A Winter Wonderland?

Yes, I know a few people who were hit by the snow storm over the weekend, on the East Coast of the US. Thankfully, as far as I know at least, all are fine. As an added treat, Storm Jonas is now heading for the UK, but thankfully (I think?) by the time it gets here, having crossed the Atlantic and all, it wont be snow that hits us, it will be rain. Mind, given how flooded some areas have been in Yorkshire, I’m not sure that a possible 4 inch dump of rain is necessarily a good thing?

I have seen several feet of snow on the ground before. Thankfully, I was on a nice warm train, crossing the Rockies in the winter of 2003. And by the time I got off the train briefly, in North Dakota, it wasnt snowing, but was exceedingly cold! Minus 25F, dont ask me what that is in centigrade, but its cold. But of course, much of the snow had been swept off the platform, so all was fine.

Thats not to say I havent been out in a snow storm, because I have. November 2014, in Albany, I experienced a snow storm where 11 inches of the stuff was dumped on the city. Do you know what, the buses kept running, though admittedly, that was down a main road, I’m not sure if it was the same on lesser routes, but…they were used to it, nothing ground to a halt, unlike when we have more than an inch over here, probably less!

I’ve seen pictures of New York, I’ve also seen pictures of more rural areas, and the way the snow built up, is quite amazing. Yes, I know, public transit was stopped in places, roads were closed in a few too, but I do think that was wise on the whole.

Who, me, I prefer California weather, I think. Last night I was watching the golf, from Palm Springs, much more my kind of weather lol!

Given that one dear friend on Long Island, said he would do nasty things to anyone singing ‘Let It Snow’, I thought I’d better choose something else for the video tonight, so you can have this Doris Day track instead.

2014 – Quite a year!

So yes, as we reach the last few hours of 2014 here in the UK, lets do a brief look back. I’m sure I’ll manage a look forward tomorrow somehow!

Most years of late, I’ve made 2 trips to the US (well, there was 1 to Canada, but), and had a few days in Ireland, taking in some cricket. This year I actually ended up having 3 weeks of holiday, 1 in a Jersey, a lot closer than the US. Yes, not New Jersey (though I went there a few years ago), but the one in the Channel Islands.

Long story. Had originally planned to be in Kansas, and Kansas City in May, but Kate’s work got in the way. Thing is, the rail trip to the airport was booked, so was the hotel there, so I ended up booking a short hop to Jersey, returning after just over 30 years. Glad I did it, saw what it was like now, but pretty sure I wont go back again, certainly not in 30 years time!

Then, in September, I finally got to meet up again with my wonderful friend Kate, in Kansas City, home town of Jean Harlow. Sadly, as is the way with big cities, finding any Harlow landmarks, 100 years on, pretty hard. Thankfully, when you go to smaller places like Cherryvale, finding Louise Brooks landmarks is far easier. Especially when there is a wonderful person called Tina there, to give us a guided tour to the town. I learnt so much more than we would have done on a casual visit, I owe her so much, she was wonderful.

The one place in KC that I knew Jean went to, that I could go to, the railway station. Walking around there, much quieter now than it would have been in the 20’s, and 30’s, really was quite something. I may not have literally stood in her footprints, but it felt that way.

The last big trip, in more senses than one, was later than usual, the end of November. Yes, Thanksgiving week, something I had never experienced before. Thanks to my dear friend, and editor, James, I have now. It was really special. I even got to see that public transport doesnt have to grind to a halt when the snow falls. About 9 inches, and the bus service never even blinked! Over here…more than a few grains…rolls eyes!

But there was one other thing from that trip, that will forever stay with me. In one sense, quite literally! A side trip to New Hampshire (via Worcester, MA) to be regressed to a past life, and just discover whether I really was Jean Harlow. No, I wasnt, but I was an actress in Hollywood in the 20’s and 30’s, if only in small parts. Clara Johnson, take a bow, I’m proud of having been you, or however you like to put it.

Of course, what happened after I recovered from that stunning news, a Hypno Jean-bot was created. I know the voice changed, apparently my whole demeanour changes, it really is incredible to experience, I must say.

Oh, and after 5 years, the old girl went for a job interview, if only an internal one. But getting dressed up, going out, and ‘kicking butt’, yes, it was fun. No, I didnt get the job, but did get high praise for my interview, ah well…

So fine, the last video of 2014. This artist was a star in the 60’s, is now in her 70’s, but still has it, in style. And yes, like Jean-bot, safely nestled in my sub concious would say, she always there to remind me, of an amazing 2014

And so, the (holiday) end is very near

And so, the end is near, though the video isnt going to be My Way…well, not the one you’re expecting at least!

Yesterday, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, was Thanksgiving Day, here in the US. And for the first time in my life, I got to experience what that magical day is like.

It started off with what I gather is another US tradition nowadays, the Macy’s parade in New York City. Lots of hype, lots of over exuberance from the commentators, so I kept the volume low, and survived. Then, a little NFL, a phone call to start getting ready (into dress, and low heels), and then over to the home of my wonderful host, James.

The afternoon was wonderful, the conversation, his family, and the meal, all of them. If, and when I repeat this delight, no idea, but I’m so glad I’ve done it once in my life now, at least. Put it this way, I had absolutely no need to eat again after that until this morning!

Black Friday is a crazy shopping extravaganza, that now seems to start at 6 pm, on Thursday! Yes, I know, but thats the way of life nowadays, seemingly. Anyway, I ignored it completely, both last night, and today. So I headed off down town by bus, and went to the New York State Museum, for a very interesting visit. Then back into town, via the State Plaza, and a lunch break, and then finally back to the hotel.

Yes, with all the snow still on the ground, I didnt go out to eat tonight. I know, I’ll probably regret it, but… and tomorrow, I head back to the UK, James very kindly running me back to the airport. Hard to believe, its less than 2 weeks to the Work Christmas dinner.

Not only that, but by the next time I return to the US (Hollywood, next April, if all goes to plan), I should look even more stunning than now, as I will be a beautifully made up lady, looking even more like Jean Harlow, I suspect.

Last, but not least, I’d like to thank my 2 wonderful hosts on this trip, James, for letting me fulfil that dream of celebrating Thanksgiving, and to S, for letting me discover that I was indeed a Hollywood actress in a previous life, and for letting me find out how much fun life as ‘Jean’ can be.

The next blog, probably a jet lagged one from the UK, on Monday.

As I said, the video isnt ‘My Way’, but…

Shopping with ‘Jean’, and other tales of the last 2 days

So fine, picking up from where I left off last time around.

Yesterday morning, at 11.00, I was picked up from my hotel by S, and whisked back to Worcester, to catch the bus back to Albany. Another entertaining chat en route, which led to me discovering that in fact ‘Jean’ was still in my head, and just needed releasing, to make a show. First S did it, just to sort things out between him, her, and me. More correctly, him, my sub concious and me, but that’s just nit picking. Next thing I know, I’m told to do it for myself, and lo and behold, here’s Jeannie!

But before anyone gets any ideas, there are only 2 people that can wake her up, S, and me! Carla is safely tucked away though, before anyone thinks otherwise.

So fine, I’ve quickly discovered that there is a firm that makes Trans Pennine Express look punctual, and that’s Greyhound buses! Anyway, we finally get away from Worcester about 20 minutes late, and head for the Mass Pike, and the journey home. Big snag, accident on the Mass Pike, was a crawl (or slower) for the first 10 miles, and we finally reached Albany 2.5 hours late! Consolation, the most wonderfully sweet taxi driver on the way home, lovely guy, got a better tip than I normally would give, for sure!

Fine, it was well publicised on the news, and on websites that Albany was going to get hit by a big snow storm about the middle of today. So fine, I went out early, and not far, to a nearby Mall. Alright, time for a little fun, I let ‘Jean’ go shopping instead. Now, that was fun! Main moment of amusement, well it seems that Jean possesses quite a Kansas accent. Slightly combined with my own, but predominantly…

Fun moment, when I mentioned about flying back to the UK to one of the cashiers, given my Kansas accent, she asked me when I moved to the UK. I muttered some random year, and just left it at that! Alright, I did think about getting my sub concious to swap me back, change accents totally, (and huskiness of voice) and confuse her, but I’m a good girl, so I didnt.

By the time I got back out of there, the snow was in free fall, with plenty on the ground. Sadly this morning, I’d lived up to my blonde reputation, and only gone out in shoes, and a medium ‘strength’ coat, instead of boots and anorak. I knew it was coming, so why I did that…no idea?

Its different, seeing so much snow, when its only November. The last time I saw this, was about 2000, in Kirkenes, Norway, and thats the other side of the Arctic Circle! Mind, that was the beginning of November, not the end, so…

Right, you’re now up to date, and no, despite the clearness of the roads at least, I’ve decided to forego the Ice Hockey match in town tonight. I’m not the biggest fan of the sport, but if the weather had been good, I might well have gone. But now…

The video, sums up today’s weather really.

The holiday, story of the first 2 days

Its funny, how when you expect to have problems, everything goes smoothly. Pretty much sums up yesterday’s journey here.

OK, fine, the roadworks on the motorway getting to the airport was a pain, but in all honesty, I got there with time to spare, and walked to the booking in counter, in about 15 seconds flat, from the queue. The challenge of security…absolute stroll!

Plane took off pretty much to time, landed much the same. Funny point, I started the journey with a double seat to myself, then a few hours in, a man excused himself, and moved in next to me. Said his viewing screen wasnt working, but anyway…Fine, it must have been that, as he went back to his original seat about 30 minutes before landing. Ah well…

Then, the only low point of the whole trip, Philadelphia Immigration. Seriously, they are the main reason I dont travel more with US Airways, they are awful. Transatlantic jet arrives, hundreds get off, and 2 Immigration officers are on! Eventually, and I do mean eventually a couple more turn up, I get through, and… you have to go back through security after clearing customs, and generally at Philadelphia, thats as much joy as going through Immigration. Yesterday, sailed through! I was actually at the other terminal waiting for the Albany plane 20 minutes before boarding, instead of dashing on at the last moment. Hey, I even went to the rest room, got a coffee, and…amazing stuff.

Met at the airport as planned, and a smooth journey to the hotel. Hey, I suspect I even spotted the Albany hotel I stayed at in 1988, but dont quote me on that. But it was in the right area, had the right colour sign, so…

Hotel is very good, not that I expected anything else from Best Western, to be honest.

This morning I went across town, to meet up with James for a short while, then back into town, a bite of lunch, and currently, a little NFL. Oh, the lady in Dunkin Donuts loved my accent!

Tonight, I wont go too far to eat, just tossing up between the restaurant here, or a pub/restaurant about 2 doors up.

Tomorrow, off to New Hampshire overnight, to be hypnotised by an expert, and see what develops. I’m pretty sure, at some point, I will believe I’m Jean Harlow! Still, more of that on Tuesday, I suspect.

For now, a video that sums up how things have gone so far

Planes, and buses, and thinking I’m Jean!

So fine, lets start this off with the news that I will be getting to ride the bus, but only one in each direction, instead of two. Yes, the past life regression, and other matters will be happening, on Monday, all sorted and confirmed! So its fair to say, that regardless of whether I really was her in a past life or not, on Monday, at some point, I will be thinking I’m Jean lol. Of course, there is that one in a million chance that I really was, but…

Anyway, more on that nearer the time, and definitely after the event, either from me, or from Jean, depending on who I’m left thinking I am. Me, I’m sure, but…I suspect I will get to see life through her ‘eyes’ at least.

Before then, I get to have the long flight to Albany, via Philadelphia, with US Airways. Should be fine, but that 2 hours or so connection between planes, dealing with Immigration, Customs, and a walk back through security, before a bus ride to the other terminal, it will be tight, I suspect!

I’ve been to Albany twice before, in 1988, and then again, a couple of years ago. Neither time have I seen a lot of the city, something which I plan to put right this time around. No, I suspect I will not get experimented on at the Nanotechnology building, but if I do…Even with the side trip, and all, I hope to get to see a few of the landmarks there.

But principally, the big thing for me on this trip, is my first ever Thanksgiving dinner. My huge thanks go to James for letting me experience this, should be amazing. And no, I have no intention whatsoever to go shopping on Black Friday! Thankfully, given the current weather, I’m going nowhere near Buffalo!

Fine, to the video, and yes, its Jean. I was tempted to make it from Saratoga, given that town isnt a million miles from Albany. Sadly, she never managed to complete that film before her death. it was completed using doubles, and the like, by public demand. But as I used that elsewhere, lets have a snippet from Bombshell instead.

Even if I get to think I’m Jean, I’ll never be the bombshell she was, thats for sure!

Riding on the bus

And by that, I dont mean the public transit service around the towns, and cities on both sides of the Atlantic, though its a reasonably well known fact that generally I think the public transit service in the big cities, in the US, knocks ours for 6, both in terms of prices, and generally reliability too.

But in the US, long distance travel is a whole different ball game! Yes, if you have the inclination, flying between the major cities in America isnt too much of a challenge either. But you try to get from ‘smaller point’ A, to ‘smaller point’ B, and apart from the main coastal strips, it becomes a whole different challenge.

I know, most people wanting to get from those bigger cities, well, its still cheaper, and quicker to fly between the 2 points (even with a change of flight) than it is to travel long distance by train, or by bus, but all the options are generally there.

I mentioned it at the time I visited, but do you know the extent of public transit, into Cherryvale, Kansas? For passengers, pretty much zero! Freight trains, yes, but passenger trains, sorry…

Anyway, to get to the point. Medium distance travel, for non drivers.

I’ve actually crossed America, and back, by train. Fine, the last stretch from Philadelphia, to Atlantic City came about 6 years after the rest, but I’ve done it. And yes, you dont measure the journey time in minutes, or indeed hours, more like days! I liked Amtrak, though admittedly, I havent needed to use it since that day I completed that epic trip, back in 2009.

But, when people in the US talk about taking the bus, they dont mean the service bus into the city centre, they mean riding the coach, the Greyhound bus, to be exact.

Me, despite all my trips to the US, never done that. I’ve generally been in one city, or I’ve travelled with Kate, by car. And yes, I’ve seen ‘the bus’ a few times, I must admit. But now…

I’ve told you already about a friend, who is planning to hypnotise me, if we can get together on this trip. I’m pretty certain if he gets hold of my mind, not only will I look (a bit) like Jean Harlow, I’ll think I’m her too! Just one snag, I’ll be in Albany, NY, he’s near Manchester, NH (fine, not THAT close) but I cant give too much away…about 200 miles apart.

Over here, between those 2 points (both reasonably large cities), you’d probably have a number of coaches in a day, connecting them, either directly, or with one change. Today, I looked to see how practical getting to him would be. Albany, to the connecting point, yes, fine, plenty of choices. From there, to err, near Manchester, just one! Early evening going north, very early morning coming back south. Thats it!

Why, because most people drive, of course! Except, little old me! The fare (even Thanksgiving week, so I suspect it might be more than normal, is pretty reasonable. The number of services though…

So, to visit him, be hypnotised, do my past life regression, and become Jean Harlow for a while at least, becomes a logistical challenge. Lets see, the only way to do it, go up on the Monday afternoon/evening, stay overnight, then have my mind ‘played with’ on the Tuesday. Then the first chance to come back, is Wednesday morning, at the unearthly hour of 6.40 am! And we’d to leave his town before then, to get to that point anyway!

Of course, he might turn me into Jean-bot, and I never return, but somehow…lol.

So I might at last, get to ride ‘the bus’, or I might not, we will see. But I do wish the US had a decent long distance coach service like we do over here.

The only song I could immediately think of, that mentions Greyhound buses, was this one. So sue me, its Simon and Garfunkel, so I’m biased!