New Boy, Trafalgar Studios – London and Paris preparations

New Boy

The story is a bit wobbly here and there but what great performances of especially Nicholas Hoult (from About a Boy with Hugh Grant/Skins) and Gregg Lowe. It’s refreshing to see great young actors like these, the future of British stage and theatre is looking good.

The play is both funny and serious (without ever becoming too serious) and makes for an enjoyable night out.

I can only highly recommend you to catch it, but it seems so popular that the complete run has already sold out. It’s performed in a very small (but intimate) theatre, and deserves to be extended, and maybe even moved to a bigger theatre.

I just checked my hotel booking for Paris and saw that I have booked a Superior Single room. I wonder what Superior means in this case.

And I prepared a quick Paris map. The camera icons are places I might go to snap some photos. And if you are wondering what the snow flakes are: Ice cream shops, don’t underestimate the importance of those.

And I know there is a lot of talk going on about Google Streetview, but thanks to the genius of it, I just checked out the front of my hotel···, so I know what it looks like (and what to look for) when I arrive. I also checked how to get there from Gare Du Nord, which turns out to be easy peasy as it is right opposite the station. And there is an Italian restuarant right beside it, handy!

I think that is all the preparation I need. Now I just need to pack and catch the train Saturday morning.

Two days in Paris

TV-2 in Paris

How to be impulsive and try something new in six easy steps:

  1. Read on facebook (and yes I want to be your friend too – I am known as Ingrid M van Vliet, the M standing for mad) that TV-2 (danish band extraordinaire) is playing a concert in Paris.
  2. Admit that taking the Eurostar train from London to Paris has long been on your todo list and that this might be a perfect reason to book it, like, now.
  3. Book a ticket for the TV-2 concert in ELYSEE-MONTMARTRE, Paris.
  4. Book your Eurostar ticket and realise that it is only 2 hours and 20 minutes from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord by train! Make sure to reserve a window seat.
  5. Visit tripadvisor.com, search for “cheap hotel Gare du Nord, Paris”, read reviews from other travellers, pick a hotel and book it. Realise after you booked it that the hotel is located on Rue de saint Quentin which put a smile on your face.
  6. Start looking forward to the trip and promise yourself to do things like this more often.

Voici, c’est simple!

Four things that are better in London than in New York

Chubby Checker Hot Chocolate

Four things that are better in London than in New York:

  • The queue culture. There is no queue culture in NY and I so miss it when I am there, I love the built-in politeness of the British people.
  • The language. I am a sucker for the UK English language and prefer it over American anytime.
  • The London underground stations compared to the subway stations in NY. I feel more safe in London, and I also think there are more CCTV cameras over here.

    NY does have a better service (24 hours a day) and the subway trains are quite nice in NY but the seats are hard to sit on (anti vandalism I guess). I do love the newer NY trains which show you exactly where you are on a small map with blinking lights indicating the next station.

    Oh, the Oyster card does beat the MTA card on ease of use though.

  • In London what the pricetag says is what you pay in shops. In NY they always add tax to the price when you pay for your item and I still haven’t figured out how to calculate it, you never know what you end up paying.

Four things that are better in New York than in London:

  • The skyline. I never get tired of the Chrysler building by night nor of the view of any of the other impressive skyscrapers.
  • There is more water around. I love the Battery Park area with all the piers and the view on the Hudson river and the Brooklyn bridge. It feels like you are more away from the city than you do when looking at the Thames from central London.
  • They have Taco Bell. Yes, and yes before you start – you are probably going to tell me that Taco Bell food has nothing to do with Mexican food. Maybe you are right, but I love Taco Bell food. I wonder why there isn’t one in London!
  • I love the diners. I know there are some NY diner wannabees in London too but the ones in New York are best. And hey they have the New York cheesecake and the above Chubby Checkers Hot Chocolate. I mean, who can say no to that! (And I love that formica table)

So which city do you prefer?

The credit crunch in New York and “Black” Friday

Statue of Liberty, New York

Thanksgiving Day in New York meant that all the shops were closed that day. Not a big deal really.

But to compensate for this one day shopping loss there is a concept called Black Friday. Black Friday is the beginning of the official Christmas shopping season in the US and shops open their doors with special Black Friday offers very early the day after Thanksgiving. Very early, as early as 4am in the morning. Who on earth wants to go shopping at 4am in the morning I wondered?

Well quite a lot of people. When I left the cinema at 21.30 that Thursday evening, the queue of people waiting to get into Circuit City (a big computer store) on Union Square was quite long. So people were actually queueing 6.5 hours to get into a shop opening at 4am? I found that slightly insane, but then I find the whole Christmas presents race insane and I have abandoned it long ago.

It got even more insane. Or maybe insane is not the right word here, the right word is “tragic”. Very tragic. A Wallmart on Long Island (an area near New York city) opened their doors at 5am and a lot of people couldn’t wait to get in. In fact it got so busy and out of hand that the eager shoppers tramped a Wallmart employee to death when the door opened, blinded as they were by those great Black Friday offers.

Did anybody say credit crunch? Happy Thanksgiving. And Black Friday indeed. Crazy people.

Thanksgiving Kermit

Yes they were really big those inflatables in New York!

And yes I am back in London, back in a very busy job and a home without internet for the next two three weeks. This makes it a big problematic to blog, but I will do my very best to post a bit more tomorrow in my lunch break.

New York was of course great, but London is not a bad city to come home to.

Thanksgiving day in New York

A short New York report where it is cold but sunny.

Yesterday I did the circle line boat trip (from 42nd Street) around Manhattan, and I would say that it is definitely worth doing. The commentary is great, you will learn lots about New York, you will see the island from the other side with great views on all the high landmarks, the statue of Liberty (from close by) and we passed 20 bridges. We also passed the little red lighthouse, which saved me a trip going there, it looks cute, located under a huge bridge. Recommended this boat trip, it takes three hours.

Today is Thanksgiving day in the US. Most shops are closed, but there was the famous Thanksgiving parade going on in the centre of Manhattan. It was a long parade, and according to the news, thousands of people participated but the most impressive items where huge (and I mean huge) inflatables of well known characters like Snoopy, Shrek and Buzz lightyear. Quite entertaining to watch. Photos will come later.

The thing that is a little scary here at the moment is that there has been a terror threat on New York’s railway system. There is a lot of police on the stations, and let’s hope it remains a threat. I am not too worried about it.

Seeing as most people are eating turkey with their family tonight not much is going on in the city, but the cinema is open so I will go and watch a film.

Happy thanksgiving to everybody out there!

Good evening from the Big Apple

It’s 7.24pm local time here, but I can truly feel that I am still on London time (00.25am). The flight went smooth with on board entertainment: Ghost Town (again – and I did watch it again and loved it and cried again), Inspector Lynley and I even saw bits of Mamma Mia. Add to that a bit of dozing and the 7 hours flight went relatively quick.

When we landed the streets were still wet from the morning rain, but it is fresh but clear now and the next couple of days should be dry with some sunshine. Very nice. I am planning to do the 3 hours circle tour (boat) around Manhattan one of the coming days, it is supposed to be a nice trip.

It also seems to be something with Thanksgiving here this week, and there is a big parade near Macy’s on Thursday. I will have to investigate as I don’t know much about Thanksgiving traditions in the US. (Maybe someone can enlighten me?)

I hope all is well in London and with you, in New York all is well.

And I love New York because during the long subway ride from the airport to Union Square I saw Bill Nighy posters in nearly every station. Valkyrie is coming!

Sleep well, wherever you are.

(They have new pc’s here in the hotel, so I might be able to upload some photos while I am here, I’ll do my best).

Must love Dogs

A dog's nose

I do love dogs, which was good as I spent a lot of time with two of them during my holiday. I shared a house with M&M for ten days and this nose was the first thing I saw when I woke up. This one, and the nose of her sister, sniffing and wagging their tales trying to persuade me to get up.

Get up! Get up! We want to go to the beach – now! Get up!

More dog pictures »

Snapshots of Ireland

Snapshots of Ireland

I am back in London after a wonderful long week in Ireland.

While Ireland is famous for its rainy weather, and I did in fact arrive in rainy weather, it all changed on Sunday and I had a week with marvelous weather, lots of sea, beautiful scenery, tea in bed and full english every morning, two lovely dogs to walk, light houses, yellow shells, sheep, black berries, seals, beautiful flowers, Davy Jones and the good company of my best friend.

It was incredibly peaceful and quiet and on our daily morning walk to the beach it was absolutely silent, no sounds at all. The step to a crowded London tube was nearly too big.

Ireland is to be recommended and some more photos are on their way. Now it’s back to working on my short film.

Off to Ireland

My bag is packed and I am half in bed typing this. I will leave for Ireland tomorrow, flying from Heathrow to Cork where I will be picked up. From there we will drive to Coornagillagh (Kerry).

It is a very quiet area on the south west coast, 4 houses and a pub, that kind of quiet. There is no internet connection and there won’t be any computers near either (so no response to emails for a while). But there will be good company, two dogs, books, notebooks and pens and loads of rom-com DVD’s. Oh, and ScraBill.

I think it is going to be good. I will be back in London on Monday the 22nd of September.

Be good while I am gone.

42 (+ 2 days)

Devon Cream Tea in the Wayside Cafe

It’s really not bad to spend your 42nd birthday with your best friend in a cafe in Widecombe-In-The-Moor having a cream tea that looked as good as this and tasted as good too.

We also visited Princetown which is known for the prison. And if you have seen Lucky Break (which of course you have, as Bill is in it) then you might recognize the prison. Lucky Break has partly been shot in Dartmoor Prison.

In Princetown I had my first Knickerbocker Glory ever (good experience) in a cafe built in their old police station.

And we also visited Exmouth which is a lovely town on the coast. And Budleigh which is an even lovelier small town on the coast with a pebbled beach and red cliffs in stead of the white chalky ones. Most importantly here though is that they sell the best ice cream I have tasted in Britain so far.

My birthday was perfect, and my weekend was too.

Last year I was hoping that the year ahead would have me make my short film. I did not quite manage to pull that off but I am still quite confident that SweetArts will be shot in October this year.

Weymouth, Portland Bill, Durdle Door

Dogs in the rain
The view from my B&B room in Weymouth Saturday morning around 8am (yes zoom lens and a room with sea view very close to the beach). It didn’t look very promising so we headed to a cafe for a coffee and the Saturday Guardian. I think the dogs are more depressed because of the ridiculous jackets they are wearing than because of the rain.

A couple of hours later …

Read More

UK Coast: Bognor Regis

I went to Bognor Regis, and I had a good day.

Bognor Regis is much smaller and therefore much less touristy than Brighton. The weather was marvellous, and I haven’t done much more than walk to a nearly empty piece of the pebbled beach, sit/lay down, stare over the beautiful blue sea, sniffed up the fresh sea air, waved at Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, and read my book.

Bognor Regis is typical example of a British beach site: a long promenade, several fish and chips shops, ice cream, a (not very interesting) pier, and lots of pebbles.

Pebbled beaches are so convenient. You have to wiggle a bit to find a comfortable place to sit/lay down but: no sand in your shoes, bag, book or socks!

On my way home from the nearly empty train I spotted:
42 cows
149 bunnies!
2 foxes

But no sheep. The sheep on the picture are walking around on the Isle of Man. I took several photos of the sheep there, and funny enough, on nearly every single one of them there is one sheep looking directly into the camera, as if to say:

“What are you looking at?”

Or “You are wearing such a weird coat!”
Or “Why do you have only 2 legs?”
Or maybe “Why are you not eating grass?”

If the weather stays like this next weekend, I’ll be off again. Littlehampton, Rye, Portsmouth and many more places are waiting out there. It’s good to live on an island.

Reasons to visit the Isle of Man – III

Seals on the Isle of Man

On my first day out on the Isle of Man I drove to the Langness Peninsula, for a first light house watch. I had to ask my way several times. I could see the lighthouse, but could not seem to find the road that would lead me to it. So after crossing a golf course several times (there was a small road, I did not actually race over their green!) with the risk of having the car hit by a golf ball, I finally found the tiny road that lead to the lighthouse. After taking the obligatory pictures, I sat down on a rock beside it and found the book that was given to me by a good friend as a part of an Isle of Man “chill pack”.

Well it didn’t get any more chilling than this. There were no people whatsoever to spot anywhere near me, the sun was shining, I had a lighthouse just beside me on my left, and in front of me was a very calm sea. It was quiet and peaceful, all I could hear were some birds. I started reading.

I was completely lost in my book when my ears picked up a peculiar sound. It sounded like someone snorting, and no, unfortunately, it wasn’t him. I couldn’t quite see where it came from at first, until I looked right in front of me, and there he was – a seal! He kept me company for a couple of hours, diving down once in a while for a bite to eat, and popping up again for some air. If you look carefully at the photo you can see him waving his paw. I asked him to do that, because it would make such a cute photo. He was happy to do so. His name? No this wasn’t Bill, but Sam, his brother.

Sam was not the last seal I saw on the isle. I think I have seen seals every day. I saw quite a lot of them near Sound (also in the south) and the handsome fellow in the middle (number 3 and that is Sam’s brother Bill indeed) came greeting me in the harbour of Peel. Seals are a very common sight all around the island, but they kept Wow’ing me every single time. It is so cool to see them in their natural environment.