Tam and I both wake up at 3.00am. 4 hours sleep is quite good really compared to our usual first nights sleep after flying a long way. We do manage to doze until 5.00am when we turn on the light and I write up my trip report while Tam reads.

By 6.00am the girls are up, thanks mostly to a few well aimed kicks. We try to get ready as quietly as possible so as not to wake Michael and Elaine and are out of the door and walking to Short Hills station to catch the 6.46am to Penn Station.

It’s a beautiful morning and we really enjoy the stroll past some lovely houses to the station.
44 minutes later (I know this because it tells me so on the timetable) we arrive at Penn Station.

Our first objective is breakfast and Tam’s heart is set on the Cheyenne Diner (411 9th Avenue) as she’s read good reviews about it. We walk past a couple of nice looking diners trying to find the place and there are mutterings of mutiny from the ranks as tummies are starting to rumble.
We eventually find the place and, to be fair to Tam, it’s certainly very good. It’s just what you expect a New York diner to look like with the booths and art deco interior.

The food is great and we variously try ham and cheese 3 egg omelette with potato, French toast and bacon and the lumberjack special for Tam. I think she ordered this thinking she would get a well-muscled male stripper (The Old Grey Mare is not enough for you?) but ends up with a large plateful of pancakes and syrup along with another plate of 2 eggs and bacon. Along with plentiful supplies of coffee, the bill comes to $35, really good value.

Suitably fortified we venture forth and walk towards Times Square. There is a half marathon going on and all the traffic is stopped. This just makes it better as we stroll up Broadway on a beautiful sunny day in relative peace.

We keep walking until we reach Central Park. We wander around the park taking in all the sights including Strawberry Fields ( an area dedicated to the memory of John Lennon) where there are a few tour groups.

One guy is talking loudly in French to a group of French tourists. At least I assume they are French. Perhaps they are Brazilian, that would certainly explain the puzzled faces. Anyway, I catch a few words here and there and from what I can piece together it was Lauren Bacall that shot John Lennon in a fit of pique over who had the best apartment in the Dakota Building. Don’t take this for gospel though; I never did get my French O level.

We stroll on through the park and come across several softball games in progress. After yesterday I was hoping a game of cricket might be taking place. I could have strolled to the wicket, Taken my guard (middle and off leg please umpire), surveyed the field taking careful note of the strategically placed silly mid-off, fixed the bowler with my steely gaze and promptly lost my middle stump first ball.

We all really enjoy Central Park. It’s an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city and there are many people out strolling, jogging and generally enjoying the pleasant surroundings. There are even people jogging while pushing a child in a buggy. That’s cool. If they sat me in a buggy and gave me a beer, I’d go jogging with them.

We head to the Guggenheim Museum next. Unfortunately the outside of this wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright building is covered in scaffolding, but the inside is amazing.

Now, I can hardly be called a lover of modern art, but some of the things we see here are excellent. There is one area called My Himalayas Sister’s room where the artist has set up different styles of room (living room, bedroom etc.) and then has video projected at various places. It might not sound like much, but the lighting and positioning of the video makes it very interesting and really quite beautiful. I never would have thought that a video being screened on a stack of books could have captured our attention, but the way it fragments against the spines of the books is very eye catching.

Don’t get me wrong; I still think there is a lot of pretentious rubbish here too. There is one large plain brown canvas with 4 knife slashes in it. Hang it in the Guggenheim, it’s art, put it anywhere else and it’s vandalism.

Culturally refreshed it’s time for refreshment of a different kind, so we walk to the Boathouse in Central Park to grab a beer and watch the people on the boating lake make fools of themselves.

A further walk down 5th Avenue brings us to the Disney store, who would have thought it? It’s quite a place, stretching over 4 floors and we enjoy (by ‘we’ I mean me and the girls, Tam tolerates it) looking at some cool Disney stuff. Once again I find my dream Jessica Rabbit and once again my dreams are dashed by the callousness of my heartless wife. So what if we would struggle to get Jessica home? I could cuddle up to her on the plane!

More walking as we continue on to Grand Central Station. What an amazing place this is, all polished marble and chandeliers. At one point Georgia asks me if there is a nicer station anywhere in the world. There may be child, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Back to Penn Station via the Empire State Building. We don’t go in, but the girls get to see it. It’s a highly impressive structure, but not as striking as the Chrysler Building.

We catch the 3.11pm train and are back in Short Hills by 4.00pm. Here we meet baby Alex for the first time, as he was asleep when we arrived last night. Elaine asks if anybody wants to feed him and India volunteers. All goes well until Alex finishes his food and requires burping. A look of slight panic crosses India’s face and she hands Alex back to Michael who is slightly more skilled in these matters. I can’t blame her, I’ve seen the sort of thing that erupts from babies at times and it ain’t pretty.

Notice the strategically placed towel. A man of experience.

We all shower and are off to Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse (a 15 minute walk) where we are treating Michael, Elaine and the family to a meal to say thank you for allowing us to stay with them.

Michael attempts to collapse the double stroller, which is the size of a small golf cart. There is much scratching of heads and banging and crashing with spanners and hammers, but it is eventually accomplished.

The meal is pretty good and I try the special, which is prime rib with shrimp.
Grace chats away happily and Michael tries to teach her a tongue twister. ‘Irish wrist watch’. Grace launches into it with gusto. ‘Rish rish wash’. ‘Rish rish wash’.

It’s Michael’s birthday tomorrow and a pie the size of Staten Island is brought out with a candle in it. We all sing ‘Happy Birthday’ enthusiastically.
After the meal we stroll back to the house where the ladies are getting tired and disappear off to bed. Michael, top man that he is, enjoys English football and he has taped the Community Shield match between Manchester United and Chelsea from earlier today, so he and I settle down to watch it. What a guy – the perfect host and a football fan to boot.
The final score is 1-1 and the game goes to penalties. Chelsea miss their first two and then the recording runs out. Doh!
Off to bed at 11.00pm.