Well – I DID make it out last night – eventually! The Queen of Manhattan and I walked up the road, in our high heels, to a French bar with live jazz. It was amazing – wicker chairs, linen napkins, a guy playing the saxaphone, and a stiff, very stiff, g and t! The M15 bus was still plying its trade up and down, the taxis were screeching past, but it felt like a little piece of Paris or Berlin on the side of Third Avenue. I was still so hyped up, I found the whole experience really soothing.

I am exhausted. I was thinking the other day, the word for New York is ‘strive’. In fact, the flat Mutley and I are moving up to in Harlem is by the famous ‘Strivers Row’ – a street of the some of the finest rowhouses in Manhattan. They were designed and built in the late 1800s by the most fashionable firms of architects and became the most desirable places to live for the aspiring black middle classes then developing in Harlem – hence the nickname Strivers Row! And I think I have been striving too hard.

So today, I listened to The Archers on the iplayer, and then got up determined to get out and do stuff, instead of washing and cleaning and worrying! So I decided to head downtown, all the way to the Financial District, and get the free ferry to Staten Island to see an art festival.http://www.statenislandcreativecommunity.org/sicc/SICC.html Art by the Ferry sounded great. The weather was bad again – grey and cold – but it wasn’t ACTUALLY raining (blimey it sounds like home) so I headed out.

As is often the way here though, the journey to one destination takes you to several others. I got off the subway at New York City Hall – which strangely isn’t as impressive as Belfast’s wedding cake of a structure. I suppose for a city this size and of this importance you imagine something really big – but anyway. I started wandering down towards the waterfront and as I strolled my attention was taken by a group wearing matching t-shirts having their photo taken by a man across the street, a policeman, complete with domed helmet – I did a double-take – he was in fact a British bobby – and so were the rest of them! I had to ask what they were doing – running a marathon for charity in Central Park it turned out. I gave them a donation, revelled briefly in their London accents and left to carry on walking downtown.

I was listening to my ipod and suddenly and, as it turned out appropriately, Thomas Tallis came on, such soaring beautiful eccesisatical music. At the same moment I looked to my right, down a street between two skyscrapers, and I saw building work, and yellow security fencing, and sky, and I realised it was Ground Zero. Of course I saw it the last time I was here, but it’s still a shock. The sheer size of the site, how close all the other buildings are to it. It’s very sobering. You think it sends a message about peace – and yet just yesterday, a bomb was thrown into a bank in Derry in Northern Ireland, although thankfully no one was hurt.

So finally I got to the harbour  and waited for the next ferry. Despite the weather and the fact it’s only early in the season, it was packed. It’s an amazing trip – and especially as it’s free! All along battery park, on th toe of Manhattan, you can buy trips to Ellis island, where the immigrants first came ashore to be processed, and Liberty Island, where New York’s iron lady stands. But you can sail past both for free on the Staten Island ferry.

To be honest though, Staten Island itself was a bit dispiriting. It’s another one of the Manhattan boroughs that doesn’t feel like an island, but it. But it also had that down-at-heel, resort-in-the-Winter atmosphere. It was a cold windy Sunday, so maybe any festival of art would be poorly attended - but let’s just say I felt a bit conspicuous! However, there was some really interesting pictorial art on offer – especially the etchings of Bill Murphy (http://aburninglight.com/) who I’m still considering contacting to buy one (when I’m definitely DEFINITELY sure I’m going to be paid for this jaunt!)

« »