About Me

My photo
Guildford, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I am a 47 year old (2011) first generation Caribbean Black British woman. I have a 30 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. I am single and work full-time as Air Cabin Crew on long-haul. My first book (my auto-biography) called 'Shoy' was published in Feb 2004. Currently I am looking for an agent to represent me or publishers for the various projects I am working on such as a play, children's story, love story and the sequel to Shoy.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Move to new website

To all my followers, just to let you know that I have moved to a new website  http://goo.gl/AisbP  I hope you will come across and continue to give me your support and enjoy what you read.  The re-launch of my book 'Shoy' will be out soon and I hope you enjoy it.

Look forward to your comments.
Thank you.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Redondo Beach - Los Angeles

Hello again.  I would like to start by thanking those of you who have visited my blog this week from the following countries: United Kingdom, United States of America, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Turkey.  I hope you (and you know who you are) and many others will enjoy this next little snippet.

Having just visited Los Angeles (still struggling with the wrong time zone as I type), the memory of my visit is still very clear, but then all my visits around the world are always very clear as I just love travelling.  On my clear day off, I was up at about 0930 (LA time) and decided that the weather out looked ok.  It was not bright sunshine, but it was not raining and I had not got a clue what the temperature was going to be like, but I glanced at the people going about their business observing what they were wearing so I could judge what I was going to wear.  On doing this though, it was not very helpful because some people were in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops and some were in jackets and jeans, so I decided to put on jeans with flip-flops, a sun top and a very thin lace red top over that (at least it would cover my arms if there was a bit of a breeze).

I walked down to the Marina (it was almost deserted).  The smell of the sea was strong and refreshing and there was a more than slight breeze, but not cold or chilly, just the right temperature.  As I stood at the breakwater barrier, just looking around with the sea very calm, along came this lone paddler in his kayak.  As he went past the spot I was standing, we just exchanged glances with a smile, no words were uttered and he went almost silently out of the breakwater area and out across the open sea.
I moved on from my spot and continued my walk around the very quiet marina.  There were some really lovely vessels moored up.  You always wonder when you see these things, who owns them? where do they live? what their family are like? and are they happy with their life?  They are beautiful objects and you hope that the people who own them have beautiful minds to match (I know I have gone off on a tangent there - ok back in the room).

I came upon this gondola which was obviously decked out for the tourist or even someone who just wants to be romantic with their loved one.  Nonetheless, it looked quite unique (especially as it was not in Venice).
As I carried on around the Marina, there were the fishermen lobster boats with their empty traps stacked up with a few birds darting in and out of the battered looking wire holes of the pots.  I stood there for a while just watching them, not sure if it was play or dining. I made my way around to the pier and watched the fishermen casting their lines.  I got chatting to one elderly guy, who had been at the very spot since the night before.  He packs himself a selection of crude doorstep sandwiches, two flasks of coffee and a selection of fizzy bottled drinks.  He was such a nice old boy.  He had two lines set over the edge and just sat there on his collapsible canvas seat, a roll up in the corner of his mouth - not even lit.  I bet he had some stories to tell.  I left him to his day.  The pier, in places looked really rickety, but there were businesses on it with the waves just lashing beneath, almost as if it wanted to knock the very foundation away.
I left the Marina and wondered of in the direction of the beach.  I had never been to Redondo Beach before and I have to say, I was not disappointed.  The sand was clean and beautiful in the morning sunshine.  There were the tracks of the tractors that had cleaned the beach from the night before and seaguls and pigeons hoping around.  There were not that many people on the beach, but lots of joggers along side on the dedicated running path.  Its amazing how many joggers were elderly - good for them - but then living in such a favourable climate, there is no excuse, even if you jog at a very very slow pace. I am sure I would consider taking up jogging if I lived here (hmmm and maybe not!!).
I could see in the distance some surfers and at times they would catch small waves.  Such an energetic looking sport, I would love to try it, but I am sure I would drown (be good for the leg muscles though), but what a rush it must be to actually stand up on the board and surf - hmm maybe!!
 As I continued wandering along the beach front, the lifeguards were coming on duty, opening up their beach huts for the days events.  A bit of 'Baywatch' eh?  I am sure that if I had gone back to the beach in a couple of hours, it would have been a totally different picture, but this was at 1030 in the morning.

I left the trappings of the beach and made my way up through the houses, side roads and sheets back to the hotel, but not before getting a slice of pizza (as you do) and in the open air, with pizza juice running down the side of your mouth and you trying to be elegant, just makes the pizza taste even better. There is so much to this area and this is just a patch.  I will bring you another episode to Los Angeles and that is my visit to the very touristy side of Hollywood and all that has to offer (well from my eyes anyway).  Hope you have enjoyed this.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Why Am I Awake in Johannesburg???????

Hello everyone.  This little episode is not my usual blog, but I am wide awake in Johannesburg and not in a good place.  Coming to Johannesburg for me is never good, in that on one of my trips here I encountered (directly for the first time in my life) RACISM and not only once on that trip, but twice.  I cannot go into the particulars of what directly happened during my course of work, but needless to say I had the backing of my colleagues and employer.

Having arrived at the hotel, we all went out for the evening to socialise over a nice meal and to reflect on the events earlier.  Not long after arriving and having booked a table for the whole Boeing 747 crew, and having received our drinks and ordered our choice of meals, there was a complaint and one of the waiters had to come over to me (all secretively) and inform me of the issue.  My colleagues sat near me of course heard (that some of the other guests were not happy that I was sat in the restaurant!!!!!).  Cutting the story short, it was decided that we were not paying for our drinks which were not fully consumed and that they can cancel our order and that we were leaving.

The whole event left me in a weird state, can't explain it really and even though that was four years ago, I still let it affect me.  I see the trip coming on my roster and I go into a state of panic (What if it happens again? How would I react?)  I think for me, the fact that I was in a uniform that says who I am and who I work for, you are not the person you really are.  You say nothing, you do nothing and I think that is what makes you carry this numb feeling.  Is this why you remain the victim??????????

I can't wait to leave this place and feel normal again - roll on Wednesday.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Nassau - Bahamas

Hello again.  I would like to start by thanking all of you who follow this blog of mine.  I really appreciate it and all your comments which are very encouraging.

This episode I would like to tell you a bit about my experience in Nassau.  This is a beautiful island, not far off the coast of Florida.  I have been here when it has been days of unbroken sunshine and heat to torrential downpours, but still very warm and enjoyable.  I am lucky enough to stay in a very nice hotel with its own private 300 foot beach which overlooks the harbour.  Whilst sitting/relaxing on the beach, you can watch (if timed just right), the huge cruise ships sail in.  They do this amazing manoeuvre in front of the hotel beach.  They come in front first and then they stop dead in the water (which incidentally does not look that wide as there is a strip of land across the shipping lane) and then they do a 180 degree turn and back into the harbour - it is something to see.  Apparently, the middle of the strip is 150 feet in depth and was dug out specially to accommodate these huge ships and tankers that use the harbour.

Every time I am there, I see this and I am just in awe of the skill needed to carry out such a move - never bored of seeing it.

Nassau is a very beautiful place with its candy coloured buildings that line the streets.

Like most Caribbean Islands, it is very busy and colourful and no exception is the Straw Market at the harbour.
Of course I could not take any photos inside the Market, but it gets very hot in there and there is just so much to see and barter for (not my ideal way to spend my time, but for lots of people its a haven - enjoy).
 There is so much to keep you occupied if you are not just into sitting and relaxing on the beach and watching the world go by (and when you see one of those ships go by, that is almost literally as they are huge).  You can go scuba diving, snorkelling, take horse buggy rides around the town, excursions to various islands around Nassau and of course go over to Atlantis and enjoy their water park facilities.

The beaches are beautiful and the water goes from a turquoise glassy blue to a deep almost black depth in colour, capturing the reflections of the moving clouds (if there are any).
Of course it does rain in paradise and when it rains, it rains.

This is a view of the harbour with a few ships in at the end of the beach area of the hotel.  The harbour is a very lively place as you can imagine and if you like to people watch, you are in your element.

There is so much I can say about this place, as you can imagine and inflate by ten, but I have to end somewhere.  I would say go visit, take it all in, taste the food and night life and be prepared to spend a lot of money (unless you just sit on a beach and chill) which for most of us is the essence of the place.  Enjoy - bye for now.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Hong Kong

Hello everyone, I sincerely apologise for not bringing you any blog updates for some time, but life has a habit of catching up and taking over (if you know what I mean), but here I am again caught up and bringing you my experience of Hong Kong. I have been lucky enough to have visited Hong Kong on a few occasions and once I had my children with me which made it feel like a holiday and was fantastic, not only for me, but they had a very enjoyable, fascinating and educational time.

Hong Kong is a very busy and packed place.  I remember the first time I was there I was waiting at a crossing and as I stood there, it dawned on me how many people were actually waiting to cross, it was a matter of picking your line and sticking to it.  The lights changed and it was a like a tsunami of people coming towards you, of course they all knew where they were going which just left me just trying to navigate through the mass.  The streets are cramped (or feel that way) and the shop signs are so different from those here in the UK, very colourful and haphazardly arranged above your head.
I have been on many excursions and tours and have seen a contrast of buildings and sights.  Leaving the typical city skyline - which during the sunshine of the day there is a haze of smog.  
The smog gives an alluring and mystical appearance to the islands dotted out in the calm sea.  It transports you into a world of dragons, demons, Kung Fu and fighting swordsmen.
There are high rise buildings for as far as the eye can see, the tenants washing hung from balcony's with air conditioning units sharing the space.
En route to Stanley Market, one of the many markets Hong Kong has to offer there is a very interesting building and upon questioning the locals it is said to be built with the hole in the middle as legend has it that the buildings were built in front of the hill where the dragons live and in order for them to have passage way to their homes and not knock the buildings down, they had to build it in that way.  I am not sure that I would like to live in a building that is built in the way of flying dragons, let alone have the apartment that is right next to the gap!!
I have been lucky enough to have been in Hong Kong for Christmas a couple of times and it is an experience not to be missed.  It is colourful with fire works, happy people out in the chilly night air, smells from the many restaurants and late nights to be had.  The buildings along the harbour are decorated with an array of Christmas lights wishing visitors a joyous season in many languages.  Its as if the place never sleeps, there is always something to do and somewhere to go and see it.  One such night we took a trip up to the Peak, it was very cold and windy, but the sights were clear and as usual there were crowds.  We were going to take the tram up to the top, but the queue was vast and so we took a taxi - much quicker and warmer.  The taxi driver we got, seemed to be in a hurry and the ride down was a bit hairy, but he still had time to tell us about the approaching gate to Jackie Chan's house (of course the picture was a blur as the car just sped by), still, nice of him to point it out.
View of a smoggy Hong Kong from the Peak
If ever you get to go to Hong Kong a cable car ride to visit the Budha is well worth a day out.  The cable car was much longer than we expected and the scenery en-route was breathtaking, even though it was cold and very high. (Just a tip if you go, book the Crystal Car, as this by-passes all the queues and believe me, there are plenty).
This is the view you get of the Budha as you come around the corner in the cable car.  It was a misty day, but magical.  When you arrive, the statue of the Budha dominates the whole area.  Anywhere you go, you glance around and there it is, it is huge.  There is a lot of information about the Budha, some of it I found very surprising and did not know at all.

Hong Kong is a great place and I love it. There is great food, energetic or sultry nightlife to enjoy and lots of places to visit, or just do nothing.  If you ever get to go, enjoy.  Bye for now.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Costa Rica

Well finally hello everyone and thank you for your patience - I do apologise and I hope the wait will be worth it.  This is quite a long blog, but we must agree, that when something is good and you have plenty to say, it just has to be said.

Today I have chosen a holiday I had some time ago to Costa Rica.  It is always easy to choose somewhere to holiday where you have been before, familiar with, or a friend or relative recommends, but sometimes, just sometimes you need to do something random, out of character and totally embrace that decision and this was one such occasion.

Knowing nothing about Costa Rica it was going to be a totally new experience and challenge (apart from the fact I don't speak Spanish), but I was going to take it on and deal with my decision when I returned home - good or bad, wrong or right.

The journey getting there was laborious and given the nature of my job, you would think I would be okay with travelling and connecting, but oh no, this journey went on for hours and hours.  I flew to Houston having made the decision not to connect through Madrid (I know wrong choice) and another wrong choice was not choosing to fly with a very well known British Airline.  Once in Houston the layover was about six hours, what do you do in an airport for six hours?  I was now the traveller and it is easy to see why people are the way they are when they board that plane!!  Finally boarded the plane to Costa Rica and take off.  In all getting there took about twenty one hours, but lucky for me I can sleep standing up, so I did not feel that bad and of course here I was in a location by myself for the next week - perfect.  Arriving at my hotel late the first night, I stood in my room gazing out of my windows (I had two windows as my room was in the corner so that was perfect), the night sky was dark with the heavy rain clouds and in no time at all there was lightning which was so bright it just lit up the cramped buildings that spread below for as far as the eye could see in the split seconds.
With that I quickly drew the curtains as I really don't like the flashes and then of course the clap of thunder to follow and yes it was loud, very very loud and I was all alone in this huge room.  I got my trusted camera, and peeking through a little gap in the curtain I observed where would be the best place to try and capture the light show.  I set the camera up, left it on the window sill and switched the TV on hoping to drown out some of the thunder but of course that was scrambled with all the electricity activity outside - typical.  It was such a good idea to just video record the weather, it captured some really good footage - the evidence you can see above. Finally the weather passed and I had a long shower and then to bed - nice.

The next morning up bright and early, quick breakfast and then off to explore my surroundings.  The air was damp, muggy with very unusual smells and the pavements were soaked with mini rivers running down the side, obviously it had been raining earlier, but now the sun was out and it was going to be a hot day.  One of the locals took delight in informing me that by mid afternoon it would be raining and if I was venturing far, an umbrella would be sensible (all said in broken English of course).

The buildings around the hotel were all so different with some very old, decorative ones and equally new concrete ugly looking ones, as well as modern hotels.

This building was all boarded up with plants growing through the masonary, but so beautiful and I would have loved to buy it and restore it to its former glory with its bright blue gallvanised roof which I could see from my hotel window.
I wondered around the area for some time and found some very nice petite boutiques in little back roads selling all sorts of beautiful knick-knacks, some telling stories about the local life and culture.  The colours and simplicity of some of the items were so attractive and the people were so friendly and inviting.  As I walked around, I found a little restaurant (well I thought it was small) from the front there was not much to it, but once you stepped inside it stretched backwards, outside and upstairs and was a family run business.  The food was so tasty and looking around, it was a very popular place and this was just lunchtime.  Anything ordered came with delicious re-fried beans and rice - for me I was in heaven and for a starter a very watery cup of broth (no idea what sort of broth but tasty all the same).

Of course being 'the tourist' I had booked myself a couple of tours and was lucky enough to have a tour guide all to myself this particular day.  On part of my day out, I was taken to a place called Cartago which being the oldest city was once the capital of Costa Rica.  The town is dominated by the ruin of a church, Iglesia de la Paroquia which had been rebuilt several times only to be destroyed in earthquakes, and now is protected and the internal grounds are beautifully kept. The walls of this building is so thick and its amazing that what remains has survived so many natural disasters.
You just cannot go to Costa Rica without visiting a coffee plantation and I was taken to one called Valle de Orosi.  There are some times in your life when you know something is right - just for you - and this was one of those moments for me.  I was so at peace with this place and I could seriously settle there in this quaint community with its rugged surroundings of mountains, hills and greenery.  It was 360 degrees of sheer beauty and bliss.  Its an awe inspiring place and for a writer, would be just perfect.  I am sure I will re-visit it.

Looking around this 'village' and being in a valley, there were some homes high up on the hill sides where only a very sturdy 4x4 or something equivalent could get up there and I would imagine that when it rained (which this time of year seemed every day), there was no way you would be able to drive up it and I am sure access would only be on foot - fascinating, but still very appealing. 
These people seem to live very simple lives, but of course that is in the eye of someone looking in, but they appear happy and content and very welcoming.

I had no idea what a coffee bean bush looked like at any stage.  The leaves are so shiny and healthy looking and to see the coffee beans growing makes you appreciate your cup of decent coffee all the more.
With all the rain fall during the few days since my arrival, on my next adventure up to see the Poas Volcano, there were mud slides, this particular one we were not sure that the vehicle was going to be able to make it through, as it was not clear how deep it was and whether it was clear on the other side which was around a bend, but whilst waiting, there was another vehicle making its way through from the other side, so the driver decided we would proceed - great I really did not want to miss out on seeing this volcano, having never seen one before.
The journey to the volcano was long and slow, but the rain was not continuous, but when it rained, it rained, so much so that the windscreen wipers were working overtime just to allow the driver to see.  On route, we came across this huge dam called El Diquis.  I was like a child and I was begging the driver to stop - unbeknown to me, this was part of the day and a stop was scheduled - embarrassing.
I had never seen a dam before and the gates were colossal.  It was ashame that they were not being used that day to experience the force and power of the water, the noise and the spray - that must just exhilarate you.  Standing on the bridge, every time a vehicle went over, it would shake which was a bit unnerving. From the other side of the bridge you could see very clearly the water levels that are reached on either sides of the banks below.
Our journey continued and it was all up hill, in some places quite steep hills.  Along the way there were villagers selling little souvenirs, chopped up fruit, drinks, hot snacks etc along the sides of the road, strategically in places where you would take photos - clever eh?  On one such stop, there was a suspension type bridge over a river that was very dry, but my guide told me that normally this river is fast flowing and very deep and many people have drowned not realising the strength of the currents.
Arriving at the Poas National Park of course it was pouring with rain and the lightning and thunder was bright and loud.  The guide went to the little booth that sold the tickets to go up to the crater and he was told that because of the weather, there might not be anything to see up there with the low cloud cover, but it was up to us to take a chance and see.  Well having come this far, why not go take a look.  With the weather still being hot, I was definitely not dressed for this deluge and the little souvenir shop was selling plastic poncho's. So here I was in this lovely plastic bright yellow poncho - nice.  Ticket bought we trekked up the path, passing all sorts of fauna and flora.  The picture below (and I can't remember what the name of this plant is), is used by the locals when it rains.  It is a very thick leafed plant and very large, the stem being very sturdy, but the milk that oozes from the stem is an irritant, so what with the rain and all the milky substance, maybe not a good idea to be soaked holding the stem of a potentially rash causing plant.                        
As we got closer to the top, the weather was not favourable at all.  Seriously, you could not see where I was walking as I had my head down trying to stop the rain lashing in my eyes, it was by no means cold, but just torrential and then I kept shrieking with the clap of thunder and not to mention the lightening strikes.  Why oh why was I trekking to the top of a mountain to see an active volcano on a day that resembled something out of a movie when the world was going to end?  I could now (through the rain) see the edge which had rails erected.  I slowed right down behind the guide, my heart was in my throat and beating hard in my ears, I did not want to see it.  I was more than seriously scared and at this point if I had been given the opportunity to turn back, I would have sprinted.  The guide turned to talk to me and was stunned as to how far behind him I was and beckoned for me to come forward.  As I slowly approached, I could see the edges of the crater across the way, the rock was clear under the hovering cloud which seemed to have a life of its own, moving in some places fast obscuring the rock and then clearing just as quick to reveal it again.  The cloud had not descended too low and now I could see the whole, smoking, hissing crater below and how close it seemed.  The smells were definitely weird and the sounds were eerie which was not helped by the weather.  There was no where to shelter from the lightning and rain, so we just stood there at the edge and I kept bringing my camera up to the opening of my plastic, beautiful yellow poncho took a snap and then quickly returned it to keep it dry.  It was truly amazing.  The colours were so vivid of reds, browns, almost gold, black, grey, silvers etc and such a rugged, broken, distorted landscape, steep sides - looking hard, but sandy and soft in places.  WOW what an experience - still scary though.

See - looking good in the yellow poncho eh!
So having had enough of the weather at the crater's edge, we left Poas not knowing whether the roads would be passable with all this rain which seemed to concern the driver.  I was just glad to be back in the people carrier, poncho off and now steaming from being damp - classy!!

On our way back to San Jose, we stopped at what looked like a shack for something to eat.  I was now feeling a bit chilled, but presumably that was because I had got so wet at the volcano and I so just wanted a hot cup of something (and when in Costa Rica only coffee will do). 

So feeling very embarrassed, I asked for a nice hot cup of black coffee not strong and they offered me and the guide a seat near the old fashioned type burner which was very welcomed, but it was in great working order and this is where they boiled their water to make the coffee's etc.
The food was delicious and there was no hurry to your dining experience.  The gardens around the restaurant were well kept and it was such a shame it was raining so much.  As we sat there chatting, the locals joining in, a hummingbird came into view on one of the nearby branches and I crept over with my camera and took a snap - unbelievable.  It was actually sat under a large leaf as if sheltering from the rain.

I definitely did not have enough time in Costa Rica and the weather hindered my continued enjoyment.  I was so looking forward to doing the Sky Walk through the canopy forest and the Zip Line, but it was far too wet and was cancelled - but something I would like to return and do.

I thoroughly enjoyed Costa Rica - the little I saw of it and I look forward to my return - hope you enjoyed my account of it.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Cairo - Egypt

Hello again to all of you.  I have had a great Sunday at home with the family and have done a huge chicken roast dinner (I apologise to those of you who are vegetarians) with all the trimmings and I had to add in Yorkshire Puddings as I love them and to finish a home made apple and ginger crumble with loads of custard.  So now I am full and relaxed, but not too relaxed got work to do.  Before I tell you about my time in Cairo, I would like to thank those of you from:
                                       The United Kingdom (home of course)
                                       The United States of America
                                       South Africa
Thank you so much for your support and interest.  Please I ask one favour of all that visit my blog and that is if you like (or even not like) what you read and digest, can you leave me comments on the blog.  I thank you.  So now on to Cairo.

I have only ever been to Cairo once and I have to say in some respects I was disappointed.  Having gone to see the Pyramids, I expected them to be in the middle of no-where just rising out of its sandy existence in all its splendour as seen in many books, but whilst standing looking at these true wonders, you turn 180 degrees and there it is, the town, cramped dwellings with a constant hum of the traffic and horns and people and animals sharing what is left of the streets, dusty and smelly in places.
The pyramids are just spectacular and as an attraction they do not disappoint at all.  You stand there marvelling at the ingenuity of these colossal stone tombs and question why as a race they were so wrapped up in their afterlife and the need to take their possessions with them - maybe I should have paid more attention in my history class I may have learnt the answer to that puzzle hmmm.
For anyone who has been to Cairo, you must have been in awe of the sheer size of the pyramids and the blocks that made them.  You just can't imagine how hard it must have been to move these huge chunks of rock, which when I stood next to one was twice my height and I am 5'3" - just mind blowing, but definitely impressive.  I have to admit, (but you probably knew this was coming), but I did not dare enter the pyramids.  The dimly lit, tight corridors to the inner chambers would have sent me into an absolute situation and I mean huge situation.  So for my dignity and not to scare the other tourists, it was best I stayed out (and my thoughts on the matter were, why would you want to go deep into a stone tomb anyway?)
The museum in Cairo is exquisite and the different areas of the exhibitions are so interesting.  The colours they used and the quality of the precious metals and stones.  They were definitely not afraid of showing their wealth and their respect for their dead.  Whilst walking around the museum I seemed to be attracting attention from the locals and the cleaners.  I was getting very uneasy with their actions towards me and as I could not understand what they were saying I was trying very hard not to make eye contact with them, but it was hard.  The other two guys I was with noticed all of this and told me stay close to them.  One of them then asked one of the security guards why was this happening and he replied, look at her and look at Queen Nefertiti, they look a like - personally I could not see this, but the two of them agreed and decided (laughing) that they should be my bodyguards for the day as they may want to snatch me (this I did not find funny at all) I was so ready to go.
On walking around the streets, they are very narrow and dusty and their animals share the footpaths with you.  They are very friendly and although there is a language barrier, facial expressions say a lot.  As you walk around the many shops that sell beautifully designed glass bottles for perfumes, you are always offered tea and a place to sit and they are quite happy to bring the merchandise to you, display it on a table and tell you all about it, how it was made and the different scents that can be purchased and what they promote in way of healing and well being.

There is one picture that I will not display as it may be disturbing to some of you, but there was a camel meat shop on what I would say was their equivalent of a High Street and hanging outside was a whole skinned camel with its head still on and tied up near it was a live camel eating away whilst the owners sat in the doorway waiting for their passing trade.  It was a photo opportunity not to miss, but seeing a skinned camel may not appeal to most - so you will have to imagine.

As we all know, Egypt is steeped with so much history, probably on every street in Cairo, there is so much to see.  I did not even get to visit the City of the Dead where the people live in the tombs of the graveyard of their dead.  Apparently it is huge area and there are thousands of inhabitants because of the housing shortage in Egypt, but as it is not an official housing estate, their are problems with pests, sewage and smells - this of course cannot be healthy, but for some it is shelter from the searing, dusty heat and the rain and winds.

I look forward to another visit.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

San Francisco - California

Hello again everyone and thank you for coming back for the next epic installment.  To start with today (Sunday - scary Halloween - 31st October 2010) I am suffering again, this cold or whatever it is, just will not go and I have had the dog just staring at me as I cough and sneeze my head off - so tonight will see me medicating myself up for a good nights sleep ready for my travels tomorrow - oh that reminds me I have to pack.  Anyway moving on, I was just going for the sympathy there.

San Francisco - what can I say?  To me its one of the most interesting places in America.  It is so diverse with all the different ethic areas, nightlife, great restaurants some with amazing views of the bay, great walks/biking or Segway trails and of course, you can do it all by arranged tours or hire a car and see it properly at your leisure.  I wish I had the courage to hire a car and do it myself, but driving on the other side of the road - Oooo maybe not and then of course there is the navigating - mind you most cars these days have sat nav so that should not pose too much of a problem, but I bet you I would still get lost.

On my first visit to San Fran, the aerial views were amazing, even though a bit misty and I could not wait to land and explore.

Whenever I have been to San Francisco, the weather has been glorious and very hot.  San Francisco has always been one of those places that I have wanted to visit, so when I got there, again I could not believe it.  I went out on my own having plotted the places I wanted to see, and of course there was no way I was going to fit it all in on one visit - but its one of those places that never disappoints.

I decided (having applied layers of sunblock) to walk some of it and take a tram ride.  So I set off - the hotel being in a great location in that the tram stop where the trams would rotate in a full circle to start their journey again, was just a street away, so I thought that would be a good way to end the days outing as I was sure to be tired.  I headed down to the harbour and having arrived looking out across the water, what was I going to do now?  I headed right and down to Pier 39.  There were so many people, I stopped for a bit and just soaked it all up, watching the dynamics of the people that came into view and how they interacted with the people they were with and around them - I could just sit and watch for hours, drawing inspiration from them and I took out my little trusted notebook and jotted down character ideas from what I was witnessing - fantastic.  I moved on and was drawn to an area where there was obviously some sort of attraction just from the sheer numbers in the area.  Being vertically challenged, I edged my way into the crowd, tip-toeing and sliding under peoples arms and there they were - the famous seals of Pier 39 and loads of them and of course they come with their own aroma.  They were just laying there, some picking fights with one another, some crawling over others whilst they slept, and some just chatting away to each other.  You could see the obvious characters amongst them - it was great.

From this area you could see the all famous Alcatraz.  I was not sure about a visit over there, and that certainly was not going to take place today.  The thought of visiting a prison (and me being claustrophobic) was not sitting well and even now thinking about it is making me a bit breathless, so I move on.

In the following picture you can see the monument of Coit Tower which was a gift to the city from the very eccentric Lillie Hitchcock Coit who was famed for her love of firemen (and who could blame her eh).  Even though the tower does resemble the top of a fire hose, the architects say not - we won't argue will we!

The hills in San Fran are very steep and some are very very steep, walking up them is a struggle and you do wonder how the people in the area do this day in day out - who needs to go to the gym for a workout when you can walk around San Fran?

The electric trams and the rail trams are seen about the city and of course you have to experience a ride on one.  I was so surprised how powerful these things are as they have to negotiate some of the city's very steep hills.  They wind their way through some of the most beautiful areas and of course you hop on and off where you like - I love it.  You get chatting to all sorts of people and there is always someone willing to take a snap of you with a memorable backdrop.

On one of my now many visits, I took a boat tour which takes you out in the harbour pinpointing all the sites of the city and beyond and of course you go around Alcatraz - still not sure about that visit - maybe next time eh - but most amazingly to see, is the Golden Gate Bridge in all her splendour.  The boat takes you right under it and you can see the structure close up, the amount of steel involved and of course that iconic red colour.  You stand on the deck in awe of her.  Sometimes I really have to pinch myself to think that my job gives me all this.

Another attraction that California has for me, is that of the Giant Sequoia forests.  I love these giant, majestic trees.  (I am not quite a tree hugger, so no raising of eyebrows please!).  On this particular tour I went to the Muir Woods National Park and Oh My Life what a place.  These trees are as huge as they say and then some.  In this particular Park, to do the tours that splinter off in different directions with markers telling you how long the trail would take you to get to the end and back, range from one to four hours and the draw back to the tour I was on, we only had an hour and that was no-where long enough to really appreciate the Park for what it offers.  I was rushing through as much of the one hour trail, wanting to capture as many images as I could, but it was nowhere enough.  The other trails had bigger and better trees to be seen (so maybe one day I will hire that car and go).

I apologise that this blog is a long one (and it could be longer) and I had thought of splitting it in two, but then that would just make me go on for longer.  As you can imagine, I have a collection of great photos of this place and I would never tire of it.  The people of San Francisco are very friendly and if you go down to the harbour to the wharf in the early morning, you meet the local fishermen with their lines cast adrift over the edge and they sit and chat about their past, present and future lives and you get to join in, they even offer you a cup of their tea and sandwiches - what a life!