All entries for April 2006

April 26, 2006


…why do you blog?

Answers on a postcard please…or just leave a comment.

April 21, 2006

Is it weird…

Writing about web page

…that I really quite fancy Colin Murray?? He is just so damn hilarious!! You have to watch the video of his funky disco moves!

Colin Murray

Photo taken from BBC Radio 1

Kenilworth Festival

For about 8 months now, I have been a member of the Kenilworth Festival Committee, helping to organise this years event! Kenilworth has a festival I hear you cry?!

Last year was the first Festival in Kenilworth for 66 years so it was quite an achievement for the small committee who organised it! I get the impression that the committee has grown even smaller since last year and now consists of about 7 or 8 people – I joined the troup last August. You may have seen the coverage in the local press about this years event…

It is going to be on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May – Friday 26th – Monday 29th.

Events during the weekend include:

  • Rack and Ruin – celtic folk group – link
  • A talk by local television and film writer Andrew Davies
  • A Barn Dance and pig roast
  • A craft market
  • Circus Skills show
  • A musical evening with the Warwickshire Symphony Ensemble
  • Battle of the Bands
  • A Tea Dance(!)
  • Lament – link
  • Local musician Marie Batchelder – link

On the Sunday, the Festival will take over Abbey Fields all day, starting at 10:30am with a Songs of Praise style morning service. Other events on Abbey Fields will include:

  • Fire Box Dance Group
  • Local musicians Tim Spencer and Steve Vent
  • CBeebies presenter Justin Fletcher
  • Hal Roberts Big Band
  • and for the Main Event – Dave Willetts in Concert!!

I must admit my ignorance when Dave Willetts was first suggested at the Committee…. I did have to ask who he was – turns out he is a massive star of the musicals – and we all know that everyone loves a good musical! Dave Willetts has played the leading role in Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar. You can find out more about Dave Willetts at his official website - link

Finally, I admit this is a shameless plug for the Kenilworth Festival, but when the sun is shining on Abbey Fields on Bank Holiday Sunday and there are loads of people chilling out with picnics and enjoying the music and entertainment – it will be great! Many of the events are free but there is a charge for some of the larger events. You can buy tickets online – link

More information about all of the events is available on the Kenilworth Tourism website

April 20, 2006

Wedding Fever…

So, wedding fever seems to be gripping my family at the moment – despite the fact that my cousins wedding is still just under a year away – 9th April 2007!!

We have been planning this wedding for what seems like an eternity already – suffice to say her fiance hasn't had too much involvement so far, especially considering that our family consists of all girls who are more than happy to talk wedding. We'll see how long it takes for us to get fed up with all the wedding talk!

So far, our preparations have been successful! Still a year to go but we have the following organised:

  • the church is booked
  • the brides dress is bought
  • the grooms suit is ordered (plus best man and ushers)
  • the cars are booked (for the bride, 6 bridesmaids + mother of bride!)
  • the harpist is booked for the service – we are still looking to get a choir
  • the 'save the day' cards are half written
  • the invitations are ordered
  • the hotel is booked for the reception
  • the DJ is sorted for the reception (although not yet confirmed)
  • all of the allocated rooms for the wedding guests are booked (despite the invitations not even going out yet!)

Things still to do include:

  • the bridesmaids dresses
  • mother of the brides outfit
  • the order of service
  • the cake
  • the flowers
  • plus lots of other things that I can't think of right now….

You may think that our preparations are a bit extravagant/premature since the wedding is still quite far away but there is just sooooo much to do!

Also, you may be wondering why I keep referring to the wedding as 'our' wedding! It's not my wedding, neither would I want it to be (no offence Laura but we all know how commitment phobic I really am!) but I am the secret chief bridesmaid so like to be involved in the planning! Technically, i'm not a secret chief since the real chief (Lauras elder sister Anna) knows I am the secret chief, I just think it is Lauras way to pacify me and give me lots of jobs to do that Anna won't do!

I can't wait for the party! More about the wedding when I can be bothered…thats if I don't get tired of it by then!

April 06, 2006

New York Diary – 1st January 2006

New Years Day…and our last day in New York!

We packed all our bags and cleared the bedrooms as we had to vacate by mid-day but didn't have to get to the airport until about 6pm. We took our luggage down to the concierge and they put it away so that we could collect it later in the afternoon.

We then got a taxi to Chinatown in the morning – someone who we met at the hotel (who happened to be from Yardley in Birmingham) recommended that we go to check out the counterfeit designer bags and jewellery etc. I'm not a fan of stuff like YSL and Louis Vuitton bags (not the cheap rip-off ones anyway!) as they all look pretty trashy to me – if I see someone with a YSL bag (especially if it's the one with all the coloured logos all over it) I tend to presume its fake anyway so I had no interest in going bag shopping! But we went anyway….

As soon as we stepped out onto the street, a chinese looking woman approached us saying "Come see bags, cheap designer bags. CD's, DVD's, bags". So we just kind of politely declined and had a look in a nearby shop. Now the shops weren't really shops as such. The interior was like a shop, but the front was wide open and resembled more of a market stall. There was allsorts of jewellery and bags and clothes on display and some of the jewellery wasn't bad. I got some nice beads and matching bracelets (which I later lost at the airport!) and Laura got some fake Tiffany jewellery which wasn't bad. However, if you made the mistake of going a little further into the shop, and showed the slightest bit of interest in any of the goods the assistant would try and coax you into a special area – usually behind a curtain at the back of the shop – where the walls were just lined in fake bags. The special area was only the size of a broom cupboard but it was packed full with bags. Now, when you're only in a small space, its hard to browse and feign interest so it was just a case of looking at a couple of bags, and then trying to sneak out before they pulled you back in!

Mary, Anna, Emily and Rosie made made a big mistake and were coaxed through a strange door that was just off the street and up about five flights of stairs to the top of a run-down looking building. A woman approached them on the street and they agreed to go with her, not realising that they were going to be taken away to the seedy underworld. Ok, it wasn't that bad – but Iwouldn't have gone! Me and Laura managed to escape this experience but when they came back down they looked far from impressed. Poor little Rosie got cajolled into buying a YSL bag which she didn't even want – just so that they didn't appear to be rude!

Chinatown was a bit grotty really – it seemed quite dirty and the people were really pushy so we got out of there after about an hour! We got a subway to what we thought was Bryant Park (after going for a coffee at Starbucks(!) and waiting for the clan to go to the toilet – again!). Somehow we actually ended up at Macys store again and then were told that Bryant Park was too far away to walk so started walking towards Times Square instead.

Once at Times Square, Mary, Anna, Laura and Rosie went to Applebees to have a drink and a sit down. It was a pretty tiring last day – and we had all been up late the night before but Em and I weren't ready to stop – our last few hours in New York were precious and we still wanted to do stuff…. So we went around a few of the shops and then ended up getting our portrait done by a street artist – suffice to say they didn't really look like us!! When you see other people having their portraits done, they look really accurate, but when it's your own you are more critical as you know exactly what you look like whereas with other people, you just see the resemblance.

Em and I went back to Applebees to meet the others and they all had a good laugh at our portraits! We had lunch/tea at about 3:30ish and then went back to the hotel to collect our luggage and head to the airport. We got a taxi from hotel at about 5pm and went to JFK.

Now, I was going to end the entry there – until I remembered the funny bit at the airport where I was nearly staying in New York an extra night!! I am obviously the most sensible person in our party of New Yorkers so I had the job of looking after the tickets and passports etc – despite the fact that on the way out to NY, when we checked in at Heathrow, I neglected to hand over my ticket so after the guy had checked us all in, he was like – 'Who is Eleanor?' and when I said 'me' he said 'Well, do you have your ticket?' and I replied 'Yeah, its in my bag' – as if thats where it should have been and not in his hands with everyone elses…

Anyway, I handed over all of the documents (tickets/passports etc) to the check-in girl at JFK and she checked us all in and handed everything back to me. I put the boarding cards, passports etc back in my bag together. We then went and had a coffee etc whilst waiting to be called to the boarding gate. When it came to boarding, we were the last to get to the plane I think – I didn't see anyone arrive at the gate after us – and I handed over all of the boarding cards. The guy at the boarding gate said: "Who's Eleanor Lovell?" – to which I obviously answered "me". He then asked me where my boarding card was! I assumed it was with all of the others that the woman at check-in had given me but apparently not. Now I couldn't possibly have lost my own boarding card and managed to keep everyone else's safe – could I?!!

He said that I couldn't board without my boarding card so I proceeded to check through my bag frantically. It wasn't in there. He then demanded $50 for a reprint of the boarding card. There was no way that I had lost my boarding card (I don't think!) so I refused to pay – to which his response was; "fine – you will have to stay here then" and he told my cousins and aunty to carry on onto the plane. I was starting to get a bit annoyed now as he was being pretty arsey with me. I spoke to another (more reasonable) guy at the boarding gate and asked him to call the check-in to ask whether they had forgotten to give me a boarding card. Luckliy, for some reason, I remembered the girls name who had checked us in – so I told him to call her. By this stage, my cousins and aunty had actually carried on and left me at the gate, but I was pretty sure that I was going to make it on to the plane so told them to carry on ahead. This other guy was much more reasonable than the other annoying man and said not to worry and he just printed a new boarding card for me.

So then, obviously, I was the last person to get onto the plane. All of the other passengers were seated and as I walked down the aisle they were all staring at me as I blushed – they were probably thinking 'who is this muppet who is holding up the flight?'! Then we had a right struggle trying to get our hand luggage into the overhead space and had to ask an air hostess to put our bag in a special place somewhere at the back of the plane because there was nowhere else to put it!! Oh the drama!! Anyway, it was a great flight home – I watched the Wedding Crashers and slept quite a bit as it was a night time flight.

It was a brilliant, brilliant holiday but as always it was quite nice to get back home. Still, I can't wait to go again!! Thanks Mary, Anna, Laura, Emily and Rosie for a great time!

April 04, 2006

New York Diary – 31st December – New Years Eve

So we woke up on New Years Eve and we looked out the window to find that it was snowing!! We had all been hoping/expecting to see some snow in New York so we were all pretty excited.

We got a cab to Times Square and planned to meet outside Planet Hollywood, but once again - the problem of getting two taxis meant that we managed to loose each other. I ended up with Anna and Mary, and Laura got lost with Emily and Rosie (who still had both the mobile phones!). As usual, Mary and Anna didn't seem to worried that we had lost the others as they were distracted by the Naked Cowboy!

We had decided to have a pretty relaxed day since we had a long night ahead in Times Square watching the ball drop(!). We split into pairs to have a look around the shops and try to spend the last of our dollars before heading home the following day. Emily and Laura got carried away looking around the shops and ended up walking all the way to Macy's and had to get a taxi back, Rosie and I went around a few of the souvenier shops getting I Love NY gifts and postcards/keyrings etc for friends and family – the usual tourist junk – and Anna and Mary went to their favourite place – Starbucks! Even at this time in the afternoon, we noticed that people were already starting to congregate arund Times Square – some people had blankets with them and cardboard etc to sit on at the side of the road – making sure that had a good spot ready for the evening celerbations. There were also people handing out little self-heating sachets that you rub in the palms of your hand and then put inside your gloves to keep your hands warm, and other people were handing out inflatables, hats etc.

We all met back up at Villa Pizza at 12:45 and had some lunch before going back to the hotel for a rest before our ngiht out. Rosie and I were a bit reluctant to 'have a rest' on our last full day in New York – we were running out of time in the Big Apple and didn't want to waste it resting so we went back out in a cab and had a look around some more of the shoe shops etc around Macy's.

We went out at about 3:45pm and got a taxi to Times Square – well, not exactly to Times Sqaure as all the roads around there were being closed off because so many people were already gathered for the evening celebrations. We made our way to Virgils Restaurant in the snow where we had a lovely dinner. No-one told us that you were menat to order starters to share – so we all ordered one each….there was soooo much food. I ordered the BBq Riblets, Laura and Mary had Chicken Hot Wings, Anna had a huge plate of Nachos…I can't remember what Em and Rosie had. Then for our main course we ordered Train Wreck Fries – Chips covered in bacon, cheese, chillies, salsa, guacamole – the lot!! Was soooo ful but somehow managed to squeeze in some of Anna's dessert – an ice cream sandwich!!

By the time we had finished our meal it was just before 6pm so we had to go to Times Square to see the ball rise to the top of the tower (which it later drops from). We thought we had it all planned – Virgils restaurant was right near the start of Times Square, so theoreticaly, we could have just walked to the end of the street and been in the best spot to watch the ball, however, the pplice had already closed our street off so we had to go about six blocks down before they would let anyone in!! It was a bit chaotic as everyone was rushing and pushing, and we were struggling to keep up with the crowds after having such a big dinner!!

Anyway, we managed to get into position by about 6:15pm – although our position was pretty disappointing…..there were just so many people there!! From where we were stood we could barely even see the ball! It was more like a spec!!

Times Square

Everyone was squashed together and it was a bit wet and cold but every hour there was a big cheer as another city around the world hit midnight…only problem was – we were so far from the entertainment that we couldn't see the screens very well, or hear the loudspeakers so we didn't even know which city we were cheering in!

At 7pm, we cheered the UK in and there were a few others Brits in the crowd so that was nice, but by about 7:30pm (after just over 1 hour in Time Square) Laura, Mary, Anna and Em decided to leave and head back to the hotel to watch it on TV!! To be fair, it was freezing cold, we could hardly see/hear any of the entertainment and midnight was still five hours away! I don't think they could face another five hours of being stood around in the cold, but I refused to go back to the hotel. I had travelled across the Atlantic to go to New York for New Years Eve – I wasn't prepared to miss the real thing – I could watch it on the TV at home! Rosie and I stuck it out until the end! Luckily, the police did a great job of controlling the crowds, and a couple of times we were moved forward through the barriers so we were a bit nearer to the excitement! At midnight it was worth the wait! There were plenty of fireworks and lots of singing – Auld Lang Syne followed by Imagine. And then that was it – everyone just turned around and left.

Time Square - New Year

We realised it would be a struggle to get a cab as everyone was after one, so we just followed the masses and kept on walking and some how I figured out the way back to the was only about 20–30 mins walk and was good to warm up on the way back! All in all, it was cold, damp and a lot of waiting around but midnight was worth it – although i'm not sure I would do it again!

April 03, 2006

New York Diary – 30th December

Ok, so I forgot to write down much about what we did on this day so will have to try and remember. Bearing in mind it was three months ago, I may miss some details...

Pretzel!We started off the day at Grand Central where we had breakfast. There are loads of nice eating places downstairs in Grand Central Station and also a nice market area that sells lots of delicious, fresh foods.....cheeses, meat, fish, breads etc. Anyway, I had a lovely cheese and bacon omlette as did my aunty Mary and cousin, Laura. Anna, however, decided to go for something a bit more fancy and ordered some sort of Chicken and Roasted Veg Sandwich thing - Anna - what was that? Anyway, it cost her loads compared to our $5 omlette and she didn't even like it, so then she went for a pretzel – and by pretzel I mean a big NY style pretzel – which apparently aren't as nice as our snack pretzels in the UK. It was really salty and not very tasty according to Anna so she ended up with a pecan danish which cost about $2! For the rest of us, it was the best NY brekkie – Anna didn't enjoy it at all!

After breakfast, we decided to head to the Empire State Building, which we weren't able to visit the previous day due to the awful weather. It seems that everyone else in NY had the same idea and the queue went right around the block. It was a bit worrying as I was in a taxi with Mary and Anna, and Laura was in a taxi with Emily and Rosie. Now we had two mobile phones with us in NY - and Emily and Rosie had them, so when we arrived at the Empire State and couldn't find Laura and the girls due to the amount of people there, I started to worry. Mary and Anna couldn't be bothered to walk to the end of the queue, so suggested that we went to the main front doors in case they were waiting there. I was trying to look for them whilst Mary and Anna were taking their photos in front of the sign for the Empire State. Then I suggested we walked to the end of the queue where we managed to find them. Obviously we then abandoned the trip up the Empire State and instead we got a subway to Greenwich Village.

Following our unsuccessful trip to Greenwich Village the previous day, we decided to try it again today. We got a subway to Union Square and as we emerged from the subway the sun was shining so brightly – it was gorgesous. We did a bit of shopping – we all got some shoes/boots from a store called Shoe Mania. We then walked down Broadway towards Soho passing lots of nice, smaller shops – much better than the big department stores. After about two hours of walking/shopping we decided to head back to the hotel with our shopping bags.

After a quick refresh, we got a taxi Downtown to Brooklyn Bridge; this time it was Anna, Laura and I in one taxi, and Mary Emily and Rosie in the other – once again we sent both of the people with mobile phones in the same txi – clever! So we arived at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge – we told both of the drivers to go to Water Street )I think that was what it was called) and drop us there, just under the bridge. We arrived first, and it turns out our drivere didn't drop us where he said he would – but we didn't realise. We started to worry after about 20 minutes when my aunt and cousins didn't arrive but eventually they turned up. Apparently they had been driving around the foot or Brooklyn Bridge looking for us in the taxi for ages – cost them a lot more than our taxi did!

We walked half way across the Brooklyn Bridge and we were told that it was best if you don't look back until you get to the middle, so that when you turn around it should be quite a sight – and it was! We got our timing just right so that the sun was just going down and it was amazing. There were loads of helicopters flying over head with tourists in and the pedestrian part of the bridge is raised above the road so you can see the cars flying past on the road below. Its a bit strange to think that some people cross that road every day of their lives and we thought it was so impressive just to be there looking at the Manhattan skyline at dusk – it was beautiful.

View from Brooklyn Bridge

After the bridge we went to Starbucks for a coffee (Mary and Anna's favourite place!) and then got a taxi to the Heliport on the Hudson River (West Manhattan). This was probably my favourite part of the holiday – we took a helicpoter ride around New York. It apparently only lasted 7–9 mintues but it was sooooooo cool. Definitely worth the money. It was crazy to see the roads and avenues that are just like criss-cross rows of lights. And I had never been in a helicopter before so it was great to experience the difference between flying in a helicopter than in a plane. It banks over quite a lot to turn corners, and my cousin was very apprehensive about this before we took off as she hates flying. But once we were back on the ground she was so excited that she had done it. We all loved it and I would definitely do it again!

After that, we got a taxi to the Rockefeller Centre to get some dinner, but it turned out that all of the restaurants etc shut at 7:30pm. I was very surprised but it was good to go and see the massive tree (that was in Home Alone) and see the people ice skating. We went to the Top of the Rock to view New York from the observation level and then walked to Times Square and had tea at Applebys – which turned out to be one of our favourite places for dinner – yum yum.

View from Top of the Rock

April 2006

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About me

My name is Ellie Lovell and I am the Web Editor in the Communications Office at the University of Warwick.

I started this blog in August 2005 when I started working at the University and have learnt a lot from it. I don’t update it so much anymore (I have been unfaithful to WarwickBlogs) but I hope you enjoy what is here…

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