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The following travelogue has been transcribed from my diaries written at the time. I have kept the entries largely unchanged in order to capture the feel of the times.

 

Sunday 1st October, 1978

Visited new shores today. It started off not too well but by the end we were well and truly ensconced in our home for the next three weeks and had met some really nice, friendly people. Neither of us could sleep and I seemed to wake up every half-an-hour. In the end I got up at 5.30 a.m and had a shower and , despite the jet lag, didn't feel too tired. So shortly after, we went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast which was expensive.

 

After that we booked out and waited for a bus to take us to the airport. We were all loaded up and had just set off when it broke down and we had to wait for a back-up vehicle. Eventually we made it in plenty of time and checked in and waited for the flight to Baltimore which was very straightforward and only took just over half an hour. So we were at the airport.

 

It then took us half an hour to get change for the telephone and telephone through to the Davenports. They told us to go to the terminal and wait. So we went to where we thought they meant and waited and waited and waited until a message came through for me to cll the operator. I did and got directions as to where the car was waiting.

 

So we then met George and Betty and set off for their home which turned out to be deep in the country, about 20 miles from Baltimore. It turned out to be quite a large place in 10 acres of land. It was massive by our standards and after a very nice dinner, spent the afternoon wandering around the property and being shown where everything is.

 

Then as there was a party at 5 p.m we got ready and waited for the people to come and it turned out to be tremendously successful as we were kind of guests of honour and everybody went out of their way to be friendly and I think by the end of the evening we had about three invites out to dinner and as many offers to take us out for trips. Because of that we will now be going to Baltimore on Friday and Washington on Saturday. We will also be going to a race course sometime and Gettysburg on another occasion. By the end of it all there shouldn't be much time to spare at all. By the time everyone had gone it was 8.30 p.m and I was beginnng to feel very tired indeed with everything catching up on me at last. So we have decided to have a quiet restful day tomorrow. By the time we went to bed it was very early at 9.15 p.m.

 

Monday 2nd January

 

A fairly restful day but once again we found how just how friendly American people are. Surprisingly I was awake by 7.30 a.m and up at 8 a.m in time to have a shower before quite a lavish breakfast. Afterwards we set out for a guided tour of the neighbourhood with Betty. She took us to her bank and the bank manager was so kind that not only did he offer us any facility we wanted but also opened up a closed compartment especially for us.

 

From there we went to the post office and then a general store and returned home for a short while before driving out to meet another neighbour who hadn't been at the party last night. Again she was very friendly. They really make you feel welcome out here. Once back from that it was time for dinner and then the afternoon was quiet.

 

George and Betty were booked onto a flight at 8 p.m and so set off for Washington Airport at 3.30 p.m and we were left with the peace and quiet of the countryside and the fine old house. We didn't do much else except go for a walk on the property and then have tea and finally spent the evening watching television which is a total mixture of garbage - so many programmes to chose from but they all have adverts every five minutes. Both being very tired we went to bed at 8.30 p.m hoping to finally knock off the jet lag this time around.

 

Tuesday 3rd October

 

Successfully got used to driving an automatic car and also driving on the right hand side of the road today. It wasn't a totally enjoyable day but got better as the time went on. Up fairly early and had a leisurely breakfast before seeing to the dogs feed and then setting off.

 

Got onto the I83 Expressway which gave me the chance to get used tot he car and then, after stopping at a tourist information place, continued northwards into Pennsylvania. We headed for a place called York which was the first capital of the United States. Parked the car and had a look round and was rather disappointed by it. We decided to leave after half an hour but that wasn't as easy as it sounded. We wanted to go to Lancaster and the Dutch country but there were no signposts anywhere and we started going round in circles and got more and more frustrated. In the end we made our way to a shopping centre and had a hamburger dinner at a Wendys. After that did some food shopping and then asked a couple the way and they led us to the right road and so we continued for what turned out to be quite a long journey.

 

Two things that struck us are that there are no roundabouts and the roads are far too pitted and narrow to take the massive cars. We finally got into the Dutch town which is an area inhabited by a religious sect who shun the outside world but farm their own land and make large sums of money so doing. It was a bit of a let down as we visited a farm that seemed just the same as any other farm. In the end we left and drove on and visited a number of small communities with quaint shops, where we bought quite a few souvenirs and presents.

 

At 5.30 p.m we decided it was time to set off for home and the journey took one and a half hours. The speed limits over here are strange. The top wack is 55 mph and most roads are 40, 35, 30 or even 25. Makes England seem like a race track. After arriving home Anne cooked a meal and then we watched television for a while before going to bed very tired again at just after 9 p.m.

 

Wednesday 4th October

 

A day of taking things as they came mainly because of the weather. It was a long rainy morning and we had a slow breakfast and then decided to set out for Annapolis - the capital of Maryland. It is on a river and supposed to be picturesque. We had gone a few miles down the I83 when we decided to shelve the plan because of the heavy rain.

 

So we drove off to Timonium which turned out to be very much like so many other towns - a long through road containing a mess of shops and places to eat. We parked the car and had a wander round and a cup of coffee at a doughnut parlour. Then got some groceries and came home in time for dinner.

 

Afterwards we decided to go for a short drive in the close locality. The short drive turned out to be something like 150 miles. We went into Maryland's heart trying to find a number of places of interest. We failed to find a number because of the appalling signposting and eventually ended up parking in Frederick. Called into the information bureau there and got the usual historical spiel. This place is steeped in history. We then had a look round the few shops that exist before driving into the country. Stopped at the Washington National Park which was largely uninteresting and then tried to find some underground caves but they were closed. Then on to a battle field at Antietam before deciding to start off for home which tok a long while. 

 

We got lost on a back road to Harpers Ferry and then finally made the Expressway and had a long drive round Baltimore's Beltway to the I83 which was very busy. By the time we got home it was 8 p.m and I put the dogs away for the night before having supper and then watching television before going to bed nice and early again at 9.30 p.m.

 

Thursday 5th October

 

The day started very dull and misty which didn't matter too much as we were planning on a quiet day with an invitation out to dinner in the evening. So we had a leisurely breakfast and dealt with the dogs. Then we gt a call from another of the neighbours inviting to take us out on a trip on Sunday week. She chatted for going on an hour after which we decded it was time to go out to dinner.

 

So we drove to Cockeysville to have a look round the outdoor market and Anne found a Christmas shop which delighted her. We then carried on down the road and found a pizza place for a very substantial lunch. Had a good laugh there with the waiter over our accents and whether we still referred to America as our colonies. At 1.30 p.m we drove back to Hereford and called in at the post office, drug store and then got some petrol before coming home.

 

Spent a leisurely two hours watching the baseball on television and finding it as confusing as ever. At the end had a shower and got ready to go out. There was another phone call asking us out to supper again tomorrow night. The people round here are so kind. We left home at 6.15 p.m to go to the McDonnas. Got slightly lost trying to find them but eventually managed to make our way there after asking a couple of people. It was a pleasant evening spent eating and chatting about America and England and we stayed until 10.15 p.m. Americans seem to go to bed fairly early and so we set off for home. The journey wasn't pleasant as we hit the middle of a storm with electric lightning and torrential rain making driving conditions very very difficult. I managed by keeping my speed down to get home without trouble and we went straight to bed.

 

Friday 6th October

 

Had to venture into Baltimore by ourselves today because early morning we got a call from the lady who had promised to take us saying that she had hurt her back and couldn't make it. So after a leisurely breakfast we got ready and set out. We stared by going to see the lady just round the corner who had invited us to supper. She showed us a map of the city and we agreed to see her later in the day. We then set off and, although I undertook the journey with trepidation, it turned out to be fairly straightforward although we had to park on the outskirts and walk quite a way into the centre.

 

It's a strange place - a mixture of old and new, slums and smart areas. We started by climbing up the 200 steps in the Washington memorial and getting a view of the city. Then it was into the shopping area and I had one piece of luck in getting a Harry Chapin songbook - something I have always failed to do in England. Then we had a general look round the city and shops and had lunch at an inexpensive McDonaldburgers. Then walked round in a circle and so back to the car in an attempt to get out before rush hour. We took a wrong turning trying to get to the Express Way. It took quite a while to get on it but we finally made it and arrived home just after 4 p.m. I then watched the baseball game on television and I'm quite enjoying that as something completely new.

 

At the end myself and Anne had a shower and then we set off for our evening dinner date just round the road. As we went we noticed a strange white Pontiac car parked outside the house but couldn't find anybody near it. When we got to our destination the people were good enough to call round and find out it belonged to a chap who apparently had permission to exercise his dogs on the property.

 

After that we spent a very pleasant evening and had a nice meal and it culminated in looking at the son's collection of over 1,000 beer cans which gave me the idea of doing some articles on this holiday when I get back to England, after all if the Belper News can carry national politics and crappy hand out features I am sure it can also carry Amercian travel stuff! We left quite late and by the time we got home it was 10.30 p.m. We went straight to bed. Unfortunately I think the isolation and size of the house is upsetting Anne slightly. When we got home tonight we found two lights on that shouldn't have been. I suppose we left them on accidentally but it does seem rather spooky.

 

Saturday 7th October

 

A day in the country's capital of Washington and it's quite a magnificent place. Got up at a fairly leisurely time and had a shower and breakfast before seeing to the dogs and then at 11 a.m we drove to a nearby farm where a horse show was being held. It's a neighbour of the Davenports who is 94 and a bit of a battle axe. It was a very boring show and after having a snack we drove back and got ready to leave at 12.15 p.m to meet Penny and Frank Grant at the supermarket at the end of Mount Carmel Road. We were there well on time and they drove us to Washington, a journey that took about and hour and a half. We were there at just after 2 p.m and we parted company and agreed to meet at 7 p.m. which gave us five hours to look at as much of Washington as we could.

 

We started at one end of the Mall with the Capitol Building and then walked along the museums towards the massive George Washington Memorial. The queue for that was too long so we wandered through a number of museums, all of which were very boring apart from the space one. By that time it was getting on for 5.30 p.m and so we called at the National Archives Building and then set off to walk to the White House which was a long way and turned out to be a little disappointing. By this time it was getting dark and we were both tired. So much so that Anne started moaning about walking back to the art centre where we were being picked up. Nevertheless I didn't give in and we made it exactly on time just as the Grants were coming.

 

They then took us to a delightful part of the city called Georgetown. It is the young people's sector with plenty of hops and restaurants. In fact it's the closest to an England shopping centre that we have found. We were directed to a restaurant that sold crepes and had a meal there. Rather unusual and rather expensive for a couple of pancakes with filling in them. Nevertheless it was very pleasant. At the end we set off for home and myself and Anne fell asleep which helped the journey. Finally arrived back and drove the short distance home and went straight to bed feeling very tired.

 

Sunday 8th October

 

A day spent round Hereford but nevertheless by and large an enjoyable one. Slept fairly late because of yesterday's exertions. Got up at 9.45 a.m and made breakfast which we ate in the bedroom. Then saw to the dogs and had  shower and got ready to go off to the local church. Supposedly the service started at 11 a.m but when we got there a few minutes early it was already underway. The service was quite enjoyable until a lay preacher got up for the sermon and became very boring. Of course at the end everyone wanted to know who we were and what we did etc. Finally got away and came home for an hour before setting off for the old ladies for dinner.

 

I must admit neither of us were particularly looking forward to that but it turned out to be very pleasant. There was another middle aged couple there who were extremely friendly and nice people. So we had dinner and sat and chatted until past 5 p.m when we left and came home with yet another invite out to tea under our belts. Problems on returning home when we found one of the dogs had been shut in an inner room and the little bugger had ripped the lace curtains, broken a decanter and chewed away the door. That rather spoilt the day and we had to clear the mess up. After that I put the dogs away for the night and then had quite a full meal and a restful evening watching television before going to bed relatively early again.

 

Monday 9th October

 

My 26th birthday and one spent just around the neighbourhood getting ready to set off tomorrow on a long haul down to Virginia to the mountain area. Got up at the usual time and fixed breakfast and after that set up the dogs and then when Anne got up we set off for six hours out.

 

We started by driving almost as far as Baltimore to Towson which is a town on the outskirts. It was quite enjoyable because it was easy to park and there was quite a large department store which was interesting. By the time we had looked round there it was time for dinner. So we found a cafe style place and I had  a hamburger. Then from there we set out on a drive round the countryside.

 

The object was to find a place called Stevenson supposedly full of quaint shops that turned out to be shut and it was boring. So we continued along the road and stopped at a larger modern centre which was much more fun. Then I took a wrong turning and we ended up driving through the countryside trying to find a way home.

 

My driving seemed to be deteriorating because at one point I hit the kerb and then at another turned round in the road and drove for a while on the left without thinking. Finally made it and had a quiet couple of hours reading and watching television before getting ready and setting off at 6.30 p.m to go to the steak and ale house at Timonium. That provided quite an enjoyable evening. The meal was good and there was plenty of it and I was given my very own birthday cake and they all stood round and sang happy birthday.

 

One thing I have come to learn is that Americans eat earlier than us. When we went in at 7 p.m the place was almost full. When we came out at 9 p.m it was almost empty. At the end we drove home and went straight to bed well before 10 p.m yet again.

 

Tuesday 10th October

 

One of the nicest days of the holiday although it did contain a little too much driving. In fact it was the first day of a three day journey into Virginia. We had intended getting an early start but delayed it to have a leisurely breakfast and ready ourselves. Set off about 10 a.m and had to drive round both the Baltimore and Washington Beltways so there was plenty of traffic to handle.

 

We then carried on and stopped for a short while at a nice riverside place in Virginia. Then carried on to Mount Vernon - the ancestral home of George Washington. Joined the tourists in wandering around and of course I find that kind of thing rather boring. Afterwards we got a quick snack at the cafe nearby and then decided to drive on to Richmond, stopping only at a tourist information centre to get some leaflets. The object was to get to George and Betty's eldest daughters and we arrived nice and early at 4.30 p.m. That started a super evening.

 

Toodie and her husband Bud were really nice people and they had three young daughters including a darling two year old named Anne Gordon. Taking into account the fact that the family name is Goodykoontz and its a pretty strange family for names. They made us feel really welcome and of course brought the neighbours in to meet us.

 

Then at 7 p.m we were taken to the local tennis and sports club for dinner which was very pleasant and they refused to take any payment for it. Their hospitality was tremendous. At about 9 p.m we returned to their house and spent the rest of the evening watching baseball on television. In the end it was almost midnight when I went to bed. We had one of the children's rooms with twin beds. So ended a really nice day and especially evening only spoiled slightly by a headache during the evening, obviously brought on by eye strain caused by too much driving.

 

Wednesday 11th October

 

Today was a little bit disjointed and for the second day running we did over 200 miles of driving which as far as I'm concerned is too much. I slept well in the single bed with Anne in the other single bed and it was about 8.30 a.m when we got up. Toodie prepared us a nice breakfast and was full of kindness again and it was obviously with slight mixed feelings that we left them after such hospitality. 

 

We set off through the middle of Richmond which is like a slum. We then made it onto the country road with the intention of getting to Williamsburg for lunch. On the way we stopped at the Berkeley Plantation which is one of the most historic areas of ground in the United States. So it was another history lesson. We stayed there for going on an hour and then continued on the rest of the journey and arrived in Williamsburg. It was a bit of a disaster really as we started at an information centre which was crawling with tourists. Then we drove into the historic area which consisted of streets empty of cars, old colonial dress and American tourists.

 

It was all a con because you had to purchase a special ticket to go in many shops. We decided to have dinner there and went to quite a pleasant little garden place and the colonial biscuits of ham and turkey with chips sounded nice. It turned out to be two small rolls with crips and, along with a drink, it cost some ridiculous amount such as 4 for the two of us. That done we had a quick look round and decided to head towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, well over 100 miles away. Our target was Charlottsville where Anne wanted to see Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson which was quite picturesque but slightly boring as it was another wander through a house. At the end we drove into the town centre. There we found quite a nice restaurant and had a filling meal before setting off to go further towards the mountains before finding somewhere to stay for the night. That's where it got frustrating.

 

We found a holiday motel but it was full and then drove aimlessly around until we finally found a motel near the mountains. Not too expensive and quite nice especially as I was beginning to get worked up. After getting to our room, had a shower and then spent the evening watching the baseball on television.

 

Thursday 12th October

 

Saw a few more sides of America today. The Washington life and the traffic hold-ups. Got up at the ridiculously early time of 7.30 a.m in order to set off on our return journey home through the Blue Ridge Mountains and then Washington. I wasn't feeling in a particularly jovial mood, setting off so early and with 200 miles travelling ahead and no breakfast.

 

The skyline drive turned out to be very disappointing and not of particular interest and we were quite glad to get down onto the Expressway which left us with 100 miles to Washington. On the way stopped at a diner for breakfast and then drove to the Arlington Cemetery near Washington. There we bought a bus rover ticket to take us into the city centre and had a tour of the cemetery which included the graves of John and Robert Kennedy. It's hard to think that if President Kennedy was alive today he would have been 62.

 

After visiting their graves we had a driven tour of the rest of the cemetery and then caught the townmobile into the city centre. We disembarked at the huge Washington monument which we decided to go up and from the 500 foot we got a fine view of the capital. Then we decided to have lunch and found quite a nice grill place that was pleasant but quite expensive. We had our meal and were about to leave and I left only a small tip so the waiter who had obviously been watching said "Excuse me sir but was there something wrong with the service, only service charge is not included". Cheeky sod. It strikes me that there are two types of Americans. Firstly the country folk who are warm and friendly and secondly the city slickers who are out to con you. 

 

After that we had a look round a rather snobby department store and then I got two more Harry Chapin piano books before it was time to get the tourmobile back to Arlington. It was rather a squeeze and we only just got on. Back at the cemetery we picked up the car and that's where the fun started. I found there was no way out except through the middle of Washington and in rush hour at that. Perhaps one of my greatest driving feats. I did very well until I took a wrong turning well outside town and ended up going in the wrong direction. It took ages to counteract that but we finally made it to the Expressway only to be held up later on the Baltimore Beltway. When we finally got home it was 7 p.m. I was rather tired and was happy to relax for the rest of the evening just watching television and it was just a little over  9 p.m when we went to bed.

 

Friday 13th October

 

Probably the least enjoyable day of the holiday although there wasn't anything particularly wrong with it except I felt very languid and had a headache, probably the result of all that driving over the past few days.

 

It was designed to be a day of rest and I stayed in bed until 9.30 a.m when I got up and had breakfast. Shortly afterwards drove down to the supermarket to get some food and then spent the rest of the morning sitting in the garden as it was an extremely hot day. Had a small lunch and felt so tired afterwards that I fell asleep until 2.45 p.m when we decided to drive to Timonium for a craft fair. It turned out to be rather dull and, apart from a watch strap, we didn't buy anything and didn't stay there long before returning and spending the rest of the day doing very little. Had a decent sized tea and then spent the evening watching television before going to bed at 10 p.m.

 

Saturday 14th October

 

Again a really nice day showing once again just how friendly the people are out here in the country. For the first time we overslept slightly but it didn't matter because we were still awake at 9 a.m. At least I felt as though I had more energy than yesterday and, after having a shower, I got ready and saw to the dogs and was rearing to go. Luckily I didn't have any driving ahead of me as the Davenports' daughter Julie offered to take us to Annapolis - a harbour village which is the capital of Maryland. 

 

We set off with her at 10.30 a.m and, despite getting slightly lost, reached our destination fairly quickly. Annapolis turned out to be a very pleasant place of charm and character and we had a good wander round before stopping at a nice restaurant for lunch and then leaving shortly afterwards. Julie drove us into Baltimore and completed our tour of that city by taking us to the inner harbour area. Quite pleasant and we were able to clamber aboard an historic ship - The Constellation. After that stopped at a soda shop for some refreshments and then came home to do a very quick change before going out for yet another meal at a nearby residence. This time to the farm of Bee Lee. Quite a remarkable woman, she has twice recovered from cancer and has a huge farm. There we met her daughter and brother in law and grandchildren and had a very nice and very English meal of roast beef. We took two cars to that and so at the end we drove home under our own steam at just past 9 p.m and went to bed to read and rest up for another long day of sightseeing tomorrow.

 

Sunday 15th October

 

A really nice day and probably the nicest of the holiday so far. I am sure when we go home we are going to miss the friendship and kindness of the people around here. Got up at just after 8 a.m as we had a fairly early start planned. After seeing to the dogs and having breakfast we set out to drive to the Fishers who were taking us to Gettysburg for the day. It was just a matter of 50 yards up the road. When we got there they had a couple of presents for us - a set of miniature flags and a full size Maryland flag. Shortly after arriving we set off for Gettysburg and the journey took a little over an hour.

 

Once there we had a walking tour and then a driving tour of the battlefield which is quite massive. In fact far from being boring, it was highly enjoyable and we got steeped in American history. The day included clambering over rocks, hiking up towers, looking round gift shops and eating ice creams. At lunch time we had a hamburger dinner and then finally left the site at about 4 p.m. Drove homewards for the next part of the day's entertainment.

 

That consisted of a very nice meal and a highly enjoyable evening playing games. They have a very nice house including what so many American country houses have in a downstairs basement type area perfect for a den or games room. In fact theirs included a pool table and table tennis table and during the evening we played both. Added to that there was plenty of drink and television to watch and at 10.30 p.m Anne decided it was time to leave, although I could have stayed much longer. We have arranged to pay them a return visit on Wednesday night before we leave for New York on Thursday. After coming home we went straight to bed.

 

Monday 16th October

 

A nice leisurely day spent visiting one or two people. It really feels now as though we are on the run down towards leaving for home. It will be nice to get home but in many ways it will be sad. Had a lay in before getting up and having a shower and then getting breakfast and then watching television for a while before leaving at near midday to go to Timonium with the idea of visiting the large department store there.

 

We found it quite easily and had a look round and then drove to Shakeys pizza house for another full meal which was over by 2 p.m. So we drove back to Hereford and decided to visit Lydia for two reasons. Firstly to ask her to take us to Baltimore Airport on Thursday and secondly to take a picture of her sons' beer can collection for my proposed articles. As usual it was difficult to get away from there as they tried to ply us with food and drink. Finally we got off and set out for our next port of call which was afternoon tea with the Grants. They had phoned up just before we left this morning.

 

We found their charming old farmhouse in the country without trouble and stayed for over an hour chatting away. By the time we left it had started to rain quite heavily and so we came home with the intention of having a quiet evening watching television and doing very little. In fact I felt very restless although it was just after 9 p.m when we went to bed to read.

 

Tuesday 17th October

 

A final day in Washngton today making it three visits in all. This time I made no attempt to drive into the middle as we decided to stop at a railway station on the beltway and get in that way. So we were up at 8.30 a.m and after breakfast and seeing to the dogs we set off. The traffic was fairly light and we got through Baltimore and onto the Washington Beltway in good time. Found the Amtrak station and got a very slow train into Washington.

 

It was costly and took too long because there was only one track in operation. Makes British Rail seem passable. We finally arrived and walked through to the art centre and had an early lunch at 11.45 a.m before having a quick look round the art exhibition which I found quite interesting. From there we waltzed around a number of the museums and got the bag I was carrying searched at each one. Then from there it was onto the shopping area and I bought two Rod McKuen albums for just over 1. Then we had a drink in a coffee shop before having a look through a large fashion store before setting off to get back. We took the metro back to the mainline station. We were luckily just in time to get the train back to the Beltway station. Throughout the 23 minute journey Anne was worried that it wasn't going to stop. It did and we made it to the car.

 

Then the problems started again. I found the road I wanted to go on closed, no detours, no signs and of course I lost my way twice. When it comes to helping motorists with indications, the country is in the dark ages. It took quite a while to get back on course but we finally did it. Battled through the traffic and got back to Hereford at just after 6 p.m. Had tea and then spent a quiet evening watching the baseball on television. In fact I went to bed after that was over.

 

Wednesday 18th October

 

This evening summed up a great holiday. It was spent with Bud and Mary-Lou who showed all the kindness, interest and honest friendship that has gone with our trip to Maryland. By the end I was really sorry at the thought of leaving Mount Carmel Road tomorrow.

 

It was largely a day of trying to visit people, although we were not 100% successful as both Mrs Boyce and Mrs Lee were out. Got up fairly late at 10.30 a.m and after a shower fixed breakfast and saw to the dogs. Spent a very quiet morning doing one or two chores and then had an early lunch. Afterwards had a rest before going to the bank to change our remaining travellers cheques and to do a little shopping. Then on finding Mrs Lee out we went to see Lydia to finalise details for her taking us to the airport tomorrow.

 

We stayed there for well over an hour. Then it was time for our next port of all after a short return home. This time to see Charles and Pat Rhine. Once again a massive and beautiful home tucked away in the countryside. They made us truly welcome and we stayed with them until just after 7 p.m when it was time to set off for our last visit of the holiday.

 

I was glad to be able to spend our last night with Bud and Mary-Lou as they are such great people. The evening was spent eating, drinking, playing table tennis and pool and as it continued I began to feel sadder and sadder at the thought of leaving the area. All good things must come to an end and we left at about midnight having had a rather splendid piano recital from Mary-Lou. I think the main thing this holiday has done is to re-affirm my belief in humanity after I had lost it working for Raymonds. By the time we got back and to bed it was approaching 1 a.m.

 

Thursday 19th October

 

In effect the last full day of the holiday which is sad. At least it brought the experience of being in New York which is a tremendously unique city. I wasn't looking forward to the day's travelling but it didn't turn out too bad after all, although there was nowhere to leave the cases at the airport. 

 

Didn't feel too hot when I woke up but felt better after having a shower and breakfast. Saw to the dogs for the last time and then waited for Lydia to pick us up to take us to the airport. She arrived at 10.15 a.m and an hour later we had checked in and were waiting in the departure lounge of the 12.14 p.m to New York. It left practically on time and again the trip took about 40 minutes and we were in New York by 1 p.m. After picking up the cases we took the airport bus to the Laker Terminal in an attempt to get rid of some of the baggage. Found that to be impossible and so had to cart them round with us.

 

We then got a combination of bus and train to downtown Manhattan and 42nd Street. It was rather silly because on the bus to the rail terminal there were just three of us and on the train just two. So we chatted to a real live New York cop equipped with gun and we finally reached 42nd Street. Our hotel was on 44th street so we staggered the two blocks and were lucky to find our room had been booked and was ready for us. A rather decrepit hotel it was nonetheless adequate. We stopped briefly at our room to drop off the luggage and make a quick change before setting off to look at some of the shops on Fifth Avenue.

 

New York is like nowhere on earth with massive skyscrapers dominating the skyline. Unlike all the TV serials and books it doesn't seem to be a city full of violence and there were masses of people walking about. Obviously there are seedy districts just like in any other major city. Firstly we had a look round the Guinness Book of Records exhibition centre and then took an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. Unfortunately cloudy conditions made a rather hazy view. But we didn't stay long and returned to browse through some more stores. Then we decided to have a meal.

 

We had heard a lot about the Rainbow Room at the top of a skyscraper but when we got there we were refused admission because I didn't have a jacket or tie. So silently sticking  up two fingers we went to the 666 building which also has a restaurant at the top of a skyscraper. This time we were able to get in and had quite a pleasant but extremely expensive meal which was made worthwhile by the view of New York as all the lights came on giving it a fairy tale appearance. We had a leisurely meal and then, on the way back to the hotel, stopped at a cathedral and another department store. Arrive back at 8 p.m and shortly after went to the hotel bar for a drink before returning to our room to bed down for the evening.

 

Friday 20th October

 

The first of two days which threaten to run into each other as we wind down for the return to Britain. It was not a very pleasant night's rest because the room was so hot and stuffy and neither of us could sleep and so we were glad when morning came and we got up fairly early in order to have breakfast and a walkabout before setting off on a conducted sightseeing tour. 

 

So we walked to a coffee place and had breakfast and then had a general walk around and a quick visit to the UN building before picking up the sightseeing coach for a four and a half hour tour. The tour was extremely good and without a doubt the best way to see the city. It took in all the areas from Harlem and Chinatown to Broadway and Fifth Avenue. A tremendous place of contrast with the rough and smooth, rich and poor all clustered just a few blocks away. Stops included a visit to a two-thirds completed cathedral which is the largest in the world, opposite the Statue of Liberty, and Chinatown. In many ways New York is a classy place but in others a disturbing one that underlines many of the things wrong with our world. In the end it provided a very interesting look into the life of a New Yorker.

 

Finally we arrived back at the starting point in Times Square at about 2.45 which gave us plenty of time before the airport limousine left from the hotel at 5.40 p.m. So we filled in the time by getting a quick snack and then walking round before returning to the hotel well in time to be whisked away to JFK Airport. We found out earlier in the day that the flight would be delayed from its schedule of 7.15 to 11.30 p.m. It was as if we were in a hurry, however, because the driver went like a maniac. He switched lanes and never seemed bothered about whether he was in the right one after overtaking. Eventually and rather surprisingly we arrived in one piece.

 

On checking in we received food vouchers for three dollars and spent those in the cafeteria before buying some duty free goods and then entering the departure lounge for the long wait. In fact it took until 11.15 p.m before we got on the plane and it was just before midnight when we took off and so Friday 20th October merged into Saturday 21st October.

 

 

 

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