Monthly Archives: October 2016

A spare Monday in Pheonix, Arizona.

A report to illustrate what I 'ave done on my day orf.

After flying in direct from Laaandun veal-crate-class on BA289 I needed to stretch my legs. If only to regain feeling in them.

So awake at 05.30 – cheers to you Mister Jetlag – I start my day. First stop the nearby pharmacy to scoop up some toiletries – avoiding the discount liquor aisles (not the same as a UK chemist eh?) – and then… and then I get sidetracked into the outdoor Breakfast Club. They have a tempting menu as you will see in the following photo.


Opting to avoid cocktails at 07.00 I choose a Southwestern Classic: Huevos con Masa

Which is obviously “Fried eggs on chipotle cornbread covered in chorizo queso with pico de gallo, potatoes o’brien and fresh fruit.” And a pint – it turns out – of fresh squeezed grapefruit. I make an “excellent” choice according to the young man tasked with relieving me of money. (He is quite the traveller I learn although his sole experience of London was being held for 40 hours at Heathrow and then deported back to the US because he’d overstayed a student visa in Dublin by months. I applaud his mindset because that meant a) free trip home and b) free booze on the flight!)


Releate-to-bursting I roll out of the restaurant and resolve to up the calorie burning ante.

This involves borrowing a hotel bicycle and heading east on Washington.


After pedaling for ‘kin miles into a warm headwind I pull over. The US is big, try to remember that Beer. I am at a tram stop and note they take bicycles. Minutes later I’m being whisked along in air conditioned comfort. [I can edit this short-cut-laziness out of any later blog I think.] Presently I arrive even further out of town and pedal up to Papago Park where there is an enormous rock with a hole in it. I note with pride I am the only visitor to arrive by bicycle. [Shhh.] I spend a couple of hours tooling around the cacti and sweating profusely.



Stopping off at a non-descript cafe I sit outside and am entranced by a humming bird feeding off the shrubbery. This is only slightly spoilt by a chap pleading for some change. In my most disgusted Tony ‘ancock being mock posh I inform that “I’m awfully sorry sirah” because I am cash free.


In Arizona they have bike lanes and helpful instructions….

The trip back is remarkably swift. [Bikes on trams: genius!] The landscape is industrial-urban American: Miles of gridiron, low rise industrial units under a desert sky. Punctuated by occasional outcrops of red amalgamated sandstone. Although when Google auto enhances an image, the colours are lost…


Imagine this in sandstone red



Now back downtown I ditch ma whip and have a shower to wash away some Americanisms that have crept in. Then it’s off to the historic district. In Phoenix this means a few 1920s buildings… Splendid architecture enjoyed in 30C dry desert heat. Although it’s purely thirsty work I find the nagging urge to eat. The Detroit Coney Grill beckons and I order the daily special. With cheese obvs.

There are some really well kept and well designed urban spaces in Phoenix. They are also notable for apparently being claimed by down-and-outs who are sprawled around on the manicured grass. Not the look the planners were going for I’d warrant. I am accosted by the same man from earlier asking for change. Small world! (We are near a downtown tram stop.) We’re 10 miles different and I’ve changed tee shirt. I fend him – sensitively I hope – off with a smiling “you already asked me that.” I wonder if in his addled mind he’s wondering how many Brits he’s asked for change today.

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V good Arizona State’ macchiato. Albeit in a paper cup…

Admiring the Westward Ho – no exclamation mark – I cross the street into the State University of Arizona where a wee A board announces coffee on the 6th floor. So to perk myself up a Macchiato it is.

(Side note a Macchiato in Macedonia is a wee latte-cum-cappucino whereas it should really be an espresso with a smudge of milk.) No sir, no china cups. Shame. (I really have nailed first world problems here eh?)

And then it’s back to the hotel where an outdoor swim and – if I can find time a – snooze are in order before we meet for work at 19.00. Without a car, Phoenix is a big place. (Okay, with a car it’s big too: 6th largest urban sprawl in the USA.) And also Mondays are when stuff is closed. Although I might just be lazy?! Yes, let’s be idle: I can spend the time watching window cleaners from my room instead…..


Phoenix window cleaning.



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Small World Take 2: New York City.

Now what are the chances….

Pay attention to the details here folks.

So it’s late September 2016 and business takes me to New York. [Important detail following.] It’s a new client. The client chose the dates, the client selected and booked the hotel. All I have to do is show up, follow instructions, do an excellent job.

Last time I was in New York was in 1999 when I asked the current Mrs Beer to marry me. Where? [Another important detail.] Top o’the Empire State Building of course.

She didn’t say yes immediately. But that’s another story.

Back to the present day I naturally find my way to the Spyglass Bar which tops the swanky Archer Hotel on West 37th. Here’s a picture from that bar.


Spyglass Bar view.


Empire State viewed from the Refinery rooftop bar.

So far so NYC right? Then things go all left field….

I go to bed of an evening and wake up 07.00 to an eMail that reads as follows:


Here’s that picture in full.


David’s piccy of the Empire State.

Allow me a moment to elaborate: I have just received a random eMail from auld pal David who I used to work with at Dell. I haven’t seen him for 3 years and haven’t seen his wife since the day I married in 2001.

My immediate – sleepy and jetlagged response – was to send him a note. Which said in essence: “That’s odd, I’m in New York too. At the Archer Hotel.”

Then the hotel phone rings. I blink at it for a few seconds before answering… The following words are 100% the conversation.

“Hello David.”

“Hello Ian.”

“See you downstairs for a coffee at 07.45?”


Now, I am no mathematician, but would love to know what the probabilities at play are here. (For me this has Infinite Improbability Drive overtones.)

Upon seeing wonderful David we boggle at the sheer chance of this encounter. Same hotel, same dates. Him sending me a piccy of the Empire State because his wife prompted him purely because she recalled the story from our wedding.

I can’t linger as it’s off to work for me so we reconvene for a pre-theatre drinkie – David & Tessa, not I alas – at the bar. Time for a selfie or two:




The lovely Clarks

Probability questions abound: For starters, how many hotels in NYC? What are the chances? They chose to be there, I was there by, er, accident: what are the chances? Why send me an eMail on the spot? Again, what are the chances?

One other thing.

29th September is the date that Gilly & I first got together.

PS: Not that this is the first time I’ve bumped into people from my past. Check this from New Zealand in 2012 Small world.

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