New York – by 2 parents off the leash for 4 days!!

As a belated 40th birthday present for my husband – earlier this month we headed off to New York for 4 days and nights – leaving our 4 children at home (they were supervised!) I thought I would share with you our experiences and top tips for parents being let of the parenting leash for a few days!!

1. Enjoy the holiday from the moment you leave the house.  No ‘are we nearly there yet’ on the way to the airport – and even stopping at the drive thru Starbucks at the Welcome Break service station on the way to Heathrow was a special treat when it was just for the 2 of us and no one was arguing about the fact they’d got the wrong frappucino / smaller slice of cake / whipped cream on their hot chocolate when they’d decided they didn’t want it – despite having always had it before!

2. Make use of all freebies on offer.  We’d cashed in our British Airways Avios points and so were only paying taxes and charges – but flying First Class.  This meant we got to go in the very exclusive ‘Concorde Room’ at Heathrow (and at JFK on the way back).  This was fabulous – champagne, massage in the spa, uninterrupted newspaper reading, wifi so the husband could work (this will be a recurring theme – we have our own business, we never truly escape!), amazing food – in fact I would probably have enjoyed just staying in that lounge for the whole 4 days!

Concorde Room - with vintage champagne!
Concorde Room – with vintage champagne!

3. Find the optimum food / film / sleep ratio on the plane. The husband (and in fact the son, must be a male Price thing) can fall asleep instantly when he gets on a plane.  I, however, am my mother’s daughter – and like to get my money’s worth – even when it was a bargain flight for us (the flights would have been £19,000 if we’d paid – wow!!!) Therefore food and drink has to be consumed before I can drop off to sleep.  As you would expect in First Class on Britain’s flagship carrier, the service, food and drink were impeccable – and being able to enjoy these whilst watching a film uninterrupted by little people (why do kids like going to the toilets so much on planes?) was BLISS.  However, one film in, I turned my chair into a completely flat bed (showing off now!) and slept until nearly landing – perfection.

4. Be lovely to the hotel staff at check in. We got to the hotel at midnight – not the best time for anyone to be at their best – so even though the reception staff were a bit grumpy, we were sweetness and light!  The bell boy who helped with our luggage was perhaps the chirpiest person ever at that time of night (it worked, we tipped him well!)

5. Jet lag is your friend. The next morning husband was up early to deal with emails / clients back in the UK. There are 2 photos that I could have posted here – one where he was totally naked, and this one (from the next day) where, thankfully, he was dressed!

Working pre sunrise!
Working pre sunrise!

Even with his pitstop for work, we were still out and about early each day.  We had paid to ‘skip the line’ at the Empire State Building – but our early arrival meant this was completely unnecessary! (Although I think it would have been very useful if we’d arrived later in the day)

So 'skip the line' was like totally worth it.............
So ‘skip the line’ was like totally worth it………….

6. See your destination through as many possible mediums / media (haven’t done Latin for years).  We had pre booked loads of things with British Airways before heading off (as I like to be as organised as possible!) so we saw New York by air (in a helicopter, I vommited afterwards, but it was amazing!)

Yeah - I was totally calm pre helicopter trip......
Yeah – I was totally calm pre helicopter trip……

By water – on a cruise (it was chilly on the water, layers is definitely the way forward when dressing for New York)

Tourists on board a river cruise
Tourists on board a river cruise

By skyscraper – we went up the Empire State Building (mostly because husband is a film buff and wanted to re-enact Sleepless in Seatlle or such like!)  We were incredibly lucky with the weather and the views were amazing!

The view South from the Empire State Building
The view South from the Empire State Building

By horsedrawn carriage – we were typical tourists and did the trip round Central Park – and it was great fun.  Not only is the park an oasis of calm in the midst of Manhattan – you recognise loads of it from films and TV shows.

A horse drawn carriage - around Central Park
A horse drawn carriage – around Central Park

By yellow taxi – well, it’s a must really isn’t it!

In the back of a yellow New York taxi
In the back of a yellow New York taxi

7. Learn stuff.  Without the kids in tow dragging you to look at stuff / needing a wee / demanding a drink it was possible to actually read about exhibits and listen to commentary both on the helicopter and boat trips, and also up the Empire State Building and at the American Museum of Natural History (from the film ‘Night at the Museum’).  The Empire State Building was really, really interesting (although this could be because we run a construction company so are both geeks about such things!)

Being a girlie swot listening to all of the information posts!
Being a girlie swot listening to all of the information posts!

We were less impressed with the American Museum of Natural History – it just felt a bit dry, and not a patch on what London has to offer in this regard.

The American Mueseum of Natural History (AKA the set for 'Night at the museum'
The American Mueseum of Natural History (AKA the set for ‘Night at the Museum’

8. Keep your eyes peeled for famous stuff / people.  Our Central Park tour guide took us to the fountain from the start of Friends! I’m not sure we would have found it on our own – and we were very excited as you can see!

The fountain at the start of Friends
The fountain at the start of Friends

One evening we got into the lift and a short bloke with white blonde spiky hair asked us where we were from.  I replied ‘Birmingham, in the UK’ to which his response (in a mid Atlantic accent) was ‘Oh, my Dad is from Acocks Green’ – which is a not very salubrious suburb of Birmingham – and I told him how I’d worked in a branch of WH Smiths there as a teenager.  Then we got out the lift and he wished us a good stay in New York. I turned to the husband and said ‘wasn’t that man familiar?’ – to which an American lady – who had been struck mute in the lift, said ‘OMG that was Billy Idol’!! Still gutted I didn’t get a selfie and instead told him about my Saturday job #starspottingfail

9. Enjoy the little things. I suspect like many parents, lots of the simple pleasures of yesteryear are long forgottent!  You’re not going to ‘waste’ a babysitter on going to the cinema, or sitting in a bar drinking and reading a book for a few hours.  Well we did both of these things!!  We went to see Gone Girl at the cinema (which was handily next door to our hotel) and then sat in  the amazing bar at The Hudson Hotel for a few hours on two afternoons!  The DJ in there on the Saturday afternoon was playing loads of 1980s / 90s dance.  She was about 20 – so it was probably ironically trendy for her – but we were in our element!!

In the Hudson Bar
In the Hudson Bar

10.Shopping. Most people rave about the shopping in New York – and there are, admittedly, a lot of shops – but we think that the UK has come on in leaps and bounds with regard to shopping in the last decade or so – and that, combined with a far less beneficial exchange rate as years ago, meant it wasn’t as much of as a big deal as we’d expected.  Husband in particular was gutted with the legendary toy shop FAO Shwarz (from the film Big – as you can see, most of his reference points were movie related!), as it’s no Hamleys!

FAO Shwarz
FAO Shwarz

We also both described Macy’s as Rackhams on steroids!  This will only mean something to Brummies of a certain age (for everyone else, substitute Rackams with a House of Fraser store!)

11. Enjoy just being a couple and being reminded of why you wanted to be together in the first place!  We had both lived a lot before we married each other (and I mean a lot!) but within 15 months of meeting we were married with our first (of four!) children.  We haven’t let having the kids hamper our travelling and experiences – but equally, we try to make time to ‘be together’ (obviously said in a really Brummie accent, like that old advert!).  It’s not always as flash as New York (although let’s face it, we do try!) but even one date night together is a great break from the old routine.

There you have it – a brief run down and edited highlights of the photos of our 4 days and nights in New York!!

Great Grandparents

I am very fortunate that I still have a Grandmother around – my Mum’s Mum – and also an ‘honorary’ one!  

The honorary Grandma is actually my best friend’s Grandma – but she’s been in my life for almost 30 years – and she thinks of me as one of her own grandchildren.  One of my favourite memories of her and Grandad (who sadly passed away last year) was the ‘post A levels’ holiday my BFF and I went on with them to a camp site on the west coast of France.  

Back when we were 18 and carefree!
Back when we were 18 and carefree!

We had our own mobile home – but spent lots of time with G&G as they are just such fun.  Grandad would go and fetch the croissants for us every morning – but rather than leave them on the step whilst we did the teenage thing of sleeping in, he would construct a tower from tables and chairs and balance them on the top so we could see them when we opened the caravan curtains!!  

Honorary Grandparents
Honorary Grandparents

And then there was the infamous night of the ‘bad moule’ – where I was throwing up what looked like concrete and Grandma was convinced this was to do with dodgy shellfish (not the 2 litres of French white wine my 18 year old self had drunk!!)

Grandma helping me home on 'bad moule' night
Grandma helping me home on ‘bad moule’ night

When we got back to the UK – and got our results – Grandma took great pleasure in shouting out of her door that her Grandaughters had got 8 A levels between them!!   One of my kids’ highlights of this summer was actually going up and down on Grandma’s stairlift!!


Both honorary Grandma and my Nan are the same age (and spookily went to the same school in Birmingham as girls, although didn’t know each other) – which means they were both about the same age as my eldest daughter at the outbreak of World War 2. When the children have done projects about World War 2 and evacuees they were able to talk to my Nan all about it – as she was evacuated from inner city Birmingham to Burton upon Trent.  She talks of going into school in her best coat, with a tag around her neck and her gas mask and being sent off to a school in Burton where local families could come and pick who they wanted.  I don’t think it was a particularly enjoyable experience for Nan – and she came back to Brum as soon as she could as she missed her family so much.  How amazing that someone can talk about what happened to her when it’s a topic you read about in the history books or see in films – and how lucky my kids are to be able to talk to these ladies with such interesting history.  

Nan and Grandad (who sadly died in his early 50s – and yet seemed like such an ‘old man’ to me back then) met, married and went on to have my Mum and 4 other children – so even more kids than me!  But no washing machine / dishwasher / fridge / car – it was a much more physically demanding role than for me now. Seeing Nan in her warden controlled flat now, eating her M&S meals as it saves cooking for just her – I can’t imagine her running a house with all of those kids in those conditions – she must have been such a strong woman (even at just over five foot tall).

When I was expecting baby number 4 my consultant wanted to induce me (apparently it’s risky with number 4 or more to go overdue – and I’d had to be induced with 2 of the other 3 anyway, with the other one being a week late when he came of his own accord, so induction was likely to be on the cards at some point).  It was November 2011 – so the fact I have massive number OCD meant I wanted 11th November (what a cool date of birth would that have been?) – but he was already fully booked for c-sections.  So instead we went for November 9th – my Nan’s 83rd birthday – what an exciting present for her – her 9th great grandchild (to add to the 12 grandchildren). As she pointed out – at least we’d remember it when she’s gone (always glass half full, that’s Nan!!)

83 years difference - to the day!
83 years difference – to the day!

My parents do a lot for Nan as geographically they are the closest of her children – and when they’re away I take on the mantle of ‘milk deliverer and bill payer’.  Nan always says ‘you don’t need to come, you’ve got so much to do with the kids and business’ – but I know how much it means to her – and I know how much it would mean to some of my friends who no longer have their Nans to go and visit. So a (china) mug of tea and an egg custard at Nan’s little flat it is! 

4 generations
4 generations (one with really bad fluid retention in her legs having just given birth……..)

Grand-parental homophones

Last week we FINALLY got the 9 year old to have his haircut, I know I’m biased, but I think he looks pretty handsome (and only slightly like a football hooligan who managed to get ketchup on his top at teatime)!!  


Looking at this photo reminded me of one of my Dad as a youngster – back in the day…..

Grandad Graham 

So I was discussing with the boy about how he looked like his Grandad – but pointed out this wasn’t unexpected given they shared the same genes.

He looked at me in a very confused and quizzical manner – then I realised he thought I meant ‘jeans’…………..

Then I recalled last season when my eldest daughter and I were chatting one Sunday afternoon whilst the football was on the TV in the background.  The commentator excitedly said that ‘Nani did an amazing run down the wing’ – to which the daughter did a double take at the TV fully expecting to see my Mum on the pitch at Old Trafford impressing the crowd with her silky skills ………….




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