Tam and I are awake by 5.00am. Not bad considering this is only the second day of our holiday.

Michael is up and about, as the poor chap has to go to work today, on his birthday as well. We say cheerio to him and then start to pack. Georgia has a carrier bag inside one of the suitcases, which contains her clean underwear. She says to me ‘Remember that golf film The Legend of Bagger Vance?’ I say yes. ‘Well, we could make one called The Legend of Bag of Pants’. The child is a comic genius. Tam and I argue over which one of us her sense of humour comes from.

After breakfast it’s time to say goodbye to Elaine and Grace, Alex is still in bed. Many, many thanks for looking after us so well, it’s been lovely to see them again and we can hopefully return the favour the next time they are in the UK.

We trundle the luggage up to the station to catch the 7.27am to Penn Station. It’s a packed commuter train and there is no platform at this station. This means 3 large steps into the train with 3 heavy suitcases and assorted paraphernalia. All the people getting on the train are dressed ready for the office, but a couple of different gentlemen help us with the luggage, even carrying it down the train to an area we can safely store it for the journey. A big thank you to those guys, they have restored my faith in good manners and courtesy.

From Penn Station we get a cab to the Waldorf Astoria, which works out to be surprisingly cheap at $8.50 plus tip.

We check-in at 9.00am and they have a room ready for us. Now that’s what I call service. The room is very nice, it is obviously an old hotel that’s packed with history, so it isn’t the biggest hotel room we’ve ever stayed in and the double beds are certainly small by American standards, but it’s nicely appointed and very comfortable.

We unpack (even though we’re only here for two days!) and then go exploring. It’s a fascinating place to wander round with displays showing the people that have stayed here in the past ranging from Winston Churchill to Bruce Springsteen.

We take a look at the Starlight Room on the 17th floor. This is a function room decorated in an art deco style which used to have a retractable roof that pulled back to reveal the heavens, hence the name. It’s bare at the moment, but it must be fantastic when it’s full of tables and lit for the evening. You can just imagine Cole Porter playing the piano as the ladies in full satin dresses dance with their evening suited partners.

Out into the streets of New York we go and look inside St Bartholomew’s church, which is next door to the Waldorf. Crikey, what a depressing place. It could be wonderful, but it’s very dark and dingy. You can barely see the domed ceiling above the altar in the gloom. I half expect some mad priest to run up to warn me about the coming of the son of the devil. There are two homeless people sitting in the pews, one of whom is snoring very loudly. We don’t stay long.

Outside it’s overcast, but quite hot and muggy. We had planned to do the Circle Line boat tour today, but decide to put this off until tomorrow when the weather is supposed to be much sunnier. Instead we go to the tube station and get one day Metro cards, excellent value at $7 a card.

We take the tube to Wall Street where Tam and I see a lot of changes from the last time we were here. There are some streets closed to traffic and bollards protect the front of certain buildings. A sad indictment of the times we live in.

Next we walk down to Battery Park and then through the World Financial Centre to the site of the old World Trade Centre. This is quite sad as Tam and I recall the last time we were here in 2000 when we spent a happy evening in the bar at the top of one of the towers watching night fall over New York. We’re amazed at how some of the adjacent buildings escaped with relatively little damage.

Back to the tube to West 4th Street where we exit and walk through Washington Square and then into West Greenwich Village. We all quite enjoy this area, it’s quite bohemian as long as you ignore the one or two adult shops around.
We have a Dorling Kindersley guide book (excellent by the way) which advises trying a cheap Turkish restaurant in Bedford Street called Moustache. It’s a fun place and I have the chicken kebab sandwich, Tam and Georgia have the leg of lamb sandwich and India tries the pitza, a sort of pita bread pizza. Tam and I also have a couple of beers each., Efes for me and Brooklyn Brown for Tam. It’s baklava all round for dessert. The food is excellent as is the service, the only thing that spoils it slightly is when the bill ($85) is delivered and they have hand written over the price to add 20% gratuity. It’s a small grumble I suppose, but I wish people wouldn’t do that.

Everyone is flagging now as we’ve walked a good few miles in the last couple of days, so we get the tube back to the Rockefeller Center where we book our tickets to go to the Top of the Rock tomorrow evening.

Back at the Waldorf, Tam and Georgia have a little snooze while Ind reads and I enjoy a beer and write up my trip report.
We all have showers and get ready to go out. The older the girls get, the longer this process takes. Have you ever sat waiting for 3 women to prepare themselves? Even Mr Patient of Patient town, winner of the world patient award for the last 5 years, would end up shouting ‘Will you women get a flippin’ move on!’ There’s all sorts of washing, conditioning, shaving, plucking, drying, straightening and oxy-acetylene welding to be done before they are presentable enough to leave the room. We are finally ready just after 7.00pm.

We’ve seen a restaurant called A.J.Maxwells advertised on the TV and decide to try this, as it’s quite close.
It’s slightly more expensive than a lot of the restaurants, but it’s pretty good. Tam has veal marsala, India has short ribs, Georgia has lemon chicken and I have a sort of mixed grill with filet mignon, 2 lamb cutlets, chicken and spicy sausage. Along with a couple of glasses of wine the bill comes to $189, not including tip. It’s a decent enough meal, a cut above the average, but not enough to make it outstanding.

After eating we walk down to Times Square. It’s pretty hot, 82 at 9.00pm. The square is much livelier and brighter at night with crowds of people and neon everywhere. It’s certainly something worth seeing, if only once.

Tam wants to look in the Virgin Mega Store and she buys a small fan for $4.99 that you can programme to display a message when it’s used. I’m going to get hold of it later. She’ll be surprised when it flashes ‘buttocks’ when she uses it for the first time tomorrow. I guess I’d be a tad confused if buttocks flashed in front of my face too.

Back along 7th Avenue we pass The Hawaiian Tropic Restaurant where girls in bikinis wait on the tables. Why the hell didn’t we eat here? It only takes them 10 minutes to peel me off the window.

Back at the Waldorf we get ready for bed and India finishes reading 1984 by George Orwell. She has had to read it for her college course and is not impressed. ‘God, what a depressing book’. I point out to her that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, a warning of a dark and sinister future that could come true if we don’t defend the freedoms we have. For example, it would be a sad world if it were illegal to programme ‘buttocks’ into your wife’s fan. I would be found guilty under the ‘Profanity on a rotating object’ law of 2023 and sentenced to watch continuous back episodes of Neighbours until I go insane. I’ll be lucky to make it through the titles.

Bed at 11.00pm.