Day 234: Its got to be New York NEW YORK!

8 March 2011

High Point – 1,224 feet at the top of the Empire State Building (the seems to be a theme occurring in terms of stage 8 high points, mountains, sky diving and now tall buildings).

Low Point – The hint of trouble ahead to do with Martha’s height causing problems with getting her safely to port and some potential customs issues due to our tight time schedule.

No Point – Very little brekkie, no time for lunch yet again, being SO hungry by late afternoon but unable to force myself to eat yet more rubbish, which was our only option when we stopped for fuel on the way to the port.

My very first day on the road with FTFE last May, when we began our “warm up” tour of the UK and Ireland, started with a visit to a school to talk to the kids about our project (well that is after a quick meet with Boris Johnston). So it seems very apt that my last day with Martha on Stage 8 should begin with a visit to a school. Sandy, who we’d met the previous evening had kindly arranged for us to visit the children of Trinity School. Steve is really just a big kid at heart and he loves talking about fire engine adventures with the kids and introducing them to Martha. I guess it reminds him of how much he loved fire engines when he was a kid, and clearly still does! I’m not sure what we were expecting from the school visit but I don’t think it involved being asked for our autographs by lots of kids! Autograph frenzy over the kids settled down on the floor around the crew and listened to Steve talk about what we’re doing and why. There were lots of questions and comments from the kids afterwards. Steve also had a question for them though and asked them to guess how many burgers James has eaten during the month he has been in America. Let’s face it 55 burgers in 4 weeks is pretty excessive James! The kids were amazed/horrified, I think mostly horrified, sorry James, and one in particular asked why he is not really fat, hilarious, admittedly we’ve all been wondering that too. What a lovely school, smart and very well behaved kids. Thank you Trinity school for having us, we very much enjoyed our visit and hope you enjoyed meeting Martha and the crew.

Day 234 - New York (9 of 30) As we were right next to Central Park we couldn’t resist a spot of cricket, it is FTFE tradition after all. It was a real extended FTFE team event with Amy’s parents as well as representatives from fire aid international, Simon and Susan Rowley, joining in the fun in Central Park. It was my first ever attempt at the sport, suffice to say my attempts were not in keeping with recent Irish form! Thankfully we had very limited time so I didn’t have to embarrass myself for too long.

Our time with Martha in New York is unfortunately all too brief due to the shipping schedule so the objective of today was to ensure we get as much publicity as possible whilst we have a fire engine with us to illustrate our journey and spread the FTFE word. After all this journey is about raising the profile of and as much money as we can for our 3 wonderful charities (MacMillan Cancer Support, The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and The Fire Fighters Charity), it’s what keeps us all going when times are tough, as well as obviously supporting Steve in honoring his Father’s memory. Where better to raise some awareness than in Time Square! A crew from ITV’s Day Break was there to film the madness that was a British Fire Engine doing circuits of the square, lights flashing, sirens wailing, crew members manically waving from windows, handing out flyers and chatting to passers by whenever the traffic paused. At one point we even had a camera man on the roof. I was amazed, and relieved, that the many members of the NYPD around the square didn’t seem to mind and just let us get on with it.

Day 233 - Washington DC to NYC (18 of 22) Our arrival in New York suitably marked next stop was the New York City Fire Museum where Damon and his team had kindly organized for us to meet some fire fighters from the local fire departments too. The museum houses a splendid collection of fire related art and artifacts from the late 18th century to present day. It also houses a permanent exhibition and memorial to the 343 members of the New York Fire department who lost their lives on September 11th 2001, an incredibly humbling experience, especially being in there along with fire fighters who were talking about friends and colleagues who’s ultimate sacrifice the memorial pays tribute to. Thank you to all from the Fire Museum and ladder for taking the time to meet us.

So with Martha’s whistle stop tour of New York complete and her shipping deadline looming it was with a heavy heart we jumped into her cab for the final part of her Stage 8 journey, it was time to get to the port. I think Martha really enjoyed her day being the center of attention in New York, I know the crew certainly did. We all felt sad leaving her at the port especially as we discovered there are significant difficulties surrounding her safe passage to the ship due to some height issues as well as customs uncertainties to be overcome….. let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Just a quick reminder that we are trying to raise as much as we can for our 3 fantastic charities so if you can please do donate to help them continue their invaluable work.

We’re not home yet so please do continue to follow our journey and J


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