21/6/14 – Turn around, bright eyes

First up, as usual. Though this time it was by quite a lot. Read, wrote and finished off my popcorn whilst I waited for the others to get up. We came down onto the main strip to check at the excursion centre for more info on the water parks, then went to the Robin Hood for lunch. Home away from home! My pick ‘n’ mix breakfast was a bargain at only three and a half euros – sausages, bacon, hash brown, scrambled egg and fried bread. Best price! The menu was adorably themed too, with sections like Will Scarlett’s potatoes and Sir Guy of Gisborne’s desserts. They spelt some of the names wrong but I appreciated the touch. They even played a weird male version of Bonnie Tyler (totally one of mine and Kel’s songs) which was hilarious.

Sat on the beach for an hour or so and had another Kopparberg. Also took some spy photos of Kel and Mel playing silly buggers in the waves. We stocked up on alcohol on the way back so we have plenty in the way of pre-drinks, then sat by the pool some more. Actually did some lengths (well widths, since I decided to break the mould and swim against Kel) and I think I managed to even up the tan on my back a little.

Got ready, had a quick cocktail at the bar, then back to Golden Beach. Had the sangria and mixed grill again. It’s just too good! They played the Greek Zorbas afterwards and got us up dancing and smashing plates. Of course me and Kel were only too happy to join in with both – I proper whipped my plate like a frisbee too! Greek Zach Levi couldn’t decide which shot of homemade liqueur to give us, so gave us all one of each – one peach and one rose. Not complaining.

Tried a new bar tonight called the Village. It was very cute and atmospheric in there. They had a jar of beach rocks with different cocktail names handwritten on them, which was totally adorable. I had a Paradise (gin, apricot, lemon, lime and soda) which came out done up all pretty with practically a whole garden – flowers and six different kinds of fruit. Too much fruit, Gaston. I did eat most of it though. That’s my five a day sorted! We caught the second half of the Ghana v. Germany game, which turned out to be dead good. Some German player even got totally clobbered at the end after smashing his face off someone’s shoulder. I was rooting for Ghana because they were way more enthusiastic after scoring a goal than Germany were.

Grabbed some ice creams from a supermarket on the way back (Galaxy, yum yum) and then I made friends with yet another dog. He was so happy! Crammed some more writing in before bed. Only four days into the holiday and I’ve already written a good chunk of Affinity. I feel my Flick and my prince Kay will approve muchly.

Mel's top twin and Greek Zach Levi. It's not just me, is it?

Mel’s top twin and Greek Zach Levi. It’s not just me, is it?

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5/11/13 – Third time’s a charm

Up, ready and packed early to head down to Monterrey Bay for our whale watching tour. We saw (and heard) harbour seals and sealions in the bay before we’d even gotten on the boat. They were a right noisy lot! As we headed out to sea we saw lots more sealions on some Free Willy style rock dam, and even further out we saw some more who even treated us to some jumping displays! Not long into the ride we came across a large group of Risso’s dolphins. I’ve turned into a bit of a spoilt brat really – dolphins just aren’t quite as exciting anymore! It was freezing out on the morning sea, even though we’d layered up in preparation. Plus the mood was dampened by a couple sat near us, who were throwing up over the rail. Eek!

André x1000!

But it was still all worth it because man, did it then get good! We were directed towards a group of at least five hundred sealions (the guy in charge decided afterwards that it was actually likely closer to a thousand!) It was a totally surreal sight but it was all for a good reason – they feed where the whales feed. Sure enough, we ended up in a position where there were humpback whales feeding and blowing water in every direction you looked. We saw the backs, lots of tails and even a few of the heads!

Real lump-in-the-throat moment!

It was truly incredible to watch, and to top it off the water being sprayed from their blowholes created rainbows in the air! It was the single most beautiful, spectacular sight I’ve ever seen. The whales we saw were apparently between fifteen and eighteen metres, wow! Then a while after we came across a smaller group of five (the first group we saw being a number of thirty) much, much closer to the boat. It really was the icing on the cake. Third time lucky!

We had a very quick (and stingy, I might add) lunch at another Chipotle and then hit the road. Drive was about two and a half hours with traffic. Cue more That Anime Show. Was particularly amused when Tatum shared his theory and method inspiration on Kyouya having unrequited love for Tamaki. Too funny! Felt ridiculously tired during the drive though and heavily regretted leaving my Red Bull in the boot, so I made sure I caught up once we got to our hotel in San Fran. We went to a place called Perry’s for tea and I did my new trick of having soup and potato skins. The tomato bisque was gorgeous, but the potato skins were just too much food, Gaston. Then spent the remainder of the night drinking and watching Big Bang Theory.

Mommy, baby!

4/11/13 – California, here we come (or here we still are, more like)

Watched some of First Class amidst packing and then hit the road for our best drive yet. We drove along the 1, which is known as one of the best driving roads – through the mountains, past national parks and along the coast line. We listened to more of That Anime Show as our soundtrack and almost died when Terri said she once dated a guy called Gaston, as that prompted Tatum into bursting into song. If he hadn’t done it then I would have! We also stopped at an elephant seal viewing area for a little while along the way. The way they flop about is still hilarious.

Awww, definitely worth the unanticipated stop!

Oh well that’s comforting…

We got into Monterrey about three hours after. Today and yesterday have just been stepping stones to break up the distance to San Fran really, otherwise the drive would be ten straight hours (though we did manage to take advantage and book another whale watching tour in Monterrey for tomorrow!) I was Marvin Gaye (i.e. starving) by the time we checked into our hotel so we ordered some takeout – and had a huge giggle over me accidentally saying ‘spuffalo wings’ (I think you had to be there…)

Watched some Adventure Time, Psych and Durarara!! We made a drinks run to a nearby petrol station and saw some Hangover style energy shots (which I will totally have to get if I see them again, since there were ones with Bradley Cooper on the front!) Spent the rest of the night writing, watching more Durarara!! and drawing on Kel’s tablet. Managed a rough sketch of Ed before she wanted it back, which I’ll hopefully finish sometime tomorrow.

Best driving view I’ve ever had!

31/10/13 – So no one told you life was gonna be this way

Early start and quick Skype with Mom so we could make our tour on time. Apparently Star had to have eight teeth out! Poor baby! We got two shuttles over to the Warner Bros. Studios and fangirled over the merchandise for a little while. Got two Central Perk magnets – one for home and one for Amy! We watched a short film first of great Warner Bros. TV and movie moments, then got in the little golf buggy thing to start the tour. First we drove round some outdoor sets that have been used for Shameless, Gilmore Girls and the old 60’s Batman, amongst others. There were a couple of park sections that were used in Friends too – where Ross played rugby and where Phoebe and Rachel went jogging. Too cool!

The corner of ‘Central Park’ where Rachel ran into the horse on Friends!

We saw the studio where they film Big Bang Theory, but couldn’t go in because they were rehearsing right then and there! Instead we got to see the inside of the Two and a Half Men studio. I’m not really a fan, but it was at least interesting to see how much smaller the scale really is in person. We went round a props room and also one with the genuine cars used in movie productions – including the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and all the various Batmobiles! Then whilst we were driving between locations I spotted William H. Macy chilling in a buggy going the other way. How awesome?! I loved him in Sahara and Wild Hogs!

Just chilling with the bat tumbler. You know that’s right! (And ruining the cool image by holding my sunglasses like a weirdo to avoid fingerprints)

The last stop was a costume and prop museum. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos in there, which sucked because they had some really awesome stuff! There were costumes from Man of Steel, The Hangover, Harry Potter (which we’re an old hand with now but they had the twins’ Half-Blood Prince suits, wooo!) and the Big Bang Theory. We got to try on the Sorting Hat too, which actually spoke! I got Sorted into Hufflepuff… I’m doomed to be an idiot. There were also costumes from Friends, including Ross’s red sweater – which I just thought was awesome! Best of all were the Batman Nolan costumes. I totally could have stole the Scarecrow one. And to top all that off we even got to see the inside of the retired Central Perk set and get photos on the actual couch. Serious dream come true!

Not like we’ve waited fifteen years for this moment or anything…

We didn’t have time for eats before our next tour but I grabbed some Red Bull on the go instead (the real stuff, not the Zero crap). We got another shuttle and then got into a topless bus for our tour of the movie star homes. I also nearly wasted precious Red Bull by almost spitting in out in excitement when I saw a huge Justice League mural on the side of one of the buildings as we left the Warner Bros. Studios. We drove up into the mountains and round the famous provinces like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, spying on all the celebs’ houses. We saw both Robert Blake and Larry King out and about – neither of whom we knew who they were, but they were both nice enough to wave back.

A better daytime view from the Hollywood Hills!

We went back to Piper’s for food afterwards. I had more soup and some crazy loaded fries with cheese, chicken, BBQ sauce and ranch – a whole pound’s worth! (That is too many fries, Gaston!) And then we went for a wander down to Hollywood Boulevard for a few hours to nose on people’s Halloween costumes. On the way back we had a drink stop. I grabbed a ball of what I thought was some kind of alcopop, which then turned out to be 20% proof flavoured vodka. Gave my mouth a bit of a surprise! So I had fun mixing it with my Powerade whilst we watched bits of School of Rock and some Conan mash-ups (including him dubbing an anime, too funny!)

A pound of fries! If you want size context then look at how much the plate is bigger than me!

Also a fun fact that we learnt today: It only rains 25 days a year in L.A. Like I didn’t want to live here enough already!

30/10/13 – When you wish upon a star

Skyped the oldies before leaving this morning. They said Star’s op went well but that Izzy was mopey without her, aww! We went down onto the main strip so that we could do the Hollywood walk of stars. We got pictures of some personal favourites including Walt Disney, Buddy Holly, Patrick Stewart, Drew Carey, Nathan Lane, Kenny Loggins, Adam West and Leonard Nimoy. I found a John Wells too. How funny, Johnny’s famous! He’d love that too. (Yes, I talk about my characters like real people). There was an area outside Grauman’s Theatre where celebs had left hand and feet prints, along with messages. We found the Harry Potter trio, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Chris Nolan, Michael Caine and Tom Hanks, amongst others. There were some cosplayers loitering around for paid photo ops, including the best Jack Sparrow I’ve ever seen – who gave me the creepiest/campest little wave – and an awesome Freddy.

Sorry Emma Watson, there were only two of us and you drew the short straw.

We grabbed lunch before heading back, then had a walk down to see the Paramount Studios. I started having qualms about my dress because several people beeped me on the way (I never know if that’s a good or bad sign). After that we went to a renowned shop called Whimsic Alley, which was full of Harry Potter stuff. They even had all the individual wands! They didn’t have the character names on them – to make it more fun they all had code names. Since I’m an uber geek I was able to pick out the twins’ wands without names or code names (though I appreciated that Fred’s was ‘joker’ and George’s was ‘skiver’). Of course I had to get them both. Fred’s for me to keep and George’s as one Christmas present down in the process! We then drove past the Disney concert hall on the way back.

We went to Piper’s restaurant for tea. I had beef vegetable soup (surprisingly good and easily the most veg I’ve eaten since Boxing Day’s bubble and squeak last year!) and chicken parmegian. Very good but again too much food, Gaston. After eating we went up to the Griffith Observatory. We looked through some of the super telescopes and saw part of the constellation Cygnus. It was really fascinating – just so unreal. Plus seeing all the city lit up was simply stunning.

We both wanted to shower and have an earlier night before our tour in the morning. We watched some Friends and a greatest movie villain countdown. I was kicking myself for not even thinking of Hannibal Lecter. I’d been forced to get Red Bull Zero earlier because Walgreens was out of the regular kind, and apparently Zero is always better than light… Heads up: it’s not. It is in no way an acceptable substitute. Give me the sugar and calories please!

The L.A. night-time view from Griffith Observatory!

28/10/13 – Seals in San Diego

Very slow packing session, since we didn’t have to check out till noon. Mom then decided she wanted to Skype just as we were leaving, so we sat in the car in the car park for another hour and bummed off the wi-fi. It totally worked too! Apparently poor Star has to have some of her teeth taken out! After the extended catch-up we went down to La Jolla Cove to see the seals. There were loads of them – they were so cute! I quickly picked out a little white one as my favourite and Kel got lots of videos.

My favey ickle seal! So cute it makes me talk all dopey…

We then had lunch at Bubba’s Smokehouse BBQ, which could have easily rivalled – if not bettered – the smokehouses in Texas. I had the ‘Bubba’ sandwich, consisting of pulled pork, brisket and smoked hot-link sausage. Oh my god, it was so good but that is just too much food, Gaston! We had another wander along the water front afterwards. This side of San Diego is just so pretty – it’s how I imagine Psych’s Santa Barbara to be (not the real one obviously, since they’re sneaky and film in White Rock).

From there we went to our next hotel and then chilled out in the room. I did some writing, reading and watched some Psych. After showering we then watched bits and bobs of Nightmare Before Christmas, The A-Team and The Hobbit (which looked terrible – fantastic film, my arse). But best of all today we managed to book tickets to a Whose Line show just out of San Francisco! And Jeff’s one of the listed names! Hells fucking yeah!

Kel suggested I had a picture taken with Klaus by the sea. Like he’s my exotic boyfriend or something.

23/10/13 – Deep in the heart of Texas (i.e. with food)

So the dream streak is back on. And I clocked that that’s why I’ve been waking up with Far Longer Than Forever in my head every morning. My night brain just really loves to rub it in. We Skyped the oldies, then headed to the Dallas Arboretum. It was what you’d expect from an arboretum, but on a much grander scale – like everything in America. To me though it was still just walking around and looking at plants and the occasional water feature. Not really my scene, but they did have a cute pumpkin patch to make it all better. They even had Cinderella’s carriage! Cue the photo-taking opportunities. It was on Gaston Avenue too. Brilliant!

Did a quick Walmart stop after and made our way to our next hotel in Arlington. Wasn’t even an hour away – lovely! Spent a huge chunk of the day in our room because Kel wanted to get a good portion of planning done for the later leg of our journey. Whilst she did that I watched some Psych and planned out the backbone for a new story (and fought a losing battle with titling it). We went to Coker’s Barbeque for tea – our first Texan BBQ! I had a pulled pork and brisket platter, which was awesome but just too much. Goddamn Texas, why are your portions even bigger than general American ones? That is too much food, Gaston!

Kel insisted on doing more planning again after, so I did my own thing for a while. Then after I got out of the shower she told me ‘not to get too excited’ but that there was a chance we’d be able to see a live Whose Line show. How could I not get excited about that?!

In this town we call home everyone hail to the pumpkin song!