Tuesday 31 December 2019

Getting to Goa!

Hello again my dear readers! The time has come for me to travel again - somewhere a little different from America: we are off to Goa! 

I’ve spent the last week obsessively writing lists and trying to remember everything. I find packing very stressful, and no matter how extensively (and anally) I plan, I still forget something vital. (Casepoint: I forgot Antibacterial gel for Glastonbury, and bite cream for here.)

So we booked a late flight. I’ve never had a late flight before and actually it was lovely. I woke up at a civilised time, not some hideous 4am beginning like most flights I book, and even had time to have my eyelashes done, and have a Byron burger before we had to even think about leaving! Very relaxed, and I would definitely do this again. It’s only really worth it if time is on your side however - if we were only here for two weeks, I’d be seriously pissed that I lost a day!

So once we arrived at Heathrow, we were told we may be eligible for an upgrade due to Berties “gold” tier status. I have no idea what this means, but long story short we were upgraded to business. Long haul business. I was so excited. I tried really hard to play it cool when they told us, but I was there gobbling handfuls of free pretzels so I’m not entirely sure I pulled it off. 

Once we checked in we headed to the lounge. It was wonderful - we had a few glasses of champagne, and I was particularly enamoured with the buffet offering “kaleslaw”, rather than coleslaw. I love a good play on words. Less keen on kale though. 

We sailed through boarding and took our seats on the plane. As soon as we arrived we were given the customary champagne and hot towel (again, why?) and I occupied myself with fiddling with all the controls and pouring over the menus! 

The flight went super smoothly and I slept for 4 and a half hours - the bed was completely flat which was just a total treat, and I even got a white company travel kit which I was VERY EXCITED about because I love the white company and it makes me feel fancy. I also took a tip from my former BA babe bestie, and asked super nicely for some pyjamas (usually only a first class thing) and the nice lady obliged and gave me some! So within the first ten minutes my bra was off and I had my Jimjams on. Wonderful. 

I opted for the chicken terrine to start, and the slow roasted lamb for main. It was divine. I opted out of pudding (even though they had sticky toffee pudding!) because it didn’t seem like a brilliant idea to consume a load of sugar before trying to sleep. 

I also had a few glasses of pink champagne which went down very well thankyouverymuch. 

I woke up with a raging hangover. I won’t lie. I usually make it a rule not to drink at altitude, but it was a special occasion and they were serving the drinks IN GLASS. GLASS. ON A PLANE. I was over excited. 

Two paracetamols later I was right as rain and enjoyed the rest of my journey. Unfortunately, as we were obviously flying to India, breakfast was a lamb wrap. I was not behind this, for obvious reasons - (if you don’t know about my list of approved breakfast items, feel free to ask any time!) - so I asked very politely if they had anything a little less exciting, and I was granted a croissant and jam. Much better!

We arrived in New Delhi to horrendous fog. It was the worth fog I’ve ever seen! It was so bad we had to sit for an hour and a half until we could be guided into a parking space (I went back to sleep, so no drama), and then our flight out was also delayed two hours. But, we eventually got there, popped our seatbelts on, and settled in for the next hop. We were in economy for this next bit, and if I’m perfectly honest, the worst part was the fact they played Cliff Richard’s “mistletoe and wine” on repeat whilst everyone was finding their seats. I have no idea why they did that. It’s not even Christmas. 

We finally landed in Goa airport and managed to find my suitcase - I have been stressing a fair bit as I believed I’d lose my suitcase this trip. I have no idea why. I shared this worry with Bertie on the way, who out of nowhere produced a sharpie and told me to write my contact details on the case. I have no shame in telling you, dear reader, in that moment I knew that kind of practicality is exactly why I married him for. Find yourself a man who always has a sharpie. They’re the keepers. 

We then embarked on our two hour journey to Agonda. Obviously because this is India we did a little detour to pick our taxi driver’s children up! They were absolutely gorgeous and squished themselves on the front seat, chattering away excitedly. They were gorgeous. It was 2000 rupees to get to Agonda Beach. £100 is 9000 rupees. So a 2 hour taxi drive basically cost £27. India is cheap. A bottle of pop is 20 rupees. A beer is 80. Getting here is expensive, but living is cheap. I’m going to eat a lot of naan. 

We are staying in a beautiful hut on the seafront. It has hot water which is a total bonus, and even a toilet door. I am absolutely buzzing about the toilet door, after the curtain we were graced with in 2010. There’s nothing that tests a marriage more than a single curtain between you and someone on the loo. Trust me on this.  

It’s now 15:30 on our first day in Goa. We had a great night’s sleep, and are just taking some time to settle in. I’ll keep this blog going whilst I’m here to share all the wonderful sights and experiences we’ll have :) 

Love you all! Xx

Friday 29 November 2019

Hello London! (“But I don’t speak cockney!”)

So last night was the penultimate show of the tour; back home in our lovely London. 

I was coming with my friend Jo, and for the first time ever on this tour I actually had actual tickets. Tickets. Physical “in my hand” tickets. Normally I’m just plopped in monitor world or left at front of house, so to have tickets (and a seat!) was a total treat! 

Jo and I got there early to make the most of the pornstar martinis we knew TGI sold for £8.45. (There’s a star tip for you. I don’t think I’ve ever paid less than £11 for any kind of martini in London) 

Drinks consumed, we made our way to our seats. We were in block 112, and entrance H. It was part of the guest list allocation, and was the best seats in house. The view was spectacular, both over the crowd, and of the stage itself. Best of all I could watch my hubby work for the entirety of the gig, and that was pretty cool! 

Jo also spotted a few famous people and “influencers” in our midst, but I had absolutely no idea who anyone was, so I’m really sorry I can’t report back with anything interesting. 

The show was absolutely brilliant, and I was very glad to be out of the standing crowd. It varied between a full on mosh pit and a fully moving sea. Two people fainted and had to be manhandled over the crowd barrier, and a thousand jackets, coats and scarves lost their owners when they were joyfully abandoned in the madness. I had advised Jo to watch out for the vast amounts of liquid thrown during the gig, and there’s something really beautiful in the spraying of beer (or piss) as it arcs through the air. I have never experienced an atmosphere like a Liam gig. I have also never seen so many bucket hats. 

(Jo and I pretending we just played the O2)

Following the gig, Jo and I slipped backstage into the crew room for the after party. One of the lovely crew (hello James) had set up a cocktail making stall which was received with much joy. Particularly by my husband, who, as I write this blog, is currently completely passed out, naked, in our hotel room - after getting in at 5am. So thank you James, even if Bertie isn’t thanking you today. 

The party was lovely, and at some point (after playing Happy Birthday via Spotify,) the playlist automatically selected to some kind of ultimate party hits. No one noticed. It was glorious. I sat there in absolute hysterics looking at the crew and the band, all super cool, whilst “YMCA” played softly in the background, followed by the even better “it’s raining men”. I could barely contain my joy at the juxtaposition of this situation. It wasn’t until Bertie caught sight of my giggles that everyone tuned into the playlist and very quickly put something more appropriate on. I can’t remember what they chose, but nothing will ever top the Weathergirls. 

We were kicked out of the venue at 2am and headed back to the hotel bar. I managed to stay until 3, and then gracefully retired. Let me tell you about my joy when I realised, officially, I had found my dream hotel. You all know how fussy I am. Let me tell you, Intercontinental O2 - you have scored 10/10. 

The bed was a super king. I didn’t even know Bertie was there (which is a plus as he got back at 5am.) There was both a bath AND a rain shower. Two separate units. Huge fan of that. The towels were giant, and not those awkward “basically-a-hand-towel” towels they normally give you. The tea and coffee facilities were plentiful, with an array of glasses to choose from. The water glasses were oval shaped, which was slightly bizarre, but I’m willing to let it slide. 

But best of all - the breakfast. 

It was self service, and there was literally everything you’d ever want. I was especially thrilled because last night I did that thing where I was faced with too much choice and panicked (this has been mentioned before in some of my previous blogs) and ended up choosing 4 cucumber sushi rolls for dinner. That’s a fact. So I was absolutely RAVENOUS and ready to attack this breakfast with full gusto. 

Crumpets, bagels, fresh french bread, Serrano ham, cheeseboard, roasted baby tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, veggie sausages (not something I often see at a hotel breakfast so well done hotel,) plus all the usual breakfast additions. There was also a medley of juices. Too many to choose from and totally overwhelming. 

I’ll finish this post by popping some more photos in :) one more show to go - and so concludes the UK tour! Xx

Monday 25 November 2019

The Dublin post I wasn’t going to make!

So I wasn’t going to do a blog update about Dublin, as I was mainly going for the festive markets, and it turns out Dublin will not buy into any Christmas nonsense until December 1st. 

I love Christmas nonsense, and was suitably upset. It was also raining. Rain, and no mulled wine to soften the blow. So I resolved to just spend the weekend sleeping and sulk quietly about my lack of Christmas sausage.

(Hold the puns please.)

However of course all former plans fell apart, as they are prone to doing when on tour, and I ended up with a hangover, a missed flight, a party in a bar with men wearing leather and a full scale hunt for a postbox. 

So, the weekend didn’t quite start as planned, as on Friday I woke up at 6:39. I had my alarm set for 5:30. Just let sink in. I opened my eyes, checked the time and did that proper “movie wake up”, where the main character flies bolt upright, grabs everything and fucking legs it to the airport. Only it wasn’t a film. It was my life. I had no deodorant on, it was pissing with rain, and I was a full hour behind schedule. 

You’ll be pleased to know I caught my flight, but the man who was sat next to my unwashed, unbrushed self was far less pleased. 

So I arrived in Ireland and it was raining. That’s a fairly current theme here, apparently. It’s also really really grey. For a land sponsored by the colour green, there’s not a lot of it around. I arrived, hid in the cafe around the corner so as to avoid all of Bertie’s workmates (honestly, I looked like a hot mess), managed to grab the key off the lovely tour manager, got to the room and finally washed. It was like being born again. This, by the way, was at 2pm. I just want you to think how many hours I was unfit for public consumption. But consume they did! 

Anyway, Friday was spent napping, bathing and then heading out for some lunch. I had an Irish stew. I didn’t like it. It literally had proper offal it in. I understand meat, I am a meat eater, but I don’t want to see little tubes in my food. I don’t know the sciencey name for what it was, but little hollow tubes sticking out of a piece of very tough meat. I didn’t eat it. Bertie offered to get me a sticky toffee pudding to make up for it, but by that point I was sulking so refused. 

(I am aware I was the only person to lose out there, but what can you do? I’d committed to the sulk.)

We also went for a curry in the evening - it was alright, but it was in an area called Temple Bar, which is basically stag and hen do central - there was neon everywhere, and the curry was more about feeding the masses, than proper traditional cooking. I did order a keema naan though and told Bertie the story of how my Italian grandfather told me the meat in it was donkey, and on some level, I still believe it to this day. Donkey is delicious. 

Saturday was show day, so when Bertie went to work, I went  to explore the town (and the absent Christmas markets.) The people here just sound so jolly, even if they’re having an argument, their little lilting accents fills me with so much joy I can’t cope. People here also use the phrase “your man”, which I use all the time, so I’m very pleased to find people who use one of my favourite phrases. 

(If you are confused, I thought I should add in a little example -
“I went to get a wispa gold from the corner shop, but your man told me they’ve all sold out”)

I also found out that the Primark here is called Penny’s. It is literally the same as Primark. As in, it literally is Primark, but called Penny’s. I don’t know why.  

I met Bertie and Sam for some dinner, at a super lovely french restaurant. I had duck liver and foie grass to start. I actually really liked it. Having had foie grass before and really not liking it, I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it. I stand by the fact that I have had the best foie grass in the UK, as I had it at Buckingham Palace when I met the Queen. We’ll save that story for another day, but basically my experience of foie grass has been of a great standard, but regardless I didn’t like the taste. Well done to this restaurant for changing my mind. I’ll be sure to let Ol’ Liz know. 

The show was absolutely brilliant - it was at the 3Arena, one of the smaller venues (still with a 13000 capacity!) - it was the first time I’d seen the UK show and it was absolutely brilliant. I parked myself in front of house behind the lovely Jon, who was super accommodating and even found a chair for me! 

From there, we had a few drinks and moved on to a late night bar. It was a rock bar, and when we walked in there was a MYRIAD of leather. One girl was fully dolled up as a day of the dead woman. There was some kind of terribly loud rock band playing in the background, playing songs with names like “you make me bleed” (I saw the set list) - we managed to escape to outside, and hung out there for a few hours, drinking an increasing amount of vodka lemonades, before stumbling home (via the kebab shop - which put donner meat in my chicken wrap - I was FURIOUS.)

I did however find a green postbox, which I had been searching for since the lovely taxi driver told me about them. I was absolutely thrilled, as you can see by the picture below. 

It was around this point (4am) that I realised I was booked on a 10am flight. Using the best drunk logic available, Bertie and I recklessly spent his avios points on a flight for Monday, rather than Sunday, and my little smug ass sat in bed relieved to be flying home with BA as opposed to Aer Lingus.

The practicality came to light the next day when I woke up hungover, absolutely starving and realising I was here for another night. By some miracle I spotted the weetabix I had snaffled from the buffet the night before, and using the milk I had bought at the beginning of the trip (because UHT is never okay, and they never give enough of those piddly little cartons. I need 3 of them alone just to make a single cuppa, leaving Bertie with just one and feeling very sorry for himself), I decanted everything into a mug and sat myself on the cold bathroom floor, munching away until I felt human again. I even added sugar, I’m no savage. Bear Grylls, eat your heart out baby. 

Once fully recovered I got to ride on the tour bus to the venue. I haven’t been inside many tour busses and I still find them super exciting. I went around snapping loads of pictures whilst everyone looked bemused through bleary, hungover eyes. I’ve included them below in case you were curious. I thought the bunks looked tiny, but Bertie is 6 foot and fits, so clearly I would technically be fine if I did ever have to sleep on a bus. (This will never happen. I am too much of a diva.) 

I then realised my tights had a giant hole in. Not a socially acceptable ladder, a giant thigh hole, leading all the way up to  the crotch, leaving one side of my tight completely bare, rubbing against the other chubby half of my leg. Very distressing. But amazingly the nicest runner lent me his travel card and popped me on the tram - it’s called the Luis here - that’s also possibly factually incorrect - it sounds like LUIS, but it’s written in Irish so who knows?  Either way, regardless of what it’s called, it took me to where they keep the tights, and then the very nice man also picked me up. Absolute win. I got back to find Bertie devouring a Burger King and I was so jealous it hurt. 

Catering was a full on roast dinner. It was amazing. I also had banoffee pie, because it looked delicious, and I ate so much I felt sick. Shout out to Dags, head of catering, who was lush, and popped my dinner order under “Mrs Bertie.” 

The show last night was off the charts. I don’t know why, but the energy was electric. There was pints thrown relentlessly and the crowd moved like the sea - a constant swarm of passion. I also received brilliant advice about working out what liquid has been thrown over the crowd, with the handy guidelines: 

“If the liquid is cold, you’re grand. It’s when it’s warm that you need to worry” 

I’ll leave that with you as a parting gift, and also this picture of a giant amp rack, that my fat ass thought was a huge backstage fridge. The disappointment was real. 

Thursday 14 November 2019

My first time flying business!

Okay so here is the tracking of my thoughts for my first ever time flying business. I am absolutely the kind of person that will cross the road to get a free can of coke, so I am absolutely living for this experience. It is not “proper business”, as it’s only a short haul flight, but I’m totally counting it. 10/10 to my husband for this birthday treat. 

Upon arrival, I got to go into the Lounge. We are only in Aberdeen, which is the smallest airport ever, and there isn’t much in the way of entertainment or shopping. So off I trundled to the lounge where I met the best welcome desk lady ever. She must have been 60 years old, and when she spotted my birthday on my ticket, she basically spent the next fifteen minutes trying to get me drunk (“it’s past midday in Spain! Have a champagne. And then have one for me! Have you had a champagne yet? Have another!”) 

The lounge was good, but nothing like I’ve seen in Heathrow or in America. There was sandwiches, cheese, soup and croissants. There was also a fully stocked bar, but I had a coffee and didn’t indulge because I think my upcoming weekend will be full of poor decisions and I need to look after myself until then. 

It was very nice being able to sit in the lounge and there were no children, so for that alone I’d give it a 8/10. There was also a printer which I thought was absolutely genius. Many copies of Vogue too, but as I don’t give a shit about fashion, that was somewhat wasted on me. 

Boarding was so quick. I’m literally in seat 1D. I’ve never ever boarded a plane first in my life, and it was very enjoyable. I’m normally in category 5, so it was nice to sweep through and be seated super quickly. Also I chose the seat right at the front so I have loads of leg room, which is just as well as I’m wearing bloody massive boots and they’d take up half the seat on their own. 

As soon as the doors were shut the hostess came around with a hot towel. Why? Why do I need a hot towel? I haven’t just had an Indian meal. I took one anyway and kind of rubbed it around my hands. Is it to wash the airport off me? I still don’t know. 

So we’d literally just taken off, when the nice lady came over and asked me to pick my lunch options. I won’t lie, I have trouble hearing on planes at the best of times (something to do with the pressure I think, but basically I can’t ever hear much and it always drives Bertie up the wall when I turn and shout at him something like “I CAN’T SEEM TO POO WHILST I’M AT THIS ALTITUDE?”) 

So, I heard her say “chicken” at some point in the jumbled up words (the Scottish accent didn’t help) but so I jumped on the familiar word and opted for the chicken-something. It turned out to be chicken salad, and it was nice, if a bit weird (cold beans and hummus anyone?) but the chocolate mousse was INCREDIBLE and I enjoyed that immensely. I felt a bit sick by the end, but obviously I finished it regardless because it’s my birthday and I’m not a quitter. 

I also went to use the toilet at the front of the plane, and the only difference is you get white company hand soap and cream. It’s nice, but it wasn’t the Seychelles flavour, so that was disappointing. 

(Flavour? Scent? What’s it called when creams have different smells?) 

The flight was quick (1 hour ten) and apart from a headache, I absolutely loved it. The problem is though, now I’ve experienced it (having proper cutlery and drinking out of an actual glass,) I don’t know if there’s any going back! 

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Until next time, America!

So it’s fair to say I have been nagged (a lot) by my mother to properly finish this blog and not just leave it hanging! 

So on our last day together in New York, Bertie and I headed over to Brooklyn! We got the metro there, and with no discernible plan, or even a map, we headed into the town! 

The first thing I’ll say about Brooklyn, which sounds a little ridiculous, is that the views of Manhattan are amazing. I know that shouldn’t be the main thing about it, but it’s genuinely a totally breathtaking view. It was a smoggy, grey, heavy day, and it almost seemed to make the view even more beautiful and dominating. Would definitely recommend. 

We then managed to stumble upon a TimeOut market - we have them here in England too - a food market for up and coming, independent mini restaurants/chefs that create incredible food. There were about 25 food stalls, covering a whole range of cuisines, and courses. We chose to go for a plateau of houmous and it was absolutely delicious! 

From there we kept on walking and spotted the Statue of Liberty. It was quite far away, but as it was one thing Bertie wanted to see, it was quickly ticked off the list. (I went to Ellis Island when I went to New York with college and my overwhelming memory of heading to see the statue is that the nacho stall on the boat had a machine - like a slushy machine - that was full of liquid cheese that they poured over the nachos with a pump. Clearly I was truly scarred by this as I still remember it 13 years on!) 

We then realised we were at the ferry port, and decided to hop onto a water taxi to get back over to Manhattan. As we boarded the boat, Bertie did pass comment that it would be a great boat to take my parents on as it was comfortable enough for a nap. (If you don’t understand this joke, ask Debbie what happened when we finally took her and dad on the Greenwich Clipper after they begged us all day to go on it.) 

We docked at Wall Street - this is a seriously intimidating place. The roads are small, and the buildings are giant, so the light you get at pavement level isn’t much. It felt quite soulless, but we did pass an Irish pub, so I guess the stock brokers can drink their sorrows away. I didn’t see Leonardo Dicaprio. That was upsetting. 

Following this, we headed to Little Italy. Finally! Proper food! Little Italy is next door to Chinatown, so occasionally you’ll spot a MR WONG’S next to a LA NONNA, which is a bit of a headfuck, but no one seemed to mind too much. We settled in for the evening and had a great dinner - sadly my pasta was rubbish, but the burrata I had as a starter did make up for it! 

We stayed in a hotel that was absolutely ridiculous. It had a number of raised surfaces for no reason, meaning over our three nights there, both Bertie and I went flying. It also looked like the inside of an IKEA flat pack kit. It was all “style” and no actual function, and for no reason whatsoever the lights everywhere were kept incredibly low. The lady at reception informed me that “it’s to do with psychology - it keeps everyone quiet” - which is nonsense because I made a right racket every time I fell over. 

Everything was also motorised, and it had a wet room style bathroom, which I hate, so this gets a 4/10. 

Sadly, my last day had arrived. I waved Bertie goodbye, and set off to the airport. 

I had looked in advance and realised it was roughly $50 to get to the airport by Uber, but only $8 on public transport. I had time to kill, and I like to pretend I’m an independent woman (until I can’t reach something, or if something is too heavy,) so I set off on the metro to get myself there. 

You’ll be pleased to know I managed perfectly. There was a bit of fumbling at the beginning when I couldn’t work out which side of the platform I needed to get the metro from (they don’t list their station stops like we do in London - I might write to Donald with this suggestion,) but on the whole, it was successful. There was a point where all the lights went off on the train and the crazy man who was in my carriage shouted out “OH THIS BITCH GONNA DIE” where I did let out a little bit of wee in fear, but everything ended up alright! 

(At the next stop I swapped carriages to be away from the crazy man, but they’re all over the place in America. Still, damage control is important!)

The flight home was horrible, because I didn’t sleep. I would much rather have a day flight and watch films for seven hours, rather than force myself to try and sleep on an upright seat. I get guilt about leaning back. The woman in front of me, however, had no such qualms and nearly knocked me out with the force that she lunged herself back. 

It is now one week since I have been home from my American adventure, and I think I’ll keep this blog running, updating occasionally with any more adventures that present themselves :) thank you for sharing this adventure with me, and for letting my rambles accompany you on the tube (Charlotte), or over a cup of tea (Victoria) or whilst you’re enjoying a particularly good poo (Josie). 

I love you all! Xx