San Francisco, Music & Memories

“San Francisco Bay, past pier 39, early PM can’t remember what time.” So starts “Have a Nice Day” by the Stereophonics. Its one of my favourite songs, and is one of those songs capable of evoking strong memories. For me, the memories are kicked off by the great opening line which take me back to one of the good times for me. It’s the reference to San Francisco that does it, and is a reminder of a great long weekend I had there in 1998 with my two closest friends.

We were right in the middle of a three-week holiday in the United States, having travelled from Chicago to San Francisco by train via Lincoln NE, Denver CO, Flagstaff AZ & Los Angeles CA. All of the stops were fantastic and are memories I’ll treasure, but the weekend we had in the Bay Area will always be in my mind. It started off by arriving in Oakland at 10pm on the Friday after a 12. hour train ride from LA. The train bypasses San Francisco and continues up the west coast to Seattle (we resumed our trip after San Francisco by catching the train in Emeryville, the stop up from Oakland to get to Seattle via Portland OR & Olympia WA.) A bus service completed the journey into San Francisco. My first sight of SF was from that bus coming over the top level of the Bay Bridge. San Francisco was glorious. The view from the bridge was, to use an Americanism, awesome. Surely the city by the bay has never looked so good as it did that night.

Our first experience of San Fran was quite an exciting one. We arrived in Union Square at 1030pm or so, and we were staying at the top of Geary Boulevard, a taxi was in order. First taxi hailed stopped – success! – then when we told him where we wanted to go to, he asked, “where is that?” Not a good start! Fortunately I knew it was (roughly) in the direction of Golden Gate Park, and after a journey of nearly getting killed (he just about ran into the back of a stationary car at red light) we made it. Check-in was fine. We were in San Francisco.

The weekend was one of the finest I’ve had. After a morning or rooting about in downtown San Francisco, it was time for me to be able to indulge in one of my American passions – baseball. America’s pastime is a wonderful experience, and I’d already got myself & my friend tickets for the Giants Saturday game against the Dodgers. The afternoon was lost in a haze of Californian sunshine, Giants homeruns (2 grand slams) and Barry Bonds in an 18-4 Giants win. In the midst of it all, after a Giants homerun, beers in hand, my closest friend and I exchanged the iconic American high five. It really was a perfect moment in time, and I won’t forget that. My friend took his own life in 2003 and those memories of San Francisco will always be precious.

The Sunday was just as good. Again we braved public transport and took the BART train over to Oakland for the Raiders/Broncos NFL game. My friend was a Broncos fan, but decided against wearing his Denver shirt to the game! Probably a wise move with Denver fans there being subjected to (generally) light hearted abuse and being showered with beer. It was another great sun-kissed afternoon spent in the company of friends. Its one of life’s greatest pleasures. Denver won the game 34-17 and it topped off a true bit of Americana. Back to San Francisco on BART (the BART station was right outside the Coliseum in Oakland – take note UK!)

The weekend was extended to Tuesday, and it left us time to be proper tourists! It was a trip out to the Golden Gate Bridge on late Monday afternoon that brought the reality of it all home to me. I can still clearly remember standing on the GG bridge looking out over the Pacific Ocean when it struck me – what was I doing on the west coast of America? I was 8,000 miles from home. Although I’d had a good childhood, we were never lucky enough to experience foreign holidays, and I didn’t go abroad until I was 15 on a school trip to Switzerland. But her I was on America’s Pacific coast in the middle of the experience of a lifetime for me. I loved the baseball, and the NFL, but standing on the GG Bridge looking at the Pacific is a memory to treasure.

Alcatraz was visited on the Tuesday, our last act before moving on. We were in San Francisco for just four days, but Lombard Street (the steep windy road), Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Candlestick Park & the Oakland Coliseum were all squeezed in. Maybe no surprise its stayed with me really, and it’s the reason I love hearing that Stereophonics song. I’m so glad my friends and I took the chance when we could and had a great road trip together. Chicago and Seattle were other highlights, but the weekend in San Francisco was unforgettable. San Francisco Bay, past pier 39, early PM can’t remember what time. What I will remember is the fantastic City by the Bay and the company of great friends. It was a blast.

Advertisements

Party behaviour.

ASD Mummy with issues.

D had received an invitation to a party at the local soft play centre, for today.     He was very excited about it, as it was from his number one girlfriend!

M wasn’t invited, and was quite upset by this as he knows the girl quite well, and often plays with her when she comes over here.      We therefore said, that if he want, he could come to the party, and we would pay for him to go into the soft play.   He was quite excited by this idea.

Now, I’m not sure about other parents, but I love it when mine do get invitations to party’s and the like, because it gives a great bargaining tool for behaviour.     I don’t know how many times in the last week I have told D I will send a text to the Mum of the child having the party to say he wont…

View original post 811 more words

Doonies Farm.

ASD Mummy with issues.

Today we had a family day out at Doonies Rare Breed Farm – http://dooniesfarm.co.uk/      It is only a short drive from where we live, and somewhere over the years the boys have loved to visit.

The farm has a large acreage, part of which is an area with paddocks of animals that can be fed by the children using the buckets of vegetables you buy on the way in.

In recent years, the farm has had plenty of turmoil.   It was operated by the council who decided a few years back it could no longer warrant subsidising it, and so pulled the funding and it had to close to the public.     People power pulled back though and a charitable organisation was set up to save it.   It re-opened with much delight from those that had been regular visitors over the years.

The boys were really excited when we said we were…

View original post 568 more words

Doonies Farm.

ASD Mummy with issues.

Today we had a family day out at Doonies Rare Breed Farm – http://dooniesfarm.co.uk/      It is only a short drive from where we live, and somewhere over the years the boys have loved to visit.

The farm has a large acreage, part of which is an area with paddocks of animals that can be fed by the children using the buckets of vegetables you buy on the way in.

In recent years, the farm has had plenty of turmoil.   It was operated by the council who decided a few years back it could no longer warrant subsidising it, and so pulled the funding and it had to close to the public.     People power pulled back though and a charitable organisation was set up to save it.   It re-opened with much delight from those that had been regular visitors over the years.

The boys were really excited when we said we were…

View original post 568 more words

Season Start for Daniel

Yesterday was the start of the Scottish Football Season for Aberdeen fans, with the first competitive game of the season at home to Kilmarnock. Last season, Aberdeen were giving out a free under 12 season ticket with every adult season ticket bought. As I was taking a season ticket as usual, I thought I’d take the U12 one, in case Matthew or Daniel wanted to come along. Matthew wasn’t (and isn’t) to interested, but Daniel wanted to come along, just to see what I got up to when I went to football ( https://theworldofneil.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/football-crazy/) He only came to a couple of games, but it at least got him started.

Yesterday, he was unsure. Initially he said he wanted to go. I said to tell me by 1230pm as I’d walk to the park and ride (its about an hour’s walk, and the bus leaves an hour before kick off (2pm yesterday)) It was a go from Daniel. Then at 115pm, he says he’d changed his mind! It meant I couldn’t avoid taking the car. But just as I was getting ready to go out, he said he’d go. He was dressed and keen to go out, so given it was 140pm, it was a bit of a rush to make it to the park and ride. I think part of his reluctance was the fact we’ve had long walks to and from getting the bus to games in the past. But using park and ride meant taking the car, getting on a bus after a 30 metre walk, then getting dropped off right at the ground. Its a great service. We were there at 230pm. Early enough to soak up the atmosphere and excitement, but close enough to kick off that he’d not lose interest.

Daniel was excellent. His seat is immediately in front of mine (there are a lot of season tickets around where my friend and I sit, so it was a bit of luck getting one so close by) and it was a good view of the pitch. He was excited, and knew what was going on. He sat still as the Kilmarnock team was announced, but when it came to Aberdeen, he would bounce on his seat as each player was announced. He asked which end Aberdeen would be shooting at, so when the game kicked off, he was glued to the Kilmarnock goal! He was quiet, which was no surprise. He was surrounded by people he didn’t know, it was noisy and it was colourful. He was obviously watching the play though as his head was moving, following the ball.

As the game progressed, he became slightly agitated, but continued to follow the game. After a while, he wanted the toilet. Just as I was about to lift him over the seats to go, Aberdeen scored. His excitement was amazing to see. His face was beaming. He’d seen the first goal of the season, and was thrilled. The second goal didn’t get quite the same reaction, but he was satisfied with the fact we’d scored again. Josh Magennis’s missing of a sitter when it was 2-0 confused him though. “Is that 3-0 now?” He couldn’t believe it hadn’t gone in either. Kilmarnock’s goal had him worried. I think that was down to the fact I’d said we’d all bounce on the trampoline if we won the game! We saw the game out though, and we left with Daniel happy.

There was a spring in his step as we left, although a lot of that was down to us just having to walk 2 minutes to get the bus back to the car! He wasn’t so tired though as a result. The park and ride is a great service, as it meant Daniel would be more awake, and would enjoy the game more, so it was a success from that point of view. He was certainly calmer and followed the game more. Did he want to go back? Next game is against Celtic, and the thought of playing the biggest team in the league excited him. I might get tickets for the family stand (you can move your seat if you want to on a game by game basis at no cost) as the Celtic fans stand making it difficult for a little lad to see the goal to our right. I’ll be popping round to Pittodrie this week then to do that, then in 2 weeks, it will be game time again for me and my aspie!