Yes, daddy's home.
So clean up this damn mess, mix me a drink, and fetch my slippers. First up a tip of the propeller beanie to Havoc for looking after things while I was away, although I'm not quite sure why I found one of the bunnies suspended by her suspender from the flagpole on the front drive. I shall have to look into that.
While I'm on the thank you wagon, I needs to dip me lid to Prof. Boylan for looking after us in San Francisco. He and his lovely, scary-smart wife went to considerable trouble to drive down and give us a tour of the old town. It was very much appreciated.
We flew in on a damp, gray morning that reminded me of the opening paragraph to The Big Sleep. The rain held off for most of the time, however, allowing us to walk around and do the tourist thing while adjusting our body clocks to the West Coast. We stayed in a bed-and-breakfast a couple of blocks from Union Square and enjoyed that most American of peculiarities, sharing the accommodation with pets. In this case a couple of dogs and a cat that had lost its tail. The kids loved that.
Having flown out on the day of the iPad launch in Australia I just had to go put my head in the San Fran Apple Store on the off chance that I might be able to score one where millions of Americans hadn't.
Oh well. I picked up a few bits and pieces from my masters catalog of minor shiny precious trinkets–so cheap, so cheap–before doing some clothes shopping. We'd packed light, figuring to get the winter clothes we needed over there. A wise move. It's hard to believe how much cheaper everything is in the US until you get there. Of course that depends on maintaining a massive, poorly remunerated wage slave workforce, but that's not my problem. I shopped!
We also ate well, with a particular highlight being an Italian restaurant in the city center called Kuleto's. We first pulled in there a couple of hours after getting off the plane, horribly tired and jetlagged and in need of a decent feed and a stiff drink for the grown-ups. The meal and the service were so good we went back a couple of times more. I tend to do that when traveling. I know you're supposed to strike out and investigate new things but when I find something that's really good I like to invest in it. Kuleto's was really good.
As I mentioned above, the magnificent Boylan appeared on Saturday with his better half to whisk us away to Russian Hill for morning tea and then down to the waterfront where they spent some time at the markets before repairing to a seafood place for oysters and champagne. Huzzah! The afternoon found us at cocktails high above the city, a session I wrote up for Blunty, before we kicked on to dinner at John's Grill, a San Francisco institution featured in the Maltese Falcon.
The next day we did a bit of walking. Back down to the Ferry Building, around the inner city, hopped the ferry out to Alcatraz for the night tour, which was awesome, then back to the city for dinner and drinks at a place called Hillstone, a very agreeable little bar and restaurant. I had reason by this point to be grateful for having broken the spirits of my children many years ago when it came to dining out. They know how to behave themselves in a grown-up setting, even if they'd rather be somewhere else, and it makes traveling with them infinitely more enjoyable. For Jane and I, if not for them.
We did four days in San Francisco before heading across to New York for a couple of weeks. That was our only instance of domestic air travel on the trip and it went pretty well. I got the full body scanner, which pleased me immensely as I listened to the shock and awe of the security personnel when confronted with the awesome power of JB's Old Persuader.
We flew American Airlines across to New York, an all-day flight that passed pleasantly enough thanks to a few more drinks and recently restocked Kindle. That was another thing I bought up on while in country. Lots and lots of titles from the US Kindle store.
I spent a bit of extra money to have a private car and driver waiting at the airport for each leg of the trip, which made the transfers a lot easier.We were staying in the Beacon Hotel in New York, and I would happily recommend it to anybody traveling with kids. They have a two bedroom apartment that's bigger than a lot of apartments your average New Yorker would call home, and the upper West side location two or three blocks back from Central Park is pretty much perfect when you're traveling with kids. There's a couple of brilliant food markets just across the road, and of course hundreds of great cafés and restaurants and diners within a few minutes walk.
I had some work to do in Manhattan, a few meetings to go to, some interviews to do, and as always deadlines to meet, so Jane and the kids looked after themselves for a bit. But there was still plenty of time to enjoy the city. And it is a very enjoyable city. You forget just how unbelievably big it is until you're back there. Naturally, the New York experience you have when you're traveling with children is very different from the experience you have without them, but still awesome. We bought ourselves memberships to the Natural History Museum a while ago, and that alone was worth a week of return visits. The space center in particular was brilliant. Thomas and I took yourselves off to the USS Intrepid one morning while the ladies get their lady thing. I think it involved shopping. And we ate some quite beautiful meals at both high end fine dining restaurants and cheap neighborhood eateries.A couple of standouts were Jean George's on Central Park West, where Thomas inhaled my foie gras Bruleé, and a really lovely Italian place called Ceska around corner from the hotel.
I believe there has been some unseemly talk about all the fat I would be stacking on while away. Allow me to introduce you to Equinox, a boutique gymnasium chain that touts itself as the finest gym in America. And indeed it is. It was also just around the corner from the hotel and offered massive discounts on temporary membership to guests of the Beacon. I spent quite some time there. And in Central Park breaking in my newly purchased running shoes and ridiculously cheap exercise gear.
And, as I may have mentioned, Manhattan is very, very big. We walked all over it.
So I'm afraid some of you owe Abigail some money.
My belt is notched exactly where it was when I left and although the scales say I gained 300 g, I weighed myself before performing my morning ablutions.
My ablutions are considerable. Pay up. (If this all seems implausible, allow me to soften the blow. The last time I was in New York I lost 2.5kgs. That didnt happen this time. I suppose the bush lawyers here might want to argue that's a net gain of some sort).
I would like to be able to go into some of the work meetings I had while I was in New York, but unfortunately they involved discussions about publishing plans for the next 3 to 5 years. Some of those details are fascinating. But confidential.
I can talk about progress on Angels of Vengeance, however. I had lunch with Betsy, my publisher at Random, and we worked through some of the usual first draft issues, all of which I'm now in the process of dealing with. That should hopefully be wrapped up by the end of the month, at which point I'll fly across to Perth for a couple of days of R&R.
To get over my holiday.