Thursday, July 31, 2008

Holiday budget


To make sure we didn't go over budget in Morocco here is the simple steps we took. You may or may not find useful.

1. We prepared a very detailed budget. Taxis to airports. Coach travel to and from the coast. Hotel rooms. Meals etc.

2. Took all the money for the holiday out of the bank and took it with us (this was basically my wage packet from the month before ONB began - i have been on $20 a day for 4 months now). This meant we would always know how much we had left and we avoided ATM fees.

3. We changed the money money as and when we used it at the banks that were offering the best exchange rates.

4. Anytime i used the credit card i took the money from our stash and hide it away so there wouldn't be any nasty credit card bill surprises when we got back.

We returned home under budget and happy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Out of Sync


I have to confess that this blog is not an accurate record of events.

What we did ‘last night’ is not necessarily what we did ‘last night’.

We splurge out the stories in big dollops and then ‘post schedule’ them on Blogger so that they mysteriously appear each day.

This means that we can try and ‘write something’ everyday and still maintain our day jobs.

Writing is fun but it sadly doesn’t pay the bills neither does eating ice-cream or going on holiday my other two big vices.


But for the record here are the most important dates:

November 3rd: Amy winks at Gareth on Match
November 5th: Amy and Gareth meet for the first time
November 8th: Our first date
November 9th: Gareth buys plane ticket to UK for Amy
December 21st: Amy arrives in the UK for Xmas
January 3rd: Gareth writes Amy the card asking her to marry him that he will use in Morocco
February 13th: Amy sends singing dwarf to Gareth at work
February 14th: Gareth takes AMy to Vegas to see Little Legends - more singing dwarves
March 30th: Amy tells Gareth the size of the debt
April 5th: ONB is born at the PeeLander Z concert
April 26th: Gareth moves into Amy's mum's
May 1st: ONB officially begins
July 20th: Gareth proposes to Amy
July 20th: Amy says "Yes" to Gareth

It has been some adventure! And to think it has only just begun.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I've lived, we have...I feel


I've lived.... Harlem in a 5 story walk up with no heat and no AC in the middle of a scorching ny summer (with 3 cats, 2 octopi and 5 goldfish) Rome - off a tiny stipend of about $10 a day for a year and a half.
... on a couch for over 5 months without a private space of my own.
I've been homeless - carting all of my worldly posessions in black garbage bags.
I've thrown out most of the things I've collected throughout my life due to lack of space.
I've eaten cat food to try and survive.
I've held the most menial depressing jobs to make extra cash.
I still wear clothes my mother bought me in High School.
(How's my violin sounding?)

Operation Night Brace is a piece of cake compared to many of these situations!

We have:
a clean room
a washer/drying in the apt
a constantly stocked fridge
a private bathroom
a terrace
a comfy bed
a bike room...

...and most importantly...lots of love

I am prepared to see ONB through till the bitter end but the reasons I struggle are as follows:

I feel:
...endlessly guilty - Gareth has given up 'everything' (his flat, his savings, tea-chinos (sp?), a cool neighborhood (the list goes on and on)
...endlessly indebted (How can I possibly ever show Gareth enough appreciation for everything he's done and continues to do?)

So, just to clarify, my reasons for wobbles, if any, have nothing to do with being poor, even n $20 a day I feel pretty rich. I struggle with the emotional 'side effects' of what we are doing and I'm terrified that the result will leave an unhealthy scar on both of us. One in which I am forever guilty - I think that is my biggest fear with the 'extension of ONB'.

$12,000 to go


We just have $12,000 left to pay of the private loans - the end of the first (and shortest) tunnel is in sight. We aimed to pay off the private loans by October 31st and by some superhuman efforts it looks like we will be able to do that 10 weeks early!!! I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve.

Only $106,000 of public loans left.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Presents update!


Oops how could i forget??? We also got a stack of cash with strict instructions not to spend it on the loans!
Thanks Mum, Dad, Liz, Mike, Grandma and Aunty Jane xxxxxx


We just got an inflatable globe in the post. Thank you Katie!

A Party and presents!!!


Getting engaged has had an unexpected side effect - people want to give us presents. We threw an engagement party when we were back at my Mum's and got given lots of things.

My sister, mum and aunt had slaved away to create an amazing celebratory afternoon tea. More cakes than we could possible eat and more sparkly stuff then we could ever drink. I think it was all a bit overwhelming for Amy - welcome to the family.

My friends Chris, Ian (and Mrs Sweeney), Richard, KTG and Lucy (and Seb Junior) made the effort to trek out to deepest darkest Bedfordshire. And like the 3 Kings they came with gifts:

His and hers matching t-shirts. Mine says: "Help I'm in debt" and Amy's says: "and engaged". We wore them for the whole party.

A weeks worth of fun. 7 little packages to be opened one a day. We are saving these for a week when we need them.


Smiles and love

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For pictures of the engagement party have a look at my sister's blog.

We are still thinking about what to do in America. I'm all for an evening of Power Love Ballad karaoke.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Idiot update


Having looked into this story a bit more you will never guess why she did it!!! ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................To pay for her son's education.

“I really want to do this,” said Smith. “To everyone else, it seems like
a stupid thing to do. To me, $10,000 is like $1 million. I only live once,
and I’m doing it for my son … It’s a small sacrifice to build a better
future for my son.”

Smith’s boyfriend, Jeremy Williams, said the couple discussed the idea for
more than three weeks before deciding to go through with it. And when they
did, Smith’s eBay auction attracted more than 27,000 hits and 1,000 watchers.
According to Smith, the money will be used to send her son to private school.



Some people will do anything for money!!!! This woman got her head permanently tattooed for just $10,000. Idiot!

More corporate tattoos!

Our room


Yesterday we had a big tidy of the 2 meter x 3.5 meter space we call home. We have managed to cram a lot into such a small space. There are about 120 different hotel toiletries, loads of little pots of jam and honey (again liberated from various hotels), we have a bulk box of coffee and hot chocolate, two jam jars containing loose change, the Meatloaf-O-Meter that seems to fall off the wall every time i walk by it, loads of books and magazines, a TV, a suitcase etc

Our room is a cross between a cornershop and a library with an inflatable bed in the middle that takes up most of the space. Speaking of which a strange thing is happening - the bed is getting wider!!!! Damn these inflatable beds. Getting in and out of the room is getting harder as when the bed was normal size there was just enough room to open the door. Now we are struggling.

Home sweet home.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Little History


Visual + sound from our first date

Friday, July 25, 2008



Why on earth do you have to rehearse eating dinner? I seem to do alright most nights unless i spill a bit on my shirt.

Wait what...


I am ultimately a very private person at work - you know I like separating biz from personal pretty much. So everyone at work has been coming up to me with the most dumbfounded look on their faces...

"Wait, I thought you were...

a lesbian
a rebel
too unconventional to ever get married
a boy
not allowed to marry again
dating some other guy who was giving you all his money


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Proposal and the RING


Gareth and I planned a trip to Morocco way before Operation Night Brace began. I told him that I’d always wanted to go to Africa, Morocco in particular. So, what did he do? The second I said it he booked it, my HERO. Well, time flies when you’re broke and last week we were off. We landed in Marrakech and Gareth had booked us a table at a palace! We were seated and Gareth ordered a bottle of wine. I was drunk, jet lagged and exhausted and I thought something was up cause Gareth was acting a bit weird, nervous I guess. He pulled out an envelope from his bag and whipped it into my face, it hit me straight in the nose, ouch! He said, “Open it.” So I gave him a look and proceeded to open it. On the back it was marked January 3rd 2008 (AND notarized folks!) I opened it and in big bold letters it said MARRY ME!!! I didn’t hesitate but much like our first date I blushed, smiled and said YES, probably because I was drunk, wounded and jet lagged ;)

Gareth had planned yet another adventure for me. He found a jeweller in NY that would help me make my own engagement ring. It was a very thoughtful gesture but I told him that if I made the ring myself, every time I looked at it I would only think about myself and with an engagement ring I wanted to think of him. So, since the jeweller already has our cash we decided to make each other’s wedding bands and we will buy a proper engagement ring after Operation Night Brace has ended! But in the meantime we bought a tin ring for me to wear, to ward of other suitors and show off our commitment to each other, I just hope my finger doesn’t turn green ;)


It isn't tin! The man in the market said it was pure silver and a bargain at $10 x

Our First Date


Just to give you a little history from my side:

I winked at Gareth on and sent him an email that read, “I have the same coat as you, except mine’s green.” To which he responded, “Should we meet up and have a ‘coat fashion show?’” On November 5th 2007 I met Gareth Miles. I was working in an editing suite on White Street and we had planned to meet up and see a movie, however I ended up working late and missed the movie. We decided to meet at a bar in Tribeca instead, Circle Rouge. When I walked in he was already waiting at a table for me. First impression: I thought he was short, bummer. He could tell I was nervous and he said “should we stand up and spin around?” At that moment we both stood up and spun around like two fools in the middle of the bar. That’s when I realised he was actually really tall and very sweet. I couldn’t really understand word he said he just seemed cute and enthusiastic about whatever it was he was talking about. I was shy, didn’t talk much and couldn’t stop giggling. We had two drinks and hung out for about an hour or two. We parted ways and he rode off into the stormy night on his bike with the strangest look on his face. I thought he A) Had to go to the bathroom or B) was having a strange moment of something like deja vu. About 30minutes later I got a text, “You home safe yet?” “I said “Yup, talkin’ bout you.” To which he responded, “I like you.” I said “I like you too.” He ended the text conversation with, “Well that’s a pretty good start.” That was my first and very last date on

How to guarantee a "Yes"


If anyone reading this is thinking of proposing to their loved ones follow my easy steps to guarantee a Yes. They worked for me...

** Sleep deprivation - in the build up to the proposal we had hardly any sleep. We left the flat in NYC at 4am on the friday, flew to England and then on the Sunday had to get up at 4am UK time to get to Gatwick for the flight to Morocco

** Disorientation - remove your loved one from their usual environment. Morocco is a crazy bewildering place.

** Use mind altering substances - we drank a bottle of wine before going off to the restaurant. Amy's official capacity is 2 glasses. She had 2 and a half.

** Use violence - i had written Amy a card asking her to marry me. When i pulled it out in the restaurant i hit her in the face with it by mistake. I was a bit nervous.

** Make them feel financially indebted - I have given Amy every thing i have. There is nothing more to give.

Follow these five easy steps and i'm sure you will get the answer you want xxx

Wednesday, July 23, 2008



Ahhhh how sweet!!!



The following article got sent round the office recently. It is about the rise in a thing called "staycations" . It's inspiring stuff. Perfect for Operation Night Brace.

Karen Ash is about to take a weeklong Japanese vacation. She'll buy postcards and souvenirs at a traditional Japanese market. She'll admire bonsai plants and view Japanese films. She'll eat ramen, ordering in Japanese.

And she'll never leave the Bronx.

Ms. Ash, a legal assistant who lives in that New York City borough, called off her plans to travel to Japan this summer. The ballooning cost of airfares, weak dollar-to-yen exchange rate and difficulty saving travel money while keeping pace with bills forced her to rethink her summer plans. So she's determined to have the ultimate "staycation," or vacation spent at home.

While more hard-pressed Americans are spending their vacation time at home lately, not everyone is happy about it. Barbecues and reruns don't match the thrill of travel. So some are going to great lengths to foster the illusion of a wayfaring vacation. They'll sample foreign tourism, wilderness camping, hotel living and beach-going without ever leaving their living rooms.

Some entrepreneurs have even developed new businesses to help faux-travelers with the ruse. Bob Porter, a literary editor from Pacific City, Ore., for one, has taken on the additional career of staycation planner.

Last spring, a friend of Mr. Porter complained that he was too broke to travel, so Mr. Porter, as a joke, furnished his apartment like a hotel. He plugged in a TV, hung "Do Not Disturb" signs and even placed fresh soaps and towels in the bathroom. Since the joke, word-of-mouth has spread. Mr. Porter has repeated the hotel stunt 11 times since April, sparking a small business. For two nights of the faux-hotel experience, he charges $50 to $60. (He buys the items from real hotels.)

He's expanded to include room service (delivery from a local restaurant), offering wake-up calls and maid service. "I really need to buy one of those maid carts like they really use at a hotel," he said. He'll plug in a stocked mini fridge and hang pastel-toned paintings of the ocean on the walls. The toilet seat bears the sealing strip of paper across the lid and seat, ensuring recent sanitization. A Gideon Bible rests in the nightstand drawer.

Most of Mr. Porter's clients are young couples "who see the humor in it" and are coping with the high cost of travel. Often, the hotel stunt is a surprise. One of his customers hired Mr. Porter to revamp their home while his wife was out. When she returned, he told her "this is as close to vacation as we're gonna get."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The first (of many) dates


So Thursday and the first official date was soon upon us.

We went ice skating in Bryant Park.
We drank cocktails somewhere posh.
And then things got interesting...

We had to be on the corner of Canal and Lafeyette at 9pm sharp.

There were about 20 other people gathered on the corner and a few film crews and photographers. In the centre of this group was a young bloke dressed in a military jumpsuit complete with helmet. Strapped across his chest he had one of his works of art. A weird stuffed monster made from roadkill that he had collected over the years. He was know as the Frankenstein of Brooklyn, and he was a taxidermy artist. We were about to go on the first ever Chinatown Garbage Taxidermy Tour.

Everyone was given a pair of rubber gloves for safety purposes and then we set off to go through all the stinking rubbish stacked up outside the Chinese fishmongers. Amy and I had a great time. We found a frogs head that then became a finger puppet as i did my Geico lizard impersonation. We have a film of it somewhere that we will have to dig out.

Amy laughed. I laughed.

This was not your typical first date. This was great.

The tour ended and we went off to get something to eat. It is hungry work going through rotting bins.

We went to Teany's in the Lower East Side as i knew Amy was a veggie. I had chilli, she had quiche that was awful.

Over coffee at the end i asked her what she was doing for Xmas. "Nothing," she said. I asked her if she like to come to England and she said YES!!

The next morning i went into work, phoned my Sister to see if it was OK to bring home a random woman who i'd met on the internet, she said yes. I then phoned Amy to make sure she meant it when she said YES. Her response was a classic:

"It's a free holiday isn't it? Of course i'll come!"

And with that the ticket was brought.

Between Monday evening and Friday morning we had met for a drink, had one proper date and brought one return flight to the UK. It was all happening pretty fast but in a great way.

When i told people about the date they rolled their eyes and said: "That is soooooooo you Gareth"

It was then that i dropped the bombshell.

"But i had nothing to do with it! Amy organised the whole thing!"

It looked like we were a perfect match!

Monday, July 21, 2008

She's the one


In the word's of Robbie WIlliam's "she's the one".

I knew that in the first week I met her.

Our first ever meeting was at 10:30 at night in a bar near work on November 5th 2007. I got there first and found a place to sit (that wasn't hard as the bar was almost empty). In walked Amy, a ball of big hair and raw energy. She was wearing what i was later to find out was her uniform - paint splattered jeans. She looked cool and she looked like she could kick my ass into next week with her Frankenstein sized Ugg boots.

We had a drink and then some more. It is all a blur what we talked about. All i can remember is Amy getting rather excited about a thing called String Theory. It sounded pretty smart stuff and i made a note to Google it so we could talk about it the next time we met up because i very much wanted there to be a next time.

The evening ended when the bar kicked us out at midnight. The hour and a half had flown by. We shook hands (i know don't ask me why i did that - i can be sooooo english sometimes) and went our separate ways.

November 5th is celebrated with lots of fireworks in the UK and meeting Amy that night certainly set off a firework in my head that is still burning bright and banging around my skull like a hyperactive child with a fistful of sparklers.

The following day after work i popped round to where she was working with a coffee and a toy because i knew she was having to work late at an editing suite. She looked very surprised and very embarassed to see me. I stuffed the coffee and toy into her hand, arrange to meet up for a proper date on thursday (one that wasn't going to start at 10:30) and ran off.

Our first proper date was about to happen. I started to get nervous.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Home sweet home


We are now back in England at my Mum's house (yeah for normal keyboards). Morocco was amazing. We both managed to eat some lovely food, see a completely different culture and get pretty sunburnt. But most importantly we got engaged. Magic!

I'd been planning the engagement for months - since March when Amy told me that she'd always wanted to go to Morocco. Within twenty minutes of her telling me that our tickets were booked (ahhhhhh the good old days when we could be spontaneous like that). The trip was going to be my birthday present to her.

i had been to Morocco 10 years ago with my good friend Richard. We had had a fantastic time. One of the highlights was going to a converted palace for a meal. It was one of the most romantic meals i had ever had so it felt a bit strange sharing it with another bloke. There were rose petals on the floor, incense burning, traditional musicians, beautiful high ceilings. It was perfect just perfect and at the end of the meal i told Richard that i would propose to someone there one day.

A lot happened in those 10 years and i completely forgot about the restaurant until Amy brought home a guidebook to Morocco. I picked it up for a quick thumb and there in restaurant section was a name that looked very familiar - Stylia. A quick google search later and the memories of the meal with Richard came flooding back. I now had the perfect venue for proposing. I decided then that Morocco was where it was all going to happen and spent the rest of March, April, May, June and July worrying about it. But worrying in a good way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A daughter's hand in marriage


I wanted to do the proposal right so i made sure i got permission from Amy's mum in advance (her dad sadly passed away two years ago). I got pretty nervous about it so i decided to write her a letter rather than go all Hugh Grant trying to do it face-to-face. Here's what i wrote...

June 25th 2008

Dear Marie

I’m writing you this short letter, not because I want to be formal but because I’m worried about getting tongue-tied asking you this in person.

As I hope you are aware, I love Amy.

She has completely swept me off my feet. I have never met someone so inspiring, beautiful and smart.

It might seem crazy but I knew on our first date that she was the one for me.

I would love to grow old with Amy.

I am therefore writing to ask for your permission to have your daughter’s hand in marriage.

Fingers crossed I’ll get your blessing as I would love to be able to propose to Amy in Morocco.

I promise to do everything I can to make your daughter feel loved and supported in whatever she chooses to do.

I also promise to do everything I can to make her laugh every single day.

I look forward to chatting when you get this.

Lots of love


Spare some change!


It is amazing what you can do if you really put your mind to it!

Check out this story about the beggar in India who collected 200lbs of coins over 40 years. It looks like she is planning to retire so I'm booking Amy on the next flight to Calcutta.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Gqreth qnd Amy say...

We are so excited qnd confused by this keyboqrd we mqnqged to do the lqst entry twice.

Happy deja vu


Gareth qnd AMY SAY...

This is going to be q short but hqppy entry. >Short becquse we qre in qn internet cqfe in ,orocco using qnd arabic keyboqrd. hqppy becquse lqst night Gareth qsked Amy to marry him qnd she sqid YES!

We are now off t get drunk which is probqbly even hqrder thqn using this keyboqrd considering it is q muslim country.

Happy days!! Raise a glass to us where ever you qre!

For truth lub qnd student loans xxx



This is going to be q sjort but hqppy entry. We qre in morroco using an arabic keyboqrd and it is not like qny keyboard we hqve seen before. It is taking forever to type even this si,ple sentence/

Last night Gqreth qsked Amy to marry him qnd she sqid YES

Exciting stuff!

We will write more when ze get to qnd ehglish keyboard/

We are now off to get drunk in the muslim country - easier typed than done °and typing this was pretty hqrd°



Last week i got home from a work trip at 2:30 in the morning and needed to be back in the office at 8:30. Arse. It was not my night. The plane from Atlanta was delayed. There were no cabs at LaGuardia. When i did finally get one after an hour long wait we ended up getting stuck in a traffic jam. Where on earth did all the cars come from at that time???

I got home exhausted!

But as soon as i walked into our bedroom and a sleeping Amy a massive smile spread over my face. Amy - the nutter - had covered every wipe clean surface with whiteboard marker. It must have taken her ages. It was like Kevin Spacey's bedroom in Se7en. Proper serial killer stuff. But rather than messages of death and hate Amy had written things like...

Welcome home
I missed you
I love you
Don't drop the soap (written on the floor of the shower) etc.

Super sweet.

Unfortunately she wiped it all off before i could take a picture. You will just have to take my word for it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Spam mail


I have been getting a lot of spam mail recently. Urgent messages of "you must claim your $500,000 prize before it is too late" and "help me get my fortune out of Africa".

The thing that worries me the most is that they are muddying the waters.

What if a real prince needs help?
How will i be able to spot his email amongst all the others?

Perhaps emails from royalty smell different - all roses and sparkling wine.

I shall now start sniffing my emails with greater care.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A raise and a bonus


It’s about fucking time but I was finally awarded a much-deserved raise and a bonus. All of which will be handed straight over to the loan company. It was painful, so we decided to treat ourselves and take a road trip to celebrate. We hired a car, I drove. How we ended up in Greenwich Connecticut I have no idea, Gareth must have a nose for the finer things ;) We spent the afternoon hanging by the water and taking long deep breaths in the fresh air – it was awesome. I always forget how loud the “buzz” is in New York City until I leave it behind. I think it’s really important to treat yourself to something special (even when your on a tight budget) every now and again – it helps put the stride back in your step.

We're all going on a summer holiday - no more worries for a week or two!


I'm i'm writing this entry sitting at my dad's back in the UK. Amy is asleep in bed and i am on my first of many cups of tea of the day. Tomorrow we are off to Morocco which as Amy mentioned was booked before the madness of ONB began - and it was a good job we paid for it then as i don't think we could justify it now!

The plan is to spend our time between Marrakech and Essaouira with an overnight camel trek somewhere in-between.

I am so looking forward to a break. We're both tired and need to have our batteries recharged. At JFK yesterday we waved a temporary goodbye to our budget of $20 a day. In Morocco we are going to live on $60 a day! We won' know what to do with ourselves!

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I have a big surprise planned for Amy in Morocco but don't tell her. I'm only writing this because i know she won't be checking the blog. WATCH THIS SPACE.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Swollen ankle


Last week i feel asleep on a bus. And i still seemed to still be asleep while i tried to get off it as i feel down the stairs onto the sidewalk.

(I blame the tiredness on all the cycling to and from work).


It fricking hurt and there were a lot of people watching so that made it doubly painful.

The bus driver came running up to me and wanted to know if i was OK. He took my name , my address and my phone number and said that their insurance would cover it.

I was surprised because it was completely my fault - another 43 passengers had managed to get off the bus perfectly okay. It was just me being clumsy.

Amy's eyes lit up. How much is a sprained ankle worth these days??? $180,000???

Somehow though i don't think we will stoop to suing to pay off the remainder of the loans.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What would you do for $600?


Last night i remember a fun story that took place in our local bar near work. It happened about 8 months ago and i sadly wasn't there.

It involved a lot of alcohol, a glass of Will's freshly produced urine, a pile of cash and a rather thirsty Blake.

For $600 Blake downed a glass of another man's piss for $600!

Honestly some people.

I would have done it for $500 ;)

If it is good enough for Gandhi, Jim Morrison and John Lennon - it is good enough for me.

Make the old new


Gareth and I are on a plane to London and then off to Morocco tomorrow morning. (We planned this whole trip before Operation Night Brace began) This morning I realized that I had no nice clothes to wear when I'm with his family. So I went to Pearl Paint on Canal and bought RIT dye for under $1. I pulled out dresses I haven't worn in years and dyed them this morning - everything black of course ;) I now have 3 new dresses that look like new for under $1.

Lastly, I didn't wear gloves while dying - whoops, so I ended up bleaching my hands to remove the stains. This gave me a brilliant idea. I know there is a market for butt hole bleaching and I now feel qualified to deliver this service to anyone in need for $40 a pop ;)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This blog was brought to you by XXXX


Geoff at work think that we need to come up with a sponsorship package to attract the big bucks.

We have had a think and here’s what we think we can offer…

• Pick any two benefits from the list below

• Pick any four benefits from the list below

• Pick any six benefits from the list below

The benefits:

Gareth and Amy will hold your hand when you are scared at the movies - but they will need to pay for the tickets and popcorn ;)

Amy will let you use her laptop for a week

Gareth and Amy will offer you a special spying services: spy on a first date; spy on your spouse, spy on yourself - we will then give you a detailed report of what we found

Amy and Gareth will burn you 2 music CDs (half angst ridden half bubbly techno)

Gareth and Amy will walk your dogs or watch your animals while you are away

Gareth and Amy will run to your rescue when you get too drunk and take you home

Gareth and Amy will serve as a "Secret Jar" we will hold all off your secrets so you don't have to and we will never let them go

Gareth and Amy will send you text messages that say loving things like "Oh I miss you" to make you feel more loved

Gareth and Amy will let sleep with both of us - No hanky panky though. Just sleeping, a bit of snoring and the odd fart

Gareth and Amy will clean your house

Gareth and Amy will teach you the art of Japanese Bondage

Gareth and Amy will teach you how to cast something

Amy will teach you how to grow Crystals

Gareth will make you a customised puppet show - voices included

Gareth and Amy will send you our old magazines - including Art Forum, Time Out NY, etc

Amy will teach you about film (Gareth will get bored and wish he was watching Rambo rather than some depressing Korean black and white movie)

Gareth and Amy will share interesting books with you - you will be able to borrow these books

You can spend a night in ONB - and sleep on the air mattress (you have to pay for us to stay in a nice hotel that night)

Gareth and Amy will let you spend an evening with either Amy’s mother or Amy’s sister or Amy’s niece

Gareth and Amy will make you a personalized map of cool Free Places to explore in NY

Gareth and Amy will send you an interesting email every week.

Gareth and Amy take you to top cool Places in NY

Gareth and Amy will come up with fun solutions for anything that is troubling you

Gareth and Amy will say nice things about you on the blog

Gareth and Amy will cook you a very nice meal an deliver it to your home and set it up as long as you live in New York

Gareth and Amy set up a "love" weekend for you and your loved one

Gareth and Amy will babysit your kid(s)

Amy will teach you how to edit on Final Cut Pro

Amy will teach you Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or Quark

Gareth will train you up to be more creative

Gareth and Amy will send you delicious recipes that cost under $12

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Free Hugs in NYC!!!


I have been checking the FREE listings out on almost every online cultural magazine/blog i can find. Today between the hours of 10:30 and 7:30 I can go and get a "FREE" hug and some love from Amma on 34th street:

Enter Amma: for the last 30 years, the Indian "hugging saint" has traveled the world, holding meditation sessions and embracing upwards of 20 million people. For three days, the mystic offers darshans (Sanskrit for "audience with a saint"), along with spiritual discussions, meditations, and music, to anyone and everyone craving a little TLC in NYC. [FREE]



Does poverty make you boring?

I’m starting to worry that that might be the case.

I seem to say ‘No’ rather a lot now and not many adventures have ever started with a ‘No’.

Shackleton: “Would you like to come on a hazardous journey with small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success?”
Gareth: “No”

Mikey: “Let’s go and find One Eyed Willy’s treasure!”
Gareth: “No”

However I draw strength from the fact that this situation is only temporary.

When the debt has gone I will be screaming YESSSSS at the top of my lungs.

Yes to nights out bowling
Yes to spontaneous lunch outings at work
Yes to new clothes
Yes to taxis home


Nope poverty does not make anyone boring. In fact, hmm lets see, Tracy Chaptman - was HOMELESS, Patty Smith - need I say anything? JK Rowling - lived in a box while writing the Harry Potter books with her kids, Bob Dylan stole his first guitar AND I've been poor my whole and I seemed to have packed in a lot of crazy adventures. Don't let the bastards get you down - we don't need money to be happy. But if anyone out there is reading this and is inspired to share some of their money with us we'd be happy to take it! ;)


This is a new UK-based site that allows users to buy, sell, swap and request exciting experiences—or "sweet moments," after which it's named. Sweemo lets those with access to exclusive experiences open those experiences up to everyone, connectinge—as the site puts it—"those who have with those who want to." Gareth and I are on our way to Morocco - We have we have!! It might be lucrative to bottle our experience and try and sell or swap it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Space and quiet


The two things I am really missing at the moment are…
1. My own space
2. Silence

To be backwards, let’s deal with the second point first.

Living in New York, silence is almost impossible to achieve.

I couldn’t believe the noise at first – I’m a country boy at heart. When I first moved here I used to go through a nightly ritual of warming up my wax earplugs, rolling them into a ball and then sqwishing them into my ears. Now I have got used to it and can almost sleep through the sirens and the shouting as people are murdered on the mean streets off New York (I’m joking mum – stop worrying xx).

So it looks like my desire for ‘Silence’ gets a “dream on”.

So what about ‘Personal Space’?

Hmmmm. Although it has been over two months at Amy’s mum’s I still feel very much like a guest which means I’m not able to relax fully just yet. This is probably a good thing as I don’t think Amy’s mum and sister are ready for the sight of me making tea in nothing but my brightly coloured y-Fronts from American Apparel.

Another factor is our room doesn’t have much space for personal stuff. As a result most of my possessions are packed away only to see the light of day when Operation Night Brace is behind us.

So it looks like desire for ‘Personal Space’ gets a “wait grasshopper wait – patience comes to those who wait”.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Romantic baths


At the hotel I stayed at in Denver they offered a menu of baths. The one that caught my eye was the “Frolic: Bath Erotica for Two”. For $28 you got…

“Sensuality Bath, Jasmine Sandalwood Massage Oil, Sensuous Ylang Ylang Soap, a Beeswax Candle & Chocolate bar with love poem”

I like the idea but not the price. I come up with my own version of Frolic that will cost a lot less…

“Sensual shower (we don’t have a bath) with shower gel stolen from a hotel, moisturising cream taken from a recent flight, bar of soap stolen from another hotel, romantic flames from box of free matches from a bar near work & a handful of funsize chocolate bars left over from a client session with a love poem found on a random website.”

Anything is possible when you really put your mind to it. Feel free to copy the above for a romantic night in with your loved one.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How much did you say?


By July 15th Gareth and I will have paid, wait for it…$71,000.00! Holy shit…only $109,000 left to go. We figured out that if we stay in our tiny room until January 1st 2009 we will have paid off $150,000 in 8 months at my mothers. That’s pretty incredible. But to keep spirits high we have decided to splurge on wi-fi, that way we can check emails or work from our tiny room without disturbing anyone else in the house; oh and Gareth has agreed to be in charge of laundry. I hate doing laundry – what a prince ey?



I seem to have developed dandruff over the last two weeks. It is not something I seem to remember suffering from before but now it is very noticeable if I wear a dark top. Uckkk dried skin flakes.

I’m not sure if it stress or lack of meat (the enforced vegetarian diet is still in full swing). I’m hoping it will pass.

Perhaps I can turn this situation to my advantage by bagging up the dandruff and trying to sell it on the streets of the Upper West Side. I’ve watched The Wire. I know how to be a ‘player’ blood.

I’ll go by the street name “The Bulldog”

Friday, July 4, 2008

exchange student


Gareth has been living with my family for about 2.5 months. I have to hand it to him, he is the 'perfect" son my mother never had. It must be strange for him living in a house full of female-German-Italian-Russian Jews, even the dog is a bitch :)

He must feel like an exchange student of sorts. But last night we came home together and we had the apt all to ourselves! I said to him "listen, shhh, listen, do you hear a dog, no, do you hear a mom, nope, do you hear a little sis, nope." That's right it was the first time since Operation Night Brace began that we had the house all to ourselves. Wow what a feeling to be control of your own home. It was precious. I can only imagine how appreciative we will be when we have control like that all the time!

I know New York is loud and cramped but we will never appreciate that 10-15 minutes of peace and quiet more then we do right now.

Fuck for clean lungs


I am so proud of Amy.

She mentioned in the blog awhile ago about who she has given up smoking – something I thought that she would never be able to do.

With the aid of patches and gum kindly given to us free by the City of New York (sadly they have stopped offering this deal – you had to be quick) she has gone from a packet a day habit to just the occasional “please blow it in my face – I miss it so much” request.

She described cigarettes as her best friend (which makes me her second best friend I guess).

Her preferred brand was ‘Native American Spirit’ which claimed to be non-addictive! How they managed to get that claim approved I will never know. If this is what it is like to see someone come off the non-addictive ones I had to see what it is like for someone to come off the addictive ones. Horrible.

Amy is now kissable all the time, her hair smells lovely all the time, her clothes smell nice all the time and I’m hoping – fingers crossed – that she will know live a little longer to cause mischief with me in the old people’s home.

Like many people, one of the things Amy was really worried giving up was putting on weight. So we came up with the ‘Fuck for clean lungs’ campaign (we’ve had enough of Operations).

I’m hoping it is pretty self explanatory as I won’t be drawing any explanatory pictures.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I always tease Gareth about the fact that he bought me for, well thousands of dollars, and I found him for only $40 bucks on

It seems as though my $40 is still working hard for me, I still get the occasional 'wink' from a random stranger - whenever I check out who's winked at me it's seems like a miracle that I actually found Gareth. He was my very first and last date on Match.

I like the part that says "I am just a regular guy who is looking for a go"

Perhaps he doesn't know how to spell gorilla x

Cold War Kids


Summer in New York means free concerts in the park thanks to big corporate sponsors like Starbucks. Last Friday the Cold War Kids rocked Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

We got the subway there and back ($4 each), brought a bottle of wine to down before hand ($12), gave a $1 donation at the door, brought one drink each once inside ($6 each) and dined on leftover bagels (free).

A night of great open-air music for just $16.50 each.


If you're interested check out the line up...Feist, Spoon, Wilco... and bring a blanket!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2nd Donation


Last Thursday we got our second donation. A whole $50 (although PayPal deducted $4 as a fee – boo hoo) from the lovely Jen Hughes in the London office of my company.

That means the ‘Donate Now’ button over here on the right → has now generated $75 (minus the $4 fee). $5 from Amy to “see if it was working”, $20 from Alexis and the $50 from Jen.

Thank you Jen and thank you Alexis.

Nice one.

People all over the web are always after your money so it is very touching when someone chooses to share their hard earned cash with you.

Interesting sum: If we just relied on the ‘Donate Now’ button which is generating an average of $30 a month we would be able to pay all the loans off in 500 years (this does not include any interest that the loans will inevitably occur in this time).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Friends with free bars


Last week I was out in Denver working with Molson Coors. The session was at their downtown headquarters where they have a ‘help yourself’ bar overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Absolutely stunning. I suddenly found myself turning into Homer Simpson: Frrreeeee Beeeeerrrrrrrrrr!

And yes I did ‘help myself’ (but oly after we had finished our work) and as result Molson Coors are Operation Night Brace’s first corporate sponsor.