Tuesday, 31 July 2007


I am staying at a hotel on the edge of the Museum district. It is about a 20 minute walk from the downtown area along the Ben Franklin Expressway, a road based on the Camps-Elysees that cuts across the grid system and provides a lovely view of the neo- Classical view (pillars and stuff) of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from about half a mile away. The City Hall is a lovely building but difficult to photograph as there are all kinds of lampposts and signs in the way. There is also a huge statue blocking the view of the decorative arch surrounding the doorway of the Masonic Temple and if you stand to close then you can't get all of the non symmetrical towers in the picture. This seems like a small thing but Philadelphia is pushing itself as the next big thing in tourism on the East coast and this is a detail they are yet to consider. More from me after a bit more exploring.


The reason for visiting other places is there are a number of things that you assume will be the same but are different. You would imagine that running a railway system would be similar but there are subtle differences. The places that are linked are further away so the trains run less frequently than in England, this leads to a number of differences.

Firstly the train spends at least 20 minutes in the larger stations making sure that everyone gets on.
Secondly everyone going to the same station are all in the same carriage. So everyone in the same car as me got off at the same station.
Thirdly the seating area is huge and I had more space than the when I was flying.
Fourthly the station does not know which gate (platform) the train is coming to until about 2 minutes before it arrives and you hang around in the main concourse until they announce it.

Overall a very smooth journey with lots of room which when the train was out of the major metropolitan areas was very quick. The only disappointment was the landscape was very wooded and therefore I couldn't see much.

Thoughts about New York and America

Rather than producing a list of things that I have done or not done I thought a kind of overview of my thoughts might be more interesting.

1. It is raining, heavy rain with thunderstorms. Firstly this causes a plague of umbrella sellers to appear from somewhere and they do a riproaring trade in a population who don't wear much and don't go prepared, Overall the weather has been about 80 with a 100% humidity meaning that the whole area was sweaty, close and a fraction unpleasant. I guess the umbrella sellers were watching the weather channel (yes a dedicated channel for the NY weather) which gives very accurate predictions but mostly didn't come true. I blame Sarah as she said it would hot and sunny. I also noticed that Texas have had an usually wet summer and the Dakotas have temperatures in the 100's so not just Europe that is unseasonal. Also there is no guttering on buildings I have seen so far - is this an English phenom?

2. There are no small cars in New York. The smallest are bigger than a large family car in Europe such as Nick's.

3. Televisions in lifts - with a better picture than the one in my room!

4. New York has the reputation for being rude but it is not direct but more a self absorption to the exclusion of other people around them. A example of this was I was standing in line in a store (that's queueing in a shop) and I would have been in front of the door so I left a gap which the person behind jumped into getting served first. After it happened a second time I then stood in the doorway to get served and when someone tried to get in I was in the way. No-one seemed to realise that the gap was deliberate as it was all about getting served as quickly as they could. There were other examples but this one stood out.

5. Sight-seeing skyscrapers is tricky as you need to be far enough away to appreciate them but close enough to see the details which can be intricate. I like the flatiron building the most as it is triangular in a city where every other buildings is uniformally square.

6. The design of building in blocks mean that there are no gaps so the rubbish has to be stored on the sidewalk as there is no rear to a lot of the buildings.

7. TV adverts for pile creams, erectile disfunction tablets and which is the best hospital seem strange.

8. The bills are longer and narrower so doesn't push into my wallet as easily as UK money.

9. Arena football, American football but smaller, quicker and indoors looks amazing.

10. There is a very visible police presence in Manhatten with about 2 police offices in foot and 1 car per block. Not sure how effective it is but it makes you feel safer.

11. Lamps have a twist on/off button which is a bit odd as you have to turn a rotational motion into a lateral motion.

Overall New York is a good place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

A whole queue of people are watching me

Due to an incredibly slow connection and only 1 computer working in a hotel with over 1000 rooms this will be short suffice to say all is well and going to Philly tomorrow staying at the City Center Best Western. Hopefully conditions to blog will be better there

Friday, 27 July 2007

New York

Well I have arrived safely and found the hotel. The journey was uneventful after getting around the issue of the man deciding to kill himself (either accidentally or deliberately) at Ipswich tunnel meaning a coach journey making me nearly 2hrs late to London. This was right on the edge of the time I had allowed myself extra ad I thought if I could get across town quickly then I might make half an hour back. London Bridge tube station is divided into two halves with about 500 yards in between and as I ran with suitcase I reached the platform to see a train leaving. After a lot of cursing I realised that the train I wanted was just arriving and I had missed the previous train. After that all was smooth if indeterminable.

The hotel is ok, a bit worn around the edges and not as nice as promised but comfortable and with a nice air con unit which keeps the place very cool. It is right next to Penn station in the centre of Manhattan close to the subway and easily accessible to all the sites. Spend this morning on a bus familiarising myself with the general layout and also at Battery Park reading with a view of the Statue of Liberty. Last night someone rattled the hotel room door and it is amazing that my immediate thought was to call the security people. It is odd how the reputation of a place affects your judgement in different situations.

First impressions include the fact that it is always busy. In London there are often quiet side streets but due to the grid system there are no minor side streets, everything is a major highway.

The subway is as with London and Paris confusing to start with but easy when you get it sussed out.

Everyone seems to have a uniform - like the Parks Police (is this different to the NYPD or a branch) dress differently as do the airline security etc.

I keep walking into people because in England you pass right shoulder to right shoulder but in America it tends to be left shoulder (as in Paris - probably due to the side of the road that people drive on.)

There is so much going on and so may products to choose from (35 free TV stations on the hotel set although CNN is fuzzy) that it seems like everyone is shouting (either literally or metaphorically) and to get noticed you have to be louder, brighter, more crazy that similar products.

Only seen 2 posters of David Beckham and lots of Derek Jeter (baseball) so not quite cracked New York yet.

Bye for now - going to look at the Empire State Building

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


So I am going on holiday although adventure sounds a lot better. The plan is to fly to New York and spend about 4 days there, train to Philadelphia for 2 days, train to Washington DC for for 3 days, fly to St Louis meet Sarah and drive to Advance. After spending time in small town America we are then going to visit Sedalia where Sarah grew up before driving to Nashville for 2 days. I then fly to New York and then home.

In this time I plan to, amongst other things, visit Ellis Island, go up the Empire State Building, go to a baseball match, see Sarah in action, have a church picnic, visit a church camp thing (not sure of the details), go to the Missouri State Fair with added rodeo and see an American Football match. Mum has asked for updates to ensure that I am safe so check back soon.

PS MOT was as expected

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Every year my car has to be tested by the government to check that it is still safe and I absolutely hate this day. Just about every other cost can be planned for or can be approximated and built into the budget but this is the day they can say it will cost £5, £50, £500 or you need a new car as this did once due to the fact the body was no longer attached to the chassis due to the level of rust. I absolutely hate the uncertainty and as it takes about a day to service and MOT the whole day has me feeling anxious and irritated. This year I had the service done in advance as I thought that maybe I would know what it would cost but now I am nervous that they will find something else. Maybe next year I will do it on a school day to keep my mind of the matter.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Only in England

Read it and weep with laughter


Verily I tell thee Yeah

And so on the thrice Thursday in the month described as July it came to pass that the term hath ended and the teachers doth disperseth to the very ends of the Earth. And the figure of Guy doth travel to the castle of DHL for the final time and depositeth the exam papers upon the counter and lo a great weight was lifeth from him. In joyous spirit he doth progress to his domain and surveying the carnage he doth created a list of jobs to do hence and was heard to spake the immortal words " Bugger it, I'm going for a pint"

Monday, 9 July 2007


University Challenge is back!
340 to go. Very productive weekend

Saturday, 7 July 2007

I won't be posting much for the next couple of week as it is the exam marking season and I pretty much mark when I am awake. A couple of things however

1. Listen to the Now Show, the best satirical show around. The joke about the the Beckham's having problems storing the chairs they used in their wedding "People in crass houses shouldn't stow thrones" and The cabinet has a few new faces such as David Miliband, his brother Ed Miliband and their brother Steve Miiler Band are punnetry of the highest order

2. If people don't start volleying at Wimbledon I am only going to watch doubles. With all the rain there have been lots of highlights of yesteryear and the variety of strokes and tactics was much more impressive and interesting

3. 490 exam papers still to go. Sanity holding

4. I cannot add a title to this post

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Hell is

Hell is not a fiery cavern with continuous torture it is University of Warwick (somewhere near Coventry but not that close) on a Sunday (everything had shut) out of term time (everything was shut) with an expensive restaurant (£45), incompetent receptionist (somehow managed to avoid telling me about the bar menu in a 10 minute talk about what sold food and was still open. In the end I walk to a local pub which was closed), no phone coverage, really heavy soaking rain, poor quality television (soap, Diana concert, bad films) and Sarah is conducting her first service and you really want to know how it went. So hell is just miserable, a bit damp and very dull and boring.