24 May 2012

An Evening at The Yankee Stadium

One of my top things to do whilst in New York was to experience a New York Yankees Baseball game at the Yankee Stadium. Well this evening brought my dream to a reality as I ventured to the Yankee Stadium for my first ever baseball game. Being that the Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx I was at first slightly worried but I got over it.

I travelled to the Yankee Stadium independently, adopting a sense of caution throughout my journey. If the truth be told I felt perfectly safe whilst getting off the subway, throughout the game and back through to Grand Central Terminal. Perfectly this game between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals was scheduled for one of my days off. When all is said and done I honestly didn't know how baseball worked, I have only just got the hang of soccer (football) so the two hours I spent watching this everlasting game proved to be a interesting and new experience that would definitely be recommended to try if you haven't watched a baseball match! 

Another new adventure allured me the Yankee Stadium to watch my first ever Baseball game, I had successfully completed all of my sporting achievements. First of all experiencing a basketball match at Newark's Prudential Center between New York Nets and Utah Jazz. Also previously attending my first American soccer match at the Red Bull Arena to see a interesting soccer match between the New York Red Bull's and Montreal Impact. So, by the the time I booked my tickets for the baseball I had become quite accustomed to watching live sporting events. Oh, as well I have seen an ice hockey match during a previous visit to the United States of America. 

Take the 4 train from Grand Central to reach the Yankee Stadium. 161 St. Yankee Stadium turned out to be my final stop, opening my eyes to the region of the Bronx. Considering I'm just mastering the strange lines of the New York Subway system I class this journey as a grand achievement. Once reaching the grand Yankee Stadium the strong police presence could be felt as I did have some mild apprehension about my visit to the Yankee's. Don't take a single shred of advice from people who say the Bronx is dangerous, its colourful for sure but as long as you keep your eyes open to whats going on around you its all good! 

Life is good, I'm loving life in the Big Apple and taking every opportunity to see new places even if its the Bronx! I love the Bronx really, I'm a bad ass bitch with tonnes of attitude so no one's going to bother me! I didn't really see any Kansas City Royals fans at all really, its safe to say the Yankee fans are a loyal crowd standing by their team. Making my way to the highest point of the stadium to find my seat, you know when there's no lift just stairs its going to be high! With my nerves slightly shot I needed something strong to drink, purely medicinal to help me settle into the height before the game began. My Miller beer helped a lot, it would have helped a lot more it didn't cost almost $13.00. The fact I was sitting at the Yankee Stadium waiting to watch my first baseball match was a moment which didn't feel real.

As the game progressed and the New York Yankees made home-run after home-run the atmosphere in the stadium was really vibrant. The only player I recognised was Alex Rodriguez, only because he and Madonna were linked in the press for a while after her 2008 divorce. The Kansas City Royals played their part of the game poorly as by half-way they were losing considerably. I began to wonder how long the game would actually last for as the times was pressing on and I to get back to Newark, NJ in time so I could be prepared for the Subway ride home to New Jersey, it was a long old schlep back home. 

I had never even seen a baseball game on the television before let alone seeing it in real time so I had no clue how long the game would actually last, an experience that I'm glad I just took the plunge with. Two hours into the game with the score 8-2 to the Yankee's, I decided to make my way home due to the mayhem that would be caused by the other spectators when the game finally finished. All in all my New York baseball experience was super, I would choose to go again but wouldn't pick an evening game due the lengthy proceedings of the game itself. I'm really pleased I chose to see a baseball match at the Yankee Stadium, I guess on the whim decisions can actually pay off!

New York Yankee's Thanks For a Bostin' Game!

Joseph Harrison 

17 May 2012

My Disney Experience: One Year On !

Orlando, Florida became my home for three months last year. I had the amazing opportunity of being a Cast Member at Walt Disney World Resort. Future World North merchandise at Epcot enabled me to work with some amazing people that made my experience unforgettable. Disney life lasted for just under three months from June 19th until September 2nd 2011. To be truthful I could have stayed longer....Mickey Mouse could have pulled a few strings for me but the I've got some magical memories that will be treasured forever.

From the moment I smiled through my interview at University the whole experience seemed very surreal. I got the job and couldn't believe I would be making the journey back to Orlando, Florida to work at the Walt Disney World Resort. I wasn't a tourist this time so I had to make an appointment at the American Embassy in London for my visa interview, without any problems I secured my documents to enable me to have the summer of a lifetime. I had already been fortunate enough to experience the theme parks of The Walt Disney World Resort before on more than one occasion but working rather than being on vacation proved to be very different. The sweltering Floridian weather blessed the days I spent playing in the parks meeting the character performers, especially Princess Tiana. She was my favourite! 

Looking back I can't believe that I worked at Walt Disney World Resort, cliche as it sounds I was living a dream. Working for the 'Mouse' nearly every night and day has led to been a very useful decision for future projects, lets just say other components of the experience are helping me now on my Virgin Atlantic Airways Placement. Chatham Square became my place of refuge when I could not find the willpower to smile any-more or wish a guest a magical day. Living at the Chatham Square Apartments was a truly great experience, well there were times when it drove me crazy. I was lucky enough to have a great flatmate, Chris worked in entertainment and had the coolest job in my eyes! Chris happened to be a Goofy character performer and allowed me to see some secret areas at Magic Kingdom that opened my eyes to the life behind the closed doors at Disney. Let's just say communal living in another country is not a bunch of roses at times, but all that took place became a lesson in life that I can safely say was character building. 

Spending Independence Day at Walt Disney World was amazing! I spent my afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios where I met with my friend and classmate Kate from university, we then made our way to the beach front at the Polynesian Beach Resort on Disney grounds to be amazed by the grand firework display. We met our other classmate Steph at the Polynesian Beach Resort where she had secured us a space on the beach to see the Independence Day fireworks. Looking back I would have to say that being there in that moment was beyond fantastic, personally If I was American I would have felt very proud for my country as it was a special moment, overall that July 4th was a special day. Another day that stands out to me was my International College Program day trip to South Beach, Miami. One thing I can say about my day in Miami was that it was quite bizarre not to hear an American accent, but now that I have lived in the Ironbound for a little while I realise that its quite common in America. So, would I sun myself on the sands of South Beach again? Well, of course I would!

Working at Future World North was a complete pleasure, on the whole it was crazy to say that I worked at the 'Happiest Place In The World.' Whether If I would be cleaning strollers, selling gifts or making a magical moment at either Gateway Gifts or Camera Center. Believe me I did have some days when I didn't want to smile but the magic of the Walt Disney World Parks is infectious so I got over my sullen mood pretty fast indeed! I must admit that it was my co-workers that made it so special. There was so many people like Ritika, Janice, Alexis and of course the fabulous Zach Airstarr, just a few of the long list that made working at Epcot that lot more special. I'll keep in contact with you guys! I promise!

It was definitely a case of international love at my department at EPCOT, I'm sure the whole of Central and South America had chose to work at my location! I had the best co-workers from places like Puerto Rico, Honduras, Dominican Republic and the good old United States of America that gave me a great insight to the beautiful people of the Americas. Who knew that my dear cosita Fiorella Sanchez once worked as a Disney intern on her International College Program! When all is said and done working at Future World North merchandise was a experience that has set me up for future projects and allowed me to meet some lovely people in a great setting. I plan to keep in touch with as many people from work as I can because I believe I have some friendships that will stand the test of time! Would I ever go back to Orlando to be a Cast Member again? No, I would not want to taint the experiences that I made first time around, plus this fish made it to New Jersey five months later for another placement.

Future World North Favourites! Don't be Strangers!

Joseph Harrison  

4 May 2012

Bilston ... No Place Like Home

In England we had the Industrial Revolution, it turned fields into factories that brought the workers to furnaces. Bilston is a quirky working class town in the West Midlands that played its part in the Industrial Revolution and then some! It's my hometown, but most of all I believe it has a chance to become something more! Orange chips, outdoor markets brings this town to the people!

Alright bab? Bilston is nestled within the Black Country region of the West Midlands, once the home to a booming steel trade during the Industrial Revolution, this town hasn't lost its post-industrial edge. Bilston may be small but it has many hidden gems that make me love this place, there's no other place out there like it. Bilston is my surrogate home-town for I moved here from London when I was five years old, so now I'm practically a fully fledged Bilstonian! Bilston is a town that's unique in every sense, there's no pretense here because we just get on with things. You would be surprised because this West Midlands town has something quite extraordinary to offer to the locals and some visitors. Located not too far from Wolverhampton and Birmingham I would recommend an afternoon in Bilston to enjoy some chips, the surroundings and listen to the locals because they always have something to gossip about. Take what you want from this ex-industrial Midlands town, you know that you're all invited? Bilston is bostin!  
Listen carefully, this is important. Bilston is a town should be fully celebrated and recognised as a culinary wonder of the West Midlands! We have got the Cafe Metro, its a lovely little coffee shop that brings a serving of class to our working town of Bilston. Some places might have posh coffee shops and Michelin star restaurants but Bilston has Major's Fish Restaurant, which is undoubtedly the best chip shop that I have ever been to! The Major's 'chippy' Fish Restaurant is so special because their chips are bright orange in colour! Don't ask me how their chips turn out orange because that's Major's doing and I'm sure there not going to reveal the secret any time soon. Like our trade our food reflects the simplicity of our town, I suggest you grab a coffee at Cafe Metro and a bag of chips from Majors! Bilston brings the spices of India to the high street for we have numerous Indian Sweet Centre's and Indian restaurants that serve a taste of India. It's a sure fact that we're quite international here in the town of Bilston. 

The folk of Bilston like to congregate around both of the indoor and outdoor markets. Buying all sorts of bits and bobs, from food to the most random things ever. I find that if you just go out to Bilston to people watch its really quite intriguing because their are some characters for sure! I will be honest the stalls of Bilston's outdoor market sell some odd things that I would never dream of purchasing, but each to their own I say! Bilston folk always bump into someone we haven't seen for ages so its common to wade through the crowd of chatting people, mainly women. I know that things have not been easy for the markets of our country but for Bilston to still have their daily markets I'm hopeful that things aren't to bad for us. Now I shall tell everyone one thing, Bilston is a town stronger than steel! Here in Bilston we know everything's going to be fine for our market. The outdoor and indoor market in Bilston is open Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but there's only an outdoor market on Sundays. Don't miss it! 

What's your verdict? The loyal shoppers of Bilston town trudge through the market in all weathers, whether it be rain or shine it's a hit with the people of this town. You could honestly buy the most random or either useful things from the stalls at the any of the two markets, but the outdoor market stands out especially. These two Bilston market areas sell a wide array of produce from fruit and vegetables with a range of catering amenities that serve their purpose. Where would we be without our market in Bilston?! I personally believe Bilston market is an asset to this town, bringing the community together whatever the purchase the visitors and locals have in mind. Bilston might not be the most conventional place to visit but I really want to see this town flourish, plus you'll never such a wide range of people going about their business. I might not say it all the time but I have love for Bilston. Leave high fashion for another day because Bilston brings it big in every area. Experience something extra in a town that's stronger than steel?

Don't worry about getting to Bilston, its all covered. Public transport is plentiful in Bilston, there's simply no excuse to not visit Bilston by one of the many transport resources. The Midland Metro has transformed the way people reach Bilston Central to access the town and markets alike. This marvel of transport connects Bilston with Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Personally there's no other way to travel when in Bilston Town. Another mode of transport that's been in Bilston longer than the Midland Metro is Banga Travel. A somewhat individual bus operator that replaces some of the other bus routes that National Express West Midlands doesn't operate. How did you think we get about in Bilston? Like I mentioned before Birmingham might be your base so take the Midland Metro to Bilston Central, it only takes twenty five minutes to reach our town. You will be missing out on those Major's chips if you don't make your way to Bilston, I guess that's the story? Connectivity is key so get yourself to Bilston already!

It's no secret that Bilston was the boom town of yesterday, people came from the rural communities to work in the red hot furnaces of the steel works. My great-great-granddad came to Bilston to make his fortune, well to make a living from the burning trade that set the Midlands at light during the Victorian age. Bilston and the surrounding boom towns got the name 'The Black Country' from when Queen Victoria determined how black the sky looked over the Midlands when she got off her Royal train. Times change but my family has been here for at least six generations, there hasn't been a good enough for my grandparents to move from the town because that's just where we are from. I hope to that with investment and tourism, the town of Bilston can burn bright once again but in a different sense of the meaning. Bilston just needs you to take a chance, we'll definitely make it worth your while! Major's chips, the markets and the Metro are all waiting to show you what Bilston is made of. That's enough of my hometown glory for now!

Bilston is the Best!

Joseph Harrison

Destination: Liverpool

Liverpool, now what springs to mind? The Beatles, Cilla Black or even the infamous 'Scouse brow?' One exceedingly cold October day took me north to Liverpool for a sight-seeing day that I will treasure for a long time. From the Liver Birds to the Albert Docks, Liverpool serves more than a bowl of Scouse Lar! Oh, Ms. Lily Savage, don't think that you've been forgotten!

I have always seen Liverpool as a intriguing city to visit and decided to just do it! The day I went to Liverpool it felt like the coldest day possible, honestly the cold bit my face as I made my way through Liverpool One. I forgot about Birmingham instantly, L'pool had me from the second I stepped off the train at Lime Street Station! Liverpool is super accessible by foot for I could see the Liver Birds and the Albert Docks as I made my way down James Street. I arrived at the Albert Docks within plenty of time as I had a lot to see during my short visit to the city of the Mersey river. A modern and sophisticated vibe was felt whilst walking along the waters edge, the historical charm still remained amongst the presence of the many trendy restaurants and the Liverpudlian edition of the Tate Museum and Art Gallery. I saw it in Liverpool's eyes that the Albert Docks looked ready for the next chapter!

Maybe the cold weather warded away people but it was lovely to stroll along the flagstone path to see replica ships across from the slavery museum. What these docks were like in their heyday would have been something very interesting to see, I suppose there would be certain aspects of the Albert Docks history that should never be repeated. Like with every trip that I take, time is always of the essence so dawdling around wasn't on my sights that day I was by the Mersey! I expected a real and honest vibe from Liverpool, I got that feeling and then some! Like I mentioned the history of the Albert Docks has a gritty tale to be told but I suppose Liverpool acted as one of Britain's key shipping ports? Liverpool's Albert Docks may hold a few secret, but what Maritime city doesn't? A hurried phase of development is changing the facade of Liverpool's historic waterfront but the Albert Docks definitely balance Liverpool's next chapter. Where's Sonia? I'll have to get to Liverpool Pride!

One of my main motivations to see Liverpool was because I had ancestors that made their way from Eastern Europe, who finally ended up in the port city of Liverpool. It's a good job my ancestors got off their ship in Liverpool because I wouldn't be here today! By the time I reached the Port of Liverpool the contrast between the old and new buildings certainly produced a contrast between the historical and the new developments. Liverpool is definitely a city that is pushing forward into the future, crowned the 2008 Capital of Culture there's a bright tomorrow for this Liverpudlian city! Times are changing! Personally I can't wait to see the progress upon my next visit to Liverpool. Does regeneration hold the key to Liverpool's future success? Yes!

Liverpool holds it's own, distancing itself from it's Mancunian nieghbour this Scouse city serves nothing but truth and Maritime Realness! The true figures of Liverpool are those Liver Birds, one of them stands with a strong stance as she watches over her port-side dominion. I had already seen so much during what would only be a whistle-stop visit, Liverpool was showing that I can see places independently without worrying about anything! A mix of yesterday and tomorrow could be seen during my morning's walk alongside the Mersey River in Liverpool, England. I already had the feeling that I would need to return to Liverpool, I had literally stepped off my Birmingham train. Oh, I knew there was a reason my ancestors ditched that New York City bound vessel for a life in Liverpool!

The Mersey river was waiting, I wanted to see the other side to see the Wirral. As I boarded the Merseytravel ferry named 'Snowdrop' the bitter wind grew colder. One thing I noticed during my ferry ride was that Liverpool has a magnificent skyline that looks really fresh and progressive for the existing landmarks mixed effortlessly with the shiny new buildings from the view I captured on the ferry boat. Liverpool is definitely a city that's emerging, beautifying itself architecturally to a new level. It was strange to think that my ancestors would have seen the some of the sights that I did, well minus the new developments. During my river boat journey I snapped like a crazy paparazzo, capturing the sights of along the Mersey. Liverpool looked good but I wanted to see the Wirral! Liverpool, I will let you in a secret for you kept it real that day! Liverpool's skyline is major, let it keep serving into the future!

I had heard that people's opinion of Liverpool and the Wirral. I didn't feel anything special for this side of the Mersey, well maybe one thing that I will mention soon enough. As I gazed from the Wirral's side of the Mersey River I stood in awe of the sights that faced me, the Port of Liverpool stood out especially. The Wirral drew closer, it looked a lot less impressive compared to the world class skyline that Liverpool possessed, I'm struggling to find any redeeming qualities about that pedestrian looking Birkenhead view. My main intention of seeing Birkenhead was that I had a crazy notion about seeing a supreme Scouse Drag performer. I had my sights set on catching a glimpse of the famous Ms. Lily Savage but I never got the chance. Getting real I knew I was I never going to see the formidable Ms. Lily Savage. I did feel a peculiar feeling as I made it to Birkenhead's Hamilton Square. Jumping back on a train towards Liverpool I knew there's a  saying like 'all fur coat and no?'

My day in Liverpool would not of been complete without visiting my friend Katherine. I met Kat whilst working at Walt Disney World that summer. The journey that we made from Manchester Airport to Orlando cropped up in our conversation. I enjoyed my time in Southport, visiting the posh parade of shops. Southport had the qualities of the Victorian houses and the beach area, which with a bit of imagination could make a really nice place to enjoy in the summer months. Southport is a refined part of the Merseyside region that impressed me much! I really loved Lord Street as it had a Victorian edge with the canopies over the shops and cafes that set the scene perfectly! Not forgetting the our brief stroll on the local beach with Noodle the crazy Disney wearing dog. Little did I know that my mum worked in Southport before I was born, another family connection within the region! You know I'll be back to Southport!

All in all my new discoveries in Liverpool were very rewarding and showed me a city that's surely up and coming compared to the likes of Manchester, Birmingham and London. I'm working my way through the great cities of England, Liverpool has hidden and undiscovered depths. Meeting with my Disney friend and travel companion in Southport was amazing because its been a little while since our Disney days of Summer 2011. Getting away from my Orlando bubble I found the freedom to just get out of Birmingham to travel! The Port of Liverpool building and the whole waterfront area had something more than I expected, having no expectation is better than anything else. May this Liverpudlian visit give me the confidence to say "what the heck!" to taking the plunge to seeing more new places in the future. Liverpool, it was certainly a pleasure, may it be the first of many visits to this memorable and emerging city! In the words of Sonia; 'You'll never stop me from loving you!'

Thanks Liverpool!

Joseph Harrison