Back from the USA
You may have noticed that I have not blogged in a few weeks. That’s because we took Baby on her first Big American Adventure for most of February. [Pictured: Baby in the stocks in Colonial Williamsburg]
We arrived in Newark, NEW JERSEY on a chilly Friday evening. (I put NEW JERSEY in caps because, as someone from New Jersey, it’s very annoying when all the travel agents list Newark as being a New York airport…and by the way, the Statue of Liberty is really in New Jersey, too). We rented a car, secured Baby into her seat and set off for my friend’s house, following the instructions on our rented satnav. Within the space of an hour, the worst satnav in the world had guided us into Irvington, NJ, which earned the title of “Murder Capital of the US” in the early Noughties. This was not our destination. Before we managed to find our way onto the Garden State Parkway, we were sworn at by a crack whore and passed a bakery that served its customers through a hatch in a floor-to-ceiling wall of bulletproof glass.
The evening’s trials weren’t over yet. We finally got to the exit for my friend’s house and found we did not have the 50 cents required to pay the toll. And, ridiculously, the toll was unmanned, so we couldn’t get change of a dollar bill. The choice was either to fall foul of the law by going through the toll without paying or we needed to get the money. So I sent James out to solicit 50 cents from passing cars (they were passing at speed). He’s described this to me as the scariest thing he’s had to do in his entire life. He kept trying to run back into the car, but I wouldn’t let him in until he had the money (does that make me bad?). Thankfully, a woman who couldn’t quite believe her eyes when a floppy-haired Brit accosted her car at the tollbooth to beg change gave him the required money. She didn’t even want the dollar.
So this was my homecoming. The rest of the trip was blissfully uneventful as far as life-threatening situations were concerned.
Our journey took us from New Jersey to Virginia to Florida, but no matter where we went, there was one topic on everybody’s lips: Downton Abbey, or “Downtown” Abbey as some are calling it. Yes, it’s taken America by storm. You can tell that it’s really made it because it was spoofed on Saturday Night Live. It calls Maggie Smith “The Chicken Lady” and talks about how the people in the basement wear tuxedos, but have crap lives.
Anyway, I’ve got loads of posts planned about the trip, including our advice on flying with a 9-month-old. Looking forward to sharing with you.