New York

Farewell 30s

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This week I passed my Masters Degree in Television and Radio Scriptwriting.

It has taken two years and eight months of hard work, tight deadlines but to be totally honest I enjoyed every minute of it so much that it never felt like I was studying at that level.

Having a passion for storytelling and writing, it meant that I had a reason to sit at my laptop for hours on end, buy different coloured writing books to make notes on and spend a ridiculous amount of money on text books.

It is also a good excuse to binge watch fabulous television shows where I’m merely analysing how the storyline runs, how characters conflict etc.

The MA is also a fitting way to say farewell to what has been the best decade of my life so far.

I turn the big 4-0 in September and I’m already trying to think of things I need to plan on completing in my forties. How on earth can I match the past decade in terms of developing as a person?

I don’t recognise me as a thirty year old. Back then my life was all about getting through every day and not suffering with another panic attack, or a bout of depression. Anxiety and low self-esteem were part of my character back in 2004.

I was in an unfulfilling job and seemed to be afraid a lot of the time. Don’t ask me what I was afraid of – perhaps just living? One things for sure I felt stuck in a rut and the only focus in my life were my young children and husband.

Family is of course important but I also felt like I needed more in my life.

Then I had one of those life changing conversations with a work colleague.

I’d always wanted to study for a degree. My colleague had studied for her degree with the Open University when she was a single mother. She was then an Early Years Advisory Teacher, who ended up getting a job in the Grand Cayman islands training their teachers. She encouraged me to study with the Open University too.

“I’ll be 35 by the time I get a degree” I’d wailed to her, to which her response was just the response I needed. “You’ll be 35 anyway – you can either be 35 and with a degree or 35 and without one”.

That moment right there changed my life forever. The person I am sitting on my sofa typing this blog post is not the same person contemplating her future on her 30th birthday.

I graduated as an undergraduate in BA (Hons) Humanities with Media Studies in July 2009, age 34 (combining credits).

I will graduate in July 2014, age 39 with a Masters in Television and Radio Scriptwriting.

I learnt to swim age 33 years old. I can still remember my boys faces when I dived in the swimming pool in Spain and swam under the water with them (instead of my usual clinging to the side).20130821_140843

I went on a Fear of Flying course age 34, my first flight as an adult and since then have travelled to USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Menorca, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam and Ireland.

From being paralysed in fear at talking to groups of people, I now present a weekly entertainment show on my local community radio station.

I have a fulfilling job working for a university in Media City where I get to help students on a daily basis. A complete career change for me leaving local government finance to move into Higher Education (wouldn’t have been possible without the degree).

It really has been a metamorphosis of character for me in the past decade and it both worries and excites me at the prospect of the next decade.

Will it be as exciting? Is there anything else I should do to improve my life? Or is this the decade where I should just chill out and appreciate life in general, enjoy the extra time now the children are getting bigger and swim in as many oceans as I can?

One thing is for sure. I’m a firm believer that there are key moments in your life and you can either choose to ignore them, or embrace them and make those changes.

Reflections from the April A-Z Challenge

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I’d like to thank the team that put together this challenge. There were a heck of a lot of people signed up to this and I’d spend several hours each day just reading different blogs which interested me, all through the @AprilA-Z

The reason I decided to take on this blogging challenge in April was mainly to keep me focused and writing each day throughout  the month. I had surgery at the beginning of April so knew that I would be off work for a number of weeks. Having the challenge to focus on each day really did keep me from feeling too sorry for myself whilst I was recovering from surgery.

I decided to have one theme throughout the challenge which was New York City. I visited New York City for the first time last summer. Talk about a dream come true for me, the city lived up to everything I imagined it would be and much more. Since returning home I couldn’t quite bring myself to blog about it as I didn’t think I could do it justice in one blog post.

After all visiting such a city rich in culture and attractions could never be fully written about in one blog post, so doing it in 26 blog posts was even better.

The challenge and the theme also gave me the excuse to go through all of my 1,500 photographs and select my favourites to display with my post for the day..

Thinking about what to blog about each day was something I really enjoyed too. I’d kept a notebook of each day while I was in NYC so I kept referring to that and reliving my wonderful five days.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to recover from surgery, and as I’m an active person I knew I had to do something to keep my spirits up. This blog challenge certainly did that, as it made sure I did the thing I enjoy doing each day which is writing. Even bed-bound I still managed to get on the laptop and post every day.

My blog traffic increased throughout the month and I picked up about thirty new followers which was a welcome surprise.

I do enjoy blog challenges, now the difficult part is trying to keep up with interesting blog entries throughout the year.


Zoo as in Central Park Zoo

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Z is for Zoo


Only in America would you find a zoo in a park. Okay, I admit I haven’t actually checked if that is correct or if there are more zoos in parks.

What I do know is in the North West of England we have Chester Zoo (not in a park) and Blackpool Zoo (not in a park).

In New York, they have a children’s zoo in a park. That park being Central Park. Admittedly they can afford the space for a park given how vast Central Park is.

I was very grateful for this distraction so my son could visit the zoo with his dad, while I went off on a Mad Men tour.

That’s it folks. Z is the final day in this April A-Z Challenge.

It’s been a hoot.

Thanks for reading.

The photograph below is me by the fountain in the opening credits of Friends, I think I was trying to be Jennifer Aniston plus 30 pounds!!!


Yellow Cabs

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Y is for Yellow


For every outdoor scene featured in a movie or a television show there will always be a yellow cab in sight.IMG_5064

I always thought that the amount of yellow cabs was an exaggeration, given how infrequent British black cabs are in our cities.

It’s true though, there are cabs a plenty from the moment you step outside of the airport.

Walk down any of the streets or the avenues in New York City, whatever time of day and there will be a cab or two in sight.

They are not only visual, but the constant beeping of them is something that I found very amusing too.

There is beeping, and there is New York City beeping. An endless string of beeps for no other reason than to let other cabbies know they are on the road too.

Gotta love New York!



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X is for Xanadu


Alright, I know I’m scraping the barrel with todays blog entry which is a post about the letter X. Coming up with X in a blog challenge about New York City is proving to be difficult.

And then the word Xanadu popped into my head.

When I think of Xanadu I am immediately transported back to the 80s and I’m watching a dodgy movie starring Olivia Newton-John, where she plays a greek goddess or something as obscure as that. I can remember roller skates, singing and a painting where there were several equally gorgeous ladies and that’s about all.

Well I’m not referring to that Xanadu.

According to the dictionary Xanadu can be defined as “dreamland, dreamworld, promised land”.

New York City was all of those descriptions to me. I’d dreamed of visiting New York from the first time I watched Ghostbusters as a geeky ten-year old.

Everytime I would get asked if I could visit one place in the world where would it be? New York City was always my response. I was attracted to films and TV shows about this wonderful city – 30 Rock, Friends, Sex and the City, Elf, Big and Girls.

I knew one day that I would get there. It should have been in 2011 when I’d first booked flights there but a long-term back injury ruined that chance. Two years later I finally got to step foot in my Xanadu.

And boy it did not disappoint.

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World Trade Center

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W is for World Trade Center


Not many people will visit New York City without paying a visit to the World Trade Center.

After all it is now boasting a brand new building which has added to the iconic skyline, filling a gap where those twin towers left a space.IMG_4848

A trip to the 9/11 memorial is also a must-visit spot if not for anything else but to pay respects to all of those who lost their lives on that fateful day in 2001.

I would also recommend visiting St Pauls Chapel located at 209 Broadway between Fulton and Vesey Streets in Lower Manhattan.

The Chapel’s rear faces the east side of the World Trade Center site and when the towers collapsed it served as a place of rest and refuge for the recovery workers who were at the World Trade Center site.

It is a miracle that the Chapel survived the impact of the towers collapsing. For eight months hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock. It served as a resting place for the New York Fire Department staff, police, construction working and others, and these volunteers provided meals, beds and general care for these workers.

Inside the Chapel you can view the impromptu memorials that the Americans brought to this site. Photographs, teddy bears, posters, letters and prayers which were all displayed on the railings outside, are now on display for the general public.

I was particularly choked by a pair of boots that one of the firefighters left. He had taken another pair to wear while rescuing people, and never returned for them.IMG_4828

A beautiful tribute to everybody who was affected by the events of 9/11.

There also rests the remains of tree roots outside of the chapel which also survived the trauma.

Walking around the site, seeing all of these memorials still made it feel surreal to me.

It didn’t quite sink in that I was standing at the site where thirteen years ago those images that I watched on television actually happened.

Even as I stood next to the foundations of the twin towers, trying to imagine what it must have been like to be part of that day was difficult. Luckily I won’t be haunted by those images like hundreds of New Yorkers are.

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V is for Voices

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I’ve fallen behind by two days in this blog challenge.

It’s not that I’ve given up on this or anything. At the very last minute I decided to accompany my better half to London for the weekend and completely abandoned this A-Z challenge.

My V post is for the voices in my head, and possibly publicly outs me as a prospective crazy.

You know when you are in a certain place or situation and a voice in your head tells you to do something that would be sooooo bad.

Or is that just me?

An example where my voice tries to get me into trouble is anywhere where there is a one or two minute silence. I swear, it tells me that I have tourettes and that I should shout the word “Wanker” really loud, or I’m sitting in front of my kids’ teachers in a parents evening and it tells me to “Laugh” or jump up in a theatre and heckle the performance.

It very nearly got me in a pickle last summer on entering John F.Kennedy Airport.

Prior to me visiting this wonderful city last summer I heard various stories about how Americans hate the British. I’m sure that is pure fictional, but anyway I was pre-warned that the worst of them are the people who work at the airports. Story has it that they will think of anything obscure to now allow you to enter their country and they like nothing better than to turn British citizens away and back to where they came from.

I took this fable with a pinch of salt, but I must admit entering the USA and especially going through the airport I may just have been a teensy weensy bit apprehensive.

I looked for the yellow line and made sure I didn’t dare cross it. Nervously waiting for the queue to subside I kept my eye on those guards who had guns strapped to them and tried to remain calm.

We were up next, passports in hand, visas at the ready and we tried to appear really friendly that there was no way they wouldn’t let us enter their country. The voice was quiet, I’m sure it was tired from the long journey.

We were called up by an American lady who looked as mean as I do when I’m not happy about something. First up she wanted to check our passports, asked us why we were coming to the USA and how long for.

I let husband do the talking and then my trusting naughty voice starts trying to get me into trouble, “Go on” it was saying “Say the word bomb, say it, say it, say it”.

Smiling through this I handed over my passport. “Tell them you have a gun” the voice was saying. For gods sake, why on earth do I think ridiculous things like that? Luckily I’m in charge of that naughty voice and can tone it down.

I smiled, told the voice to take a hike and allowed this lady to take a scan of my thumb. She wasn’t mean at all, she chatted to my son and got us on our way pretty quickly.

I was hoping the voice was going to be held at customs, no such luck.


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U is for Underground


I hold my hands up, this is a bit of a cheat for todays letter U. Of course New York City doesn’t have an underground, they have a Subway.IMG_4783

But, I’m British and we call it underground so I will stick to my Britishness.

Most big cities now have undergrounds. Think London, Paris and lots of other European cities. It’s the best way to get around quickly in my opinion.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t like the underground in London for two reasons.

1)    Rush hour should be named sardine hour, as the crowds on the underground is just ridiculous. You can’t be a prude about personal space when encountering that.

2)    Nobody looks at each other.

The underground in New York City seemed perfectly fine to me. We didn’t venture into it in rush hour, apart from being transported to Flushing Meadows.

It was a really cheap way to travel around the city so we stuck to the underground mostly, apart from a cab ride in a yellow taxi which we took for two reasons.

1)    I would have been late for my Mad Men tour as we were travelling from Greenwich village.

2)    The cab drivers really do just beep every few seconds.