Happy Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is probably the only day of the year when the USA actually comes to a complete stop… I love it!

2011 is the 2nd time I’ve experienced Thanksgiving in the US, and this time was with family-in-law and friends on the East Coast.

A kind of Harvest festival, Thanksgiving originates from giving thanks to the land for a good harvest.

Like Christmas it’s time to eat and drink aplenty… and that is exactly what I did.

I Heart NYC?

A relaxing weekend in New York City? Uh-oh, think again.

NYC must be THE most frenetic and full-on city I’ve ever visited.  It’s non-stop.  I thought Hong Kong was bad for people-soup.  I thought London was one long traffic-jam.  I thought Parisian’s were the rudest people on the planet.  Uh oh.  Nothing compares to NYC and Zoo-Yorkers.

The city certainly has energy and from my brief stay in Midtown Manhattan I can not claim to ‘know’ the place; but the appalling traffic and the rudeness of the people seriously make me consider If I want to get to know it any better.

On the plus side I got to take an elevator to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building to experience wonderful views of the city-that-never-sleeps at night.

Near the tourist-filled Ground Zero I saw the small Occupy Wall Street movement ‘occupying’ Zuccotti Park in their fights against corporate greed and the 1%.  Ironically enough I believe one of New Yorks capitalist sons, John D. Rockefeller may well agree with the principals behind OWS:

Room With A View

“The Internet was born free yet everywhere it is in chains”  – Or rather, everywhere  it is charged for.

One of my biggest qualms with Hotels are their excessive internet charges.

Staying in the lovely 4-star Affinia Dumont hotel in Manhattan I would expect running water to be included as part of the price.  Therefore I expect another utility – the Internet – to also be free.  This is not the case and this hotel certainly isn’t an exception.

Still, credit to my 4-star hotel for what is certainly a room with a view:

Chrysler Building and Manhattan Skyline

With a view like that from the 31st floor it makes me feel a dwarf amongst the Manhattan giants.

Waking up and going to sleep with the beautiful art-deco Chrysler tower in full view has made this room one of my top locations of the year.

Bottle of Dog

At 16 I started frequenting the local public houses in North-East England.  One of my favorite drinks at the time was Newcastle Brown Ale – affectionately referred to as a `Bottle of Dog` from locals sneaking in a swift one when walking the dog – which used to set me back £1.36 (about $2) a bottle.

After years of rarely seeing the brew in the South of England imagine my surprise to move to California and see it on sale everywhere – albeit for $5-7 per bottle.  (Inflation huh?!)  Digging around I’ve now discovered the USA accounts for half of all Newcastle Brown Ale production from the UK so no surprise it’s on tap and bottle everywhere.  Great to see it exports well – just like me!


What Do I Miss?

So, what do I actually miss from the UK?

  • Football!!! – It’s almost worth moving back to the UK for…
  • M&S!  Major gap in the market for lunch options in downtown SF.
  • Waitrose.  Yeah, we got Whole Foods… I guess I can live without Waitrose.
  • Prawn Crackers.  They just don’t exist here.  Pot-stickers go part way to compromise though.
  • Direct Debit.  Manually paying your bills every month gets tedious.
  • My friends.  Of course!
What don’t I miss from the UK?
  • Chavs and Scrotes.  Yeah we have red-necks but they’re not as prevalent here in SF as those are in the UK.
  • Cold, dark, damp weather.  Blue-skies all the way here dude!


Halloween in the USA is Big.

It’s Massive.

It’s even bigger than Christmas.

It’s the time of year when everyone dresses themselves, their children and even their dogs in costumes to parade in the streets for days on end.

Saying “hello” to Batman or Wonder Woman on the way to the shops becomes the norm for a few days.

It’s not actually a public holiday here but it damned well should be!


When I was a young ‘un in the streets of Northern England we used to carve out a turnip to take out on the streets for Halloween when begging for coppers, er, ‘Trick or Treating’.

Over here Pumpkins rule!  For the whole month of October there are Pumpkins everywhere – from fields to doorways to living rooms it feels like some 50s B-Movie – ‘Invasion of the Killer Pumpkins’ or ‘Day of the Pumpkins’.






As I can’t find any turnips over here I decided to join in – here’s my effort for 2011:


Before I came to San Francisco I was worried about this little Earthquake problem they have over here.

After 6 months of living here and not experiencing one I’ve kind of gotten blasé about them… til today.

At approx 2.41pm on 20th October I experienced my first Earthquake!  And, oh boy, did it scare the sh*t out of me.

From out of nowhere my furniture and whole house seemed to rock to one side and back then, in the blink of an eye and before I’d fully realized what was happening it was all over.

At 4.0 on the Richter scale this was only a BabyQuake apparently.

Now I too, live in fear of the `Big One` like millions of other Californians.

Update: At 8.16pm I’ve just experienced a 2nd bigger quake of 4.2.  These quakes are just like buses – you wait 6 months then 2 come along at once!

SF Chronicle article on today’s quake

Earthquake monitoring site 

View from the Cable Car

After 6 months here I finally took my first SF cable-car today

Following a Root Canal and Large Filling as part of my Teeth fixing regime I needed a cheering up.  What better way than chugging up a San Francisco hill on a Cable Car?

Fortunately the dentist’s injections numbed the pain of paying $6 for the pleasure…

Poor image?  Yeah you try leaning out of a cable car going up and capturing a decent shot on a blackberry!