26/9/16 – Bring on the pizza

Back to the more relaxed get-ups, since we didn’t have to check out till eleven. Slowly got ready and packed up before heading off to Fort Lauderdale. We’d gotten up and dressed a little late for breakfast, so we stopped off at a Taco Bell en route, as it was something I’d always wanted to try. Yet another disappointment, unfortunately. We all wanted a good nosey at the menu, since we’d never been there before, but we felt rushed because of the miserable cow behind the counter who clearly had no time of the day for tourists, as she was perfectly sweet to everyone else. Pretty sure that’s still racism. Stupid bitch.

I had a quesarito and a spicy potato taco from the savers menu. The quesarito was okay, but far too full of cheese sauce and got quite sickly. I had to pull all of the salad out of the potato taco and it wasn’t even a proper taco. It was just a tortilla shaped like one. I call bullshit. That is so not a taco, which is all I really wanted in the first place. Taco Bell experiment failed. Happily got back into the car to carry on and had a far more satisfying Red Bull.

Despite driving past where we’d already stayed in Miami, the drive up to Fort Lauderdale really didn’t feel that long. Only another hour or so from Taco Bell. We found our cute little apartment complex, Tropi Rock, which actually has its own pool for once. I most definitely favour pools over the sea. Something to do with the fact that I can actually get in the water at the pool, rather than just crisping up in the sun on the beach. We unpacked a bit, milled around a while and then headed out for a little wander around to see what’s about.

Apparently, not a lot. There was the beach, obviously, and it really was a beautiful beach. One thing you can’t flaw Florida on. It was also the first one we’d seen with protested turtle laying grounds. Lots of little triangles of sand were all roped off. We had a meander past some apartment complex and found that even above anywhere else we’d been to, Fort Lauderdale is absolutely lizard central. I even saw a huge one that was two feet long from head to tail. I thought it must have been an escaped pet as it was bright lime green and had a crest and a beard, but we saw more afterwards. Talk about exotic looking wildlife.

After the very hot walk that didn’t really enlighten us on much other than the lizard situation, we came back to the room for a longer while. I started reading my Kelley Armstrong book, showered (in the worst shower we’ve had so far) and downloaded a cool notes app for my phone that’s designed to look like a Death Note with the black pages and the same fonts and everything. Love it. That’ll do well for my writing notes. Got ready to then head back out in search of food. Mom had already researched it on her tablet, since there hadn’t seemed to really be anything around, so we were on the lookout for an Irish grill and bar called McShorley’s.

Unfortunately, this was another plan that didn’t quite work out. It had a truly lovely bar and atmosphere, but the barman Rob told us that they don’t serve food, although they’re happy for people to bring food in from the adjoining fast food places. Ah. We didn’t want to be rude and just walk out, so we all had a drink first. They actually had a few ciders – often quite a hard find in America – so I had a bottle of Magners. Mom had a pint of their draft cider, Woodchuck. It was actually really nice; so much so that I wished I hadn’t just gone for the one I was familiar with. Some guys then brought in a takeout pizza and sat at the bar with it, watching the American football. That just seemed like the best idea ever, but stingy Brits would never allow that back home.

We decided to follow their lead, so after we finished our drinks, we moved across the road to the pizza place, Primanti Brothers. I pretty much never fancy pizza as I’m not a pizza fan in the slightest, but the one the guys had got in the bar looked really good so for once, I was fancying. The smallest they did was a fourteen inch pizza – typical America – so I ordered one with sausage, ham, salami, onions and extra cheese. Oh my god. Best pizza I’ve ever had. Dad had two of the smaller slices since he’d only had a hot dog and I happily devoured the rest. Normally, I find pizza gets far too boring to eat that much in one sitting, but not this pizza. Serious hats off to the Primanti Brothers.

Since they hadn’t offered much in the way of alcohol, we went back to McShorley’s afterwards. I was delighted to have my own pint of Woodchuck this time. We moved into the side room, where they had a big fish tank, a pool table, darts, a few arcade games, checkers, giant Jenga and Connect 4, of all things. I played Dad at pool and almost beat him, but cocked up my last shot and ended up perfectly lining up the black ball for him. Boo. Him and Mom had a few games after that, whilst I entertained myself by making a tower out of the Jenga blocks and watching the tropical fish in the tank. They actually had one of those goofy yellow fish that looks like it has teeth, just like the one me and Kel were so amused by in San Antonio.

Came back for more drinks in the room afterwards. By this point, I’d moved onto Bud Straw-ber-rita Splash. Played with my Death Note app some more and then did what was becoming the usual wind-down of reading, playing Disney game and watching some Impractical Jokers. Larry!

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I could be talked into being a pizza fan after this. For size comparison, see the chair behind it.

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17/11/15 – Where does the lotion go?

Set my alarm so that I could get up and shower first whilst we know that we have a room with a decent sized shower. No idea how big our cabin will be on the boat, let alone the shower, so I’m just preparing. Didn’t have to check out until twelve, so we chose to stick around in the room for as long as possible before getting turfed out into the presumable cold. I watched a teeny bit of Walking Dead to keep the fuel going from relevant Walking Dead dreams, oh yeah.

Had a cookie and Red Bull breakfast and was going to have another try at writing, since I’d only managed a page yesterday (really not good when I need to be averaging at around eight a day) but that idea went completely out of the window when Kel found some Psych on TV for me. Psych! On a normal TV channel! Who knew that Psych aired on British morning telly during the week? Not me, because I’m always stuck at work when I could be watching Psych! (I know I have the DVDs, but that’s not the point). It was a good episode too. Where does the lotion go? Seriously, where does it go?

We had till three before we could get down to the dock and start checking in, so we decided to loiter around the Hull town centre for a while. After checking out of the hotel, we did a petrol stop and then went and found somewhere to park. We spent a good fifteen minutes wandering around in search of a pub, but Hull pubs are clearly stupidly laid out/run. Most were either closed down or didn’t serve food, despite having clear signs that said they do. Well done, Hull. Because of this, the pub idea fell through completely, so we ended up in a Sainsbury’s café instead. I got excited because they had corned beef hash on the menu, but what I actually got was mince meat in a giant Yorkshire pudding. I double checked with the waitress and she said that it was definitely corned beef hash. Yeah, right. It was actually very yummy, but still the weirdest take on corned beef hash I’ve ever seen (it’s mash with corned beef, yo – just look at the name!)

We had a little wander around afterwards to kill some time. We were going to sit in Costa’s for a bit, but it was packed, so we were demoted back outside. Apparently people in Hull don’t have jobs – it was seriously busy for a Tuesday afternoon. As it was raining, we soon headed back to the shopping centre we’d parked at. Walking past this little helta skelta slide that was outside, we heard it playing the Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride song from Lilo and Stitch. Of course, I made some pathetic little noise over it. Whilst at Tesco, we bought another mix of snacks to restock up on what we’d already eaten at the hotel. Oops.

We’d used up our allotted two hours in the Tesco car park, so we moved on to another free one closer to the dock that Kel had found online earlier on. The weather was still miserable, so we weren’t really feeling having another wander around. Thankfully, there was a pub that opened up onto the car park called Minerva’s Brewery (aww!) so we sat in there for a while for a pint. I do love being British. They had some kind of beer or ale on draft called Atom, which amused me. Ray Palmer has his own drink! Whilst we had our ciders, we had a look online at things to do in Amsterdam and, of course, top foods to try. I got really excited at the prospect of stroopwaffles (or stroodlewoodles, as Marieke got me into the habit of saying years ago) which are a popular Dutch snack that I love and used to get people to bring me back from Holland visits.

We then headed down to the port to get parked up and check in. Had a right hoo-ha checking in, because the women behind the desk were trying to tell us that we only get free parking for the duration of our trip if we booked through Groupon, which we hadn’t. Luckily, saviour Kel had screenshotted all of the information of what was included when we booked, which specifically said on the P&O ferries websites that free parking was included. So they can suck it. They had us wait around for a little while, but I think they realised we were ready to kick up a fuss, because they then gave us the parking voucher and just apologised for the wait. We went to grab our luggage from the car and display our well-earned parking ticket, then we went to board.

So much more straightforward than airport customs and security. We had to show our passports and tickets and were basically just asked if we had any alcohol or sharp objects, then we were let on board. We found our cabin to drop our things off first. It’s surprisingly big and nice, even if I am on a top bunk. Shower’s friggin’ teeny though, as I’d thought – forget where does the lotion go; where am I meant to go?We then went to explore. The long corridors of cabins were a little creepy, but everything else was super big and fancy. Several restaurants, bars, a casino, two cinemas, duty free shops and kiddie areas. I made a lot of Titanic references, which probably wasn’t a good connection to make, so I soon stopped. We checked out the price lists at the bars, which are surprisingly reasonable, and had a peek out onto the deck. We weren’t allowed actually outside as there were chains and signs up to say that it was too windy, so I couldn’t do my king of the world impression. Okay, promise I’ll stop now. We did manage to get a pack of DC Top Trumps from the gift shop. Geeking it up already.

We came back to the room to get ready and then headed down to the restaurant. What we didn’t get was that the restaurant works on a weird reservation only service (despite the fact that there were only like two other people in there) so we got booked in for a time about twenty minutes away and hit the bar for our first cocktail whilst we were waiting. Again, what we didn’t realise was that the cocktails are basically the ones from the little squeezy packets, but just with a bit more alcohol added. So kind of a rip-off, money wise, but they were still pretty nice.

After our drinks, we revisited the restaurant to actually be let inside this time. Our waiter, Pedro, was very friendly and very funny. We had some bread rolls to start and then I had a steak burger with cheese, crispy onion rings and chips. I’m not really a big burger fan – I normally only have them as a last resort if there’s nothing else that I want – but this one was damn good. And I had a Magners to go with it, of course. We moved onto the bar after that; cue more Magners and us breaking out the DC Top Trumps. We clearly know how to party. We won a game apiece. I was chuffed because the very first card I turned over was Harley Quinn. It was meant to be – she clearly sensed my tattoo.

As it was a fifties cruise (fuck yeah), we had entertainment going on throughout the night. First we had a band called the Blue Notes, who played stuff like Frankie Valli, the Ronettes, Lulu… Then we had a Buddy Holly tribute called Bootleg Barry (at least I think), who was dressed the part but looked more like Greg Proops. By this point, we were both knackered. For some reason, being out in windy weather really takes it out of me. I clearly never venture outside when the weather’s bad. Inside good.

We went back to the room and watched an episode of Flash on my iPod. I was clearly happy with that – hadn’t had any eye candy all day. Then it was finally time to attempt to climb into my bunk and then attempt even more to go to sleep. Rockabye baby may work on kids, but it just makes me feel drunk without the good stuff.

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First drinks is always a good moment – even if they are expensive for what they are.

21/9/15 – Back to the tasters

Guess what? I really did wake up with another migraine. I think the beta blockers I’ve started taking only works for about three or four days. Boo you, tablets. I took one of my meds and tried to sleep it off. That worked a little too well though, as my alarm then decided not to go off and Kel had to wake me up with not so much time to get ready. Had to quickly get dressed, straighten my hair and have some toast before Flick’s dad dropped us off at the Needles on his way to walk Twiggy.

We spent an hour or so at the Needles. Watched some glass blowing, went to the sweet shop (everybody surely knows how much I love sweets, so of course I came away with a cup of pick ‘n’ mix) and a few touristy shops. The weather was super miserable, so we had a quick glance at the actual needles out at sea, before retiring to a coffee shop in the dry whilst we waited for Flick’s dad to finish his dog walk. I decided to forego the hot drink idea and had half a Magners with some blackcurrant instead. Yum!

Flick’s dad dropped us off at the house so we could get our own car and head back out again. We tried the House of Chilli a second time and on this round, it was open! So it was back to the tasting session. This place had more bowls of the various jams and sauces, but with pieces of tortilla for dipping instead. There were a lot of really nice ones, including the general sweet chilli sauce, a spicy cheese dip and most of the balsamic vinegars. My favourite was a garlic and chilli dipping sauce, which I bought a bottle of. We also tried some chilli pork scratchings and I managed four of the super hot ghost chilli based sauces before having to run back and douse the fire with bits of tortilla and the nicer sauces. Safe to say I won’t be taking any of those home!

Why didn't I believe the sign?

Why didn’t I believe the sign?

I filled up on pick ‘n’ mix in the car to get rid of the chilli tastes and we headed into Godshill, which is one of the little town areas. We went into another touristy shop so that Kel could get an Isle of Wight themed magnet. I didn’t want to feel left out, so I bought a funny little cow teddy. Since Chuck has been one of our main watchings whilst we’ve been here, I’ve named him Casey. Seeing as he’s a big hunk of amazing man and I love him. We then visited Jenny at work in the fossil shop. I tried to buy a stone with a cute little Apatosaurus printed on it, but she insisted there was no charge, which was very sweet of her.

Since the weather was still incredibly crap, we decided to call it on the outings for the day. We came back to Flick’s and had more cheese pizza and bean burgers for an early tea (I’m really gonna have to get me some of those at home) followed by millionaire’s cheesecake and cream. Yummy scrumboes! We binged on the rest of Friends season six and I showered at some point in between, whilst the girls then played cards with Jenny and their mom.

Once I was all clean, we then moved into Jenny’s ‘cave’ to watch Chuck. Seriously, I am so jealous of these guys having their own friggin’ apartments within the house. My room isn’t even big enough for me and the dog! We watched five episodes of Chuck and I was seriously stoked, because not only did that include the angel of death episode – a personal favourite of mine – it also had Brandon Routh’s first appearance. This is the man who made me forget how to walk. No, seriously, he walked past me at a convention and I actually just stopped and did nothing. Because pretty boys tend to make my brain not work.

Jenny had to stop after the five episodes because of getting up for work. We decided to call it quits too, as we want to try more fossil hunting at low tide in the morning. Went to bed with my total of worries having gone up to include no ghosties, no migraines and hopefully my alarm remembering to work!

20/9/15 – Bouncy bouncy, ooh, such a good time!

Got up around half nine. Thankfully, no ghosties had tried to get me in the night and the worst thing that had happened to me was getting a migraine at about five o’clock. I get those so frequently lately though that I’m practically used to it now. My meds had got rid of it by that point so I was more than happy to get up and shower. Man, it’s a nice shower! Once we were all ready, we got back into the car and headed out to the first thing on our itinerary, which was Sharon Orchard.

It was a small place, but the people were very friendly and the man who gave us the tour even stopped his painting job to show us around. We learnt about how they make cider, apple and cider vinegar, and were also told a little about the processes other companies use for making whiskey and vodka. Then when we went back into the other room, the woman gave us some tasters of three ciders to try – a dry, a medium and a sweet. All for free too! I liked the sweet and the medium, but would have needed blackcurrant with the dry. We knew Dad would like it though, so we got him a bottle. I decided to try a bottle of the traditional lemonade and a small bottle of apple juice too.

From there, we moved round to the wine vineyard next door. It was a little bigger and their actual vineyard was very pretty. Because we turned up at an odd time, we ended up catching the end of one tour and then joining the next one not long after, meaning we got more tasters! Woohoo! If you’ve read more of my blog, you’ll know from the wine tasting tour I did in Napa that I’m really not a wine fan, but I was pleasantly surprised with this. The blackberry, raspberry, plum and elderflower wines were all quite nice, as was the mixed spritzer we got to try. Nothing tasted of vinegar this time. I had the tiniest taste of a blackcurrant liqueur, but couldn’t drink that as it was eighteen percent volume and I was on driving duty today. Again, all for free though! We bought some of the plum wine for Mom to try, as something different.

After that was garlic tasting at the Garlic Farm. This was seriously a day of free tasters i.e. my best kind of day! Dotted around one of the rooms were bowls of crackers and then various garlic based sauces, dips and chutneys to try. There were some very odd ones, but some real nice ones too, like the hoisin sauce and the thai green curry one. Kel bought one of the chutneys from the shop and we then migrated over to the restaurant to try their garlic bread. We had plain and with cheese too, and I had a pineapple juice to go with it. Of course. We came away happy and stinking of garlic, but at least we were all in it together.

I would go back all that way for this garlic bread. It's like Little Brampton and the pie all over again.

I would go back all that way for this garlic bread. It’s like Little Brampton and the pie all over again.

We tried to go to the House of Chilli afterwards, but it was closed by the time we got there. We had a look around a little emporium outside instead, which did some cute steampunk stuff, then went to Tapnell Farm to see some plastic cows that Flick reckoned I’d like, as I like cows. The farm was right up in the hills, so all the scenery around was just beautiful. The cows were cool – they were all decorated a different way, like a tiger one, a patchwork one, a super sparkly one, etc.

We decided to check out the activity barn an found two zip wires in there, so we had a couple of gos on those. But best of all, when we came out we found what they call a jumping pillow, which is like a mix between a bouncy castle floor and a giant trampoline. So obviously we spent a good hour on that, pissing about, trying to take bouncy selfies, falling over and doing stupid races. It takes a lot more energy than I remember. I don’t wanna sound like a bore or Danny Glover (okay, I might wanna sound like Danny Glover), but maybe I am getting too old for this shit.

Sadly, my Flash shirt didn't make me any faster.

Sadly, my Flash shirt didn’t make me any faster.

We came back all tired out and had a laugh at the photos. We had bombay potatoes and rice for tea, followed by a chocolate gateau. I had one of my Red Bulls that I’d moved into the fridge as soon as we got there and we went upstairs to Flick’s space to get Kel finished up on the last few episodes of Chuck season two. Friggin’ love that season finale so hard. We broke out some more Friends after that, before conceding to bedtime. Now I know to beware migraines more than ghosts.

18/9/15 – On the road again

I can’t wait to get on the road again. More of traveling on visitation purposes – this time to see Flick in the Isle of Wight. We originally wanted to get there late tonight, but with Kel finished work at five, we just couldn’t count of making the last ferry at nine with Friday night traffic. It took us well over four hours when we drove to Folkestone and that was much earlier in the day. So we decided beforehand to still travel down and spend the night somewhere more nearby, so we wouldn’t have to get up at ridiculous o’clock for our early morning ferry.

Because I started work at six this morning and took a half hour lunch, rather than an house, I got to finish at two and have time to do a last minute Asda run, get showered and finish up packing. We grabbed food from the chippy when Kel got home, got some money out for the trip – I know the island’s meant to be fairly remote, so I don’t know what the cash machine situation will be like – said bye the oldies and the woofie, loaded up the bags and headed out.

It’s been a while since we’ve done a long road trip and this was also the first the first time that Kel’s drove! Flick pre-warned me that the bumpy roads on the island may not be very nice to my low-down Mazda, so the old Yaris is our transport for this trip. Since I’m still insured on it, we can always share the driving. As Kel was happy to drive down towards the coast, it meant I got to play DJ for the first time ever. We hit my musicals and Disney/Don Bluth playlists. I bet nobody else’s musicals playlist goes from Wicked to Sweeney Todd to “shut your fucking face, uncle fucker”. We did out usual duets, including some new ones from the Swan Princess and J.D. and Turk’s “Guy Love” from Scrubs. Such fun!

The drive took just under two and a half hours. We managed to find our bed and breakfast, the Roebuck, somewhere amongst the back country roads in the dark. It’s a bizarre place. A B’n’B slash pub slash social club slash shop slash house. Since we needed to check out so early in the morning, we were told that breakfast wouldn’t be served then, but that they’d leave packed lunches for us outside our room. So special!

It turned out that we’d booked into spider room, as we immediately found several dotted around the curtains. Thankfully, nothing big. Touch wood. I did manage to throw a sachet of coffee out of the window when trying to dislodge one that was hanging off the handle. Oops. Let’s hope I didn’t hit anybody down below. It’s an odd room – the decor’s colour scheme is like Kel’s bedroom meets the stuff we sell at Homebase. None of the carpets line up with the walls properly though, so let’s just hope those gaps aren’t a haven for more spiders. Think this may have to be one of those rooms where we keep all our luggage on the tables, like we did in the Appalachian Mountains. Ah, memories.

Brought my last bottle of Stowford Press with me, so I had that in the room whilst Kel had a quick shower. Praise the keyring bottle opener that lives in my makeup bag. Our rule of thumb with hotel rooms is that I don’t like sleeping in the bed closest to the door and/or window, whereas I think Kel prefers it, so we followed that as per usual. It turned out I’d lucked out with that, because my bed was soft as anything and Kel’s was horrible and springy. Win!

We decided to hit the hat at a reasonable-ish time because of our early start in the morning, but that was very much ruined by the karaoke that started up at the social club, which sounded like it was right outside our window. It was so loud that not only could you hear exactly what songs they were singing, you could also hear just how bad they were. Of course we were giggling in bed over some of the silly pisspot music, but this wasn’t exactly what I’d signed up for. My packed lunch had best be good now!

12/5/15 – Welcome to Bulgarian life

Woke up early-ish so I could get in some writing time before having to get ready to go out. Aren’t I a good little writer? Quickly scarfed down some popcorn and took my donated lime Red Bull to go, which was surprisingly nice, if not very Red Bull-like. The weather was good again so I was back in shorts and my pineapple tank top, though I’d prepared with my cardy on hand too since we were going to be going a way up the mountain. We met up with Emi and her parents and got into her dad’s car from round the back of their building.

Driving round the outskirts of the town was really good because we got to see a lot more areas of Bulgaria that way. Emi pointed out the parts where her nan lives and also the area that’s apparently at war with where she lives. We went from roads to cobblestones to crazy steep off-roading paths up the mountain. My car definitely wouldn’t have liked it. Emi told her dad that I have an MX-5. He was very impressed, woo! The drive up was nice though, if very bouncy and possibly mean to the car. It was very green and woody and there was a little river and waterfall running alongside the road.

The monastery that we were visiting was set quite high up the mountain. We were lucky to have Emi to translate the history for us. Apparently it was originally destroyed during the Turkish slavery reign and then re-built again. We couldn’t go into the actual monastery as nuns still live there, but we explored around it and found the pretty little cemetery that’s attached. I made friends with a very fluffy German Shepherd whilst we were there. I also got to experience what Emi called a typically Bulgarian toilet, which she was very gleeful about. I quickly learnt why once I found out that it was basically a porcelain bowl built into a hole in the floor, with a railing on the wall to cling to. I took no chances and took off all the bottom half of my clothing and only kept my shoes, just to avoid any quite horrible mishaps. Thank you Romans for inventing proper plumbing.

The horror!

The horror!

We went into the little chapel part, where Emi reckoned there was a good chance she might get struck by lightning. I figured that could work out well because she might get super speed. She suggested I could then somehow fall into a vat of nearby acid if I wanted to become a supervillain, but I declined and requested instead to be the goofy sidekick that makes a lot of well-timed stupid comments. We were all in agreement that it made sense since that’s basically my life, just minus the actual sidekick part. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on which way you look at it, there was no lightning and no need for clichéd superhero hierarchy. Instead we bought and lit mini candles to place in the fancy holders in honour of the living. My candle just had to be crooked. Typical.

The drive back down was slower for safety reasons and nicer too – I spotted views that I hadn’t noticed on the way up. You could see all of the city in the distance, with snowy mountains behind them. Emi’s parents dropped us off at a subway station so we could get back into the city centre. We had gigantic slices – more like slabs – of pizza from one of the vendors and sat to eat them in the park. I then entertained myself feeding the crumbs to the pigeons and making them race and skid for it. Oh no, I’m turning into Kel.

Behold the beast! (This was Kel's - I opted for the one without green stuff, of course).

Behold the beast! (This was Kel’s – I opted for the one without green stuff, of course).

The weather was even warmer in town, so we were perfectly happy to just meander round in the sun, whilst Kel and Emi took tourist photos. Emi’s the native and yet she looked more like the tourist with her giant fancy camera. I paid my first ever busker because he was singing a Simple Plan song that I love and it sounded cute, especially when I’m not sure he was even English speaking. I grabbed a little pineapple juice carton to-go during our wander, which was yummy but Bulgaria, why you like room temperature drinks so much? I was also mildly terrified by the woman who served me. Emi had already explained that Bulgarians aren’t happy people and they don’t like it when people ‘pay big money for little things’, as she put it, so I received absolute daggers when I had to buy my seventy cent juice with a ten lev note. I’m sorry, I gave all my change to the cute busker boy!

We had another ice cream stop at Ice Cream Kingdom. I swear, ice cream back home is really gonna pale in comparison after this hat trick. This time I swapped the blueberry for vanilla with eclairs. Very nice and creamy, but I nearly gave myself brain freeze when I bit down on an eclair that was deceptively full of a chunk of very cold ice cream. After that we got the subway back and parted ways to have time to freshen up and things. All of the Red Bull at Billa was all bloody room temperature again – seriously, Bulgaria – so I was forced to pay six lev for it from the hotel fridge. Still only about two quid, but I liked paying less than a pound for it. Cheapest Red Bull in the world!

Drank my Red Bull in the room. Did some writing, watched some Fullmetal, then decided again to shower earlier rather than later. Still had a little time before we had to get ready, so I got a bit of packing done and started listing some ideas for my final part of Superfreaks. I wanted to get a couple of fruity ciders from Billa to have and share at Emi’s, which I succeeded with at the cost of having to wait a bloody age to pay because I somehow have the inherent ability to always pick the duff, slowest-moving queue. Then cue the internal dilemma of ‘do I move to this next queue when I’ve just seen three people come and go who I know joined after I did, or do I stick this one out since I’ve already put so much time in?’ That’s another damn British trait.

Emi’s mom insisted on cooking for us again since we’d steered around her offers to treat us to a meal out. This time we had zucchini boats filled with mince meat and then feta cheese with chilli and oil and a garlic yoghurt sauce/dip thing to go with it. I discovered very quickly that I don’t like zucchini. The taste and the texture are both just urgh. I managed to eat the one because I didn’t want to seem rude by leaving things on my plate, but I couldn’t hack all of the second and had to just scoop out all the filling to eat instead. I had to have two chewing gums after to try and neutralise all the garlic I’d consumed. Still very yummy though, if we don’t count the zucchini. I had a cherry Carling with food and then a berry Strongbow I’d bought to try after. Why isn’t cider so cheap at home? It’s one of my many weaknesses.

I think we were originally intending to watch a film, but instead we ended up talking all night. We got onto story talk and then that was it. I mentioned that I wanted to try bouncing some ideas off them that I’d been coming up with earlier, which then turned into more than an hour long conversation, followed by much talk about Emi’s ongoing project Phoenix that we already knew a lot about from her last few visits. They gave me some great ideas for Superfreaks. That’s the best thing about having friends who are also writers. But at the same time they also came up with some rude suggestions regarding my favourite character that I’ll never be able to unthink. Thanks a lot for ruining Ollie for me, guys.

When we realised it had gotten to half twelve with us just talking we conceded that we’d have to leave as we still had packing to do. Emi promised to come see us off from the hotel in the morning, so it wasn’t goodbye just yet. We always had to cut through an underpass to get from Emi’s apartment block to the right side of the road that we needed to be on, and for the first time it was closed off, which totally threw us. We’d just watched a dog impressively cross the very wide road that we needed to get across (dogs here are super street smart – they know exactly how to wait for the traffic and everything) so we basically followed where the dog had crossed. Kinda feels like it should have been the other way round…

To make things even more confusing all the traffic lights on the walk back seemed to be on the blitz. They were all just constantly flashing orange and nothing else. Kel suggested it might have been from a power cut, whereas I reckoned Emi was trying to sabotage our attempts to leave. Kel messaged her about it once we got back to the hotel and had wifi (just to ask what was going on; not to actually accuse her of interfering of course) and apparently all of that just happens after midnight. Huh. Guess it’s a free for all on the roads in the early hours of Bulgaria.

Kel then went in the shower and I did the majority of my packing. I really hope the mass of notebooks I bought don’t make my case too heavy! Packing to go home is always a sad process. We managed to get the majority done besides things that we’d need in the morning, and the toiletries that we left out to dry (praying we don’t have a second shampoo explosion on the way home) and were able to get into bed at a reasonable-ish-but-maybe-not-entirely time. Looks like we’ll have to skip breakfast again. Way to kick me when I’m down: take away my food options.

8/3/15 – Tone vs. Food

Tasha actually beat me as first up this morning. That was a new one! Had a cookie to munch on and Sar and Kel both got up not long after. Dad then popped round to tell us that they’d overprepared this time and cooked all of the breakfast already. Last night there’d been a bit of hoo-ha over us being late over there for food, so we all hurried over sharpish to make sure it wouldn’t happen a second time (minus the boys, who were still asleep again). Breakfast was yummy once more. The oldies all decided they were going for another walk. Since it was raining we decided we’d had our share of walking for the holiday and went back to our own cabin.

The four of us spent the next few hours having a good natter and gossip about everyone and everything. Ben and Mark got up amidst the chatting and joined us. We had a run over to the other cabin to collect some more fresh pizzas to cook at ours and all got super invested in the Take Me Out re-run. Last of the series, sob. Ben took a real interest in my Superfreaks story, which always really flatters me. He also got what was probably the most in-depth rundown of it that I’ve given anyone so far. After a while we decided to check out the game room. I beat Kel at darts, but she beat me at foosball and our crazy long game of ping pong. We also played with some giant dominoes, but as we’re not entirely sure of the rules we don’t know who won. We’ll call it a draw.

I came back up to the cabin just as Sar had gotten out of the hot tub. Boo. She went in the shower so I got some Fall Out Boy going on the sound system, got my notebook and a can of cider and went to do some writing in the hot tub. It should have been the most ideal way to write (apart from sitting out in the sun and catching a tan at the same time) but it didn’t last very long when Dad, Auntie Ann and Uncle Colin came creeping round to chuck cold water over me. Normally I’m all for cheeky antics, but this time I wasn’t impressed because A) I’d tried so hard to keep my hair dry so that I wouldn’t have to wash it before going out for food, and B) my notebook got soaked and I don’t have any of it backed up. Thankfully best cousin Sar had been stood out in her towel chatting to me after her shower and she ran inside with my notebook before they chucked more water. Saviour of the day!

I didn’t stay in the hot tub much longer after that. Came in and got dried off and sat watching most of Mulan on telly with the others. Things are always better with a bit of Disney. Found out amidst the compulsory Disney talk that Mark loves Princess and the Frog. Oh yeahhh. Most underrated Disney film ever! Since my hair had gotten wet I then had to go in the shower and wash it. My notebook seemed to have survived the drenching so I guess I couldn’t really complain. Once I was dried and ready we all got into cars and headed back to the George and Dragon Pub Inn from the first night. They had the Stowford Press on draft and an amazing looking menu so I was certainly happy to go back.

I had a mixed grill this time and asked for my usual no veg of any kind (in this case peas, mushrooms and tomato. Bleugh). Even still it was friggin’ huge! I had a steak, a big piece of gammon, a pork chop, two sausages, two pieces of black pudding, homemade chips and onion rings. I pawned off the black pudding after having a little taste and being unsure if I actually liked it or not. Still can’t decide. But I of course devoured everything else and everyone cheered. Apparently I have hollow legs – I always seem to amaze people with my capacity for food, The worst part was that I wasn’t even full! I still had room for an Eton Mess sundae afterwards. Did feel a little bloated once we got back to the cabins, so I just chilled in the hot tub with Sar and Ben for an hour or so. They asked me a million and one questions about writing, which again was incredibly flattering. It was really hot in there again and I ended up having a major granny attack (i.e. a sweat) so we all got out. Got changed, grabbed a cider and we all settled down to watch 22 Jump Street for the night.

I didn’t stay up to watch the whole thing. Kel had already gone to bed so I knew that meant we’d be packing everything up first thing in the morning. Sob, just when I was starting to get attached to this place. Goodbye for another year, hot tub holiday!

Goodbye, super nice cabin!

Goodbye, super nice cabin!