writing

O is for Other Things

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

There are a couple of things to bear in mind when visiting the Big Apple.

The food is very cheap, and I have already marvelled at the “all you can drink” coffee that gets refilled for as long as you sit in a diner/restaurant, but what I didn’t mention is tipping.

The waiters/waitresses are paid minimum wages which is really low and they rely on tips to pay their bills (or so I have been told).IMG_5376

We always put a tip of between 10% and 20% onto the food bill no matter how good/bad the food was. The reason being as above, but also because the staff in New York were always so friendly, polite and helpful. If you need tips to pay the rent then of course you will be polite, but nevertheless it was a fraction of the normal food bills we have on the rare occasion we dine out in Manchester.

Prior to going to America I was told a few stories (surprisingly by people who hadn’t actually travelled over the Atlantic so no doubt were confusing  their facts with television). One story was that New Yorkers hate us British.

That may be so, but in no part of my five days in the City did I experience anybody being rude to us. In fact I found the opposite. Whenever we stood on a street with our map in front of us trying to find our next destination, every single time a New Yorker would stop and ask if they could help us.

Let me tell you if you were standing with a map open in Manchester you would be ignored and would end up having to ask for directions. As for London? – well the folk in London would never notice you as they never look up from the ground to make eye contact with anyone. And yes, I have experienced this in London where the code on the underground is to stare at the floor.

Secondly, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to make sure you have decent, comfortable shoes for walking around in. I didn’t fully appreciate how large New York City is and how much walking we would do, and I got blisters, sore heels and swollen feet. Thank goodness for the Nike shop who kitted me out with trainers that felt like I was walking on cushions.

Finally, plan your days. We didn’t end up doing half of the things we wanted to as we misjudged how much we could fit into a day.

But for anybody reading this who hasn’t been to New York yet – I am really jealous. It is fantastic, the most exciting city I have visited so far on my journey and I will certainly be back there to see her again.IMG_4777 - Copy

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L is for Liberty

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE

When you think of New York then images from the big screen automatically spring to mind.

The Manhattan skyline, the flurry of yellow cabs, Rockefeller Plaza and of course Lady Liberty overlooking the spectacular city, or the Statue of Liberty as she is most commonly known as.

The statue’s full name is Liberty Enlightening The World and she was given to the Americans as a gift from their French neighbours in 1886.IMG_5149

She’s had more film credits than Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep combined, and she still attracts millions of visitors every year.

She was certainly right up there on my wish list of places to visit whilst in New York.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty as she defines New York City to me.

When you’ve grown up watching a lot of movies and television shows as I had, I used to dream of the day that I would get to strut around NYC and say hello to her. Who can forget how she came to life in Ghostbusters 2, she opened up the credits on New Jack City and was featured in Sex and the City several times over the series.

Oh Lady Liberty how I adore thee!

My dream of strutting around NYC faded when I had children quite young. My friends were going on holidays abroad and travelling when I was stuck at home raising a baby. For many years we could barely pay the rent and bills. Luxury for us was being able to dine out once a month. Holidays were certainly not on the agenda for many years.

The whole flying thing became a real issue too so I didn’t ever believe that I would see the Statue of Liberty, unless someone could drug me like BA Barracus in the A Team and get me on a plane that way.

So last year when the dream became a reality and those flights to New York were booked I felt like a child on Christmas Eve.

You can imagine how emotional I became walking from the subway at Battery Park station for the first time and seeing Liberty in the distance.

It felt like I was in slow motion. Husband and son walked ahead and I just stood in the middle of the crowds exiting the subway exits, staring into the distance with my eyes transfixed on this robed lady holding up her torch.

“She’s there, right in front of your eyes Sarah” I heard my inner voice tell me. I do believe there was a tear, and a quivering lip as I stared at her. Beautiful!

My dream like state was quickly interrupted by son dragging my hand and telling me he wanted a hot dog. Thats’ kids for you, they sure can spoil a moment.

I’ve had a lot of moments like that in the past ten years. You’ll read about the flying thing a lot because it really has been the biggest fear in my life that I’ve had to overcome. And, because of that being a factor for so long, well there are a lot of places that I want to visit before I am old and senile.

If you’d read my entry for E, the Empire State Building blog you would read how we were kind of duped into buying tickets for the Empire State Building which also included a boat trip to Liberty Island. I asked the vendor really clearly, “Can we get off the boat to walk around the statue?” He was adamant that yes we could.

Of course he’ll say that, he was on commission for the family tickets we were about to purchase. It was the day after when we took the boat ride, and that boat was stopping for nobody. The journey was “quick get the camera, quick get the iPad, quick the camcorder, quick the iPhone”.

That was probably my only regret from the trip. I wish we would have paid separately and got one of the boats that did stop as it felt a little rushed sailing past it.

But never mind, the lady will still be there when I visit again someday.

Next time I’ll stop by and say hello properly to her.IMG_5150

D is for Diners

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z

The back street diners in New York are the absolute dogs. In British terms that means that they are very delightful, the food is plentiful with very generous portions and they don’t dig into the spending money too much.

During our five days in NYC we dined out for breakfast and lunch at typical New York diners.

Our first morning in the Big Apple we arose at 4am, showered and headed out for breakfast at 6am.

The City that never sleeps, does indeed never sleep and our first diner was Café Edison which was close to our hotel at the back of Times Square.

Firstly, the first thing you should know about diners in New York City is that coffee is unlimited. UNLIMITED. Not only that but when you get to the final dregs of a cup, the waiting on staff come round with the coffee jug and give you refills without you having to ask for it. I had died and gone to coffee heaven.

Secondly, when you ask for pancakes and bacon for breakfast. You get pancakes fit for a King and plenty of them.

I’m not saying that the other American cities that we visited didn’t have the same portions or amazing food, but New York was our first leg of a trip which took us to Connecticut, Boston, Toronto, Seattle and Vancouver so everything after this we compared to NYC.

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A is for Airways

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MY NEW YORK ADVENTURE A-Z CHALLENGE 2014

Or to be more precise British Airways, who were my airline of choice when booking the flights to New York City last year.

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I have already blogged about just how scared I used to be about flying – resulting in never holidaying abroad and getting off two aeroplanes a number of years ago and spoiling family holidays.

Thanks to British Airways and their life-changing Fear of Flying course I was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean last summer and finally visit the one place in the world that I wanted to see more than anything.

New York City.

It was a no-brainer when booking the flights. Although slightly more expensive than other airlines, this didn’t matter to me as I knew that flying with BA meant that I would be looked after throughout the whole flight. If I got nervous I could just tell them that I’d done their course and felt confident that they would look after me.

I flew the eight hours on a Boeing 747 which was my first experience of not only flying long-haul, but also flying on a jumbo. Wow! What a bird.2013-08-03 10.40.28

The eight-hour flight flew by (literally) and I spent a lot of the time walking up and down the plane stretching my back, and looking quite scary to my fellow passengers as I just had the biggest grin on my face for the entire time.

Spoilt for choice with the entertainment system, I had the choice of watching movies, TV shows or listening to music. I watched Les Miserables, Song for Marion and a couple of episodes of Girls. It was impossible to sleep as I was too excited about my destination.

Every few hours we were served snacks, then a main meal following by another hot sandwich. Drinks were available whenever we wanted, and this was in the cheap seats too.

The best part ever for me was as soon as the plane was on the ground and the flight attendant came on the radio to say the words I had longed to hear “Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to New York’s John.F.Kennedy Airport”. The adventure was about to begin.

Thank you British Airways.

If I never travel anywhere again I will always treasure my adventures in the USA and Canada last summer.

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A- Z Challenge April 2014

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This month I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Each day of the week (except Sunday which is a day off) requires a blog post for each letter of the alphabet. Today, April 1 is the letter A, tomorrow for April 2 will be B etc.

Having spent the past hour questioning why I do these challenges to myself when indeed there are not enough hours in the day to start with, I then had to choose a topic to focus the blog entries about.

It isn’t in the rules that the entries have to follow a specific theme, but it will keep me keep focused on what I should write about each day.

I decided on two things. Firstly, the month of April is going to be a time of recovery for me as I am about to have a routine surgical procedure at the end of the week. Plenty of time to blog – yes? We’ll see. That brings me to the second thing, why not blog about something which I will look forward to blogging about for this challenge, and something that makes me feel really happy about.

There was only one winner.

My trip to New York City last summer.

So for the next 26 blog entries I will be reliving my amazing five days that I spent in the Big Apple last year, along with some of my favourite photographs. I hope that you will enjoy it.2013-08-05 10.55.00

Community Radio

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There are so many different ways to consume media these days whether it be through the television, billboards, social media, the internet, newspapers and magazines.

You’d think with the vastness of these mediums that radio would be a thing of the past.

You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Radio is thriving, which is brilliant news to the likes of myself who consumes many hours of radio every day of the week. From Radio 4 dramas to drivetime shows, the thing I love about radio is that you can be doing other things while absorbing it.

Listeners are just spoilt for choice these days with the variety of commercial radio stations as well as the growth in BBC radio. However, I’m mainly listening to community radio stations these days.radio smiley

Why?

Because I’ve been bitten by the radio broadcasting bug.

It’s true what they say about embracing every opportunity that comes along because you never know where it may take you.

Five months ago I went along to a session with Wythenshawe FM in a small community centre in Baguley. I’d seen an advertisement on the noticeboard for my local supermarket asking if anybody was interested in attending training for either writing radio scripts, presenting, editing and features.

So I went along thinking I could help them with the script writing. After all, I was in my final year of a masters degree in TV and Radio Scriptwriting so broadcasting credits are something that I’m looking for. It became apparent early on, that the other aspects that they were looking for were equally as important.

I felt the colour drain from my face when the words “live broadcasting” were mentioned.

It would be rude to get up and walk out at that point so I stayed for the entire session. But, at that point I had no intention of every broadcasting live – were they mad? I could barely talk to groups of people in work without fluffing my words, let alone a radio audience.

Over the next few days I thought about it more and more. If something scares me I tend to do it anyway as I really enjoy the adrenalin of achieving something that terrifies me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

So, why not give it a go. The worst that can happen is that I freeze on air, and they can always fill in the space with a song.

So I did it. On the 9 December 2013, I co-presented a show with another volunteer at Wythenshawe FM and I must admit the adrenaline from being on air live is something else. Once the initial “feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack” as my heart was pounding through my chest as I waited for my half an hour slot to begin, it was fine.

After the live show in December, I carried on training with the radio station. We covered interview techniques, operating a Marantz, features, jingles, editing and then we had a number of sessions in the studio operating the desk.

The studio sessions really baffled me, as it was one thing having to talk on air, but to also operate the desk and ensure that adverts were played, songs were queued and not to leave the microphone on. The other volunteers and myself all took it in turns to broadcast live for twenty or so minutes each week. This was probably the best way to learn, as we had an experienced member of staff with us all the way to make sure that we kept the station on air.

At this point I was approached to see if I was interested in hosting my own radio show. I had to think about this one. It’s one thing to go on air with other people, but on my own and for an hour? What the hell have I possibly got to say for myself that would interest anybody in listening to me?

So, I thought about it for thirty seconds and said yes, why not. I’m sure I could think of things to talk about without anybody saying anything back to me. I live with three males – I’m used to talking to myself.radio.jpg

On 23 February 2014 The Sunday Matinee Show was first aired.

So, thank you Wythenshawe FM for giving me the opportunity to do something so out of my comfort zone that I would never have dreamed six months ago that I would be hosting my own show.

The Sunday Matinee Show

‘The Sunday Matinee Show’ is not only an entertainment show, but I also want to showcase up and coming local Manchester talent, whether it be writers, theatre companies, actors or musicians etc.

If you are a local writer, performing artist, band or theatre company then please contact either myself direct at https://www.facebook.com/TheSundayMatineeShow  or on twitter @SarahD_wfmradio

Mid-life crisis or Self-Destruction?

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night crippled in terror that there are just not enough hours in the day, or days in the week?

I’ve been feeling like this for a few weeks now. Just wishing there were more hours in the day, and also wishing the things that I’m doing now in my life which are really giving me a lot of fulfillment – well I wish I had done them ten years ago when I was younger, in better health and had more energy,

This feeling co-incides with deadlines that are looming. And I mean really important deadlines to me.

I’m interested to know how other writers who also hold down full-time jobs manage their time.

Any hints of tips would be gratefully received, because I have to tell you that I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.

It manifests itself with the knowledge that I have deadlines looming. If I have a particularly stressful day in the day job and I come home feeling exhausted, then I end up doing nothing except feeling guilty.

If I decide to sit on the sofa and unwind, or listen to a radio show then I then have a feeling of guilt that I should be writing.
I’ll be functioning normally for a couple of weeks but will then start to feel so exhausted mentally that by the time I get home in the evening I can barely string two sentences together, never mind write a script.

How do other writers manage their time between working, writing and general life. Please tell me!

The last time this happened was three weeks ago. I’d been feeling increasingly annoyed at myself that my evening writing had become practically none existent due to feeling tired every night. This then sent me on a downer as the realisation that I’d wasted four nights of valuable writing time hit home.

My current writing schedule is that I have two 45 minute episodes to write to second draft by the end of March (approx. 15,000 words). These pieces are for my final major project for my Masters degree. They are passed to my supervisor for notes at the end of the month and the clock is indeed ticking.

On top of that though I am conscious that I really want to try and write for the blog at least once a week, even if its utter nonsense from my head like this post is.

I’m still reviewing theatre shows and did I mention that I have my own weekly radio show now which I am trying to get off the ground?

This is what I seem to do. I take on way too much than I should, and then have a hissy-fit when I run myself down to the last drop of energy.

I’m sure there is some psychological reason why I constantly push myself with challenges. Who knows? Mid-life crisis or just pure self-destruction?

Last night when I got home from work, I sat and had my dinner with my family. We talked, we laughed and then we watched some television together. Perfect. It actually was perfect, I can’t remember the last time I led on the sofa cuddling my son.

I was really enjoying the evening, until the demon in my head told me that I was wasting valuable hours enjoying myself when I should have been on the laptop editing draft two because that deadline is creeping towards me.