride to work. I’ll shuffle the iPod and see what I’ve got. Could be Welsh Rock band Manic Street preachers, or could be Spice girls. Who knows. Who cares. I’m gonna sit here smiling to myself regardless, happily knowing the fact that what other people think ain’t gonna change a damn thing.

Clicks fingers, drops mic and walks away.
SteveeyP, Over and… Well… In I suppose.

I didn’t fast on Yom Kippur….. Not at least traditionally.

A sweeping statement yet fundamentally the truth.

I’ve been thinking for a while as to what I’d do on Yom Kippur. I’ve established previously that I don’t believe in G-d…. and that I do love many of the Jewish traditions. I’ve established that although I don’t believe, I have a VERY strong connection to “my people”, to “My heritage” and to my ancestors. Yet here I am, writing this at the start of, and then adding to it during Yom Kippur (So, please excuse the differing tenses!), the Jewish “Day of Atonement”. The day where you atone and repent for the things you have done over the last year, the one day a year where people who do little else religiously or spiritually all year round, decide they are going to withhold from eating… and I’m Drinking tea…. or maybe eating lunch.

Discussing my eating habits recently I realised that actually the vague adherence I keep to the laws of Kashrut (keeping Kosher) are one of the few areas in my life where I regularly exercise self control. While not strictly the rules of Kosher, I have a clear set of rules in my head and I stick to them. Monday this week, I found myself in Waitrose and for the first time in a very long time I was genuinely enticed by a chicken salad. I almost picked it up, before a voice in my head said “no, Exercise some self control!” (The Pesto Pasta was lovely all the same!)

Having thought long and hard about what keeping my form of kosher means to me, and that mainly being self control, I thought in the same vain about what Yom Kippur means to me. I have never “fully” observed Yom Kippur in the Traditional Orthodox Sense, just like I’ve never kept strictly kosher. (No Use of anything electrical, no driving, no washing, no making anything… etc)… But to me, it means time spent with my family, it means time spent in Synagogue; it means being dehydrated, hungry and feeling irritable. But as well as those things, the one thing I think of, possibly the most each year as the day approaches is the time I spend Counting Time.

Counting the time until the fast is over.

I am the one counting the pages, before checking my watch, before recounting the pages again. My mind becomes distracted from the purpose of the day and focuses on how long until I can stop my raging headache and my tummy from rumbling.

“On the tenth day of the same seventh month (Tishrei – The Month both Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur fall) you shall observe a sacred occasion when you shall practice self-denial” (Numbers 29:7). “Self denial”. The Torah is a little vague. Our ancestors interpreted “Self Denial” as not eating, as well as not washing, and not engaging in sexual relations. But is that a true representation of Self Denial today?

For me, practically Yom Kippur is a nightmare. Practically in the sense that I am a grazer. I eat 3 meals a day, but they aren’t huge. But between the meals I’m eating. Be it sweets or chocolate, or crackers or fruit, I love to eat. I think this is partly the reason that I find Yom Kippur so difficult – because my body is expecting snacking or a cup of tea. I’ve thought for a few days as to how I can help reduce the want to graze, how to survive the fast, how to distract myself from counting pages and time to focus on the actual purpose of Yom Kippur – To make yourself a better person in the coming year.

Thinking about what I could do to pass the fast, led me onto thinking as to if I actually wanted to fast. I thought long and hard at what I felt fasting would achieve and concluded that actually other than the piercing headache, hunger and distraction, personally the fast wouldn’t achieve anything potentially lasting.

In my commute, I have been blessed (and when I say that, I mean it) with a solid central part of my commute being underground. Underground where the phone signal doesn’t reach. Being phoneless means I have had to find something else to pass the time. I’m thankful for this time as it has enabled me to start reading again. As the northern line rattled its merry way north, on the night before Yom Kippur I was deep in the final pages of Schindler’s Ark. Since Poland, I’ve been meaning to read it, and this commute has given me the chance to finally read it. As the train rattled out of the Tunnel toward East Finchley, I felt the customary “East Finchley Vibrate” of both my Phone and my Work phone. For the first time I found this really inconvenient.

Engrossed in the book, the vibration made me anxious and it distracted me. On one hand I wanted to carry on reading, finalising the complex story I’ve been reading for weeks, yet on the other hand I was bound by the buzz to stop reading and stare at the lit screens of my phones, reading who wants to play candy crush, looking at photos of friend’s last meals before the fast or looking at emails from work. Whilst the prisoners of Zwittau , in the book, were liberated from the sub-camp that was Schindler’s factory, I was, you could say, incarcerated by the urge to stop what I was doing and flick aimlessly down social media, checking my emails and watching pointless updates about food.

I am undoubtedly digitally addicted. I work in IT. I love Technology, Gadgets and things that ping buzz and light up. I am constantly checking my phone, thinking I’ve got a notification, writing messages, sending pictures and liking posts. Not a day goes by without a considerable amount of “Idle time” spent aimlessly on my phone. Even on Rosh Hashannah and previously on Yom Kippur, I’d find myself flicking aimlessly.

With that in the forefront of my mind, and with the conscious realisation that for the next 24 hours I didn’t actually need my phone, at about 8pm…. I switched off.
The last time I switched off, was 2 years ago. I had no choice. I was on a cruise. We were at sea. There was no signal, the phone was useless. (Lord did I try to get signal – on the top deck of the boat pointing at the land, refreshing the empty list of unavailable networks). Yet now, 8pm on the 10th October 2016, I found myself consciously choosing to switch off.

Just before switching off, I was heating up my dinner. I found my-self aimlessly scrolling as per normal. Frantically scrolling through nothing. Re-looking at old posts, totting up how many likes I’d gotten here and there aggressively time wasting with no purpose.

Once I’d eaten my dinner and had started washing up… it was when I had the rubber gloves on that the final straw broke this Camel’s back. I’d just put the gloves on, just run the water, when *Buzz* *Buzz*. “For Goodness sake” I muttered as I took one glove off my hand to be distracted by the glaring screen…. A spam email…. For Goodness sake” I muttered again, and decided that was enough. I’d already turned my laptop off and had set my tablet to flight mode to allow me to write without interaction. (I’m dyspraxic – it’s my version of pen and paper!!) I pressed the power button, I held the power button, and then I pressed power off. I took the currently silent iPhone from my pocket, held the power button, slid the slider and both phones were plunged into darkness.

Lying in bed is a funny feeling. Firstly I noticed it’s 10:30pm. For me that’s pretty early. I am often up late reading random articles people share or chatting to friends etc. Finally I’m experiencing that myth I talk of often… an early night!
Not only is the early night funny, but I’m consciously aware that normally I’d waste valuable sleeping minutes distracted by the old stale news feeds of my phones.
Without the distraction, there was more time for a quick spot of reading, following which, sleep came easy!

Waking up was again interesting. I overslept. Majorly. Which is odd because I had such an early night and compared to a work day was having a lie in anyway! Once I did actually wake up, my default action was to roll over and reach for my phone. On rolling over, I realised it wasn’t there and rolled over the other side and got out of bed!

I decided post lie-in not to go to synagogue this morning… Arriving late at our Synagogue is a little awkward plus, by the time I got there, the morning services would be nearly over. Instead I’ve sat talking to mum who is feeling ill and I’ve done more reading and more thinking. (and a little dozing!) I’m incredibly relaxed.
Frankly I’ve not missed it. I’m not craving it as much as I thought I would be…. or really at all! There was an odd time that I wanted to look something up, and a time I considered checking my phone to pass a moment of time or just to see what other people are up to. But from this I have learnt, that I don’t need to seek or give the constant approval available from having my smart phone attached to me 24×7.

After getting dressed and eating some food, I decided it would be nice to go down to the hospital and visit Grandma who is currently in. Often I’d find myself sat in the room with her idly flicking through my phone whilst talking to her. Sharing my attention between two. Not today. We sat and chatted at length about all different things, giving her my full attention. Walking out the hospital I felt really good.

During my visit, mum had spoken to someone there who came down to see grandma and asked me to call mum. I could have very easily taken this opportunity to turn my phone on and be met by a barrage of notifications. I made a point of not turning my phone on, but borrowing grandma’s to phone home – I knew that by turning it on, I’d become distracted and so decided to exercise higher self control to not turn it on at all!

I came home from the hospital and got dressed and went to Synagogue. It was pretty
uneventful apart from the 47ish second Tekiah Gedolah Blown by my brother! I noticed that I was not interested in how many pages were left, how many minutes, or seconds… but was happy to be sat there joining in.

What was exceptional was that upon leaving Synagogue, I had no urge to turn my phone on. In fact, I drove home, came in, got changed and still didn’t turn my phone on. If anything I started to feel like actually I didn’t want to turn my phone on at all.
I’ve not craved my phone like I normally crave food. I didn’t really think explicitly about food. Lunch time came and I had something to eat before carrying on with my day. I’ve not been distracted by my usual distraction, and yet in removing something else, I’ve not really been distracted by that either.

Removing the distractions, you could even say fasting from my phones, has allowed me to focus more on personal reflection and what I’d like to change personally in the coming year, a process that’s roots seem stem this year from my extreme reaction to some drugs in September. Removing the distraction has allowed me to focus more on talking to my family, writing this post and actually relaxing on what is supposed to be not just a day of repentance but also a day of rest.

So there you have it. I didn’t fast on Yom Kippur. Not at least in the traditional sense. But maybe in a more modern sense, I’ve learnt the value of spending time without constantly seeking reinforcement through likes, I’ve learnt not to constantly need digital conversation, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, but most of all, I’ve learnt how to pass Yom Kippur without counting the pages, the hours, the minutes, the seconds, until it’s over.

Day 3: World Trade Centre Memorial and The Empire State

Day three started with pancakes. Not a bad way to start! Following the pancakes I got dressed and spectated a game of monopoly while waiting for the bus! Soon it was time to walk around the corner and get the bus into town.

I’ve been surprised every time as to how easy it is to get about here… Especially the bus between New Jersey and New York (which I happen to be on right now writing this!)

Once in town, I managed to make my way on the subway to the world trade centre.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but the size of the holes in the memorial are unbelievable! Somehow ( I’m not quite sure how) on a day like today when the weather is about -15 C, the water was still flowing into the abyss in the centre.

Surrounding the pools, cut into the metal are the names of those who lost their lives in the tradgedy. It’s hard to realise how many names there actually are.

Having wondered peacefully round the memorial, looked at the queue for the museum… It was massive!! I had a thought back to our trip to Barcelona… Walked across the street and using the free wifi booked a ticket for an hours time.

Meanwhile I thought about food. Went for a wander and found the McDonalds which was featured in so much of the footage of the attacks.

I can tell you, the Fillets of fish are almost identical as England but the apple pies are totally different! Baked and served in square boxes… What’s going on?!!!

I wasn’t really sure how long I’d be at the museum, on the surface the building looked really small. Little did I realise that actually the museum was underground!

I still have not processed entirely what met me when I got off that escalator into the memorial museum. To see the foundations of the towers… the walls holding back the water and so many other artefacts was a lot to absorb.

The depth detail and care that has clearly gone into the exhibitions and the entire museum is astounding.

I watched a timelapse video of clearing and rebuilding of the site… It was very clever, projected onto three walls in the room… Lots to look at in every direction.

Having walked a bit further around I came to the exhibition called something like “11th September 2001″… The detail in here was someething else.

Literally a minute by minute breakdown of the events with real recordings of calls, TV footage and real artefacts. I was shocked to see bits of seatbelt from one of the planes that impacted the towers… And fusalage with window hole of the plane that hit the pentagon. Detail was astounding.

The start of the exhibition (and the main throw) focus on the events of the day; the towers, the pentagon, and the plane that was crashed into a field possibly headed for Washington. The exhibition then goes on to look at both before 9/11 and then after 9/11 including a section on the 1993 bombings.

I could and maybe will write a whole post in itself about the museum… It truly was educational and moving.

The end of the museum allows you to write a message which is then projected onto a map over the area you are from. They are then stored like a visitor book…

As I’d been in the museum longer than I’d expected, it had now gotten dark. This allowed me to see the memorial pools by night which is just as imposing… If not more imposing as by day. At night the thousands of names round the outside of the pool are lit up.

With a trip up the Freedom Tower booked for tomorrow morning, I decided to take the subway to the Empire State Building. This meant I’d get to see the city that never sleeps from above in both dark and light!

Wowsers…. 88th and then 102nd floor observatories both provided an amazing view. You could literally see for miles and miles and everything was lit up. Night time meant the grid system of roads was illustrated lights.

View from the Empire State of the World trade centre and if you look carefully, the Statue of Liberty!
View from the Empire State of the World trade centre and if you look carefully, the Statue of Liberty!

The building itself is decorated in a style I can only really describe as “old luxury”. Dark red marble… Chrome everywhere…

I did smile a little as the main elevators up to the first tower have had (obviously) an extensive refurb allowing them to be despatched by remote control by a man in the lobbies… The single lift between the two observatories however had manual doors and a man inside operating.

On the way down I was alone in the top lift… The lift man told me that this was the original lift… To prove he was really in control he stopped the lift between floors!

As I wandered back from the Empire State Building I was a little hungry… I popped through Macy’s but got chucked out as it was closing and then Stumbled accross “Mr Broadway”… Imagine Sami’s in New York!

A very happy Steven walked back to the bus station, nearly an hour early for the bus… But happy as he had a very fat brisket on rye to Munch while he waited!

Enough beef there!?!?
Enough beef there!?!?

I’m shattered – apologies for the lack of photos in this one… I’m writing on my phone.. Will plug camera Into tablet at some point and may add some photos!

The Flight & Day 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside

To say its cold is an understatement. Freezing piercing cold is probably closer… And its set to get colder still this weekend…!

Before we get on to today a quick run down on the flight….

Following a quick trip on the funky transit train from the main building to Terminal 5b, I was at my gate – as always it was the furthest gate in the building!

Boarding was quick and easy and soon I found myself in the middle of the plane in one of the middle two seats. Cozy…. And we were off.

I was ready with a TV plan – I knew I wanted to watch Adele at the BBC but couldn’t get the TV to work. As soon as the seatbelt light went off the guy in the row in front called the air hostess over for the very same thing….

Now, while I joke that “turning it off and on again always fixes the problem”… That’s exactly what solved it! Although that meant turning EVERYBODY’S TV system on and off… A process which took nearly 15 mins!

Eventually we up and running and Adele was singing! Breakfast was as good as a hermolis airline breakfast. You do the math. I did have a good game of “Catch the coffee” during some of the turbulence… No spills!

When the captain came on to say we were making our final descent and to prepare for some turbulence due to the 25-45mph cross winds, nothing could quite prepare me for what I was about to experience. At one point G forces were similar to that of a theme park ride! As it happened however, the actual landing part of landing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced!!

Anyway… I arrived! The Journey to the city was pretty uneventful but I very early on learnt that the subway in New York makes our Tube look classy. It’s a bit more… edgy… 😉 Following some expert instructions, I made it to the bus station where the lovely Jemma was waiting for me! (With a Starbs, obviously!)

We went straight to times square for a look around. Wow! It makes Piccadilly Circus look amateur! People everywhere bright lights screens shops everything! Craziness!!!

So many Screens... so many lights!
So many Screens… so many lights!

From Times Sq. (with a quick stop at Cake Boss’s city shop) we got the bus to Montclair New Jersey where I’d be staying… had a mini tour of Montclair and I even go to go into Whole Foods (WOW!) before eventually heading for bed and sleeping in until 10!

This morning we got the bus and headed back into town! From the bus we got the subway to the Brooklyn bridge… and we walked across! Wow what a view!

From the start of the walkway....
From the start of the walkway….

As we went further and further across the bridge the view got better and better! While talking about the view it’s probably a good time to mention that the weather today, while it looked sunny with blue skies, was actually around -8. BLOODY FREEZING.

Thankfully the bridge wasn’t too windy and I managed to get some nice photos and a panorama:

Artsyone

The View from the Brooklyn Side
The View from the Brooklyn Side
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!

Once we got to the Brooklyn side, we were a bit clueless as to where to go… and after a little walk Googled “Jewish Deli Brooklyn”… we followed google maps and turned up (Via a quick Shpruntz Round Trader Joes.. Noch) at Shelsky’s Of Brooklyn. WOWSER.

Food that I can’t explain. Sweet, Savory, Pickled, Gefitle’d you name it! We got some Rugalech and some Halva. OH MY. It was like a little corner of Jewish heaven had exploded in my mouth.

The owner came over and started talking to us explaining that he wasn’t supervised kosher as it was too expensive and there wasn’t a market for it – Lots of the Jews from Brooklyn have started to move out. While we were talking some Chabadniks came in, Wished us all Good Shabbos… Asked if we’d got Shabbat Candles / Laid Tefillin today, had a chat…so friendly!

From Shelsky’s we got the subway back to New York and went to Russ and Daughter’s. The wait for a table in the cafe was going to be 35 mins so we went for a walk and waited for them to text us! While we waited we walked up to Katz’s Deli. Very different to Russ… a Different sort of New York Jewish Deli. Quickly, the phone buzzed and we went back to Russ’s.

WOWSER again.

Food you just can't explain!
Food you just can’t explain!

What looks like simple latke, eggs and Salmon… I can’t even begin to explain how it tasted! SO SO SO GOOD. They smoke their own fish, and make their own latkes (Not so sure about the eggs!) but boy oh boy was it delicious! I took one of the latkes to go as I couldn’t finish it!

From there I was left alone in the Big Apple! (AH!) I went for a walk from the bus station to central park and then to the shopping mall – The Time Warner Center. Very nice! I had a little wander, found some free wifi, got a Cawfeee and made some calls home!

From there I walked back to Times Square as I’d watched it getting dark from Starbs! As amazing as Times Square was during the day… it was even more intense and immense at night!

For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies... here's one for you!
For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies… here’s one for you!

... and a Panorama of Times Square at night!
… and a Panorama of Times Square at night!

Then from Times Square, with achey legs, I made it back to the bus station, and found the correct bus back to Montclair! Thankfully the driver knew where to stop for me and soon I was back for dinner! I noticed at the Ticket Booth there was a certain musical at half price… on Broadway…. I might have to go and get a ticket… How do we keep our balance?

… and on that note… it’s 11pm here… or 4am at home so I bid you all night night…. or by the time you read this… a good Saturday morning!

Start Spreading The News….

Thinking back over the years, I started writing a blog as I was starting work. There are still posts on here (somewhere) from 4 years ago, documenting the first days of my apprenticeship. Unsurprisingly, things have changed since I started writing this blog!

People keep asking me what’s going on with my life… so here we go!……

In December I decided to leave my job of 4 years and take a short break from working. Having left school and then very swiftly starting my apprenticeship/work I barely had a chance to breathe. So many of my friends left school and went on to uni with their three month summer holidays. Many then went on, or are currently on a gap year / travelling. I therefore decided that now was my time to have some rest and do some travelling.

I’ve always wanted to go to America. Especially to New York, and so with that in mind, Last Friday I booked my flights…. Next Thursday, (11th) sees me board a British Airways flight for the longest flight I’ve ever been on. To the Big Apple, where I will be Visiting friends, family and seeing the sights. From New York on the 17th Feb, I fly down to Tampa Florida where I’m going to be driving around the state a little, again seeing friends and seeing the sights.

While by no means as exotic as some of the exciting travels which some of my friends have endured I’m rather excited none the less, and hope you keep some bloggy updates of my trip.

What about work? What are you going to do? In honesty, I’m still not quite sure. I’m thinking about possibly freelancing for a while – doing IT Repairs and getting people new computers as well as perhaps some contract work…. If your computer is broken then let me know!!

I’m rather excited about next week – Need to get a new suitcase as I doubt ours will last and then need to start packing!! Hope you update you all either closer to Thursday or once I’m in the Big Apple!!

Watch out America I’m coming for ya!

(Sorry Frank. Was messing about at home and just thought I’d pop this in for fun. #BedroomSessions)

I am a Jew

Since Lord Sacks shared a video, “Why am I a Jew” Just before Jewish New Year, I’ve basically been thinking most of this and was going to write a blog post….. Then, just now I saw this video on my facebook home page.
It’s 6 minutes long, and probably 80% just one word, But well worth a watch. One word, of only three letters, it reminds me more and more that we are one big family.
To those who ‘aren’t Jew’: Watch, Learn – This is makes up what is part of the “Connection” I always fail to find the words to properly explain.
To those who ‘Are Jew’, or at the very least a little “Jew-Ish”… I promise you will agree with at least one of the statements in this video!

עם ישראל חי – The children of Israel Live.

Day 4 – 15th September – Gibraltar

So today we got up early, had a posh buffet breakfast in the nice restaurant, then had a quick game of shuffleboard before going out onto the helipad to watch us sail through the Gibraltar strait and into the port of Gibraltar.

'pon the Helipad!
‘pon the Helipad!

 

I see Gibraltarr
I see Gibraltarr

 

The views were stunning and we could see Africa pretty clearly! Soon we were docked and we popped into their posh restaurant for a buffet lunch before disembarking to go round Gibraltar!

We walked down the main street ( Called Main Street!) Then jumped in a cab to go for a tour of the rock…

The Caves were Really Pretty!
The Caves were Really Pretty!

The views were magnificent and the weather was lovely. We went down into the caves which were beautiful, before going to the top of the rock to see the views and meet the monkeys. They are very funny and sometimes scary and it surprised me just how close they will get to you!

On the way down we stopped at the Moorish castle which was really pretty as well as having good views.

Two Monkeys!
Two Monkeys!
Another Two Monkeys!
Another Two Monkeys!

 

After the castle we went back to one of the squares where we had some delicious ice cream and a drink but most importantly….. WIFI!!!!

It was quite nice to get back in the loop and see what was going on in the world! After the cafe we popped into WH Smiths and I bought some fruit gums, at English prices, in Great British Pounds (All foreign countries should be like this! Hehe)

Beaut Views... (Hello, Little Ship)
Beaut Views… (Hello, Little Ship)

After that we got a shuttle back to the boat where there was a 45 min queue to get back on!!! Captain Tony apologized….seems there were a few issues!

..... and The Moorish Castle!
….. and The Moorish Castle!

Entertainment that night was Mark Walker who was a “Comedy Impressionist”… we decided that it was fair to say that everything that the comedian last night wasn’t, this guy was…. mainly “Funny”!!

We were up quite late, knowing we had a day at sea to recover!!!!…….